Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Hot Seat A Relaxing Interview with Jams O'Donnel

This is a unique interview as there will not be as many political questions as the readers often see in these interviews. When we interview foreign bloggers we try to gain a glimpse of the daily lives and flavor of local life abroad. Jams has several blogs and I am fairly surprised to see AOW and Farmer John also read Jam's sites.

Jams and I are members of a small vocational fraternity of immigration inspectors. Jams has since moved onto another career.

We will start this interview with Jam's love of cats. He has four cats and each has a persona that one gets through the pictures. Mimi is the clueless cat who often looks confused. Ted seems to have some sinister plan in the works. Robyn is happy go lucky and seems to avoid getting brushed. Bebe is your professional cat that seems to do all the typical cat chores.

1 Do you have to buy various types of cat food with four different tastes. I was lucky in that Earl the Cat seems to eat everything, including Liverwurst.
2 Do the cats have a pecking order and teritories?
3 What are your personal views on declawing cats?
4 Are purebred cats over rated? I didn't even see many of them in NYC except for an odd Siamese. I do not recall seeing one in Vermont.

Jams spends much time on photography. He photograpghs animals, insects, statues, plants and unique buildings.

5 I do notice that other than the feral Turtles you seem to stick with insects and horses. Are the local mamals in your area pretty much Red Foxes and Hedgehogs. Even in VT the majority of species are nocturnal and it is hard to see many species at all. There are people who are native Vermonters who have never seen a Moose.
6 What are your views on the current style of building the glass box. Is this style too generic for good photography.
7 Are old Churches naturally good subjects for photography?

Popular culture is a frequent topic in Jams blog. One may even find a clip from an American band or two in the Utube offerings. I am going to group all the popular culture questions together.

8 Is Dr Who a children's show in the UK? Does Star Trek have a similar cult following in the UK?

9 There has been some controversy from the left about removal of Huck Finn from the school
ciriculum for the use of an anti-Black slur. I do remember reading plenty of material with anti-Semitic lines in a Yeshiva. The class discussion noted that bigotry was the norm in that era and society has moved ahead form that era. I think that this is a common sense way to handle the situations. Under no circumstances should we consider editing the lines in classic lit. What are your views on the subject?

10 I was shocked the other day that a Polish immigrant who hardly speaks English said "Vanilla Ice Sucks". One of my coworkers looked like Vanilla Ice and this prompted the exchange. Does the entire planet know how awful Vanilla Ice is. Who bought all of his albums? Who is worse in your opinion Milli Vanilli or Vanilla Ice?

11 I have yet to find someone who admits to enjoying the music of Barry Manilow. He does seem to sell plenty of records and fill concert seats. Is there something nerdy about admitting one likes Manilow Music?

12 Did the music of the Village People make it to the UK? Was disco a largely American pathology with the exception of the Gibbs brothers?

13 In the USA we have radio stations dedicated to Classic Rock and the Oldies. Are there similar
formats in the UK?

14 In the United States there is a cable channel dedicated to English TV classics like Benny Hill, The Saint and a few others. Is there an American channel in the UK. Where on earth did you hear about the Mr Ed show? I do understand that Sex in the City, Seinfeld and the Sopranos did run in the UK. However, did shows like Bewitched, Green Acres and Gunsmoke run in the UK?

Local Life

15 If I went within ten a ten kilometer drive of your flat what ethnic resturants would be available?

16 Do the cabbies speak English in the UK?

17 Are the mom and pop stores disappearing in the UK ?

History and Movies

18 Could you link the posts on the Nazi sympathies of the IRA in WW2? American who are into
old movies will see a hint of that in the long forgotten film The Eagle has Landed ?

19 Has WW1 become passe in Movies? I can think of very few movies that are set in WW1 and scores of movies set in WW2.

20 Is history cheapened when it is used as a backdrop in Cinema? Or is this a starting point for curious young people to begin learning?

Fun

21 Has the unique misadventures of Curious George made it to the UK ? I was surpised to find that children are still reading those same stories thirty years after I enjoyed them.

22 Have basketball and American football become more popular in the UK. Is boxing becoming a sport of the past?

23 American are often perplexed about football hooligans. The fights in American sporting events mostly involve people who have had way too much alcohol. Are the hooligans confined to
the fans of Manchester? Are there hooligans in other sports such as Rugby or cricket?

24 Is it appropriate to boo a performer in a live show that has performed miserably. I would never boo amatuers under any circumstances. However, the cost of live theatre raises expectations. There is a history of this behavior that goes back to Shakespeare and even Gladiators.

25 Has live music in clubs also become a thing of the past in the UK?

Bonus Question: What American authors if any did you encounter in your education?

16 comments:

Always On Watch said...

Great questions, Beak!

I'll be back to read the answers. Probably a day late. I have a lecture to attend today: Dr. Tawfik Hamid.

jams o donnell said...

1 Do you have to buy various types of cat food...

They get the same stuff (normally brands like Whiskas plus some dried food). Mealtimes are rather a free for all and any cat with fussy eating habits finds their food is eaten by the other three!

2 Do the cats have a pecking order and teritories?

There is a definite pecking order in the house: the not-wife on top, Robyn is the alpha cat, Ted wants to be the alpha but Robyn is too big and too strong. Then come the two girls. I follow up the rear just below the cat fleas! As for territory, they all coexist quite happily. Mimi never leaves our garden (she is too disabled to jump the fences) Ted is a bit of a wanderer. We suspect he gets more than three squares a day!

3 What are your personal views on declawing cats?

It is cruel and should never be done except where there is a compelling medical need. Declawing is illegal here anyway.

4 Are purebred cats over rated...

I’m all for moggies - hybrid vigour makes for healthier cats. I’m not against purebred. Siv, my co-blogger on Yet to be Named has a beautiful Norwegian Forest Cat called Astor but Siamese and Persian are over bred and unhealthy in my view.

5 I do notice that other than the feral Turtles...

Romford is part of suburban London so we don’t get a huge variety of wild mammals apart from foxes, hedgehogs, grey squirrels and rodents. There are quite a few wild rabbits in the local nature reserves and a deer park not far away. Sadly, there’s no spectacular megafauna in my neck of the woods – unless the stories of the Alien Big Cats are true! On the other hand insects do make excellent subjects. I am very pleased with my recent crab spider photos and the Hoverfly on the Hebe

6 What are your views on the current style of building the glass box.

It really depends on the building rather than the style. The “Gherkin” and the new City Hall in London are very attractive – far better than so much of the concrete brutalism of the 60s and 70s. Some new buildings planned for central London like the “Shard” look very promising too


7 Are old Churches naturally good subjects for photography?

Without doubt and I am very fortunate to have some wonderful churches close to hand, One of my favourite buildings is the Saxon church at Greensted-juxta-Ongar which is one of the oldest wooden structures in the world. Nott too far away from me is the oldest church in Britain which dates back to 654AD. That will be photographed when I next head its way.

Farmer John said...

You don't find the more modern structures in London to be a bit out of place? I'm surprised.

jams o donnell said...

8 Is Dr Who a children's show in the UK? Does Star Trek have a similar cult following in the UK?

Doctor Who is a children’s show for adults of all ages! The current Doctor, David Tennant is fine but the best ever Doctor has got to be Tom Baker. I think I'm showing my age there...

Star Trek has always been very popular here so was the Next Generation. I love Star Trek and I would happily spend hours watching The Original Series, TNG and DS9. Voyager and Enterprise were poor efforts though.

9 There has been some controversy from the left about removal of Huck Finn from the school ciriculum for the use of an anti-Black slur.

There have been a fair few stories here about children being banned from singing Ba ba black sheep. Once you get to the truth you find either that the story is untrue or it’s the act of an over-zealous teacher taking sensitivity to an absurd level. There was a case last year where a primary (elementary) school changed three little pigs to three little puppies for fear of offending Muslim parents. The Muslim response was along the lines of “don’t be so stupid”. It’s one thing to be sensitive to the various ethnic groupings that make up this country but don’t tread eggshells where no eggshells exist.

But I digress. I agree with the conclusion reached at your Yeshiva. There is no point editing the likes of Mark Twain for such attitudes. Would I want to see the Joesph Conrad novel renamed “the African American of the Narcissus?” or ban Birth of a Nation because it was about the Klan?. Of course not.

10 Who is worse in your opinion Milli Vanilli or Vanilla Ice?

Given that Milli Vanilli were the musical equivalent of Ebola and Vanilla Ice Bubonic Plague it’s a difficult question to answer!

11 Is there something nerdy about admitting one likes Manilow Music?

I say if Barry Manilow is your thing then go ahead and enjoy him. I don’t think we’ll ever see wars and genocide perpetrated in his name I can’t see persecution in the name of Vanilla Ice either even if Ice, Ice Baby is banned as a cruel and unusual punishment!

12 Did the music of the Village People make it to the UK? Was disco a largely American pathology with the exception of the Gibbs brothers?


Oh they certainly did! YMCA reached number 1, Go West, In the Navy and Can’t Stop the Music were hits too. Disco was big here. Some people would like to think that punk and new wave was the only thing around 30 years ago. In reality the likes of Kool and the Gang and Earth, Wind and Fire were rather more popular.

13 In the USA we have radio stations dedicated to Classic Rock and the Oldies. Are there similar formats in the UK?

We’ve got far more choice than we used to what with the arrival of digital radio. There are far more oldies and rock stations than nowadays.


14 .....did shows like Bewitched, Green Acres and Gunsmoke run in the UK?

We’ve always had American shows on British terrestrial TV. Bewitched and Gunsmoke were shown but I don’t think Green Acres ever was. To my knowledge Gilligan’s Island, the Jeffersons and Sanford and Son were never shown here either.

I’ve always considered US imports to be a very mixed bag. For very Six Feet Under, Frasier, MASH or Phil Silvers Show (yes that still gets aired from time to time)there were several Knightriders, A Teams or Dynasties.

The arrival of satellite and cable TV in the late 80s meant more channels and thus more US shows. For example Deadwood, Dead Like Me, and Married.. with Children (yes I love the Bundys, I admit it) got shown on cable but never on terrestrial TV.

beakerkin said...

The Bundy's did make it to the UK but some English coworkers swear that three part episode is never shown in the UK. Perhaps it is because Kelly is said to have punched out Prince Charles.

My coworkers were excited when those episodes were shown on TV.

jams o donnell said...

15 If I went within a ten kilometer drive of your flat what ethnic resturants would be available?

You’ll get Indian and Chinese restaurant s in abundance, a fair few Italian and Thai, a smattering of Greek and Spanish. I daresay we will see more eastern European places soon following the expansion of the EU. If you head west in the direction of central London the variety increases considerably: Lebanese, African, Caribbean, Kosher and so on.

16 Do the cabbies speak English in the UK?

Yes, unless maybe if you are stupide enough to use an unlicensed cab. It isn't easy to become a taxi driver in London, you have to do “the Knowledge” . You have to gain an encyclopaedic knowledge of central London (or your chosen suburb), undergo criminal records checks and medicals before you can drive one.

17 Are the mom and pop stores disappearing in the UK ?

Sadly yes. Our high streets are pretty well interchangeable. Supermarkets and chain stores have killed off a lot of independent retailers.

Steve Harkonnen said...

Excellent questions and answers. Being a fellow Brit myself, your interviewee did rather well and answered your questions with good ones.

I immigrated to the US from Scotland in 1970. Don't even get me started on the drastic changes on immigration laws.

I am a huge Dr. Who fan - especially of the new series. My favorite Dr Who had to be Patrick Traughton, however.

I grew up in the era when Andy Pandy, Bill & Ben, the flowerpot men, and Fireball XL5 were my most favorite programs on television.

Of course, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, Supercar and Stingray were the greatest shows ever. I still have some of the Dinky Toys from those shows.

beakerkin said...

I am with Jams. Tom Baker was a Space Hippie and fairly funny. I may be the only person who likes the Cybermen.

jams o donnell said...

18 Could you link the posts on the Nazi sympathies of the IRA in WW2? American who are into
old movies will see a hint of that in the long forgotten film The Eagle has Landed ?

Here you are:

X's difficulty
Hitlers useful idiot
Devalera neutrality and that letter
Ireland neutrality and the Reich

You might also find this one on Americans in the SS of interest:Americans in the SS

And this one on British collaborators: Letting the side down

Like much of history the IRA/Nazi connection was pretty squalid. Mercifully it was ineffectual.To say that Eire was pro nazi during WWII is not true. Tens of thousands of men and women from Eire fought for Britain during WWII, including my father who joined the RAF 1941 aged 15 (with a forged birth certificate) and participated in over 100 bombing raids in Europe and Burma. I must get my finger out and do more of these sort of posts


19 Has WW1 become passe in Movies?

I can’t think of that many WWI films myself. Perhaps Hollywood didn’t dwell on WWI because American participation was not as great as it was in WWII. I can’t think of a Hollywood film about Belleau Wood but at least we have All Quiet on the Western Front and Paths of Glory

20 Is history cheapened when it is used as a backdrop in Cinema?

Cinema is mainly about entertainment so don’t expect historical films to be absolutely accurate. Off the top of my head I can think of very few that are utterly accurate – Gettysburg perhaps? Some American “historical” films have raised hackles in the UK. U571 (actually captured by the Royal Navy and not by the USN)and Objective Burma (Errol Flynn playing an American and beating the Japanese in Burma single handed, much to the chagrin of veterans of Slim’s 14th Army!) I daresay American audiences would be irked if a film was released showing the Coldstream Guards beating off Pickett’s charge! That’s not to say that British films are not guilty of taking liberties too...

jams o donnell said...

21 Has the unique misadventures of Curious George made it to the UK ?

I’ve never come across it. But checking on Amazon UK and hey presto there are Curious George books for sale. Much better to read about Curious George than George Galloway, I would imagine!

22 Have basketball and American football become more popular in the UK. Is boxing becoming a sport of the past?

Basketball is quite popular but the standard isn’t very high. American football had a surge in popularity in the 80s but that faded after a few years. I must admit I never cared for American Football but at least it isn’t as dull as cricket.
Interestingly baseball used to be popular here but WWII killed it off.

I think the biggest problem with boxing is that there are too many organisations. How many world champions are there at any given weight? If a glass jawed no hoper like Frank Bruno could become a heavyweight champion then there is something wrong.

23 American are often perplexed about football hooligans. The fights in American sporting events mostly involve people who have had way too much alcohol. Are the hooligans confined tothe fans of Manchester? Are there hooligans in other sports such as Rugby or cricket?

Football hooliganism is much less of a problem than it was 20 years ago, mercifully. It wasn’t just Man United but just about every club in England. My own team, West Ham used tio have a gang of organised thugs called the Inter City Firm. I’m glad to say that they are a thing of the past. We still see trouble when England plays abroad. I have no problem with foreign courts throwing the book at the little thugs. There are no similar problems with Rugby or Cricket

24 Is it appropriate to boo a performer in a live show that has performed miserably....

If you pay over good money to see a good performance you have the right to jeer dross. Luckily modern audiences are far more restrained than those in past times. A dud performance at the Globe Theatre would have had Shakespeare’s players lynched!

25 Has live music in clubs also become a thing of the past in the UK?

It’s still going pretty strong. In fact I’m off to see Robyn Hitchcock play a charity gig for Medecins sans frontiers at a pub in London tomorrow

Bonus Question: What American authors if any did you encounter in your education?

Not many. Most books by American authors were read in my own time. The Grapes of Wrath, Slaughterhouse Five , Catch 22 and a Confederacy of Dunces are four of my favourite books. I’m also partial to Kinky Friedman Carl Hiaasen and T C Boyle

beakerkin said...

Jams it is safe to say that Curious George will be remembered by his young fans long after George Golloway is a sidebar. American children are still delighted by the misadventures of the well intentioned monkey and his owner the man in the yellow hat.

jams o donnell said...

Farmer John, the London cityscape has changed radically over the years. Some changes are for teh better, others for the worst. At least teh Gherkin is a good addition, far better than many of London's buildings.

Beakerkin The Bundy's London escapades have been shown on cable and very amusing they were!

Steve I just about remember Patrick Troughton, I think. John Pertwee was the other Doctor that sticks in my mind

beakerkin said...

Jams

Thank You for a lively interview.
The Bundy's misadventure had Al in a Jounting tournament in his American footbal uniform.

I guess my friends must have missed that three part episode.

Always On Watch said...

Just a quick note here....

We've got a break in the hot and humid weather. But I am determined to read Jams's answers. As he well knows, I frequent one of his sites.

I'll be back--after dark.

Ducky's here said...

Regarding WW I in film, Raymond Bernard's "Wooden Crosses" is going to be released this month. It's probably the finest film made on the war.

I wish I knew who holds a print of King Vidor's "The Big Parade". Great film and Vidor's silent film catalog has been badly neglected. As an American director he ranks with John Ford but few people are familiar with him.

His greatest achievement was "The Fountainhead". He had to deal with that old bat Rand harping about the script at every turn and he still managed a very well paced entertainment. It was released on DVD just a few months ago. Put it on your Netflix queue. Very entertaining.

Always On Watch said...

Jams,
Declawing is illegal here anyway.

As well it should be. I've heard from others that declawed cats bite more--at least, most of them.

You mentioned Carl Hiaasen. I love his work too! I've also read T.C. Boyle, but as I recall, he's not as prolific.

So, in schools in the UK, you don't read many American writers? Here in the States, Brit Lit is required; the students find it tough going, primarily because of the higher level of vocabulary.

You mentioned photographing old churches. I do the same, though here the churches are not as old, of course.

An excellent interview. But I didn't expect less than excellent!