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Belated Winter Madness

About two or three weeks ago we had quite much snow in Stuttgart. I wanted to blog about it, but I was too busy. So, here's our belated winter madness. This picture is me and my roomie, when we walked back home after being at a club early in the morning, amazed by the snow like little children.

Where I grew up as a kid we had much snow every winter. And we kids liked it because we weren't able to go to school when there was snow like 3 foot high. Snow up to your hips was nothing really special, and the snow stayed for months.

Here in Stuttgart we don't have much snow. Stuttgart is located in a valley, and the temperatures down in the valley are mild. In the last few years we had about two or three days of snow, and usually not more than 2 or 3 inch. But this year there was quite much snow for Stuttgart. I don't think we had that much show since I moved here in 1999.

Sometimes I'm happy that I don't have a car. But only sometimes.

The new castle coated with cream cheese frosting.

Now here are the pictures I took with my crappy cellphone cam. I'm surprised how proud he stands the snow.


William on the horse and the lion with a refreshing facial mask.

Please mind the letters that spell "Star Boy"...

Another angle of the center.

This is my street.

And here the famous Hoppenlau Friedhof that I had mentioned before on my blog. This time dressed in the latest winter fashion.

Is it sane when someone takes self pics at a graveyard??? I hope so.

Here's another impression of the Hoppenlau Friedhof in winter.


I know, you guys have way more snow right now. Post your pics to show me what snow really means. :-)

Crazy German Customs, Part 1: Schmutziger Donnerstag

Today it's "Schmutziger Donnerstag" in Germany. Literally translated this means "Dirty Thursday". It's known in all parts of Germany, and it's a custom that (only today) women are allowed to cut off ties. I.e. if you're wearing a tie today, each woman would be allowed to cut it off. Isn't that crazy?

The origin of this custom is in my state. While in other states they only cut off ties, we still celebrate it like hundred years ago. The name doesn't relate to "dirt", although many people think so. But in my state people said "Schmutz" for fat. So it's actually a fat day. You're asking why? Because traditionally today you eat stuff like that:


Hundreds of years ago people in Germany didn't eat meat from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. So they couldn't slaughter animals on Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, because they can't eat the meat after Ash Wednesday, and the meat would go bad. Sunday was a "holy" day, no slaughtering as well. Saturday was semi-holy, because it's holy for the Jews. Friday has been a day of fasting in general, because Jesus died on a Friday... So, they slaughtered on Schmutziger Donnerstag for the last time before Easter. And this day was the last time of much meat and deep fried food. So was Monday and Tuesday next week, because they had to get rid of all their meat and rich food. Carnival (German: "Karneval") by the way goes back to the Italian "carnevale", which means "good bye meat". That's how those three Carnival days were born.

Interviewing the Sorellas

Today my friend Thomas and I met the Duo Sorellas, two artists who are in a show in Stuttgart.

Thomas and I were at a press show two days before the show officially started. It's a mixed show with many different artists. They showed only parts of the actual show, just to get an impression. It was quite amazing. It was one of those moments when I thought "Wow, you wouldn't expect such a great show in Stuttgart". For example there was another great Duo, two mind readers. And their show is very funny as well. She was blindfolded on stage while she was "reading" my insurance number from my insurance card. I mean, if it wasn't me I would say it was a fake ... but she couldn't know my insurance number, right?

Anyway, today we met the Sorellas, the two guys on the pictures in this post. We recorded about 15 minutes, but we were talking for more than an hour. They are very cordial and lovely guys. I'm always surprised how nice (quite) famous people are in interviews.

Those two have a very good reputation in Germany (and Europe) and were performing on quite famous stages, and also in Circus Roncalli for a few years in a row.

They're both openly gay. They're best friends, but they're not a couple. They told us about their experiences in different cities, which was very interesting. And they said that Stuttgart is one of the most gay-friendly cities they've been to.

Tomorrow we're going to see the regular show, and I'm looking forward to meeting them again. And I'm happy to see the other artists perform as well. I suppose this show will be fabulous.

One Year Of Blogging

Jesus! I can't believe it's been already one year ago that I started this blog. Or should I say "re-started it". I was blogging in 2003 in German, but only made it to 25 posts. This entry is #250 by pure accident, so that's kind of a double feature celebration.

I was neither celebrating #100 nor any "magic" number before, so I've decided to throw a party today. Come in, put your jacket in my bedroom, and take a seat in the living room. Don't mind the mess, I didn't expect you to show up early. You could read the first post while I fix you a drink...

Uhm ... would you please stop yawning while reading the first post, I do know that it can't compete with William Shakespeare or Truman Capote. Anyway, olives or onions for your Martini? Uhm, the other guys will stop by in a few minutes ...

Import Mails from Thunderbird to Apple's OS X Mail.app

I'm sure this post is boring for my regular readers, but it's about a workaround for a bug that kept me busy for some hours, and I didn't find any solution on the web that worked for me. I found some people that had the same problem, but the workaround that worked for them didn't work for me - which actually almost freaked me out. So, I hope this post is useful to anybody who has the same problem. I tried to write it as detailed as possible, in case there are people that aren't very familiar with a command shell and all that stuff.
If this post was helpful, please leave a note. Thanks. :)

A friend of mine bought a macbook recently, and he wanted to import mails from his outlook on his old PC to mail.app which came with his mac. We figured out that there's no way to do that directly. But you can import the mails into Thunderbird (which is my favourite mail program, by the way), and then you can import those to apple's mail.

At least that's what we were thinking. But it didn't work. Each folder contained only one big mail, it didn't create seperate entries for each mail. First I thought its a matter of line ending, since Unix and Windows use different characters to indicate the end of a line. Recoding Thunderbird's mail files didn't work.

I knew that the mbox file format that Thunderbird uses to store the mails is like this: Each folder is one file that contains all mails of the folder, and the beginning of a mail is marked by a line that starts with "From " and then some additional information. (Mind the space after "From", it's very important).

Most programs that use mbox files don't care about the data in the line after the "From ". A typical line in Thunderbird would look like that:
From - Mon 29 Dec 1997 23:45:58

Googling showed that mail.app is picky about the format of the From-Line, and there were some posts where people said that you need to replace the "-" by the address of the sender. I wrote a perl program that changed the From lines to something like this:
From sender@host.tld Mon 29 Dec 1997 23:45:58

But still, it didn't work. Still only one HUGE mail in each folder. It seemed like this worked for everybody except me. But I figured out that the date was not correctly formatted. Mail.app seems to expect the date in another format. It needs to look like this (mind the different order of the fields in date):
From sender@host.tld Mon Dec 29 23:45:58 1997

So, I wrote this perl program that fixes the mbox files, and finally it worked. This script changes the From line to the format that mail.app needs. It adds the actual email address of the sender, and changes the date (if neccessary).

If anybody has the same problem, here's how it works:

  1. Save the file mboxfix to your desktop. But you probably want to skip this step after you've read the update at the bottom of this post.
  2. Go to your Thunderbird mail dir (on windows it's probably c:\Documents and Settings\ YourUsername\ Applications\ Thunderbird\ Profiles\ default\ StrangeChars\ Mail, and on Mac its most likely /Users/ YourUsername/ Library/ Thunderbird/ Profiles/ default/ StrangeChars/ Mail. (I've inserted blanks for better line wrapping results))
  3. For each mail folder there are three files or folders, e.g. Inbox, Inbox.msf, Inbox.sbd. Only the Inbox (without extensions) is important. Copy those files (one for each mail folder) to your desktop as well.
  4. Open a Terminal on your Mac. (Applications -> Accessories (probably, I don't know the English name) -> Terminal).
  5. Type cd Desktop and hit enter.
  6. Type chmod 755 mboxfix and hit enter.
  7. Now do this with each mailbox file (this example uses the mail folders Inbox, Sent, Private and Office. If you have different names, and/or more mail folders, alter the command to your needs:
    ./mboxfix Inbox Sent Private Office
  8. This creates the files Inbox.mbox, Sent.mbox, Private.mbox and Office.mbox
  9. Open Mail, go to "Import Messages", select "Import from Other", and point it to your desktop. Make sure to import only the files with the ending .mbox.
  10. You're done. Clean up your desktop and say "thank you, Rian". :-)

Update (March, 25th): (see also post from March 25th, 2007)
Lars Kobbe created a Droplet out of my perl script. Just download my script wrapped up in Lars' Droplet here (i.e. skip step 1), and replace step 4 to step 7 by just dragging your mbox files on this Droplet.

My first CD


I'm so proud: during my vacation from blogging, the CD of the radio comedy play my friend Thomas and I created got finished. It's the first CD with my name and picture on the cover. It's available in gay book stores and online. I'm so famous. :-) Just kidding.

George, a great fellow from Southafrica, is our most loyal fan. He listens our 2 hour radio show on the webstream regularly to practice German. And he just loves "Beauty Palais" and has sent us many nice mails. Today I got a parcel from him, he has sent me a beautiful illustrated book about Southafrica. I was close to tears because it's so sweet of him. It was a big surprise and I'm very delighted.

When we created this comedy play, it was first only intended as a little funny part of our own show, but now it gets broadcasted in gay radio shows in all German speaking countries. Funnily enough we get nice mails and feedback from any region, except our own transmission area. Maybe the saying about Swabians is true: "Net g'meckert isch g'nug g'lobt" ("Not excoriating is enough praise").

Gutes Neues!


Yup, I'm already in 2007, while my readers from America will stay in 2006 for at least 6 additional hours. Ok, guys, don't be afraid of 2007, it's fine, you can come over. :-)

"Gutes Neues!" (literally "good new one") is the German "Happy New Year" wish after midnight, when the "slide" has been successful.

Same procedure as every year ...

"Dinner for one" is a short TV show that's on TV in Germany each and every New Year's Eve since 1963. It's in the Guinnes Book of Records for being the most often broadcasted TV show ever worldwide. I can't imagine a New Year's Eve without this show. Most Germans watch this show every year, it has a very high audience rating and is on many channels on New Year's Eve. It's about the 90th Birthday of Miss Sophie, she has invited her 4 closest friends. But her friends have died years ago, so the Butler plays their part. Thus, he drinks four times more alcohol and gets quite drunk. It starts slowly, but get's better every glass of booze.

The introduction is in German, the show itself is in English. For those of you that don't speak German, here's a translation of the first minutes:


Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, we're at the country estate of Miss Sophy. The last name of this ancient noble family will be concealed, due to confidentiality. Miss Sophie invited her 4 closest friends for a birthday dinner, and I'm going to explain the seating arrangements to you. Miss Sophy will sit at the head of the table, Sir Toby on her left, next to him Admiral von Schneider. On her right Mr. Pommeroy and Mr. Winterbottom. There's one problem, it's her 90th birthday, her friends have already died a long time ago. She has burried the last one 25 years ago. Nevertheless, she doesn't want to forgo her birthday party, and because her guests can't attend the party (for obvious reasons) the butler fills in, which worked quite well during the last years. It will work again this year, because the procedure is exactly the same each year. James will ask 'Same procedure as last year, Miss Sophy', and she will answer 'Same procedure as every year, James'. With emphasis on 'every year'. You'll see the strangest birthday dinner ever, enjoy the party.




I know that some of my daily reads have problems right now, that's why I wish everybody a good, healthy, safe, successful and happy New Year, filled with love and laughter. May our futures be splendid, and may our dreams come true!
Picture of fireworks found on pixelquelle.de, taken by Pius Schuler.

Angelstein

Today I was visiting my Dad. He lives 20 minutes away from my Mom. I posted my last entry about Udo while I was fixing the computers in my Mom's practice. But now I'm back in Stuttgart.

Dad, his girlfriend and I went on a 3-hour walk into the forest. He still lives in the village in the Schwarzwald ("Black Forest", a famous wooded mountain range in my state, known worldwide for its coockoo clocks, honey, Black Forest ham, Pork Knuckle and Black Forest gateau (Black Forest cake). It was also the setting for many fairy tales popularized by the Brothers Grimm), still the same tiny village where I spent the first 20 years of my life. It's surrounded by a deep forest that goes down to the small cities in the valleys. We were walking around the village in the forest, and I took some pictures of the area where I was playing when I was a kid. Sorry for the poor quality. I didn't take my camera with me, so I used the crappy camera on my cell phone.

Everywhere in this forest there are huge sandstone rocks. Unfortunately the picture doesn't really show how big they are. This one is about 5 or 6 yards high. This area is called Angelstein, when I was a little kid, Gramps and I were taking walks here very often. I haven't been at the Angelstein in about 6 years, and Gramps died 22 years ago. But today I remembered all the "scary" stories he told me about bears and wolves.

This is a little path that goes up the hills. And these sandstone rocks are everywhere. But these are smaller ones.

Unfortunately you can't see how steep the acclivity really is. Crappy cam doesn't show it correctly. By the way, why are slopes on pictures always less impressive than in real life? I was so disappointed when I saw the pictures that I took in San Francisco after having them developed. Even Market Street looked perfectly level.
And again, this rock is more than two times higher than me.

The tiny path goes through this sandstone gate. You can't bypass it easily, on the right there is a fucking huge sandstone and a steep slope going up, and on the left a steep slope as well--but going down. When I was a little kid I was afraid that it will fall down while I'm underneath.

In the picture above there is a small cave. Again, it looks smaller on the picture. But you can walk in there, it's a small room inside. When we were kids we used to play in that cave. Today I wouldn't go in there anymore. Now I'm afraid the "little" stone falls down while I'm in there.

Here's another shot of the same cave. The plate says that the people of my village went to this cave for shelter during wars. It also says that in 1796, while the French were fighting against my state, a woman gave birth to a baby in that cave.

And this is me between all those rocks. Wait, am I a rock star? Sorry, that joke was too cheap...

... and here's another funny stone--which is much bigger than it seems. They are very impressive, but I agree, on the pictures they look like pebbles.


This is the ancient cairn that marks the border between my village and the next city.

I think the signature on this cairn is quite funny. There is a W to indicate the side of the village. I wonder what it means. Wilderness? Wald (German for forest)? And on the left there's a image of a house. This obviously means city. Neat.
As if we didn't have houses back then...

There was no snow, but it was very cold. Everything was frozen, the leaves made funny noises, because they were wet and frozen, and it was nice to come back home, where a homey fire in the fireplace was waiting for us in the livingroom.

A Christmas Miracle

On December 22th, I was on my way to my Mom. I had just left my apartment, and was walking to the closest bus stop to take a bus to central station, when I saw a guy driving towards me on his bike. Suddenly he smiled at me, and after a while I finally realized who it was: my former best friend Udo. I haven't seen him or even talked to him in almost 8 years. Seeing him again felt so good and made me very happy.

Although we didn't talk for such a long time, I felt very close to him. He is (or at least was) one of the very few people whom I can tell my problems openly. I'm very good in acting like everything is ok, even when I'm sad. Most people buy it. But I couldn't trick him, he always knew when something's bothering me.

Our friendship was very close. We saw each other almost every day. We were living 45 minutes apart, but I think I was able to drive it even being blindfolded. We were both living in small villages in the mountains, and we were driving to Stuttgart together at least twice each week. We hung out in clubs together each weekend. We also visited many themeparks--he's also addicted to roller coasters.

I also remember warm summer nights where we were sitting on meadows, and watching the stars.

When I moved to Stuttgart, he moved to another city. And he was working while I was free and vice versa.

You've probably seen me wearing a necklace on pictures, or my real-life friends have seen it for sure. It's a foreign coin from Spain with a hole in the middle on a black leather lace. He gave it to me a long, long time ago. I'm still wearing it almost every day in rememberance of our friendship. I should have showed it to him last week. I don't think he knows that I'm still wearing it. But probably he has seen it anyways.

Unfortunately I didn't have much time because I had to catch the bus. He turned around and walked to the bus station together with me. He's moved to Stuttgart, and is now living within walking distance. I was surprised he still knew my cell phone number by heart. There was no time to give me his current number. But he said he's going to call me after Christmas so we can meet up. I hope he really does. I would LOVE to get in touch with him again.

Merry Christmas

I have to leave in a few minutes. I'm visiting my Mom for the Holidays. Yeah! Here's my schedule of Christmas celebrations:

Dezember 24th
Heiliger Abend ("Holy Evening" i.e. Christmas Eve)
During the day we'll set up our Christmas Tree, in the evening we'll have a nice meal (fondue) together, and after dinner we'll open our presents. We talk a lot, play games.

Dezember 25th
1. Weihnachtsfeiertag ("First Day of Christmas")
On the first day of X-mas we're having a nice meal at noon. My Mom's going to prepare loin of venison with dumplings, delicious gravy, red cabbage and cranberries. She prepares everything from scratch and it's soooo good. My Dad is a hunter. As a kid I wasn't happy about that. Actually I don't want him to shoot animals. But I love meat. And in the end I think this deer had a much better life than any cow I would buy at the butcher. My parents are divorced, but they still get along pretty well.
In the afternoon we usually play games, talk, drink coffee eat cake and cookies. In the evening we'll have some salmon. Yes, Dad's also a fisher. Hey, I grew up in a very small village in the forrests in the mountains ...

Dezember 26th
2. Weihnachtsfeiertag ("Second Day of Christmas")
During the last years we either had leftovers or just a little meal for lunch, because in the afternoon there's a big celebration at my grandparents', and Granny loves to serve big piles of food, starting with cake, ending with a late dinner. All my uncles and aunts (of my Mom's side), and cousins will be there, and their kids. Some relatives are living abroad, but they'll all meet up that day.

Yes, we Germans have two Christmas Days. Both of them are bank holidays, all stores are closed. Since we have about three times more payed days off in average compared to Americans, almost nobody is working between December 24th and January 6th. It's a very quiet time.

I won't be online for some days. I hope that my precious readers will have a great Christmas, and I wish you Merry Christmas Gesëende Kersfees Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok Glædelig Jul Gajan Kristnaskon Hyvää Joulua Joyeux Noël Fröhliche Weihnachten Kala Christouyenna Mele Kalikimaka Nollaig Shona Dhuit Buon Natale Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto Sung Tan Chuk Ha Natale hilare Linksmu Kaledu God Jul Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia Feliz Natal Srozhdestovm Kristovim Feliz Navidad Kuwa na Krismasi njema Maligayang Pasko Suksun Wan Christmas Chuc Mung Giang Sinh Nadolig Llawen

Medieval Christmas Market

Join me on a journey in time. A journey to the Dark Ages.

Esslingen06 002Esslingen is a small town near Stuttgart. By train it takes about 10 minutes to get there. Unlike Stuttgart it wasn't destroyed during WW II, and it has a very nice medieval part. When I arrived in Esslingen I saw the low-battery light was already blinking on my camera. Quite unfortunate. But I was able to shoot at least some pictures.

Esslingen06 021I like the christmas market in Esslingen. They're doing it the medieval way.
That means no electric lights, only torches and open fires. They serve the food on plates and cups made of clay. They roast the food on open fire. The recipes and ingredients are ancient.

Esslingen06 009 Everybody who works there wears authentic clothes (not Disney-like authentic), and also their language is medieval, which sometimes sounds really funny. They have an old and small ferris wheel made of wood that doesn't have any engine.
 

 

Esslingen06 011I love medieval tunes. There are some stages where they perform music, magic or comedy, but everything is medieval and very authentic. I love it.


 

Esslingen06 010Whoever is planing this market in Esslingen is really talented. It just fits and is big fun.


 

Esslingen06 012One funny thing are two big wooden tubs on one of the places where people are taking a bath like they did some hundred years ago. I tried to catch it on camera, but it was very blurry.


 

Esslingen06 007Actually it's nicer in the evening. Open fires and torches everywhere. I had a great time, but my camera refused to work after some minutes. I wasn't able to try different angles or settings, and the pictures are not really great. I hope you liked them anyways.


 

Esslingen06 004

Have yourself a merry little Christmas at the radio station

Last Sunday was my Christmas show on radio. My co-host Thomas and I had Christmas cookies, gingerbread, mulled wine, some shots, and of course champagne in the studio. Ignoring the many signs on every door that say "No food or drinks in any studio EVER!!!". I mean, you can't eat or drink while talking, but during the songs it's just nice. We're always having champagne, but this time it was a nice christmas celebration.

We played Chistmas songs exclusively, from Doris Day, Wham, ABBA, Barbra Streisand, Boney M., and many others. By the way, do you know any other common Christmas song that contains the word "gay", except the one mentioned in the title?

This show was so much fun. A local band (five lesbians) stopped by for a short interview and played and sung a song live in the studio. We also had some other guests in the studio, e.g. the singer who played the mother in our radio comedy soap-opera, and of course we aired this episode. We had a blast. Probably due to some alcoholic beverages we started to sing along with the songs, and, of course, we made sure to broadcast our singing as well. This was also our two year anniversary show, and we got nice feedback from some of our listeners. One wrote in an email that he drives one hour in his car each week to get into the area of transmission. I replied that we're also having a internet stream. In fact, our most loyal listener is living in South Africa and listens our show to learn German--which probably isn't a good idea because I have a bold swabian accent.

The guy who's working the shift after our show laughed when he entered the studio to take over, because the studio was filled with a bold smell of mulled wine. We pribed him with champagne and some cookies. I hope the cookies got along well with the beer he brought for himself. Oh, sunday nights at the station are wonderful: peaceful and quiet. By the way, I pray that my bosses don't read my blog. :-)

What two answers are revealing ...

I found this test at Quantum Entanglements. I think this test is amazing. Just two questions, but the result hits the nail on the head...

the Perfectionist
you chose CZ - your Enneagram type is ONE.

"I do everything the right way"

Perfectionists are realistic, conscientious, and principled. They strive to live up to their high ideals.

How to Get Along with Me

  • Take your share of the responsibility so I don't end up with all the work.
  • Acknowledge my achievements.
  • I'm hard on myself. Reassure me that I'm fine the way I am.
  • Tell me that you value my advice.
  • Be fair and considerate, as I am.
  • Apologize if you have been unthoughtful. It will help me to forgive.
  • Gently encourage me to lighten up and to laugh at myself when I get uptight, but hear my worries first.

What I Like About Being a One

  • being self-disciplined and able to accomplish a great deal
  • working hard to make the world a better place
  • having high standards and ethics; not compromising myself
  • being reasonable, responsible, and dedicated in everything I do
  • being able to put facts together, coming to good understandings, and figuring out wise solutions
  • being the best I can be and bringing out the best in other people

What's Hard About Being a One

  • being disappointed with myself or others when my expectations are not met
  • feeling burdened by too much responsibility
  • thinking that what I do is never good enough
  • not being appreciated for what I do for people
  • being upset because others aren't trying as hard as I am
  • obsessing about what I did or what I should do
  • being tense, anxious, and taking things too seriously

Ones as Children Often

  • criticize themselves in anticipation of criticism from others
  • refrain from doing things that they think might not come out perfect
  • focus on living up to the expectations of their parents and teachers
  • are very responsible; may assume the role of parent
  • hold back negative emotions ("good children aren't angry")

Ones as Parents

  • teach their children responsibility and strong moral values
  • are consistent and fair
  • discipline firmly


Renee Baron & Elizabeth Wagele:
The Enneagram Made Easy, Discover the 9 Types of People
Harper SanFrancisco, 1994, 161 pages

If you want to take this test as well: The Quick & Painless ENNEAGRAM Test

There's no such thing as the German Christmas Pickle

I've heard of the legend of the German Christmas Pickle Ornament. This Christmas Pickle story seems to be taught in many American schools in German classes. And a little research showed me that many Americans think, the Christmas Pickle is a very important christmas tradition in Germany. If you haven't heard of that special ornament before, read on ...

A pickle is used as decoration on the Christmas tree seems odd at first, but it is an old German tradition. When decorating the Christmas tree, it is traditional to hang the pickle last, hidden among the branches. The first child on Christmas Day to find the Christmas pickle receives a special blessing for the year and an extra gift from St. Nikolaus!

Well, as you can imagine easily, there is no such thing as a Christmas Pickle in Germany. And it never has been. In neither area of Germany people ever hung Pickles in Christmas Trees. Believe me!

The Legend of the Christmas Pickle itself contains a few errors. Except the fact that the legend was made up by an American Ornament manufacturer, everything sounds like an American Christmas celebration. Because everything else in this story is more like American Christmas, since a traditional German Christmas is completely different.

Here's how Christmas is celebrated in Germany.


Real German Christmas Traditions

1. Each family has it's own Christbaum (Christmas tree). The tree is set up on December 24th--not earlier. And it'll stay in the homes till January 6th. Typical decorations are candles, Christmas ball ornaments and tinsel; sometimes (very rarely) real apples or oranges.
I can't emphasize it enough: There never was something like a Christmas Pickle. Really!
I think Americans put more things on their trees. I got a fratwork crab from a family in Maryland. She told me about a tradition in Maryland that each family makes these crabs out of wood and gives them to friends and then you hang them on your christmas tree. I still have the crab she gave me, but probably that's not a true legend either. Can anybody approve this story?

2. The Nikolaus (St. Nicholaus) in Germany delivers his presents at December 6th. When I was younger Nikolaus brought some nuts, oranges, chocolates and maybe a book or a CD. Small gifts only. I guess Nikolaus earns more money now, because the gifts he's delivering recently are getting bigger and more expensive. Anyway, he delivers only to children who were nice during the entire year. Nasty children however got spanked by "Knecht Ruprecht", his menial. "Just wait until Ruprecht comes" is still a common threat in German homes. Although there are no reports of children that really got spanked, Nikolaus is still commanding respect. When I was about 3 or 4 years old I was afraid of Nikolaus, although I've always been nice.

3. Children in Germany don't get their presents at Christmas Day. In Germany the presents are brought by the Christkind ("christ child") on Christmas Eve. The Christkind puts them under the Christmas Tree while nobody's in the room.
Children are allowed to open their presents right after dinner on Christmas Eve. Traditionally it wasn't a big dinner on Christmas Eve. In my state sausages and potato salad is quite typical. My grandparents always had sausages and potato salad. My parents however never made sausages, instead we often had a special pastry filled with chicken and mushrooms which is still one of my favourite dishes today. Today many families have Raclette or Fondue on Christmas Eve.

4. During the four weeks before Christmas, everybody has a Adventskranz (advent wreath) at home. The linked article on Wikipedia is showing a picture of a typical Adventskranz. However, the explanation on Wikipedia is not correct for Germany. Here's the real thing: It is a ring or set of four candles, usually made with evergreen cuttings. Then the candles are lit in succession through the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Each sunday one more candle is lit. The color of the candles doesn't matter. Most common color of the candles is red. And usually they're all the same color.

5. Each child has an Adventskalender (advent calendar). It has 24 little doors with numbers from 1 to 24. On the 1st of Dezember the first door is opend, then each day another one. When the last door is opened it's Christmas Eve and the children get their presents. Behind the doors there are either some pictures, but most commonly there are chocolates or other treats.

"Berlin Gay Mates" by Karim Konrad

My readers know that I never post random pictures of hot guys on my blog. That's not my mission. Usually I write about personal things in my life. But here's an exception.

Back when we still had our magazine I was always searching for artists to write about their art. We usually had three or four pages featuring an artist each issue. Some were amazing, I liked many things I've seen, and I think I've seen pretty much and quite different things.

About two months ago I got an email from Karim Konrad. He's a photographer who has just published "Berlin Gay Mates", his first book of photographs. He introduced himself briefly and sent some of his pictures. When I looked at them I was completely amazed. I can't really say why. I tried it in in German when I wrote my review. I'm not really able to put it in words. But I've never seen pictures like that before. They're colorful, they're bright. It's a candy-coated potpourri of flamboyant colors and erotic guys, of innocent mirth and horny admiration.

I like the composition of the pictures. It's a completely new style (for me), and it just works.

Quite often a picture taken by the featured artist was used as cover for our magazine. Usually I can estimate the success of a cover. The cover is very important. When we had a good cover, the magazine was out of stock in two or three days. If the cover was not perfect, we had to throw some magazines into the recycle bin when the next issue got published.

But I'm sure, one of those pictures on our cover and they would be fighting for the last copies. Unfortunately we're on a break and won't be publishing a new issue before June 2007.

I asked Karim if I may write about his book on my blog, and he gave me permission to do so. I'm glad I can show his photographs here, because I think they're really cool. I love those colorful accessoires together with the hot guys.

Ok buddies, check out Karim's Homepage at www.karimkonrad.com, there are more cool pictures.

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