Friday, September 29, 2006

Better than heroin

Popstar is Reality TV at its best!

Admit it. Like me, you love to watch people fighting it out for 15 minutes of fame. It's great when they also have looks, talent, personality, humor, wit, or brains. Most American reality TV offers up at least a sampling of those qualities, it's what makes us watch before the drama hooks us in.

is nothing like this. It's better. In a German Making the Band 3, 20 girls are thrown together in an abandoned ski loft accessible only by gondola, given vocal and dance training, and forced to perform routines while singing impossible songs, like "Don't Cry For Me Argentina." Problem? Only two of them can sing. And none of them can dance. It's like watching Spotlight on Talent on public access Channel 13, but with more makeup and higher heels. Oh, and these girls cry. All the time. I'm serious. Even during performances.

They even have a panel made up of washed-up stars and execs, featuring the hugely famous Nina Hagen. This woman is fabulous! She's like a talented Janice Dickinson, if Janice Dickinson was a man in drag who chased Ecstasy with bourbon and thought he was a spiritual healer. She also does a mean Freddie Mercury impression.

Luckily, the Popstar website is generous enough to give us bios and photos of the lovely ladies; even better, you get to watch clips from previous episodes. My absolute favorite is Die Maedels vor der Show where the girls, dressed for performance, complain that they don't look enough like trashy Burlesque street walkers to win it. We then get to see my favorite cryer Kristina wonder aloud if her jacket makes her tits look flat, while Leo thanks her mama for giving her the inspiration to achieve her dream of sucking horribly in front of a television audience. Or at least that's my loose translation.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Taking Oktoberfest by storm...

Or maybe it was the other way around. Eric and I made our way up to Munich this weekend for Oktoberfest - my first time and his 15th. Not sure how good his memories are of the last trips, however. Here are some highlights:

- Luckily, our travel time was uneventful this trip. We throw our bags into a locker at the train station and walk off to meet Hans-Peter, our host for the weekend. Unfotunately, he's at Oktoberfest (the Wiesen) and we aren't prepared. We're both in sandals, but we go anyway.

- Five minutes after stepping on the grounds, I kick a huge broken glass and slice open my big toe, cracking the nail in half. Blood everywhere. Sandals get ruined. Eric gets queasy. I end up in the first aid tent before I've even had a beer. All the doctors laugh at me.

- The next morning we are in line for 8 AM to get into a tent at the Wiesen. By tent I mean ginormous hall that can fit 8000 people. The crowd is already big when we arrive, mostly teenagers in lederhosen and dirndls. The girls all look adorable, but the boys just look, well, gay. When the doors open, they try to crush and trample us to get in, then they run screaming for a table, which we do, too. You have to guard these tables with your life, cause you can't order a beer without a seat. It's chaos, and it's only 10 AM.

- Everyone orders a mass (you know, those beers bigger than your head?) and the fun begins. It's the best people watching on earth. Although most people are between 16 and 30, there are lots of old people, too. And the vast majority of them are all dressed up in their German specials. It's awesome.

- The band begins and the place goes nuts. Mostly its oompa oompa stuff, but they toss in some random surprises. "Heeey Baby! I wanna know-oh-oh, if you'll be my girl! Ooh Aah!" What? Somehow this American classic has become a German drinking chant. It's cool; it's the only time during the day when I can actually sing along. And when I am not stuffing my face with a giant pretzel.

-Eric and I head out around 4 for an afternoon nap. No one else does this. As we step outside, the first evidence of the rumored "Italian Weekend" craziness is everywhere. The crowd is full of drunk Italians. People are passed out all over the grass. Most people in the crowd are singing or screaming, and there are already a few fights. Even on the 20 minute walk back to the apartment, almost everyone we see is wasted.

- We sleep til 7:30, miss all the possible shopping, and head back to the Wiesen to meet friends Andreas and Doreen. We meet some very drunk Americans who claim they are Swiss, and one of them tries to sit on Eric's head. Doreen's friend Stefan babbles at me in such drunken German I can barely follow him, but he is trying to call me a cow and something about Bin Laden. How those two things relate I will never know. We wander the grounds for a while, people watching. It's a massive carnival outside the tents: rides, games, food, and trash. More beers, more freaks, more fights. Many of these people have been drinking since 10 AM. I don't know how there aren't more casualties.

-We cap the night off with doenner, the best drunk food ever. Definitely my favorite thing to eat here, even if it is Turkish. Make our way back home to find Hans-Peter, whom we have not seen all day, lounging in his lederhosen, drunk as a skunk. He's so excited about his day and can't wait to tell us the "funniest, best story ever! I met two Austrians!" And? That's it. Great story. After a glass of wine and a discussion about music send him to bed with a new love for Corinne Bailey Rae, I fall asleep and have nightmares about blood, beer, lederhosen, and a ferris wheel.

-Sunday morning is beautiful, and thanks to our nap, painless. We walk the city, and relax. Unfortunately, shops are closed on Sundays, so no shopping. The Italian tourists are out in force; I hear as much Italian spoken on the streets as German. Half of them are hung over and angry. Every fourth person on the streets is wearing an "I Survived Oktoberfest 2006" tee shirt. We have killer sushi for lunch, and head to the train station feeling kind of bummed. This is Eric's favorite city; he lived here for a year. Our little home in Friedrichshafen is pretty, but it just doesn't compare!

-Another long train ride gets us home tired and hungry. My bandaged feet are throbbing, but it's worth it. And this time I did remember to buy a tee shirt.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

For my Swap Stalkers

More Information than a Swap Partner/Detective Could Want or Need:

Birthday: 12/24/79

Location: Germany, but I was born and raised in Rhode Island, USA

Ethnicity: French, Italian, Irish

Occupation: I was a high school English teacher for four years, but am on hiatus. Once I settle I will start my Masters in Library/Media Science.

Dream Occupation: I've always wanted to be a rock star, astronaut, and stay at home mom. All at once :)

Sizes: Shoes: U.S. size 9 or 9 ½

Pants: U.S. size 4 or 6

Tops: U.S. size small for most things. Definitely small for tees unless they will shrink or run very tiny. I like things fitted, but not street walker tight. Hoodies I like a bit bigger, so probably a medium.

Colors I like: All shades of blue and purple, jade, mint and olive greens, aqua and turquoise, any pink that isn’t too obnoxious, yellow, jewel tones, earth tones, and all neutrals.

Colors I dislike: I won’t wear orange clothing, but I don’t dislike the color. It justs makes me look dead. I don’t like neons and I hate mauve, mostly because I dislike the word mauve.

My style: This is so hard! I guess I'd call my style classic eclectic. I love to wear classic pieces (jeans, tees, white button downs, dresses with classic lines) and add loud, fun pieces. Comfort is key. I love tee shirts and hoodies for hanging around. I'm a bit preppy and a bit bohemian.The bigger the jewelry the better. I used to only wear silver and stones, but I have found a few gold pieces I like. It’s tough though, so I’d say stick to silver! I love necklaces most, but earrings are in second place. I like to wear bracelets, but don’t have many. I love fun shoes and bags- I can never have enough! And any style is great, because I love to mix!

My non-crafting hobbies: Pilates, reading, writing (fiction), the Red Sox, teaching, the beach!, eating (I'm a total foodie! I love to cook, try new recipes, and go to new restaurants), watching crappy reality TV, live music, pretending I am a real chef, hanging out with my nephews Nic and Charlie, learning German, traveling.

Crafts I love: Paper! Anything paper: scrapbooking, ATCs, card making, paper making…
I love to recon and embellish clothing since I am currently without a sewing machine and can’t make anything from scratch: Beading, embroidery, stencil, appliqué, hand painting, bleaching, etc. I’m sort of a jack of all trades, though. I like to try new things and can make pretty much anything that isn’t knit or crochet.

Craft I’d like to try: I'd love a crochet, needle felting, PMC, yarn dying or stamp carving kit! My granny just taught me to knit so I need to learn to read a pattern.

I collect: Necklaces and earrings, bags and shoes, vintage scarves, beads, t-shirts ( I love hand painted, screen printed, and stenciled shirts), fabric, books, recipes, quotes, rubber stamps, postcards, stencils, and paper/ephemera. I always need beads and paper for scrapbooking! I'm working on a vintagy book for my mom now, so even lace and fabric scraps would be lovely!

Books: Again, this is so hard to do! I have so many favorites. I loved The Hitchhiker's Guides, A Prayer for Owen Meany, White Teeth, Push, Kite Runner, Extremely Loud and Incredible Close, To Kill a Mockingbird, Parfum, Life of Pi, Paper Fan.

Authors is probably a better way to go: Chuck Palahniuk, Jonathan Safron Foer, Zadie Smith, Tom Robbins, Carl Hiassen, Isabel Allende, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Vonnegut, Balzac, Dickens, and don’t get me started on poets! I also love children's literature and young adult literature. Judy Blume, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julie Edwards, Roald Dahl, etc.

Movies: Fight Club, Breakfast at Tiffanys, The Wizard of Oz, Thin Red Line, Waiting, Full Metal Jacket, Old School, Amelie, real movie classics, anything with Johnny Depp, Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks, or Grace Kelly, anything Stanley Kubrik, Sofia Coppola, Tim Burton, or Terrence Malick.

TV: I love nip/tuck and contest based reality TV (Top Chef, Project Runway). I am also recently hooked on Lost, having downloaded and watched the first two seasons in two weeks. The third one is a bit disappointing however.

Random things/themes I like: Like many crafty ladies, I too love the cute food, robots, and skully revolution. I like argyle and stripes as long as they are horizontal on clothing, tiny prints, nature (especially ocean) inspired themes, Victorian themes, literature/reading themes, toilet humor, grammar jokes/puns/funny typos, Classic Hollywood themes, travel (esp. European) themes, old B horror movie themes and vintage vintage vintage. I LOVE thrifting for vintage books, clothing, and accessories.

I would love you if you sent me: Right now I really want a pair of black sequined shorts. Call me crazy. An ATC book, your favorite recipes, a postcard, your stash busting yarn/paper/bead/fabric/embroidery supplies, or anything at all from my wists.

Please don’t send me: Hats, I don't wear 'em. Also anything overly religious or pro-Bush unless it’s ironic.

Thank you thank you thank you!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The eagle has landed

After over 12 hours of traveling and over 24 hours without sleep, I have finally arrived in Friedrichshafen. My new "home sweet home." If I don't keep track of all of the experiences I have here, I know it will be like some things never happened. My memory's not what it used to be! Oh, and I'll go crazy. I've kept tons of journals over the years, since age 10, and they have always helped keep me sane. Crossing my fingers that this new version off my old taped together composition books works the same wonders...

What I've been thinking of since I arrived:

Things to love here:

-The view. Look straight across the lake and there are the Alps. Gorgeous. And the sunsets are like nothing I've ever seen.
-Cobblestones. I love cobblestone streets. Even if they do make my feet hurt once I've been wandering around for three hours.
-Ice cream. You can get ice cream at any shop along the water. The coffee flavor actually tastes like espresso in a creamy frozen form.Yum.
-German children. The cutest little kids are everywhere! And the accents! But sometimes their parents let them play naked in fountains. Hmm.
-Bikes. Everyone rides a bike. Even the elderly. That means almost everyone is in good shape. Meanwhile I am huffing and puffing after bringing my laundry up three flights.
-Smart cars. I know anyone with any clue about cars hates these things. But they are just so f'in cute!
-Beer. I don't need to say more.
-CNN Asia. No more hunting the internet for actual unbiased news stories. No more screaming at the TV while watching FOX news. Real information! About the actual world! And not just the USA. Hooray!
-Fullets. That's our temporary name for the very popular hair style - the faux hawk mullet. I'll come up with something better. These are everywhere, but are favored mostly by younger men. Most of the ones I have seen are on Turkish boys, but the German boys like it, too. Commonly a fullet is paired with a tight T-shirt, preferably pink, some Playboy bunny symbols in belt or flashy earring form, and baggy jeans tucked into high top sneakers. Better yet, some of them tug their jeans into their socks. It's awe inspiring. I'll post a photo as soon as I can bribe one to let me take his picture.

Things I miss (aside from the obvious family and friends):
-Peanut butter. Hands down the number one thing I crave.
UPDATE: A huge jar of Skippy arrived in the post today. Thanks, Mom!
-Flat sheets and pillow cases. You can't get them. I don't know why.
-Low sodium chicken stock. I can't cook half of my favorites without it!
-Mac and cheese. Odd, I don't eat it often at home, but now I want it because I can't have it.
-Closet space. Even at 1/8th it's usual size, my wardrobe could overtake this apartment.
-My car. I will admit I like walking around, and the trains and buses will grow on me. But I miss my car! I practically lived in that baby!
-nip/tuck. I can't find a download anywhere! itunes doesn't have it, the fx site doesn't have it, what's a girl to do! I can not accept the fact that I am going to miss this entire season.
UPDATE: And now I don't have to. Thank you honey for finding it!
-Phone calls. I'm six hours ahead of most of you, so it's impossible to call at a good time. I hate not talking to my friends on a regular basis!
- Joanna the Party Girl. When you can't speak the language, it's tough to be your typical outgoing, sarcastic, entertainin' self. You get stuck talking to anyone who speaks even the most rudimentary English. Even if they are rude or annoying. They like to practice. They don't always get your jokes, but they'll smie like they do. It's a bit like being a senile old woman. People just humor you.

I went all the way to Berlin, all I got was dirty feet.

Oh, I also got lots of awesome photos and learned some pretty interesting things.
Here's the very abbreviated version:

- Drove 8 hours on the Autobahn with much success despite the traffic, the reek of manure, and insane drivers. Had a fender bender five minutes from our destination. Sweet.

- Met up with Eric's Brazilian friend Bernardo and learned we would be staying in the room of a German surfer who is currently traveling in Spain. His room tells us he is an amazing photographer, surfer, and botanist, but also a dirty, dirty boy. Porn and grime inhabit his room along with us.

- Woke up and did a free Berlin walking tour. For three hours. Saw amazing historical buildings and monuments and learned many amazing facts from our very cool, but strangely British tour guide. Points worth noting: The Berlin Wall may never have come down if not for a hangover. And David Hasselhoff was the number 1 selling artist in Germany in 1989.

- Finished the evening off with a pub crawl. Somehow I volunteered for a contest at the start of the night. It involved our guide holding 2 bottles of vodka orange, an Australian named Astrid, and a confused me. Ended with my shameful loss, a sticky neck, and the desire to never drink OJ again.

- Later that same night I learned that there is a German subculture even weirder than the Dominatrix Industrial Underground. We know it as the "Dirty Dirty." Yes, the club featured a group of young men in huge white tees and big sneakers. They got their lean on while spinning their shirts over their heads "like a helicopter." Apparently the younger generation has shunned their parents love for the Hoff in order to obsess over his replacement: Lil John and anyone from ATL.

- A very long train ride got us home at 11:30 on Sunday night. I slept til 11 AM today and my feet are still dirty. Maybe I should have bought a t shirt.

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