A genuinely German experience without all the black turtlenecks and disconcerting cinema.

A few nights ago my fiancé and I were talking about the places we’d happily live if we ever left Utah (assuming any happiness can exist outside of Utah—I saw an enormous mustachioed trucker once proudly wearing a hat that spoke quite vehemently against that possibility). After being unable to compromise on Yukon vs. Anguilla, Mississippi, we both quickly settled on (in?) Europe. She spent two years in the UK, and Germany is always at the top of my list. Partially because it alphabetically comes before Vladivostok, but probably more importantly because during the spring and summer connecting my junior and senior years of college, I spent a semester studying at the University of Bayreuth in northern Bavaria. I fell in love with the countryside, the people, the history, the accessible leather clothing . . . but I think what I loved most was the food. And the leather clothing.

It seems like all of my memories are carried in scents and tastes, especially the memories of places I’ve been. (Memories of my grade school trip to our city’s waste repurposing plant are doubly unpleasant. In my defense, that package of Pop Tarts looked like it was still sealed.) So, when I think of Boston, the insides of my eyes fog up with the steam of sausage and peppers being cooked around Downtown Crossing, and the earthy smell of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee clings to everything. And before I remember the smell of glacial ice rolling down into the high valleys of the Wind Rivers, I taste fresh trout, beef jerky, rehydrated rice, and iodized Crystal Light. It’s hard to grow to love a food and then go where you can’t get it at all, or at least without difficulty. While I was in Germany, the only thing I ever really craved from home that I couldn’t find some European approximation of was tacos from Taco Time. I’m from the Southwest. Tex-Mex is in my blood. Literally. I guess that’s how blood works. I don’t know. Ask your blood doctor.

Anyway . . . Currywurst.

currywurst

I had never heard of this before I went to Germany. I guess I didn’t watch the Travel Channel enough. A fried Bratwurst or Bockwurst topped with a curried ketchup and served on top of French fries. It’s like the street food of Berlin, but since I never made it to Berlin, it was just my go-to bar food. Some of my favorite time in Bayreuth was spent at the little pub across the way from my apartment, eating their Currywurst and watching The World Cup.

So, in summation:
Fried meat? Good.
The unexpectedly attractive lovechild of curry and ketchup? Good.
French fries? Good.

Let’s see you beat that, Yukon!

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Evildoers, EAT MY JUSTICE!

Sometimes I think I was born a century too late. Anytime I wake up to eight inches of new snow, I wish that I’d been born in 1882 and could just forget about going anywhere for one to seven days. However, two things will always (eventually) make me glad that wish doesn’t come true. First, whenever I picture myself in the 1800s, somehow I always end up in the role of Marmee (as she was portrayed by Susan Sarandon) in a snowy Concord, and I just don’t have the hips for those dresses. Nor do I have the ability to withstand multiple yearly onslaughts of diphtheria. Second, if I’d been born any earlier, I wouldn’t have developed an endless love for the thing that is making today’s snowed-in-ness so enjoyable. The Tick.

If you’d never seen the original The Tick, I feel sorry for you. And for your children. And for people who can’t taste the color green. Unrelated.

As a semi-professional child myself, I’d love to shout from the snowy rooftops (while properly harnessed, of course) that goofy cartoons today wouldn’t be what they are if The Tick hadn’t gleefully punched his way into the heart cavities of dozens of children like myself. Dozens at least.

“But”—quoting LeVar Burton, the world’s greatest living author—”you don’t have to take my word for it.” See for yourself.

And if you really are snowed in, and have twenty minutes to slay, AND really love whales in overalls, this is for you. Enjoy, chum!

I would totally hang out with Barnard, but only if I could call him Barney or Ol’ Dusty B.

I’m not always earthbound. For me, earthbound might actually be a state of anomaly. I spent a solid hour yesterday considering the principle of entropy, how it affects the universe, and what a fascinating image swirls into being when you combine a state of endless decay with an ever-expanding cosmos. Needless to say, I didn’t get much done.

When I started this blog last week I was considering writing from the viewpoint an amateur astronomer. Maybe I would say amateur astrophysicist, if I were feeling a little more… like myself. Either way, I was going to post something every day on a different space-based topic I myself was learning about. I probably would’ve ended up writing a lot about whatever sci-fi film I had just seen. Or just about Star Wars in general. But I decided against it. My nerdiness appears quickly enough without being forced.

Still, I wanted to share this photo because I think it’s legit.

b68-black-cloud-1920

This is Barnard 68, a molecular cloud in our galaxy, about 500 light-years from Earth. Aside from being some cool (read that: wicked awesome) cloud of dust floating around in space, B68 is slowing becoming a star. It’s a cloud of cold, cold dust that has about twice the mass of the Sun. As the dust particles’ gravity slowly causes the cloud to collapse in on itself, the density will increase and the temperature will rise from -257 °C to the point where nuclear fusion can occur and sustain itself. And then that quivering glob of dusty space will become a star. And that star will become an elemental engine, churning out the bits and pieces and nuggets that could become other stars, and worlds, and other clouds of dust, and possibly even the ingredients needed to make various fancy cheeses and books about the noble eland.

A beautiful poetry exists in a freezing cloud of dust that could someday bring warmth and life to its own solar system. Or one that could unprecedentedly gain sentience and team up with Gary Oldman to try to kill Bruce Willis or something. Logic won’t allow me to rule out the possibility.

There is nothing to fear but fear itself. And sometimes British ladies.

I’m afraid of snakes. And deep water. And large statues. Not moderately-larger-than-life statues like Michelangelo’s David or the creepy Mayor McCheeses that watch kids in too many playgrounds around the globe. But huge statues like The Motherland Calls in Volgograd, Russia, Родина-мать

the Spring Temple Buddha in Henan, China,

spr tem budd

or The Statue of Liberty a little closer to home.

statue-of-liberty

They seriously make me clench. Even looking up these few pictures was almost enough to cause me to close my laptop and walk away for the rest of the day. Or more realistically, to stand up and calmly flip my laptop end over end into my bookshelves and then let my tears and spasming colon bring me to near dehydration by the end of the day.

As far as irrational fears go, snakes and water seem too easy. Giant statues on the other hand, that fear needed to be delved. ‘Cause it seems a tad… ridiculous. Although it took me years to put everything into place in the twisted, twisted pathways of my mind, I finally traced it back to Dame Maggie Smith (the source of so many of my fears… and so many of my dreams). And I’m sorry about the quality of this video. You’d think more people would want to watch HD clips from Harry Hamlin’s movies. He’s pretty.

Now that I think about it, it could be less of a statue thing and more of a talking head thing ’cause Princess Mombi has always freaked me out, too. If that’s the case, I’ll apologize to Lady Margaret and just concentrate on battling my phobophobia.

This scene was the reason I ate my own hair for almost all of fourth grade.

p.s. Did you know Maggie Smith was married to a man named Beverly? What’s up with that? But I’m sure he was a lovely guy.

That whole Mayan thing didn’t play out like some of you hoped. But I do like the zombies’ chances this year.

My resolutions for 2012 were something of a wash. I did create three new kinds of grilled cheese, and I read a book about aphids, but I didn’t learn priceless life lessons while struggling to survive in the Alaskan wilderness, I didn’t confirm the existence of the Higgs boson, nor did my rally beard help the Bruins bring the Cup back to Boston. But never one to be deterred by mediocrity, my resolutions for 2013 are going to send my life leaping forward. They are the following, in order of (emotional) expense:

1) Cultivate my skills as an urban forager.
2) Figure out where in the world Patrick Stewart has been hiding and then demand he return my second-best Lazy Susan.
3) Find a remedy for my advanced gamma poisoning.
4) Spend more time patrolling New England beaches and offering my curative services to jellyfish victims.
5) Eat Eggs Benedict and cucumber sandwiches with Benedict Cumberbatch while wearing my eggshell cumberbund.
6) Fredo kiss at least two people.
7) Become foodier by lovingly raising a family of rabbits. And then eating them.
8) Use my street racing prowess and irrepressible chutzpah to bust my crew out of prison.
9) Remain dry-eyed for an entire viewing of “The Notebook.”
10) Open an honest dialogue between my spin bike and my coccyx.

Happy 2013, y’all!