Wo Ist Mein Gluck Swien?

January - February 2006

 

I have now lived in Germany for five years. When are you going to visit me?

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Thanks to everyone who has written or called about Buster. I'm really struggling with this. I just cannot get my mind around it. So far, time is not healing. I lost so much more than a dog.

Albi is lonely, and was obviously feeling abandoned by losing Buster and then, in her mind, us, as we went to Jordan just five days later. While she and Buster didn't interact much physically, I realized now that they spent so much of their time watching each other, even competing in small ways, and that anything they did -- eating, laying on a bed, going outside -- was done with a full consciousness of each other. Albi took so many cues from Buster -- even at the end, he decided when it was time for them to be excited about dinner. Now, Albi goes off to sleep in our bedroom in the early evening, almost as though she's trying to hide, so I've been closing the door so she can't go in there unless I'm in there as well. She's now sleeping in the bed in the bedroom at night, which I do like. But all this has reminded me that I've had her just two and a half years, and for shelter dogs, that's still not enough time to absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt, trust someone. We have a lot to work on.

Some of you have expressed confusion that a certain person of German heritage with whom I live who shall remain nameless didn't like Buster. "Hated", might be a better word. So, this is how I've explained it to some of you: It's all down to personalities.

   Albi:
-- GERMAN shepherd mix
-- obviously very intelligent
-- wanting to please
-- doing what she's told
-- stares at this certain person adoringly, nips his hands as though she's giving kisses
-- rarely barks
-- rarely sheds
-- classic dog good looks
   Buster:
-- intelligent, but didn't give a flip if he pleased anyone are not
-- bossy; believed he was in charge (well, wasn't he?)
-- stares at you only if he wants something, like food
-- barked to indicate displeasure at water bowl levels, meal times, where Albi was sleeping, the TV volume, human locations (he didn't like for Stefan to be back in his office -- everyone was supposed to be in the living room) and bed times (he wanted EVERYONE in bed by 10)
-- shed all over the place. Buster was always with you, per hair on your clothes
-- did not look like a classic dog; looked like Snoopy after a nuclear accident.

Germans love *order*. "Alles ordunung" -- favorite German saying. Buster was the anti-German (although all Germans whom we met when we walked adored him).

Erica says, "This Buster is my favorite. I'm president of the Buster fan club."

Kendra says, "Tell [[NAME WITHHELD]] I stuck my tongue out at him and said , Nah, Nah, Nah nah nah."

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Vote for Me

At Lonely Planet, my Blue List:
Doing Good On Vacation in a Developing Country.
Please rate it (I hope highly)!

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BLAWG!!!

Don't you think that's a much better spelling?

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Sudden Blasts from My Twangy Past

Resuming my online stalking of Robbie Fulks, I was beside myself with joy to learn that he will perform this year at the Kilkenny Rhythm and Roots Festival on April 30 and May 1, and then London soon after. So I wrote my friend Kirsty, who books the acts for such, to tell her I'm already making plans to come. And then, ofcourse, I wrote Mr. Fulks with a list of German clubs and begged him to expand his tour. And the very next day, I get an email from fellow Kentuckian and oh-so-very-talented Hayseed, who I met a lifetime ago at Twangfest and SXSW, just saying hi. He's working on a new CD! Hurrah!

Is all this a sign that it's time for me to re-immerse myself in the world of Twang?

Oh, and I've also just learned that Tommy Womack is planning some concerts in England as well. His latest CD has been number one at Miles of Music earlier this year. He's one of the best live performers you will ever see.

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I don't love everything about Europe, and I am sometimes overwhelmed with home-sickness for the USA (particularly the music and food). But I must admit that there are a lot of things that Germany has going for it that I wish, very much, the USA would consider, and that are going to be very hard to leave behind, such as:

But the big thing that Germany -- and the rest of Europe -- has that the USA needs to adopt is a reasonable vacation policy: vacations here are four to six weeks! Germans have some of the best worker productivity rates world wide and, in fact, is one of the top five economies in the world -- but Germans also are very protective of their personal and social lives. Vacation time is sacred . I would guess that having all this vacation time is one of the reasons Germans are so focused and productive on-the-job.

Is there any political movement pushing for a more reasonable vacation policy standard in the USA? Let me know, and I'll join it!

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In this time of unemployment, I've been trying to finish up all sorts of personal projects -- and there are oh-so-many. One of them I just finished: my long overdue travelogue for Hamburg. This was such an AWESOME trip, and I can't believe I've waited so long to get this posted.

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I read in both The New York Times and on Fark about a video skit on "Saturday Night Live" called "Lazy Sunday" that was sweeping the Internet. Anything with that kind of buzz gets my attention. It took a long while to find a good, clear version online, but I found one, and have watched it I don't know how many times (even managed to download it after much experimentation). Most times, I don't miss American TV culture, but sometimes...

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I got to see my first live Kentucky game in FIVE YEARS here in Europe! My friend Ben got digital cable (for some reason, we can't get it here up on our mountainside), so I got to watch Kentucky BEAT South Carolina. All of his neighbors probably hate him now -- I was my usual loud self during the game. At commercial breaks, the station on the digital cable system shows these British commercials, which is kind of surreal to be seeing during a Kentucky basketball game, but at one point, the station didn't get its commercials going on time, and we got a brief glimpse of this guy by his tractor, and his whole family in a trailer behind it, and he had just started talking, in the accent of my people, an accent that made Ben fall off the couch laughing. So then I had to do my imitation of the Richie Farmer "Kentucky Food Groups" commercial.

It felt soooooooo goooooooood to watch my team... if I'd had some barbecue, I would have been perfectly content. It was probably better that it was something I couldn't watch here at our home -- Albi doesn't need to be further traumatized.

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If I Had a Million Dollars...

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In my last blawg entry, I started a HALL OF SHAME, to highlight some company that has made a deliberate and stupid business decision or engaged in a deliberate and stupid business practice. Already, we have a new entry: CNN. Why? Because CNN has cancelled "Diplomatic License," a weekly news program focusing on the United Nations -- the only news program of its kind. Diplomatic License, hosted by Richard Roth, has been on for 12 and a half years, is the second-longest show on CNN, after Larry King. It's witty, sassy, insightful, provocative and much-needed. Given the extreme amount of power the UN Security Council wields, plus the international situation these days and the growing ignorance in the USA about international affairs, a show like Diplomatic License has never been more needed, yet, CNN has cancelled the show -- I guess they would rather add yet another show targeted solely on the extremely rich abroad: CNN already has "Living Golf" and "Mainsail", a show about sailing (which oh-so-many of us care about - not). I guess CNN will replace Diplomatic License with "Living Polo."

To let CNN know what an idiotic decision this is, please contact Diplomatic.License@CNN.com

Shame, shame on CNN.

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Separated at birth: Michael Herbig, a German comedian also known as "Bully", and Mike Myers. Not just in the way they look, but in the way they do comedy. Someone, please, put them in a movie together.

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For the past four years, I've managed to keep my personal email address completely junk mail free. I did that by using it ONLY to write my close friends, and asking you all to please NEVER send me an email card to that particular address (use my Yahoo address instead).

Now I need to ask you to please do something else, unless you are using a Macintosh computer: please download and use these two products:

Please, please use these tools, I beg you. Because there's at least one of you who has spyware on his or her computer and, as a result, I'm now getting junk mail (frown) at my previously junk-free account.
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So, in the last two years, I've been avoiding pork. I have to say "avoiding" instead of "no longer eating", because the latter is impossible in Germany: no matter how hard you try, at some point, you will find yourself starving and the only meal available is piggy, and your German host is so proud of the meal, and staring at you earnestly...

Why no more pork? Well, it has to do with my dogs. You know how I feel about dogs -- how I'm drawn to their pure love, their intelligence, their way of looking at the world, their way of interacting with each other... and it breaks my heart -- in fact, it sends me into a tearful fit -- to think about people eating dogs. Chickens, no problem -- they're just a bit smarter than tomato plants with legs. But dogs -- no way. I cannot eat anything so intelligent, with such a complicated social structure, and with so much love.

But I realized that I couldn't condemn cultures that eat dogs unless I stopped eating pigs, which by many measurements are even smarter than dogs, and have just as complex a social structure.

I'm not going to be adopting a pet pig anytime soon. And I can't lie -- I miss the taste of pork. I thought that after two years that would go away, but it hasn't at all. But I would be a hypocrite to be so upset about one culture eating dogs, while I eat a creature just as intelligent.

So, have that tofu burger on the grill for me when I come visit. Or chicken.

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The former German President, Johannes Rau, died in January. The Presidency is a largely ceremonial post in Germany -- the head of state is the Chancellor. But former president Rau managed played a critical role in furthering relations with Israel -- he was, in fact, Germany's first head of state to address Israel's parliament in German. He also encouraged Germans to take a more open approach to immigration and a more optimistic view of life, and was a great fighter against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

I mention this because the first time I saw him, I was at a gathering in Bonn in 2001 to celebrate International Women's Day, and he was standing right in front of me (he was short, so I could still see everything). And someone said, "Hey, that guy in front of you is the President of Germany."

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How bored am I? How much time do I have on my hands? I'm almost done with inputting my top 125 movies of all time into my space at the Internet Movie DataBase, as well as a list of my favorite foreign films. Oh well, at least I'm eclectic. I think.

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As I think I've written about before, I've been trying to include in my fiction-reading books that have been made into movies so many times, or have been referred to so many times, that no one reads the books anymore. In the last six years, I've read these books that fall into this category:

I've also read three Jules Verne books: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (tedious technical descriptions of the sea, and very disturbing servant/employer relationship, but Nemo is a fascinating character even now), Journey to the Center of the Earth (looooved this -- great story and the best Verne characters and situations), and, most recently, The Mysterious Island. The last one: I really enjoyed it, but not because it's a terrific story or has good characters, neither of which I think it really has (they aren't bad, but neither is very engaging). I enjoyed it because it was fascinating to see into the mind of the Western European male mind of the 1800s: this self-righteous, absolute arrogance and complete belief that white men were automatically endowed with all of the knowledge and temperament needed to create a paradise anywhere, that they could create absolutely anything out of nothing. In this (and the other Verne books I've read), women matter so little that not only are they rarely named, they aren't even referred to -- on the "mysterious" island, not one of the men ever pines for women. Tobacco, yes, women, no. In fact, dogs are much more valued than women in the world of Jules Verne. But please note that I say all of this while still really enjoying the works of Jules Verne, and I'm planning on reading at least one more book by him it's a fascinating insight into a different era, that makes me oh-so-thankful that times have changed for many (but not all) women in th world.

On my to-read list:

And I'm open to your suggestions. Remember the criteria: books that have been made into movies so many times, or have been referred to so many times, that no one reads the books anymore. And, for the record - I already read Dracula, back in high school. I remember that it was quite gruesome.
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Want to learn about a fascinating, very important figure in USA history, whom you never learned about in school? Read about Harriet Jacobs

And speaking of Wikipedia: I'm totally addicted to it. I look up something, then I click on a link within the article and read something else, then I click on a link within the article and read something else, and five hours later... The above link regarding Harriet Jacobs was found that way.

Another interesting item I found while reading about something seemingly unrelated is about a book called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. It is a "popular history of popular folly" by Charles Mackay, first published in 1843. The book chronicles and vilifies its targets in three parts: "National Delusions", "Peculiar Follies", and "Philosophical Delusions".

"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
I am soooooo downloading this book from Project Gutenberg and having a read. And looking at the summary, I would say that this book could be EASILY updated, per our "modern" thinking...
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Yes, I have had Olympic fever. I know everyone else was watching stupid pseudo reality shows, but I prefer actual reality shows. I love the Olympics -- I always have. Plus, the coverage in Germany is sooo much better than in the USA -- they spend more time covering the events themselves than the athletes (ALL of whom, according the NBC, overcame live-threatening physical and emotional obstacles to be there). My favorite moments in 2006:

No, I didn't watch figure skating. I hate figure skating. Sorry, Buffy.

We enjoyed the Olympic opening ceremonies until after the athletes had all come in. Then things got way too weird, too surrealist. But right at the end, there was the big redeeming moment: Peter Gabriel singing "Imagine." And midway through, I said, "This song has never meant more to me than it does right now." And Stefan said he was thinking the same thing.

How I annoyed Stefan during the Olympics:

Me: "If Luxembourg and Liechtenstein went to war, who would win?"

Him: (seriously thinking about it for a moment) "Um, Luxembourg, definitely."

Me: (after a long pause) If Liechtenstein and Andorra went to war, who would win?"

Him: (sighing and not looking at me) "I don't know."

Me: If Monaco and Liechtenstein went to war, who would win?"

Him: (not looking at me) "I don't know."

Me: "If Monaco and San Marino went to war, who would win? And where the heck is San Marino anyway?"

Him: (no reply as he has realized I am full of crap)

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No, I haven't seen any of the Oscar-nominated movies. Not even one. Most haven't played here yet, at least not in English. One played for one week only, and I didn't know until the week was over. But I will get to see the Oscar's in English -- but I record them rather than watch them live, as they are on in the middle of the night here.

I did get to see the original concert film/documentary of Johnny Cash at San Quentin from 1969. It was shown at the Brotfabrik, a former bread factory (hence the name) in the village of Beuel, across from Bonn. Good film. Johnny Cash is, well, just amazing. I'll always mourn that I never got to see him live in-concert for myself. Lis and Ben enjoyed it too, although they weren't crazy about June's voice -- I love it though. And the hairstyles, both men's and women's, got quite a few unintentional laughs.

I looooooove the Brotfabrik: the little theater is funky and usually sold out with other movie lovers who repectfully watch the film (haven't had to threaten to make someone eat their cell phone yet), they show lots of great old films in original language, and the restaurant there is run by a wonderful Pakistani guy who used to run my favorite little imbiss in Bad Godesberg.

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Bird flu scare is back... and just after mid-February, all the birds at the nearby "Tiergarten" called the "Schwanenteich," a kind of petting zoo (except that you can't pet anything), were, again, locked up. They look so sad... I can't imagine how they are going to have babies in such cramped quarters.

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Let me say it once again:
Han Shoots First.
And that's why I do not own the Star Wars DVDs, and will I WILL NOT own them until I can have the true originals.

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Speaking of animals... they aren't very well-treated in my home town shelter of Henderson, Kentucky. Please read what you can do to help

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HOW could Alan Rickman go Berlin and NOT call me?!?! Here he is in February of this year with Sigourney Weaver -- who I have met, back in 1988 and who, I'm sure, remembers me from that 10-word conversation!! -- during a news conference to promote their latest film "Snow Cake", being shown at the 56th Berlinale International Film Festival.

Some of you had equally strong feelings as well about this snub:

    Sharon in Baltimore: "That is so wrong! Has being part of the British Acting Trinity gone to his head? I thought he could be trusted to remain true to his craft and devoted to his Practically Best Friend... I am so disappointed! One call to the remaining members of the BAT (that would be Gary Oldman and Jeremy Irons, of course) and he can be replaced!

    Louise in Bournemouth: "Look at the cleavage on Cmmdr Ripley? Can she push them in any harder to him? That could be your cleavage darling, pushing in there. Cut that Sigourney from your Xmas card list right now."

    Betsy in Austin: "Oh, Jayne, look closer -- she's holding him hostage! Can't you tell by his pained smile and tortured brow that he's suffering greatly from being so near yet so far from you?"

He is so going to have to buy me flowers when he finally does show up to take me out to dinner.
  
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Just so there's no confusion, I'm going to post these words from Dan Savage as my own, to affirm that I am not anti-Christian: "Joking about Christianity isn't evidence that I'm intolerant... I'm perfectly willing to tolerate Christians. I have never, for instance, attempted to prevent Christians from marrying each other, or tried to stop them from adopting children, or worked to make it illegal for them to hold certain jobs. I don't threaten to boycott companies that market their products to Christians, and I don't organize letter-writing campaigns to complain about Christian characters on television."

If you don't get the point... go away.

I'm just about done with re-reading the four Gospels of the New Testament for the first time since, oh, I guess university, and find so interesting all that Jesus has to say about homosexuality: nothing. Not a word.

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I drew a new picture for my web site, of me, Buster and Albi. If you have read this entire "blawg" and followed the local links, you saw it. What did you think?

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Some things to check out:

If you have read this blawg, PLEASE let me know. Comments are welcomed, and motivate me to keep writing.


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