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February 2009

January 2009

Super Bowl XLIII parties in London

Lombardi_trophy  In case you've been under a rock: The Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals will meet on the gridiron this Sunday night for Super Bowl XLIII.  This years halftime show will feature Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Journey will perform during the pre-game show, and Jennifer Hudson will be singing The Star-Spangled Banner.

Where to watch Super Bowl XLIII in London on 1 February 2009:

Television
BBC 1 has live coverage of the Super Bowl beginning at 2300. Highlights will air on BBC Two Monday at 1900 on BBC Two, and also available all day by pushing the red button on your remote. Sky Sports 1 will also cover the game live; Sky Sports 2 will air previews and other football coverage throughout the day. Unfortunately, UK networks do NOT carry our beloved American commercials.

Internet
If you have a high-speed connection, you might be able to watch a live online streams of the game at channelsurfing.net.  This site carries live streams from US networks, so you WILL be able to see the commercials!

Parties
American Meetup -- the largest American expat social club in the UK -- will host their 7th annual Super Bowl Party with more than 800 Americans expected. Venue to be announced.  In addition to live coverage of the game, there will be a special live performance by CHEERLEADERS at half-time. Hotdogs, nachos and game food will be available most of the night. Doors open at 10:00. Kick off is at 11:20 PM when all eyes will turn to the gigantic screens all over the venue, which will beam live and uninterrupted coverage of the whole of Super Bowl XLIII from the warmth of Tampa, Florida! Pre booking your RSVP is recommended to guarantee admission.  Click here for further details and booking information.

London pubs showing the Super Bowl

  • The Sports Cafe. The largest sports pub in London will feature live coverage on two jumbo screens and 58 plasma screens. Admission £15, or £35 for entry and dinner. 80 Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4TE. Super Bowl parties will also be held at Sports Cafe locations in Leeds, Birmingham and Glasgow.
  • Bodean's BBQ will host its Fifth Annual Super Bowl Party at all five London locations including Soho, Clapham, Fulham, Westbourne Grove and Tower Hill. Guaranteed Seat with clear view of a 42 inch Plasma Screen. Tickets £25 per person includes: Pre-game tailgate of Chicken Wings and Quesadillas. Halftime Feast of Ribs, Chicken, Pulled Pork, BBQ Beans and Coleslaw. Seating begins at 10pm. 
  • The Texas Embassy will be showing the game on big screens with projectors. Tickets are £10 and seating starts from 9pm. 1 Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square, SW1Y 5DL.
  • Henry J Beans in Chelsea will host live coverage of the game. Great American food and Coronoa deals. 195 - 197 King´s Road, SW3 5ED.
  • The Hard Rock Cafe will feature the Big Game on 18 screens. Doors open at 9:30pm. Admission £15 per person includes guaranteed entry, bar nibbles and one free beer. Sponsored by the British American Football League. Hard Rock Cafe, 150 Old Park Lane, W1K 1QZ.

Hot new cinema: Everyman Belsize Park

Last night, the Two Crabs and a group of friends took a field trip to Belsize Park, a lovely tree-lined neighborhood in North London. Our destination: the new Everyman Belsize Park cinema to see Sean Penn in the Oscar-nominated Harvey Milk biopic, "Milk." When we got off the Tube, we immediately hit the local newsagent to stock up on treats: popcorn, M&Ms, water, soda, fruit, granola bars, etc and shoved them into every pocker of our coats!  Then we walked into Everyman and were pleasantly surprised.

Banner_bsp_2Everyman Belsize Park is the epitome of a great movie theatre. For starters, it doesn't look at all like a movie theatre. The outside and lobby looks like a posh modern nightclub with minimalist furniture and decor. There is a FULL BAR in the lobby with beer, wine, spirits, mixed drinks and snacks. But you won't find any popcorn, nachos, Milk Duds or hot dogs here; the food is all healthy and/or organic including bowles of olives, pretzels, cakes, candies and other goodies.There are several little tables for sitting and chatting.

Inside, the theater is small and intimate, maybe 150 seats. The theatre looks more like an airplane than a cinema and divided into two classes: Standard and Premium. The standard seats (£12) are mostly two-person leather couches perfect for getting close to your sweetie. The seats recline and have hidden tray tables in the plush roomy armrests. For an extra £4 quid, you can splurge for the premium seats that looks like first class seats on an airplane: huge bucket leather seats with footrests and tables. Before the show starts, wait staff come to your seat and take your order. Yes, you can drink and eat while watching the movie!  The bathroom entrance is located inside the cinema so you don't have to go far. It's not stadium seating, but it does slope up so even shorties like us had no problem seeing the screen.  The screen is also far enough from the seats that you could even sit in the first row and not have to strain your neck up.  The screen itself is rather small by modern standards, but suits its purpose.

Another major plus: NO COMMERCIALS!  Nowadays in both the US and UK, movies are preceeded by about 20 minutes of commercials and trailers.  At Everyman, the curtains opened to reveal a short film about the local neighborhood, featuring fun interviews with Belize Park merchants, a hairdresser, pub landlord and other locals discussing their favorite films of all time. There was ONE trailer (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) before the feature film presentation. 

Perhaps the best feature is that all seats are reserved!  If you buy your tickets online as we did, you are taken to a diagram of the cinema where you pick your favorite seat, just like picking an airline seat. And there are no tickets or printouts. The "e-ticket" is sent as a text message to your mobile phone that you simply show to the usher! 

Tickets to Everyman are £12 ($16.25 USD at current exchange rate), that's about £2.50 more than our local Vue multiplex cinema but I would gladly pay a little extra to see a show at Everyman, especially for the privelege of enjoying a beer while watching a flick!

As for Milk: It was everything the critics have said. 4 out of 4 stars. When the lights came on, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Defintely worthy of Best Picture and Best Actor Oscars.


Inauguration Day events in London - recap

The inauguration will be televised live on BBC, Sky News and CNN International, with coverage beginning at 4pm local time. A roundup of inauguration events taking place Tuesday in London:

  • Democrats Abroad is hosting a black-tie London Inaugural Ball. More than 1,300 people are expected to attend the sold-out bash at the Royal Lancaster Hotel. Democrats Abroad is also sponsoring events in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford and even a Hawaiian luau in Cambridge in honor of Obama's home state. www.democratsabroad.org/events
  • American Meetup - the largest American expat club in the UK -- is hosting an inauguration viewing party at the o2 Academy Islington from 4:15pm to 2am. More than 2,000 Americans and their friends are expected. Admission £10. american.meetup.com, o2 Academy Islington, 16 Parkfield Street.
  • Former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland will perform at the Yes We Did black-tie inauguration party and dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane. Other performers include Mica Paris and Kwame Kwei-Armah. The event also celebrates the achievements of black Britons. Tickets £75, 6pm. http://hilldavenport.com/obama/
  • The Ibbamo Trust -- a charity organiztion inspired by Barack Obama's philosophy -- will host its 20109 Change Party fundraiser at London's O2 Arena with comedy, speeches and R&B and gospel musical performances by artists such as NDubz and Yolanda Brown. The event kicks off at 6:30pm. Tickets £18.50. www.20109change.com
  • Madame Tussauds wax museum is offering free admission to Americans with proof of citizenship (bring your passport!). That's a savings of £22.50 ($33) off the normal adult admission price. The event is a promotion for the unveiling of the museum's new Obama wax figure. Marylebone Road, 9:30am-5:30pm.
  • What's more American that barbecue and beer? The Chicago Rib Shack is hosting an inauguration party with coverage of the inauguration followed by food and live music. The £60 admission fee includes food and beer.145 Knightsbridge.
  • The Tricycle Theatre is hosting an all-American inauguration party, complete with pretzels, beer and cheerleaders who will be rooting for Obama! The event kicks off at 4:30pm. Admission £16. 269 Kilburn High Road.
  • For something more subdued, Yates Wine Bar will host a live inauguration viewing party beginning at 4pm, with a champagne toast as Obama is sworn in. Other events include presidential quizzes and door prizes. Admission £15. 30 Leicester Square. www.progressive-vision.org
  • Live inauguration viewing parties are planned at other American themed restaurants across London including the Hard Rock Cafe, The Texas Embassy, TGI Fridays and Smollensky's.

President Obama

In a few short hours, Barack Hussein Obama II will become the 44th president of the United States. Whether you voted for Obama or the other guy, there's no denying the historic impact of this moment. Only in America can the black son of a Kenyan goat-herding Muslim and white Christian Kansan become president. 

Americans abroad will be celebrating this historic moment in our nation's history. In the UK, home to 300,000 Americans -- 50,000 in London alone -- will be celebrating at parties from Cambridge to Edinburgh, from Liverpool to London.  The Two Crabs will be attending the American Meetup party in our own neighborhood.  Photos to follow.

It's hard to believe that just 4 years ago, Obama was a little-known senator from Illinois. As a reminder, here's the moment when most Americans learned about Obama, during his 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention:



Meanwhile, check out this wonderful article that ran on the front page of today's Guardian newspaper:

Magical spell that will open a new American era

By Jonathan Freedland in Washington

Today a magic spell will be performed. A man who 12 weeks ago was a mere political candidate will be transformed with the incantation of a few words, before a vast crowd and a television audience in the hundreds of millions if not billions, into the head of state, even the embodiment, of the most powerful nation on earth.

It is an act of political alchemy that happens every time a new president is inaugurated, but rarely has the moment been as anticipated as this one. Washington DC, usually a city of strait-laced, sober-suited types has acquired the atmosphere of a child's bedroom in the first hours of Christmas morning. There are snow flurries outside, tacky decorations everywhere - and the resolve to wake up early, so as not to miss a moment of the great day.

The excitement is intense and has been building for days, increasing with each coachload of newcomers that arrives in the city. Women wear woolly hats against the cold, the word OBAMA spelled out in diamante letters. Street-hawkers sell T-shirts bearing Obama's face, alongside ever more grandiose slogans. One shows a beatific president-to-be under the quasi-biblical declaration: "And he shall be called Barack Obama."

Click here for the full story.


Chipotle coming to London!



Picture 1 NEW YORK (AP) -- Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. will soon open a restaurant in London and launch a more aggressive marketing campaign, the restaurant chain's chief executive said Monday at an investor conference.

In a webcast of the 7th Annual Cowen & Co. Consumer Conference, Steve Ells said the company is close to signing a lease on its first London location. Ells said Chipotle will enter the market with just one restaurant and one restaurateur and will then add more locations if the first is successful.

"We're building this from a small team of leaders who will create their own leadership team and grow from that base," he said.

The company's first move outside the U.S. was in Toronto, where it opened one restaurant in its fiscal third quarter. As of the end of September, there were more than 800 Chipotle restaurants in the U.S.

Ells said the Toronto location is performing well so far although he did not offer details.

Ells also told investors the chain has not effectively communicated what makes it different from the competition. The new marketing campaign aims to remedy that.

Ells said Chipotle was convening consumer focus groups and even looking into what people eat at home to understand its customers' eating habits.

"We're in the process now of doing some very intensive research that we've never done before," he said.

The company reiterated its forecast that same-store sales -- sales at locations open at least a year -- will rise by a percentage in the middle to low single digits in fiscal 2008, which ended at the end of December and in the low single digits in fiscal 2009.

Chipotle shares fell 28 cents to $53.13 in midday trading.


Inauguration Day events in London

Capt.9091300f755e4d9f85757c4fa3c64f89.obama_spider_man_wx106 DEMOCRATS ABROAD INAUGURAL BALL

Don’t sit home with the BBC on Jan. 20 when you can be part of history at The Democrats Abroad London Inaugural Ball!

For those who cannot make it to DC, the London Inaugural Ball brings the festivities to you! Join us for London’s very own Inaugural Ball in honor of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Highlights include cocktails with full cash bar, dinner, live band, and video highlights from the Inauguration. Black tie optional.

Location: Royal Lancaster Hotel, Lancaster Terrace, Bayswater

Time: from 7pm

Tickets: range from £25* to £100, to table bookings or serving on our Host Committee. See website below for further details.

RSVP: [email protected]

oad.org.uk

For more information/Ticket Levels: http://www.democratsabroad.org/node/7439

Full price tickets are going fast, but we have coordinated with the hotel to allow even more UK Democrats to join this historic celebration. We are now able to offer a limited number of tickets for UK Democrats to join us after dinner, for the live music/dance portion of the evening, from 9:30, for £25!


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LONDON EXPAT AMERICAN MEETUP GROUP INAUGURAL PARTY

This is going to be the biggest inauguration event in London on Jan 20th! Our last election night party attracted over 4,000 people for one overnight party so we are prepared for at least that amount. And good news; The admission will be no more than a fiver! £5.00. Details very soon!

http://www.meetup.com/americansabroad/calendar/6785809/

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MADAME TUSSAUD'S FREE ADMISSION FOR YANKS


LONDON (AP) – Stuck in Britain on Inauguration Day? Madame Tussauds, the London waxwork museum, is offering U.S. tourists the chance to see their new president up close for free.

The museum says Americans need to bring proof of citizenship. The offer is intended to celebrate the inauguration of the museum's new attraction — a Barack Obama waxwork — on Jan. 20.

Sculptors are still adding the finishing touches, but the museum said Wednesday that Obama would be shown in an informal and relaxed pose, smiling with arms folded amid a reproduction of the White House Oval Office.

Museum spokeswoman Liz Edwards declined to say how many people she thought would show up for the free viewing. The museum typically charges 25 pounds ($38) at the door.

http://www.madametussauds.com/London/NewsAndEvents/Default.aspx