Friday, January 31, 2003

CD: Cucumber + Ginseng, "El Presidente 2: Thology"

So Jeff and I were discussing the show "Inside the Actors Studio" and the part at the end where they ask the actor those Bernard Pivot Questionnaire. The last question is always: "If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?" I misread it and though it was "What would YOU say when..." But we both agreed that the least inspired answers came with this question. Always something cheesy and humorless. So he brainstormed the real question while I took the dead guy's point of view... Here's some of what I came up with.

Q. If Heaven exists, what would you say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

"This is already better than the 'Taxes'."

"You mean I'm never going to see my wife again?"

"I seek the Grail."

"Hey! You're just James Earl Jones behind a curtain!"

"Will I have to live next to Italians?"

"Hell yeah, I'm in! Rock on! (makes devil horns with hand)"

"So the Jehovah's Witnesses knock on your door too, huh?"

"What's the meaning of li... oh, now I remember. Never mind."

"It smells like couscous up here."

"So you tell us to build our faith on a foundation of solid rock, but then you built the Kingdom of Heaven on this CLOUD?"

"Now look, sir. I may be just po' country folk, but I know that back in Kansas we got long hard days on the dirt farm, bland food, and boring children. But we're a community, gall-dungit. A good one, with good people. And no, God, it don't matter how much influence you may have got o'er the universe, or what power you have o'er life and death, or what any of your fancy "Commandments" say, you're not going to take a God-faring American man and his family from the farm they've worked for four generations to save and move them away to some 'Heaven' place just like that! Not today, not ever!"

So yeah, we were really bored tonight.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

CD: Cucumber + Ginseng, "El Presidente: Anthology"

The group Cucumber + Ginseng has rocked audiences around the world, but that is nothing compared to what they will do next. With the world at their oyster, record sales in the teens, and live shows that--literally--shocked their neighbors, C + G took an unpublicized long-term break from the music business. Dave "Dio" Hill has built a second cult following in his side band, "Tops Markets." Joe "Licks" Ferguson just performed at the world-famous Grand Old Opry in Nashville, only to be kicked out for being too "Rock & Roll." Frederick Charles Thomas "John Paul Jones" Schrock has taken up award-winning photography and hosts the popular game show "Name That Smell." Well guess what. The band has reunited with a new member, Tim "Novice" Schrock on drums, a new name, The Squeaky Divas, and a new mission: To rocK with a capital K. Because K is a really tough consonant.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

CD: Soundgarden, "Down On The Upside"

Right now I am looking at my Gorby Dolls. Actually I guess they would be called Yeltsin Dolls but I've wanted a set for a long, long, time. You know those Russian wooden people witht the people inside, and when you open up one you get a smaller one and a smaller one, et cetera? They also come in a "Leaders of Russia" set. You got your Yeltsin, Gorbachev, Brezhnev, Kruschev, (sp?) Stalin, Lenin, and I think that's Czar Nicholas II in the very center, or just maybe they made Karl Marx instead. It's not up-to-date--no Putin--but hey, i's got all the Communists I need! I got it in East Berlin anyway so I wasn't expecting full modernization of doll technology anyway. But here's the Catch-22: You can't fully enjoy them unless you take them out and display them simultaneously, but the only way to have real fun with them is to keep them inside the big one to play with them later! What's an American to do?

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

CD: MC5, "Kick Out The Jams"

People still don't get it. After almost five days of barely speaking because of strep throat, people are still calling at me from opposite ends of the building and expecting to hear me yell something back. "WHO IS THE PHONE FOR?!" is probably the most frequent utterance. Well, I can write it down for you, or I could completely ignore you if the phone isn't for you. And since I'm running a fever and am really not in the mood to entertain such trivialities, I think I'll just lie here and let you keep yelling! In fact, what am I answering the phone for anyway, you lazy bum?! The best I can usually get out is a raspy, "Hall--hallo?" These past few days of near silence has given me a greater appreciation for Actual Silence; maybe by the end of the week I will discover it, too.

Monday, January 27, 2003

CD: Queens Of The Stone Age, “Songs For The Deaf”

I took 26 rolls of film in Europe. About 8 pictures came out well. First, I turned them into the good, unpaid and ununionized folks at Wal-Mart, which required that I fill out 26 of those Photo Envelope things. I told the girl I’d be back in “about an hour” which is AN IRONIC TWIST OF FATE completely lost on her. Then she said they’d be ready by Saturday, which they weren’t. So I came back Saturday and they said “That girl CRAY-zee, they’ll be ready on Monday,” which they weren’t. Then I came on Tuesday and yes, they would be ready, but not for two hours. What to do? I looked at the (censored) CD section. I ended up buying a Game Boy game and being quite upset at myself for “wasting my money.” I then bought a Veggietales DVD, and by then my good sense nearly walked. Ninety more minutes. I decided to take a walk outside. I checked out the dollar store and then—ooh!—a discount shoe store. I bought me some sneakers for the first time in 2 ½ years and somehow felt like I accomplished something. One of the most fun ways to spend an hour and a half is “trying out” new shoes, skipping and jumping up and down and basically doing the mating dance of the dodo bird in a back aisle near the storeroom while playing with new toys like shoehorns and ankle stockings. By the way, developing 26 rolls of film costs about $200, give or take a dollar. Just enough left for a set of 20 pencils at the Dollar Tree next door.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

CD: Radiohead, “Amnesiac”

I’m quite proud of the fact that I skipped the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988. Maybe if I stop watching it altogether, the teams I want to win will actually do so…Nobody talks about the game the next day anyway; they only want to talk about the commercials. But since I didn’t watch the Super Bowl, here are some other commercials I like (see how I’m scraping for blog subjects?):

-“WHERE’S THE BEEF?!” Still the best.

-The one where the guy is sniffling, sneezing, headache, cough, etc. That guy looks like crap.

-The Hose Roller thing where the “Other Guy” keeps fumbling with his hose, eventually dropping it, whereas the lady next to him has that Hose Roller thing and can do it with one hand. Note how the guy also has an untucked shirt and ratty hair. He just can’t keep ANYTHING together!

-I miss the dog.

-You know, the one where the mother in the family is all happy to be doing the laundry or the dishes or making breakfast that no one has time to sit down and eat? But thank goodness she spent X dollars on the brand name version of X that somehow makes banal chores like cleaning up after, feeding, and washing her family (something they should really learn how to do by themselves) just plain magical. Remember that one? As magical as dancing stuffed teddy bears, floors with animated bald men looking at you through their shine, or flying cereal bowls that metamorphose into granola bars mid-flight. Hey mom, whatever keeps you off the Vicadin.

-Sign up for the Army, get a free pair of socks!

Saturday, January 25, 2003

CD: Beastie Boys, “Check Your Head”

School has only been going on for a week but I’ve already noticed some trends. In one class, the professor felt it necessary to warn us about the courseload; he wants us to know as soon as possible that readings of up to 75 pages per week will be assigned. Gee, I know this is Grad School, but why is he demanding so much of us? Seventy-five pages might take over an HOUR to read!! In another class, I told the teacher in her office that I had Strep Throat and probably should meet her at another time (it’s an Independent Study Course) and then noticed she had been smoking and drinking coffee for the past hour and had a hoarser voice than me. I didn’t feel so bad then. A third teacher was impressed that I was the only one who had taken the cellophane off the textbook. I told him Chapter 9 looked pretty interesting, to which he replied “Oh yes, that’s written by a very good author.” Nobody else in the room knew that he was the author… Umm… there was one more class. AH HA! The guy with the accent. Very bright and entertaining, but he writes with his left hand like it’s his left hand, y’know? The text slopes upward at about a 55 degree angle. It’s a Arab studies course, so I’m assuming that writing English for him really IS writing backwards. And that wuz me furst wik at skool.

Friday, January 24, 2003

CD: Liz Phair, “Exile In Guyville”

When Donald Rumsfield said that France and Germany were the “Old Europe” and didn’t know what they were talking about when it came to the War on Terror, he shows he apparently hasn’t been to Berlin. I don’t think half those buildings are more than twenty years old. Not to mention their parliament building has only been in use since 1999. And as for terrorism, I think the Germans know darn well what a terrorist regime is! Dang! Who hired this guy? And isn’t this the wiener we have a picture of shaking hands with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s? EWW. Those are cooties of the highest order! Did you wash your hands, Donald? Because you’re not getting dinner until you wash your hands! And take off your shoes, they’re all mudd…DON’T SLAM THE SCREEN DOOR! How many times do we have to tell you? You better learn some manners, young man!

Thursday, January 23, 2003

CD: Outkast, “Stankonia”

Today I went to the doctor and for the first time in over five years I didn’t have to take off my pants! Whoo-hoo! It’s about time, cuz that lady must be bored of me by now. (That poor receptionist… Just kidding.) For some reason my REAL doctor is either too busy to see me or I’m just not bleeding enough for him to be interested, so they send me to the nurse practitioner. Last year I busted up my knee, and had to take off my pants for her to look at it. She had some weird system where she gave me one of those paper blanket things to put on my lap, but she also needed me to lift my leg and twist it around…it was inevitable that she see my underwear. But hey--I’m an adult, you’re a doctor—and they’re boxers! Not a problem! Before that, I came in for my college physical, and, well I’ll leave the details of that to myself. So it was really great that I could walk into that room and hear “Fred, nice to see you!” instead of the regular “Drop ‘em.” Or whatever the medical term is.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

01 22 03
CD: Alicia Keys, “Songs In A Minor”

I can’t speak. Some weird throat infection has taken control and all I can mutter out is a painful cough once in a while. Ironically, once you get a throat infection you have to do more talking. You have to explain to people you meet that you can’t talk because of your throat infection. You have to call in to work and explain to them that you can’t go in today because of your throat infection. You have to call the doctor and tell the receptionist that you have a throat infection and you need to set up an appointment. Your friends call and want to know what you’re up to and you strain to tell them that you’re doing nothing because you have a throat infection and you can’t do anything later. And, of course, there are the jerks that keep asking you, “Hey, is your throat feeling any better?” from the other side of the apartment and expect you to yell back “No, I still can’t talk!” at the top of your lungs. I gotta go make some calls now.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

CD: The Strokes, “This Is It”

There is a house on Main Street that was abandoned a few years ago. It was pretty downtrodden and finally the property was sold—so I hear—to put up a new Dunkin’ Donuts (YES!). So the building was torn down last fall. Its remains sit there still, covered in several inches of snow. Apparently, but not shockingly, that’s illegal. The big bad town of Newstead is trying to bring the owners to task for getting rid of the debris. The weekly Akron Bugle seems confused, however. Sure, what’s left still legally a “building,” but it’s like they don’t know that WE know it’s really a pile. This week’s paper reiterates that “Owners of the property will have an opportunity to appear in person and provide evidence that the property is not in violation of the provisions of the Unsafe Building Law during the hearing.” Good luck, guys! It also outlines what the Unsafe Building Law STATES, like we need to know that? I was originally going to list all 12 possible violations of this “building,” but come on. There is no building. The walls and roof are parallel to each other. If you wanted to vacuum the carpet you’d have to rent a forklift. To light a fire in the chimney, you would use the master bedroom as kindling. This is a Late Parrot!

Monday, January 20, 2003

CD: Tenacious D, “Tenacious D”

Ladies and Gentleman, the new college semester is now upon us which means one important thing and one important thing only: Late Lunch at Subway! Oh Subway, how I’ve missed you so! For so many long and torrid weeks I have yearned for your fresh lettuce and cucumbers! Oh how I have desired your choice of choice of five kinds of Subway™ breads and sauces! Great Subway, do I not rejoice at the speed in which your Subway Sandwich Artists create such wonderful delectables? Do I not stand in awe at the amazingly low number of grams of fat in your sandwiches, not including, of course, the addition of cheese or condiments? Yea to your Hot Chicken Teriyaki sandwich! Yea to your Italian B.M.T.! And yea to your Three-for-a-Dollar deal on chocolate chip cookies!

Sunday, January 19, 2003

CD: Presidents Of The United States Of America, “Pure Frosting”

I am “teaching” a study hall right now. There is this one kid—where did he go? Oh, there he is—that just keeps staring at the computers longingly, as if at a picture of a long-lost lover. See, he spent the first ten minutes of the period typing OYOYOYOYOYOYOYOYOYOY into the computer and turning on the computer voice to read it to the class. So we kicked him off. When it comes to computers in school, kids don’t think to themselves, “Yay, research!” It’s more like, “Darrr, com-pyoo-trz r fun!” and their brains stop. Computers are an excuse to NOT do work; four years in a wired dorm has taught me that lesson well. Now he sits in the back muttering “Now I’m so borrrrrrrrred.” Aw.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

CD: Radiohead, “I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings”

The dentist is all proud of me and stuff. I hadn’t been there since—lemme think—August 13, 1996, but man, he took one look at my pearlies and was like “Wow, you’ve really kept up your teeth; what’s your secret?” Well, Dr. Dentist, it’s ancient and Chinese. Actually, it’s because I didn’t follow doctor’s orders. Once he told me that it looked like I had weak gums and should switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush. Then I did, and when I went back he said the exact same thing. Forget that! So last year I decided to go for it and bought myself a MEDIUM strength brush. I bleed every once in a while, but it’s worth it! That’s my secret: I don’t go to the dentist and I don’t listen to a word he says!

Friday, January 17, 2003

CD: Bikini Kill, "The C.D. Version of the First Two Records"

Today I spent 2-3 hours with the good folks at Dell trying to figure out why my laptop has suddenly gained the ability to disable every telephone in my house. Somehow, whenever I plug a cord into my modem our number loses its ringtone. Now I have to wait a week to get a new modem sent to me. It also means that I will be subjected to sitting up when I use the Internet, an act that, once you're given the option of lying down and take it, is something you hate to go back to. Therefore, since I am lazy and have also just written ten pages on what I did on my winter vacation, This is a perfect excuse for me to stop doing daily blah blah blogs for a while; about a week to be exact (I hope) before I get the computer fixed. I will also take this chance to officially retire the Daily Quote because it just makes this post thing that much harder to write. I'm still surprised people read this stuff, anyway! Maybe I'll try some new things this year, like rhyming what I right, if I can get my timing right. But if the Dell folks spoke correctly, I'll go right back to my writing directly.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

The other day I bought a black shirt and some black socks. The day before that I applied to the University of Rochester. I'm turning into Steinman.

Europe Journal


So what I remember learning today is that the Germans are really, really, really sorry about that whole Holocaust/World War II thing. They can’t apologize for that enough. One large city block is cleared to be a memorial for all murdered Jews. Just flat land. Very depressing. Ate a Berliner (a jelly doughnut, not a citizen) and it was okay; Ed Jr. wanted to stop at a Dunkin Donuts for breakfast which really says “native foods,” don’t you think? What else do I remember? Well, they’re still cleaning up from the war. There are still bombed-out buildings hanging out, especially in the East. The Checkpoint Charlie Museum is filled mostly with old warning signs that told all the Germans that their country was split in half. They all start with “Achtung!” and then they say something like “Do not cross the river under penalty of death” or “Have proper identification ready” or “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” You know, stuff that people would yell under stress if they had to. In East Berlin I bought me one of those wooden Russian dolls that you can open up and find a smaller doll inside. Neat! I always wanted one of those! This one is of Soviet leaders, from Yeltsin all the way down to Lenin and I think Karl Marx, but it’s too small to tell. So far my impressions of German folks are good. Their trains run right on time, which means they’re just like Buffalo’s subway except it works and it takes you somewhere. At the Reichstag (German Parliament building), the placards try to make abundantly clear that “The sham government of the Third Reich never held session inside our government headquarters.” It’s like Okay, guys, we’ve all moved on now! But everyone remembers when the Berlin Wall fell, and there’s a line through the city marking where it was. It’s an odd photo opp, especially as you try to take pictures of it in a busy intersection. Maybe it’s their way of getting the last Americans out of the country.


You know, if you don’t smoke pot, like hookers, or own a bicycle, Amsterdam’s probably not for you. But we tolerated it for a few days. The first thing I remember is the bike garage, which must have had something like 7000 of the things on three levels. What I want to know is, how do these people get from their house to the bike garage? Anyway, I had the pannekoken. There’s the Beastie Boys lyric that says “When I’m in Holland, I eat the pannekoken,” and I always thought that referred (no pun intended) to marijuana. How foolish of me—they’re pancakes. And you roll weed in them. I’m just kidding. But speaking of drugs, we were walking down the street when Joe just kind of blurts out “Hey, as long as we’re here, why don’t we buy some crack?” Two seconds later, a guy walks up to Joe and asks him, “You’re looking for crack?” “No, I was only kidding.” “Are you sure?” “I WAS MAKING A JOKE.” He was very nice for a drug dealer, though. I actually felt bad for Joe because he really wanted to go to the Van Gogh museum but we didn’t have the time. We did make the time for the Anne Frank House, however, and it was a total waste. So these people hid in the attic, right? And fifty years later, someone thinks “Hey, I can make some money off of this,” puts up a couple of guardrails and wham, charges people like $6.50 to look at an empty attic. Whoo. And it brings in people by the droves; they line up down the street to see Anne Frank’s wallpaper. What else? You can’t take pictures in the Red Light District, but for the most part you probably don’t want to. And because property taxes used to be based on how much ground your house covered, all the buildings are really thin and high (in altitude, not under the influence). In order to get furniture upstairs they use a rope-and-pulley system outside, and so the furniture doesn’t hit the wall on the way up the building actually comes out towards the street as it goes up. So every building looks like it’s going to fall on you. That really makes me fell bad for the people walking around on mushrooms…dude.


Paris on New Year’s Eve is nothing like Dick Clark does. First and most disappointing, there’s no big clock. People just sort of collectively decide when it turns into the next year, so it is midnight from about 11:30 to 12:30 in the morning. Second, the use of such explosives in New York City would probably get you deported. Paris doesn’t have a fireworks display, but the Parisian citizens compensate by bringing whatever sparklers, M-80s, rockets, or scud missiles they’ve been storing up for the last twelve months. And I’m only kidding about the scud missiles. Under the Eiffel Tower is Ground Zero, and anyone down there has to prepare to dodge everything thrown at them—purposely. We tried to stay away from the action but there were a bunch of kids—Joe and Ed refer to them as Arab terrorists (?) —that would run up to you, light a firecracker in your face, yell “Bonne Annee!” and throw them at you. We did a lot more running that night than we expected to. While trying to leave the area at 12:30, the major road was filled with cars that were scattered in fifty different angles—there was no use driving, the morons—and drunken revelers danced in between the four lanes of one-way traffic, personal champagne bottles in hand, jumping on car hoods and chasing after random girls to, well, French them. The French really aren’t as rude as people say…wait, yes they are. And I completely forgot that they closed the subway there at 1 AM meaning that 3 million people in the street had to walk home in the cold. THAT’S rude. Especially when the riot police is yelling at you to get back while he closes the metal gate to the station right in front of you. ESPECIALLY when your hotel room is like ten kilometers out of town and you end up walking for the next four hours in the cold. Speaking of subway stops, the ones near the hotel happened to be open, where we found two Anglophone girls about our age trying to find their way to Nation station, meaning they were too drunk, stupid, or both to notice they passed that stop twenty minutes before they actually got off the train. One said they were from “Vancouver,” the other from “Texas.” Yeah, right. You sound like you’re from Michigan State. Anyway, they asked what we thought of New Year’s in Paris and Joe says something like “It was one of the most awesome experiences I’ve ever had,” to which Texas girl says, “I’ve partied harder.” So I feel bad for her, since she could have had a much more exciting time in her Michigan State dorm drinking a 24-pack of Budweiser in front the strobe light she bought at Spencer’s, instead of blowing all her parents’ money on a trip to Europe to get the same effect. The next morning we slept until 1:30, mostly because we needed that five hours of sleep to keep alive. Rockin'.


Switzerland is the only place where we had to exchange our money, from the universally accepted Euros to the lesser known Swiss Francs. Darned Swiss. You know they just joined the UN last year? In their attempt to be completely unbiased and peaceful, they’ve stayed out of the EU. That means one Euro is work like 1.34 Swiss Francs, or some weird computation that’s like measuring time in quarts. Our impression of Switzerland is very good, however, even though the city was on holiday that night and virtually empty. After all, they do have the UN there, and the Red Cross, so they must be decent folks. The Francophones there are polite, and every where you go sells Swiss Army Knives and Toblerones. We went to the church Martin Luther preached at after he was kicked out of Germany—I think that’s what happened—but it was closed. So we went to dinner at Movenpick because it was the only thing open and we sat next to an old lady that spent about an hour and a half picking at her $20 dinner (about 34n3.Q Swiss Francs) until she happily asked for her check. Like she was making a sand castle or something. We found a few statues in around the UN-Red Cross area that looked pretty odd so I made Ed and Joe stand next to them and imitate them while I took incriminating photos. I hope those came out. Did I mention Geneva is in the middle of the Alps? I don’t know how we did it, but we walked uphill the entire day. Even when we were backtracking. Strangely, we never saw the Swiss Army, that is until we got to Rome….


Rome is nuts. I’m a history major, and I almost went into shock. There are so many historical thingamabobs, or monument whatchamajiggers to commemorate the historical thingamabobs, that we eventually stopped walking around for fear that we’d find more stuff to look at. I wore a light brown, cordoroyish shirt with large breastpockets, where I put my oft-used camera and my daily allowance of five rolls of film. I went trigger-happy for two full days and Ed started calling me Generalissimo Photog, which kind of stuck. We had a tour book that said one of the hostels was called “Fawlty Towers,” coincidentally just like the old British sitcom. Then I found out it was actually based on the British sitcom, so it was even funnier. Then I found out that’s where Ed made our reservations and it was like winning $5 in the lottery! Sweet! The Roman subway has less stops, more people, less seats, more graffiti, less reliability and more sudden brakings than the one in New York City. Rome has the Pinto of subways. Still, whenever you get off, there’s tons of cool stuff! We went exploring around the Coliseum and found a 16th century chapel that was just covered in murals and other interesting artistic endeavors. We found the archaeological remains of a pagan temple and the Circus Maximus within a couple minutes walk. One of the best things was outside the city—the catacombs—and I was happy to have dragged Ed and Joe to it. I don’t feel bad about getting off at the wrong bus stop, or making them walk down a rural road with no shoulder while little Italian cars missed them by inches going about 70 miles an hour, because we got there, right? It’s weird finding a cave that second century Popes were buried in. A Spanish lady who spoke decent English told our Italian tour guide that we should pray and that made all the opened graves seem a bit more homey. Still, the tour guide told us that she once took a group of British folks down there and she hasn’t found them yet. Nuts, I tells ya!


The Vatican is the shiznit. Word. It is the smallest country in the world, but per square mile it is ten times cooler than anything else out there. Even better then Luxembourg. The Vatican is also where I was the least able to get along with, and Generalissimo Photog should apologize to his comrades for acting like a military sergeant as I tried to make time for everything. First off, the country is protected by the Swiss Guard; how cool is that? And you wonder, if the Swiss never fight, are they good? Then again maybe the Catholics hired them because they DON’T want them to fight. Either way they’re armed with axes. Yeah. We took the elevator to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica…well, not exactly the top. That takes you to the rim of the dome, probably the most impressive sight of the entire trip. It’s crazy stepping into that doorway and realizing you’re ten stories up and there is a 300-foot chasm right in front of you. And that chasm, and the dome over it, is covered in gold, mosaics, and Who knows what else. The extra 330 steps to the very top were almost as interesting, as you had to walk up stairs sideways as you went up the side of the dome. I could talk all day about this place. In the Vatican museum, Joe had to walk against traffic for 20 minutes to get back into the Sistine Chapel because he didn’t know “the picture with the two guys almost touching” was in there and he had to see it before we left. There were wall paintings and carvings at every step. Even if the museum were empty it’d be a great museum. And what supposedly remains of St. Peter is underneath the Basilica, in it’s own special room with golden everything and diamond encrusted stuff that nobody can look at except through a window. I’d like to spend another week in the Vatican, just snooping around, trying to sneak into the Pope’s basement, but the Swiss Guards would probably hack me to death. The next time I go I’m going to bring a bunch of postcards with Martin Luther on them, just so I can get them stamped with the Vatican postmark.


After two very long days in Rome, it was actually nice to get stuck in a stuffy train car overnight. On the way down from Rome we were put in a sleeper with this Italian guy and his snoring, four-year old son, and some girl named Ja Young, who didn’t say a word the entire time but had a stuffed koala bear attached to her backpack next to the name tag that said “Korea.” Nice people, but too many for a 6 by 6 by 8 cell. So this time Ed tried to make sure no one got in the cabin. He had us shut the door, close the curtains, turn out the lights, and stretch waaaaay out over the seats so it looked like there was no room. But first we had to get rid of three guys from Senegal, or some other country. Their language sounded like a mix of Spanish, French, Swahili (though I’ve never heard Swahili and don’t really know what I’m talking about) and Mooklar, a language I just invented. But they seemed very nice. One they left we put our plan into action and took over the cabin. We slept head to head to head, just like the Beastie Boys’ “Hello Nasty” cover, and talked girl talk all night. At about six or seven in the morning an Austrian border guard—the real freaking military—threw open the door and yelled “PASSPORTS!” Joe and Ed didn’t wake up fast enough to notice, but he was smiling the whole time. It must have been really funny watching Larry, Moe, and Curly fly around leap up from a pile of coats and luggage like startled moles. Bumping into each other for no reason other than we were still dreaming, Joe gave him his ticket, or the first piece of paper he could find, to which the border guard yelled at him again until he figured it out. I had mine but he barely looked at the thing; his smile just got BIGGER. Then he yelled “THANK YOU!” and we never saw him again. So that’s what I remember about our 45 minutes in Austria.


Munich¡¦s a good, hearty town. I think it was Sunday that day, so everything was closed again. We got there about eight or nine in the morning and Ed knew of a nice pub that we could go visit, and since Joe and I didn¡¦t know where we were going (a normal occurrence) we just followed him. The pub makes its own beer, is about five hundred years old and prefers natives to tourists. We forced Joe to drink a liter of beer for breakfast, and Ed already posted about that; it¡¦s as funny as it sounds. ƒº A great part about this tavern was that certain tables had a coat of arms hanging over it. We found out that certain groups of local men claim these tables, and no one else is allowed to sit there. Ever. Their own special beer mugs are kept locked away for when they come. And there a group of them was, 10 AM on a Sunday morning, preparing for a long day of drinking beer. One guy even had a drinking glove so as not to get repetitive stress injuries in his hand. That¡¦s Messed Up. There was a band and everyone was having a pretty good time, but we had to go, especially Joe, who had to pee like nobody¡¦s business. Outside at noon we watched the town clock go off, especially interesting because it¡¦s one of those old ones with little people in them that dance around every hour. About fifty people came out to watch it, and it was interesting for a full two minutes; good thing we ran out there in the blistering cold to go see THAT. I can¡¦t really remember anything else about Munich; Joe was drunk enough for all of us. Now where did we go next?


Ed really hyped up the cathedral in Cologne, Germany (which is Koln, Deutchland to the natives). “You really have to see it, Fred.” “It’s really cool, it’s the biggest Gothic cathedral in the world.” Blah blah blah. So one day we step out of the train station and Boom, there it is. This 700+ foot church is standing right in front of us. Big, black, pointed, covered in gargoyles. It’s so big it blocks out the sun. And we just stand there, staring at it. “Holy CRAP.” And nobody says anything for like three minutes. Then Ed says, “Yeah, the first time we saw it we were like ‘holy crap’ too.” Ed and I came back a couple days later and I was still like “Holy CRAP” for a full day. I just kept repeating, “It’s so BIG!” But inside was sweet. Imagine a building like that full of mosaic floors with stones no bigger than your pinkie fingernail. The thing took 600 years to build! They also just opened a museum in the basement with some funky relics, like some cattle brandings from the 17th century that’s supposed to cure Mad Cow Disease. Wuh? The rest of the city was pretty nice as well; there are hardly any cars downtown because like most cities in Europe, the streets are too small for ‘em. They tried the same thing in America: they call them shopping malls and since they’re away from population centers the parking lots and highways needed take away the convenience they supposedly make. Ed and I went to a store called Media Markt, kind of a Circuit City. Over there they still have a “Black Music” section for CDs. That really isn’t a big a problem as Ed and I going CD shopping, because we both have serious problems in that category. I think we got like 12 CDs total and then went to Pizza Hut. Ed has been hankering for American food the whole trip—he forced his parents to go to Dunkin Donuts in Berlin for breakfast—so I let him succumb to his urges for once. I took the plunge and had the pizza with pineapple on it, because I figured, hey, yesterday I had pizza with tuna fish on the top; how could this be any worse? I came out of there a convert. Bathrooms cost no matter where you go, and I paid the attendant double because I just felt bad. What else happened in Koln? Well, it was settled around 60 AD by the Romans, but that doesn’t have much to do with my trip.


Aachen always reminds me of the Castle Aaaaaaaaagh mentioned in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” It’s almost as historical! Here we saw remnants of an old Roman watchtower (still in use), and the church that Charlemagne used to control the Holy Roman Empire from. There’s a bust of Charlemagne in there that actually contains his real skull; Ed found out that whenever a new king took power they would bring out Charlemagne’s head to welcome him. Geez. There was some other story about how the church was bombed during World War II but the late Charlemagne’s Magical Powers deflected everything off the roof. Instead, the bombs all hit the church next door! Ha ha ha ha ha! Ahem. I took pictures of quaint streets and old stones while Ed bought postcards. After all, if you take a bunch of pictures, why buy postcards, and if you buy a lot of postcards, why use a lot of film? We dropped off Joe a day or two before, and realized that our conversations focused more on history, school, and big words compared to when Joe was with us. By the end of the trip, a good 80% of what Joe said involved the word “Bork!” Remember the Swedish Chef from “The Muppet Show,” and nobody knew what he was talking about? In Europe, it was like we were meeting 1000 new Swedish Chefs every day, and we imitated them often through our brash American ignorance. France: “Qu’est-ce que le bork bork?” Germany: “Borken ze bork?” Italy: “Borka borka! That’s-a spicy-a meatball.” Ah, Aachen.


Brussels was cold. Hot d*ng, it was cold. You know how cold it is outside now? It was COLDER there. Ed normally prefers walking to the subway—What better way to see the sights?—but we gave up quickly because we were turning blue. So anyway, we kept going into a bunch of churches for no real reason other than they looked neat…and because we were COLD and trying to stay warm! The only thing colder than the weather was the reception we got at the Court of Justice, a really great building where, apparently, some serious shizzy was going down. In Flemish, “shizzy” means depositions, asylum requests, and other international Serious Business. We scrammed without taking pictures because we were afraid of getting arrested. Earlier that day we had the totally required Belgian Waffles and some chocolate (good!) and made our vacation compete visiting the Mannekin Pis. At the waffle place we realized that all the nice French people left France, for several reasons:

1.) The store was closed, but they let us in and took our order

2.) When we left a tip, they got all upset and tried to tell us in French that we paid them too much!

3.) A fellow American tourist’s credit card didn’t work and she “had no money” (sounds dubious) and was allowed to come back later when she found a cash machine

4.) They were awesome waffles!

We also went to the new EU complex, where we found a Tourist Information center with more free stuff than I could carry. So I made Ed carry it for me! Ooh, what else? BRUPARCK! A leftover from a World’s Fair of old, BRUPARCK! has the greatest movie cineplex in the work, a 300-foot tall model of an atom, and fish and chips (good!) for only 7 euros 50.


I went to the airport in Duesseldorf to fly home, but not only did the flight get canceled, United Airlines declared bankruptcy and by the time I got there the company had packed up and left. Somehow I ended up in Frankfurt. Frankfurt’s airport has about 400 front desks, and that’s not an exaggeration. I don’t remember how I got home. I mean, I took a plane, but other than that I’m pretty clueless. All I remember is having a cold, running about a mile down a hallway, and having about ten security guards get friendly with me in the course of seven minutes. I played a lot of Game Boy on the plane and tried not to throw up. And that’s the end of my trip! Thank goodness, because I’ve written ten pages about it and I don’t want to write any more. Time for a nap. Bonne annee!

Wednesday, January 15, 2003


CD: various, "All Areas Volume 35"

Hey, folks. I decided to skip out of the country for a couple weeks, so, Jiminy, I'm really behind on my posts. So the first posts will be about my trip to Europe, done on a per city basis. I also have an aborted trip log that lasted two full days (don't laugh, it lasted longer than the "running schedule" I instituted last summer). But I'm stuck in the house with a cold and I'm determined to make up the sixteen days I missed. Including this post: Happy New Year! 2003 is shaping up to be a real humdinger of a twelve month cycle. Speaking of which, a more accurate calendar would have thirteen 28 day periods based on the cycle of the moon, which was the intent in the first place. The problem was that 13 is an unlucky number, so they cut it down to twelve and made sure Black History Month got the short end of the deal. So what should the thirteenth month be called? Here are some suggestions, in brainstorming order:

-Bork Bork Bork!
-Stern Rules!
-Dick Hertz
-The Extra Month, brought to you by Pringles New Sour Cream and Onion Chips. Pringles: Once You Pop, You Can't Stop!
-Month of the Llama
-H (the H is silent)

That's enough of that. Finally, the quote of the year so far:

Margaret: "You smell!"
Jerry: "What do I smell like?"
Margaret: "Like the inside of a turtle!"