Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Colors of the World Cup

Germany has never been so colourful! During the World Cup, flags are flying everywhere and people walk around in various coloured football shirts.* Of course, the black-red-gold of the German flag is predominant; normally it's only raised over public offices etc., but now the private houses and cars are sporting flags as well. This has caused some discussion, as normal flag-displaying is not normal here as it is in other countries. Any show of patriotism is usually frowned upon, and I don't know who is quicker to condemn the Germans for it, others or they themselves. But now, while hosting the games and (more importantly) while the national team is winning theirs, the colours are worn proudly - not just as flags and T-shirts, but as facial makeup, even dyed hair! How much that will change when the team loses or the tournament is over, whichever comes first, we shall see. At any rate, I think this bit of positive patriotism is all part of the party fun.

It's fun to see the stadiums so colourful when I watch the games on TV. Not only do the fans of the various countries bring their colourful items with them or add to their stock by buying more here, Germans who go to games of other countries often choose a team to support and dress up likewise. If flag manufacturers have stocks, those must have sky-rocketed during these weeks!

I'm already wearing a red summer dress; along with my black hair clip and gold ring, I'm prepared for today's game! Just have to go put the matching stripes on my cheek now...

*Seeing puny shoulders or bulging beer bellies in a shirt with Beckham or Ballack's name on the back just doesn't look right though!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rainbow Catcher

This picture is a detail from a portrait, called "Rainbow Catcher", by a contemporary artist, David Bowers. Many thanks to my friend MM for finding it for me! It combines a traditional look with a fantasy twist - fascinating combination. For now, it will serve as my avatar here - that is, if I can get it to work as such. Who would have dreamt that there is actually a work of art to go with the name I made up for myself here?!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Reading the morning paper

Years ago, reading at the breakfast table was limited to cereal boxes, as my mother energetically forbade me to bring whatever book I was currently devouring to meals. Now I relish having a newspaper full of reading material to enjoy - and no one to stop me from doing so!

How do I start when I pick up the freshly delivered bundle? There are people who have their rituals, beginning with sports or cultural events or the financial pages, or even with personal ads, but for me it depends on what my personal priorities are at the time.

Am I planning an excursion or a weekend trip? Then the weather forecast (starting with the pictograms on the front page that contain the basic information) may be foremost on my mind. In its extensive version, a bit farther back in the paper, I check the pollen forecast during hayfever season.

The front page headlines are the very first focal point, of course. Depending on my TV newscast viewing on the previous evening, I may read the important articles or just skim them. I usually take a look at the commentary on page two to see if the topic interests me.

I skim the local pages to see if anything there concerns me or people I know (including notices of births, deaths, and weddings), only reading articles when they catch my attention.

I do read the cultural articles if they're of general interest; I have on occasion taken a trip to see an art exhibition elsewhere if it particularly interests me after reading about it. And of course the reports of local concerts, etc. are especially interesting if I was there and want to compare my impressions with those of the reviewer. I do also read movie reviews and check to see what the local theaters are showing.

I normally skip the sports pages, both national and local, as they rarely interest me. Neither I nor anyone close to me is actively involved, so I only glance at the photos to see if I recognize someone. But now, during the World Cup, the football pages are suddenly fascinating to read. I peruse the background information about teams and players, read the post-match reports to compare my own impressions with those of the experts, and enjoy the humorous human-interest anecdotes from the sidelines.

And the advertising that finances much of the paper? Well, news of a sale at one of the favorite stores can be welcome information, but mostly I ignore the ads. I don't need a car, house, or new job, and I have other, more interesting things to do with my time.

When it comes down to it, I normally "use" only a fraction of the flood of information the daily paper brings me - but that bit is important enough that I wouldn't want to miss it!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sunshine and Shadow

Isn't it strange? We wait so long for sunshine, and when it finally comes, we try to find shade!

I know, there are practical health reasons for avoiding the sun's direct rays - heat rash, heat stroke, sunburn, skin cancer, to name some. And of course we do strive to get a tan, hopefully with our skin properly protected. But it seems to me that there's more to it - not only are we not used to this kind of heat, and seek the coolness of the shade. (For example, I chose my walking path early this morning for the trees surrounding it - not only did I keep cooler that way, I got the additional oxygen that the trees emit.) Can it not also be that we can't take too much light, since we are not used to the brightness?

A German saying goes something like this: Nothing is as difficult to endure as a row of good days. I guess we just can't handle too much of a good thing...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Football Quotes

Here, to go along with the big event, are a few of the light-hearted statements people have made about the world's most important sport:

"Soccer is a game for 22 people that run around, play the ball, and one referee who makes a slew of mistakes, and in the end Germany always wins. (-Gary Lineker)

"The offside rule is when the French mustard has to be between the teriyaki sauce and the sea salt." (-Jules' mother, trying to grasp the details of her daughter's chosen sport during a meal in "Bend It Like Beckham".)

"Natürlich drücken wir unserer Mannschaft die Daumen, und ich glaube, die Chancen sind gar nicht schlecht. Die Frauen-Fußballnationalmannschaft ist ja schon Fußballweltmeister, und ich sehe keinen Grund, warum Männer nicht das gleiche leisten können wie Frauen."
(Translation mine, therefore not official: "Of course we're crossing our fingers for our team, and I think their chances aren't too bad. The women's national football team is already world football champion, and I see no reason why men shouldn't be able to achieve the same accomplishment as women." -Angela Merkel, German chancellor, in her address to the nation on last New Year's Eve)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Summer's back!

...and it's just in time. The World Cup football (soccer) championship games begin here in Germany tomorrow, and the cold rainy weather would have been rather depressing for the many foreign guests who have come or are coming for the occasion - to say nothing of us as hosts! Now the open-air giant screen showings of the games can be enjoyed, people can barbecue at home before and after the games, and those few who aren't interested can go for a nice walk, maybe even in the middle of the Autobahn, if it's an important game with the German team. No, I am not recommending this behaviour! Do not hold me responsible and/or liable for any results of such an action on your part!

I'm afraid that even this topical blog will be affected by the all-pervading topic of football in the next four weeks. All aspects of life reflect the great popularity of the sport - and the even greater desire of many to make as much profit as possible from it. Fortunately, the subject of weather can be tied in with it fairly conveniently.

For example, one cartoon in today's morning paper had the Brazilian players asking for the field heating system under the lawn to be turned on so that it's not so cold...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Summer's Tricolor Triumvirate

The typical wildflowers for this time of the year are blooming alongside roads and on fields - red poppies, white daisies, and blue cornflowers. Yes, dear Americans, red, white, and blue - but the tricolore of France is closer to Germany geographically and historically than the U.S. flag.

Red poppies are one of my favorite flowers - they bloom around my birthday, and since the flowers of my birth month, lilies-of-the-valley, are usually no longer blooming at that time, and red is my favorite color family, poppies are my birthday flowers. They don't keep, of course, so there's no sense in picking them and putting them in a vase, but I don't need to own them to enjoy them.