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2007-07-05 20:32

Cherman-American Foopball, an idea whose time never came

Along with the fact that Japan beat Cuba in the final of the inaugural World Baseball Classic (a world cup-style tournament with national teams) and the widely-cherished belief on the part of FDRUSAians that the Zuperbowl is a global sporting event, the existence of NFL Europe is a something we have enjoyed knowing of.

Now no more:

De NFL Europe is met onmiddellijke ingang opgeheven.

The NFL Europe is with immediate effect ceased and desisted from.

We will now never sea the Hamburg Sea Devils - possibly the closest we've ever lived to a professional sports team named after a 1970s Dr Who villain - and farewell also to the equally preposterous Udmirals of Umsterdum, lately the only franchise ("team") based outside of Chermany itself. (We used to occasionally wonder just how popular the Waffleiron was in Chermany, but apparently not very.)

Still, we look forward to hearing of immense local enthusiasm for the Beijing Dragons, the Tokyo Sunrises and the Kyoto Emissions-Treaties as NFL Asia takes off in a big way over the next few years.

2007-07-03 23:54

Mitteleuropa, or: Stuck in the middle with you

The Countess informs us from Pressburg ("Bratislava") when Slovakian taxi-drivers and waitrons see you fumbling with a phrasebook you promptly get Chermanned.

That, Varied Reader, what we call Mitteleuropaeisch!

(Frankly if we were in a historische Altstad in Mitteleuropa we'd be flattered to be Chermaned. Engleesh stag parties, eh?)

2007-07-03 20:37

Actually-existing telephone conversations

[translated from the original Dutch for your reading pleasure.]

"With Mumble Wossname from Something-Something Bank; can I speak to Mr B., please?"
"There is no Mr B."

(The Countess retained her last name on the occasion of her marriage, and continues to be known as Mevrouw B., while we are known to the profane world as Mr. S.)

"Ah. Can I speak to Mrs B, then?"
"No; she is in Slovakia."

(She is, she is! We wish she wasn't, but she is!)

"Ah. In that case I'll try again later."

I don't think he believed a word of it, quite honestly, but we really don't mind that at all. It almost makes up for the time we found ourself obliged to grope for explanations, in Dutch, of why we had no intention of taking a trial subscription to the regional daily newspaper. (We foolishly overlooked, in the heat of the moment, the possibility of playing the non compendez card.)

2007-07-02 10:04

Stealthprinsess, slightly Danish!

It is Knudella and the Kronprinsfred, wider gesprogged!

Den ny prinsesse, datteren af kronprinsesse Mary og kronprins Frederik, fik navnet Isabella Henrietta Ingrid Margrethe ved den frste prinsesse-barnedb i Danmark siden 1946.

The new prinsess, daughter of Kronprinsess Knudella and the Kronprinsfred, received the name Isabella Henrietta Ingrid Margrethe in the first Prinsess-Dippning in Danmark since 1946.

It's a sign of the times and their a-changinheid that we had absolutely no idea this was coming. For some reason Dutch newspapers, and especially our trusty Trouw, content themselves with news of Dutch prinsesses and largely neglect the Scandiwegian variety.

In somewhat related news, the names Grimmo (for a boy) and Groukje (for a girl) are unlikely to figure in von Bladet family trees of the future, since they have been slightly vetoed. They join our particular favourite, Grimbert Jan, on the blacklist. Bah!

2007-07-01 18:44

A tale of two (2) Niedersachisches.

On the one hand, you have the mighty Nedersaksisch and on the other you have Plattdtsch.

While these are more or less interchangeable flavours of Low Cherman, both with extremely limited prestige value (in the media, publishing, legal status, schools enzofort), they manage to have completely separate Wikipedia editions, although we have yet to see any articles on either that don't amount to parochial navel-gazing.

As the Engleesh 'Pedia says:

There is no true standard orthography, only several locally more or less accepted orthographic guidelines, those in the Netherlands mostly based on Dutch orthography, and those in Germany mostly based on German orthography. This diversity being the result of centuries of official neglect and suppression has a very fragmenting and thus weakening effect on the language as a whole, since it has created barriers that do not exist on the spoken level. Interregional and international communication is severely hampered by this.

But since we're nominally in the taalgebied of at least one of these, our question is simply whether the EU would front us some gravy to write a machine-translation engine to convert between the various orthographies.

(In practice the province of Groningen has had a flavour of Bottom Saxish with a substantial Frisian substrate, and in more recent practice you'd be much better off with standard Dutch in at least the city of Groningen, which is after all a town populated in large part by students from all over the place who have neglected to leave.

It's just that we want the gravy.)

2007-07-01 18:26

De nacht van Assen / The Night of Assen

There's only one, for sure.

Anyway, we drove past the TT site on Frijday night both ways, in connection with O's leaving party from the sterrenwacht. It was pretty full by then, and quite a sight to behold, with tightly-packed random tents as far as the eye could see, and more than quite an odour to behold, with billowing plumes of the wet barbecue that the entire field was participating in stretching along the snelweg for kilometres.

We drove down in the evening, because we had booked our car into a monastic retreat for the day, which is like taking it to the garage only without anything actually getting done. Irritatingly, we cycled to the garage but then had to put the bikes in the car, because our new bike-rack-numberplate is still pending at the Halfords. Having been duly irritated by that, and being also very early for the party, we stopped at a Van De Valk snelweg-side hotel/restaurant for dinner. (Dutch restaurants are a of couse a cure for earliness of almost miraculous proportions. However early you are when you go in, you will not be earlier than on time when you leave.)

We had an actual T-bone steak for the very first time in our life! They are very good, but also every bit as large as the Beanos of our youth suggested. Crikey! We didn't try the ice-creams but they looked also very large, at least. We warmly endorse the Van De Valks if you are ever driving on a Dutch motorway and feel an urgent need for a serious dinner. (Their icon is a cockatoo, you can't miss it.)

That having been Frijday, its successor was Zaterday, and another party, this time family-flavoured. We were picked up at a train station in Drenthe by some schoonparents, and drove off down to Utrecht province.

Thing is, though, the day after the night from Assen is the TT, and immediately after the TT the roads are filled to bursting with motorbikers swarming two (2) to the lane and inside and outside and around and between the other traffic.

But the really weird thing is that throngs and throngs of persons from throughout Drenthe (and as far down as Zwolle which is technically in Overijssel) come out to stand on snelweg bridges, and stand on snelweg verges, and even bring camping stools to sit on snelweg verges to watch all this.

Really lots and lots of people, with chairs and thermoses or gas-powered tooty-horns, or just plain standing, for kilometre after kilometre after kilometre. Our mind, not for the first time when contemplating Drenthe, boggles.

2007-06-28 21:35

In which we pre-announce a marquis(e) and heir


To the extent that we are pregant, it is very strickly only by marriage. (Incidentally, if you are ever in the Netherlands and short of things to do, sieze a passing Dutchperson and have them say "marriage" - it will come out as three hilarious syllables. Then ask them for their recipe for water. But we digress.)

We're going to acquire a little baby! Yikes!

Little Boris (not his or her real name) is scheduled, rather whimsically, for 31 December this year, plus or the usual minus, when sensible persons are partying and/or admiring the many firewerks Dutchpersons set off to banish the evil spirits of the old year.

The Countess, who is doing all the heavy lifting especially on this one, is bearing up, the baby (nee spare) room is taking shape, the pile of unidentifiable stuff is taking an early lead over the also-briskly-growing pile of identifiable stuff we will need, and everyone within scrounging distance has been encouraged to add to either or both piles.

These things coming, as they do, in bursts and clusters, we have also very recently become an Uncle of the Blood to go with our dual Uncleships of the Marri-age - hello lickle Eva! - and the Countess's friends are coming down with baby's like they're the new flu.

It is just as well we are too bewildered by everything to appreciate the full implications of this. (As Steven "Ping-Pong" Pinker could certainly claim without impairing such reputation as he has, it is undoubtedly very plausible that way back on the Evolutionary Savannah it was an evolutionary advantage for hominid gentlemen not to grasp the implications of impending baby hominids.)


2007-06-28 21:12


We find that colleagues of a Dutch persuasion - and we have many - often greet our jubilant announcement that we are getting a trekhak fitted to our car by asking what a trekhak is called in the Engleesh.

We aren't, quite frankly, sure. We think it's probably towbar, though. Anyway, while we have officially renounced our brief infatuation with the idea of a caravan, we do want to take our bikes when we go on holiday, and bike-racks go best on trekhakkem.

We're going to Bottom Saxony this year, to a campsite right by a motorway and, more usefully, a small bathing lake. We asked the Bottom Saxons of the touriste board to send us maps of campings, which they have in the Engleesh, and they finally have, along with a map of attractions in Engleesh and a map of attractions in also Zwedish. We were amused to note that the Engleesh attractions (mostly castles) overlapped with the Zwedish attractions (themeparks and open-air musea) to the tune of literally not at all. The Bottom Saxons have apparently concluded, no doubt solemnly, since they are by no means a frivolous people, that Englishes and Zwedishes Do Not Mix.

We were also amused to note that they had decided to send the maps to the Groningen in the UK rather than the one in the Netherlands, apparently undaunted by the fact that there isn't one in the UK. Eventually a postie somewhere sent it back, and we even have closure on the distressing issue of the delay between asking and receiving. (Bottom Saxony is pretty much next door to Grunnen, and you'd really think the Bottom Saxons would know that, since it is after all a reciprocal relationship.)

2007-06-28 21:03

We went to Assen, once; it was shut

Normally the landscape driven through on our drive to work is pretty sedate - it is mostly fields with cows, fields without cows, and of course canals.

At this very particular time of year, however, it is fields with cows, fields without cows, advertisements for motor oil and bicycle parts, and of course canals.

This is the signal that the Assen TT motor-cycle race is in town, or at least in the town of Assen, or at least in Assen, in so far as you can call it a town. In the unlikely event of Assen ever getting on a map (other than of the province of Drenther, of which it is the "capital") the TT is sure to have been what put it there, but don't hold your varied breaths.

Also, there is a major encampment of persons just outside Assen, where we are lead to believe the TT-track is. We wish we were camping, for sure, but not especially there.

2007-06-06 22:02

Ben ik al en jaar in nederland?

We have been in nederland for a whole year as of today!

Notable firsts during that time: our first marriage, our first owner-occupied house, our first camping holiday and our first owner-occupied tent, our first garden and lawn-mower and our first in an apparently endless series of maintenance chores. Also: our second driving license, our third car (but first Yoorp-hand-driveian one), our third Real Job, our first and second daily newspaper subscription, our first Ping!Kamp with the schoonlaws, our first two nephews (by marriage), our first trip back to Blighty as a touriste, our second Sinterklaas, our first St Maartens (which kids celebrate here - it's morally equivalent to Halloween at roughly the same time of year), and our very first ever roasted pigcow roulade.

Our Varied Reader ought not to be surprised to learn that we like it here, and we're staying. (Ourself and the Countess had kept our conceptual options open, in abstract principle, about moving to somewhere perhaps more Scandinavian; that no longer looks even remotely on the cards in the short, medium or longer term.)

Also: the Hollandse Nieuwe ("new herring") season starts today, although the opinion that this is largely in our honour does not appear to be widely shared. Also, we haven't had one yet. (D00ds, where's our haaaring?)

Also: the Schoonpoes died this week. It is as sad as it can be when an old puss fails to recover from his Last Sickness. (Impertinently, the neighbours are away this week, and their little rode poes appears to have adopted us as second-best humans.)

Also: we had our first ever barbecue in our first ever garden this last weekend. (Barbecue is like dinner only studlier. So we invited lesbian friends as a precaution, and very wisely so as it turned out.)

Also: of the foopball interlands this evening, we have live TV coverage of Chermany but not of stinky old Eng-ger-lnd. It's taken us to beyond half-time to notice that we could get the Grauniad to tell us about it, since we have the Internets on anyway. Come on Estonia, please? We do not especially wish Brandname Beckham and Spud Rooney to be our fellow ambassadors for our "nation" (or whatever Eng-ger-lnd is supposed to be - we don't plan give a monkey's about Eng-ger-lnd until it at least offers us a passport, but you try telling that to Johnny Foreigner and he starts asking why Bavaria can't have its own team in the interland foopball, then, and let's face it he has a point).

Also: we put the 'puter down after typing the above, and it - it is the Countess's windose box - died before we got back with our new bier. Miraculously, Firefox saved our werk in progress. M-x all-hail-firefox!

2007-05-25 20:19

The necessity of longwave

The thing is that there is such a something as cricket, and cricket is a something of which we are fond.

The other thing is that the BBC doesn't have the rights to stream internet coverage of away matches to Abroad, and Abroad is where we happen to live.

However, the BBC does stream coverage on the old-fashioned electromagnetic internets we used to have when we were kids. And given that the part of Abroad we live in is unusually flat, and the diffraction-proof nature of the longer flavour of wave used for the cricket coverage, we ought to be able to pick up the radio here.

There is a flaw in this otherwise excellent theory, though, and it is this: our radio of choice is reluctant to acquies in it. Insolent radio! And, which is worse, the abundance of radio-related information on the New Internets is overwhelmingly perpetrated by Americans, and American radio fans like their waves somewhat shorter.

So we haven't been able to find a single review of a long-wave equipped radio, and this is, as our Varied Reader will readily imagine, other than a source of satisfaction to us.

Oh, and do not speak to us of digital radio, lest we speak on that same subject back. You wouldn't like us when we speak about digital radio, we're pretty sure of that.

2007-05-25 19:56


We have no idea, on the other hand, what Middelfart is all about. We do know, however, how we spent it: we spent it painting our shed and carport.

The glamour of bourgeois life, isn't it?

The other recent highlight of our intensely thrilling existence has been the streeksoap "Jonge leu en oale groan" (or something). It is set in rural Twente, and the dialect is often so heavy that they resort to subtitling it even for Dutchpersons, who mostly otherwise understand Dutch.

2007-05-25 19:53


We are this weekend celebrating the glorious festival of Ping! which is named, so best as we can tell, after an early breakthrough in communications protocols.

We are celebrating it by going camping for the weekend with our somewhat extended Dutch family. We like camping!

In the summer we may or may not have an opportunity to combine camping and Chermany by means of camping in Chermany. We very much hope it works uit!

2007-05-25 19:47


We are this weekend celebrating the glorious festival of Ping! which is named, so best as we can tell, after an early breakthrough in communications protocols.

We are celebrating it by going camping for the weekend with our somewhat extended Dutch family. We like camping!

In the summer we may or may not have an opportunity to combine camping and Chermany by means of camping in Chermany. We very much hope it works uit!

2007-05-13 17:55


Well, personally, we share the view of the waver of the "Where are Andorra?" banner. Call it friendship-politics or cultural affinity (we prefer the latter) but the semi-finals had more of it than usual: of the ten (10) countries that made it through, no less than ten (10) were of an Eastern persuasion, assuming you count Turkey as yet another Balkan country, and we for one do just that.

We weren't very impressed with any of the finalists this year, anyway, so we don't especially begrudge Serbia's lesbotic ultra-ballad its triumph. (Our household pooled its vote, and gave it to Chermany, who are consistently underrated in the standings. Unlike Blighty, which routinely deserves its negligible returns. (What were you thinking, Malta?!))

Belgrado next year, then!

(It's almost a shame that Polandland didn't win; we'd quite like to see how the entrenched homophobic ("deeply Catholic") bigotry of the population and its government coped with being the de facto gay capital of Europe for a day.)

2007-05-13 17:35

London, New York, Milan et al.

We are, we are very pleased to announce, finally back from our extended roadtrip to everywhere.

We had a good time in Londen, and a fairly rubbish time everywhere else. It turns out that Alitalia's route from Milan to the FDR operates as a major gateway from the Balkans, and on the flight out we and the Countess caught Albanian Death Flu from, we strongly suspect, a smelly Albanian Orthodox priest.

With the result that we ended up with a mighty fever when we were variously supposed to be Learning Stuff and Having Fun, both of which activities were thereby severely compromised in both their scope and extent.

In Boston, we saw plenty of the Sox of Redness on TV, and that was quite nice.

In New York, we made it to the United Nations, which is fun to see, and Central Park, which is OK, and that was about all we could manage.

In Milan, our attempts at tourisme were limited to an unsuccessful quest for delicious Italian ice-cream.

The Countess is still quite unwell; for ourself we're mostly sort of OK, but not much better than that.

We've always been a stay-at-home cosmopolitain at heart, of course, and we're all the more so at the moment.

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