Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All Things--and I mean ALL THINGS--Scottish

(If you're looking for my giveaway post, you've found it! Or, check out the latest updates on TeamKilt Burns Night.)


I admit, I'm indecisive. I can stand in front of the refrigerator for 15 minutes trying to figure out what to eat, then go to the pantry for another 10 minutes, then back to the fridge, and finally walk away still hungry.

So to ask me to choose one Favorite Thing about Scotland? How cruel! Who would do that?

Oh yeah, that was me.

So instead of choosing one thing about Scotland to prattle on and on about and give away, I've decided (yes, decided! I'm a decider!) to tell you about 26 things (and...still just give away one thing).

That was last night, and just before I went to bed at 3:30am, sort of finishing this post, minus the pics and videos, I tweeted this:

Not sure why I thought talking abt 26 things would be easier than talking about 1 thing. But it cleverly disguises my lack of deep thoughts.

So this brings me to my discomfort about discussing Scotland. Because though I don't think I have any Scottish blood (it's hard to tell with Smith--that could be anything, but most likely English, and on my mother's side I'm Irish and German), I do love Scotland something fierce. Fiercely fierce.

I first went during a short break while I was studying for a semester in London. (And when I say, "short break," I mean two of my friends and I skipped classes for three days to make a five-day weekend.) The experience can only be described as magical, and I was determined to get back one day, which I finally did last year. It felt like coming home. It's not the place of my blood (though Ireland was incredible, too), but maybe it's the place of my soul.

And yet...

I don't want to be one of those Yanks who's all, "AFKJFDDFKFHSDKFHDGKDLHHHAAAAHHH, SCOTLAND!!!" It's got a million lovely qualities, but in the end it's a place with regular people living their regular lives, just like here. Folks in Scotland put their trousers on one leg at a time, just like we do (unless it's a kilt day). The last thing I want to do is fetishize an entire nation and its citizens.

I wrote a book with a Scottish hero, but Zachary'll probably be the only one. I don't write about Scots, I write about teens, whoever they may be or wherever they may come from. I write about personalities, not nationalities.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I feel I can move on and present...What I Adore about Scotland, A to Zed!

A is for the Accent. How do you not love it, what with all that...tongue? A few don't love it. My husband, thank goodness, doesn't find it an attractive accent for girls. I think he prefers French (he's an old-skool guy that way).

B is for Billy Boyd. You can have your fancy-prancey Legolas and your questionably-hygienic Aragorn. Give me a man who can sing and drink and dance...and has a fair fortune on the side (never hurts, right?). I'm talking about Peregrin Took, aka, Pippin. He may not be the strongest or the smartest or the bravest. In fact, he's kind of a screwup. But he knows how to have a good time.

And that voice...was at the center of what might be the most powerful moment in the entire trilogy, in Return of the King when the maniacal Steward of Gondor sent his soldiers (including his son Boromir) on a suicide mission:

I cry every time that piece comes up on the soundtrack. EVERY time! (Also, the part when Gandalf dies--another perfect bit of music by Howard Shore.)

C is for the word that shall never be said on this side of the Atlantic, but which is said approximately 50 times a day by most Scotsmen between the ages of 13 and 50.

D is for drinking. My personal favorite: Crabbie's Ginger Beer, which cannot be found in the United States and is as good an excuse as any for packing up and moving to Scotland.

E is for Edinburgh. Despite my preference for Glasgow, Edinburgh's really a beautiful city, and I'm looking forward to going back this year with my husband for a software conference if the schedule works out. *fingers crossed*

F is for Frightened Rabbit. How many more times do I have to tell you that they are the greatest band in the world? They kick ass in the studio, live, and on Twitter, where they actually answer fan tweets. (Last August, I asked: "Is it wrong that I'm thinking of you when I'm with another band?" (It was true, so true.) and they said, "Ha. No, it's not wrong. Just don't tell the other band.") If you want to win my favorite CD ever, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, go see Living Fictitiously's All Things Scottish post--they're giving away a copy today.

G is for Glesga itself. Sigh...I started feeling sad to leave Glasgow approximately 24 hours after I arrived. I thought perhaps I was sentimental about it because it was Zachary's hometown, but Shane from the WVMP series is my favorite of all my dudes, and I'm somehow not dying to pick up and move to Youngstown, Ohio.

I'll blog much more about Glasgow as we get closer to the release of Shine and Zachary's short story, "Shattered." Oh yes, eventually you won't get me to shut up about Glasgow.

H is for Haggis. Vegetarian, that is. Don't laugh, it's delicious, and sheep-free!

I is for the Isle of Mull, where I spent a lovely day when I was 20, with the cutest Texan I've ever met.

J is for the Jags, the nickname for Partick Thistle Football Club. Technically, they're Zachary's favorite team, not mine, but I agree that fans of the two Scottish Premier League teams, Celtic and Rangers, aka the Old Firm, have a violent, sectarian rivalry that makes the Yankees-Red Sox games look like Woodstock. Plus, one of those two teams wins the whole shebang every year. How is that fun? It's bad enough we have a rematch of the 2007 Super Bowl coming up. (Not that I'm a bitter, heartbroken Ravens fan or anything.)

K is for, well, come on...

L is for Limmy, aka Brian Limond, an extremely inappropriate Scottish comedian. While we're on the subject, if I could truly choose only one favorite Scottish thing, it would be the comedy. Shows like Burnistoun, or guys like Frankie Boyle, Billy Connolly, and Craig Ferguson (who's also a fabulous novelist)--they represent Scotland to me more than any romancey kilted Highlander. But their material is not only unsuitable for a young-adult audience, it's unsuitable for about 80% of adults in North America.

*checks Limmy's Twitter feed*

Hmm, make that 90%.

M is for Fraser McFarlane, our Glasgow tour guide and Team Kilt Burns Night participant!

N is for neeps, aka turnips. As in neeps 'n' tatties, which is basically turnips and mashed potatoes. Yum!

O is for Òran Mór, the church-turned-pub (how's that for a path to heaven?) less than a block from our B&B in Glasgow. It makes a significant appearance in Shine.

P is for the pubs. Like The Butterfly and the Pig.

Q is for...I don't know, what is Q ever for?

R is for Robert Burns. It's his day! And though I'm not an immense fan of poetry, I do love music, and many of his songs are Scottish classics, like this one:

S is for sweets like Tunnock's Tea Cakes. They're chocolate with marshmallow inside, which made me skeptical, as I'm not a fan of marshmallow treats like Peeps. But the marshmallow in a Tunnock's Tea Cake is like spun sugar, and melts in your mouth. More, please!

T is for The Twilight Sad, a fantastic shoe gaze-y band from Glasgow. I've talked here on the blog (and in SHADE and SHIFT) about bands like the Raveonettes and A Place to Bury Strangers. I love me some distortion and fuzzy guitars, like a mad thing. Give me a wall of noise, and I can take the volume to 11.

Anyway, The Twilight Sad's got all that, plus the gorgeous accent and poetic lyrics.

And now after mentioning their wall of noise, here's an acoustic performance of a song off their new release, No One Can Ever Know, which comes out February 6.

Twilight Sad Music Video from Mallard Productions on Vimeo.

The singer, James Graham, just might be the dead ringer for Zachary I've been looking for. Or Zach in five or six years. Then again, with all he goes through in Shine, he might age a bit faster than most lads.

U is for uisge beatha (pronounced ISH-keh BA-ha, roughly), which is Scottish Gaelic for whisky (Scotch whisky is spelled without the E). I used to love me some single malt Scotch, but then I tried Irish whiskey (Paddy's FTW) and was lured away. So now I'm pickier about my Scotch. Which is not a bad thing.

W is for William Wallace. Braveheart. Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting. He's a mentor to a writer friend of mine, and she told me a hilarious story of him going to a Chicago Fire soccer game and shouting the typical Scottish epithets at the players and officials, teaching the soccer moms and their kids some brand-new words.

X is for X-Men: First Class, which I haven't actually seen, but I have seen its star, James McAvoy in other brilliant films like The Last King of Scotland. I have never been so scared as I was at the end of that movie. My blood pressure was through the roof!

Oh, I just happened to have this pic of him:

Y is for Ya [expletive deleted] mad wee [expletive deleted], [expletive deleted]!

Glaswegian insults. Pure gold.

Z is, of course, for Zachary. By this point, he really is my favorite Scottish thing, but the reasons have more to do with his humanity than his nationality. I love his courageous, honest, stubborn, patient, pure heart that is absolutely nothing like mine. The people around me would be much happier if I could be more like him.

So out of all these things, which should I give away? Since I can't decide, I'll draw a random number between 1 and 26, and then whichever letter that number corresponds to, I'll give away something to do with that.


*draws number*


The number is....


Which corresponds to B--Billy Boyd! Yay! So the prize for my giveaway will be the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy on your choice of DVD or Blu Ray. These are the director's cut versions, so you'll get a good heaping dose of Billy and all those lesser lads.

To enter, tell me which of the 26 (okay, 25, since I left out Q) favorite Scottish things above you'd like to learn more about. I'll see what I can do.

Deadline: 24 hours from now: 1:01pm Thursday, January 26. I'll draw a name at random and contact the winner, who will have until Sunday to get back to me with their address or I'll draw another name. International entries welcome.

And like every All Things Scottish giveaway, the winner will be entered in the grand prize drawing for a signed, personalized ARC of SHINE.

(Follow that last link to For What It's Worth's Burns Day Giveaway Hop, where you can win tons of stuff and have a fantastic holiday.)


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X--James mcavoy . I can just watch that man and be happy :)

Posted by: Blogger Julie@My5monkeys at 1/25/2012 1:22 PM

i'd like to know more about twilight sad. i really really liked that song and the singer's not so bad himself. :) although really any of the scottish bands like that would be fun to learn more about!

Posted by: Blogger alicia marie at 1/25/2012 1:32 PM

I would like to know more about Isle of Mull ! :)


Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 1/25/2012 1:39 PM

Moore about Zachary, of course! (which the next 2 books will solve your problem there).
haha. Okay, I pick Kilts. I mean, what DO they wear under there?!

Posted by: Blogger Mandie Baxter at 1/25/2012 1:42 PM

Oh wow! So many A-Z (except Q) things I'd love to learn about on this great post! But one thing caught me- The C. *kidding* - actually it was Neeps. As I'm growing up, I'm finally opening myself up to try different foods including vegetables. I just tried fried tofu last week! <-- yummy. I LOVE mashed potatoes and if I add turnips or neeps to them, how could that NOT taste good?
Oh, and thanks for the shout out on Living Fictitiously's giveaway for Frightened Rabbit. Such a great CD!
(P.S. going stalk The Twilight Sad)

Posted by: Blogger Kimberly Callegan at 1/25/2012 1:55 PM

Thanks for the mention! Ah'm sittin' here aw chuffed wi that. Also, I really miss Crabbies.

Posted by: Anonymous Fraser McFarlane at 1/25/2012 2:11 PM

D is for drinking! I'd be interested to try a ginger beer - reminds me of Harry Potter! And P.S. H should totally have been for Hogwarts :)

Posted by: Blogger Galena at 1/25/2012 2:42 PM

I want to know more about U! Hooray for whiskey.

Posted by: Blogger Miss Marjie at 1/25/2012 3:01 PM

LOL I love this!! Kay I'd like to learn more about kilts! Not because the picture up there is niiice (okay well maybe a little ;) but I honestly don't know why they wear them or where they came from...

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 1/25/2012 3:08 PM

As much as I love the kilts, I think my abso favorite thing is the A for Accent. Love the... ton... um, accent.

Posted by: Blogger Kendra at 1/25/2012 3:28 PM

still X- for James mcavoy

aprilmom00 at yahoo dot com

Posted by: Blogger Julie@My5monkeys at 1/25/2012 3:35 PM

Oh so many things! Since my studying in Glasgow fell through (EPIC SADNESS!), I'd like the G for Glasgow infor. Thanks so much for yet another grand post & giveaway!


Posted by: Blogger Litza at 1/25/2012 3:51 PM

I think I pick S for sweets. I love sweets. Those marshmallow chocolate things sound delicious.

Thanks for the giveaway!


Posted by: Blogger Lyssa Anne at 1/25/2012 5:09 PM

Ok, maybe this is going to show how crude I am, but I want more of Y!
"Y is for Ya [expletive deleted] mad wee [expletive deleted], [expletive deleted]!
Glaswegian insults. Pure gold."
Anything in a foreign languange that has to be censored interestes me! Lol! Thanks for all the fun today Jeri!

Posted by: Blogger Bwyatt at 1/25/2012 6:14 PM

Well, since I'm currently listening to this song and TOTALLY digging it...I'll go with wanting to learn more about Twilight Sad. I will definitely be looking into this wonderful sound situation they have going on!


Posted by: Blogger Lindsey at 1/25/2012 6:31 PM

i already have the LOTR SO DONT ENTER ME!!! but i wanna say i luv this post and wanna learn more about A-Z...hell even Q!! lol!! thanks again jeri!!

Posted by: Anonymous jessica ware at 1/25/2012 7:15 PM

I'd like to here more about "O" the pub that was a church. I think that is kinda cool and there has to be a lot of history there. The architecture alone is probably stunning.

Posted by: Blogger Tanya at 1/25/2012 7:24 PM

I love this entire post, but I'd like to learn more about the accents and the dialects in Scotland, especially Glasgow's dialect which is my personal favorite. =D

Posted by: Blogger Meghan Raine at 1/25/2012 8:15 PM

I already have LOTR so don't need to be entered in the contest but I loved the post. I love too much about Scotland to pick just one too and I haven't been there. Yet. I haven't been there yet.

Yay for Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad. More people over here need to know how awesome they are!

Posted by: Blogger Judy (shellseeker93) at 1/25/2012 8:27 PM

C I wanna know more about C LOL or Z I could always do with more Zachary :)

supagurlheather @ gmail . com

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 1/25/2012 8:33 PM

The Isle of Mull!

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Posted by: Blogger Vivien at 1/25/2012 8:39 PM

Kilts and jokes about kilts! "What's worn under a kilt? Nothing. It's all in perfect working condition!" giggle,giggle! thanks for the fun of it all. Someday I will make it to Scotland,where I belong, if I can't live in The Shire.

Posted by: Anonymous Laura Lawson at 1/25/2012 8:52 PM

I really want to know about vegetarian haggis. Even if I don't win can you post a recipe or some more detailed explanation? My brain can't figure it out.

Posted by: Blogger Lisa (Reading to the Moon) at 1/25/2012 8:58 PM

I would like to more more about X...well, to clarify, I mean James McAvoy.

I have seen X-Men First Class. My hubby is an X-Men freak and we have this deal where we take turns draggi...I mean taking each other to the movies for date night. I wasn't super excited about seeing this movie at first, but I ended up loving it. Mr. McAvoy made it better! Thanks for the givaway!


Posted by: Blogger Adrena Lambert at 1/25/2012 10:04 PM

Awesome post! I'd really like to know more about...James McAvoy, wouldn't we all? But that vegetarian haggis, I'd be willing to give that a go! I'm in search of new recipes!

Posted by: Blogger Triquetra at 1/25/2012 10:33 PM

mmmmm james mcavoy! i am really interested in the vegetarian haggis.


Posted by: Blogger Mary at 1/25/2012 10:47 PM

A is for the Accent. I love the accent.

Although X is quite appealing too!

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Posted by: Blogger donnas at 1/26/2012 12:55 AM

OOOO so many, it is hard to choose I wan't to learn more about all of them but i think that The Twilight Sad is my choice *googling* *Youtube searching*
and also Zachary because can we ever get enough of Zachary??? (The answer is no) :)

Posted by: Blogger Breanne Duguay at 1/26/2012 2:58 AM

Z for Zachary! :D Though I kinda liked Y as well too... ;)

Posted by: Blogger Jen R. at 1/26/2012 4:13 AM

P for pubs. Which is weird, because I dont drink. But there is something about the mood, from what I've seen in movies, that I really like.

Posted by: Blogger cristina at 1/26/2012 8:58 AM

I agree that it's hard to choose - so many things on this list are intriguing. If I had to pick just one however, I'd pick G. When thinking of Scotland, Glasgow always comes I mind. I'd like the opportunity to know it in an off-the-beaten path way like the people who live there. Google and tour books show the highlights, but I can only imagine the hidden gems that go unknown to so many.

Posted by: Blogger Janette at 1/26/2012 9:00 AM

X for sure! Mainly I just want to know James McAvoy better! ;) Love him!

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 1/26/2012 9:21 AM

Scotland must be very beautiful country with great history. I like the castles, the accents, the kilts and two of my favorite actors are from Scotland, Ewan Mcgregor and Sean Connery.
Thank you for the great giveaway and hop!
artgiote at gmail dot com

Posted by: Blogger ArtemisG at 1/26/2012 9:56 AM

U for that glorious Scottish whisky. Truly a gift to the world. (Don't enter me in the contest -- just wants to do a drive-by comment).

Posted by: Blogger Jana Oliver at 1/26/2012 10:29 AM

A! the accent! It's so sexy. Especially when they sing ^^

Posted by: Blogger Christina W at 1/26/2012 1:02 PM

I want to know more about Glasgow! Visiting Scotland is WAY up on my list of places to go!!


Posted by: Blogger CJ at 1/26/2012 1:36 PM

I'd have to go with G for Glasgow, I've always wanted to go to Scotland. That's where my roots are, my last name is Bruce and my Dada has always loved all things Scottish, so we had to learn it too lol. Awesome post, and thanks for the giveaway ;)

Posted by: Blogger Tristan at 1/26/2012 1:47 PM

I did find Crabbies online and they will ship to the US and shipping actually isn't that bad! :-) Thought you would like to know!

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 1/26/2012 2:55 PM

Thanks for all your comments! Looks like I've got my blogging work cut out for me this year with all this curiosity. :) I'll really enjoy sharing more about the Scottish things I love most.

The winner of the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy on DVD or BluRay (winner's choice) is....ame1184! ame, please send your name and address to me at jeri AT jerismithready DOT com (and remind me what it is you won) within the next week. If I've heard no response by then, I'll draw another name.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 1/26/2012 11:28 PM

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