Going puppeteering tonight with my old troupe
Hi there, thank you so much! It’s very kind of you to appreciate my work.
Wow, that is a random question. Well, I’ve been the the states all of twice in my life, and once was a one hour stay in the New York airport before going on to Costa Rica, so I hardly think that counts. I did, however, stay in Florida for two weeks to visit Disney World. Obviously this only gave me the tiniest glimpse of one part of the American spectrum, but it was a very interesting experience. I cannot, obviously, form an opinion of the whole of the USA from this minute amount of observation, but I will say that it left me with several distinct impressions, which I have been told (by other Americans and Europeans alike) are not entirely inaccurate.
1) Everything is bigger. EVERYTHING. Cars, people, smiles, buildings, rides, food, oh my goodness the food. It was so hard to find a meal that it was possible to finish! Often very lovely, but enormous quantities. I was never comfortable at how casual the relationship with food was either. I’m not saying that Britain isn’t wasteful- it is, far too wasteful- but I saw a disregard for nutrition and the value of its preparation that has never really left me. A lot of what I saw was impressive, but that left one of the biggest impressions on me.
2) Everything is more extreme. For example, body size- people were either bronzed gods, borderline starved or, well, let us say not. The ‘average’ people I encountered most often turned out to be other tourists. The behaviour I witnessed, too, seemed to be much more exaggerated. Either people were utterly brazen and confident, alarmingly enthusiastic, or completely uninterested in anything around them. If I use the expression ‘cartoonish’, I mean that I occasionally felt that the people were caricatures of themselves- that they felt they had to absolutely define who and what they were at every living moment simply to be. Which leads me to the last observation-
3) People care about what you think. Whether it was the park attendants making sure you had a magical time (which I did, and the staff seemed genuinely delighted to be there, which was wonderful to see), or the woman in the line ahead making a point that she wasn’t satisfied; people wanted other people to see. It felt as if whatever somebody did, if it could be noticed, it should be noticed. I don’t mean everyone was a drama queen wearing big signs saying LOOK AT ME, but there were cases were it wouldn’t have felt out of place. Words and attitudes were always statements, almost challenges; having been a student of language I noticed that the use of verbs was almost always active, not passive. The entire attitude was more aggressive- not in a violent sense, but assertive. I am here. I’m going to help you. This is what I think. You said that funny. This is what you should do, because I say so. Have a nice day. You’re Australian, right?
This might all sound very negative, and maybe some of it is, but believe me when I say I really do love America; I am fascinated by it. I had great fun, and my short stay only made me more curious. I only witnessed a tiny pocket of information, and my impressions were very blunt and inexperienced. I really would like to travel all over the states, spend a good time in each area and get to meet and know more of you- I have many American friends here online, but seeing you in your homeland and seeing your unique culture first hand would be a very valuable use of time for me.
This was not a rant. America is very interesting. I want to see more of it.
… American cheese is still not cheese though.
The Brocken Spectre, here seen in Poland, is an optical phenomenon in which the observer’s shadow appears to be magnified on clouds or fog below. The Spectre can be observed from mountaintops when the sun is low and behind you, and there’s dense fog or clouds below. It is often accompanied by a glory, a rainbow-like halo that can also be observed when one is between the sun and a layer of clouds, and the movement of the clouds plus the apparent magnification can give the impression of a supernaturally tall ghost being walking the mountain.
The phenomenon is named for Brocken, also known as Blocksberg, a mountain peak in northern Germany long associated with witches and devils in local lore and literature. Another place to see it is the Scottish mountain Ben MacDhui, a frequently fog-shrouded peak where legend has it an unusually tall “Grey Man” resides. It isn’t hard to image how a lone mountaineer—halfway lost and hearing his own footsteps oddly distorted in the mist—could conjure up mythical beings when faced with a ghostly giant in the distance.