17 posts categorized "Blog Hygiene"

Celebrate My Fit of Pique!

Bite Me Black Dress

What does it take to unleash your indignation?  Eight years ago, a calendar and a couple of beers did it for me.

It came to my attention that some busybody proclaimed the second Monday in January as National Clean Off Your Desk Day.  This impertinence provoked me to declare the following day, January 13, The International Day to Bite Me.   

The busybody in question was one Anna Chase Moeller, daughter of Bill Chase, who co-founded the Chase's Calendar of Events in 1957.  Rumour has it that Anna helped in the family business, and in so doing, shared a desk with her father.  As is the case with pretty much all entrepreneurs, forward-thinkers, creative personalities, and productive people of every stripe, the desk was a mess.  In a snit, Anna declared National Clean Off Your Desk Day to humiliate her father's habits.  Once a year, Bill was forced to sacrifice a day of personal productivity to appease his daughter, who no doubt could have worked on the goddamn kitchen table if the sight of actual work upset her so goddamn much.  Neat-freaks have used it to shame us normal people ever since. 

In 2017, The International Day to Bite Me falls on a Friday.   By coincidence, the first Friday the 13th of every year is National Blame Someone Else Day.  (It's also National Rubber Duckie Day, but that's another story.)

On Friday, August 13 1982, a sleepy Michigan woman found that her alarm clock had failed to ring.  This set off a cascade of lateness and bad luck that hounded her throughout the day.  The National Blame Someone Else Day commemorates her string of excuses and apologies.  In truth, it should be National Blame Fate Day, since the mechanical failure likely had no human source.  Unless it was the woman herself who failed to set the alarm on August 12—in which case we should celebrate National Sorry, It's My Own Damned Fault Day.

Who was this unfortunate woman?  None other than a certain Mrs Anna Chase Moeller.  

Clearly, this amounts to an abuse of privilege. Anna's way to vent petty annoyances was to declare a day after them, because in the days before the internet, she was one of the few who could.  Well, two can play at that game now, eh?

Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 08.58.53By the authority vested in me by Typepad blogging software, Deutschland über Elvis declares The International Day to Bite Me 2017 open for all.  The ritual Flipping of the Bird will take place across Germany and the rest of the world, perhaps flipped all the harder because it might occur over Friday drinks.  

Personally, I spread the message by keeping calm.  On the International Day to Bite Me graphics page, you'll find an #ID2BM Keep Calm message, created on the official Keep Calm and Carry On Merchandise Store.  I had it embroidered on a pillow, suitable for screaming into. 

The Christmas of Drinking Half-Decent Wine for a Change. Part One.

Time for a bit of crowdsourced Christmas cheer.  Your advice, please.

One of the curses of adulthood is patience.  Grown-ups know how to defer gratification.  It usually works out for the best, but from time to time, you have to loosen the corset, open the poppers, and live a little.

I've collected wine, in a modest way, since university days.  A few dozen nice reds actually got schlepped across oceans and equators.  Since arriving in Munich, Master Right and I began to hunt for bargains at wine auctions—the Munich Wine Company in Diesenhofen offers some real gems if you look carefully.

In a wine-auction house, most of the stock is nicely long-in-the-tooth.  Much comes from estate sales; previous owners stockpiled wine in the cellar, waiting for it to age, and never quite made it to their last tipple. 

It occurred to us that some of our wine is so old, that it may no longer improve with age.  And that if we drink the stuff at our current modest rate, it could end up with a new owner, yet again.

So Master Right and I have declared 2012 the Christmas of Drinking Half-Decent Wine for a Change.   We're having a quiet Christmas at home, but you can celebrate with us.   Tell us which bottle to open with tonight's traditional baked ham. The choice is between two chardonnays, and a pinot bianco.  

The bottle in the centre is a classic 2001 White Burgundy from the Mersault appellation near Beaune—a find from the MWC. This wine is so smooth that you scarcely know you're drinking it, until you suddenly realise how happy you are.  We bought half a dozen to impress my high-school pal Neville.

Neville poses a grammatical problem when I choose to describe him.  That problem is the order of adjectives. 

Is Neville the cigar-smoking, ballroom-dancing, black-belted, corporate-compliance-credentialled, wine-connoisseur banker?  Or is he the banking, ballroom dancing, corporate-compliance-credentialled, wine-connoisseur, black-belted cigar-smoker? 

(You needn't look for him amongst my Facebook friends; one could include internet-prudent on the list of adjectives, too.)

Of course, the aspect of his many-faceted character that concerns us is wine-conoisseur

The bottle on the left is an Eileen Hardy Chardonnay, sourced in cleanskin.  Neville offered it as a gift in exchange for one of the bottles of Mersault.  The grapes for this vintage probably came from the limestone soils of the Padthaway vineyards, in the far south-eastern corner of the state of South Australia.  Online reviews call it "plump".  Online merchants call it expensive, but sourcing it in cleanskin makes it consumable with a good conscience. 

The bottle on the right is a younger choice, from 2006. Given the sweetness of the meat, someting drier and fruitier may be in order, like a Pinot Bianco.   The Jermann wine has a misleading name—it's not German at all, but Italian, from the region just to the north-west of Trieste.   My maternal grandfather was born not far from there.  

So help us choose.  Better palates than mine have given a merry thumbs-up to all of these. 

We're giving you all a nice big, plump thumbs up, too, for the holiday.  May you have a happy one.

Stay tuned to help us decide how to wash down the duck on Christmas day.

I Love You @wowiezowietuna, and Other Matters of Internet Hygiene


How about that new Twitter interface!  When composing a post, it didn't allow me to place the cursor at a point of my own choosing through the use of a mouse, but hey, let's not quibble.  It performed well enough to deliver a private Tweet from a certain @wowiezowietuna.

I'm not sure how @wowiezowietuna came into my Twitter orbit.  I followed him after he retweeted me—first because I appreciated the gesture, and second because anyone with a handle like @wowiezowietuna must be a wild and crazy guy.  Right?

Not long after, I get a private tweet from a certain Mr. Alabaster Smooth, real name Karl.  It was @wowiezowietuna.  He asked me how I got so many followers.  Here's my reply.

Screen shot 2011-12-10 at 14.38.39
Gosh, the guy is really hurting, and all I could do was sound glib.  I didn't even spend all my 140 characters.  I'm a bastard.

As of 8.08 am CET on 12 December 2011, Karl had tweeted 2,713 tweets, and they earned him a measley 12 followers.  By contrast, the Honourable Husband had published a meagre 172 tweets, and had 98 followers...hang on.  Fuck.  That dropped to 97. 

(OK, which of my Twitter followers is in prison?)

The Honourable Husband is a run-of-the-mill private user of social media.  He blogs.  He facebooks.  He tweets.  He puts his LinkedIn profile at the bottom of his emails.  He writes pompous reviews on TripAdvisor and booking.com, in the hope that hotel management will read his disgust at their flea-pits and offer free stuff to shut him up, or will read of his delight and upgrade him just to say thank you. Neither has happened.  He is uncomfortable with check-ins and geolocator services.  He's chuffed that someone invited him to A Small World.  People don't find his amazon reviews very helpful.  He's thinking about Tumblr.

On the other hand, the Honourable Husband is a communications professional, so he knows a little about the finer points of our new online universe.  But he ain't gonna tell you those.  Because the Honourable Husband's Rule #1 of social media is never blog about work.

Pleased to Meet You!

Let's look at Karl's dilemma.  Here he is, in his Twitter debut.

Screen shot 2011-12-11 at 20.31.51
Let's assume that your interest in death, Karl, is purely poetic.  If not, click here.

God is Dead. Nature is Dead. Love is Dead. What's next?  Make sure it's not you.

If you're a death-head on philospohical or aesthetic grounds, that's a different story.   Tweeting about Poetry and Death is as legit as tweeting about Britney and Kittens.  But find the right people to tweet at. 

That means go to Vienna.  

No, srsly.  The Viennese love death.  After a funeral, people go all gooey about the schöne Leich, or the beautiful corpse.  (In Austrian dialect, the words for funeral and corpse are the same.  How cool is that?) 

The recent funeral of Otto von Habsburg brought the city to a standstill, and lasted five hours.  Five. Fucking. Hours.

In over six-hundred acres, Vienna's central cemetery holds the remains of three million late residents—artist Andre Heller described it as an "aphrodisiac for necrophiles".  Families often make a day's outing at the Zentralfriedhof, enjoying the buskers and hot-dog stands, even if they don't have a particular corpse to visit.

Bestattung museum 2
One of René Magritte's Seated Coffins, in the Vienna Funeral Museum
Photo links to source.

The reason you should go to Vienna is to obey the Honourable Husband's Rule #2 of social media.  Blend your online and offline communities. 

Those online friends whom I have never met, I feel familiar with—certainly familiar enough to talk in the flesh when the opportunity arises.  Neilochka, that treasured love-child of Mike Nichols and Bennet Cerf, is one example.  We have followed each other's blogs for so long now, he even put me on a Twitter list called Dated in a Previous Life.  He makes it a point to meet his online pals in 3D, and his online community is a place of generosity and love.  The next time I'm in Orange County, we're totally going out to one of those Onion Garden places for a pizza and margaritas because that's what you Californians do, right?

Another example, the marvellous nursemyra.  Why are we online friends?  Pretty much the same reason we'd be friends if we'd met offline.  She's warm, generous with affection and praise, knows art, loves human nature, likes to tell a good story, and looks hoochie-coo in lingerie.   Nursemyra is a big fan of Magritte's coffins.  You should follow her, Karl.

She and the much-admired Daisyfae, two women of like mind, began to comment on each other's blogs.  They met in Barcelona one year, and have become regular travel companions.  Young men quake before them, hovering between awe and arousal, as the pair cougar their way across the world every couple of years.  I feel sure that when we're in the same city, we'll meet in person over a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or two.  (Being gay, I am immune to their seductive weaponry.  Ha!  Take that, you vixens!)

Karl, you should seek online friends of the same calibre, and then make them your offline friends.  But here comes the sixty-four dollar question.  Will you find them on Twitter?


Karl sent me a pertinent follow-up question.

Screen shot 2011-12-27 at 5.14.42 AM
Obnoxious?  Twitter is perfect.

Twitter seems to bring out the worst in people.  JetBlue needs to remind followers that their Twitter feed is, in fact, not their complaints department.  The little exchange in this link is the kind of venom that fuels Twitter, and it's only interesting if you're famous.  All the @s and #s ruin the comic timing.

Who makes a success on Twitter?  Justin Halpern, that's who.  The guy behind Shit My Dad Says. 

Probably, you've seen the TV show.  But have you read the book, and the tweets?  When Halpern was tossed out by his girlfriend, he went home to live with a father who did nothing but insult and humiliate him.  If you are raised in a home like that, you become the kind of guy who...well, gets tossed out by his girlfriend and has to go home and live with his—there is no other word for it—abusive father.   In the book, Halpern breaks up the onslaught of toxic tweets with anecdotes from his childhood, even more ghastly.  The cleaned-up version of Shit My Dad Says lasted a single season on CBS, but on Twitter, it has 2.9 million followers.  Sad.

Twitter culture?  I stopped following @buzzfeed when it told me about the most extreme Bagel Bites commercial ever, and the king of Sweden watching a strip show.

Twitter holds few joys for a sensitive soul.  And you're a sensitive soul.

Karl's Tweets: A Critique.

Since you asked, here are a few suggestions. 

First, a bit of tough love. You need to think long and hard about tweets like this one:

Charming, perhaps, to the right audience.  In a Haight-Ashbury coffee shop in 1968, after 11.00 pm and three bongs.  And to the following two tweets... 
  • We don't have to be cryptic; we have to be beautiful
  • Does everything have to mean something for me to say it?
...I reply yes, yes and yes.  You might like to put aside the brown spirits when you tweet; you don't want to become a tweeting drunk.  Or as the rad kids say, a twunk.  Alcohol and Twitter, I suspect, can lead to downbeat blurts:
  • I drink to get drunk like I write to get wrote.
  • The world sucks, get over it; it always did.
  • The Bell Jar isn't depressing enough
Of-fucking-course The Bell Jar isn't depressing enough, Karl!   Get yourself into Philip Larkin.  Compared to Philip Larkin, Sylvia Plath plants tulips and plays with puppies. Larkin is man-sized maudlin. 
You're in the middle of getting a liberal education.  A liberal education demands a logical analysis of highly emotional subjects.  Relentless logic will reduce everything to the absurd. 
  • Absurdity is possible because we have reasoned it so.
  • Death is the nude absurd.
  • The Absurd is an imperative for ontological purity.
  • Is the idea of the Absurd rational? Is it rational to posit that such an idea is intellectually tangible?
I, for one, have ceased to be angry that our emotional investment in the world around us—with its beauty and joy and heartache—is pointless.  I could not engage my old college buddies with the following tweets—even if I could do it in such a nice way, reminiscent of Gertrude Stein. 
  • Because I'm passionate and crazy about poetry all the same; because I want to rail against it, abrogate it and detest it and throw it away.
  • Because I'm so torn and ensconced in the dialectic of confusion. Because it's cunning and petty and grandiose and rich, lofty and lowly.
  • Because logic has utility but is the warper of logic itself. AND more of what-the-fuckness.
What-the-fuckness is an elegant and vivid way to say meaninglessness.  But however elegantly expressed, Karl, it's snoozeville as subject matter.  Everything, when you  think about it, is absurd.  That's what thinking does to things.  Mankind spent much of the second half of the twentieth century kvetching about meaninglessness.  The time has come to resurrect the meaningful.

I wouldn't go too far with the Gertrude Steiney stuff, either.   I'm still scratching my head over this:

  • I looked for you looked for you I tried to look for you and wherever you were found I tried to look for you.
  • And if you were alone I tried to look for you and were found I looked for you I did not find tried looking for you.
  • These what is becoming is becoming is looking for I tried to look for what is becoming is becoming, come.
Which brings us to the ultimate question: why should you tweet about Poetry and Death, when you could write actual verse?  Every one of the following tweets show an exquisitely observant poetic sensibility.   Each could easily make a short poem.
  • Proportioned judiciously, we eat enough to die
  • Ghosts are just doing their job
  • Antique sounds, boots clopping on concrete
  • The morning yokes everything left behind in the night
"Eating enough to die" describes so many dieters, and their relationship to food—food as both life and death feels like a theme of our times.  The images we might see in a working world of ghosts demand a poetic description; the cubicle farm as haunted house.  Who makes the antique noise, and does he know how old-fashioned his footwear makes him sound? Is the strong clop of the boot, worn mainly by men, a statement of how dated strength as a measure of masculinity has become?  I wish I could write stuff like that.

Karl, when you do land a zinger in classic Twitter style, it's highly refined.  Again, these seek to be sentences in a larger, more involving work.

  • Never say: "I'm confused," Always say: "I'm not following you."
  • Work is a Christian ploy to tire us for sex.
  • One does not always need violence and destitution to live in a terrible neighborhood.
So, Karl, if you want to get the most out of the world of social media, don't seek a Twitter following.  You're too good for that.  Poems rarely fit in 140 characters.  (Unless, of course, they're haiku.  But don't get me started on haiku.)

Get a Tumblr.   It's the perfect venue for poetry.  Use it to find a community of like-minded souls who will enrich your art.  Then seek to meet them offline.  Go for quality friends, not quantity.

And as you say in a particularly nice tweet: Do not underestimate the value of simplicity and precision. 

Didn't mean to bust your chops, Karl.  But you did ask.  All my love to you, ol' cyber-buddy. 

Grinch Relents

My personal feelings toward Christmas can be summed up in two words: bah and humbug.  But sometimes, even the biggest pshaw has to catch the spirit.  Blogging pal Neil Kramer is hosting his annual multi-belief holiday concert at Citizen of the Month.  He asks readers to record a short video in which they sing their favourite holiday song, or post a picture or two from whichever religious tradition tradition takes their fancy.  My personal religious tradition this year is Heterosexual Soft Core Erotica.  Happy holidays, and remember to be naughty!


Tokyu Hands, Shinjuku, 2003


Nymphenberg Porcelain, Odeonsplatz, 2008


The Beef Market, Munich, 2010


This just reminds you why the ever-expanding Google should go back to school and take a subject called reading comprehension.  Note this excellent article as it appears in Google Reader below, and notice the ad which Google's algorithm chose to insert next to it.

The Bilerico Project 1

On the other hand, I await judgement from my personal harem of fag hags (...er, sorry, BFFs) to see if perhaps Google has more insight than we give them credit for.

The Bad Workman Can No Longer Blame His Tools

The photos on this blog are a little too crappy.  Like most blokes, I would prefer to acquire a gadget than acquire a skill.  So I caved and bought a digital SLR.

A recent conversation with Snooker sold me on a Nikon D90, the choice of serious amateurs and the workaday camera for many professionals.  In the end, though, I got the D5000, the Einsteiger version of the lauded D90, which has the same sensor and I could blow the €200 difference on beer.

These photos came from the first day's experimenting, on a walk through our favourite bit of the Altstadt.  I am disappointed that the purchase of a new camera has not made every photo I take brilliant, but I think there's an improvement.


If any of you real photographers have some SLR tips for a gumby amateur, I'm all ears.  Otherwise I shall be forced to read the instruction manual.  And you know how blokes hate to do that.


Be Gay About It. And Be Quick About It.

Erika is a thoughtful lesbian blogger, who shares stories of her life and marriage.  Her blog sports the snappy title Be Gay About It.

The BGAI Together instruction pageErika has begun a project designed to show gay women and men living lives of dignity and grace.  Such stories, she hopes, will inspire those coming out, questioning, or who struggle with their orientation.

"Too often we hear stories about LGBT people being rejected because of their sexual orientation or gender identity through bullying, hate crimes and discrimination," she writes. "BGAI Together is a grassroots storytelling project where LGBTQ persons and their allies unite to counter this adversity with positive stories of love and affirmation."

Erika wants your stories—published or unpublished—from your blog, clip sheet,  hard drive or bottom drawer.  It doesn't matter if you're gay, or a straight ally.  She wants to hear the everyday tales of acceptance and celebration.

But hurry.  She needs your submission by stumps on Thursday, January 14.  Click on the picture for more details.

And while you're on her blog, read it.  You'll be glad you did.

I am my own best friend, along with 116 others.

Image source: Bruce on Games

OK, I gave in.  Everyone asks are you on Facebook?  So I got on Facebook.  

Damn, it's frightening.  Several people had my email address plugged in, just waiting for me to appear.  It's astonishing how many people Facebook hooked me up with, and how quickly.  I hadn't heard the scary story about Facebook's connections with the CIA until too late.   Oh, well.   

One of the most interesting people I ran into was myself.  As I have blogged before, I sport an unusual combination of given-name and surname, and finding another me piqued my curiosity.   So, I befriended myself.

It turns out I am a college student in Slovakia who loves ice hockey (When I ran into myself online before, I got the impression I played football).   I have a hot girlfriend, whom I probably neglect, given how many pictures I post of me hanging out with the boys.  Quite a few show me clutching an almost-empty vodka bottle. 

I am a Default Don in the Facebook Mafia Wars application.

I am inordinately fond of online quizzes.  The Facebook Mediaeval Humours Quiz labelled Me Jr. as sanguine; that is, easy-going, life-of-the-party, few hangups.  When Me Sr. took the quiz, I turned out to be melancholy.  The Facebook What Car Are You Quiz picked Me Jr.  as a BMW, but Me Sr. as a Lamborghini Diablo.

What car are you 

I wonder if I have much in common with myself.   If I'm reading this, feel free to drop me a line.

The Fifth Annual Whiney Expat Blogger's Meetup: Munich, September 5-6

To the Meetup Homepage. Login Needed. People blog for a number of reasons. Some for professional purposes.  Some to stay in touch with family and friends.  Some for vanity. Some to find their writer's voice.

The expatriate who chooses to blog often has another another reason, on top of his or her usual motives.  Your blog connects you with a community that speaks your own language, and understands the odd circumstances in which you often find yourself.

Five years ago, in Germany, a group of bloggers took those connections offline.  They met, and firm friendships were forged.  They shared many of the delights of living in Germany, like the beer.  They shared many of the frustrations of living in Germany, like the Kreisverwaltungsreferat.  They pondered how to explain their lives to the folks back home, who are sometimes perplexed by quaint German customs like infrastructure investment, public-option health insurance, and bicycles.

But most of all, they talked, ate, drank, and laughed.  It turned into an annual event, the Whiney Expat Blogger's Meetup. 

It's a fantastic get-together.  And this year it's in Munich.

For anyone in Germany who blogs in English, I encourage you to attend.

You'll meet people from all walks of life, old and young, families and single people, gay and straight, expats and immi-pats.  We've put together a program that includes tours, (optional) cycling, biergartening, kid's activities, and a smattering of nightlife.

If you're a blogger in a German-speaking country, you'll need to register at the Expat Bloggers in Germany website.  Look forward to seeing you!