Bezirk [1] in Berlin© – 45:  July 28, 2013

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU WONDER…

Under the “Everything Old is New Again” front, we’ve been watching the new “Hawaii 5-0” and it occurred to us that maybe we should look up the original version, too.  We have definitely been enjoying the old one—especially a recent episode that involved a GI on R&R in Honolulu, which reminded us of our trip there while Harvey was in Vietnam in 1968.  But sometimes you see things on old TV shows that just make you scratch your head.  One of the episodes had Ricardo Montalban, a Latin guy with a pronounced Spanish accent, who, with the help of a little make-up, played a Japanese mobster.  What was particularly odd was that even the old “Hawaii 5-0” used a lot of Asian actors to play Asian roles (go figure!), to include two of the four key roles in the show.  So why was it so hard to find an Asian actor to play the role of a Japanese mobster?  Did Ricardo just have a hankering to be in Hawaii 5-0?  Is Fantasy Island just a hop, skip, and a jump from Honolulu?  I kept expecting Hervé Villechaize to pop up and say, “Da plane!  Da plane!” [But maybe, if we keep watching, Hervé will show up!  In fact, the shows did have a bit of an overlap, with Hawaii 5-0 running from 1968 – 1980 and Fantasy Island running from 1977 – 1984.]

 WISH I’D HAD MY CAMERA

Today I saw a guy jogging.  Nothing particularly unusual about that, of course, except that this is, after all, Kreuzberg and you rarely see what you expect to see.  This guy must have been at least 6’6” and skinny (as you’d expect a jogger to be).  He was dressed totally in black, which made his long, white beard even more dramatic as it parted in the middle and flowed over his shoulders in the breeze.

 SO, WHO WON THE “TAKE OLDAMERICANLADYINBERLIN AND HER HUSBAND OUT TO DINNER” CONTEST?

 Bet you didn’t even know there was such a contest, did you?  Well, guess what?  Neither did I.  But nonetheless, there was indeed a winner – Ann from San Diego.  It turns out that Ann had been planning a trip to Germany and ended up coming through Berlin.  While she was planning her trip, she came across my blog and contacted me for some info on Berlin.  We traded e‑mails for awhile and when she got here, she ended up taking me and my husband out for dinner at a great Italian restaurant in the neighborhood.  What a cool way to meet!!  I think I’ll continue the contest, although it doesn’t work like other contests:

First, the winners are self-determined (all you have to do is tell me when you’re coming to Berlin);

  • Second, there’s no cut-off date for entries (except, of course, this offer expires when I do); and
  • Third, the number of winners is wide open (sort of – not to exceed 365 a year)!

How cool is that?

HOW HOT IS IT?

 It’s 96 – too hot for earrings!!  In all fairness, I have 3 holes in each ear, so I wear a total of 6 earrings at a time.  It adds up, you know!

 WELL, IT DOES MAKE SENSE, AFTER YOU THINK ABOUT IT AWHILE…

 You know how when people lose things, they put up signs on lamp posts, telephone poles, fences, etc.?  Well, here in Berlin they also tape them to the sidewalk.  That didn’t make any sense to me, given that the wear and tear is a bit rougher on such signs than when they’re up on telephone poles, but there is a certain logic to it.  For one thing, in Germany, they say you can tell when someone is from Berlin, because they’re always looking down to avoid stepping in dog crap.  But there’s a second reason – the person who may have found what you lost probably found it because he or she is the kind of person who looks down at the sidewalk when walking, so you definitely want to target the side-walk lookers, don’t you?

 BE STILL MY HEART!

 My 7-year-old, German-as-a-first-language grandson did something fabulous today!  He corrected my English!  AND he was right!  I told him to tie his shoes and he told me that I should have told him to tie his shoe, because only one shoe had loose shoe laces.  But, as I type this, I realize he didn’t catch me on a bigger mistake, which was that I should have referred to his shoe laces, rather than his shoe.  Still, I’m pretty proud that he’s paying attention to things like this!!

 YOU DON’T MISS YOUR WATER UNTIL…

 …a pipe breaks and you’re told you’ll be without water for at least 4 days.  So, we are indeed grateful for the following things (none of which existed when I was a child):

  •  Ready supply of bottled water
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Butt wipes

Further, we’re grateful that we have no small children (particularly none in diapers) and that we don’t somehow have to make ourselves presentable to go to work every day.  And, since we live in a building that’s more than 200 years old and originally had lead water pipes, we are glad to see that at least some of those pipes are being replaced (hopefully, with pipes made from materials that are substantially less harmful than lead—and I did see some new copper pipes lying around).  And, of course, since our heat depends on hot water, we’re glad this didn’t happen in the winter, where we’d be not only dirty and thirsty, but also cold!  Plus, we have an excuse for eating out!  Admittedly, this “bright side” of things was much brighter on Day One of going without water; we’re now on Day Three, and the “looking on the bright side” thing is not necessarily doing the trick for our annoyance about the situation any more.  [But, as it turns out, the water came on during Day Three instead of Day Four – so, for THAT we’re definitely grateful.]

DON’T THINK SO…

Ordinarily when I see something odd in the grocery store, I’ll buy it.  For example, the ever-popular Corn Worms (which, as it turns out, are only marginally less disgusting that the image that pops into your head when you see these words together).  But I declined to buy something called “Original Bavarian BBQ Sauce” (or, actually, the German equivalent of those terms).  Why?  Because it’s really dicey when Germans try to interpret an American dish.  Besides, being from Texas, this would be messing with something really sacred and I’m pretty sure I’d regret it.

PRETENTIOUS OR ESSENTIAL?

Some years ago, we decided to be pretentious and buy a pair of silver napkin rings, with our names engraved on them.  For decades, they sat in the buffet, gathering tarnish.  I thought I had lost them in the move, but, as it turns out, I’d packed them with the Christmas ornaments, which had gone unused for our first 2 Christmases here.  When they turned up, we decided that we really must use them.  It’s a bit preposterous using them with cheap paper napkins, but this isn’t the first preposterous thing we’ve ever done and it’s highly unlikely to be the last.  But, pretentious or preposterous, these napkin rings are becoming essential.  Why?  Because they have our names on them.  Just the other morning, I put mine in front of Harvey’s plate.  Fortunately, this didn’t confuse him—he knew right away that he wasn’t Jaton’.  So, as long as ONE of us knows who he or she is, we’re in pretty good shape.

USE IT UP, MAKE IT LAST, FIX IT UP, OR DO WITHOUT

If you see a clown walking around our neighborhood, it might well be the oldamericanladyinberlin.  It’s a long story.  Here’s a bit of background.  I hate to run out of things, so when I get low on things, I add them to the shopping list.  And the threshold for “low” is variable, of course.  If you have 8 ounces of salt, you’re not running low; if you have only 8 ounces of milk, you are definitely running low.  With makeup, it’s really hard to gauge what “low” is.  For instance, if you have a teaspoon of blusher, you’re not low.  Well, I’ve got substantially less than that, so I bought some more.  But the old blusher is lasting for freakin’ ever!  And I want to use the NEW blusher!  I could throw it away – really, the amount that’s left is about the size of 4 grains of rice.  But my parents were raised during the Depression, so I can’t waste anything.  [Well, actually, my Dad was the one who was really impressed by the Depression; his parents had built up a nice plumbing business and they lost everything.  Nobody on the maternal side of my family even noticed the depression.  That’s because they were share-croppers.  Before the Depression hit, they were dirt-poor; they started out with nothing, and after the Depression, they still had all of it left.  It was all the same to them.]  So, I can’t throw this away, but I CAN use it up, and the more I use, the faster I’ll use it up.  So, if you see someone who looks like a clown in Kreuzberg, it’s probably me.  [But, I forgot – Kreuzberg is the neighborhood where looking like a clown is not something that’s gonna draw anybody’s attention….  In fact, when we see a guy in a suit, we ask him if he’s lost.]

ANOTHER WAY TO TELL YOU’RE IN AN OLD PERSON’S HOUSE

When an indispensable kitchen tool is a magnifying glass….

SIGNS

  • Someone is filming a movie in Berlin, so there are help-wanted signs all over advertising for folks to fill the various jobs associated with making a movie.  This isn’t particularly unusual.  What is a tad unusual is the film’s title – The Nature of Oklahoma.  I wouldn’t think that Berlin would be the locale for such a movie.  But then I checked out the “movie” and it’s even more bizarre than I had first imagined.  http://englishmaninberlin.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/guest-post-training-day-with-the-nature-theatre-of-oklahoma-by-pat-oday/
  • Berlin is also a very musical city.  In addition to German musicians of all sorts, lots of American artists also perform here.  And there are also lots of bands with interesting names.  The sign for one of these bands caught my eye – The Swingin’ Utters.  And I kind wish I hadn’t seen that sign; that’s an image I can’t get out of my head!!

WHEN YOU’RE RUMMAGING AROUND IN THE FRIDGE…

pay attention and be careful not to mistake the jar of vanilla yogurt for the jar of Miracle Whip.  Otherwise, you’ll have quite a surprise when you bite down into your sandwich of salami, cheese, pickle, and mustard.

 


[1] ‘Bezirk’ is German for ‘neighborhood.’

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