"A lot of things aren't worth doing, but almost anything is worth telling."
Ursula K. LeGuin, "Shroedinger's Cat"

Friday, March 15, 2013

St. Patrick's Day: FAIL

"You sir!  Have you accepted St. Patrick
as your personal savior?"
There used to be a website called Dysfunctional Family Circus, which was absolutely freakin' hysterical, where visitors would submit alternative captions to cartoons from "The Family Circus."  I remember reading through them at a temp job I was working in the 1990's when "the internets" was still a novel thing.  I laughed so hard and so loudly that I later found out I had been blacklisted by the temporary agency.

(Image copyright Bil Keane and/or King Features Syndicate.  Used without permission.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mr. Creepy

"Don't forget to smile!"
As I have previously mentioned, I sometimes come off creepy in spite of my best intentions.  With my low self-esteem, the SNL Digital Short below is often how I view myself in my mind's eye, creepin' through my day.

I may not exactly be a clone of the fellas in the video, but my unintentional creepiness has been behind more than a few of my missteps and misadventures.  Come to think of it, maybe I'm more of a clone than I thought...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Norwegian for "Middle of Nowhere"

My friend Marty and I had no master plan for our tour of Europe after spending the summer in London.  Others may plan grand cultural journeys, but we pretty much just followed our whims and whimsy.  On a lark, we decided to take the Norwegian train to its northernmost point of Bodø, just to be able to say we had been inside of the Arctic Circle.

We were near a system of tidal eddies and whirlpools made famous by Edgar Allan Poe's "A Descent into the Maelström."  (Marty knew all of this.  I had never heard of the thing.)

We had to take a bus there, and navigating a bus transit system is confusing enough without factoring in a foreign country and a foreign language.  Most Norwegians speak English better than most Americans, but we ended up failing in the communication department.  When we got on the bus we had determined would take us where we wanted to go, we were trying to tell the bus driver that we were paying the "student discount."  Apparently, "student discount" sounds very much like Norwegian for "Please drop us off at a gas station in the middle to nowhere" because that's where we ended up.

When we finally communicated that we were trying to get to the maelstrom, the driver mumbled in disgust; however, with classic Norwegian hospitality and graciousness, he took us on his route until he passed another bus that would take us back to town.  That driver then saw us to the bus we should have been on in the first place.

And by the way, the maelstrom is much less dramatic (at least most of the time) in real life...Plus, on top of all that, I think the one near Bodø we went to is actually different one than the one the inspired the Poe short story.

Monday, January 7, 2013

How Not to Climb a Scottish Rock

One weekend during Marty's and my summer in London, we took a coach up to Edinburgh in Scotland.  Britain is smaller that most states, but it still took us almost all day Saturday to get there, and it was pretty much dark by the time we arrived.  As usual we had no plan, such as where we might possibly stay the night.  We did go into a local pub, but frankly the locals were far from friendly.  We seemed get a lot of dark looks until I thought we were re-enacting a scene from An American Werewolf in London, so we didn't stay long.  Although we weren't out in the moors about to be savaged by a beast, we were in the middle of a capital city with absolutely no idea of what the hell to do with ourselves.

Finally after dithering around for awhile, Marty points to a large hill on the outskirts of the city and says, "We could spend the night up there."  (I don't know what it was with Marty and climbing foreign peaks that summer.)  Being bereft of good judgment, I said, "Sure."  I don't know what we climbed.  We never actually learned its name, although it might have been Arthur's Seat.  What I do know is the face we ascended was steep!  And it was by far from easy going.  We scrambled and scaled the narrow footholds and ledges, and a good deal of the time we had to go up backwards to keep our footing.  Halfway up I cried out at the magnificent view of Edinburgh below us, bright lights abruptly cutting off into the utter dark of the surrounding countryside.  Marty thought I was having some kind of LSD flashback and was about to plummet to my death.

Anyway, after struggling for hours, we finally made it to the top.  And what did we discover when we got up there?  The set of stairs set into another side of the hill that everyone with sense could use to climb up to the peak with ease.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Mind Your Endings

"Im Himmel gibt kein Bier und so trinken wir es hier."
Between my sophomore and junior year of college, I spent a fabulous, unforgettable summer in Europe with my best friend Marty.  As wonderful as it all was, the summer had its fair share of misadventures.  We spent most of our time living and working in London as part of a work exchange program, and then took a whirlwind tour through other countries at the end of the summer.  The three weeks touring the continent (while again, fabulous) were a testament to poor planning.  We lost our guide book before we even left Great Britain, and I was perpetually broke and changed countries more often than my socks.
One of our stops was the resort town of Interlaken, Switzerland, which is in the German-speaking portion of the country.
I had been taking German in college; however, I had also been putting in my basic "C minus" effort, so I wasn't exactly what you'd call fluent.  Anyway, I stopped in a local bar while Marty was making his valiant (if ill-advised and unsuccessful) attempt to climb Jungfrau mountain.  I tried to order a small light beer by saying, "Eine kleine hell Bier, bitte."  The matronly typisch Deutsche Frau fixed me with her steely gaze and said, "Ein kleines hell Bier, bitte!"  I wanted to say, "Yeah, yeah, just gimme a fucking beer!"  But I just smiled sheepishly and shrank off into a corner of the bar.