First Susanne became obsessed and then I decided to offer a new blogging course

Ken at Axioma

You have your people. I’m sure you look around your circle of friends and say to yourself, ‘I love what they’re doing…wish I could help them out more.‘ Well, as much as you love your people, and I’m sure you do, my people just keep creating new things and I want to do what I can to let everybody know about them.

One of my people – one of the better ones, I might add – is Susanne, and she’s recently become obsessed with blogging and social media. I looked on with both amusement and pride last year, as her first blogposts started showing up on my newsfeed.

Here’s her most recent post, and I’m sure you’ll see why I find her writing so endearing: Desperado (by Susanne Plassman) Leave it to her to take a topic like suicide and make it inspiring.

I reached out to her and said, ‘Hey, I know something about the whole blogging lark, so drop me a line if you need any guidance.

Almost immediately, she responded with, ‘Yes, let’s talk! Am besten Gestern*!‘ That’s how she is, by the way. A theatre chick with all the positive associations in tow.

Susanne and I are conspiring to do some projects together and I’m sure I’ll be talking about them here and on social media, but in the meantime…her predicaments while getting started in blogging made me think, ‘There must be so many other locals who need some tips and pointers on this whole social media thing.

Right?

So, I talked to the language school Axioma, which is centrally located in the Maxvorstadt district of Munich, and we’ve decided to offer a course in social media. Here’s a link to the Social Media / Blogging von Anfang an course. Click on it, and see how much of your high school or college German you can remember.

*rough translation of ‘am besten Gestern‘: I need this yesterday!

 

 

 

 

The western sky alight and melodies rattle round in my head

Stumbling outside, this wondrousness greeted me

Playing with a new band, as well as  ramping up new projects with Old Braunfels, as Jarrod has made his way back to Munich after months of being a digital nomad. Welcome back home, you old goat. 

But what was I saying?

These new Germans I’m palling around with love playing covers of stuff you’d hear on a classic rock station, and until now they’re humoring my eclectic taste in songs. 

Now we’re doing a bit of Americana, some outlaw country, as well as some originals, and I’m enjoying warming up my rusty chops. 
Last weekend, we had one of those rehearsals that go on for hours, and when I got a message from the outside world that I shouldn’t miss the sunset that was happening at that very moment, we stumbled into the fresh air. To be greeted to the above photo. 

It’s certainly been edited, but I assure you the real life reds, yellows and blues were even more lush than the photo conveys. Some days it’s the smallest things that remind you what a gift this whole thing is. 

Take a deep breath, reconnect to source and get back to it. These melodies rattling round in my head aren’t going to write themselves. 

Beamers & the real power in Bavaria

Church and State in Bavaria’s Hauptstadt

Please turn on the Beamer, so we can start the meeting in time,’ my colleague says. 

Huh? The Beamer?

Are they giving me a company car? 

Wow, I like the direction this is going. 

Nope. Not a chance. Instead, this is another example of them having funny English-sounding nicknames for things that those of us with an Anglo mother tongue would never have thought of. Another false friend

In this case, it’s what the Germans call an overhead projector. A Beamer

I’m not kidding. 

It ‘beams‘ they assure me. Like ‘beam me up Scotty‘, but for real. It beams their presentations and visuals up on the screen. Hence Beamer

What makes it a false friend, though?

Well, we already use Beamer for something else. Not sure about the Brits or the rest of the Commonwealth, but us Yanks? 

We use it as a nickname for a BMW. That’s right. If you’re tooling round in an auto made by the  Bayerische Motoren Werke, that’s a Beamer, baby!
Now I’m looking back at the above photo with the church at Mariahilfplatz. Beam me up, indeed. 

Tindergarden is the Ode to a Nightingale – choose your own Word of the Year

tender is the night in the Upper Palatinate


Word of the year: How about Tindergarden?

Or if that doesn’t grab your fancy, what about Hopfen-Smoothie? That’s a euphemism for beer, as Hopfen is the German word for one of beer’s essential ingredients. 

No? I’ve got at least one more. Here’s Posttruth for you. 

We’re already deep into the holiday season, and soon enough we’ll be subjected to Word of the Year nonsense before we stumble into the new year. 

I’m still chuckling at Tindergarden, which is a comical play on the word Kindergarden. Your garden of acquaintances you met on the dating platform tinder? There’s a word for that now. 

Lucky us. 

Tender is the Night

And when I think of that soft & gentle dating app, I’m immediately making jokes playing on the word ‘tender‘. Jackson Browne singing in my ear, and I’m a preteen again. Completely unaware of tenderness. The very thought was lost on me. 

Then my thoughts meander to the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel of the same name. Should reread that damned thing at some point. But then I remember that the title Fitzgerald used was actually ganked from a Keats poem. 

And who wouldn’t agree that we could all use just a bit more decent poetry in our lives. Here’s Ode to a Nightingale:
Ode to a Nightingale

By John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains 

         My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, 

Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains 

         One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: 

‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, 

         But being too happy in thine happiness,— 

                That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees 

                        In some melodious plot 

         Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, 

                Singest of summer in full-throated ease. 
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been 

         Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth, 

Tasting of Flora and the country green, 

         Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth! 

O for a beaker full of the warm South, 

         Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, 

                With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, 

                        And purple-stained mouth; 

         That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, 

                And with thee fade away into the forest dim: 
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget 

         What thou among the leaves hast never known, 

The weariness, the fever, and the fret 

         Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; 

Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, 

         Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; 

                Where but to think is to be full of sorrow 

                        And leaden-eyed despairs,

         Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, 

                Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow. 
Away! away! for I will fly to thee, 

         Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, 

But on the viewless wings of Poesy, 

         Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: 

Already with thee! tender is the night, 

         And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne, 

                Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays; 

                        But here there is no light, 

         Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown 

                Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways. 
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, 

         Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, 

But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet 

         Wherewith the seasonable month endows 

The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; 

         White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; 

                Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves; 

                        And mid-May’s eldest child, 

         The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine, 

                The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. 
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time 

         I have been half in love with easeful Death, 

Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme, 

         To take into the air my quiet breath; 

                Now more than ever seems it rich to die, 

         To cease upon the midnight with no pain, 

                While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad 

                        In such an ecstasy! 

         Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain— 

                   To thy high requiem become a sod. 
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! 

         No hungry generations tread thee down; 

The voice I hear this passing night was heard 

         In ancient days by emperor and clown: 

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path 

         Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, 

                She stood in tears amid the alien corn; 

                        The same that oft-times hath 

         Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam 

                Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. 
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell 

         To toll me back from thee to my sole self! 

Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well 

         As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.

Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades 

         Past the near meadows, over the still stream, 

                Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep 

                        In the next valley-glades: 

         Was it a vision, or a waking dream? 

                Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep? 

 

Old Braunfels…getting the band back together edition

  

In the coming months, I’ll be pimping this blog and sending my astounding levels of traffic toward a couple of the projects I’m working on these days.

Some of these projects are new, but most are the latest instalments of continuing collaborations. One of the nearest and dear to me is the one I’ve been working on pretty regularly with ol’ snaggletoothed Jarrod Shepherd.

It should be mentioned if you click on the SoundCloud graphic down below, you can hear a bunch of our repertoire. On some of the songs, you’ll also hear Javi ‘Hansfry’. He’s a Spanish Per Anhalter, which is the German word for hitchhiker.

Oh, and if you actually make it out one night to hear Old Braunfels, there’ll likely be some other musicians sitting in. We’ve been playing with a brand new guitarist this year, and there was even a percussionist sitting in on one of our shows in the waning days of summer.

We’ve got some shows in the coming months and even more in the New Year. Come out and hear some country-fried Americana. Tell ’em Bernie Sanders sent you – you might get a discount at the door.

‘I got a hamster’ brought to you by Diamond Cookieoftruth

violet-in-violet

Hello Violet,’ he said. ‘It’s Uncle BK

Really? All the way from Germany?

All the way from Germany, yes. I saw you got a hamster. A hamster named Alexander, right? Let me tell you about the history of the domesticated hamster,‘ I started to mansplain to my second oldest niece.

Got it covered, Uncle BK. Check out one of my recent YouTube videos,‘ she chirped.

With no further ado, here is Violet in I got a hamster.

Go to Diamond Cookieoftruth.

Subscribe. Really, do it. These girls are hilarious.

Quick and Dirty German Lesson: the German word for hilarious is urkomisch.

Have I not convinced you to go check it out? For further enticement, here’s the blurb on their YouTube channel:

we are the diamond lords we know wichcraft and potions and wiserdrie i know how to stop headches and sore mucles i hope you enjoy the wiserdrie of my channel

Who doesn’t need a bit of ‘wisardrie‘ these days?

They’re my nieces, by the way. Be nice in the comments, y’all.

professing myself a bad American…what a week

‘I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore’

It started when Islamic terrorists were coming over the Texas border and training in camps to attack the locals. I saw the photos of black-clad baddies with questionable insignias on their outfits, and I knew what I was supposed to believe. This was what we’d been warned about, and here it was coming to pass. They were secretly invading the homeland, and those of us who couldn’t see it were sheeple, who didn’t have the courage to stand up to this aggression.

I seem to remember the rumors about these secret training camps were debunked, but I hadn’t been particularly worried to begin with. Why?

Well, because I’m a bad American. I truly am.

In my attempt to be playful, which isn’t necessarily appreciated in these sensitive times, I asked if people were actually worried about such nonsense. I’d made it a habit of reading sources from all edges of the political spectrum, so it wasn’t as if this rhetoric was unknown to me. I’d lived through the 90s and the fear of those pesky ‘Black Helicopters’ and the looming ‘One World Order’ that they promised was coming.

In response to my tongue in cheek humor, I got a full spectrum of responses all the way from ‘believe the threats are real’ to ‘this is utter nonsense’. I make a half-assed attempt at cultivating online friendships with people of various political stripes, so it didn’t particularly bother me. Well, most of it didn’t.

The one that got in my proverbial craw, though? Might seem innocuous, yet it was anything but. The gist of this comment was: ‘You don’t live here anymore. Things have changed. You don’t understand.

Bad American. Remember?

Now, like I said – I try to read stuff from all sorts of sources. I understand the anti tyranny rhetoric, as well as the anti government thinking, and there’s so much of all of it I can and cannot get behind.

However, there’s one sort of fundamental thing on which I’m unwavering. Your right to say it. I’m sure this person wasn’t saying I had no right to my opinion, but the implication was that my perspective was lessened because I’d abandoned ship. You’re not even here anymore, goes this logic, so why do you think your opinion even has any validity?

Something was weirdly altered for me that day, which sadly affected me and the way I’ve been interacting online ever since. We all get to decide how we interact with one another in cyberspace, as well as the face-to-face, and I slowly resolved to limit my true discussion to the latter. I’d never been particularly outspoken online about my strongest thoughts, and my course of action was to play my cards even closer to my vest. In retrospect, I’ve noticed that this wasn’t the best course of action.

Not for a bad American, such as myself.

I’ve often been grateful social media didn’t exist when I was younger. If there’d been a platform for me to share some of the inane nonsense that passed for my attempt at reasonable thought, I’d have made myself quite a target for scathing criticism. Instead, the best I got of that was from my dad when he tried valiantly not to laugh himself silly at my half-baked pronouncements. None of this is unique, to be clear. Folly of youth and all that, I suppose.

Here’s the thing, though. Hopefully, I’ve matured and learned how to make a reasoned argument. Take conflicting information into account and make an informed decision. Weigh the value and reliability of sources and question my assumptions and biases.

You can question my patriotism, and I’d probably agree with you. I’ve already called myself a bad American. You can’t get me with that one.

Living so far from my countrymen has made me both more critical of what’s going on stateside, and weirdly more fierce about my right to say such things. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I’m well aware I’ll get a bit of heat. Maybe a lot, but I intend to take it in stride.

No matter how much I’m laughing at some of the nonsense that passes for political chatter, I assure you I’m still laughing wholeheartedly at myself. As I scratch out this resolution to be more outspoken via social media, I can still hear my dad chuckling. ‘Don’t take yourself so damned seriously,’ he’d quip. Yes, sir. You got it.