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February 2008

What things cost: London vs. NYC

Gallon of Gas
New York: $3.12
London: $8.06

Half-gallon of milk
New York: $2.29
London: $2.80

Gallon of bottled-water
New York: $1.59
London: $2.20

Movie ticket*
New York: $12.00
London: $19.64

Pint of beer**
New York: $6.00
London: $5.45

Starbucks Grande Latte
New York: $4.06
London: $4.77

* - Here in London, there is no such thing as matinee or "early-bird" discount. Adult movie tickets are the same price, day or night, weekday or weekend. Children and seniors are slightly cheaper.

** - Fox failed to point out that you get much more for your beer money in London than New York. A British Imperial pint of beer is 20 ounces; a U.S. pint is only 16 ounces.  Not to mention the fact that British beer is a lot stronger and better-tasting than most of what passes for beer in America! 

Random thoughts...

2295657691_7b5e15b1f8 Mr. Crab is heading back to Iraq in April. This will be my NINTH tour of duty in Iraq since 2003. I'll post more details about it later and try to blog from my trip.  Mrs. Crab will be coming with me! Well, part of the way anyway, to Istanbul, Turkey, before we go our separate ways.

Random stuff about life in the UK that I keep meaning to post but keep forgetting:

--When we watch British television, we often have the captions feature turned on because, quite frankly, some Brits are really REALLY hard to understand (especially on The EastEnders!). But the folks who write the closed-captions for American films that appear on British television seem to have ZERO concept of American slang. Sometimes American slang is "translated" into an equivalent British slang but the translation is so off-the-mark that it loses all meaning.  For example, last night we were watching "Shaun of the Dead". It's a British film, and in case you haven't seen it, it's bloody brilliant!!  Anyway, one of the characters in the film routinely uses the phrase, " 'Sup Niggas!'"  The caption was translated as "What's up Knickers!" As you may know, "knickers" is British slang for women's underwear. WTF!  Other times, the perplexed captioner will simply skip over the entire American phrase as if it were never uttered, so you'll hear and see the actor speaking but nothing will appear in the captions. I had a bunch of other examples, all of which I've since forgotten.

--No, we did not feel the UK earthquake yesterday.

--On Wednesday, we are closing on refinancing the mortgage on our little house back in Virginia. Refinancing from abroad has been an absolute hellish experience that has now dragged on for almost two months. Most of it has been the result of downright horrible communication from our lenders (ahem, BOA) who are simply oblivious to life outside the United States. The biggest headache has been getting documents signed for the bank. Several documents need to be notarized with an official seal, and the ONLY feasible way to get this done in the UK is to physically travel to the U.S. Embassy in London and shell out $20 USD per page. And to do this, you must make an appointment at least a week in advance. AND the Embassy's "American Services" office is only open Tuesday-Friday, 10am-12:30pm. No, I'm not making that up; they only work 2.5 hours a day. I tell all this to the genius at the bank back in Virginia, but he doesn't get it.  They FedEx the documents to us the NIGHT BEFORE we are due to be at the embassy. Needless to say, they did not arrive on time. We got a second closing date, and again the bank failed to get the information to us in a timely order. The bank dude was like, "So why can't you just go down the street to a U.S. military base and get them signed? (There are no US bases in London)."  Or my favorite, "It's only 2pm, why cant you go to the embassy right now?" (it was 7pm London time).  Now we finally have a THIRD set of closing documents in our hands, an appointment at the U.S. Embassy next week, Mrs. Crab had to take the day off work and we're ready to go. Now we just have to hope the fools at the bank keep their side of the bargain.

--We have a new "local"!  Every self-respecting man, woman and teenager in the UK has a local, by which I mean a local pub.  For the first two years living in London, our local was the Islington Tap. It was mainly out of convenience because it was the closest pub within walking distance of our old flat. The Tap was a fun gastropub with great food, friendly bar staff, good beer and a fun Sunday night quiz night (many pubs in the UK have Quiz Night trivia contest; patrons pay about £1 to play, answer questions on a sheet of paper and winner takes the pot).  Unfortunately, the Tap has gone DOWNHILL in recent months. Most of the friendly staff have long departed. The beer and food prices keep rising. The staff and customer service keep falling. When our favorite manager left, we knew it was time to move on.  So for the past three months we've been trying out new pubs until we "felt the love."  We are now happy to announce that our new local is the Camden Head in Angel Islington. It's a very traditional pub with a huge outdoor garden and tucked away within the historic cobblestoned Camden Passage antiques market. So now you know where to find us.


OMFG, WE KNOW AN OSCAR-WINNER!  Back in October, our good friend Blushing Whale introduced us to Irish busker Glen Hansard and Czech artist Marketa Irglova, the stars of a little indie Irish flick called "Once."  We met them at the Screen on the Green theater in Angel-Islington, London (above, with Glen), where the duo were hosting a film screening, Q&A and live performance. Here's a video we shot of them performing their Oscar-winning song, "Falling Slowly":

"Once" was, in my humble opinion, the best movie released in 2007 and a shame it wasn't nominated for best picture.  It appeared on many film critics' lists of the top 10 best flicks of the year.  If you haven't seen it yet, RUN to the video store and buy the DVD now!  (Already released in the US; on sale this week in the UK).  We all joked with Glen that their song would be nominated for an Oscar. They kinda laughed it off. But the buzz kept building. Their little film shot for $100,000 has made more than $14 million in the U.S. alone. It's just been released on DVD and finding bigger audiences now.  We were thrilled when the film was nominated for an Oscar. And we can't even express our happiness for Glen and Marketa's Oscar win. It couldn't have happened to two nicer people.

Here's their Acceptance Speech from the 80th annual Academy Awards, 24 February 2008:


Once2_2 Glen Hansard:
Thanks! This is amazing. What are we doing here? This is mad. We made this film two years ago. We shot on two Handycams. It took us three weeks to make. We made it for a hundred grand. We never thought we would come into a room like this and be in front of you people. It's been an amazing thing. Thanks for taking this film seriously, all of you. It means a lot to us. Thanks to the Academy, thanks to all the people who've helped us, they know who they are, we don't need to say them. This is amazing. Make art. Make art. Thanks.

Marketa Irglova:
Hi everyone. I just want to thank you so much. This is such a big deal, not only for us, but for all other independent musicians and artists that spend most of their time struggling, and this, the fact that we're standing here tonight, the fact that we're able to hold this, it's just to prove no matter how far out your dreams are, it's possible. And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream and don't give up. And this song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are. And so thank you so much, who helped us along way. Thank you.


Thank you John Carney!! And my dad who's whatching [sic] from a hospital bed in Dublin.


These are the first Academy Award nominations for Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.


An Irish singer-songwriter performing on the streets of Dublin befriends a young Czech immigrant who is selling flowers to support her mother and child. The pair begin a musical collaboration with the hope of producing a marketable demo, working together easily as they skirt the more difficult issue of the unexpressed attraction that is growing between them.

Glen and Marketa perform "Falling Slowly" at the 80th Academy Awards ceremony:

Democrats Abroad Global Primary in London: 5 Feb 2008 (Super Tuesday)

Democrats Abroad held its first-ever “Global Primary” at nearly three dozen cities around the world this week, allowing American expats to vote in-person for their party’s presidential candidate. As a voting block, Democrats Abroad has been awarded 22 delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention to represent the estimated 6 million Americans living abroad. There is also a Republicans Abroad club but it is not an official GOP body and thus does not send delegates to their party’s convention.

Filling out the ballot

Where else can you vote with a beer in your hand?? The Democrats Abroad London Primary: 5 Feb 2008 (Super Tuesday)

Casting the ballot!

Where else could you ever vote with a beer in your hand?? Now you know who Mrs. Crab supports in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election. This message approved by Mrs. Crab.

PS: Yes, we're aware that the flag in the background is BACKWARDS! The flag should always be hung with the blue field in the upper-left-hand corner from the viewer's perspective. I complained to several people about this but nobody believed me. Here's the proof:

Super Bowl XLII in London

Where to watch the Super Bowl in London
Yes, you CAN watch the Super Bowl live in London on Feb. 3, 2008. Below is a list of known London venues that will be airing the Super Bowl LIVE.

BBC2:  The Super Bowl this year will air live on BBC2!  This is fantastic news after last year's train wreck of a telecast on FiveUS, with Miami Vice star Don Johnson as commentator!  The downside of watching the game overseas is you will not be able to watch the US commercials. The BBC’s coverage begins on Thursday January 31st at 11:20pm on BBC2, when Mike Carlson and former Pro Bowler Rod Woodson will join host Jake Humphries to preview the big game. Tune in to see how both teams made it to the Super Bowl, and get reaction from NFL experts Carlson and Woodson on what they expect to see when the action begins on Sunday. BBC’s live coverage of the main event starts at 10:50pm on Sunday night, with the same trio in the booth and the live action on the field called by Dick Stockton and Sterling Sharpe.

SKY: Sky’s coverage will kick-off at 8pm on Sunday evening with back-to-back showings of the award-winning series America’s Game, before attention turns to Arizona. Kevin Cadle will host in the studio in the UK, where he will be joined by college football coach Jeff Reinebold and the only Brit to have ever won a Super Bowl ring – former Patriots wide receiver Scott McCready. Joining them from Arizona will be Nick Halling and ex-Chicago Bears safety Shaun Gayle. Once the game gets underway Sky will have the FOX commentary team of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck calling the game. For the second year in a row Sky HD customers can see the whole event live in High Definition, getting the best possible view of this incredible occasion on Sky Sports HD 1.

The London Expat American Meetup Group presents the 5th annual Super Bowl Party beginning at 10 p.m. at the Walkabout Temple bar. Last year's party attracted more than 700 people!  If you are an American expat in London and not yet a member, I encourage you to sign up and join this Meetup group, which now has more than 1,700 members! Admission: £10

A listing of pubs that will definitely be showing the game:

The Sports Cafe
(several locations in the UK)

Bodeans BBQ
(several locations in London)

Hard Rock Cafe London

Bonds in Mayfair
Email from the pub manager: "Hi, my name is Dan, im the deputy manager at a bar called Bonds in mayfair. We are going to show the Superbowl XLI at our bar!! The best bit is its free before midnight. Food we be served all night as well. We also offer free bookings of our tables for the event. If you'd like to take a look us have a look on or contact us on 02076290531"

The Texas Embassy
Game airing on big screens. There will be great deals on beer and snacks (£10 for a pitcher of Bud)
020 7925 0077

Planet Hollywood
Sunday February 3rd 2008
Kick – Off : Midnight
Drinks licence until the game finishes
We close when the game ends
We will be viewing the whole game live on our cinematic Plasma wall as well as the screens in the bar.
Drinks specials throughout the game with 2 for 1 offers whenever your team scores.
Bucket of 6 budweisers £18.00
Pitcher of beer £12.00
Pint of draught beer £3.45
House spirits £4.50
Enter our Super Bowl Trivia Quiz for your chance to win great prizes.
Contact our Sales team to book a table 020 7478 1507 or [email protected]

The Road House
Located in Covent Garden. Will show the game on 4 giant screens and 9 big TVs. Open 1800-0300. Cover £15. Details: