Monday, December 29, 2008

Luzern Redux

A few pictures of the sights in Luzern, Switzerland. A totally gorgeous, picturesque city...and in the middle of it me.

The Chapel Bridge-Kapellbrücke-at the heart of Luzern.

The Lion of Luzern-Löwendenkmal-a monument commemorating the Swiss Guards who gave their lives at the Tuileries Palace in 1792 during the French Revolution.

My sister and I next to a unicorn fountain and a pizza joint-which looked appetizing, but was closed the day after Christmas.

Standing with the enormous swans by the channel.

More later!

Of Scotch & Sausenberg

I went to church with the family yesterday which was an interesting experience and ran into several people from my high school days. They were all people I would have wanted to see and in small enough numbers so it was not too overwhelming. Lunch was at the kebab place in town. After lunch we drove up through the Black Forest, stopped and hiked no more than fifteen minutes to Sausenberg Castle a structure that is now mostly ruins, however the large tower remains in good condition. It looked especially evocative with frost on the ground and sunlight shining through the clouds.

Regarding pictures, of the few I took on my personal camera-most have yet to be uploaded from another, better camera-here are a few of my activities at Heathrow Airport while I waited for my connecting flight. I was originally only going to have an hour to get from one gate to the other, but with the significant delays due to Seattle's snow storm last week, I had over two leisurely hours in Terminal 5, the newest and most modern at Heathrow. After spritzing myself with Calvin Klein Euphoria from the duty free store as I had been in some state of travel for the last two days I went across the way to my interim destination: the chic little bar in the middle of the terminal-good for relaxation and people watching.

I asked for a Perfect Manhattan and the bartender didn't know what it was. This should have been my first clue that perhaps I should order something different. I figured that drink wouldn't be an issue. He found the recipe in his little book and started to make it-which took him forever and a day. Yes, if the bar is not too busy (and it wasn't) I absolutely expect some time and car to be taken when my drink is being made. This was just shy of ridiculous. He was overly leisurely, watering down my drink by stirring the bitters with ice first for several minutes and then shaking my Manhattan for a minute more. When I finally took a sip, he asked me how I liked it and it was far different than I expected. He had used Scotch Whiskey and not Bourbon Whiskey. It was palatable enough and would do the duty, so I said it was fine despite the lack of Bourbon. He said they didn't carry Bourbon and I looked at the duty-free shelf behind me and pointed at the Maker's Mark. "Oh, I don't think our company owns the rights to serve that." But what bar, anywhere doesn't serve any Bourbon? I should have paid right away as it took fifteen minutes from when I said I wanted to pay to a mere three drinks later when he took my card. Maybe he was new. I really wanted to get behind that bar and do things myself!

Despite the overall quality of the drink, I should have ordered a few more of these to stash in my luggage for the rest of my time here. Really. Thankfully I saved at least one mini bottle from the plane.

Today we are heading into Basel, Switerzland for the afternoon once more. The other day we arrived in the evening after most of the shops had closed, so I look forward to at least perusing some European stores.

I return to Seattle this week.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Supernatural Swirly

End of Indy Four
Like end of Mummy Returns
Explody and dumb

Second screenshot from The Mummy Returns

Trailer for the Buffster

This trailer for Season 1 of Buffy makes me all warm and giddy like.

I'd see that.

"Fruit punch mouth..." hehe.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Old Books

Going through my old things has turned into some kind of strange, subtle torture punctuated by moments of lightness and bold indicators of the evolution of my character, sexuality and personality. Apparently, I feel the need to deal with this by turning it into some form of entertainment. I didn't end up making it into Germany this afternoon; on the agenda for today was childhood books-and making an Apple-Raspberry Pie which turned out marvelously. I felt a little like Ned in Pushing Daisies.

A few highlights or lowlights of the book fest depending on how you take it:

A selection of Misty of Chincoteague novels by Marguerite Henry from my lengthy "horse phase."

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley-one of my favorites from times past, again with the horse thing.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit, a book I remember quite fondly-not so much the 2002 movie, however.

The Complete Pendragon Cycle by Stephen R. Lawhead which is still some good semi-historical fiction tracing the lives of Taliesin, Merlin and Arthur.

Aaaand, Help!: I'm Trapped in My Gym Teacher's Body! by Todd Strasser. An interesting concept-kind of kinky. I liked this book as an adolescent. This explains alot of things.

Please wrest me back to the present now.

Friday, December 26, 2008

France, Germany, Switzerland-Repeat

I have had a rather enjoyable time here thus far with my family in France. It is the first Christmas the family has spent together in three years! We were also here in France at that time, a little over a year after I graduated from my high school in Germany, just across the border from where my parents now. I give you fair warning for the long post ahead, dear readers.

I have to say that while I've been having a good time for the most part, it is more than a little odd to be all "living" under the same roof for a week. While it is nice to have the family in one place for the holiday, it doesn't give me all warm and fuzzy feelings but the realization that the time of being together as a unit is long over and can't happen naturally again. I think that because it seems unnatural, I have more of a tendency to feel pressure to "perform" or perhaps a better word is "restrain" in certain circumstances. That's rarely a pleasant behavior to enact. I have this desire that we could all relate to the place each of us are at in our lives and though I'm sure some families successfully navigate that process or make some semblance of that, it's seems impossible to do with those you left sometimes, especially when people treat each other as figures as they were in the past.

The past is something I always have to face when I visit with the family. This year is no exception. Last time I came it was my former alumni from high school; this time it is boxes. Twenty-some boxes of my life, from grade school onward. My parents want me to go through them and downsize all that I have in storage. They are full of papers mostly, personal and academic all jumbled together in a vague order. '98 in one box, '01 and '02 in the second, Biology, Statistics and Creative Writing in another. Sometimes it's not so simple and all kinds of writing falls out on my lap. Some of which are embarrassing, some cute, some useless now, and others...others I would care to forget. Then I realize that forgetting is the easy part, but there is a price in that some of what I wrote then stems from a world from anxiety and hurt. Writing regarding events or ideas that were certainly formative in making the man I am today, but that is too striking to read in the present. I was shocked to experience the feeling that I wish I never had to write certain things about family, for school or otherwise. Some things are better addressed than forgotten, regardless of how strong the drive is to move on. My mom turned to me at one point during my adventures in filing and in a light-hearted tone asked, "So, taking a trip down memory lane, huh?" I swallowed the lump in my throat and mumbled a non-committal reply. Sometimes memory lane is a dark and twisted alley. I've thrown out old math and german tests or the like, some history notes, but I've saved all my writing assignments, journals and drawings. Most of these will remain in boxes, but some I have to take back with me. I can't box them up again.

One of my favorite part of these days here may very well come at night when I can curl up on the couch with my yellow lab, Athena-how I've missed her- at my feet and touch my present life via the keys on my laptop.

That being said, today's trip to Lucerne, Switzerland was most pleasant and the weather cooperated marvelously-except for the temperature which was hovering above freezing with the wind chill. It is one of the most visited cities in Switzerland and for good reason. It is full of stunning architecture-castles, bridges, bell towers, monuments and stone walls. There's a great new vista behind every building. The bridge in the above photo is the oldest covered bridge in Europe. Being the day after Christmas, there were few people walking the streets. However, also being the day after Christmas, there were not many shops or restaurants open. We weren't going to the city for either particularly, so it was fine except when it came to eat. After looking up and down narrow streets, we found an open restaurant-a modern, sprawling three-floor McDonalds. As I said to my dad, menus at McDonalds do differ quite a bit around the world, so it was a cultural experience. I made up for it by having a vanilla Berliner post-"Chicken Mythic" sandwich. I'll share pictures of the whole trip as soon as I can gather them from the couple cameras we used. On our way back we cut across the German border and back into France with a great meal by Mom and a viewing of Iron Man with the family.

Tomorrow will be a quieter day for the most part. I will likely visit my old high school for a few photos along with my old dorm. I'll pick up a German pastry from the local bakery a few blocks from the campus. Tomorrow might also be the day I eat lunch at the best Turkish döner kebab in the world-no joke. In the evening, we will be having my dear, dear friend, professor, drama director and choir instructor, Michele, over for a dinner of Mom's homemade pizza! I'm very much looking forward to the good food and good company.


This week saw the passing of two very important and lasting women in the entertainment industry, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, wife of Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry and Eartha Kitt.

The first had a more active role in the formation of my pop culture conscious as the voice of every single Star Trek computer in every incarnation of the series, film and television series alike. I have fond memories of Saturday nights growing up when the family would order bake-at-home pizza from Papa Murphy's and gather to watch that week's episode of Star Trek. First it was Star Trek: The Next Generation, then Deep Space Nine and Voyager when they came along. The former Mrs. Roddenberry was always there. She had just finished her work on J.J. Abram's Star Trek relaunch prior to her death. Come May, we'll all have a chance to hear her tell the crew once more in soothing, neutral tones that the ship is most certainly going to be destroyed.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry
February 23, 1932 – December 18, 2008

While Eartha Kitt was never a huge part of my cultural upbringing, I did have the fortune of meeting her through my previous place of employment a few months ago. She was in Seattle for a string of performances at Dimitrou's Jazz Alley. One Saturday afternoon, I spent about an hour with her and her assistant/make-up artist trying to find an Italian restaurant that was not only open for lunch but that served Capellini-angel hair-pasta. Ms. Kitt was quite particular about this. Nothing else would do. Thankfully, I pulled some strings with The Pink Door and we were able to accommodate. She is one of the few people to have ever been nominated for Tony, Grammy and Emmy awards. She passed away on Christmas Day, ever the "Santa Baby."

Eartha Mae Kitt
January 17, 1927 – December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Not After Midnight

Gremlins is one of my favorite movies and if I kept a list of favorite Christmas movies it would surely appear close to the top.

Before the Furby and Tickle Me Elmo, there was:

and the dreamy Zach Gilligan as Billy Peltzer.

Gerald: If it isn't Captain Clip-On. Guess who almost signed for unemployment today?
Billy Peltzer: I give up.
Gerald: You... But Mr. Corben had second thoughts. He gets so sentimental around the holidays.
Billy Peltzer: Imagine that.
Gerald: If it was up to me, I would have fired you in a second.
Billy Peltzer: Well, a merry Christmas to you too.

If only real businesses worked that way. I was laid off early this month just in time for Christmas, but thankfully, I was offered a new and exciting job this past weekend. I hardly had time to celebrate before heading off to France! Champagne when I return to the US of A!

All Kinds of Shiny

A fantastic Christmas themed Firefly fan video.

Have a wonderful, shiny Christmas, everyone!

Dear Old Danny

Dear Daniel Radcliffe,

You look neither youthful nor overly charming in this picture of you visiting the London cast of Spring Awakening.

Please take note.

And shave.

Thanks, Dan.

Christmas in Alsace

After literal days of travel-including cancellations, delays and flight connections, I finally touched down in Zurich, Switzerland around 2:00PM local time on Tuesday, December 23rd. On the way back to my parent's place, we stopped at the local butcher to pick up a ham for Christmas day and two baguettes from the bakery down the street. My dinner, was, naturally, bread and brie. And in fact, that may be what I have for the majority of my meals during my time here.

We spent a good portion of the evening in Basel, Switzerland sipping sweet, hot glühwein out of real mugs as we walked through the Weinachts market downtown. Basel was beautifully strung with lights of all kinds and huge Christmas trees were erected in every square and street corner including the Rathaus-Basel's red stone town hall as seen in the picture to the right. Within its courtyard, carolers surrounded the tree and sang traditional holiday songs in German. Basel is only twenty minutes away from our house here, so spending the day between Germany-ten minutes away-Switzerland and France is fairly typical for my family here. I look forward to going back to Basel during the day sometime this week and visiting all the great stores big shopping centers, modern European shops and quaint boutiques alike.

I stayed up until a typical bedtime as you're supposed to do and then slept for thirteen hours. So far so good-I'm sure the two cups of espresso this morning and afternoon helped a little. I'm ready to head out for an afternoon of traipsing about Alsacien villages along the Rhein River culminating in the town of Colmar for their Christmas market. Then its back to my family's house in Kembs Loechlee for an evening of decorating the tree, baking cookies and eating raclette-a delicious French meal with melted cheese and potatoes. Carbs and cheese-how could you possibly go wrong with that?

Foxy Ladies

This is how you ensure the gays of America are pleased on New Years Eve.

The Silver Fox and the Queen of the D-List host the New Years Eve celebrations live at Times Square, Wednesday December 31st.

Thank you, CNN.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Play Nice, Kitties

It's my 100th post on this blog and I write it on this cold floor in the airport while having waited over 24 hours for my plane to take me to visit my family for Christmas. Cabin fever has started to set in. Could that be why I find the following video absolutely hilarious and kind of awesome?

Is it frightening that I am excited for a movie that may never happen based on an entirely fake trailer?

And Thundercats at that?

Three more hours.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Haiku

Hear the devil laugh
When the weather reporters
Fail in prediction.

It is in cold hours
Candles are weak and I seek
the light of your eyes.

This cup was not meant
For hot liquids; you now run
The risk of melting.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"I like a good head on my snowmen"

On a recent excursion to the Nordstrom flagship store in downtown Seattle with my friend Keith, we stopped by the home section. We were looking to see if there were any good vases, pillows, tchotchkes to buy for gifts. We did not end up getting anything, though we did see these fine articles of home decor:

Keith could not resist reaching for these...phallic, Christmas-themed...snow-people...?

Needless to say, we quickly vacated the premises after the traumatic encounter.

Enough said.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Hour

There are still a few places in town you can get a cosmopolitan under $5.00 during happy hour. What about $2.00? Believe it or not, Bleu Bistro serves $2.00 cosmos and lemondrops during their happy hours-often bringing them to the table two at a time. You also can't go to Bleu without having their Wasabi Grilled Cheese sandwhich served with three dipping sauces. Bread, cheese and dipping. Yes please.

Still my favorite happy hour in town has to be at Palomino from 4-6PM everyday. Who can beat $5.00 pizzas and $4.00 (formerly $3.00) wine, appletinis and draft beer?

Today's haiku:

I am at happy
hour on an empty stomach.
I will eat this lime.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I am writing an exciting new paper for a new conference. Grad apps are in. I completed my annual tradition of watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy-the extended edition, of course-during the month of December, though not in one sitting. It snowed. My apartment is freezing. I am going home for Christmas.

And poor as I may be, I allowed myself to buy a pair of suspenders this afternoon. I haven't owned suspenders in two decades-give or take. I also wrote just shy of a dozen haikus today. They will make their way onto the blog in due time.

Here is the first of the lot:

These new suspenders
Will make many more outfits
From this small closet.

And yes, dear readers, these are the very suspenders I now own.

So many wardrobe possibilities-possibly paired with a black bow tie or any number of the colorful and fanciful-and by fanciful I mean absolutely ridiculous-bow ties passed down to me from my father's childhood collection. Seriously, there's a box. Don't get me started on the neckties.