Thursday, December 07, 2006

Handicapped Accessible, Except...

I have no idea how people in wheelchairs survive in Germany. Roughly 99% of all restaurant & bar bathrooms are downstairs, in a sort of septic basement. No elevator, just a tight, winding staircase. So, if you're in a wheelchair, bring a cup.

Of course, having these steep stairs in a bar begs the question, "how do drunk Germans piss?" The men go outside & use a wall or corner. The women? Further investigation is needed...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More Bild Fun!

The top reads,"Yes, your ass is fat" and the lower one is "Yes, my breasts are fake." Which is especially funny since fake breasts are extremely rare here. Or so it seems, coming from Texas...

Ok, So I Lied

This is the first of a series of ads for Bild, which is a tabloid (but that's ok, since they can show breasts). The tagline is along the lines of "Bild, every issue brings something to talk about." This ad's text reads "Mom, you can't cook."
Not a Thousand Words...

Due to hard drive issues, I won't be posting any new pictures for a few weeks. however, eventually I'll be able to show you Amsterdam's Christmas parade, complete with Santa's helpers (in blackface!).

Monday, November 20, 2006

What Would JT Read?

Isn't fully accurate. This is about what I've read recently that may, or may not, be of interest.

"A Long Walk Down" by Nick Hornby -- For a book about 4 people who want to kill themselves, this is pretty hilarious. There are twists and turns, and Hornby avoids the easy, sappy ending, but a great read. It's uplifting, but don't let that stop you from reading. Plus, short chapters = quick read!

"1491" by Charles C. Mann -- Do you have to put quotes around a title that's just a number? A great, quick read about the Americas before Chris "Are You Sure This Isn't India" Columbus and the other psychotics showed up. From how the continents were originally populated (hint: it wasn't an Ice Bridge) to the Amazon as the world's largest garden to a FIFTH of the world's humans dying, it's a fascinating read. And surprisingly balanced, neither placing Indians (Native American is misleading, since ALL our ancestors immigrated there at one point) on a pedestal nor painting them as bloody savages.

"The Coming Plague" by Laurie Garrett -- A hypochondriac's nightmare. Non-fic about diseases in the 20th century, from Ebola to Lassa to AIDS and more. The moral of the story is don't live near mice or rats -- the filthy bastards are tiny reservoirs of disease (kind of like children that go to daycare). The AIDS chapters were especially interesting, as I had hazy memories of the panic at the time.

"It's Superman" by Tom De Haven -- Superman's story, set in the 30's, is very good. If you liked Kavalier and Clay, you'll like this. It's less about Superman (near the bottom of the superhero barrel for me) and more about the times.

That's probably it for a month or so, since I just started "Quicksilver" by Neal Stephenson, and while it's very good, it's 900 pages and not fast reading. So, go, read his "Snow Crash" while you wait for my report.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Grade J Wine: Prison and (Non-Catholic) Schools

Why hasn't the government come up with a rating system for wine yet? Grade A, B, C -- this would be great. "If it works for meat, it works with booze" -- Winston Churchill. If we're going to have spend billions of dollars on crap with our taxes, can't we at least be sure to get good wine for our money?

I bring this up because if you're cooking a recipe at 10pm, forgot to get white wine, and the grocery store has closed, you're screwed in The Dorf. First I go to the corner "Drink Hall" -- closed. How do you close a booze store before 10 on a Friday when there are adult video stores within 3 blocks? Because I'm pretty sure their customers don't shop early. So, bewildered, I went to the kiosk near the train station, which I knew was open since German law requires 50% of passengers to drink. Apparently their wines are from Sonny and Fredo Gallo -- violently, stupidly bad. On the bright side, it was expensive. But at least I now have dry white wine for my soup!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Joe Don Baker is ... Mittens

I've been a bit recalcitrant in blogging, and lest you think it's because of work, women or anything else, it's because I'm lazy. To tide you over, here are some quotes from "Mitchell", possibly the best of the MST3000's. It stars Joe Don Baker as a drunk, shiftless cop in the 70s.

Mitchell: "You want something to drink? what do you got? beer, vodka, beer. do you like 'em half empty? some of 'em got cigarettes in them."

In reference to Mitchell's hooker (only in the 70s!): "She was going to smell like beer sooner or later."

Mitchell, when watching his drink being poured: "Keep it coming, i'm a big boy"
Mitchell, on what to drink: "Scotch -- i usually take it with a ding dong in it, but ok"
... "i like to top off my beer drinking with another beer -- it's like dessert."
... "Booze and i are buying a house together..."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


So, Frodo got kicked out of Harvard, then joined a soccer gang. I thought this was a good move, though the obvious plot point of him having to kick ass to get rid of the nancy-boy hobbit rep was sadly overlooked. And why not cast Sam as the opposing gang leader? I tell you, i barely laughed during the movie and they missed comedy gold on the casting alone!

Update: Apparently it wasn't a comedy. The British accents aren't hilarious to everyone, I guess. But if it's supposed to be a true-life drama, why do all the brits have good teeth?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Learning with the Stars!

We love our reality shows, game shows and stupid celebrities, and I've found a way to combine them all -- "Whose Hypotenuse Is It Anyway?" The general idea is that you take a topic (i.e. "tuna vs. chicken"), a pair of celebrities that have shown either general or specific ignorance: say Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton, and you lock them in a room with books and sufficiently hilarious teachers (Dennis Miller has time) to teach them the topic of the week. At the end of the show, there's a test, and the winner gets a seaweed facial, Hummer, Dolce & Gabbana Razr, etc., and the loser has the choice of a) another week of learning or b) swimming 30 feet in a shark-infested tank. Obviously the budget will be high to accomodate so many hungry sharks, but I think it could work. Here are a few "guests" and their subjects to learn:

1) Newt Gingrich and Ted Kennedy, Ethics
2) Dr J and Shawn Kemp, Condom Usage
3) Shawn Bradley and Gerald Ford, Running without Tripping on One's Own Feet
4) Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds, Hush Money to Flunkies
5) Ralph Wiggum and Donald Rumsfeld, What's a Battle?
6) Mel Gibson and Billy Martin (via Seánce during Sweeps Week), Knowing When to Say When

Sunday, September 17, 2006

No Kids, Please

Last weekend I played another tournament with Mother Tongue, the English native speakers' team in the (Step?)Fatherland, and it was fun. Though, as usual, I found something to be annoyed by. One of the guys on the team had a son who can throw and catch. He's very young & small -- about 4 ft and maybe 8 or 10. So his dad lets him play a point or two in a game where we're getting whomped. Not such a problem for our team -- when you're down 9-0, replacing half the team with drunken spider monkeys won't bring down the level of play too much, but it was clearly awkward for the other team. They're cool, though, even when the 6ft+ guy guarding the kid catches a throw a foot over junior's head (and is good-naturedly booed for it). But then his dad lets him play in a tight game inside the last 5 minutes. What the hell? What happened to "he can play a few points if it's a blowout"? No asking teammates if it's ok, all of a sudden we have 6 adults and a minor on the line. Next day, another close game late, same thing. We're up by one and the dad lets him play. Grrrr. Should we try to throw to him knowing that it's a 60-70% chance of a turnover? Or should we be "nice" and try to get him the disc?

The worst part is for the other team. It's not fair for the person covering the kid to just stand around & do nothing, but they're going to feel bad if they D or score this little kid. It's bad enough that this happens in a game that's already been decided, but this makes it hard to cling to even a façade of competitive athleticism.

My question is, why is this OK in ultimate? You'd NEVER see a parent have their rugrat join in a game of football, basketball, soccer, tennis, etc. Instead, they take the socially accepted route of pushing the child into the sport of choice for the parent and browbeating/berating/guilt-tripping them until they grow too disgusted to play anymore. Or until they have to take performance enhancing drugs to match expectations. Either way, it's worked for decades. So, if you've got a kid that you think can play in ultimate tournaments, ask yourself if you're ok with all of these scenarios:

1. The opposing team will offer them alcohol.
2. JT, or someone of his ilk, will say something along the lines of "That throw is f***ing bulls***! Why the f*** are we throwing that g******** s*** still? Are we h**** w***ing morons? *&&%^^$$#&%, son of *&**$"* directly in front of your child (note: if your kids aren't playing but are only on the sidelines then such language is f***ing uncool -- otherwise it's free f***ing speech, biatch).
3. The same kinetic energy in "incidental contact" between two 6ft, 200 lb+ men go for a disc is transferred to your child.
4. The person guarding your child D's/intercepts all throws to them, then tries to score on them due to the blatant speed/height mismatch.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Dave Barry is a Funny Man

I recently finished rereading "Dave Barry Slept Here" and it is hi-larious. It mocks history books consistently, as well as most of the major figures of US history. Here is an excerpt:
The seeds of the Civil War were sown in the late eighteenth century when Eli Whitney invented the “Cotton gin,” a machine capable of turning cotton into gin many times faster than it could be done by hand. This created a great demand for cotton-field workers, whom the South originally attempted to recruit by placing “help wanted” advertisements in the newspaper:
ATTENTION SELF-STARTERS! Are you that special “Can-do” kind of guy or gal who’s looking for a chance to work extremely hard under horrible conditions for your entire life without getting paid and being severely beaten whenever we feel like it, plus we get to keep your children? To find out more about this exciting career opportunity, contact: The South.
Oddly enough, this advertisement failed to produce any applicants, and so the South decided to go with slavery.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Solution to Soccer's Corruption Woes

Recent headlines of soccer have focused on Zidane, fixed matches in Italy & Brazil, and bribes to managers to get them to buy players at sketchy rates. I have the solution and it allows a legitimate fantasy-football aspect to the beautiful game.

Each team in a league gets instead of a salary cap, a bribery cap. This can go to anyone at anytime, with the two restrictions that the bribes a) MUST be paid and b) the recipient must be publicly identified within 24 hours of payment. Then fans could have fantasy leagues to pick out the best refs, players, agents, etc. to accrue money over the season as well as argue over which calls were paid and which ones weren't. An think of the fun when Man U and Chelsea BOTH pay off the same ref before a game. While there will still be other bribes going on, at least this will allow us all to enjoy the major ones. Of course, Bayern Munich will soon be griping that Milan and other Italian clubs have a higher Shadiness Cap level than they do...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This Spam is Amazing!

I've now received 3 copies of this "This Watch is Amazing" spam in the last 2 days. Citi's spam filter can weed out emails from my friends, including REPLIES to my own email, but it can't weed out this crap. ugh. We should be paying these spammers $0.25 (or whatever they get per spam sent) per al qaeda member they find. Clearly these guys can break through the toughest defenses!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sign No. 17 It's Time for a Career Change

When you're an American talking head for an NFL show and the British guy on the show is more thoughtful, knowledgeable and insightful about the game you're broadcasting. C'mon! He's BRITISH! Same thing goes if there are Brits announcing soccer for US networks that can't at least hold their own with their American counterparts.

Watched the 2nd half of the Carolina-Atlanta game last night, and apparently Fox has decided to take their student interns from the summer & give them announcing jobs. I think it's spectacular. Of course, Fox (via Sky Sports) stuck with the game to the bitter end, not even breaking away for HIGHLIGHTS of at least 2 game-winning plays during the interminable last 2 minutes. Ugh.

The one bright spot is that the Sky Sports announcers do a MUCH better job of keeping fans apprised of the NFL fortunes of their favorite NFL Europe players. Anytime one of them did anything (or nothing) they'd remind you that "John Doe played for the Amsterdam Highrollers last season."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Gilette Stock up 12% Upon Winning Guantanamo Contract

Gillette will be supplying personal hygeine products including, but not limited to, back hair trimmers, combs, and a rumored experimental bed head repellant. The contract is estimated to be worth $100 million dollars.

I can't see this guy's picture without cracking up. The other captives either have mugshots (some of which make the claims of "no torture" seem shaky) or no pic at all. But Khalid here is lookin' fine!
It Runs in the Family

"Ask not what your beer can do for you; ask what you must do for another beer." -- Teddy Kennedy

Monday, September 04, 2006

My Life, in Miniature

Everyone asks me how my life here is different than in the USA. The major things remain constant: I'm a smartass, my apartment is a mess, etc. The big change is the scale of my life. In Dallas, to do anything required at least 20-30 minutes of driving. Driving 100 miles in a day is just part of life. Here in the Dorf my life rarely goes outside a 3 mile radius. If I can't walk somewhere in 15 minutes, I consider it a long way away. It's like I've been turned into BigEd or another of the Dallas-ites with a inside 635 LoJack on their ankle. Like this weekend. I went to Essen for the Friedrich exhibit (note to Casey: this is recent), all of 30 min & 20 miles away, and it was a big excursion! I think my horizons and my daily commute are inversely proportional

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Big Exhibit

I finally made it to Essen for the big Caspar David Friedrich exhibit. It was a bit disappointing, to be honest. I like his work, but the majority of the exhibit was his drawings and sketches. His paintings fall into two categories -- a) kind of dark & brooding and b)nature with wispy clouds/fog. Which probably drove the 18th cent. goth girls wild, though his stubborn refusal to shave his out-of-control mutton chops no doubt prevented him from capitalizing. He is the quintessential German painter: romantic, a bit depressed, and he personally invaded France twice.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Remember The Alamo! As usual, the Onion makes me laugh.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

WWJR: What Would JT Read?

Looking back at the books I've read this year, the theme is "Books I Should have Read in School But Didn't Because My School Sucked". So far this year I've read "Great Expectations" (surprisingly good), "Anna Karenina" (surprisingly Harlequin-esque), "Robinson Crusoe" (unsurprisingly racist), "All Quiet on the Western Front" (unsurprisingly depressing & rat-filled), and, currently, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" (surprisingly short). Now, my big question is, any suggestions of good books you were required to read? Or, more importantly, any classics to avoid? Not that I'll actually listen to suggestions, but this way you can feel like I care.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

How, Exactly, Can I Help?

From the NY Times: 'With the heading “Wanted Dead,” the message featured a photograph of Mr. Malik and said: “This is the face of the traitorous lawyer to Islam who supports the Lina Joy apostasy case. Distribute to our friends so they can recognize this traitor. If you find him dead by the side of the road, do not help.” '

If the guy is already dead when I find him, am I just supposed to avoid resurrecting him? Is this common in Malaysia? Why haven't we heard more about this?

Apparently in Malaysia one has the constitutional right to choose one's religion, but Malays are also constitutionally defined as being Muslim and so must have permission of an Islamic Shariah court to convert. Not surprisingly, they're pretty loathe to grant this, so Lina Joy is going to their Supreme Court to challenge her right convert to Christianity to marry her Christian fiancee. Of course, she & her lawyer are receiving death threats.

Who has time for this? Is this the psycho-religious equivalent of blogging? Can we stop the death threats with free broadband access? Maybe getting these guys indoctrinated into a nerd cult is the answer -- who has time for death threats when you have to flame someone over which is better: Star Wars or Star Trek? There's the answer for peace in the Middle East: Sunnis get Star Trek, Shiites get Star Wars and give Israelis Lord of the Rings. Instead of bombing, they can all have a big Sci-Fi convention and decide territorial issues through time-honored nerd tests like costume contests.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cheesing Up Metropolis

Let's be honest, superhero movies are all a little cheesey. Some, like Batman Begins or X-Men seek to tone this down & explore the dark side of human nature. Some, like the Spider-Man flicks, embrace their 4-color roots with humor and excitement. And some use the most expensive special effects (note the absence of the word "best") available to pack 3 hours so full of cheesey lines ("I forgot how warm you are"), bad acting, and lame plots that it seems to last for 17 hours. Not even Kobe Bryant's talk with his wife after the trip to Colorado didn't feel this long.

Plot Summary: Superman is Jesus, but the DaVinci Code one. The role of Mary Magdalene is played by Lois Lane who continues to demonstrate absolutely no reason (other than hotness) why the (super)men in her life are fawning over her. Sure, she's got moxie, but so does Lex Luthor and no one is rushing to marry the bald guy. Anyone, there's 3 hours of Christ imagery in a red cape. And Superman doesn't punch anyone or anything! I guarantee when they pump Sly Stallone full of Lenin-style chemicals so he can make "Rambo Returns", he'll get to shoot something.

On the bright side, since it was the unannounced sneak preview, it was half price, so it could have been worse. And they serve Paulaner hefe-weizen in a chilled glass at the theater, so that helped.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ron Weasley Named as English Soccer Coach

Gotta love the youth team picture of the new English manager. I wonder if Argentina will hire Snape as their new coach?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Who Framed Floyd Landis? The F*&#ing Communists, That's Who

Apparently Floyd Landis has some a rare form of Tourette's that causes him to randomly and frequently lapse into semi-coherent rants about the forces of evil that are conspiring against him. Right now, bookies have the top 5 candidates to next be named Landis conspirators:

1. Dick Cheney - it just feels right
2. Bill Clinton - interns dig scandals
3. Osama Bin Laden - tearing down the moral fabric of america, one spandex-clad infidel at a time
4. Jesus - Motive is unclear, but omnipotence = opportunity & you can't rule him out
5. Communist Insurgents - Seeking to gain a foothold in cycling, Marxist rebels can never be ruled out when explaining irrational American behavior.

Friday, August 11, 2006

German Nationals

German Ultimate Nationals were last weekend in Cologne, and it was an experience. I finally got to see top-level German ultimate as well as see how the Dusseldorf team would play under pressure.

Nationals was basically just a bigger than normal tournament. Everyone camped at the fields, ate breakfast together, etc. Fields ranged from shorter & narrower than standard to longer (80yds!) than the official. Most, though not all, fields were lined. The fields were not all together, and half of them required driving from the central location.

The Dusseldorf team lost our 4 pool play games, then won the crap bracket, to finish exactly as the team did last year (7th in the 2nd division, 17th overall). Personally, I played pretty poorly except in our last game (and even then it wasn’t a very good showing by me). The team was very tight in pool play and relaxed in the consolation games. It was no coincidence that we won these two games (it also helped that one of the teams was completely exhausted with only 9 players). The team needs more focus and better attendance at its practices and at least some structure to the offense if the team is to ever do better.

As for top-level German ultimate, in general the players in the first division have as much skill as the top teams in the south region, but their strategy is pretty lacking. Not much variation in o or d, and very little awareness of mismatches. I only saw three 1st division games, and they were a mixed bag. The Cologne first team managed to drop 2 pulls (one on game point) in the "showcase" semifinal on sat night. Ouch. But I also saw the best pull I've ever seen -- high, fast inside out, angling sharply, into the sun, to boot. The guy wisely let it land, it rolled a foot or so & stopped less than a foot from the back corner of the endzone. when he picked it up, the cup was on him. Almost every pull the guy threw was caught in the endzone with defenders waiting. 1st division teams were small – no more than 15 guys, and most teams only really played 10 or less. This led to plenty of tired defense and easy scores while fresh guys languished on the bench.

The party was fun, but the music was sketchy. Worst of all, you had to pay for your own beer. This has been the case at both ultimate parties I’ve been to, and I’m not sure if it’s because kegs aren’t available or because that’s just the way it is. No matter, if you go to a Frisbee party here, make sure you have cash…
No, Really, I Have an Excuse

Sorry for not posting the last two weeks. I've been in the hospital following a horrible accident involving a bratwurst, goose-stepping, and the French border police. But my testosterone levels are back to normal and I will protest the International Blogging Federation's attempts to label me as a lazy, drunken blogger -- I am not lazy about my drunkenness, as any of a wide variety of TABC officers will tell you.
Are There Other Kinds?

From a article about Bush's "Islamic Fascists" comment: '"We believe that this is an ill-advised term and we believe that it is counterproductive to associate Islamic Muslims with fascism," the council's Executive Director Nihad Awad said at a Washington press conference.'

My question, and a serious one for a change, is: what's a non-Islamic Muslim? I'd thought (and pretty sure my world religions course backs this up) that "Islam" was the religion and "Muslim" was a practioner of the religion. Feel free to enlighten me on this point.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Just Another Day in Deutschland

Soccer players are a dime a dozen here. Like this guy, Kasey Keller -- best keeper in American history (don't give me that Friedel crap). And pretty friendly for a guy stopped walking to practice on a Saturday morning. In case you're wondering, he warms up separately from the field players and drinks ice-cold vodka instead of Gatorade (ok, i made that up). Best part of the photo? how we all look vaguely out of it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Nothing Says Company Outing Like Samba

A few photos from the wild world of sports! 48 teams, more than 500 players, free beer, brats and pretzels all day long -- a recipe for a winner of a company outing!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Hey, don't be offended -- the President said it. SO what, exactly, is the big deal? South Park had an episode where they said it 162 times -- about 8 per second (thank you, wikipedia). Let's be honest, we've all said it. I GUARANTEE every previous president said it (or the equivalent) at least once in his administration. You know FDR said it when he found out the bedrooms were on the second floor. Nixon swore like a drunken sailor on the tapes, and I'm betting JFK let slip more than a few F bombs while nailing Marilyn. Let's put this in perspective here. It's not like he misled the country into supporting an invasion of a sovreign nation, snorted coke, supported the use of torture and denial of human rights to prisoners of war, or exploited the deaths of thousands of americans to expand executive power to limits not seen since Andrew Jackson or ... wait, he did do all of those. And those were roundly supported by "moral" americans. I believe the term I need to describe people who are offended by 4 letters and not his actions: stupid mother f***ers.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Italy or Portugal -- You Decide!

Secret training video! Hilarious stuff. Feel free to punch the nearest portuguese or italian player you see in the back of the head. or just head butt the jackass.

Friday, July 07, 2006


'"When history looks back, I'd rather be judged as solving problems and being correct, rather than being popular," Bush said.
"The president that chases the opinion poll is the president that will have failed policy," Bush said in an exclusive joint interview along with his wife, Laura, at the White House.
Some members of Congress are nervous about the effect Bush's political problems might have on their own fortunes in this fall's midterm elections.
But Bush predicted that Republicans would keep their majorities in the House and Senate, "Because we're right on winning this war on terror, and we've got a good economic record," he said. "People are working under the leadership of the Bush administration and the Congress."
When it comes to the most controversial single decision of his presidency -- invading Iraq -- the president told King he would make the same choice again, even knowing that Saddam Hussein's regime did not have weapons of mass destruction.'

He's right about the economy -- rich people haven't been this prosperous, ever!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

And People Call Me a Nerd! -- two guys using their laptops to have a lightsaber fight. Just hilarious.

What is Manly?

SO, you have millions of visitors coming for the World Cup, how do you sell your paper? With billboards on every train platform featuring a naked (FULL frontal nudity is ok, apparently) man with a circa-1986 David Hasslehoff haircut. Good times.

And, yes, there is a pattern emerging here -- I'll be posting plenty more risqué ads over the next few weeks.

To Advertise, Sometimes All You Need is a Nipple

The only things you need to know to guess the location of this poster are: a) the proliferation of vowels and b) the complete indifference the woman displays to the exposure of her breast. Only in Amsterdam! The best part of the ad is definitely the smirk on the guy's face, though.
I'm Not Saying Germans are Obsessive, But...

One of my friends is going on vacation next week, and she's hoping to get her GOLF license. She's taking a course, at the end of which she has a test and then she's allowed to play golf. When I asked, 'how long is the course?' I assumed I misunderstood when she said "10 days". I didn't. Does it really take that long to learn how to swing a club?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Floppers in Final

The one thing that disappointed me about Germany's solid performance last night was that no one sucker-punched Totti after the Italians scored. He'd spent most of the match feigning injury with his face in his hands after German defenders came inside his 3-foot wide Circle of Dive-itude. At one point he even jumped onto the back of Germany's captain, then after falling down rolled in "pain" until he magically recovered in time to whine about being called for the obvious foul.

This is an advantage of hockey, football, basketball -- a guy flops enough, you send in one of the bruisers to clean his clock, and problem solved. BUT in soccer, you have to play the whole game down a man.

Being an outside-the-beer-bottle thinker, I have the perfect solution: after a flop, the person caught doesn't receive a card, they receive a neon orange jersey. For 5 minutes (they must stay on the field the whole time), anything is legal on them, as long as there's no blood/permanent injury. A second flop gives you 10 minutes "In the Jersey". Obvious flops caught on camera after the game receive their penalty upon their next appearance.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Christian Laettner Red-Carded for England; Prince Charles too Drunk to Comment

Having Wayne Rooney, the England's only legitimate striker be the enforcer for the British team is like having Peyton Manning be the hard man for the Colts -- it's not very effective, and they're not going to score once he (inevitably) gets tossed. And "enforcer" is a bit generous -- Rooney's MO isn't to seek revenge for previous hits, but instead to randomly go after whomever has driven his troglodytic "brain" to fury, regardless of justification. So, once again, "Mickey" Rooney shows that while he may have a nose for goal, he has a brain for shite. The World Cup has already had a record number of red cards (ejections), so do you:

a) Play it clean and wait for a chance (hah!)
b) Flop like there's no tomorrow
c) Stomp some groins!

a) is a fairy tale, and b) is played out (Italia! Brasil! Argentina!) and c) is ...

You f*&^ing dolt. On the bright side, in 4 years, he'll still be a moron.

Photo Courtesy of ESPN!

That's... Not... Waldo...

No, really, that's a 'Where's Waldo' book. I swear, baby.

Guess Which Couple is Married?

The one touching or the one trying desperately to comply with the middle school "record in between" rule?

5Euro Doesn't Buy Spell Check

The best part is that the candles on the opposite side of Notre Dame (where this was taken) were only 2Euro. Apparently after walking around the cathedral you're either so awe-inspired or beaten down that a 250% price increase doesn't faze you.

Break in Bike Theft Case

The thieves' lair was raided yesterday, yielding only a hoard of Tenacious D CDs, Denis Leary DVDs and enough Simpsons references to choke a dead Comic Book Guy. Authorities are pursuing them, but are worried that they may have separated to wreak havoc on separate continents.

Master Criminals Behind Amsterdam Bike Thefts

Dr. No, Goldfinger, Le Jackasses? This blurry photo and semi-coherent descriptions of a string of cock blocks across Europe are the only evidence INTERPOL have in the case. They are said to be seeking "2 men (term used loosely), aged 12-40, slow-footed, quick-witted, presumed crunk and obnoxious. They are hatless, repeat, HATLESS! Except for the one on the right -- he might have a hat. Subjects are presumed drunk and exhibit Lemur tendencies. They have been seen in the company of the self-proclaimed 'G Money'

Friday, June 30, 2006

Observations from Germany-Argentina

1. Fun Fact: Manu Ginobili of the Spurs was kicked off the Argentina National Soccer (Futbol) team for "showing insufficient flopping ability."
2. It's hard to win a game when you spend most of it writhing in pain after no contact whatsoever.
3. In single-elimination tournaments it's not the best idea to leave your most talented player on the bench.
4. It's hard to win a game while playing with both hands wrapped around your own neck.
5. If I ever hear a German bitching about refereeing, Wayne Brady may have to choke a bitch. This is 2 consecutive World Cups that they've won games on bad no-calls in the penalty box.
6. Goose-stepping is not appropriate celebration behavior.
7. From FREETRANSLATION.COM: "argentinian" can mean either "punk-ass bitch" or "bitchy-ass punk".
8. From FREETRANSLATION.COM: "io sono italiano" means "Would you like the money in cash or wired to your account, Signor Referee?".

Thursday, June 29, 2006

How to Tell If You Work in a Soccer-Mad Country

Germany's game on Friday starts at 5pm. My coworkers want to watch it at the Dorf's stadium, but they don't think they can get away with leaving "early" enough to get seats -- 1:30. So, they'll instead have to stay "all day" until 3:30 and find somewhere else to watch the game.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Paris is for Pondering

Nothing like a moment of quiet repose while waiting for the next bottle of wine to be opened!

Only in France

Must museums tell parents that their kids aren't allowed to have sex with escalator rails.

Monday, June 05, 2006

God Bless Holidays

As I sat at home today enjoying Pfingston (Whitsun for you Brits, the day when the Holy Spirit came to the Apostles), I rethought about my firm pro- stance on the separation of church and state. While I still believe the govt shouldn't force anyone to worship or not worship, religious holidays are a good thing. I know that my opinion of Catholicism is much higher today than it was on Friday. The US's only religious holiday (now Consumerian, not Christian) is Christmas. Couldn't we share tolerance by adding the Jewish High Holy Days and the start of Ramadan to the mix? World peace through vacation -- you heard it here first.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Lost in Abbreviation

I'm thinking that the person who made these menus (you may need to click on them to enlarge) wasn't much of an English speaker. Or was creating the menu under the influence of Duvel ("Strong Enough to Make Belgians Hot"). Or Belgians tend to be Assmen, you make the call.
Eff You, FIFA

On behalf of all Americans in Europe, I want to give a big, proud, middle finger to FIFA's world rankings. While the USA is currently tied for 5th, we weren't given a #1 seed in the upcoming World Cup, unlike Mexico (team motto: "We'll kick your ass, as long as it's in Mexico City or our players are allowed to dope") and Germany (team motto "Go to hell, Coach Klinsmann, unless we win."). This means I have to a) defend our ranking (we should be in the 8-12 range, in my opinion) and b) explain why we can get out of our group yet we lost to Germany 4-1 (summary: our B team was down 1-0 with 20 min left against the German A team that had to win to save the coach's job). So, FIFA, either fix the rankings or the seedings, or bite me. Your choice, Jackasses.
Asian Pride: P0rn

A(n) hilarious spoof of infomercials that is surprisingly video-work safe (but contains audio that probably isn't work safe, unless you work in the p0rn industry). Funny stuff. Especially the "hot" scene with the mustard...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

William Shatner: Rocketman may be one of the funniest videos I've seen. Just the initial image of Shatner smoking a huge joint on TV is comedy gold. Watch and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

God Told Me in a Vision I Need a Holiday

From wikipedia, on Corpus Christi Day, a holiday here in Germany: The appearance of Corpus Christi as a feast in the Christian calendar was primarily due to the petitions of the thirteenth-century Augustinian nun St. Juliana of Liège. From her youth she claimed that God had been instructing her to establish a feast day for the Eucharist

So, basically, you just need to hassle the church enough, and they'll give you a new holiday. That's my kind of religion!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Mother's Day by Hallmark, Father's Day by Jägermeister

Thursday was Ascension Day, which is also Father's Day here in Germany. While Mother's Day is celebrated the same as in the USA, Father's Day isn't. Rather than give ties or power tools to their fathers, Germans get them drunk. Younger men will go drink heavily all day with their fathers, and new fathers get together with their buddies to also get blitzed. For some, this starts on Wednesday night and continues until Sunday, others limit themselves to the one day. Apparently German theology includes a belief that Jesus & God went on a multi-day bender to celebrate Jesus's return to heaven. It also explains how the first commandment ("Thou shalt have no other gods before Me") was translated by Martin Luther as "Thou shalt have no drinks before Me, unless I am late for happy hour."

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mavs Chronicles of Narnia SNL Skit parody

Since most of you are in dallas, you may have seen this already. i thought it was pretty funny. Enjoy! .

Monday, May 22, 2006

Amsterdam -- Any Requests?

One of the great things about going somewhere for the weekend is the requests people make. Some of these can tip you off to a great food or drink (speaking of which, if any of you come from Nashville, bring me a Bella Vita from Da Vinci's Pizza), but it also has other side effects. Belgium will brook requests or sad wishes for chocolate and beer; England, tea or bizarre candies; France, wine or cheese, but only Amsterdam requires glances over the shoulder and lowered voices. After all, what are they going to ask for? A Rembrandt? Tulips? Souvenir left ears? Amstel freaking Light? Nope. People claim they go for the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House or tulips, but they really just want porn or pot. And nothing's more fun than having someone drop into a whisper for their request only to follow it up with, "Ooooh, I don't know much about that. Is it a problem if I get the wrong kind?" Invariably, the answer is no. Because whether you want to get high or horny, only the best will do.


As I may have ranted about before, belgian beer is fabulous. I say this knowing that none of my german friends are reading this, as this would be considered heretical (on a par with suggesting that the US outplayed Germany in the last World Cup). The sheer variety is unbelievable. Take all the types you've had at the Flying Saucer or other brew pub, and multiply it by the large interger of your choice. The bar pictured at left has 2500 brews available (most belgian, but not all). Of course, as your loyal scribe, it's my duty to experience as many of these as I can. After spending the weekend on a fact-drinking mission at an ultimate tournament in Arendonk (Flemish for "doesn't exist on any map or website"), I have several facts to report:

1. Hoegaarden isn't "HO-GARDEN" it's "HOO-GARDEN". And even then the bartenders have enough French in them to sniff at your pronounciation.
2. Duvel + Chimay Blue = Not the Best 1st Round Game Ever.
3. Kriek Belle-Vue is a tart 'n tasty cherry beer. Lindeman's Kriek beer is slightly sweeter than Big Red.
4. Kriek Gueze (almost rhymes with "ooze") is just really, really good. Too rich to drink much, but wow.
5. Bonus SAT prep! Budweiser is to Stella Artois as Stella Artois is to Grimbergen Blond.
6. Belgians having a different glass for each beer pretty much ruins my plan to steal a cool glass for each good beer I drink.

7. Even the best beer tastes horrible after brushing your teeth.

Friday, May 19, 2006

False Advertising Rampant in Slovenia

What a load of crap. I went into this place in Ljubljana, and not a single picture of LB in the place. Bastards.

The Burger that Won the Revolution!

It's Volks-Burger (People's Burger) week at the Citi Cafeteria, and that means that all you capitalist pigs will have to subsist on your bourgeois salads. Burgers are for the People! Viva la Revolucion!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Germans at the Gym

I assumed that Germans would wear essentially the same thing to the gym as Americans, so I was surprised when friends kept asking, “what do they wear to the gym?” My pithy response is either “Lederhosen!” or “Jackboots and a helmet with a spike on it.”

A more accurate answer for women would be, “The same thing they wore yesterday.” Since I tend to workout at the same time everyday (around 7pm), I see the “regulars” almost everyday. And the women almost always wear the exact same outfit every time I see them. Either that or they have several pairs of identical pants. I don’t know if they wash obsessively, or if they’re funky, but I’m not sure I want to know. The typical outfit is a lycra top to show some belly (nothing wrong with that) and biker shorts or equally tight workout pants. Sometimes they vary this by wearing a light jacket or a polo shirt over the ensemble. That classes it up, let me tell you.

As for the men, let’s just say Charlie Gaddy circa 2000 would fit right in. Running tights or biker shorts with nothing covering them? Why not? The boldest fashion statement is the regular who wears what appear to be hot pants to run. Imagine the John Stockton's shorts from his NBA career, but shorter, skintight and made of lycra. I'll leave you with that mental picture.

Sign No. 47 You're a Jackass:

When you meet friends at the train station, you stop directly in front of the doors to talk, then give people dirty looks when they try to get by. Take 3 steps forward, Jackass!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

5 Reasons Why Dallas is Better than Duesseldorf*

1. Cheering for the Mavs doesn't require an all-nighter or an early wakeup call.
2. Thai restaurants actually serve Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao, dammit!).
3. Good Mexican food is almost too easy to find.
4. Moving into an apartment means that your kitchen, closets, and blinds are already there.
5. Ultimate players socialize after playing.

* Other than the obvious ones of family & friends that I miss.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My "Girly Posse"

Liz's words, not mine! This is me with a few friends last Friday on Ratinger Strasse ("street"). There are several bars and clubs on the street, but the cool people hang out outside and bring their beer with them. I guess that's really reason #6 why the 'Dorf beats Dallas -- no law against open containers!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

5 reasons Duesseldorf is better than Dallas in May

1. Mid-afternoon office birthday parties have champagne and/or beer.
2. “Heat wave” means temps in the upper 70s, not upper 90s.
3. $0.60 gets you a scoop of gelato, $0.75 at the pricy joints.
4. Sunsets at 9pm mean plenty of time to hang out & drink beer during the day.

5. 2 national holidays this month instead of 1.
Heat Wave in the Dorf

Just like Dallas had a spate of unseasonably hot weather, Duesseldorf has been having a week of late-summer temps. Nothing like a high of 77 (average hi temp in August is 71) to get those short skirts & belly shirts out of the closet. No arguments here!

Other signs of warm temps: lines 20 people deep at the $0.60 gelato stand, people actually smile, every restaurant, bar, and coffee shop has sprouted outdoor tables and the sunglasses now cover at least 50% of people’s faces. The next logical step in this trend is for fashionistas to just wear visors from motorcycle helmets.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Bush Issue

Being an American in Europe guarantees you certain things: indignance at sloooooow service at restaurants, relief at the prevalence of English speakers, and questions about the President. Now in 1999, maybe these same questions would have led to some serious flirtation, but the current controversy in Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan doesn't lend itself as well to more ... enjoyble social interaction. And once the person finds out you're from Texas, you're guaranteed at least 1 "What do you think of Bush" or "What the hell is wrong with you people" question. Even a flaming liberal like myself gets tired of constantly addressing the issue. And apparently it's not socially acceptable to reply to queries with, "Hey, at least we're not ramping up Zyklon B production" or "When is this Kristallnacht I've heard so much about?"

What I didn't expect were the jokes. I've heard several, almost all of which mock Bush's intelligence. This being the only one I hadn't heard before. One of my Slovenian friends told it to me via email:

A man enters a bar and orders a drink. The bar has a robot bartender. The robot serves him a perfectly prepared cocktail, and then asks him, "What's your IQ?"

The man replies "150" and the robot proceeds to make conversation about global warming, actors, Quantum physics and spirituality, bio-mimicry,environmental interconnectedness, string theory, nanotechnology, and sexual proclivities.

The customer is very impressed and thinks, "This is really cool." He decides to test the robot. He walks out of the bar, turns around, and comes back in for another drink. Again, the robot serves him the perfectly prepared drink and asks him, "What's your IQ?"

The man responds, "about 100." Immediately the robot starts talking, but this time, about NASCAR, super models, favorite fast foods, guns, and women's breasts.

Really impressed, the man leaves the bar and decides to give the robot one more test. He heads out and returns, the robot serves him and asks, "What's your IQ?"

The man replies, "Er, 50, I think."

And the robot says... real slowly.."So............... ya gonna vote for Bush again?"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Democrats Angrily Refute Claims of Competence

Following repeated Republican claims of difficult mid-term elections this fall, the Democrats have responded with vigor. "I'm not going to let years of brand-building go to waste while I'm Chairman," stated Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean. "We had a big setback in the 90's with the election of Bill Clinton, but we overcame that. Al Gore's surprising campaign in 2000 hearkened back to the glory days of Carter, Mondale and Dukakis. And John just upped the bar in 2004. I'm not about to let their struggles be for naught. If the Republicans think that they are in danger of losing seats in Congress, they're in for a big surprise. It may seem like we just fall back-asswards into defeat every election, but the kind of systematic incompetence we've demonstrated over the last 20-30 years takes hard work by a lot of people."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid added, "I think the upcoming election cycle is going to be a defining moment for the party. We've been given some tough obstacles to overcome, but I'm certain that we're up to the task. In the past we haven't always brought our A game, but we will this year. Some so-called ‘experts’ might have you believe that the President’s lowered popularity will lead to a big Democrat win, but I’m here to tell you that the Party of Lincoln has nothing to fear from the Party of Mondale."

Tom DeLay, recently resigned from his House position, countered by saying, "I had to resign so we could get a candidate without my ethical baggage to defeat what promises to be one of many stout Democratic challenges across the country. I'm just glad that I'm not going to be in the House, much less the Majority Leader in charge when we lose control of the House."

Dean laughed off the claims of the fiery Texan. "If Tom Delay thinks we're going to sit back and let minor controversies like Dick Cheney shooting a man, child molesters in Homeland Security, the Katrina response, or continued revelations of inadequate planning for Iraq stand in the way of a complete collapse of our campaigns, he has another thing coming. I proved pretty convincingly that I could destroy a single campaign after my Iowa caucus debacle, and now I'm out to prove it on a nation-wide stage. The President could kill Miss America on live TV and it wouldn't lead to a Democratic majority in either House -- I guarantee it."

When reached for a response, the office of Vice-President issued this short statement: "While the President and Vice-President continue to monitor the domestic political situation, their energies remain focused on continuing to strengthen the US from its enemies both domestically and internationally. However, the continued outrages of the Miss America will not go unpunished. The administration has not ruled out any course of action."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Man, This DJ Rocks!

Sometimes when listening to the "My Top Rated Songs" playlist on my iPod, I pretend it's a radio station that just seems to have the same tastes as me. Plus, they play the explicit versions of songs! It's sort of an anti-ClearChannel.
First Ljubljana Pics
Courtesy of the Ljubljana tourist kiosks and the internet.

This is Ljubljana castle, and it's pretty cool. From the top of the castle you can see the entire valley, from the Alps in the north to the foothills on the other 3 sides. Very cool. More pics once I get my home internet at the new apartment.
Slovenian Rail Taketh Away and Giveth

Disaster was narrowly avoided yesterday on my 6 hour train ride from Ljubljana to Munich. I started in a cabin with 3 people apparently on a 7 week shower strike. It was quite strong in the cabin, and the prospect of them working their way through the beer wasn't pleasant. After 30 minutes of mouth breathing, the train stops and we all get transferred to buses due to problems with the track. An hour of driving while being serenaded by the students at the back of the bus (their version of "Yesterday" needed work, but "Hey Jude" was passable) later, and we get a new train. Fortunately, I was able to get in a new compartment with more olfactory-friendly passengers. I wasn't looking forward to 5 hours of playing Golden Retriever through the Alps.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Graffiti Scavenger Hunt

After seeing an exhibition on graffiti this weekend in Ljubljana, I wanted to find all 20 of the Space Invader tile mosaics here. I managed a paltry 7. You can check out theweb site ofthe creators here -- . They place these roughly 8x12 in tile mosaics of space invaders and other classic rasterized video game characters throughout cities of their choice, then create maps to help you locate them. Very cool and a good way to kill an afternoon when most of the country is closed for Easter.

Next for me -- Paris. with its 519! mosaics to find. Hopefully i can catch 50 or so...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Beer of the People or Beer of the Elite?

One great idea that Slovenia has had is to have 2 national brews, Lasko and Union. The red Union beer signifies a backing of the people (long live the proletariat!) while the green Lasko (with a goat symbol) shows support for the nouveau riche bourgeoise. I think this is a spectacular idea. Wouldn't it be great to tell at a glance at his/her beer the political leanings of a person? "Fucking commie liberals" or "fucking Republican fascists" would then be perfect openings lines. Of course, if s/he were drinking Zima, you'd have to have something positive about Ralph Nader or Ross Perot.

If any (either) of you reading this has political party ties, see what you can do about getting a Budweiser Bullshitter Bock or a Labatt's Liberal Lite (if you're liberal, you might as well be Canadian). Keep me posted!

This post brought to you by a joint effort of the Lasko and Union Breweries.
Those Nascar Broads are a Classy Bunch

Apparently one girlfriend went to kick another's ass after a wreck. They're not very interested in breaking down stereotypes of redneck behavior, apparently.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

7 Years Bad What?

I've made sure to make contact with everyone in the group for toasts, since I was told to not do so was extremely rude in Germany. A few weeks back (bear with me, Casey), someone told me it was just 7 years bad luck, so I only made eye contact infrequently. Saturday night, someone noticed I didn't make eye contact & asked if I really wanted 7 years bad sex. Bad luck is one thing, but bad sex is something else entirely. So at the next bar I made an exaggerated effort to make eye contact with everyone, ending with my friend Ryan. Which prompted Clare to ask, "Are you worried about bad sex with Ryan?"
"Yeah, it only applies to the person you don't make eye contact with."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bar Crawling, Düsseldorf-Style

Saturday was the big "Best Düsseldorfer Bars" bar crawl, and it was definitely a change of pace from previous crawls I've been on -- swanky bars, free transport, welcome drink at each bar (9 bars for 16Euro). The unplanned side effects of this were that the crowd was much older than I expected -- I must have had at least thirty 50+ women elbow me out of the way to the bar during the night. And I didn't expect to see any parent-teen pairs, but I saw several (talk about a tough cockblock...). The drinks tended toward the sickly-sweet, low alcohol variety, with a few pleasant exceptions. One bartender, apparently trying to help us forget the crappy band playing, had a heavy hand with the gin, and we didn't complain.

Speaking of the band, there's a fine line for a singer between self-confidence and self-parody. The digeridoo-playing tool they had for a lead singer firmly planted himself on the latter side of the line. Their first song, "Tequila", was supposedly "by request", but I'm pretty sure the idiot just overheard a drink order -- too bad Gin and Juice wasn't a popular drink. Anyway, Toolio proceeded to screw up the easiest song ever to sing -- you just shout "tequila" at all the long pauses. Nope. His rendition was to shout "Tequila" at any pause, interspersed with a random "let's party!". Of course, when he WAS supposed to say "tequila" he was in the midst of a craptacular dig solo. Wow.

(Un)Fortunately, he soon gave way to a woman who was inspired to sing by Aretha Franklin's style, Mariah Carey's range-jumping technique and the incompetence of the New York Knicks . You know the type -- loud white girl confused by American Idol into thinking that anyone can sing well. Fortunately, the strong drinks carried us on to further stops in the crawl...
At First I was Afraid...

A tip to those of you singing popular songs in a foreign language -- you should really try to get the first line right. And "I Will Survive" has the line "I was petrified", not "I was PITIFIED." That's what happened when you crossed Mr. T in the 80s. There was some confusion by the band on Saturday night. To be honest, though, the singer was probably pitified, too.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Are You Free Friday, or Should I Bring My ATM Card?

So in German, as in English, you can ask for an appointment by asking, "are you free...?" or "Do you have time ..?" If you want to ask a woman on a date, you have to say "Do you have time...?" or she'll be offended that you're implying she's a prostitute with a fire sale. I'm not sure if actual prostitutes are offended if you ask them if they're free. If any of you find out, feel free to let me know -- my language studies aren't really going into that area. Just FYI for any of you planning on being social when you visit!
Anticipation Makes Thai Food Better

Is the only explanation I can think of for my failed attempt to eat Thai before the bar crawl on Saturday. I got to the restaurant at 6pm and there were 3 of the 20 or so tables occupied, for a total of about 10 people in the restaurant. The hostess asked me if I was alone, and asked if I had a reservation. I was and didn't, so she walked off without saying anything. Since many restaurants let you seat yourself, I assumed this was the case and was about to sit when she starts looking at her book of tables. After a few minutes of deep thought, she comes back and tells me that they'll be ready for me at 7:30. Fearing a misunderstanding, I repeat the time, and she says "yes, a half hour. No, an hour and a half." I stare for a second, unbelieving, then laugh & walk out.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Want Some Sprite with That Beer?

Last month after an ultimate tournament, the team i picked up with went out for dinner. We got burgers (close to US burgers except you eat the burger AND the fries with fork & knife) and, of course, beer. In the beer section there was something called a Radler. When I asked, everyone talked about how refreshing it was, but only one guy was getting one (not a good sign with everyone also talking about how tired & thirsty they were). I took the plunge and it turns out it's just Sprite (or orange soda, depending on the bartender) and a lighter beer. It was refreshing, kind of like a Corona where the bartender shoved a whole lemon and a dash of sugar into the bottle. I drew the line at a Beerbowl, though. That is essentially sangria but with beer, not wine. It wasn't the actual contents that scared me off, but the idea that I'd have a giant bowl of it sitting in front of me.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Family Values Keeping America Safe

Thank God we have the Dept of Homeland Security to keep the evil doers far from our shores. Perhaps they can extradite him straight to hell rather than Florida.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Anyone Recognize This Scene?

I woke up about 3 am laughing to a dream and it's stuck in my head now. Aguy is taking a vision test and keeps "seeing" the letter Q over and over, in a totally deadpan voice. At one point he pauses like he can't quite make out the letter, then continues with "Q, Q, Q, Q, ...". If you know what this is from, it'd really help me out. I've been laughing at this all day everytime it pops into my head and it's getting a bit annoying.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Non-Invasive Drug Testing

If you ever want to know if one of your European-traveling friends smokes pot, just ask what they think of Amsterdam. If you get a response along the lines of, "It's okay, kind of a shithole," then you know they don't smoke. If they respond with unqualified enthusiasm, then you've got yourself a smoker.

Note: exceptions can be found if the person if obsessed with either french fries or Rembrandt.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I Can Suspend My Disbelief for Jedi, but This...

Saw "After the Sunset" this week on DVD, and it's about big-time jewel thieves Salma Hayek and Pierce Brosnan who retire to a caribbean island only for Pierce to realize he's unsatisfied with his life. So, a life of tropical sunshine & fun with Salma Hayek isn't enough for the man? The movie lost me right there. Well, until Salma kept showing up in a bikini. But I didn't believe it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How Many IT Techs Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

30: 1 to change the bulb and 29 to send emails passing the work to someone else. It took at least 15, to change my email to the Europe domain -- and that's how many approved my most recent trouble ticket (and that's just in Europe). I now have internal email and should have external (and a new email address, hopefully just jt.richardson@...) mail later this week. It's taken at least 20 man-hours to get this done. Citi has said they want to hire 300 new employees in Germany this year. I assume this means 10 coming from the US or Asia and 290 IT people to facilitate the move.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Corrections - Jonathen Franzen

Since an integral part of the JT experience is hearing me blather on about books, I thought I'd add this to the blog. Not to worry, though, I won't be adding all of my annoying little quirks to this fount of stream-of-crapciousness.

I'd first heard of the novel via a review in Time and was reminded of it when Time listed their top 100 English-language novels. Since Poisonwood Bible wasn't on the list, I wanted to read a few of the recent novels that made the list in its place.

First, Never Let Me Go is no Poisonwood Bible. It's not even The Handmaiden's Tale, a clear influence on the world he has created. It's a well-written story about hope, love and what makes a person human, but it leaves some gaping questions, especially of religion and politics, left unasked, much less unanswered . While Atwood also left many of these issues alone, here they cause a sense of disbelief as key details are left out. To make matters worse, the quick end to the novel tries to wrap up the loose threads while simultaneously explaining the state of the world they live in. An admirable goal, but after ignoring or dodging the issues for 250 pages, why try to wrap it up in 20? The strong point of the novel is definitely the structure of narrative, as the main character tries to sort through memories of events from early childhood to her present age in the 30s. It rings true and allows surprises to be unveiled as she thinks about them, but it also shows a maddening disinterest in their situation that prevents us from learning more about their outlook and their world. A good read, but ultimately disappointing. And definitely not top 100-worthy.

The Corrections, on the other hand, was great. Hilarious at times, disturbing at others, it looks at a family filled with a variety of lunacies, their personal travails and how they deal these and with each other. A fun read, it's definitely worth the time investment. While the ending gets a bit sappy, it stands out as a first-rate farce -- far superior to Confederacy of Dunces and Vernon God Little, two highly-regarded "literary" comedies. Still, though, how did this surpass the Poisonwood Bible (or even The Power of One)?

Monday, March 27, 2006

FIFA Incompetence Update

After realizing that their half-assed effort on the initial sales programs for the World Cup weren't up to FIFA's usual standards, they're at it again. Now you can buy tickets for resale at a 15% premium from FIFA (plus shipping). Of course, all the joys of the previous sales (long waits, poor info, dead links, etc.) are still there, but now FIFA has raised the price to cover their costs. Also, they've now guaranteed that all speculators will now get their full scalped price by allowing transfers.
News Flash: Newt Gingrinch Converts to Islam!

Apparently unsatisfied with trying to divorce his wife while she was in the hospital for cancer surgery, the fiery, thrice-married "family values" republican said that the ability to divorce someone in his sleep was a "clear improvement on Judeo-Christian requirements for conscious requests for divorce. Plus, I like their views on keeping women in their place. I mean safe."
Overweight or undermath-ed?
Based on my two previous stints living abroad, I was looking forward to effortlessly dropping some pounds upon my arrival. Unfortunately, I failed to take into account a 30s metabolism and the insidious effects of cheap beer and pastries (fresh Rhubarb Danish: Breakfast of Champions). So after a month of German life and no evidence of a decreasing gut, I joined a gym. I weighed myself after a weekend in Brussels revolving around mussels, beer, waffles, and chocolate only to find that my weight had gone from a pre-Germany 160 to 168! Holy flurking schnitt – time to cut out the goodies. The worst part was that while I knew I hadn’t been eating healthfully, I also definitely hadn’t gotten 8 lbs of enjoyment out of my diet, either. Grrrrr. SO, 3 days of salad, cardio and no booze later, I re-weigh myself. A half-kilo less, but still only 71.5. As I did the mental math this time, though I was more careful – this works out to 157, not 167. I celebrated my newly-rediscovered math skills with a tasty gelato on the way home from a very brief workout.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Reason No 1 Why Train Travel in Germany Rocks

Not only is public drinking allowed, it's the standard. On the packed train to Dortmund for the USA-Germany game, at least 50% of the game-bound passengers had some sort of booze. Contrast this to the regular commuters on the train, where only 10% or so had a beer. Good times.

F'ing Ching -- The USA-Germany Game

The game was fun. The stadium was amazing -- we were about 30 rows from the top & had great seats. This is because the Germans go for extremely steep inclines in their stadia -- almost enough to trigger my vertigo (donde esta?). Instead we got a great view of a major ass-whooping in the second half.

The great part of the first half was how quiet the crowd was. They were clearly worried that somehow they would manage to choke against an American B team (plus D team regular Brian F'ing Ching). Anytime the US would get possession, they had the same look Dick Cheney has during Bush speeches -- "Please God, don't let him screw up". Had the US scored, there might have been a riot or a mass suicide -- it wasn't clear which.

God only knows what Taylor Twellman does in National Team training camps. I assume he either smokes or deals crack. How else do you explain how he's on the bench after torching the opposition in January & February? And to have Ching start in your place is not a good sign for your World Cup hopes. Unfortunately, this meant we were playing 9 on 11 in the first half on offense. The typical possession went: Convey outlet pass to Johnson, sweet flick on to Ching, who quickly loses the ball. Sometimes we varied this by having Ching not get off a shot. Other times he wouldn't make a run and a perfect pass would roll out of bounds while he watched from the least dangerous spot he could find. Instead of scoring at least one while controlling the majority of the half, we were stuck with 0-0.

Arena no doubt told the team he wanted an early goal in the 2nd half; he just forgot to specify which team. So anxious was the defense to please The Bruce, we were still in line for beer and sausage when the goal happened.

I've permanently blocked the six minutes of death from my memory. It was a comedy of errors, with Berhalter & Conrad starring as idiots, while Gibbs had a supporting role. I'll just say that if Arena had subbed in Agoos for any of the three, I wouldn't have argued.

On the bright side, the score meant my friends pushed for an early exit to make the better train, meaning i got home at 1130 instead of 1. No word yet from US Soccer on my request for a partial refund since the defense didn't play in the 2nd half.
Stansted Airport Promotes the Mile High Club

This is pretty much the only conclusion you can draw from an airport that has condom machines in their terminal bathrooms. Either that or people are so happy to get off a Ryan Air flight that they're having sex before they get to customs. I'm not sure which it is, though either way this is good news for people flying discount airlines into London.