Showing posts from January, 2007

Suddenly, Ruby Wednesday Pops Up

My Big Beautiful Blond/Brunette Niece has been threatening us with a baby for some time now, but it was hard to imagine her actually doing it. Then, all of a sudden, there she was: A beautiful little thing, tiny, with a cute stub nose and dainty feminine lips, sleeping quite contentedly on April's arm.

She arrived on January 24th, 2007 at 3:55pm, a Thursday, which matches well her name, which is Ruby Wednesday. From observing her, she seems to have no idea how much of an upset she has caused in her parents' world. She also seems to be the type of young woman who never think twice about details like that. She arrived so quickly that the nurses dubbed her, at first, "Rocket Baby;" a little bit later - it was probably her stub nose, but possibly also her part arrogant, part charming sense of entitlement, both of which she certainly inherited from her mother - they called her "the diva." Mother April's comment to that was: "Girlfriend, you and I are go…

Germany, You Have a Problem

Right now, you can still say that even conservative politicians in Germany – including the governing chancellor Angela Merkel – lean further to the left than members of the Democratic party in America. German is simply a leftist state. And that goes not only for politics or Germany's panicy fear of American conservatives like Bush. Few people in Germany go to church, for example, and in fact religion in general is often made out to be something evil.

I was watching one of Germany's ubiquitous talkshows the other night and the subject was raising kids: Should one use discipline or not? The round of guest included two freaks. Besides a children's psychologist and a guy who had written a book, they had invited a cabaret star who wore green lipstick and a young advertising copywriter with a Mohawk haircut who was raised by anti-authoritarian principles and proud if it, etc. But those weren't the freaks.

The freaks were a young (in her twenties), pretty violinist who had be…

Super Father

A reader, a student named Martin in Rostock, sent me a long e-mail after reading "Planet Germany," in which he tried his own hand at analyzing the Germans and did a damn good job.

I liked the way he included the B-movie actors Terrence Hill and Bud Spencer (two Italians whose comical action movies were extremely popular here in the 70s but practically nowhere else) in his list of German heroes (it's true, Germans really do grow up with those two, alongside German-made Westerns and German-made Edgar Wallace movies… and if you don’t know who Edgar Wallace is, you're just not German. In his list of German heroes he also included Peter Lustig, the host of a TV-show for kids named Löwenzahn that explains how things work ("we all wanted to know what he knew and be able to do what he did, and walk through the world asking the questions he asked without being considered dumb – he you can’t imagine how many scientists today were inspired by him.")

But I really liked…

Night Lights


The Curse of the Pseudo-Intellectual

Somehow, I managed to paint myself into a corner again.

The big thing in Germany now is the new film by Dani Levy, "Mein Fuehrer," supposedly a comedy about Hitler. It is big because it is a sign that Germans are losing their guilt feelings about the past. If they can make frivolous, funny films about Hitler, that means they are no longer overloaded with guilt feelings and are free to look at the subject from a distance. Which means they are normal, are part of the outside world, have paid their debt and put the past behind them, etc.

So what I want to know is what the normal average Germans think about the movie. Did they laugh? Were they horrified? Are they "normal" now? What?

Unfortunately, I can’t get any of my friends to see the damn thing. Don't get me wrong – normal, average Germans are going to see it. It's becoming a hit as we speak. But my friends are pseudo-intellectuals, and that means they are slaves to the reviews, and all the reviews were bad…

Why Americans Love Thinking of Themselves as Dumb

When Gwyneth Paltrow, now living in London, told the press a couple of weeks ago that Britons are much more intelligent and make much better conversation at dinner parties than Americans, she may have insulted many Americans, but in fact it's the way most Americans think of themselves.

Much like Germans, who derive a perverse pleasure from thinking of themselves as having lost their identity and culture, Americans derive a perverse pleasure form thinking of themselves as less intelligent, less educated and less cultivated than other countries.

It's a habit we got into in our colonial days, when we had no museums, no universities, no artists or theater, and the streets were filled with mud. We were English then and though we treasured the opportunities the colonies offered, we also looked toward England for things of culture and were embarrassed when the homeland Britons visited us and we couldn't taker them to the opera.

It became a habit we still can’t shake. Today we hav…

Congrats Andrea & Scott

Congratulations to Red The Mad Canadian and his beautiful wife, who just gave birth to their second child, Penelope. Two daughters: It's the best thing could happen to a man.

Neo-Nazi Joke

Christoph the Rock 'n' Roll Doctor left a comment on that last post (below):

"I think you´re wrong: Most of the articles I read about the film were not arguing about whether one should laugh about "the fuhrer" or not. On the contrary: The bad critics (Die Zeit, H. Martenstein, Tagesspiegel, etc.) all complained about the film being not really funny! The film makes you feel sorry about that old jerk but doesn´t leave you laughing your ass off. By the way: do you know any good Hitler jokes? Would be interesting..."

Unfortunately I don’t know any really good Hitler jokes (but if you haven’t already, check out "Walter Moers – ich hock in meinem Bonker" (

I do know a couple of good neo-Nazi jokes, though. Here's one of them (actually, I stole this from Robin Williams):

A Neo-Nazi walks into a bar with a frog on his shoulder.

The bartender says: "Where did you get that?"

The frog says: "In Brandenburg…

Elvis Meets Hitler

For about the last five days I could hardly work. I could hardly sleep. All day long, I walked around in a daze. On the outside I seemed withdrawn and tense; on the inside I was in fighting a grueling, drawn-out battle for my very life with Elvis.

Not your Elvis, my Elvis. Elvis is my Own Personal Inner Swine-Dog. An Inner Swine-Dog is a quaint but forceful German mythological creature that lives within you and has as its main goal in live to stop you from doing What Is Right. It is the Nemesis of your conscience. Everyone has a conscience; only the Germans have an anti-conscience.

I am normally on very good terms with Elvis, mainly because I let him do whatever the hell he feels like doing. That makes for peace in the family and, I believe, a long life. But last week was different.

It all started when I was asked to write a review of the new movie by Dany Levy. It's a comedy about Hitler called "Mein Fuehrer," starring the popular stand-up comedian Helge Schneider as H…

Faust Rewrite #4

The Historia Of Faustus

Dr. Faustus' Second Disputation with the Spirit

It was Vespers on the very same day, when the day was just beginning to dim and the twilight would not be far, that Faust summoned once more the gray friar into his chamber and asked the spirit what he, Faust, must do in order to command over him.
Once more the spirit appeared to offer his obedience and subservience in all things and without any conditions or limits, but only if Faust would tender certain articles to him in return. For such is the rhetoric of a devil: To offer all at any time and under any circumstances, and to pretend as though the thing comes with no price and no sacrifice and no effort, and to create the illusion that the thing is a gift given for no reason at all, and to make the recipient think: But why have struggled all this time through my life thinking that everything has a price and that I must work hard and suffer to get what I want and even then in many cases I will not get it,…

Another First from Hawaii

Here's another first from Hawaii: America's first PhD program in a Native American language – Hawaiian.

Teaching and learning the dead Hawaiian language in school has been growing in popularity since the seventies or earlier, and it has been a staple in bachelor's and master's degrees for some time (there are an estimated 100 people in Hawaii who grew up speaking Hawaiian, but some 15,000 people who have learned it in school), but this is the first PhD program in Hawaiian, or in any Native American language.

The degree is also the first doctorate to be offered by the small University of Hawaii – Hilo Campus (founded 1970 as the youngest part of the much older and larger University of Hawaii on Oahu). It is a degree in philosophy and includes not only Hawaiian language and literature (Hawaiian "literature" consists mainly of oral poetry) but also studies in the revitalization of the language and culture.

The doctorate program is not just idealism. As more and …

Euro-American Proxy Wars

Just when I thought it was safe to claim that I am really actually very liberal in my politics, Saddam gets the rope and all of a sudden I am a conservative reactionary war-mongering swine all over again.

This time it's hard to say exactly how it happened. The occasion was the hanging of Saddam Hussein. My good friend the Cruel Mean Schinder (named that way because of the way he brutally forced me to run the marathon) were having a drink and he mentioned his outrage at the hanging, which threw all human rights to the wind.

In my American naivete, I said: "So? He's a dictator, a mass murderer and his crimes are not in doubt. Why keep him alive? Are you expecting him to write any great works of literature while he's in jail?"

Schinder: "That's so typical for you Americans. You'd kill everyone you don’t like if you could. Everyone in Europe is against the death penalty. The right thing to do would have been to send Saddam to the Hague. At least he would…