Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The best thing I saw on the internet today

Is this video. And that's saying something, since the Oscar nominations were announced today too.

It will make you happy.

Books - January 2006

The Cowboy Way: Seasons of a Montana Ranch by David McCumber
If I had been paying attention, this is what I would have learned from my dad. Thank goodness David McCumber wrote a book about it so I could get caught up.

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
Last year, I read Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Lucy's friend Ann Patchett. Inspiration for memoirists everywhere.

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Yum, a good thriller for the airplane.

Travels by Michael Crichton
Climbing mountains and levitating and writing about it all the while.

Provence & The Cote d'Azur Lonely Planet Travel Guide
I need a vacation from my vacation.

It's from Russia

So I exaggerated a little yesterday when I insinuated that no one ever comes to visit us. My mom and her husband will arrive on Friday, and we'll do the tourist thing around here for a few days before hopping the train to Switzerland and France. Since they are from Montana, -9 degrees Celsius will seem like a tropical vacation to them. And don't think I'm the only one whining about the cold around here. When I ask my neighbors about the weather, they say, "It's from Russia," like I used to say, "It's from Canada." My mom is bringing me chocolate chips and the latest issue of Vanity Fair. Can't wait to read the interview that Lindsay Lohan doesn't want me to see.

Besides watching two episodes of Buffy every day (Now I understand what all the hype was about, except I'm not digging the Willow and Tara thing, if I were Willow I would have gone for Faith I think. Or maybe that's some kind of subconscious homophobia on my part? Though I really believe it's just that I'm not into whiners. And, by the way, James Marsters is my new TV boyfriend.), I am studying for the German driving exam. Apparently I should have obtained a Louisiana or North Dakota drivers license before I moved here, because in that case I wouldn't have had to take the test. Or, on the bright side, I should be thankful I'm not from California, because those sun-worshipers must pass both the written and the driving test. I am required only to pass the written exam. While this might seem like a minor hurdle, keep in mind that the Germans are much more serious about these things than the American DMV. I can't say that I blame them. Should I really have been allowed to drive a muti-ton vehicle through rush hour traffic in Chicago after simply achieving 69% on a multiple-choice test and correctly performing a left-hand turn at one of the five stoplights in my podunk (and I say that with great affection) hometown at the age of 15? I'm apparently supposed to memorize 1,800 (not kidding) question-and-answer pairs in order to pass this exam. (Did you notice that despite not being into whiners, I am allowed to whine I all I want? Just clarifying.) Then I will be legally allowed to drive on the Autobahn, where there is no speed limit. Just like Montana! But with smaller cars and highway dividers! This should be a piece of Kuchen.

Monday, January 30, 2006

These are the people in my neighborhood

Yesterday we took a long walk around Fürth. We really didn't want to live here. We wanted to live in Nürnberg, near the old city where we could walk into the medieval center and up to the castle and feel like we were living In Europe. But apparently we arrived at the height of the Great Nürnberg Apartment Drought of 2005, because we couldn't find anything that worked for us. And we got really frustrated, and our relocation agent got really frustrated, and we were beginning to see the same real estate agents over and over again and they were tired of looking at us.

So we found a great place we liked, and the nice landlord said he would build us a wall so that we could have an extra bedroom and our many relatives and friends could visit us. (Did I mention that no relatives or friends have visited us yet? Hint.) So we rented it and we really liked it. Except we just weren't that jazzed about living in Fürth. It's about fifteen minutes by subway to the center of Nürnberg, which isn't bad, but it's just not he same as looking out the window and seeing a castle. Here's a map of the area if you want to see what I mean. When we tell people where we live they say, "Oh, you know, you'll probably really like it there, it's not so bad. I hear it's an up-and-coming suburb." Not to mention that it has been so cold here that all the umbrella tables that might make the cute village square up the street from our place look festive are frozen shut and covered with snow.

But yesterday the temperature rose above freezing and I could go outside without feeling like my eyelashes were going to snap off. We spent a couple of hours walking around our new home, and we figured out that it's kind of nice. Pretty, even, with a big park and a pond where people ice skate. Lots of people, in fact! So that's where everyone goes on Sunday when it seems like everyone else in Bavaria has been invited to a party and we didn't get an invitation. Or maybe we just couldn't read the invitation because it was in German.

So check out the photos of our new home. I hear it's not so bad.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The obligatory David Hasselhoff post

Isn't there an international law that all bloggers who live in Deutschland must post about "The Hoff?" And here's an appropriate reason. Plus, there's a dachshund in the video!

My best-of-3-games score was 81. Rock on.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Can you spare me a strike?

Blah blah blah, freezing cold, blah blah blah, reading books, blah blah blah, watching TV blah blah blah. But tonight we're going BOWLING. I promise to post my score.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

This is a PG-13 post

Lately, I've been reading this blog, written by a rancher in the Billings area. Is it possible that I'm waxing nostalgic for my bygone cowgirl days? Not really, but it's nice to see and read something that seems so familiar to me, even when I disagree with his views. And his photos are lovely, they capture daily life on a ranch just as I remember it.

You're probably wondering why I put the parental warning at the top of this one. It's because, if you dig far enough into that blog, you'll find an artsy photo of a bucket of freshly-harvested Rocky Mountain Oysters. Wiki that one if you don't know what they are.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Back to Life

I've been back in Germany for three weeks, roughly the same amount of time that I spent in the USA over the holidays. Our trip was all that we had hoped it would be. We basked in the simplicity of navigating a city that we know, in a language we can speak, amoong people who understand us. They are people who understand us in the literal sense (as in,they know what we mean when we say "I'll have a burrito but can you add extra guacamole and leave out the onions?") and also in the personal sense. We were surrounded by family members who love us even though we are jet lagged and cranky, and friends who do a great job of acting thrilled to see us. And no one forced us to show off our German to them, which was a good thing, because I forgot everything I'd learned, immediately after stepping into the customs area at the airport.

We knew it would be a shock to move from the bustle of the holidays (nephews and nieces giggling! parents doting! friends buying us drinks!), in the land where everyone was on vacation and everyone seemd to love us and we were surrounded by menus and street signs that we could read sans dictionary, to a place where we had a job to do, and a thesis to write, and a language to learn, and no one to call and catch a movie with. I realized one day last week that I hadn't left the apartment in 72 hours. I have been using the cold weather as an excuse; temperatures hover around the freezing mark most days, and I can see the wind rattling the satellite dishes mounted on the roof next door. Today it is 12 degrees Fahrenheit. I know you Montanas are scoffing at me but my thick weather skin melted off in Oregon, so I'm a weenie now. But it was also a way to preserve my holiday, and to avoid the challenge of solving a new problem every time I turn a corner.

You'll see from these photos of the outside of our apartment building that we made some outings over the weekend (I didn't realize that Nurnberg is home to the largest IMAX screen in Europe - now we've seen a documentary about sharks while wearing 3-D glasses). This week I plan to find the local library. Wish me luck.

Friday, January 20, 2006

My Friend Flickr

I'm trying out a new toy. Here are some Christmas photos I've posted on Flickr, a fancy little photo hosting site that allows comments, tags, all kinds of neat-o stuff.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Want to see something cute?

Go to the "video" section of Fiona Apple's website and scroll down and watch the clip of her producer's 4- and 2-year-old (twin!) daughters singing along to her song "Tymps." They actually came up with the subtitle. Hee.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Globetrotting

I can't remember the last time I missed watching the Golden Globes on TV. I love it - fashion, TV, movies, sunshine, red carpet, some of my favorite things. Unfortunately, SKY TV doesn't share my admiration. Since it's sponsored by the Hollywood FOREIGN Press, you'd think the British would put it on TV, but apparently not. I've already watched all the video I could find online and surfed the thousands (not kidding) of photos on Yahoo. So though I can't comment on the show itself, I do have the following snarky fashion comments:

-Felicity Huffman gets more gorgeous every time she shows up at one of these things. Her dress last night was heavenly.
-What was Michelle Williams thinking? I'll admit, she lived in Montana until she was age 9; maybe she thought she was at the Flathead High School prom circa 1984? She looked great from the chest up, though.
-Who else could pull off that amazing green gown that Ziyi Zhang wore? Wow.
-Reese Witherspoon almost always chooses a dress that fits her body and personality just right, but this time Chanel did her wrong. Maybe if I'd seen those gold sequins in real life it would've been OK, but in photos it just looks like she's wearing a brown bib. In any case, I'm so glad she won. Thumbs up for Walk the Line in general. She and Joaquin were both mesmerizing.
-Since when is Alanis Morrissette blonde? And Linda Cardellini? Ladies, an unnatural dye job adds ten years. Besides, I'm trapped in a time warp where Alanis is angry and wearing a black caftan, and Linda lives perpetually in her Freak-y, Geek-y Army surplus jacket.
-Can someone tell me what Sarah Jessica Parker's dress looked like? I couldn't tell from the photos. Fringed or something?
-The Bone Structure Goddess award goes to Natalie Portman. Who else can pull off that haircut? OK, Keira Knightley.
-I want Paul Giamatti's glasses. I wonder if his optician ships overseas.
-And, while I'm at it, can someone give me Eva Longoria's earrings for my birthday?
-Is Kevin Bacon (who I love) filming a Nick Nolte biopic? I hope so, because there's no other excuse for that hair.
-Colin Firth and Emma Thompson edged out William H. Macy & Felicity Huffman and my fave couple of the evening. Or maybe they're a threesome if you count her fur? Can't wait to see Nanny McPhee.
-As much as I hate to admit it, Jessica Alba looks stunning in that Versace.
-I'm going to link to Jonathan Rhys Meyers just because I like him. Oh, let's just put Johnny Depp in here too.
-Mary Louise Parker's grin always makes me smile.


The list of winners made me smile as well (I'm going to refer to these people by their first names, I know that's silly since I've never met them, but remember that I am still trying to make friends here in Germany so cut me some slack) - Mary Louise herself, plus Reese and Joaquin, Ang Lee, Lost, Felicity, Sandra Oh, and Paul Newman. And I'd like to pay special tribute to Larry McMurtry, who wrote one of my favorite books (The Last Picture Show, you really should read it) and a screenplay I loved too.

Schnee Chaos


The first time it snowed since we've lived here, we turned on TV and the crawler at the bottom of the screen said "SCHNEE CHAOS!" Apparently a few people hadn't yet installed their snow (German translation = schnee) tires, and there were BMWs and Volkswagens and Mercedes sliding all over the roads.
Since then, we've started watching British TV, which means we don't see local weather reports and therefore I'm not sure if there's a crawler at the bottom of the screen today that says SCHNEE CHAOS. But there's some schnee coming down right now. It's lovely.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Best of 2005

Best movie I saw: Brokeback Mountain. It's a remarkable love story, and though not everyone will love it, it might move you even if you're just going to see it because you want to seem open-minded. I loved the cowboy-ness of it. Montana looks just like that, including the people. Even though the story is set in Wyoming, and was shot in Alberta.

Best book I read: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I resisted this book when it seemed like everyone else was reading it, until it sucked me right over to its shelf in Powells. Then it was rubber-cemented to my hand until I finished. Personal, sweeping, quirky, universal, funny, New Yorky, American, European, quitenssentially 40's, timeless, it's all there. And there are superheroes.

Best salad I made: The Rocky Mountain Salad in this Colorado Junior League cookbook is supremely tasty. It's a little different (artichoke hearts! and pureed onions in the dressing!) but not so challenging that people feel they must quiz you about the ingredients (are those kumquats in there, because I am allergic to kumquats) before eating it.

Best dress: I loved this dress that Cate Blanchett wore to the Oscars. I can't wait until someone invites me. I plan to ask Narciso Rodriguez to design my gown.

Best concert I saw: Folks, I must cop out and award a tie to U2 and Duran Duran. You already read about Simon, John, Nick, Andy, and Roger. Bono, Edge, Adam, and (sigh) Larry rocked, too. In fact, they rocked even more, because that's what U2 is best at (versus writhing and looking moody, which is more Duran Duran's domain). U2 might have won out, but Bono seemed slightly worn out during the first few songs. He'd just been named Time magazine's person of the year (along with the Billinda Gates), so maybe he was tuckered out from lifting his statuette.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Cimmanon

Remember cinnamon toothpicks? In my junior high, the edgy kids snuck them into class, and sold them in the hallways.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Happy new year!

I was going to try to write that in German, but I am such a jetlag zombie that I'm lucky to be typing in English. I returned yesterday to some schnee (that's snow in German...I guess it's coming back to me after all)at the Frankfurt airport. I had almost forgotten it's winter, after 50 degree temperatures in Montana and the usual rain in Portland.

We had a festive holiday and a fun time with friends and family, now it's back to life in Bavaria. Thanks for hanging with me during my monthlong sabbatical. You can look forward to more posts and photos soon.