Archives for the month of: February, 2012

My first rock ‘n’ roll memories are from the 1960s group, the Monkees. I just learned that Davy Jones, the Monkees lead singer, died today at the age of 66.  


The Monkees started out as a fictional band assembled for a TV series of the same name, a sort of goofy children’s sitcom with one or two songs performed during each episode. Eventually, the Monkees succeeded beyond television and became a “real” rock ‘n’ roll band.

The Monkees had a number of hits including Last Train to Clarksville, I’m a Believer, (I’m Not Your) Steppin Stone, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Daydream Believer, and of course, the Theme from the Monkees TV show. The Monkees were originally modeled after the Beatles. Yet, for a short time, they were actually more popular. I have fond memories of running home from elementary school to watch their TV show in re-runs. In fact, I still have the Monkees Greatest Hits album. 

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My first rock ‘n’ roll memories are from the 1960s group, the Monkees. I just learned that Davy Jones, the Monkees lead singer, died today at the age of 66.  


The Monkees started out as a fictional band assembled for a TV series of the same name, a sort of goofy children’s sitcom with one or two songs performed during each episode. Eventually, the Monkees succeeded beyond television and became a “real” rock ‘n’ roll band.

The Monkees had a number of hits including Last Train to Clarksville, I’m a Believer, (I’m Not Your) Steppin Stone, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Daydream Believer, and of course, the Theme from the Monkees TV show. The Monkees were originally modeled after the Beatles. Yet, for a short time, they were actually more popular. I have fond memories of running home from elementary school to watch their TV show in re-runs. In fact, I still have the Monkees Greatest Hits album. 

Last March, Knut, the world famous polar bear living at the Berlin Zoo, unexpectedly died after he collapsed into his enclosure’s swimming pool. He was suffering from encephalitis and was only four years old. His death was mourned world wide.

Now there is Siku, a baby polar bear living in Denmark. Siku is considered a possible successor to Knut’s fame. Like Knut, Siku was also rejected by his mother at birth and raised by zookeepers.

“Knutmania” spanned the globe and spawned toys, DVDs, books, and all kinds of paraphernalia. I even have a debit card with Knut’s picture on it. Knut made millions for the Berlin Zoo; and perhaps, Siku will do the same for the Danish animal park where he resides.
Here are some of my current music favorites
Great visuals from Eric Hutchinson. 



Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song
NI
Nina is Still Going Strong


Believe it or not, Pakistan has a long tradition of political tolerance and freedom of speech. People in the West often have preconceive notions about Islamic countries. We often equate Pakistan with violence, drugs, and intolerance. But what about humor? Here is Saad Haroon performing his version of “Pretty Woman,” a song made famous by Roy Orbison.  Mr. Haroon is a Pakistani actor and Stand Up comedian who uses satire to poke fun a social customs and politics. He performs in English across Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Watch this very funny video. 

Warning:  This post makes more sense if you know a little German. Nevertheless, I hope this post is enjoyable to non-German speakers as well. 

Like all languages, German has its share of slang and dialects. One of the first things I encountered in Berlin is the prevalence of non-standard German spoken throughout the city. At school, non-Germans learn Hochdeutsch or standard German. However, when actually living in Germany, it adds interest if you have some familiarity with non-standard German, especially if you want to make sense of the language of the urban youth. 

Kiezdeutsch is the language spoken by many young people living in multi-ethnic communities in Berlin such as Kreuzberg, a neighborhood not far from where I live. “Kiez” is a word common in Berlin that means a district within a neighborhood. Thus, Kiezdeutsch literally means “Neighborhood German.” Kiezdeutsch is a kind of German “jive.”

I first encountered Kiezdeutsch at the Kreuzberg U-bahn station. I overheard a young German tell her mother on a cell phone, “Ich geh jetzt Karstadt” instead of “Ich gehe jetzt zu Karstadt” (I’m going to Karstadt [Department Store]). During the same conversation she also said, “Ich bin Kotti” (meaning “I’m Kotti”). At first, I thought her name was “Kotti,” but in context, I eventually realized that the young woman had meant to say, “Ich bin an der Kottbusser Tor U-bahn.” (I am at the Kottbusser Tor Subway station.)

I often hear Kiezdeutsch on the streets, in shops and on the subway. Most people assume that speakers of Kiezdeutsch are immigrants or their children. But that’s not necessarily true. Kiezdeutsch is spoken by many urban city dwellers, including young people of German origin, and is often portrayed in movies as menacing jargon. 

Most experts agree that Kiezdeutsch is not a dialect, but a style of speaking. In Kiezdeutsch, word order is less strict. You often hear phrases like: “Morgen ich geh Kino,” instead of “Morgen gehe ich ins Kino”(Tomorrow, I will go to the movies).

Also, articles or endings of words are often dropped. For example,”musstu” is derived from “du muss” meaning “you should.” Words also get combined and shortened. “Es gibt” (there is) becomes “gibs,” and “lass uns mal” (let us) becomes “lassma.” Kiezdeutsch also borrows many Arabic and Turkish words. 

Listening and even understanding this form of urban speech adds yet another facet to your Berlin experience. 
Warning:  This post makes more sense if you know a little German. Nevertheless, I hope this post is enjoyable to non-German speakers as well. 

Like all languages, German has its share of slang and dialects. One of the first things I encountered in Berlin is the prevalence of non-standard German spoken throughout the city. At school, non-Germans learn Hochdeutsch or standard German. However, when actually living in Germany, it adds interest if you have some familiarity with non-standard German, especially if you want to make sense of the language of the urban youth. 

Kiezdeutsch is the language spoken by many young people living in multi-ethnic communities in Berlin such as Kreuzberg, a neighborhood not far from where I live. “Kiez” is a word common in Berlin that means a district within a neighborhood. Thus, Kiezdeutsch literally means “Neighborhood German.” Kiezdeutsch is a kind of German “jive.”

I first encountered Kiezdeutsch at the Kreuzberg U-bahn station. I overheard a young German tell her mother on a cell phone, “Ich geh jetzt Karstadt” instead of “Ich gehe jetzt zu Karstadt” (I’m going to Karstadt [Department Store]). During the same conversation she also said, “Ich bin Kotti” (meaning “I’m Kotti”). At first, I thought her name was “Kotti,” but in context, I eventually realized that the young woman had meant to say, “Ich bin an der Kottbusser Tor U-bahn.” (I am at the Kottbusser Tor Subway station.)

I often hear Kiezdeutsch on the streets, in shops and on the subway. Most people assume that speakers of Kiezdeutsch are immigrants or their children. But that’s not necessarily true. Kiezdeutsch is spoken by many urban city dwellers, including young people of German origin, and is often portrayed in movies as menacing jargon. 

Most experts agree that Kiezdeutsch is not a dialect, but a style of speaking. In Kiezdeutsch, word order is less strict. You often hear phrases like: “Morgen ich geh Kino,” instead of “Morgen gehe ich ins Kino”(Tomorrow, I will go to the movies).

Also, articles or endings of words are often dropped. For example,”musstu” is derived from “du muss” meaning “you should.” Words also get combined and shortened. “Es gibt” (there is) becomes “gibs,” and “lass uns mal” (let us) becomes “lassma.” Kiezdeutsch also borrows many Arabic and Turkish words. 

Listening and even understanding this form of urban speech adds yet another facet to your Berlin experience. 

It’s still February but it seems like spring. Hopefully, winter is over. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.Today seemed almost magical. Here are some pictures from Ogunquit, Maine. Ogunquit is a beach community about 35 miles south of Portland. If I do say so myself, these pictures are good enough to be postcards. 

Ogunquit Beach
Beautiful Maine Coastline
Ogunquit, Maine
Photographers taking a picture through a window frame. How artistic!

It’s still February but it seems like spring. Hopefully, winter is over. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.Today seemed almost magical. Here are some pictures from Ogunquit, Maine. Ogunquit is a beach community about 35 miles south of Portland. If I do say so myself, these pictures are good enough to be postcards. 

Ogunquit Beach
Beautiful Maine Coastline
Ogunquit, Maine
Photographers taking a picture through a window frame. How artistic!

From the Bride of Frankenstein
February 14th was Valentine’s Day and it got me thinking about romance in the movies. Surprisingly, there are few movies that can really convey the feeling of romance and love on the big screen. Here are my favorite 14 movies that succeed in showing us the joys and sorrows of love. Notably absent are some well-known movies, including Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Love Story, Annie Hall, and Doctor Zhivago

Amelie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain) (2001)
A fantasy fable about longing and failure. Set in Paris, Ameliestars the adorable Audrey Tautou who sets out to help others but is unable to help herself.

Gray Matters (2006)
A screwball comedy with a twist: finding love when you least expect it.

Away From Her (2006)
A movie that is wonderfully acted and full of emotional potency. Can love survive the loss of memory and the onset of disease?

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
This movie has it all: haunting musical score, crisp cinematography and marvelous chemistry between Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney in the title roles. This is a movie for the romantic at heart. 

The Lady Eve (1941)
A brilliant film combining witty dialogue and slapstick comedy, splendidly acted by Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. Simply a classic.

Roman Holiday (1953)
Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn star in this tale of romance and adventure set in Rome. The movie broke the conventions of its time with its “modern” and unconventional ending.

Brief Encounter (1945)
What does it mean to love? Can love survive the confines of marriage? This movie is still relevant today.

Enchanted(2007)
A Disney film that is delightful and surprisingly entertaining. It leaves you singing and smiling. 

Atonement(2007)
A story of tragic love during the second world war. How a lie can change everything. This is a tear jerker!

Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
Starring the beautiful Catherine Deneuve, this movie still enchants us with its beautiful cinematography and music of the 1960s.

Shall We Dance (1996)
Do not confused this Japanese film with the awful American version. This movie is about a man’s personal discoveries through dance.

Sunrise (1927)
A silent film that harmonizes German expressionism and Hollywood romanticism. Part psychological thriller and part love story, this movie could have been made in 2012. A must see!


Swept Away (1975)
A study of romance and class warfare. In Italian and directed by Lina Wertmüller.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
A romantic western about a secretive love affair between two cowboys. Yes, there are gay cowboys.