Friday, February 22, 2008


So we like art- but what is up with the interpretive music?

Last night we went to a modern art opening in an old squat house. Berlin apparently has tons of these where artists would squat in a vacant building and create a colony which the German government would then protect (pretty cool eh?) This one was particularly gorgeous with a 2 story entry way and mosaic arches. Good start.

Our friend Krysia had invited us to the opening after she had gotten a tip from another hipster friend so we really did not know exactly what to expect. What we found upon entering said archway was a white cloth laid out that with a block of ice melting under a spotlight. Can't say I understand the total narrative of this piece, but I'm no critic, power to the people wooohoo!

Climbing the stairs we see 5 paintings of women laid out in a cross with a piece of wood and an apple in the heart. As we discuss what it could all mean BAM BAM BAM, the drum it gets started. The artists themselves put on quite a show playing a variety of instruments from the drums to banging on a piece of metal to a harmonica to a chain. One guy is also toting a projector around shooting the beam of light around while tossing toilet paper around the stage and a women in a Kimono is opening her mouth awkwardly to emit loud groans. The main artist whose work we are looking at has wild gray hair radiating from his head and takes turns doing everything including shouting lines from a book. The artwork themselves were pretty interesting, with a fish bone motif making a frequent appearance and a variety of mediums used like the backs of cupboards, shopping bags, and blinds. I loved the idea of recycling all of this useless scraps and making them entirely different. However, Krysia was right when she said later the crazy music lessened their appeal. Maybe it's best not to see the artist?

Other rooms offered other artists perspectives including my favorite room from Charlotte Schleiffert's full length women with animal parts. One women's torso transformed to look at first if she was sitting on a chair, but her body actually morphed into 4 goat legs. Another horizontal piece has a person be rescued while pink and orange smoke waifed upwards past sketched chandeliers. A variety of other art was shown, which maybe Ian will get into, but probably not!

Afterwords we got a drink at a bar we had passed on the way in, the Milchbar (Milkbar). We were attracted by the fish & underwater scenes painted all over the walls including a scene where a polar bear is eating a seal, but Ian was first struck by something else. Remembering the name of the bar, all he saw were women and a it slowly dawned on him that he might have unwittingly entered a lesbian bar! Unfortunatly (becasue that would have been a much better story), it wasn't and we had to entertain ourselves. So all in all, all is well and a lot of randomness is going on.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Welcome All!

As the week of our move continues, we have been informed that Master Travis will most likely be visiting us in the next month or so. Hurrah!! On top of that we have plans to visit Sir Lasky in Dublin and he plans to visit us in Berlin. In addition to all this good news we have received word that the Ball-Mendenhalls will be joining us for 10 glorious days in April. Excellant. Everyone to Berlin, come along now.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentine's Day Mistake

Valentine's Day Mistake
When Ian woke me up to say "Happy Valentines" before leaving for his class at 7:30 all I could mumble was a puzzled, "It's not Valentines." Apparently he didn't hear me.

"Happy Valentines Day!" said his voice from the intercom as he waited to be buzzed up coming home from class. I told him again that it wasn't, and hit the buzzer. A moment later he walks in the door with a rose, some champagne, chocolate milk (it's my favorite treat), mushrooms, and a confused grin.

In the scope of mistakes, not bad at all and pretty funny. He told all the kids at school it was Valentines Day and just got a bunch of blank stares. Mystery solved!

Henceforth, the 13th of February will be known as Ian's Valentines where he confuses what day is, brings a couple gifts and professionally confuses the children.

...and we're home!

Whew! After some frantic scrambling we have agreed upon a studio in Freidrichshain. Red & white decor, nice kitchen, proper shower for Ian, washing machine, real bed,'s great. What a relief to have a home for the next 6 months.

New Address:
Ian Porter & Erin Ball
c/o Philipp Creuzberg
Mueggelstr. 31
10247 Berlin, Germany

send cash and bonds...and refried beans. Ok not really- just the cash and bonds!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

It's Official...

...we are moving. For better or worse we are outta here by the 25th. We have actually been a bit proactive & have a few possibilities, but we will see where Berlins winds blow. To the East or the West or into a dark Soviet hole of a cramped apartment. Till then we will play our cards a bit close to the chest and hope evil spirits aren't watching.

In a side note, one of my pictures of Vienna was picked up by Schmap, an on-line interactive guide map. There is a link to it in the column to the left. So officially I am "published"...with a pretty straight forward picture of a pestsaule and no payment. damn it.

Kids now-a-days...

There are times when I love my job, and then there are times when I utterly despise it... namely when I have a class with a little bastard named Justin. Every time my Thursday afternoon classes roll around, a shiver rolls through my spine. This shiver is reminding me of the cold heart of Satan's very own spawn: the very same Justin as mentioned above. From him running around the room, to throwing legos across it, there's really nothing I can do to keep him in control... unless of course, mention soccer. Soccer, and my growing disdain for it and the German's uni-lateral support of this "one and only" sport, almost shares my wrath I feel towards this child. I must, however, leave soccer to it's own blog topic. And here too I must turn my attention away from the negatives of teaching children (Justin) to the funny things I've experience, or else I have an attack thinking about what this Thursday brings...

I think the funniest thing about the kids here in Germany, is that pretty much everything they say is in German... naturally of course, seeing as we are in GERMANY! But I guess what I find funny about it is the way in which the kids put their sentences and the words they use. For instance our first experience with a funny child phrase was early in our trip, Munich I believe, where upon hearing he couldn't get a sweet, he responded to his mother, "Wahnsinn," or for the rest of the audience, "madness." I mean, what child would say such a thing back home? Maybe one to be destined to become either Frasier or Niles Crane.

The other day in one of my youngest classes, a girl kept repeating to me, "Nase laueft, Nase laueft, Nase laueft," which means "nose is running, nose is running, nose is running." I almost started laughing right in her face, but luckily I controlled myself and gave her one of my very economically cheap tissues (seriously, you can buy like 30 travel size packages for like 1.50 euros!), which she promptly threw onto the carpet after using it.

Right now I'm actually drawing a blank on further funny things said by German kids, but there are more, I promise. Something that I found funny and disturbing at the same time, and which keeps coming back to my mind, is the response I got from a boy named Mohammed (whose parents come from Egypt). After asking him if he or anyone in his family had ever been to the US, he said, "no and I'll never go. They'll kill me there." It really bothered me at the time, and it still does a little bit even now. I tried to explain to him that it's not like that at all, and that there are even more Egyptians and arabic peoples in the US than all of Germany. I don't know if he believed me, but something tells me his parents don't believe that, or else he wouldn't be taking English...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Making Friends

You never know how hard it is to make friends till you leave all of your own behind. Everyone here has their networks of friends from childhood, work, and social groups. You get friendly with some, but many slip by as acquaintances rather then someone you can laugh with. Luckily for me, Ian is a friend magnet and attracts all types! After a lot of hanging around the computer and staring at each other, we are finally creating a pretty good friend base here in Berlin.

Last weekend entailed a couple friendly enterprises- a house party, our first non-Washingtonian guests, the super bowl, and a somewhat unwelcome tag along. The house party was a success although the Israeli/German guests just weren't putting their full wrist action into beer pong. I guess some thing don't translate. A couple Ian works with joined us at the apartment before the Superbowl to talk about Germans, stamps, and you know- stuff. From there we started out for our favorite sports bar- Salamas with a surprise guest. Ian can take it from here:

" The game started at 12:30 here, so we got on the tram around midnight with our friends to go to the bar. As we're waiting, this drunk guys comes right up to us and joins our circle. He spoke to us in English, and he even had somewhat of a British accent. Come to find out, he's some gay German guy, and he decides to tag alone with us for the night. Almost the entire first half he's sitting next to me, chatting my ear off. I just wanted to watch the game! Luckily he left pretty quick after half-time, but not before hitting on our friend. It made for quite the experience."

Ian means he hit on Justin, our new Canadian friend with his girlfriend Krisha & I trying to tell the German "No, you should not fondle his bum!" It was an event. May every weekend be that exciting...but maybe without the aggressive attempts at a pick-up. Maybe.

Friday, February 1, 2008


The one flaw we have found in Germany's spotless transportation sytem (ok- besides the poor customer service) is the strikes. This is the third strike since we have been here & while they are only moderaty inconvient they are weird. First, they announce the start AND stop date of the strike, there is some last min.- are they or aren't they?, and then they run limited transport from (this time) midnight Fri- 3pm Sat. Odd.

Last night Ian & I went to Museuminsel which is free from 6- 10 on thursdays. When we took the tram home around 10 the conductor was driving like a madman. Are they excited to have a day & 1/2 off? Do results actually happen from these bizarre stand-offs? Supposedly if they don't get what they want they will hold a strike with an indefinite end point, but why are they striking so frequently if the issues are resolved?

We are still big fans of transportation here, but this a mystery even the native Germans seem to have trouble explaining.

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008