Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Schatzland & Schnitzel

Schatz and Schnitzel

Schatz at home

Going back in time a little to the end of May, and a long weekend spent in Wallerfangen with Christina. It was a fairly relaxing weekend, where I managed to play trombone a couple of times with her orchestra. This included playing at the Villeroy mansion, for the 50th wedding anniversary of Msr. & Mdm. Villeroy, the same family that is part of chinaware maker Villeroy & Boch. Wallerfangen's main claim to fame is having had the Villeroy factory here.

Villeroy Mansion

Christina and the two Tobiases. Tobeece? Tobii? Tobiaserna (for you Swedes)


Then in July was it time for a weekend in Vienna, land of all cultural stereotypes that you can imagine, schnitzels, Mozarts, Klimts, and lots of large stone buildings from the epoch of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


Schönebrun Palace

BTW notice the summer sun? Compare that to pics from England, elsewhere in this blog...

Operetta at the palace. I wish we could wear bikinis. Not me personally, but in the summer and without airconditioning, the less clothes the better. No wonder bewigged aristocrats in layers and layers of fine clothes always hid their faces coquettishly behind large fans - to hide the sweat dripping down their faces. I had mixed emotions about the woman in the burka next to us who required her husband to fan her the whole time. Although she was almost certainly suffering, the husband had a proper fan which caused a decent rush of cool air to head in our direction also. Without trying to appear culturally insensitive though, surely dressing (or undressing) for the environment would be the better solution...

So they freed Willy, who escaped the aquapark and went on to open his own designer jewellery shops?

Not all architecture fits the grande mold. The Hundertwasser Hus...
which is of course an artist colony

The Sacher Hotel, home of the Sacher Torte
Lots of reliefs and such on apartment buildings everywhere

Monument to Strauss. Kinda ugly.

They only abbreviated the word by one letter. Not much of a saving really. And it doesnt really work with English pronounciation rather than the German, where it would read "Haitchspital".

People Pics

The RRFCS Tubeteers

I've travelled with people who stick themselves into every picture they take on holiday, as if there was no point in taking the photo without proof that they were actually there, grinning inanely in front of this building, and the next one, and this one too...

I don't.

Others only ever take photos of people at parties. Just people being silly and making faces and such. Every photo with an unattached shoulder on the side.

I don't, at least not often enough.

But just occasionally, I do. Or my camera gets into other hands and photos are taken. So here is a little exhibition of some of my friends/colleagues at RRFCS.

Hannes and one of the many Marks (9 at RRFCS?)


Mattias Kahl and Ilias


A hairy chested man with Hanne, Christina, Fiona, Guiliana (all of unknown hairiness).

Pierre & Guiliana

Pierre dancing, or possibly skurking away from his latest victim

Macho Hirad


Anna, inspecting Hannes' nipples

Alex, wondering what...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

So I have a girlfriend in Germany, limited leave, and not so much spare cash, so what do I decide to do? Take another few days off to visit her... NO! Take a whole week off and fly to Edinburgh, alone, for the Festival Fringe.

I am living the dream! Why? Because I love comedy, always went to the Melbourne Comedy Festival (the 2nd or 3rd biggest in the world) and missed such things while in Sweden. Actually, I lied a little about being alone. A German friend who I met in Sweden has his girlfriend in a flat in Edinburgh, and he was going to be around at the festival start and offered me the floor for the first few days, so that probably added that little extra bit of motivation to make the plans.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe incorporates comedy, dance, musical theatre, theatre, street theatre and has ~2100 shows over 3 weeks in several hundred venues, not including the simultaneous Jazz and Blues Festival, the Book Festival, the Military Tattoo (which adds 8000 people per night to the streets) , and with a staggered start the “proper” Edinburgh Festival.

It was great. I was there mostly for comedy, and saw 20 shows. Prices were generally around 10£ each, though big names charge up to 17£ for their hour, which makes it actually quite expensive when you think about seeing at least 3 shows a day.

I paid for the following shows:

  • The Liar Show
  • Two Drummers Drumming (actually just talking, not so funny)
  • Greg Fleet (a great aussie veteran, and even my german friend laughed at the half he understood)
  • Tim Minchin (One of the best. Has a great love song that might be called "If I didn't have you, someone else would probalby do, statistically speaking" see the featured comedian from 05/08/08 http://www.myspace.com/comedyuk )
  • Aluminium (an Israeli dance show in the vein of Blue Man Group / Stomp etc using funky balloons and expandable piping http://www.aluminum-show.com/)
  • Mark Watson (English comedian from my favourite show Mock the Week - youtube it, seriously)
  • Reginald D. Hunter
  • The Jim Rose Circus. Been around a while, but I never saw it until now. A strange mixture of really lame stunts and some shockers.
  • Office Party (an audience participation thing set up like a real office party where the audience are the workers, with staged entertainment, bar, dance-floor, competitions. Great premise, but could have been better.)
  • The Wau Wau Sisters (An Acroband - they do acrobatics while guitaring and singing. Cool)
  • Mould and Arrowsmith - Sketches via Powerpoint. (A pretty good sketch show)
  • Anaes Faversham -(a great victorian era murder mystery with great character style comedy. A pleasant change from all the standup I was seeing)
  • Kiddy Fiddler on the Roof - My winner for best name! It is a musical, about, well, what happens when accusaions of pedophaelia start flying.
  • Stephan Golaszewski talks about a girl he once loved (one-man monologue, great)
  • Spank! - the best night I had, this being the midnight to 4am show with various comedians popping in. Great atmosphere amongst the drunk crowd, and OK, so some acts fell flat, but it was a good mix. A Norwegian couple who didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves and were probably discussing where they would do the laundry tomorrow got heckled by a comedian from the stage, but they just didn’t get it. Other performers could promote their shows – if they nuded up on stage to do it. Highly recommended!
I think my favourite joke comes from Loretta Main (aka Pippa Evans), who after doing a gruesome song about ex-boyfriend revenge, made the disclaimer “I didn't really do all those things. I called the ambulance before it got too serious. But I did give them the wrong bloodtype, so now he knows what rejection feels like!” Okay, maybe it's in the telling.

There are also quite a few free shows. I saw several, and they ranged mostly from unbelievably bad to just shit, with the odd exception.

  • "I kissed a frog and it gave me herpes" was excellent, both in script, acting, and laughs
  • "Hollywould but doesn't think she'll bother" - the other end of the scale. I only stayed because I couldn't get out. A one woman show, with no point, no jokes, no acting ability, and no more words should be wasted
  • The next-worst act was on the first day where one of two comedians cut the set short because he couldn't remember the few bits of new material he had, and he didn't write any new material because he had indigestion.

So beware the free stuff!

Otherwise, the city is pretty cool. It is hilly and craggy, which means there are lots of little laneways and long staircases to explore which take you to places unintended. Which is fine on a lazy afternoon when you just want to wander, but can be confusing, annoying, and then physically tiring, when you can't find the right path to go from the underbelly streets up to the top ones in the pouring rain when you only have 5 mins to the start of the next show...

... and yes it rained bucketloads. Floods actually, as almost a month's worth of rain fell in one day.

I managed to pick up a bit of the Scottish lingo; they really do use aye as a standard response for yes, and wee for many things small but not golden.

Smash means to be out of notes and have a purse just filled with coins. Everything is a weapon if you use it right.

And the thick Groundskeeper Willie style of Scots is more a Glaswegian thing than an Edinburgh accent.

And of course there are more varieties of whiskey than you could think of to try.

So if you are a festival person, definitely make the pilgrimage. You'll love getting harassed by all the promoters with their flyers, the constant pleading for payment from street performers, the constant question "So have you seen anything good" to everyone you meet in every queue you stand in and every ticket counter person.

Just remember, you can't possibly see everything you want to, so don't stress over it (like I did one day paralysed at the ticketing tent). And if you go at the start of the fest, there hasn't been much time for reviews or buzz to develop over the acts, so its all a bit of a gamble, but pick a show with a funky name, and hope for the best!

Some pics:

Insert predictable "he's checking his cock-a-leekie" joke here

Tobias and Anne, the "local"

Artistic blur at the Jazz Cafe

Not the best angle of the Underbelly Pasture- it's a cow upside down!

The Castle

Overlooking North Berwick

More Jazz Cafe artistry