Saturday, June 23, 2007

Germany. Awesome.

A few things in Germany that are better than (or can't be found) in the U.S.:

1.) bread (and there's a bakery on every corner)

2.) beer (mm, Kölsch)

3.) apfelschorle (half apple juice, half soda water -- brilliant. Although, this is also a country that serves beer-Coke, beer-Sprite, beer-Fanta, red wine-Coke (!) mixes, so it's not surprising that they'd hit at least one good combo.)

4.) Fanta (it doesn't taste like it tastes in the U.S. So much better ...)

[06.07.07: By the way, I tried Kölsch-Fanta the other day. It was pretty good.]


Sunday, June 17, 2007


Last Thursday, the International Scholar Services office at the University (yeah, I didn't really know they had one either) organized an excursion to Ahrweiler. Ahrweiler is the old half of a town south of Bonn, 10 km from the Rhine (Rhein). The other half is called Bad Neuenahr, where there are mineral water springs and where Apollinaris water is bottled. Here are a few pictures of Ahrweiler and town wall.

Just a little outside the town walls is the ruins of a Roman villa built in the 2nd or 3rd century. They built a building over it!

The villa had an extensive set of baths, with water running through this canal:

Afterwards, we went to Mayschloss, a winegrower cooperative. Here they make both white and red wines, growing the vines along the steep valley slopes:

And, of course, there was a wine tasting.

All in all, a pretty good way to spend a Thursday afternoon.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Late Nights

I went to a party last Saturday and spent most of the evening on the balcony (conveniently, they had a fridge out there), realizing that I'm not even in Northern Germany and, yet, so much further north than Chicago.

To illustrate, in Chicago today, sunrise was at 5:15 am, while sunset was at 8:27 pm. Here's a picture of Bonn at 8:27 pm today.

Notice something? Yeah, that's the Sun. And here's another from 9pm of the light reflecting off my office window and into my eyes.

Sunrise in Bonn was at 5:18 am, while sunset was at 9:45 pm. That's an extra 75 minutes of light. Sitting outside, it wasn't totally dark until midnight and started to get light again around 3am. I know this because I stayed until 4am and, yet, was not even close to the last person to leave (someone reported staying until 7am!).

Totally unrelatedly, I'm having a terrible run of breaking dishes. I've broken two in the last few months (I don't think I broke a single dish in the 6 years I lived in Chicago). The worst part is that the dishes have been such innocent parties in the incidents. I haven't dropped them while moving them. No, they're always just sitting, minding their own business, on the counter or in the sink when I drop something on them.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Random Thoughts about Random Covers

Flying around the world is an excellent excuse to plunk down $10-20 on new music. For the last couple of months, however, I've managed to avoid the airport. I still accrue new music, just slowly and haphazardly (mostly off of music blogs -- very addicting).

A couple days ago, I found myself listening a live version of the Futureheads' cover of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" (I'd link it if I could only remember where ... hey, here it is!) and I realized that I have a great fondness for covers, the more random the better.

For example, here is Dynamite Hack covering N.W.A.'s "Boyz-n-the-Hood" (I think the link has a better quality video than the embedded youtube video below):

It's no George Washington, but what is?

And here is William Shatner with Joe Jackson and Ben Folds doing Pulp's "Common People" live (the song is on the Shatner's Has Been album where it's less sloppy):

Getting back to the Futureheads' cover of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love," here's the video for the version on their album.

I love how the drummer (in addition to reminding me of a certain astrophysicist -- feel free to guess which one) looks out-of-place in the video, like he showed up to deliver a pizza and they gave him a drum and told him to stand in the woods and now he's thinking 'okay, I'll just play along and maybe I can score some of that pizza when it's over.' Do drummers always look out of place? Is that a thing? I thought maybe I could discern a trend (the astrophysicists rulebook says that I need just 3 to make a trend). The only thing I thought of, however, was the video for Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger:"

All the guys are dressed in jeans and leather jackets trying to look (hee!) menacing, except for the one guy with glasses wearing a white sport coat and loafers (is that right? it's a blurry video and my memory is fuzzy). As it turns out, he's well below even the drummer on the rock band totem pole: he plays the keyboard.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Things I Do for the Blog

Last week, I went to my first German nightclub. After getting rejected by several places (seriously, who'd think that Bonn would be so discriminating?) that I highly doubt were particularly full, we ended up at some place called Carpe Noctem. By the time we arrived it was well past 1:30 am, Friday morning. And while I have plenty of reasons to think that this was an anomalous experience, I was amused by how closely it hewed to what you might expect the Saturday Night Live parody version would look like.

In the 2 1/2 hours we were there and over a wide variety of music, they never once played a song which I would consider dance music. Getting drinks, they played "Wonderwall" and "Bittersweet Symphony," while later in the evening featured some classic 90s alternative music. But when we first hit the dance floor, they played several songs in a row of depressing, but vaguely industrial music that I didn't recognize, but the locals seemed very familar with, and I started to wonder if I was in a dark, basement club with a bunch of Germans rather desultorily dancing to Rammstein or something. If only everyone had been dressed in black, the illusion would have been complete.

The evening must have been a hell of a lot of fun though, I didn't feel tired at all while out and didn't make it back to my place until 4:15 am. That's way past my bedtime, so for my own piece of mind I tried to convince myself as I walked home that the sky seemed so bright due to city glow and not at all because of impending dawn.