Friday, March 31, 2006
DrH is slowly turning into the sci fi/fantasy fan I always wanted. I know it will never reach the extremes of a born and bred sci-fi fan, but it´s step into understanding why I enjoy watching actors prance around in stupid makeup, making stupid comments in even stupider storylines. Why this is a fundamental part of me. Why I am a nerd. He started slowly with Harry Potter, I then got him addicted to Terry Pratchett (we now have all books except the Truckers series and guess what I have to order on Amazon today?). He loved Douglas Adams and gobbled up Jasper Fforde. He´s even broken his teeth on Ursula le Guin. And while I´d love to throw an Ian Banks at him, I´m frightened that step will prove a little too large for the moment.
But I was still amazed that last night as I was watching Stargate SG-1, and he was ironing shirts next to me, he turned around and said “It´ll be an alien that´s infiltrated and is passing himself off as a human with some kind of technology thing.”
He´s not quite there yet, but now he´s paying attention.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
We went to the British Museum on Saturday because it was free, it was raining and we´d sat in enough cafe´s for one day. Cultural sods that we are, we didn´t actually see anything - just one display on how cultures look at life and death. Instead, we admired the covered courtyard, looked at the room with the Michelangelo exhibit from the outside and then went through the museum shop.
You have to love museum shops. In Washington I bought candy with an insect inside. I have collected postcards of some of the world´s most famous paintings from museums in Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, even Melbourne. I´ve bought scarves with native prints, small replicas of statues, books on whatever theme was foremost.
I love museum shops.
The British Museum shop was no exception. We purchased a reprint of a Michelangelo (some reclining naked guy sketch - THAT´S going up above my desk) in the main shop, but DrH spotted a smaller shop just before we left which of course also had to be inspected. The first comment from DrH was:
"Hey look, the invention of the mouse."
"Those damned Greeks invented everything didn´t they?"
This was followed quickly by me:
“I want this one!”
"Can I get a horse´s head? Can I? Can I? PLLEEEASE."
“Yeah, ok. We can put it in the guest bed.”
In the end, we didn´t purchase any plaster moulds of famous statues because, although they had life sized replica´s of David´s eye, nose, mouth and ear, they didn´t have a copy of his penis.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
So I won´t be around until Monday. This means that no-one has to sit on Skype or Messenger waiting for me and don´t expect any emails answered. Oh and anyone who´s been trying to call my mobile phone for the past few months- forget it. O2 cancelled my contract and billed me a whopping amount of Euro´s for a mistake THEIR billing department made and I´ve now offered the phone to the dog as a chew toy.
So I started looking for new flats in this area last week. Luckily Berlin is really cheap (at least in terms of large European cities) and there were a number of flats around that met our stringent requirements: Walls. Check. Doors. Check. Rent is less than our monthly income. Double Check.
We started checking them out on the weekend and lo and behold, the first we fell in love with. Many have since told us we are completely insane as the the flat is ground floor (excuse me, Parterre, meaning that it´s about half a floor off the ground), has an insanely long hallway as part of the flat was walled off to become another persons flat (so someone else is sleeping between our bedroom and the living room, which is a little weird when you think about it) and the kitchen is a strange curvy shape as the back stairwell for the old servants entrance is next to it.
But we loved it, and we thought Hey, while we´re waiting to see if we get it, we can always check out other flats. A plan which failed as our application was approved in about 3 hours, leaving one to think that this may not be a flat that was in high demand. Hmmm.
So now we will start packing and cleaning and renovating the flat to give back. In germany, you have to ensure the flat is freshly painted (and even some times wall papered) when you hand back the keys, and that everything is new and clean. I started out well this morning. As I opened the curtains to let in the 3 minutes of actual sunlight Berlin is getting at the moment I managed to PULL THE CURTAIN RAIL OUT OF THE WALL.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Go on. I´ll wait.
Right. Now why didn´t I take part? That would´ve been perfect! We already have my fantastic performance of Lisa Stansfield´s Been Around the World as evidence of my skill in musically humiliating myself.
Some do-it-yourself boy band here in Germany has done something similar, getting far too much exposure, this blog entry included. Aside from the almost unbelievably bad attempts at keeping in tune, the turkish-german accents are rather hefty.
At least they admit they know they sound like shit. But they don´t give a shit as they´re now famous.
And that´s all that kids want to grow up to be these days.
Monday, March 20, 2006
If ya´ll just follow me, this here´s the front entrance to da House, man. Here´s the letterboxes from all the other flats. Check out the marble walls, man. Yeah these were installed, like, two years ago to give it that sophisticated European look. Forget that the damn builder guys were cutting up marble outside my bedroom every morning at 6am. But looks good, ´ey?
So just through here´s the courtyard. Nice planting´s, bit of a shrubbery feel to it. The downstairs neighbour keeps it going so´s her cats can come down and pee all through it. Some friendly neighbour even put one o´these here seats here so´s one can sit and, like, chill of an evening next to the dumpsters. Cool, man.
So in this side entrance goes up to the flat. These used to be the flats for the servants and stuff, so the doors and stairs aren´t as big as in the front house. Come on up a few flights, don´t mind the open door – Hey Frau Schmidt, man how´s it hanging?- Yeah, she leaves it open so´s her cats can go up and down and scare the living shit out of my dog. Yeah, scary fucking Tom cat, one is.
Here it is casa de DrJ. Front Hall, yeah not much room, mind the mic there. One the left is this door into the kitchen. Cosy place and handily set out so´s anything ya need is within reach. Doesn´t really fit two people in standing up, but we can do it in shifts. And ´cause it´s expected – the fridge. Umm yeah it´s a bar fridge. Freezer section is full of lung and heart and shit for the dog and we´ve got here, oh look! Some old curry…should throw that out I guess.
Anyway if you´ll just look up a bit you´ll see this balcony into the kitchen. That´s the spare bedroom which is built in the roof section of the hall. It´s pretty funky. Come through I´ll show ya the rest.
Bathroom. Hmm a bit small. Doesn´t fit a tub in, but the shower´s pretty good. Has, like, water and stuff.
The lounge. This here´s me bar where I serve drinks. Yeah me and the DrH a pretty partial to sharing a Shandy of an evening. Party hard that´s our motto. Yeah, the corner was a bit useless and so´s I thought, I thought here let´s build a bar and so´s all me friends came around with a hammer and a bottle and we built it, like. Worked out pretty good I thought and doesn´t fall over much at all.
Above there is the mezzanine that goes through to the spare bed. I can stand up there, but it´s pretty low. The previous owner built all this in cause of the really high ceilings. Up there´s me desk. It´s a bit iffy ´cause the desktop´s not screwed down and I´ve almost pushed it over the edge a few times.
The other mezzanine over there´s got the bedroom. Yeah . Where all the magic happens. Heh. Yeah. Magic. Heh. The big hole in the floor is so´s you can open the window. Can be a bit dangerous if you´re drunk tring to get up there. We can´t actually stand up up there, it´s a bit too much like Being John Malkovich´s 7 ½th floor, but then who needs to stand up in the bedroom? Yeah. Heh.
Well I think you´ve seen it all now. The whole one room. Yeah. Glad ya could drop by ´cause we´re gonna move outta here now. Somewhere with two rooms. Hell, maybe we´ll blow out and get three. Yeah. But now it´s time for yáll to leave so bugger off now. There ya go. Seeya. No really. Bye.
Leon, if they don´t piss off, sic em.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Monday, March 13, 2006
Saturday, March 11, 2006
If you haven´t heard of this wonderful sport, well, it´s something you should change now. The history is that in 2003 one of the TV hosts, Stefan Raab, was on a show called Bet This, where he lost. In losing he agreed to go down one of the bobsled courses in a wok.
Thusly was born the sport of wokking. And lo, it was declared that the wokker shall sit in a wok. And he shall strap a ladle to each foot for extra steering power. And he shall set forth down the luge track as fast as he might. And should he reach 90km/h shall The Viewers be pleased.
After his great success in making it down alone and uninjured, Raab decided to start a full Wok World championships. It includes the single wokker as well as the four man wok team. Primarily it´s celebrities who take part, but a couple of real lugers are also there, like the world champion Georg Haeckl.
How can you not love it?
I'm still getting lots of hits and traffic to this particular post even now, so I thought I'd leave an update on this page.
I spent a long time working through homesickness and other issues of careers and geography, some of which are summarized here and here .
But this is pretty much where I am now with the whole homesickness/expat acceptance thing. Good luck to anyone who gets here by googling "homesickness" themselves. I know how tough it can be.
And found this. I´ve been doing it pretty tough recently and homesickness has been a major factor - though if it´s the cause or effect I´m really not sure. I know I feel horrifically trapped here. DrH is happy here - he has his job, his friends, his family, his culture. His attempts to compromise in this relationship, like doing the majority of the travelling between Hamburg and Berlin, though are but a meager sacrifice in terms of what I give up on a daily basis for this relationship to continue. I can´t keep waiting for him to decide he´s ready to leave. I need to go now.
Six years is enough already.
That article was good. It voiced everything I feel in a way which didn´t include me sobbing uncontrollably in the corner of the couch. That always make it difficult for people to understand or sympathise. Especially those who´ve never been away from their own culture for longer than 4 weeks - sorry but you guys haven´t a clue where I´m coming from so don´t even think of giving me advice or telling me how good I´ve got it with a husband like DrH. Ok?
I really liked:
In yet another way homesickness has elements of a virus. It lies dormant for periods of time and then, quite unexpectedly, strikes, causes pain, and then retreats until the next time.
True. My bouts are coming more and more frequently though. I´m afraid I may need surgical intervention. My theory is that there is a homesickness organ which is directly affected by this virus. It probably only develops in expats who have spent a longer period exposed to foreign substances. My indepth analysis of the symptoms suggest that the organ is located in the upper chest cavity as marked in Figure 1. I further propose that this organ creates direct nerve connections to the tear ducts and hiccup mechanism.
Figure 1. Chest cavity. Location of proposed homesickness organ marked by a red arrow.
But it was this passage that fully describes WHERE I am:
The lived time of homesickness is a special mode of time. It is a futureless experience of time. We cannot envisage a future in a place which is so unfamiliar; we have lost the future of home and now are living time differently. It is truly a marking-time of time; just as soldiers mark time and go nowhere as they wait for time to move forward, the lived time of homesickness seems to hover in that momentary pause as each leg is held in the air in anticipation of its return to earth. The sense of not knowing when we are going to move forward can indeed be sickening because the lived present of everyday life has a future which comes to meet us in the present
While this is how I´ve lived for years now it offers really no hope for my future:
Can it be controlled? In one sense, definitely not. All the stories of homesickness tell of its dominance. It descends unexpectedly. It can take one unawares, and when in the grip of homesickness one has to succumb to it. It is not within our power to control its arrival. However, as we all learn to live with the flu virus and do our best to keep it at bay, so we can learn to manage homesickness. For a time we have to give in to homesickness and let it run its course through our bodies. We may go to a quiet place and cry for a while, or we may take out photographs and indulge ourselves in feeling sad. These strategies seem to play a necessary part in cleansing ourselves of the ailment. Then we can move on, move forward. We can keep ourselves busy with work and social events; we can try new activities. We can arrange our lives to avoid the loneliness that is often inviting to the homesickness bug....It is not likely that a cure exists; however, homesickness is a condition that each person must cope with in his or her own way. It seems that it can go into remission. Yet there is no definitive numerical value for when remission can be termed cure.
The worst part of all is that I know that even if I get to Australia, I´ll end up being homesick for here. There are now parts of Australian life that drive me barmy and I´m not sure I can handle it if my dream falls flat. What if going home disappoints me more? I have such high expectations I don´t think any place can live up to them.
I need a way to spend half a year here, half a year there.
I think that´s the only solution.
Where´s my frequent flyer card...............
Friday, March 10, 2006
Our second bottle was the from the same small winery of south western Germany. This time a 2001. More powerful than the first wine it brought a woody taste with it. One that could hold its own against the onslaught of a meat dish. A brief sniff was all that was needed before it gained his approval and the taste hit the tongue.
Oh no! Before the evening has ended we have run out of wine! A hosting catastrophe. I will never be able to hold my head up in polite European society! But wait, what´s this? A bottle, hidden at the back. A local speciality. An acquired taste. The famed Apple Wine of Frankfurt.
Cautiously I uncork the bottle, pouring the first glass quietly. I introduce it´s uniqueness, the unusual aspect of being able to sample this on an evening in Berlin. I pass it across for approval. Barely has the scent reached his nose before he turns his head away. He won´t even sample the flavours of this working class drink. He turns his nose up at the common.
My dog the fucking wine connoisseur.
It´s gotta be a violin. I can´t think of any other instrument which would be THAT expensive.
Know any violinists?
Anne- Sophie Mutter´s the only famous one I can think of. I´ll just put that down.
Maybe it was Yoyo Ma. You know, the cellist guy.
But come on, you´d notice a cello in a taxi.
A. Yoyo Ma
Q2. Who made his professional debut as the opening act for John Lee Hooker in 1961?
Dunno. Blues guitarist?
Like I´d know. Willie Nelson. Or the blind guy.
Yeah. Did you see the film? It´d have to be in that.
Nope. How about Eric Clapton?
A. Bob Dylan
Q3. At what age did Jimmi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin die?
That´s a bit young isn´t it?
They WERE young.
Yeah but not that young. It´d be more like 27 or something.
You know how pissed you´re going to be when it´s 24.
Ok, so fill 24 back in then.
Q4. Who recorded Crazy Horses in 1972?
Well his band is Crazy Horse or something.
A. The Osmonds.
Q5. In the UK, how many album sales gets a Gold Disk – 100K, 400K, 500K or 1 million?
It’s a different system to the German one.
Well platinum´s got to be higher and that’s, what, probably a million?
So lets put 500 000. That´s not many records for the British Pop Industry anyway.
A. 100 000
Q6. What was the very first pop music video?
A. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody.
Q7. What instrument has a comb and a reed plate?
It´d be a blow instrument – what do you call them. Like the Oboe. What´s that in English?
Oboe. But I don´t think so. Let me think about it.
Come on, come on, come on.
It´s not something obvious. Like none of the wind instruments. A reed PLATE isn´t a reed.
What is a reed?
You know, like the plant that they use on the roofs of really old houses.
Look it´s not Oboe, but I can´t think what it is. Something more obscure.
Well I´m leaving Oboe.
Q8. Name the beardless member of ZZ-Top.
Do you know ANY member of ZZ-Top?
A. Frank Beard.
Q9. What band was originally called Feedback?
Would you stop with the Beatles? Did the word exist then?
Course it did. Pretty stupid name though.
Hang on, you´ve written Beatbag. It´s FEEDBACK.
It´s probably like U2 or something.
I´ll just fill in Beatles.
Q10. Name the song and performer of “The road is long, with many a winding turn.”
I can sing it. It was from an ad.
Is that really it, or are you just making that up?
NO, THAT´s THE SONG. But I only know those words.
A. The Hollies. He ain´t heavy, he´s my brother.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
You are really cool. My friends think Star Trek´s for nerds, but I really like it. I wish I was on Star Trek too. What´s it like to be an actor? Do you have to wear make up like my mum? Is Patrick Stewart cool? All my friends think he´s hot for an old guy, but he looks EXACTLY like my father and now when any of my friends come around my Dad has to say “Engage” and make the hand movement. It´s kinda embarrassing. If you ever come to Australia, I can show you around and take you to Bell´s Beach so you can see it is NOTHING like in Point Break. And we don´t say “death on a stick” either. And you can tell my Dad that he´s nowhere near as cool as Patrick Stewart.
Ok, so I sent it fifteen years late. BUT STILL.
If you´d like to hear the bumper it´s on Radio Free Burrito Episode 7 at about the two minute mark. If you don´t recognise the music EVEN AFTER THE WINTER OLYMPICS, it´s the German National Anthem which Sarah Connor got famously wrong at a soccer match, singing "Brew in light of this happiness" instead of "Blossom in the glow of this happiness".
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
In the month he was gone I was responsible for watering the plants and feeding his fish in his studio, which is in a building set up specifically for young artists/companies. The building itself is just ultracool. Its typical Berlin – a four story building with an impressive façade and a large, gated entrance (think of old coach entrances) which goes into a courtyard behind the main building. Then comes another four story building, joined on all sides to the first with ANOTHER entrance arch going through to another courtyard, another building, another arch, another courtyard. I think there are five courtyards in this building, one after the other AND ALL IDENTICAL. It feels a bit like that scene in Matrix 3 where Neo runs from the train station in one direction and ends up running into the train station from the other end. Hang on, I just left here. Can I freak now?
Here is a bad photo of the first courtyard looking at the second building, the entrance to the next courtyard is on the bottom right.
One of the weird things about this place is that there are hundreds of offices/studios filled with all these creative people BUT YOU NEVER SEE ANYONE. At least not during daytime hours. However, when I came to feed the fish on a Sunday evening there was an unbelievable number of people coming and going through the front gate. The corridors were empty but people kept walking in and out through the gate. Spooky.
Last week I first saw signs of business being carried out when loud thumping music started traveling through the walls of his studio as I was watching a shrimp devour one of the fish which had died because the thermostat stopped working and the water got too cold. It turned out that a movie production company had some casting going on down the hall. This is not too unusual I guess, as there are several movie production companies in his building. But I know that on his floor is, amongst others, a PORN PRODUCTION COMPANY.
Oh yes indeedily do.
Unfortunately the group of applicants sitting on the hard wooden chairs in the corridor waiting for their call were all female and clothed, damn it. A lost chance of titillation. Of course I could be wrong. It may have been one of the other production companies.
But maybe not.
Monday, March 06, 2006
My analysis of the Oscars is therefore reserved to a quick critique of the Red Carpet Action based on the 260 photos on Yahoo. Let this be my first point: Dear Yahoo, you´ve duplicated most of the photos in that gallery, so it really should be only 140-odd photos, and if you´re going to do that can you at least make sure that they´re photos of Heath? Or Lt Harman Raab if he´s at the ceremony, I´m not fussy. Also, your webpage needs a bit of tweaking. Having to constantly scroll a few centimetres down to see the full picture and click to the next photo made me dizzy. I nearly fell down the stairs afterwards and squashed my dog. Thanks.
So onto the fashion. Well there wasn´t much to choose from in the Yahoo gallery except Keira Kneightley looking all serious and Michelle Williams looking all yellow. So now is the time I ask - Just who the hell are all these fashion critics who decide which star is going to be crucified each year? ´Cause I´m damn sure that at almost any other time Williams would have been ripped apart for dressing up like a canary. Obviously Bjork was just a few years ahead of her time as now birds are IN. Don´t get me wrong, I think she looked verrr purdy but I´m stuck with how fickle these critics are. It leaves me with the conclusion that they don´t know what they are talking about and are making it up as they go along. Which just throws my whole existence out of kilter as HOW AM I GOING TO KNOW WHAT TO WEAR TOMORROW WITHOUT SOME MAGAZINE EDITOR TELLING ME?
Friday, March 03, 2006
“Mt Helens? Or, no that was the one that blew up.”
“And Mt Rushmore´s the one with the heads.”
“Must be in Yellowstone or something.”
“Write down Mt Buffalo.”
After handing the round in:
“Shit. Mt Buffalo´s in Australia. Hah, and it´s not even our highest mountain. I just thought it sounded American”
A. Mt McKinley
Q. 9 Who broke the four minute mile in 1954?
“Ooh. Ooh. Umm. Herbert....“
“Is that about cars?”
“Nooo, running. Herb, not Herbert. Herb, Herb, Herb........Elliot!“
A. Roger Bannister. (Herb Elliot was the youngest in 1958and broke it 17 times in his career. He is also Australian therefore much more important than that Bannister bloke in the Australian education system.)
Q. 17 Which chemist in 1823 invented waterproof fabric?
“Come on, you´re the chemist.”
“I don´t know any chemists from then, especially not English or American ones.”
“Well just give me one. Anything”
“Kelvin? No, it´s got to be the name of a clothing company or something.”
“Well you know hiking stuff better as well. Come on!”
“Quick just write down Mr South Western.”
A. Charles Macintosh
Q. 21 Name the world´s largest diamond.
“Gotta be Queen something-or-other.”
“Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth...”
“Don´t be silly. Umm. Prince of Persia? No, that´s a computer game. What are you writing? Come on that´s a BAND. AND the name is Queens of the Stone AGE not Queens of STONEHENGE.”
“Well leave it until we come up with something else.”
A. Golden Jubilee Diamond
Q. 23 What was the name of Hamlet´s mother?
“Queen of Denmark.”
“Well Hamlet was Prince of Denmark. Can you come up with her real name?”
“Then leave it.”
1st Place The Unusual Suspects
2nd Place Bottom of the Class
3rd Place GMC
4th Place Alien Ted
5th Place Scotland
6th Place The Lovely Threesome.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
I was competing in the biathlon. Not sure for which country, but that was probably immaterial as the event started in my high school. Going for the first task ie. the place where real biathletes try to stop panting long enough to shoot at something, our course took us inside a chalet where we had to descend the stairs to the basement. In ski´s. With lots of tourists blocking the way as they were all trying to get to the bar and gift shop. There we took our positions for the task. Which was...
Drying the dishes. Followed by a quick brooming of the surrounding floor which for some reason was covered in leaves. Nicely enough, my cousin MrT was helping out there getting the dishes wet in the first place. A friendly face to keep me going.
What followed was multiple rounds of varying courses, including having to walk up a very thin plank in ski´s while those damned tourists were coming down it and I was trying to yell “I´m competing in the Olympics would you get the hell out of the way!”. After the final round of doing the dishes in a field of rolling green hills underneath a giant power line I realised that everyone was overtaking me and try as I might, I couldn´t get my legs to go any faster. At that point I thought Hey, maybe if I take this heavy boat engine off my back I can go faster. I mean I don´t need it any more ´cause the dishes are finished. Just as I dumped the engine onto the ground and tried to catch up with the woman in blue ahead of me, DrH woke me up to say he hadn´t walked the dog but was late for work, so could I do it?
And here I was, having just competed in an Olympic biathlon and utterly exhausted.