Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Monty Python Live (Mostly)

Last week, I was flicking through one of the free local “what’s on” magazines when I noticed a photo of the Pythons. I closer look revealed that the finale of the new show, “Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go” was being broadcast live at a local cinema, just down the road from where I live. I mentioed it to Jan and a couple of friends, and four of us decided to go. So 8 o’clock on Sunday, 20 July saw us sitting in the cinema, popcorn at the ready, watching the pre-show while waiting for the main event to start.

The show included both classic sketches (including the dead parrot and the Lumberjack Song) performed live, digital footage of original sketches starring Graham Chapman, and some new/updated bits. In the media, reviews were mixed. Some have said the older sketches were dated, but personally I didn’t see it like that. Some things just don’t age! Although I did think having the scenery match the old-style furnishings in the old recorded parts was an excellent idea. There were cameos by Mike Myers (terrible! Instead of adding to the sketch, he just started sucking up to the Pythons!) and Eddie Izzard (he did a much better job!). My favourite parts were the new additions to the Penis Song (a verse about how nice it is to “own your own vagina” and one about bottoms), the Galaxy Song (because “Pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space, ’cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth” is my absolute favourite line in any Monty Python song) and the excellently choreographed dance for “Sit On My Face” (too funny!). Of course, it was faaaar from being politically correct, but I wasn’t expecting it to be! Personally, I thought the Pythons were just as funny as ever. Knowing that this would be their last performance made it that bit better, although also bitter sweet. All in all,  I’m very glad I happened to notice that this was being shown in Karlsruhe!


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Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

I read this book as part of the 2014 summer reading challenge with Megan at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. This book was for the category “Read a book written by a blogger” which is worth 25 points.

book5The plot
If you’ve read the Hyperbole and a Half blog, then I don’t need to tell you what the book is about. And if you haven’t read the blog then why not? Have you been living under a rock? ;-) Basically, both the blog and the book feature anecdotes from the author’s life complete with hilarious cartoon-style pictures. The book has some stories that have featured on the blog plus some new ones.

My review
I knew before this book even arrived that it was going to be a good one. I love the blog, so I was fairly confident that I was going to love the book. And I did. Simple blog is my favourite character, and Allie’s post on depression should be a must read for everyone (here’s a link, go read). This book gets ALL THE STARS! (If you don’t get that, go read the blog!) Allie is very, very funny – even when talking about serious topics – and I love her drawings. The only disappointing thing in my opinion was the lack of Alot in the book. The Alot is my absolute favourite blog post by any blogger, ever! Also, some of the later stories weren’t quite as good. But overall, the book is amazingly excellent and definitely gets 5 out of 5 stars from me.


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Chicken and gnocchi bake

This isn’t exactly an earth-shattering recipe. Anybody could have made it up (in fact, lots of people probably already have.. I didn’t check, but I bet there are similar recipes all over the Internet!). It was very tasty though, and pretty quick to make. So I give you chicken and gnocchi bake. The amount below serves two.

FoodIngredients:
400g chicken breast, chopped (I bough the pre-chopped variety, because I’m lazy)
400g gnocchi
1 courgette, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, tarragon, etc. I used dried mixed herbs
Grated cheese
Oil for frying

Method:
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. While the oil is heating, put on the water for the gnocchi.

2. Fry the chicken until it’s almost cooked through then add the courgette to the frying pan. Put the gnocchi in the water once it’s boiling then, when it’s ready, drain it and add it to the frying pan.

Chicken, courgette, gnocchi

Chicken, courgette, gnocchi

3. Add some herbs then stir in the tin of tomatoes.

4. Place the contents of the frying pan in an oven-proof dish then grate cheese all over it – as much or as little as you want.

5. Bake on 180°C/350°F for about 20 minutes until the cheese has melted, then serve.

Look at all that cheesy goodness!

Look at all that cheesy goodness!

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! This is also a recipe that could easily be modified, for example by using spinach instead of courgette or leaving out the chicken and using other vegetables to make a vegetarian version. It’s great comfort food! (Although not really recommend as a summer dish… it was 36°C the day Jan and I had it and we were boiling by the time we’d finished eating!)


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Friday letters

It only seems like two minutes since I came back from Vienna… and yet next week I have more time off! I’m working Monday then picking my brother up from the airport that evening, after which I have the rest of the week off. So far plans include a trip to Basel and a trip to Frankfurt (we’ve discovered there’s a Dialog im Dunkeln there too, so we’re doing that, and also going to the German Film Musem). What else we do will be up to my bro. But before that it’s the weeeeekend… and also about time I reintroduced Friday letters. It seems to have been a while.

Letters

Dear Deutsche Bahn. I realise technical errors happen and it’s not necessarily your fault, but having to take a regional (aka slow!) train to work the other day after every long-distance train going in my direction was delayed by 30 minutes and more would have been much less annoying if you’d just provided some information! I assume you know what’s going on, so tell people! Trust me, it will make your staff’s lives a lot easier. Oh, and while I’m at it, I do agree that air conditioning is a wonderful thing on a hot day, but if I need to bring a cardigan with me just for the train you’re probably overdoing it a bit!

Dear Good Reads. I was told you were fun, so I joined up. But nobody mentioned that being on your site would be very bad for my bank account. I get enough temptation from Amazon without your newsletters being added to the mix!

Dear Germany. Well done on your World Cup win! It’s nice to have a good team to fall back on since England are obviously never going to get their act together!

Dear weather. Pleeeeease stay exactly as you are and don’t return to the endless rain of last week. I want to actually do stuff outdoors while my brother is here!

Dear boyfriend. Thanks for buying teabags before I even realised we were almost out. You’re obviously a keeper ;-)

Dear brother. Can’t wait to see you on Monday!

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you have a great weekend. I have plans to go with a friend to an event of an English-speaking meetup group tonight. I don’t often go out of my way to meet English speakers so we’ll see what happens there…

p.s. If you like writing/receiving snail mail, check out Charlotte’s new project.


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Pearl Jam in Vienna

I don’t normally write reviews of concerts I go to because I’m even worse at that then I am at reviewing books! But a few people have expressed interest so here goes…

I actually bought the tickets for Jan as an anniversary present. I like Pearl Jam well enough, but he’s the one that owns several of their albums! So when I received an email saying they were coming to Berlin, I had to try and get tickets. Of course, the day they went on sale ended up being a day where I was travelling back from somewhere, and by the time I got online the venue had sold out. It wasn’t until the next day that I thought to check whether they were playing anywhere else in Germany. They weren’t, but Vienna was on the list and, amazingly, there were still tickets available. I chose the best seats that I could still get (standing tickets were obviously long gone!), but as I’m sure you can imagine, they weren’t exactly the best seats… (Although I have to admit I was actually glad we were sitting! It was so hot in there that I just know if I’d been in the crush at the front of the stage I would have fainted before the end of the first song and ruined the whole night!).

The sound wasn’t brilliant where we were, but halfway through the gig Eddie Vedder paused to say that when they were doing the sound check, he seriously thought the sound guy was screwed! Apparantly, the Wiener Stadthalle had the second worst sound of any venue the band has played ever. So maybe it wasn’t much better down in front? Although he did say that the sound was much better now the hall was full.

Despite the less than amazing sound, it was a really good concert. The music went on for about 3 hours with barely a pause and every member of the band played excellently. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been so hot (partly as a result of sunburn!) and we’d had better seats, but neither of things are Pearl Jam’s fault! Based purely on the band’s performance, it was an amazing gig and well worth taking the trip to Vienna for!


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Bratislava, Slovakia

Since we were going to be near water in Vienna, I was determined to go on a boat. Then we discovered that there are regular boats between Vienna and Bratislava… and Jan had never been to Slovakia (I’m pretty sure I was there with my grandparents on a European tour as a teenager, but it was only a stop for lunch and I remember literally nothing!).

On the advice of Steven, who had coincidentally been in Bratislava the day we met up with him, we decided to take the train there and the boat back. He also recommended a free walking tour (the kind where you give tips at the end), which he had taken and enjoyed. The tour was at 11 and we wanted to buy tickets for the boat back first so we decided to get the train at 8:20 a.m.! The train journey takes roughly an hour and, unsurprisingly, I slept most of the way! On arrival in Bratislava, the first thing we did was take a bus into town (public transport was included with our train ticket). It was immediately apparant that we weren’t in Austria any more:

Bratislava

To be fair to Bratislava, we did see some more modern looking buses driving around, but we managed to get on one of the old, shabby ones ;-) It turned out we could have actually walked into town from the station, but whatever. We were there now, and it gave us plenty of time to find a bank, get some money out, purchase boat tickets and then find the square where the guide was supposed to be waiting. The tour was very interesting, but loooong (a little over 2 hours), especially in the hot sunshine. I tried to stand in the shade whenever I could, but it wasn’t always possible and I ended up sunburnt. *Sigh* On that same day, it was actually raining in Vienna ;-) Here are some random photos I took on our walk around the city. The first few are from before we met our guide and the rest were taken during the walk (the statue of Hviezdoslav was the meeting point for the tour).

The second to last stop on the tour was my favourite! Apparantly the guides like to take groups there because otherwise no tourist will ever find it! Our guide kept telling us she was taking us the “the blue church”, and once we arrived we understood why:

She wasn’t lying about the blue! It’s real name is the Church of St Elisabeth (Kostol svätej Alžbety in Slovakian), and even though it looks like it might be Russian Orthodox, it isn’t (we asked). It’s actually a Catholic church, built in the Hungarian Art Noveau style. Next to it is a secondary school built in the same style (designed by the same architect)… our guide assured us that most schools in Slovakia, don’t like that, but more like the abandoned communist era hospital opposite the church… a horrid, spooky-looking concrete monstrosity (sorry, no picture).

I wish my school had looked like this!

I wish my school had looked like this!

After the walk, we wanted to go for lunch (and I desperately needed a drink, having finished my bottle of water about an hour earlier!). The tour guide had recommended a place along the route that was toruisty but inexpensive and with good food, so we and another German guy from the tour (who it turned out lives just down the road from Karlsruhe!) decided to go there. We were told to try Bryndzové Halušky, a type of potato dumpling with sheep’s cheese and bacon. Jan and I went for a sharing platter which included that, a dish with the same kind of potato dumpling but served in a cheesy Sauerkraut mixture and Bryndzové pirohy, semi-circular dough pockets filled with the same sheep’s cheese. All very delicious! The bacon was extremely crispy, but also melted on the tongue.

Bratislava

It may not look like much for two people, but it was extremely filling!

By the time we’d found the restaurant again (we’d walked quite a bit after passing it), ordered and eaten our food, and paid the bill, time was getting on a bit, so we ended up heading straight for the boat without heading up to the castle or seeing the cathedral. According to our tour guide, we didn’t miss much not seeing the castle itself (apparantly it’s empty inside), but the view from up there is good. Oh well, some other time…
Our boat left Bratislava at 4 and took an hour and a half, leaving us with plenty of time to head back to the hotel, drop things off, grab the concert tickets and head out to see Pearl Jam…

**I am counting Vienna and Bratislava as my June 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge.**


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Vienna: Day two

Most of our second day in Vienna was spent at Dialog im Dunkeln, which I’ve already posted about, but I would now like to reiterate that it’s a really cool experience and you should give it a try if there’s one near you. (Also, we are now planning to visit the one in Frankfurt while my brother is here). Before we headed over there, we stopped at the station to buy train tickets for a day trip to Bratislava the next day. Once we’d done that, it turned out we still had some time left before our tour was due to start, so we popped into a church. I don’t remember the name of it…

We also had time to stop for a coffee, which I just had to take a photo of because art!! Having a pretty picture on your coffe may be an everyday occurrence for some, but it’s not something you see much of in Karlsruhe so I still get very excited about it.

Vienna

Once we’d done Dialog im Dunkeln, we decided to head to the Natural History Museum, stopping on the way for lunch. We ended up stopping at a cafe where we both had Mango Lassis to drink and ate the Indian Dal (spicy lentil soup).

Vienna

After walking for aaaages, we reached the Natural History Museum only to discover it was closed! We later found out that a lot of places had closed for the afternoon, although at that point we didn’t know why. The cute elephant outside the museum kind of made the wasted walk worth it:

Vienna

Next, we decided to try going to the butterfly house. On the way, we randomly discovered another exhibition, so we had a look at that. It was something to do with cables as art and featured a lot of extension plugs and wires, plus a weird video. I didn’t really get it…
By the time we reached the butterfly house, it was 5:30 p.m… 45 minutes after closing time. *Sigh* Since it seemed like museums were a lost cause, we decided to find somewhere to sit and watch the football instead, seeing as it was the day of England’s last match in the World Cup! (Yeah… we suck and didn’t make it past the group stage.) We found an Irish pub, where I drank Stiegl, a Salzburg beer.

As we were leaving the pub, we found out the reason for various things closing early… Putin was in town and there were various demonstrations/protests going on because of it. Here’s one that we saw for LBGT rights (I know there is sometimes a Q in there, too, but the sign we saw only had the four letters):

Vienna

We were both hungry by this time (even more so after watching people eating burgers and nachos at the Irish pub), so we went looking for something to eat. Jan found a brew-pub called Salm Bräu that had good reviews on TripAdvisor, but mostly from tourists. It turned out to be an okay place, but not somewhere I would recommend. The food was nice but forgettable, and my beer mostly tasted of yeast. Jan had a dark beer, which I tried but can’t even remember what I thought of. Never mind, have a photo of our beers anyway:

Vienna

By the time we’d eaten, it was pretty late, so we decided to head back to the hotel. On the way, we passed some kind of monument/memorial with cyrillic writing on it that had been cordoned off earlier in the day. Jan was curious, so we went to have a look at it. It didn’t take me long to get bored with his attempts to interpret the cyrillic, so I turned my attention to the fountain opposite that was all lit up.

I also took a photo of it in green, but I think two photos of the smae fountain is enough for a blog post ;-)
After I went back to Jan, a Russian couple came up to us and helped with the translation of the cyrillic so we could finally get on our way! ;-) I wanted to get some sleep as we had an early planned the next day…
And that was Tuesday. Coming up next: A day in Bratislava, Slovakia.

*I am counting Vienna (and Bratislava) as my June trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge*

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