vendredi 31 octobre 2008

Project Bueller

In some extremely fun news, my friend Laurel is participating in a re-enactment of the parade scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, when Matthew Broderick lip-synchs "Twist and Shout" in the middle of Chicago's Von Steuben Day parade.

Project Bueller will take part in the annual Halloween parade in NYC, and onlookers and passerby are welcome to join in to the massive Beatles singalong, with 1980's-era business attire and dance moves strongly recommended. Laurel will be one of the beer maids on the float and play an accordion, I believe. Have you ever dreamed of being Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago? Join in for having one of the best days on your young lives. I would go if I could. The Project Bueller website has more information.

mercredi 22 octobre 2008


Here I am, miles upon miles upon kilometers from home, where all of my costume clothing is in boxes, and I have a Halloween party to go to on Saturday night. Who can I dress as this year? My only ideas are the most obvious choice of this year: Sarah Palin (but do I have a suit? and how does she get her hair to do that anyway?) and the most obvious choice of last year: Amy Winehouse. Yes, I can probably tease my hair into a modified beehive and put on some eyeliner, but could I find a bunch of fake tattoos to put all over my arms? Do I have sufficiently slutty clothes? Its a tough one this year.

jeudi 16 octobre 2008

Dean Smith endorses Obama

It's a sign that the campaign is officially over in North Carolina. Dean Smith endorsing Obama is the last nail in the McCain coffin. Could there be a more important endorsement?

I suggest that Obama go into the four corners offense and wrap this thing up.

mercredi 15 octobre 2008


Our last stop of this extended trip was Berlin. Such a great city!

One of my fave things in Berlin is the old East German street-crossing signs, which are way, way cuter than the old West German ones. People love them so much that they sell replicas as souvenirs.
We went over to Checkpoint Charlie, and went to the museum there, which is a cluttered collection of cold war memorabilia. It showed the various ways that people tried to escape out of East Germany, which pretty much were any way possible. It also showed the gruesome lengths by which the Russians/East Germans tried to stop them.
One of the things that we did was take a walking tour, which was sketched out in the guidebook. The tour went by this square, where there was a rally against the war in Afghanistan. What, is rallying against Iraq passé?This was a square where Hitler held a book burning rally.
This park is the Lustgarden, which is in front of the Berlin cathedral (on left). The ugly towers behind are what remains of the Palast der Republik, the East German parliament, which is now being dismantled.
Oktoberfest started the weekend we were there!
At the end of our walking tour, in front of the city hall, there was a big Löwenbräu tent. "Here's to good friends...."
Inside the tent we had enormous beers and pretzels, while a band played traditional German drinking songs.B got in trouble with our waitress because, instead of waiting to be served, he went up to a line and got us our beers there. How easy it is in Germany to break some rule you didn't know existed in the first place. The waitress lectured us and then punished us by ignoring us and not bringing our order.

lundi 13 octobre 2008


We blew through Dresden in a flash, taking it in long enough to soak up some of the beautiful skyline. It was pretty much firebombed to bits during WWII, but much has been painstakingly rebuilt, and since reunification, the train station was redone and an excellent tram system was put in (one of the best we saw in Germany, which is saying a lot).

Here are some of the many gorgeous buildings there.

The Frauenkirche was badly damaged in WWII and was left in ruins for years. But, after reunification there was a call to rebuild it. I wondered if the darker colored stones were pieces of the original. Supposedly inside there is an altar inside made of thousands of shards of the original one (we couldn't go in to see it because there was a service).
Martin Luther. Of course.We went to check out the famous Zwinger building, which is an old baroque palace. This is its courtyard.We walked along the roof of the Zwinger.

This picture represents pretty much every meal we ate in Germany.
Before leaving town B bought his fave treat, roasted nuts.

dimanche 12 octobre 2008


We rented a car to drive down to this corner of southeast Germany, in the Bavarian Alps near the Austrian border. Here we are on the autobahn, getting dusted by every Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen on the road.
We stayed in Berchtesgaden, which was pretty. One of the things we did while we were there was hike out to Lake Königssee and take a boat across the lake. Here is B on the path.Some of the tourist dreck for sale by the lake included Beaver ointment. Good for what ails you.Here are folks waiting by the lake for their boat.
The lake is surrounded by mountains. The boatmen stop in the middle and play a few bars on the trumpet, and you can hear the music echoing over and over again.

The boat stops at a little lakeside area where you can have some beer and bratwurst.On the walk back we stopped for a beer. In Germany, what else?

samedi 11 octobre 2008


After arriving in Munich we wandered towards the Residenz area, passing Odeonplatz, the site where Hitler attempted his revolt, the one that got him in jail, where he wrote Mein Kampf. There was a street fair there and we watched some performers. We spent a couple days in Munich, and the entire time the weather stunk. Rain, rain, rain. So we spent our time in cafes and beer halls.Here is one bier hall where we had dinner. As I recall, B had a 'sausage salad.' Only in Germany can you make a salad out of different types of sausages.We also went over to the Alte Pinochek and saw some works of one of my favorite German artists, Caspar David Friedrich.

Here is a picture of the Rathaus (city hall), I believe. When we were walking by, the Rathaus had its occasional showing of the little figurines dancing. This was a tradition created by merchants to celebrate the city being freed from the plague.

We wandered around on the last day. Here we are by the main shopping street.And in the market.We also walked down to the river.

vendredi 10 octobre 2008


We arrived in the late afternoon in Salzburg, where the weather was cool and cloudy. After checking into the hotel we walked the short distance downtown to dinner. En route we passed Mozart’s birthplace and his residence. We went to a chic eatery for dinner called the Blaue Gans. I was relieved to get the English translation of the menu because I wouldn’t have known the German word for ‘Innards”, “Calf’s brain”, “Heart of beef”, “kidneys” etc. It seemed the only safe thing to order was schnitzel. B got the Austrian specialty, tafelspitz, which is boiled beef. Our dishes came with potatoes; there was nary a vegetable to be seen anywhere.

The next day we awoke to clouds and rain, so we pressed on to Munich.

jeudi 9 octobre 2008


We had a blitzkrieg visit to Vienna. We arrived and checked into our cheapy hotel, the Do Step Inn, which was notable only for its convenience to the Westbanhof and free internet. We went into the city for lunch, where I had a delicious veal weiner schnitzel, mashed potatoes and sliced apples, and Brian had a pork schnitzel with potatoes. This was the true start of our meat-heavy Germanic eating.

Typical fancy fountain. Typical grandiose Viennese building.
As we walked to lunch, we were stopped in front of Stephensdom by a man dressed in 18th century garb who sold us tickets to a Mozart and Strauss concert that evening. The concert took place at the Hapsburg palace in the gold and white room, which was the location where Mozart played his first concert.

We arrived early at the palace and walked around the gardens, which were spectacular. B seemed remarkably comfortable in the opulence and claimed he would soon be building a palace of equal stature in Lynchburg. Of this I have no doubt. The concert itself was quite good, and had a tourist-pleasing mix of Mozart’s and Strauss’s greatest hits, plus some opera singing and ballet.

The next day we went back into the downtown for a coffee and pastry breakfast, where we were surprised by a passing marching band.
Later that day we progressed to the Hapsburg royal vaults, where we rested our eyes upon the most opulent, extravagant, self-aggrandizing coffins it has ever been my pleasure to see. The 17th century coffins featured carvings of skulls and crossbones along with depictions of battles, weeping cherubs, eagles, hawks, Christ on the cross, and representations of the deceased.

From there we wandered through the palace garden and stopped for a drink at the kuntzmuseum coffeeshop, and sat outside in the sun. I have to admit, every coffee we had in Vienna was damn good.

Here is B, breaking the rules and risking getting a lecture.We had lunch at one of the bratwurst stands in downtown Vienna, before having another coffee and heading back to catch the train to Salzburg.