The Regensburg Classic Car Meet

CCM-regensburgOn the first Friday of each month between May and October, there’s a Classic Car Meet here in Regensburg.  People with vintage cars bring their wheels out to see and be seen, and a different Rockabilly band plays each month.

It was still a little chilly for the May outing, but that didn’t stop people from coming out with their cars.  There were a handful of right-hand drive vehicles, and a few European makes and models.  For example, this marvelous golden Lotus Esprit.

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There were also some really neat old utility vehicles like this Jeep, which was for sale.

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For the most part, though, a fairly large majority of the cars I saw were vintage American cars.   Here’s some pictures to give you an idea.

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A pink Cadillac convertible.  I so want to drive this down Route 66, stopping at all the roadside attractions along the way.

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This taxi-hearse cracked me the hell up.  It’s got a brilliant paint job.

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Naturally there were a few tv and movie themed cars.  For example, there was a KITT modification on this one:

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…and there was the obligatory DeLorean DMC-12.

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Naturally, this one has a Flux Capacitor between the seats.

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One of the few right-hand drive cars I saw.

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Have you ever been to a classic car meet?

Like a shark.

I’ve heard it said that the first person you meet when you go abroad is yourself. I’ve found this to be kind of true for myself. I’ve learned some things about myself that are no surprise at all, but some of my epiphanies are… not what I expected. Here’s a few of them:

I learned that music keeps me sane.

I already knew this to a point- I knew that music is hugely important to me. I have a freakishly diverse taste in music and most of my friends will agree that if the tv is off and I’m awake, I pretty much always have music running.

What I didn’t really grasp fully was that without music, I get cranky. Really cranky. When my mood is very very high, it can settle me down. If my mood is very very low, it can bring me up.

I’ve commented before that music is often the impetus for a new trip for me, so it serves to keep me exploring as well. Between now and the end of the year, there are four concert trips on my calendar, with another two on my “thinking about going” list.

I’ve learned that I’m pretty relaxed about public transportation.

I haven’t driven a car since last November, and I’m pretty ok with that. I’ve really enjoyed the planes, trains, and bus rides that have made up my experiences in Europe. Even when I’ve gotten turned around, misdirected, delayed, and mildly lost, I’ve kind of had fun.

In addition to that, I really love riding on the rail system here. I’ve been on ICE trains hurtling along at speeds upwards of 250 kilometers per hour- it’s fast, quiet, and very comfortable. There are power outlets on the train, so I can watch a movie or read or listen to music without worrying that I’ll run out of battery before I reach my destination. Most of the trains even have a little cafe/restaurant car called a Bordbistro where I can get a drink, a snack, or a full meal. And best of all, there are no flight attendants telling me that I can’t get up to use the restroom when we’re leaving the station.

Trains are good.

I learned to spot more things that give me headaches.

I’ve had headaches at a mild migraine level for as long as I can remember. I’m always looking for new triggers because having headaches this often sucks royally. I knew that McDonald’s french fries are typically a trigger for me. I think it’s the high sodium, but I’m not positive of that because other french fries don’t necessarily affect me the same way. I learned very recently that Currywurst has the same effect on me as McDonald’s french fries- a near instantaneous spike-in-the-eye-socket of a headache. I’ve also had headaches triggered by the weather patterns that come off the Alps, but I’m not sure whether it’s low pressure or high pressure or both that does it. Speaking of pressure, I’ve learned that any ICE train ride of more than about three hours will trigger a massive headache that makes me useless for most of the rest of the day.

I’ve learned that I’m a pretty adventurous eater… to a point.

When I was in Hong Kong a few years ago, I tried Fugu (blowfish), kangaroo meat, jellyfish, and Thousand Year Egg. None of them bothered me in the slighest, but as soon they brought out the duck with the head and neck still attached, I got pretty squicked out.

On a recent trip to Berlin, I tried the Pferdfleisch pizza. That’s horse meat. It was a little like salty bacon, to be honest- it’s not a flavor I would seek out, but it wasn’t bad. Two days before the horse meat pizza, however, I was at Dult with Jenny and Robert for dinner. Robert purchased a cooked and breaded fish for his dinner, but the thing was still mostly intact. It had a head, a tail, and a spine. That just grosses me out.

I’ve learned that I have to keep moving.

This was a difficult realization for me. I’ve always felt like I was more or less comfortable in my own skin, but then I started to notice certain patterns in my own behavior. If I don’t have very specific plans- somewhere to go, something to do, or someone to see- I tend to isolate myself. My personal inertia can easily keep me stuck in the apartment for a day or an entire weekend. I might be able to peel myself out for an hour or so to get some food, but that’s it. If I don’t have plans, I won’t go anywhere. When I feel like that, I don’t get anything useful done at home either. Homesickness and loneliness can be insidious that way.

I read once that sharks have to keep swimming or they’ll sink to the ocean floor. Without the forward motion to keep water flowing over their gills, some species will even die. That’s kind of how I feel these days, like I need to keep moving or I’ll sink.

I tried to stay put for the month of August, and I made it one weekend before I made plans to leave town again. Two months ago I thought I had locked in all my travel plans through my end-of-the-year US trip, but since that time I’ve added four more small trips, and I’m considering several more.

My friends back home, commenting on the near-constant traveling that I’ve been doing for the last six months, often rave about how awesome my life must be and what an amazing experience I’m having. On paper, they’re absolutely right. Compared to many people, I have a pretty amazing life. Hearing it said just makes me feel worse though. Makes me want to go somewhere else.

Yup, gotta keep moving.

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Nobody can do it like a Dampf Lok!

It would be fair to say that a great deal of my musical taste was formed in the 1980s.  Brian, my best friend at the time, was constantly sharing music with me, and I absorbed it and ran with it.   He introduced me to diverse artists such as Kraftwerk and Mannheim Steamroller, both of which I still love to this day.  Then there were the musicals.   I’m an unabashed and admitted musical theater geek, but I wouldn’t be if Brian hadn’t had musicals in the collection.

In 1984, he got the soundtrack to a new Andrew Lloyd Webber show that had just hit Broadway called Starlight Express.  The show is about toy trains come to life in the mind of a small boy, and it’s a spectacle-  the actors portraying the trains perform on roller skates.  I wanted to see it badly.

The original Broadway run was only a few years, but the UK show was on the West End in London for years- over 7400 performances.   In the early 1990s, I found out that another friend of mine, Chris, had been to see it in London.  He told me that he fell asleep during the show because he was jet-lagged, and I never quite forgave him for that blasphemy.

In 1992, the London show was heavily revised as “The New Starlight Express,” and a new cast recording was released.  I didn’t care much for the revisions-  they removed a villain character who I always felt was vital to making the plot interesting.  They also dropped a few songs that I was particularly fond of, and added a bunch of new songs that I didn’t think were as good.  I still wanted to see it though.

(Editor’s Note:  If you’re interested in a  detailed breakdown of the changes made in the 1992 version, the Starlight Express Wikipedia article contains more information than anyone will ever need.)

About two months ago, I was perusing a list of live music scattered around Germany.  Concerts, musicals, and the like were all represented, and I saw that Starlight Express was in Bochum.   A quick map check showed me that Bochum is easily reachable by train,  and I put it on my list of “I’d like to do that sometime” jaunts.  It’s a pretty big list.

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Concerts

This is not, strictly speaking, a post about Europe,  but it ties together.  With the Jazz Festival in town this weekend, I’ve been getting to see a lot of interesting bands, which got me thinking.

I love live music. I love all music, really, but live music is especially fun for me.

Much of my travel to a new city happens because of  a concert.  It starts when a band or artist that I’m interested in seeing announces a show.  If they’re playing within an hour of me, I’ll usually just hop a train to see the show but if they aren’t playing a venue within an hour of me, the concert becomes my next trip.

I saw Frankfurt because Thomas Dolby played there.  I saw Kempten because VNV Nation played there.  I’m going back to Berlin again in October because the Scissor Sisters are coming.  (Edit: It was cancelled.  ::sigh::) I’m thinking about seeing Covenant in Hamburg and Muse in Munich.  You get the idea.   I pass up more concerts than I actually select, despite the fact that I want to see them all.  There just isn’t enough time and money to see them all.

It’s nice to look back at what I’ve seen though, because I’ve seen a LOT of concerts, and sometimes I forget just how actively I’ve followed the music.  What follows is a list of every concert I’ve seen (that I can recall), including some well known comedians.  I’m not including musicals, broadway or otherwise, but that would add another dozen or so names to the list.    An asterisk (*) means I’ve seen them more than once.  I plan to add this post to the navigation bar on the blog and keep it up to date moving forward.

I’ve always thought you can tell a lot about a person by the music they listen to.  Judging by this list, I either have really good taste or a deep and fulfilling psychosis.

  1. Air Supply
  2. Tori Amos*
  3. And One
  4. Apoptygma Berzerk
  5. Fiona Apple
  6. Augustana
  7. Bad Company
  8. Baskery
  9. Bauhaus
  10. Ben Folds Five
  11. Big Electric Cat
  12. Lewis Black
  13. Black Tape For A Blue Girl
  14. The Blue Man Group*
  15. Jimmy Buffett
  16. Capitol Steps*
  17. George Carlin*
  18. Carrot Top
  19. Eagle-Eye Cherry
  20. Chicago
  21. Christian Death
  22. Peter Cincotti
  23. George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars
  24. David Copperfield
  25. Counting Crows
  26. The Cranberries
  27. Sheryl Crow
  28. The Cure
  29. Das Ich
  30. Depeche Mode*
  31. De/Vision*
  32. Dennis Deyoung
  33. Thomas Dolby
  34. Erasure*
  35. Faith & The Muse
  36. Florence + The Machine
  37. Freezepop
  38. Front 242
  39. Funker Vogt
  40. Gin Blossoms
  41. Glasperlenspiel
  42. Dana Gould
  43. Ellie Goulding
  44. Buddy Guy*
  45. Ichor
  46. Imperative Reaction
  47. Indigo Girls
  48. Inhouse*
  49. Eddie Izzard
  50. Jars Of Clay
  51. Eric Johnson
  52. Howard Jones
  53. Kansas
  54. BB King
  55. Chantal Kreviaczuk
  1. Cyndi Lauper*
  2. Legendary Pink Dots
  3. Lisa Loeb*
  4. Lonestar
  5. Bill Maher
  6. Malign
  7. Marilyn Manson
  8. Sarah McLachlan
  9. Meat Loaf
  10. Melotron
  11. Mesh
  12. The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones
  13. Mika
  14. The Mission UK
  15. Alanis Morissette*
  16. New Edition
  17. Nine Inch Nails
  18. Gary Numan*
  19. The Nylons
  20. Billy Ocean
  21. Patton Oswalt
  22. Owl City*
  23. Luciano Pavarotti
  24. Pet Shop Boys
  25. Emo Phillips
  26. Primitive Radio Gods
  27. Prince (as “The Artist”)
  28. Project Pitchfork*
  29. Rasputina
  30. REO Speedwagon
  31. Bob Saget
  32. Jerry Seinfeld
  33. Vonda Shepard
  34. Ashlee Simpson
  35. Sisters Of Mercy
  36. Slip and the Spinouts
  37. Lindsey Stirling
  38. Stomp*
  39. Styx*
  40. Sunshine Blind
  41. Switchblade Symphony*
  42. Tegan & Sara
  43. They Might Be Giants
  44. KT Tunstall
  45. U2
  46. The Village People*
  47. VNV Nation*
  48. Voltaire
  49. Wallflowers
  50. Welle:Erdball
  51. Winger
  52. Weird Al Yankovic*

Competitive Europeans, Part 1

American Idol and similar vocal performance shows are all the rage back in the US, but I didn’t know until last month that they all have roots you can trace back to Europe. I first started to hear mentions of Eurovision during trivia quiz night at the pub, but I had no idea just how big it was until the competition aired last month.  That’s when all the blog posts started-  I follow a lot of blogs from other folks who live in Germany, and after the finals were aired, there were lots of wrap up posts.

I wasn’t going to write about this, because so many other people have, but then I started to read up on the history of the contest, and I started to listen to the music.

It started in 1956. After Europe started to rebuild itself following World War 2, the European Broadcasting Union based in Switzerland tried to come up with ways of bringing together their member nations. They came up with Eurovision, an experiment in live broadcasting of a music contest that was based on an existing music festival from Italy. I say experiment because a multinational live television broadcast in 1956 was kind of a big deal.

The first Eurovision was held in Lugano, Switzerland in May of 1956 and it included just seven countries- Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Switzerland. 2012 was the 57th year of the Eurovision contest, and 42 nations competed.

The format is simple- each competing nation presents a live song, often with elaborate choreography, and the winner is decided by vote. The winning country typically hosts the following year’s competition.

Sometimes, the competition launches careers. ABBA won the contest for Sweden in 1974 with “Waterloo.” Celine Dion won the contest for Switzerland in 1988, so blame them for her continued presence.

Speaking of Celine Dion, the winner this year sounded a bit like her. Loreen, representing Sweden, performed “Euphoria.” With her jumpy choreography, it’s kind of like watching Celine Dion having seizures.

Buncha video embeds behind this ‘more’ tag.