Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

People are waltzing in Vienna so we all know what that means:

Happy New Year!
С Новым Годом!

Einen guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr!

Bonne Année!

Happy New Year everybody! Here's hoping its a great one.

And now, because I can, a flash of random Russian New Year's images (WARNING: New Year's IN THE FORMER SOVIET UNION BASICALLY LOOKS LIKE CHRISTMAS ANYWHERE ELSE):

Saturday, December 30, 2006


In the search for a picture to fully capture my airport hijinks, I found this one. It doesn't really apply, but I still sort of like it. I can't even really say why, maybe it is the 50's moxie. With the execution of Saddam Hussein I feel I should give the picture a really deep reading like, "today more than ever it is clear how Bush has derailed the pursuit of true justice and freedom in Iraq like a stewardess who incompetently botched a drink order," but I've got nothing.

Also, another random image search shows bush does have Moxie:

The Joy of Travel

Flew back into Vienna today (not via Athens in a time traveling lay over as my random picture choice may have you believe) with the fam after under six days back in the states. The same, however, can not be said for my bag, which made it to London and has not been seen since. I am still sort of bitter about all that. Not only did I not have any gifts to give people, but now I have to wonder if I am ever going to get the stuff in my bag back (oh sure there are important things like the cable and charger for my camera, but there are also just pleasant cushy things like my favorite pair of pajama pants, the slippers I wanted to take home just to keep my feet warm, and the nice jacket I got from H&M). Grumble, grumble. You are a marked man British Airways!

The baggage area for British Airways in JFK is a complete mess. There is just room after room of people's baggage with none of it seeming to be sent out to people in the two days I looked through it. People have no idea where the bags are and random bags are still being tossed to flights from London. What was also really frustrating is that no one even apologized. I am not looking to take out my frustration on some poor employee, but BA obviously messed up and not only have they not tried to fix it, but they aren't even taking responsibility for it on their website.

The only thing I did realize from the whole experience is that Lost is much more realistic than I first thought. Especially around Christmas time, not only could live for years off of the stuff people have in their bags, but in the lap of luxury. Just imagine all the electronics, chocolates, and festive alcohol. Well at least the mole people in Heathrow will be happy with my gift selection.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Krampus One Step Further

The improv side of me also likes to imagine a world where Krampuses were a real Austrian minority. Oh sure they have huge horns and terrifying faces but they work office jobs like anyone else. Maybe there would even be affirmative action programs to get more Krampuses into fields where they are under represented like modeling, trauma counseling, and gynecology. Sure they may look terrifying, but they can do so much more! They shouldn't just hold positions where their terrifying appearance is an asset like in rerurns, the DMV, and debt collection, they should be free to do what they want to do!

Krampus Emancipation Now!

Austria Around Christmas Time

Look people, meat, MEAT! Marvel at the sheer Germanic glory of it all!

So around Christmas around much of Europe Christmas markets start to pop up. They take the form of cute little cabins that pop up in squares and sell various things. In Germany they are called Weihnachtsmärkte (literally 'Christmas market'), but in Austria the are called Christkindlmärkte (literally 'Christ child markets,' which is misleading since they do not actually deal in the buying and resale of children). Now I hear you saying, 'But we have Christmas markets in America too! This is of no interest to me!' Well, I can give you one reason why European Christmas markets are infinitely better than their American equivalent: alcohol. Yes, because of a lack of open container laws and lack of a certain puritan fringe, European Christmas markets serve a plethora of alcoholic punches and malted wines. These are delicious and make Christmas markets a place of youth and activity into the late evening, reclaiming them from nick nack hunting grandmothers.

Another Austrian tradition are the Krampuses, who have their own 'runs':

Talking to Austrians about Krampuses is very amusing because it simultaneously evokes feeling of great joy and extreme terror. The basic myth is that demonic creatures come out before St. Nicholas comes at the beginning of December and punish those who have been misbehaving. In reality there are clubs that have the furry costumes and terrifying wooden masks (only the lower picture is a real crampus) and dress up as Krampuses and run around town intoxicated beating up pretty much who ever they feel like (called a 'Krampus run'). What is amazing to experience is the glee that is an Austrian's eye when he or she tells you about the Krampuses while at the same time seriously trying to convince you of the life threatening danger.

While I was in Veinna I got to see a rather sedate Krampuslauf outside of the city. The friend who took me and another American got us all worked up and fearing for our lives for what turned out to be the Disney version of the thing, no beating, no abduction, and the children seemed to be enjoying it. It was funny, and the guy in a giant demon squirrel costume summoning the Krampuses was apparently the mayor.

I was amused, but my Austrian friend, who had been telling us how horrible the things usually were, was deeply disappointed. Immediately after the thing she called her mom to tell her that in Vienna they didn't know how to do a proper Krampuslauf. Having conferred with her mother she established that what we had seen was a poor shadow of the Krampuslauf in her town, where the drunken Krampuses had attacked the police this year. Apparently that was the proper way of things. If a Krampus isn't life threatening he isn't any fun.

I like the Krampuses. I even wrote a poem for my German class about what I would do if I was one.

I love this!

I know this has nothing to do with the holidays, but I saw part of this skit on E! (I amoften very out of touch with pop culture and their lists are like crash courses) and it cracked me up. My mom wears mom jeans.

Yes I realize the cliched glory of posting youtube links instead of actual posts, but I am trying to get my post count up before the end of the year. Yeah mom jeans!

Holiday Nichtlustig

Lemming: Maybe it's the book we wanted.

Holiday Nichtlustig

Hippo: I have a hat on and I am building a snowman, aren't I great? Hello? Say something.

Holiday Nichtlustig

Santa: Okay, maybe it will work this way. Just at least watch where we are going.
Hippo: I have a hat on!

Holiday Nichtlustig

Lefter Most Reindeer: Somehow I just don't feel good about just up and leaving like this.
Righter More Reindeer: Nonsense. Relax. Just don't look behind you.
Santa: Help!

Holiday Nichtlustig

Giraffe: Psst, you're facing the wrong way!
Hippo: No I'm not, Mecca is that way.
Duck: You're a Muslim reindeer?

Holiday Nichtlustig

Santa: Don't leave! Please! I hate holiday temps!
Giraffe: He could yell that a little quieter.
Hippo: After all, my feelings.
Duck: Just ignore him.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Holiday Nichtlustig

Santa: You want what?
Reindeer: Christmas off.

Holiday Nichtlustig

Yes... yes, he wasn't good after all presents...just beat the brat black and blue...last minute correction.


So after surviving finals, a trip through befogged London, and the venus flytrap-like JFK I am at home. It has been a funny couple of days. Okay, not all so funny as British Airways did lose my bag with all of my clothes and Christmas presents for people (now if I hadn't actually bought stuff for people it would be a great excuse, but I did so having my bag in airport limbo with some sort of fragile stuff is a bit disconcerting), but it is weird being with family.

The holidays are stressful. I know this, yet when I was little I had an exclusively positive view of it all somewhere along the lines of: toys, cookies, lights, yeah! I still really like all of those things, but what has become clearer to mean in the meantime is that for most people holiday gatherings are less than 100% enjoyable. I don't mean the kind with friends or co-workers, but the exclusively family kind. Families are well...odd.

As the old adage goes "you can choose your friends, but not your family," and it is true because the people in your family you would never choose. What tends to bond families together more than shared interests is shared experience as a family you have gone through so much together that you haven't gone through with anyone else. That, however, is a two way street. You can understand each other better because you have experienced so much together, yet at the same time tempers are quick to erupt because there is so much mutual background (on the negative side including disagreements, spats, just things that have gotten annoying over the decades) and with the informality of family there is just less politeness cordiality laying around.

I just think that it is funny that there is this huge pressure to spend the holidays with family, where for so many people it is hardest for them to really have a good time and relax when they are surrounded by crazy uncle Larry, gossipy aunt Veronica, or a curmudgeon of a parent. It really makes you think [cliched irony of phrase intended].

Sunday, December 10, 2006

This Amuses me Immensely


So I am drowning in work at the moment. What has been rather frustrating for me the realize in the last few years that getting work done is a mixture of three things: 1. time 2. will and 3. energy. The first two I can usually manage, but the third is always the problem. Today and yesterday I have just be exhausted, it has been really hard to get work done and when I have exercised in the gym here I have just gotten tired way too easily.

Now this is usually when my mother tries to convince me that I have mono (if that were true I would have had mono for about half a decade now) or some other such things (by thing I mean horrible disease), but I don't know. It will be rough week either way. I have two final exams and a lot of homework (mainly for French so of course it takes for ever). Then there is the fact that I will probably hear from Columbia law this week. Ugh. I can think of reasons why they should accept me and reasons why they shouldn't, but at the end of the day I just can't tell which way it will go and that has been driving me crazy, I'll just have to wait and see. There is also the added awkwardness that when I get bad news that I tend to be the type of person that likes to hide it for a bit and just not deal with it for a little while. The letter, however, is going home, and though I love my parents if everything does go poorly I will just want to deal with it on my own. Sigh, it should be an interesting week.

It is funny though. For me it is never one thing that I feel like I can't deal with but rather the barrage of all things at once. It will all be fine it is just one of the moments when I would like to fast forward through one of the overly dramatic moments of my life like a bad chick flick.


So I learned last night that neither Russian nor German distinguish between a "pun" and a "play on words." They use "play on words" for both of them. I don't know, in my head there is a pretty big difference between the two. A play on words has a double meaning but I would dare to say is usually smart, where a pun is a play on just one word and is dumb, so dumb, but can still be funny (okay "herring aids" not so much). Also, if you are told that someone makes a lot puns it is more of a warning not to stay around that person to long (You hear: Yeah uncle Larry makes a lot of puns, you understand: stay the fuck away from uncle Larry if you know what is good for you!), where if you say someone is very good at playing with words it makes the person sound intelligent (the person not only knows words but can play with them too! Eligible bachelor, eh, go talk to him).

Am I the only one that thinks there is a big difference?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fun With Russian Slang!

Лысого в кулаке гонять [Lysogo v kulake gonjat’]
To masturbate. Literally “chase the bald one through the fist”.

Such cumbersome slang.


So I have not been getting much in the way of responses to my bombardments of pictures lately, so let's try some text.

I went to see a play tonight with a classmate from my Russian class. I really liked it. The Berlin Russian Theater had come to Vienna (they were performing in German) and put on a piece about Mozart's sister. Long story short, she had a pretty awful life, she was older and used to perform with him while they were little but never had the same opportunities. He got to go off to Vienna and she got stuck in the Austrian boonies, he accumulated massive debt and she was married off to some old man rather than her true love because the old guy would pay his debts. Fun, and it is pretty much all true. Makes you see Mozart in a different light.

I really liked the play because it was very modern, quick, and physical. The play started off with Mozart's sister and wife being on a talk show arguing with a host about who knew Mozart better, saying things like "It is quality and not quantity!" then all of the cast member introduced the others by reading their biography, finishing with their death date, which would be wildly applauded, and then the person would come out. They also had Mozart's parents treating their kids like musical monkeys, even arguing about the best way to market them (Mozartkugeln of course!). Mozartkugeln deserved to be mocked. For those that don't know, they are the Mozart's candies that are super popular here, though because of them if you didn't know Mozart before coming to Vienna you would swear he invented chocolate or something. Any way, they mocked Mozartkugeln (in addition to serving them during intermission!), did some crazily intense physical stuff, and put on a pretty dark piece of theater that used actors as furniture. I like.

Then I went to a party at a Bulgarian church that looked like a bunker. I got to talk to people who went to elite private school next to the diplomatic academy, which was interesting.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Dinosaur: He says he's from the future and want to show us something. He said we should follow him, all of us.

The Glory of Advent

So it is Christmas time here at Barbarossa, something I am sure you can all tell from our festive holiday 'red' theme. After surviving the onslaught of the viscous krumpuses (more on that later) we have moved into advent. Advent is a wonderful time of year, eagerly awaiting Christ's coming and such, but ESPECIALLY because one of my friends here gave me an advent Calendar.

Look Everybody! Me with something Russian, how incredibly unlike me!

Thank you God for the best type of Russian wife...a chocolate non-nuclear one.


Matryoshka: Actually...I'm more like Polish
Me: Devychka, that is so not cool.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fun with German...Translation!

Quote from the Vienna Tourist Board Website:

An especially high homo-density can be found at all the gyms of the inexpensive Club Danube chain, at the exclusive John Harris gym, the BodyStyle fitness club located in proximity to the Gay District and the two Elixia gyms. Now get the weights, girls.

Homo-density. Wow, what an amazingly awkwardly translated word. So scientific and so offensive all at the same time. A delightful improv suggestion.

I also like the idea of TV commercials like the ones that come on TV around 10 asking "Do you know where your children are?" Except asking, "Do you know your homo-density?"

Sunday, December 03, 2006


The idea of having a blog backlog greatly amuses me, firstly because trying to say "backlog blog" ten times fast is a pretty good tongue twister, and secondly because it is exactly what I have.

So Michael was here last weekend for four days of crazy and Thanksgiving. There are pictures where we both look normal, but those are no fun and this one is more bad ass. I am all about the bad ass. Wow that sounds really bad, eh. So a brief summary of his visit:

There was plenty of Funk!

(funk is actually just the German word for radio, though if you are doing something over the radio in German you are doing it 'through funk,' which is awesome).

Modern Art!

Man Eating Refrigerators Masquerading as Art!

amusingly, the refrigerator was on, dripping water on people's heads and the whole was pretty small and threatening not to let people's heads out again.

Crazy Romanians in 30's Dress!

And Pretentious Art Pictures!

though the idea of having post-communist peoples in anything read themed, like the bar in the picture above always amuses me.

So all and all a very nice Thanksgiving. We even got to play mafia with a big group of Americans for Thanksgiving. If Thanksgiving isn't about being with good friends and countrymen, breaking bread around a communal table, and trying to kill each other than I don't want to know what it is about.