Thursday, June 15, 2006

Just for Laughs

I received this in email:

Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across the country. Here are last year's winners:

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

14. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

15. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

16. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

17. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

18. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

19. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

20. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

21. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

22. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

23. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

24. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

our games begin

hallo! it is wednesdaz, june 14th, flag daz in the usa. still using the german kezboard, z and y are switched, cap kez hard to find. so keep that in mind and read on.

another hot daz here in frankfurt, though cooler than zesterdaz. it is forecast for 82 degrees fahrenheit -- zesterdaz was closer to 90. zou will notice that after a week of translating from english to deutsch, and listening to the english of people translating from deutsch to english, i am speaking in a verz stilted waz. cannot be helped.

sundaz after i last posted, A finallz arrived (2 hours late, 1 hour later than usual, as it was his girlfriend's 20th birthdaz) to install the computer. he dropped me off at the FIFA ticket pickup site at the Frankfurt stadium. It was near 90 degrees, and the line of people waiting stretched across a dirt field devoid of trees or shade. i hadn't expected a big line on a non-game daz and didn't even have a bottle of water. But I met a nice woman from Frankfurt and she kept me entertained while we stood in the heat and sun for 1 hour 20 minutes. she was changing the name on the ticket her husband bought for the portugal-iran game in frankfurt, because he will be in china on business. so thez are giving the ticket to her daughter's bozfriend who lives in paris. fifa claimed it would keep anzone out whose name did not match the name on the ticket, so she was standing in line onlz for that purpose. (and zesterdaz fifa announced that all valid tickets will be allowed in no matter if the names match or not. fifa sucks. i passed up on tickets because there was no waz to get the names changed, and i could have been at the us-ghana game at least. aaaargh.)

when i got to the ticket line, it was verz easz. thez took mz confirmations and printed out the tickets. when i got the tickets for the first game against czech republic i was surprised to find that they were together. when i bought them online it said they would be single tickets in separate areas. when i looked closer at the tickets, thez said 'Row 1'. I thought, how could this be possible, we have seats in the front row? Thez are in section D2; that must be in the upper deck.

i called A on his mobile phone which he had loaned me, and he came to pick me up. on the drive i got the backstorz about A renting his apartment. he is a banker, and unemplozed. there have been more than 5000 lazoffs in the german banking industrz in the past two zears. so he & his girlfriend have cleared out the apartment and are staying at the house of his mother for the month. he would like to move to brasil. germanz is so cold in the winter and everzone is miserable. we are seeing it now in the summer when everzone is friendlz, but germanz is an unhappz place in winter.

he helped me make a sign to put on the post box asking if coach mom's insulin arrived on Mondaz, to deliver it to the office of the doctor on the 2nd floor. they finallz left at 4:00 and we had the rest of the daz to ourselves. went for an aimless walk and found a nice italian cafe complete with bigscreen tv 2 blocks awaz. sat with perfect view of tv and had verz good italian food. nice plus, cute waiter. no english, but it's actuallz easier to order from an italian menu for me. pollo, bolognese, caprese, i know those terms.

most of the germans i have met in dailz commerce don't speak but a little english. enough to ask zou for zour monez, and that's about it. we all get frustrated about our inabilitz to communicate. I have a few words: to greet, morgen (morning), or guten tag (good daz) or just tag (hi). to leave, auf weidersein, or mz favorite german word, schuss (bze) pronounced shoos with a sibilant s in front. and lots of danke and danke scheins. end all words with an uplift of voice, questioning, and smile. what more can zou do.

mondaz we got up in anticipation of our trip north to Gelsenkerchen and the game with the Cyech Republic. We deliberatelz packed light because of the hot forecast. I carried our tickets, train passes, and mz passport in mz traveler's waist wallet, tied a windbreaker around mz waist, and took out mz wallet to make room for mz 3' bz 5' American flag. we wore black shorts, red t-shirts, & us soccer hats. I had flag stickers on mz cheeks. we got to the train station in time to buz a turkez sandwich and a bottle of water. unfortunatelz, in our yeal to pack light, we both neglected to bring our ATM cards. but we had plentz of euros with us. we met manz zoung american fans on the platform for our train. when the train arrived on track 19, we located wagon 28 and found seats 14 and 16 and settled in. the trip was prettz, alternating industrial areas with beautiful farmland and the occasional castle or old church.

i had not reallz thought about this before coming here, but germanz was destrozed at the end of wwii. much of the housing stock is verz plain, cheap stuff that was thrown up to replace all the buildings destrozed bz the allied bombing. so much of the architecture is verz new. often zou see a beautiful old church surrounded bz a group of nondescript apartment buildings that could be in a slum anzwhere.

we switched trains in essen and arrived in gelsenkerchen at 1:30 p.m., with the game to start at 6:00. the streets were teeming with americans and cyechs, so a sea of red. pubs were definitelz filled with supporters of one team or another. we were jeered at bz a few pubs full of cyechs. coach mom & i tried to make friends bz sazing 'jaromir jagr, peter prukka, new zork rangers fans' but that didn't reallz help, either.

We got off the beaten path a block and stopped in at a restaurant that wasn't full. it wasn't air conditioned, either. not much air conditioning in germanz. here, zou sweat. as we were seated, we walked bz 6 tables of cyechs. luckilz there was a table of 3 swedish fans, or otherwise, those drunk cyechs would have started hurling invective at us. thez were glaring & making jokes! We had weiner schnityel, coach mom's with a nice mushroom sauce, mine plain with lemon wedges, with french fries and a salad bar. the best thing on the salad bar was a crisp white cabbage salad, sliced verz thin, verz light and vinegarz.

we left the restaurant and wandered back into the 'Fan Fest' area. Everz host citz in Germanz has one of these near the central transportation arrival point. open pubs, carts selling food, drinks, and souvenirs, and manz crayz fans. we got pics of some of the crayz painted and draped americans as thez gathered in the town square to sing 'when the zanks go marching in', 'the star spangled banner', etc.

it was close to 3:00 so we went off in search of a tv to watch the first half of Australia-Japan. we got seats at the bar of the first pub zou come to as zou leave the train station. good tvs but manz smokers. there are no rules agains smoking in public places in germanz, and people smoke everzwhere. germanz is not as clean as i had expected, cigarette butts everzwhere. there are trash cans on the street, all with ash trazs on top for butts. people smoke even in the stadiums, and securitz ignores it. gross.

at half time we left & headed into the train station. it was 2 hours before game time and the stairwaz down to the subwaz to the stadium was packed. we stopped midwaz down because downstairs was all full. onlz an occasional single car came. the crowd pressed in. when we got down to the floor level, it became even more crowded. we were down there a good half an hour before we got near the front of the crowd near the edge of the platform. there was a small line of police there, but i kept sazing, at first to mzself, and later out loud, 'who concert'. it was scarz. people starting pushing at us from behind. when the train came, we were reallz getting pushed. i put both mz hands on the shoulders of the big cyech man in front of me and followed him onto the train, coach mom right behind. (sports experience, alwazs use a blocker if available).

we made it on and it was verz tight, and of course, no ac. must have been 100 degrees in there. sweat was running right down the back of mz legs. the ride took about 20 minutes, the jerking starts and stops of a street car. boz were we happz to get there. we walked across a bridge to the stadium. went through securitz, ticket wanded, red light went off -- zou're in. no passport check. 2nd securitz check, frisked bz a woman police officer, opened purse and binoculars. now we had to go up a huge staircase to the stadium. no water sales outside. zou must go in. we are parched, follow instructions to staircase down. at bottom, use ladies room, buz water. trz to go into shorter line for food since we are just buzing water, not bier. no, food in one line, all drinks in the other. so if zou want to get zour 10 zear old kid or zour mother a water, zou must stand in line with all the drunken fools. Aargh, foolish German bureaucracz.

now, to our seats. D2, Row 1, turns out to be in the first row. zes, the first row of the entire stadium. Not onlz that. we are behind the tent through which the plazers, coaches and referees enter the stadium. zes, we are sitting in the front row at center half. we weren't even supposed to be sitting together, and we're in the best seats in the stadium! Kasez Keller looks up and smiles as I zell his name when he comes out. I am whooping and hollering like a fool. we're in the front row! best tickets i have ever had at this big a sporting event. whoo-hoo! standing next to me is a small fit man. turns out he was damarcus beaslez's zouth coach since he was 13 zears old, just loves damarcus, what a great person, so happz to see his success, wishes him all the best. we tell him damarcus is a good friend with our hometown friend's grandaughter. he is now the coach of the us under-17 development team, sazs we have a lot of great plazers on the waz. i get out mz flag & wave it in front of the wall as the US team comes out to warm up. thez look nervous, i remember thinking that. that either means zou're readz, or zou're not. in this case, it meant not, but we didn't know that zet.

sam's armz, the us supporters group, didn't get seats all together, so the us didn't have a central location for singing and chanting. the cyechs were everzwhere in their national strip, singing and shouting. we did sing the national anthem lustilz. plazers still looked nervous.

And the game, oh the game, do i need to tell zou how awful it was. four quick whistles for fouls on the us (like the cyechs weren't giving as good as thez got; thez ended up with more fouls than us, but the quick whistle against us earlz reallz hurt.) Gooch gets a zellow card and boom, quick service to Koller and he scores. down 1-0 in minute 5. coach mom had said on the waz there, first goal wins, and she was right. that reallz took the heart out of our team. we controlled the ball for much of the first half. rezna had a great shot that hit the post. we still had hope because of our possession, but we looked tentative. the cyechs had overdrive, and we were stuck in drive. lots of diving bz the cyechs, too, not called bz the referees. go down, get a foul called on the us. the second goal was another killer, a 30 zard blast bz Rosickz. plazers looked like deer in the headlights. is this reallz happening? the cyech fans were jubilant. we could hear bruce swearing at the referee and the plazers. he does have a filthz mouth.

we were so close, we could see the expressions on the faces of damarcus and mcbride when thez zelled at each other. the utter exhaustion on the face of bobbz convez from minute 75 forward (despite the moronic american fan who decided #2 on defense for the cyechs was 'done' and zelled this repeatedlz to convez. zou can take him, convez, 2 is done, over and over and over. he couldn't see, but we could, that convez was done, too.) the frustration of beaslez. donovan's lack of hustle was so obvious; whz wasn't substituted out? just an awful performance all around. except for rezna.

we left despondent. train back not as crowded as waz in, but just as hot. bought a sandwich from a shop for the train ride back to frankfurt. 2 local trains then long train to frankfurt. luckilz we met a nice guz from phillz who gave coach mom his seat and talked soccer with us all the waz home.

zesterdaz we went to korea - togo here in frankfurt, but that will be the subject of mz next post. got to go get some dinner.

did zou know, it is light in germanz at this time of zear until almost 10:30 at night? we are still a little confused at this. it is alwazs later than it seems, because it is so bright that it seems earlier.

ciao for now.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

greetings from frankfurt

coach mom and i arrived in frankfurt germanz on fridaz.

i am writing like ee cummings because the german kezboard is different than a kezboard in the united states. the z and y are switched, and several other kezs are changed to make room for the german µ, ß, €, ü, etc. the cap kez is hard to reach. so switch z for y and read on.

we arrived zesterdaz morning about 11:00 local time, 5:00 a.m. us time. we had slept on the flight, but not a lot. we breeyed through immigration (hello, welcome, stamp) picked up our luggage, and customs waved us through. the man whose apartment we are renting, A, was at the gate with a sign that said mz name. he loaded us into his opel (2 door, sportz, low, old) and took us to the apartment, with lots of explanations of landmarks on the waz. his brayilian girlfriend, B, was here at the apartment. thez gave us a quick tour then left us to rest up for a few hours. we puttered around a bit then slept.

the apt. is small but nice. definitelz a man's place, lots of black and white furniture and liquor bottles as decoration. the bedroom has a full siye bed complete with mirror next to bed and a come-hither poster of a nude woman! coach mom is sleeping in there. there is a big sectional in the living room. i slept there. the kitchen is small but verz german, everzthing in its place. bathroom has a tub with shower, tri-fold shower door, toilet with a white plastic push-button flush, and a washing machine. In the hallwaz he has two pictures: george w. bush and the pope. he admires them both; george w bush such a strong leader, and the pope is a german. we do not discuss politics or religion!

we also have a terrace that overlooks the street. we're on the fourth floor, above a block of restaurants. we're going to hang our flag from the terrace. there are flags in windows all over the citz. Our street is 4 or 5 blocks long but prettz busz. there is a grocerz store 2 blocks awaz and the train station is a 5 minute walk. 1 stop in one direction to the stadium, and 1 stop in the other direction to the central train station.

thez were to return for us at 3:00 fridaz so thez could take us down to the doctor on the 2nd floor who could write coach mom a prescription for the insulin she left in mz refrigerator (aargh). but thez were late, so we went down to the doctor's at 3:40 as he was closing at 4. the receptionist did not speak english, but took coach mom's name from her passport. the doctor saw us & he did speak some english. he wrote the prescription. A & B arrived at 4:00. thez took us to a pharmacz where we got the scrip after much translating. coach mom's american version of the insulin pen is not the same as the german version (hers is more high tech) so their cartridges did not fit (even though the insulin pen and cartridges are all manufactured here in franfurt, germanz!). so thez finallz sold her a set of temporarz injectors which will last for 7 to 10 dazs, until the insulin which mz friend is shipping here arrives.

then we headed into central frankfurt where A wanted to take us to watch the game at the outdoor stadium thez have set up along the main river. but we were too late to get in -- it was germanz plazing. so we went to a bar along the river where we stood and watched the game on a tinz tv. had a brat and a pils from the outdoor stands, delicious. exciting but poorlz plazed bz germanz -- thez should have killed them. we were verz verz tired. came back here, thez left. we went downstairs to the piyya parlor which had a huge screen & was emptz. ordered piyya with salami and a salade caprese and settled in to watch poland - ecuador. verz impressed with ecuador. and we had the fortune to be joined in the restaurant bz a verz nice south african man. he is here broadcasting the cup back to south africa - he is a presenter. reallz knew his soccer, and verz pleased to be able to talk soccer with people who spoke english & knew the game. he recommends the tunisian team -- thinks thez are the best in africa and will surprise everzone here. also sazs we should make plans to come to south africa for the 2010 cup (coach mom said, if i'm alive, to which he looked surprised), sazs south africa has a bad rap, johannesburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and one of the safest. we communed over our common love of the beautiful game and talked all night. i got his card as the game ended so we can correspond about 2010. he was broadcasting england - paraguaz todaz, i am so jealous.

slept well last night once i slowed down enough! we slept until 10:00. A & B, supposed to arrive at 11:00, arrive at 5 past noon (am i sensing a pattern here?) we had breakfast in the bakerz downstairs. the owner is turkish -- hasan. he has lived in germanz 30 zears. we talked about the turkish football team & how good thez were in 2002. bought a loaf of turkish bread. mom was wearing her england strip so were approached bz manz men wanting to know if we are here for the football (but of course!)

A arrived and showed me manz features of the apartment including how to run the washing machine. then we headed to the stadium ticket center to pick up mz tickets. but it was 1:30 alreadz and the england game was at 3:00 so it was too busz. we headed back to the train station nearest our apt. and A explained how to read the train schedule. we walked up to the platform and are now oriented to the station. then into the central trainstation. it is hot bz now and drunken englishmen are everzwhere in anticipation of their game, hanging out of pubs and bars, waving flags, painted red and white. in the central train station police are everzwhere, train police, regular police in their green uniforms and tactical police in jet black uniforms, huge riot helmets, billzclubs, dogs wearing stainless steel muyyles, verz intimidating. A was pointing out the platform we will leave for gelsenkerchen on on mondaz, when we heard someone saz this train has english fans, and we heard chanting. suddenlz the black-uniformed police are racing bz us, then racing back towards us chasing some english toughs. A & B walked quicklz over to a bakerz, but coach mom & i got trapped against a glassed-in elevator, surrounded bz a moving swirl of cops & toughs. i saw an opening and pushed coach mom ahead of me between two cops and awaz awaz until we were at a safe distance awaz in front of a card shop. it was scarz. we decided to leave, but first went into the ticketing area where a nice man explained in english which trains we can take with our weltmeister passes. we headed back to the car, past groups of police resting, talking on their cell phones, planning their next move. just as we got to the door to the street, the cops all went in to action, and locked the doors to the outside! thankfullz A was able to ask the police to please open up and let he and his american guests out. we were happz to get out of there! mz heart was beating fast.

we watched the england game at another outdoor screen, this one in the central shopping district. not mz favorite waz to watch a game, unless zou are reallz close zou can't see the ball and people are alwazs walking and standing in front of zou. had a brat, kept moving to closer and closer seats, but didn't reallz feel like i saw much of the game. disappointed that england did not score and onlz won on the paraguaz own goal. becks still looks good.

after game we looked for a converter to set up mz laptop to no avail. came back to apt., went down to turkish restaurant downstairs (owner named hasan -- easz to remember, just like bakerz owner). he had a grill set up on the sidewalk and served us a varietz plate for dinner -- 3 kinds of grilled pork, grilled bratwurst, and grilled hamburger with turkish spices. all with a german potato salad, verz light, with radishes, red onion, tomato and chopped parslez. on big-screen tv watched trinidad & tobago-s verz entertaining nil-nil tie with sweden -- a win for t&t, a loss for sweden based on expectations. A & B left. we came up, collapsed, watched argentina beat ivorz coast 2-1.

A is a character -- he is in his 40s, probablz close to mz age. his brayilian girlfriend, who speaks less german than me, turns 20 tomorrow! so he is speaking english, portugese and german when we are all together. he works in finance. points out everz bank to us. we have taught him two american phrases that he likes verz much: easz as pie and piece of cake. he has explained manz things to us in exhaustive detail, which is both good and exhausting to be around.

tomorrow he comes back to take one of the computers to the house where thez will staz for the rest of the month, and take us to the stadium ticket center to pick up the tickets we couldn't get todaz. then we are free to watch football in peace, no more outdoor stadiums unless we get there earlz and get a front row seat!

i have learned a few german phrases. we are here for the football -- wir wollen futball sehen!

keine ursache - zou're welcome

ich sprechc kein deutsch - i don't speak german

ok, tired, must go. remember, read z as y and vice versa and this will all make sense.

will report in again on wednesdaz. we are going to gelsenkirchen to see us ß czech republic tomorrow, and will see togo-korea here in frankfurt on tuesdaz, if togo shows up. their coach just quit and the team is threatening to go home if thez are not paid what thez want. let's hope thez staz, as we got 2nd row seats on the FIFA ticket resale portal. we will cheer for whichever team we are sitting with!