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2 entries from July 2007

Sürf's üp, düde!

This is one of the coolest things on the planet. In the 1800's, German engineers tamed the fickle Isar River. Before, it would meander unpredictably through the centre of the city--not dangerous, but prone to annoying floods and unsightly dry patches. The city engineers sent the flow through two watercourses; a wide, majestic stretch above ground, and another in a narrow channel under the city. The narrow channel would flow faster, and prove useful to power a mill in the centre of town.

Where the narrow stream emerges from under the city, the it flows over a trench. This causes the water to double back over on itself, creating a decent-sized wave. Quite a surfable one, though the sensation must be odd, I suspect. When one falls off, one is carried backward (downstream) rather than forward (beachward).
The urban surfer's dream: Convenience surfing, right in the centre of town--under a bridge on the historic Prinzregentenstraße, just next to the Haus der Kunst. Many stop for a quick tube on the way to nearby Ludwig Maximillian University.
For added convenience, take advantage of the smoker's bench while you wait for the next wave. Note the faithful mundhundschen. (A free iTunes song to the first reader who gets the pun)Being German the düdes and chicks wait politely for their turn, though some can't resist giving their buddies a playful splash. Of course, he'll be reported to Chancellor Merkel for antisocial attitudes.
A little Munich treat you won't necessarily find in the guidebooks.

The Local Tongue


Foreigners who have lived in Japan marvel at the way English is used there. We’ve even given it a special name—Engrish.

Apart from the obvious howling mistakes, we chuckle at the innocent vacuity of what’s said. If one translates Japanese directly, it contains exactly that—nothing. Nature abhors a vacuum; the Japanese abhor a social vacuum. They seek to fill it with manufactured politeness through meaningless words and gestures. If you’re talking, it means I’ve noticed you.

The Germans have no truck with that sort of stuff. They like a social vacuum just fine, thank you very much, and think that if everybody would just shut up and scowl, the world would be a better place. Especially Schwabians.

Nonetheless, English as it’s spoken in Germany—let’s call it Englisch—has a certain charm. The quaint old-fashioned word order and strong verbs, for example. The routine confusion of mustn’t and don’t have to. It warms my heart to hear them throw in an already or actually when I know they really want to say noch or schon.
But the greatest charm for an English-speaker in Germany is this: everything in German sounds so dirty. Why?

There are lots of hard t’s, c’s and k’s that remind an English speaker of our most beloved dirty words. And two ways to make an f sound, for added swearing convenience.

In between those consonants, we find plenty of moist, gurgly, squishy sounds. Speaking German sounds a lot like oral sex. Oral sex done well, that is.

"Porn Brook Asparagus. The fresh way!"