Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Click on the comic to enlarge it.

Roman Dirge's Lenore: The Adventures of a cute little dead girl is amazing. Some of you who don't know who Roman is might actually know some of his work, as his style and sense of humor are similiar to Jhonen Vasquez'a and Roman did a lot of work on Invader Zim.

Stupid Cactus

Cactus: And me, the idiot, leant him the razor.

I am off to the ciy tonight, not only in the pursuit of a new quasi-social life, but to be inducted into a secret order and see the animated Hercules movie through new eyes.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More Nichtlustig

Death: Stop following Me.

Lemming: But...I love you.

As for me, all the rain has created a moat at bottom of my street. Three of us are home and there is only one car that can traverse the moat so I am sort of trapped. Oh Long Island, you spoil me!

Monday, August 28, 2006


So I love blue blood, but not tamed version you find figure-heading about constitutional monarchies. Those noble are a little too much like sad zoo lions without enough of that old time crazy high-borns used to have (though I did like Prince Harry being called ‘Harry Poter” by the British tabloids after he got caught with marijuana).

My favorite nobles are nobles like Count Gottfried von Bismarck, the great-great grandson of Otto von Bismarck. Otto von Bismarck was known for his political prowess, Prussian propriety, and inability to smile. And Gottfried you might ask? For being an alcoholic homosexual who throws parties where people die. Fun.

Then you have the late great Henri Robert Ferdinand Marie Louis Philippe d'Orléans, say that ten times fast, descendant of the last French King and all-around wannabe king. He managed to run through one of the largest fortunes in Europe, disinherit his children like mad in his later years for marring commoners or nobles of too low rank, and after trying to make his twenty-something mistress his sole heir, left his family with these dieing words, ‘I will leave you nothing but hate.’

These are the fun nobles that make you want to revolt against them all over again.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

And Now a Fun One

So these A-Style ads were all over Rome when Mike and I were there. They are pretty dirty. If you don't see why, stare at the logo a little longer. Its a clothing brand apparently. Photo credits go to Michael Jan.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Picture and a Story

So yes, before we even get started I will admit that this is my big artsy picture. I took it on Election Day during my semester abroad in Kazakhstan (last December). Now in Kazakhstan there haven’t been many elections, and this was a Presidential election, something that had only happened twice before. On paper Kazakhstan looks like a Democracy, but the same guy has been running the country for over sixteen years and there have been a lot of less than democratic things going on. What really put everyone on edge was the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, which somewhat violently threw out a President rather similar to Kazakhstan’s.

So around election things were tense and there was talk of revolution and also a more noticeable police presence. Oh yeah, and they banned demonstration and large gatherings of people. Now I was well placed in my host family, because whenever we heard fireworks during my entire stay we all joked that the revolution was starting, had a good laugh, and then went back to drinking vodka. Good times. Anyway, in the end the opposition candidate lost, the stats were inflated to say 92% of voters voted for the incumbent President and though the election results were criticized, very little changed.

On Election Day I wandered around Almaty, which was eerily calm and sort of tranquil, and I found this torn poster for Zharmkhan Tuyakbai, the main opposition candidate, and took a picture. When I looked back over it, it looked like he was starting to cry.

One of My Favorite Countries

Quick Rundown of some Surinam facts:

Surinam is about the size of Georgia

The official language is Dutch

Surinam has 487,000 inhabitants

There is no majority ethnic group or religion

Surinam only got its independence from the Netherlands in 1975

Surinam has one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Americas. In fact, New York’s first Jewish community came by way of Surinam, with only a small minority continuing on to New Amsterdam.

So I think Surinam is incredibly cool (oh, I’m so hip I know). Let us start with the little tidbit that Surinam is what the Dutch were traded for Manhattan and what would become New York State after they lost the Second Anglo-Dutch War. Yeah, it was a bum deal, but 1.they didn’t have much of a choice and 2. Surinam with its Sugar crop was worth quite a bit more than New York (sad for us proud New Yorkers, but true).

Then there is the fact that Surinam is incredibly ethnically and culturally diverse. This too has to do with the sugar. First was Surinam’s native population, then came the Europeans, who later brought African slaves, and after the abolition of slavery workers from northern India, Indonesia, and China. As a result, the largest ethnic groups are the Hindustanis (people of Indian descent) who are still only 37% of the population. This diversity is expressed both in terms of religion, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam are all major religions, and Surinam’s languages, including Dutch, English, a Surinamese dialect of Hindi, Javanese, Portuguese, French, A Surinamese Creole and many others.

Each ethnic group maintains its own strong cultural, linguistic, and ethnic identity while peacefully coexisting and creating Surinam’s own unique blend of all of them. And that is why I think Surinam is cool.

Friday, August 25, 2006

And One More

Trex: I want to ask you something, and please be honest, did you step into that time machine because you love me, or because I have huge bones?

Dog: Trapped.


Penguin: Robert, you are adopted.

Giraffe: Poor bastard.

Joscha Sauer is one of my favorite cartoonists ever. He is my evidence when I need to prove that Germans do inded have a sense of humor. To share his brilliance I will be translating some of the comics from his nichtlustig books.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Browning is a Jerk

In my eighth grade English classroom there was this quote from Robert Browning over the Blackboard:

A man's reach should exceed his grasp, /Or what's a heaven for?

For ages that was sort of a personal motto for me. Striving for the unattainable seemed noble to me, both in the sense of being something along the lines of an eternal quest, and because simply through the act of working towards the impossible I felt you would achieve more than you would otherwise. The idea of keeping contentment and rest for the next life was somehow a very appealing one to me (or noble?). And then oh let’s say around a decade later I finally thought, wait just one minute, never being happy or content? That sucks. Maybe my life shouldn’t be based on a romantic poem. Now most of you achievers probably got that by line four of this post, but I’m slower (by about a decade) and more inclined to believe life-philosophies conveniently presented to me on a flashcard. So basically I have three points:

1. Go out and live! Live people live!

2. I will adopt for at least a decade and philosophy or religious doctrine your clearly lay out on a flashcard for me

3. Browning is a jerk for messing me up.

That being said, when I read the poem that line is from for the first time today I realized it was about a painter’s struggle to capture life on canvas. I like that idea.

La Saison Mort

So French ended last night and it was sad. In the blink of an eye, 12 weeks of French, four times and a week for 3-3 ½ hours each, blew by. My whole quasi-social life gone, all gone.

It was good though, and that needs to be taken in the context of my only other French class four years ago. Yes, in those days I felt the need to give France a chance. I didn’t care much for France or the French and I figured that was a result of my years of German learning. I wanted to rectify that situation by learning French. Bad idea. My first teacher threatened to kill and scalp us (the scalping is sort of impressive because she didn’t know that much English). Yes five days a week first thing is the morning I got to wake up to death threats and not joking ones. Yeah, that didn’t endear France to me so much.

So this summer was the second go and I had amazing teachers. My first teacher was great at teaching grammar, had us sing French drinking songs, and had the added coolness bonus of having been born in French colonial Saigon. Second semester I had a professor from francophone Africa who had a great sense of humor and despite being a native French speaker and spending a lot of time in France, was not French and had no problem making fun of the French with us. That being said though, second session was a bit wilder.

Yes, in addition to discussing how the McDonald’s menu is translated into French (as it turns out the French just mispronounce the English and the French-Canadians make up words like ‘McCroquettes’), we watched French films (a Canadian one with the great line ‘Fuck vous!’), and did partner work. Crazy partner work. Or at least mine was. Yes over those six weeks along with Josh I helped plan a trip by sailboat from Algiers to the Congo, accuse my sun of wanting to run off to France with my daughter in order to sleep with her, and chant ‘I will kill everyone’ in French while making up a little dance. Good times and now to commemorate those here is a list of some of the words and phrases I learned:

Je te tue – I kill you, very rhythmic and easy to dance to.
Roulette du printemps – spring roll
maison close - brothel
blesser Vaugelas – butcher the French language
surfer la télé– channel surf
le coup de boule – head bunt, thank you Zidane
courreur de jupons – skirt chaser

le pipol - misspelling of 'people,' the people in the magazines, celebrities
la saison mort – off-season, literally the ‘dead season,’ creepy.

And remember, don’t accidentally sleep with someone when you were only trying to kiss them:

braiser quelqu'un – sleep with
donner un braiser – kiss

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pierogi Hijiks

So for those of you who don't know my maternal grandmother is Ukrainian. If we wanted to get more specific (and really why not? says the East Central European Regional Studies major) she is Ruthenian (for The Ruthenian versus Ukrainian business isn't really that important, mainly has to do with which side of the Russian/Austro-Hungarian border you ended up on, what matters are the pierogies.

When I was younger my grandma made the most diliscious potatoe perogies entirely from scratch. They were light, wonderful, and disproportionately easy to eat compared to the amount of time it took to make them. The things is when I was growing up I didn't know what a peirogi was. We always ate pedahare. For me even now perogies are the fat frozen dumplings you can buy at the super market, versus the fresh and wonderful pedahare.

Fair enough you might think, pierogi is Polish so pedahare, which I have no idea how to spell by the way, must be Ukrainian but no, no, no. In Ukrainian they are Вареники (vareniki), which is not similiar at all. Well wait I said she was Ruthenian? Maybe that is the Ruthenian word? No. The Ruthenian word is 'pyrohy.' So where on earth did my grandmother's word come from? I found two relevant google entries, only confirming that the word exists and that nobody know how to spell it. I must know the answer to this pierogi mystery!

And now a fun pedahare related Ruthenian story: A thief breaks into a house and steals a man's wife and the pot of pedahare she was cooking. Her husband sees the thief running off with his wife, runs after him and corners him. He says, "you can keep my wife just give me back the pedahare!" You see, it's all about the pierogies.

Monday, August 21, 2006

One of My Favorite Words

Ohrwurm, masculine noun, German

If you were to look up 'Ohrwurm' in a German-English dictionary it would probably give you the most boring translation. In short, it would lie to you and tell you that 'Ohrwurm' means jingle. That definition does not encapsulate one tenth of wonder that is 'Ohrwurm." Literally, 'Ohrwurm,' means 'ear worm' and its musical connotation is less of a 'oh wow that is really catchy! What a great ear worm. I'm going to go buy the cleaner fluid that was in the commercial!' and much more of an 'Aaaaaaah! That song has burrowed its way into my brain and won't leave! It burns it burns! Out damn spot out!" Truly, only 'Ohrwurm' captures that true violation of having an unwanted song in your head. So next time some pop song you are to embarrassed to say your heard weasels its way into your head, don't think oh it as a song stuck in your head, but a as a worm burrowing into your brain. The more you know!

Isn't Ashlle Simpson looking great these days?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

In the Beginning...

And Barbarossa awoke from his sleep to usher in a new era of greatness.