27 November 2006


So I was just sitting here responding to emails when all of the sudden, out of the clear blue sky, I thought of the old TV series "Alien Nation." You know, the one with the people (aliens, I mean) with leopard spots on their heads. When I said the title to myself, it dawned on me: alienation. How could I be so stupid? Poor aliens.

13 November 2006

The Monkey Wrangler part 2

This is half of my dream pet.

I rarely vote for anything, but I like the idea of putting this question to the polls.

"Do you think animals have self-consciousness?"

Please reply to this post and vote. Please give a reason for your vote.

The Dangers of Swinging Zippers

Here’s a rundown of Europe. First, Germany. We stayed with my awesome sister Elisabeth, who showed us Berlin in spite of her busy schedule. What a great town. I love you Lisa—and thanks for letting us sleep in Nikki Sudden’s old bed while you slept on the ground! And thanks for moving out of your scary old place before we visited you! I don’t know why this struck me as funny, but in Germany, there are droves of German Shepherds. I’d laugh and point every time I saw one. Man, don’t be so predictable! To be fair, we also saw a French Poodle our first day in France. That pretty much sums up Germany.

On to Geneva. Don’t get me started. I want to move to Montreux and join the circus. My talent would be . . . taming lions. Daniel, duh.
We really did see a circus. I went mainly because of the prospect of primates. We almost got kicked out because I was videotaping the performance in spite of the apparently obvious request (in French) to not do so. Oh, and since I forgot to bring some hiking shorts, I was forced to purchase some capris (I prefer “man-pris”) for 50 euros. That’s getting close to $70. It was that or the pseudo-speedo.
Another highlight of Geneva: me using the reflection on the window of a really nice car to pop a zit while the owner of the car was, unbeknownst to me, approaching the car. And me in my man-pris. Oh, the embarrassment.

Paris was pastries, cathedrals, and museums. I also have some incredible footage of a guy sitting on his karaoke machine in the subway, reverb cranked to full blast, closing his eyes while belting Elton John tunes—with the heaviest French accent possible. I still haven’t nailed down the reason why I cry every time I watch the clip.
It was great to spend time with some old friends (Bap and Mer) and spend time making new friends.

I think they should convert Rome into a theme park. Luckily, the insane crowds weren’t so infuriating that they overshadowed the breathtaking art and architecture. I don’t care how many pictures you’ve seen. Actually seeing Rome expands one’s sense of what is humanly possible. Another thing it did (and Paris did this too) was draw as clear a line as possible between places and things that are meaningful and those that lack meaning.

Highlight from the airports: When we arrived in Germany, we were taxied from the plane to the terminal in a hydraulic-bus. The bus was able to raise itself to the level of the plane exit, board the passengers, and then lower itself to a reasonable level. The hydraulics, however, made for a squirrelly ride. Since all the seats were taken, I was standing up in the aisle, one backpack at my feet and the other on my back. After a particularly large lurch, I happened to notice that the woman sitting to my left wore the most horrified expression I’ve ever seen on a human. Her eyes bulging, her jaw clenched, her nostrils flaring. I watched her for a moment and noticed that every time the bus swayed and my backpack got within a foot from her face, her face would scrunch up and she would violently pull her head back.
“Is everything alright?” I asked.
“Is my backpack frightening you?”
She sighed deeply and then nodded to the man beside her. “Last time we were on one of these things a zipper from someone’s backpack whipped him right in the eye. He had to go to the emergency room and it ruined our trip.”
The man next to her, clearly nervous and with perspiration on his brow, tapped his thick glasses and said, “I have to wear these now. And I had to wear a patch for a few weeks.”
“Sounds pretty traumatic,” I said.
“It was.”
“Would you like me to remove the backpack?”
“Yes, please,” they replied in unison, visibly relieved.
Kris and I are now acutely aware of the dangers of swinging zippers.

Favorite quotes from the trip:

“Kris, I’m glad you don’t urinate in stairwells.” – Daniel

“Oh, yes, the fountains . . . uh . . . otherwise known as trees.” – Kris

“Boo.” -- Daniel, whispering in Kristen’s ear in the middle of the night, for reasons unknown to him.

Daniel: “I wish I had a German-English dictionary!”
Kris: “I wish I had an Italy sweatshirt.”
Daniel: “An Italy sweatshirt would be extremely useful right now.”

“Do I have disco butt?” – Baptiste
(FYI, “disco butt” is a condition of the pants, brought on by excessive wear, in which the fabric of the bum region takes on a shiny, disco-era quality.)

“Can someone please urinate in my nostril?” – Elisabeth, referring to one particularly ubiquitous aroma in Berlin.

“Yeah! You spread your righteous seed!” – Elisabeth, spoken to a spider. We were walking in a cemetery when we noticed a web that was beautiful, ambitious, and in a highly conspicuous location. The spider stood defiantly in the center of the web.