Day 406: In Germany

Yep, I´ll be in Germany for spring break (you know, for the beach, beads, boobies, body shots, and such). It´s only a very short trip, but I haven´t seen my family in about a year and it may be another year until I get to see them again (I have to move in the summer, go to MLA over Christmas break, etc.), so that definitely makes the trip worthwhile.

I just got back from running in the snow, which made me a little sad–I noticed that I should think that it all looks quite beautiful around here, but after having sat around in an insane amount of snow for the last few months, I appear to be unable to create a positive emotional response to that sort of aesthetic. Eh, screw it–my grandmother is preparing a feast for us as we speak and I will drink a lot of beer and Schnaps this afternoon. Who cares about aesthetics then, I ask? (a question that may lead to an insight into Russian car design.)

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Day 249: Sleepless in Chicago

Damn, I’m tired. Had to pull an all-nighter to catch up on writing, grading and applications. Am exhausted. Will go to the Überstein Hofbräuhaus with a friend later tonight to unwind. Yes, that’s right! Überstein. Seems appropriate: I’m über-tired and definitely have an itch for stress-escapism by getting über-drunk (which, considering the amount of work that needs to get done tomorrow, is not a possbility).

Be that as it may, contrary to what Robert Frost may claim, fall (not spring) seems to be the mischief in me: there is a job opening at Regent University. Do you think I should apply? There certainly is lots of “über” at that place (not the good kind, though). I wonder if I can put a notion in their heads. But, über-Pat probably, “moves in darkness as it seems to me // Not of woods only and the shade of trees. // He will not go behind his father’s saying…”

???

Day 191: Ding-a-Ding-Dang-My-Dang-a-Long-Ling-Long

Yes, Ministry was the sountrack accompanying the last few days over here. Hectic, lots of driving (even though none of the vehicles were actually built by Jesus and they were not even hotrods), lots of different places (and three different countries for that matter), lots of different people and lots of beer and coffee (I don’t think I have ever been this dehydrated in my life–I suppose now I would be in shape to survive the Marathon des Sables).

Apart from trying to get more work done before I head back to the US we also felt like we finally needed to spend some family time, since I probably won’t see them for about a year. We went kayaking on the Sauer in Luxemburg (lots of fun and a high-quality sunburn on my back), we went climbing, part of which was a “high-rope garden” (you can see some of the pictures on my flickr strip–you can’t quite tell from the pictures but it was quite high–30-40 feet–and had a reasonable level of difficulty), I took my grandparents on a road trip, since they don’t feel comfortable driving long distances themselves any more but still want to see stuff (so I took them to the Mosel valley, Trier, Luxemburg, Belgium, the Netherlands, …), I spent a day with friends watching the World Rally Championship, which was here for three days/18 stages (I gotta say, I am not really interested in motorsports but that was fun–you are really close to the track, walk/drive around in between the different stages, can drink a lot of beer–plus, those drivers are fucking nuts–I should probably put some videos on youtube to illustrate this last point), and yesterday I took my grandparents on another road trip, met up with extended family and after that with a friend who just arrived from the US and whose wedding I will have to miss due to teaching, which means that he is going to punish me by making me go shopping for his tux with him on Wednesday. Yep, that was about it. Maybe I’ll put up some more pictures and videos of these activities (hard to find pictures that don’t show my face, though) but right now I need a bottle of water and some muesli. cheers everyone

Day 184: Strange Days

Is a pretty decent movie with Ralph Fiennes. However, that’s not what I mean. The last few days have been weird. I haven’t gotten as much writing done as I had planned but haven’t really done anything exciting that would warrant postponing my writing obligations either. Just a bunch of weird stuff. My poor doggie developed cardio-ventricular disease and now has fluid in his lungs. Now, I have to take him to the vet quite often, as we are in the process of trying to figure out what kind of medication and what kind of dosage might work. He seems fine (apart from the coughing) but this kind of heart condition can apparently be fatal very quickly. Scary. Poor doggie friend.

I also had to take my brother to the hospital this morning, who lost the inside of his hands to a drunken attempt to hold on to a large natural-fibre rope attached to a large tent, which in turn was in the process of being blown away by a thunderstorm. Bad idea and now his career as a drummer is on halt for a while. Also a strange thing to happen–and it looks really disgusting. Good thing my mom is used to that kind of stuff, as I used to be rather stupid as a kid and constantly did stuff like this. I literally broke every bone in my body (several of them I broke up to three times). Hence, this is not really an extraordinary event here. Though: poor brother friend.

The son of a friend of my mother’s was severely beaten last weekend and developed a blood-clot in his head and a cerebral swelling that put him in the ICU–he is still in critical condition. Scarier than this: his father received a phone call a few days ago from an anonymous man who claimed to know who had done this to his son and offered to “take care” of the problem with the help of Eastern European people for the sum of 1500 Euros. How fucking scary is that? How do people find out this stuff and then see a business opportunity in something like this? Poor humanity friend.

I still haven’t finished Spook Country–quite embarrassing. I will continue to read now, though and post a detailed review when I’m done. Tomorrow, it’s only half a day of work again, since I am going rock and tree climbing (yes, huge-ass trees with ropes and harness and all that shite). I’ll take some pictures. Good potential for serious injury as well–I’ll keep you posted on that, too.

Day 177: Ein Humba für die Feuerwehr

Today just a brief post including some impressions from yesterday’s excursion to Worms to see the game Worms vs. Mainz. As explained in yesterday’s post, this was the first round of the DFB Cup. The fun part of this Cup, which runs parallel to the regular soccer season and has nothing to do with the national championship, is that teams from the first, second, third and sometimes, as was the case with Worms, even fourth division play each other in a K.O. system (the match-ups are determined in a lottery after each round). So we had the pleasure to travel to Worms (which is even relatively pretty but I would have never though of going there, had Mainz not played there) and watch Mainz take on a fourth division team–not really a fair contest, we thought. But we were pleasantly surprised! Worms actually played very well for the first half of the game, their stadium was not as crappy and small as we thought it would be (12.000 people is pretty good for division four) and the atmosphere was great. Mainz ultimately won 6:1 (1:1 after the first period), which was mainly due to the fact that Worms had attacked like crazy in the first 30 minutes, obviously failing to notice that the temperature had risen to over 90 degrees. So, after 30 minutes they started to get tired and in their frustraton began to do the next best thing to playing a fast-paced game of soccer: they kicked the crap out of the Mainz players. Result: more yellow cards than I could keep track of and two red cards, which meant that Worms had to play the entire second period two men down. Consequently, the rest of the game was a little more relaxed for Mainz, as well as for the fans, who began paying attention to other things than the game, as you will see below. I promised you pictures but I figured I should use that video function on my camera I always neglect and videotape some scenes. They are obviously poor in quality and I only uploaded three of them on Youtube but I am sure you can get an idea of what went on there yesterday.

The first clip is just to give you an idea of the relatively good atmosphere even in this small stadium–well, there is always lots of fun wherever Mainz fans are (there were about 5000 of them yesterday and we were obviously standing in the Mainz block, so this is what you see here).

The second clip shows the most popular people on the field during the second period: firefighters. As it was insanely hot and people were dropping like flies due to the heat (ok, and the alcohol) the Mainz fans began chanting for water, which the Worms fire department solved by opening their fire hoses on the main fan block–and that for the entire half time and the second period of the game! I have more water-fun clips but this one should suffice for the moment.

The last clip shows what went on during the last 20 minutes of the game. As Mainz continued to score on Worms the fans concentrated on celebrating their new friends the firefighters. Here a “Humba” for the firefighters (sadly not in its entirety–I missed the h, the u and the m), followed by “we want to see you dance” chants. They did not dance but I assume this was the happiest day of the year for those few firefighters–not just because they were the stars of the game but also because I am pretty sure that in this small town they were never allowed to use that much water throughout their entire careers.

Day 176: The Last Week

Dear all,

I have been a bad blogger again. So sorry. The reason for my longer absence was sadly not connected to sunshine, lakes and beer but to an insane writing load. I was a good boy, though and finished a dissertation chapter, began revising the first two chapters, wrote an article that will hopefully be accepted for an edited collection to be published in Germany and am at the moment in the process of writing another article for a collection and preparing an article that will hopefully be part of a 2008 special issue of Antipode. So, lots on my plate. The positive aspect of all this is that the article I am writing at the moment is on the TV show Lost (reading the show as a mediation and at times critique of a specific post-9/11 structure of feeling), which is a fun piece to write. I have to admit, throwing some theory at pop-culture every once in a while is quite therapeutic in between all the high-theory “high-culture” stuff I usually have to work on. This still does not mean that I generally condone the practice of cultural studies but I do see the necessity of engaging with mass culture on a very serious level, as culture in general is the realm in which political opinions and subjectivities are not only formed but also proliferated and contested. Such is the nature of contemporary capitalism as it dialectically interacts with its sociocultural dimension. (Hence, I do not disagree with cultural studies’ object of study–I disagree with the method–well, I can get on board with some Birmingham School stuff but US CS, as well as Australian CS, are methodologically, if not ideologically, often quite suspect.)

Be that as it may, I have not been sleeping a lot, haven’t been social (including blogging) and I think my dog is getting mad at me as well for not playing with him as much as I should. We usually start the day with a big fight in the yard (if you were able to see my forearms and my hands during the times I am home you would be able to imagine what that looks like). Since I have not been able to do that lately he is more and more often directing his early morning energy at my shoes (he does not destroy them, no, he’s a good, albeit passive-aggressive doggie–he just hides them in the garden). Today, however, I will allow myself half a day of social activity and since I have to be very careful in what kinds of activities I invest my precious time I chose one that is as “social” as it gets: after doing some more writing, my brother and I will drive to Worms, which is where Mainz is playing their first round of the DFB Cup today. Those two teams have been hating each other with a passion for decades now and it promises to be quite an event. Should be fun. I’ll take some pictures and put them on flickr tomorrow.

Oh and a piece of good news: I might be done with my dissertation fairly soon! (Well, relatively speaking–I mean the “soon” as defined by grad-student conceptions of time.) I kinda have a love/hate relationship with that thought, though. I like the idea of being done. However, being done soon is a result of my dissertation director telling me to drop the planned third part of the dissertation, as it is too long already. Part three, she says, could be extended into a separate project, which is a nice idea. However, I really wanted to write that part, had been looking forward to writing it since about February and had it practically all spelled out in terms of extensive notes etc. While I agree with the decision (I already have about 300 pages, excluding intro and conclusion, and have one more chapter to write) this is quite a change in attitude for me. Up until a few days ago my motto was: “I’ll write you–even if it kills me!” (yes, indicating a fight against my dissertation that has become quite personal and at this point resembles more some form of contact sport than a writing project). So, now I only have to write one more chapter, which will happen soon and then revise and polish the already completed ones. After that I’ll be done. Wow. Granted, the revision process will still be a lot of work, take a long time and I’ll be changing a number of things and adding theoretical texts, but it is still a very different feeling compared to the rush of constantly producing new stuff. Well, I am sure I won’t get bored. There is still the psychological torture-fest that is the job market, which will begin in the middle of September. No rest for the wicked.

Day 169: Gary Busey’s Teeth

 gary-busey.jpg

A four day blogging break. Wow. I just realized that I have indeed not blogged for four days. I will give you two possible reasons for this and you can choose the one that is more to your liking: a) I have been lying on a beach, getting a tan, doing some occasional surfing and spending the rest of the day being fed seedless grapes by Donald Rumsfeld, or b) I have been so stressed out during the last few days that I did not have the nerve to write something, since I have been pulling all-nighters in order to meet writing deadlines and each and every word I would have posted would have been pissy.

>No, Donald, I am writing a blog entry. Be quiet, go sit over there and stop telling other people how much smarter you are when it comes to the correct way of feeding grapes to people in a foreign country. I’ll tell you when I’m ready for my foot massage. NO! That’s a BAD Donald!<

Sorry. It’s so hard to find good staff these days. As I was saying, I have been writing a lot of stuff lately, which makes this suposed vacation quite exhausting. I’m glad when the semester finally starts again and I can relax while grading papers.

What else has happened? Let’s see: they ruined the Tour de France for me (well, at this point it has become quite funny, actually–in an insane laughter, “we’re all going to die!” kind of way)–I gotta say: all of this doping-witchhunt weirdness should be stopped and they should legalize it. Then it would just be up to a few weenies left who fetishize being “clean” (treehuggers on bikes, basically–and we all know never to trust a hippie) to step up and get with the doping business. Yes, your testicles will shrink but from the limited bicycling experience I have I believe it is safe to say that those things are a nuisance in that sport anyway. So, there we go. Problem solved.

Hmmm… maybe that was too sarcastic. Sorry. I also generally like hippies, despite the John Lydon dictum. I even saw my first jogging hippie a while ago. That again was disappointing. The long hair and beard swaying in sync with the rythmic flow of the siren-like music of the ultra-commodifier called body cult. Sad. But strangely energizing.

Huh… not a lot else happened. Oh, I can share with you a line from yesterday’s chapter, or rather the claim that sets up the discussion of the second half of the chapter (hyper-vague summary: class and race throughout US history). Maybe that line is worth discussing:

“upward-bound class mobility is anti-American.”

Do with this what you will.

Finally, I would like to come back to the Tom Cruise post from a few days ago and to some of the comments made in response to it, stressing one aspect of the post that did not get enough attention: Gary Busey. He is fantastic. He acts. Well. He smiles. Like a God. I want his teeth. Once I can afford to get them, I will singularly sleep in 30-minute increments for the rest of my life, just so that I can brush my teeth more often before and after bed. Gary Busey. Wow.

Also: I miss The Deadliest Catch. I haven’t had TV for almost two months now. Surprisingly, I survived. Now I think I am starting to be scared of my TV. Since yesterday I am also scared of giraffes–well, the rear half at least. Not sure why. Everything from the shoulders on (in direction of the giraffe butt) is scary.

And: today I decided not to like hydroculture potting soil/stones. They are too light when you pick them up. This confuses me and I really cannot afford to become any more confused than I am at this point. Oh, and just to make sure that bunny isn’t losing sleep: I like AAA batteries again.