Sunday, May 27, 2007

originally an email sent Feb 12, 2007

I have some tales to relate after my first couple days in Bremen. Nothing as exotic as eating centipede. My brother is either bolder or dumber, and since he lives in China, I lean toward the former. The food here has been quite tasty, and the Beck's brewery is about a mile away. Both of these contributed to some good fun on Saturday night. I arrived Saturday afternoon, and quickly concluded that their mass transit system is vastly superior to anything in SoCal. Which isn't saying much. At the main transfer point, I saw not one, not two, but at least 30 men dressed as roosters playing trash cans with drumsticks. Several policemen and a few hundred passersby were cheering at them and throwing tennis balls and playing music. So this was very entertaining to me, and perked me up after 17 hours on a plane. I made it to the hotel, the Innside, which has a space theme to it and makes Sprockets look mainstream. I slept, then went to meet someone from the lab at 8 PM at the statue of the Brementown musicians. Then ensued one of my more humbling language learning moments:

Me: Vo ist den statut dem Bremerstadt musikerin?
German passerby: I don't speak English

So I shall work on my accent, as well as my definite articles. The latter, dem, would have been correct for a masculine indirect object, but since musikerin is plural, it should have been den. Notice how the author (me) keeps using the word "the," and the reader is not confused about which noun the word matches? Not so in German. [Later note: Michael Krohnen told me that it should be 'musikanten.']

I soon found the statue and met my host, who was very eager to take me to a Mexican restaurant. He seemed to like the fact that I go to Mexico sometimes, and the categories of Mexican food (he actually thought all Mexican food is the same). The place turned out to be pretty good - not especially authentic, but neither is Fidel's. Then off to some pub with a Beck's sign, which nearly all of them have. I tried unsuccessfully to convince them to give me a free drink for my birthday, but did get a nice waitress to sing for me.

Bremen is a surprisingly pleasant city given the weather. The sky is a homogenous gray. It rains or snows every day. An upside of this is that all the city streets are clean. Yesterday I wandered around and played tourist, and hung out in the Rathauskeller for a while because it has a cool name. The town center has dozens of renditions of the Brementown musicians, which I like. (I now suspect the chicken costumes were because of this; it's the easiest of the costumes to develop, since the other three musicians have 4 legs.) It is also funny because, as I remember the fairy tale, the Brementown musicians never made it to Bremen, and were such bad musicisans that they scared away some hardcore evil murdering brigands twice. I had a quiet evening, since I had to give my job talk in a few hours, and should get back to that. The university is OK, not as nice as TSRI or UCSD, but smart people and so far things are going well.

Here is one rendition of the Brementown Musicians. It is poorly lit, and I will get more.

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