Thursday, January 28, 2010

Note to George Clooney…

Your image is being used (I assume) without your consent. We ordered a pizza last night from the first delivery place we found in the phone book. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this mediocre pizza joint in southwest Germany is endorsed by none other than George Clooney, who was staring at me from the pizza box (dressed like Geppetto). I knew he had a house in Italy, but didn’t realize he was so taken with the clooney pizza002 (1024x682) B doesn’t see the obvious resemblance. Am I nuts?

george clooney pizza dtl 002 (622x933)

If that really is you George and the recession (or maybe too much trust in Bernie Madoff) has brought you to this humble level of endorsements, my apologies for exposing you to my (enormous) international readership.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The decade of joy…

It’s been 10 years since our little prince made us parents. We celebrated the occasion with a relatively understated party (by B’s standards) with about 10 kids at the Luxor Theater in Walldorf. Robert wanted to see the new Chipmunks movie and it turned out to be a highly enjoyable, low maintenance way to commemorate this most important of dates. IMG_7633 (684x1024) IMG_7628 (683x1024)B arranged for the birthday party a week or two ahead of time, including a tour of the inner workings of the theater. It was pretty interesting.  Walldorf still has old analog projectors with film reals the diameter of monster truck tires. They also have digital projectors.

I was most impressed by how well-behaved the kids were. Although they were let loose around probably millions of Euros worth of equipment, there were no admonishments or threats required on the part of the young gentleman who gave the tour. I was clearly more nervous than he.IMG_7597 (1024x699)Another nice attraction is the huge aquarium. The tour ended earlier than we expected so we had to kill about 30 minutes before the beginning of the movie (much of which I slept through!).robert bday theater_7612 Panorama (1024x444)IMG_7607 (1024x683)It is with some risk that I post a short clip of the tour taken before I was asked not to film anything. I’ve probably violated German theater tour laws, so this may be my last blog for 5-10. If the worst comes to pass, please send paperbacks and lots of (American)smokes.

More pleasant shoveling…

It snowed quite a bit last night. Clearing the sidewalk in front of our house this morning was a welcome break from the stuff I typically shovel at work (I’ll be non-specific in that respect).snow 201001_7667 Panorama (1024x235)Anyway, the kids have already made snow angels and Sophia even “helped” move some snow around with the shovel.snow 201001_7671 Panorama (1024x1000)IMG_7665 (683x1024)Sophia makes a pretty cute snow bunny for a Brazilian.IMG_7680 (2) (569x1024)This year I debuted “A Christmas Story” to the whole family, to a markedly tepid response (they all bailed on me in about 30 minutes). However, Sophia did remember the scene in which Ralphie’s little brother is so tighly bundled that he couldn’t put his arms down.Copy of IMG_7678 (1024x684)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


If the American press can be trusted, it is ILLEGAL to tattoo your kids! Who knew?! When we moved to Germany, we were concerned that our kids, as foreigners, would be picked on in school. Giving them really bad ass tattoos made so much sense at the time. If our good friend Thomas (the attorney, not Völkering) is reading this, please advise as to the legality of child tattoos in the EU. emily sophia tatoos custom_7522 (1024x921)emily dtl_7522sophia dtl_7522I used an improvised device very similar to the one in the article, but leveraged old banjo strings I had lying around; it seemed fitting for some reason. Like the mother who was arrested, I can’t figure out why this got “blowed up so big”.

Just in case there are self-righteous people out there judging us, thinking we’re abusing our children with these tattoos, I want to state for the record that we immediately made clear to Sophia the real spelling of “tough”.

Is there anyone out there really dense enough to not get this as an obvious joke? Probably.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


I’m not exactly what you’d call a science fiction/fantasy movie fan. Matrix? Hated it (People as batteries? Spare me.). Lord of the Rings? Still haven’t seen any of them. However, there’s been so much hype around Avatar that I figured I’d go see it at the theater in 3D (Cinemaxx in Mannheim). For those who would like to see it in its native language, it’s playing there at 18:20 most days.

The verdict? An exceptional movie. Really a game changer. I would recommend it to anyone whose attention span can be stretched to almost 3 hours (unlike my kids). I personally don’t remember being bored at all. Here in Germany, there was even an intermission!

The script isn’t particularly brilliant (or subtle), but there’s nothing wrong with a little mass appeal when you can distract the audience with the best special effects ever. It’s funny to consider that people were astonished by the special effects in King Kong in 1933. It will be interesting to see what we think of today’s bleeding edge effects in just a few years.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Ungrateful guest…

While I sincerely appreciate the Kalsis’ invitation to usher in the new year in their home, between us, my extensive worldwide readership and your humble author, I feel compelled to share, at the risk of sounding unappreciative, my only complaint regarding that wonderful evening: There simply wasn’t enough good food and drink!IMG_7304 (1024x682)As you can see, there were at most 20 varieties of food from virtually every continent on the planet (save Antarctica). To save our hosts any further embarrassment, I’ve withheld the pictures of the bar, where there were at most 15 kinds of drink, alcoholic and otherwise (including premium Scotch and multiple varieties of Rum and other spirits).IMG_7309 (1024x682)Being a good friend, I’m hoping my honesty will result in a proper selection of food next year (for the folks who, unlike me, will probably be invited back).IMG_7308 (1024x683)Luckily, there was plenty of Tequila to go around. I took it easy as the shots didn’t start flowing until will after 1:00. Next year, I’ll do my part to make sure we get the party into high (octane) gear a bit earlier.IMG_7324 (682x1024)BTW, in case some folks are still punchy from too much booze and too little sleep, I’m (obviously) kidding about the food! If the Kalsis are reading this and are in desperate need of someone to help them liquidate the leftovers, you know where to find me!!!

Best of the best…

No matter how much I enjoy a New Year’s celebration, deep down I always wish I’d been at Copacabana. Take a look at the video on this page. If you can suffer through a minute or two of Portuguese, you’ll get some idea of what the world’s greatest party is like. What the video can’t transmit is what it feels like to be among 2 million people on a beach in profound peace under a deluge of Champaign corks, watching a tide of flowers gently kiss the beach while the sky is lit up in unparalleled beauty.

More early morning rambling…

Still can’t sleep. I took a nap with the kids this afternoon so they would make it to midnight and evidently threw a wrench in the works of my biological clock. I’ve mentioned in years past how much Germans love to shoot fireworks to welcome in the new year. This year was no exception although the folks in the Kalsis’ neighborhood don’t exhibit the same zeal as our neighbors (although we probably only live a kilometer or so apart).IMG_7375 (1024x683)Here’s a ghostly looking Sophia making sparkler circles.IMG_7434 (1024x683)Robert, for whom discretion has always dominated any sense of valor, chose to stay inside. That kid cracks me up. Anyway, here are a few more shots of the festivities.IMG_7373 (683x1024)IMG_7378 (683x1024)IMG_7378 (1024x692) IMG_7372 (683x1024)Finally, the haze in the shot below is not fog; it’s the smoke from countless fireworks shot all around the neighborhood.IMG_7400 (1024x683)

Sparkling in 2010…

Just got back from a wonderful New Year’s party at the Kalsis. Will report more details later, but thought I’d take advantage of my unusual insomnia to post some cool pics and wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2010.IMG_7349 (1024x684) Preet looked like a one man star wars defense system launching handheld roman candles.IMG_7397 (683x1024) Emily and Madeline used sparklers to artistic effect in some long exposures. I love this type of shot!IMG_7420 (1024x683) IMG_7421 (1024x681)IMG_7423 (1024x683) IMG_7428 (1024x683)