Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Easter Report

These are my real live German Easter eggs, colored myself, using wax and egg colors. A painstaking process, inspired by the Lower Lusatian tradition and my mother-in-law.

Finally I have something interesting to write about, something with substance: not just my boring neighbors or my swearing kid, though I could write more about them, but a fun and varied weekend.

Since we had a four day weekend for Easter, we decided to use it wisely with as much fun activity as possible. First, on Good Friday, we decided to use the weather which appeared to be good to go to a labyrinth near Bautzen. When we departed from Dresden, it had just started to rain, and when we arrived at the labyrinth, everything was muddy and it was still raining. Quick change of plans. We decided to go to Bautzen and get some food, look at the city, and hope the weather would improve. In Bautzen we were adventurous and tried Sorbian food, which seems pretty similar to German food, but in a funky traditional atmosphere. Below you can see the window in the restaurant.

The waitresses were also dressed in traditional clothes as shown in the window, and this fascinated not only me, but Wilhelm as well. He loved the waitresses. And the food. There was a wedding meal, consisting of meat (beef, I think, it wasn't mine) with horseradish sauce, potatoes with parsley and salad, and I had potatoes with quark and linseed oil and a big delicious salad. Mmm.

Then we looked at the city, which is quite charming. The historic center is just full of narrow meandering alleys and beautiful old houses. There's also a castle, a neat church ruin where beggars used to live and where later a water tower was built right into the ruin, and now there appears to be a house built into the ruin. The skyline is amazing because the landscape is a bit hilly, so the city looms on top of a hill with lots of towers and attractive buildings.

Bautzen's skyline

Where there are old houses, they may fall in. So just support them against each other!

Finally, we decided to venture back to the labyrinth, because the weather cooperated and got better. In the end because of mud in the labyrinth we went to the neighboring Saurierpark (Dinosaur Park) , of which I was rather apprehensive. I thought maybe it was just some sort of lame tourist trap. And at first glance, it seemed to be just that. Flashy displays and info-signs, a computer animated dinosaur movie, and lots of playground equipment for the kids. But then we got to the really interesting part, namely the part where it all started: in some guy's private garden. This guy was Franz Gruss, a trained artist, and he started sculpting dinosaurs in his garden in 1978, and he just couldn't stop. Later he was allowed to put some sculptures in the forest neighboring his garden, and this developed into what is now the Saurierpark. But the garden, I can't even describe how fantastic it is. It is absolutely brimming with sculptures of monkey-like people hunting wooly mammoths and eating the innards of their prey, landscapes with cliffs from which these monkey people are stalking their prey, and even some little artistic adventures, like a UFO and aliens, and a sculpture of what a dinosaur which had evolved to be somewhat human-like might have looked like. I highly, highly recommend this place, and recommend starting at the back, at the garden, because it is so full of sculptures that you can't really take it all in after spending the greater part of your time in the main park. Below are some pictures.

Above you can see the dinosaur-turned-man

Here are the aliens in the garden.

These guys are probably my favorites: I really like the tension you can see in the faces of the small monkey-people in back as they look at these Planet of the Apes-like guys in front of them,
thinking "Oh shit! Should I throw the rock? Should I spear him with my stick? What if they turn around?" And the big guys have these looks on their faces like, "Wow, my head is really big, but my brain is just so tiny. I don't even know if I can pick up that rock. I'm so confused."
Another bonus of the lifesize dinosaur sculptures: some of them have their mouths open, which really lends itself to placing a small child into said mouths. Wilhelm seems to still be processing this, because when he's playing by himself, I still hear him talking about dinosaurs over a week later. Hehehe.

The rest of the weekend was also nice. We grilled on the balcony and had a whole bunch of people over, once again throwing together some very funny combinations of our friends, had dinner with the fam in the Ore Mountains where there was still at least a foot of snow and counting, did some cleaning on Easter Monday and finally had some coffee and cake with friends to top it all off. But I think for me, Easter will now always have some connection with dinosaurs. Probably for Wilhelm too, since he was in at least 3 dinosaurs' mouths this Easter weekend...That can't be too easy to forget!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How did I get such a profane child?

I'm sure my mom is reading this right now and thinking "You're surprised your child is profane?", and really, she's probably right. I recall sitting in the backseat of the car on one of our many marathon car trips as a child and being thrilled to see graffiti that said things like "Eat me like a taco", which soon became one of my favorite sayings, and telling my parents in response to something they said "That's nice, and I don't mean the nice nice, I mean the smartass nice." just to be sure they knew what I meant. I guess I'm not surprised that my 21-month-old swears, I'm more impressed with his amazing accuracy.

You see, every time, really every time, I drop something or he breaks a glass or I stumble or whatever, he says "oh, man!"*, "Scheisse"**, or "F*!K"*, depending on the gravity of the situation. It's really amazing, and no matter how often I tell him that only white trash and Asis (German for trash, more or less) use those words and that people will think he's just that when he says it, he persists in his use of such expressions. The trouble is, most of the time, he says exactly what I feel. Often, I could really just say "You're exactly right" when he swears, but I feel it's not appropriate, because a child who is not yet two should not be using these words. I'm not perfect, I use words of this caliber as well, but mostly in appropriate situations, and not usually in public, because, as I always tell Wilhelm, only trash does this. The main battle is now not to get him to forget these words, because I am sure that they are burned into his memory by now, but to get him to use them at appropriate times.

*he did not learn this from me
**he learned this from me

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Office Space

In one of my classes we started watching the movie Office Space last week, and I just found some funny things regarding this film. For example, a 30 second version of the film reenacted by bunnies here.

You can buy gear like they have in the Initech office here and here.

There's even a quiz with 100 questions about the film here.

Here you can take a quiz to find out which Office Space character you are. (I am the Bobs, those consultants who come to Initech to fire people...)

By the way, it's called Alles Routine in German.