29 June, 2014

21 days in Europe begins now (well, sort of)

Today is the first day of 21 days in Europe. Actually, it is the 10th day of 31 days in Europe, but I will start counting today, since it's the day that my travel partner has arrived. Thus, it's the day that this ceases to be exclusively a "work trip." Though, strictly speaking, even that's not true, since I had two weekend excursions to Innsbruck and Zugspitze, but let's call that "Work" and start counting from here.

I went to the airport this morning to meet Allie, and had everything planned to the minute. I would arrive exactly when her plane landed, and it would be (as the Seinfeld episode from years ago said) "The Perfect Pickup." But, as it turns out, I made a boo-boo. I forgot two things: (1) which direction is the airport, and (2) which day of the week the trains run. So, I walked from the hotel to Hauptbahnhof, proud of myself for walking, instead of getting on the train. When I arrived, I had a struggle (even with English language chosen) to figure out which train ticket I should purchase that would make the most sense for 3 one-way trips to/from airport (me there, both of us coming back). When I found the best option, I tried to purchase, and discovered that my credit card(s) would not work. On multiple machines, I tried, to no avail. So I went to the DB ticket counter, to be reprimanded for not taking a number (how could I have known?), already worrying that I would be late, and I found out that my card didn't work because you can only buy the partner tickets with credit card from the ticket counter, not a machine. Again, how could I have known?

Next, I go to the station, and I discover that the only way to get to the airport on Sunday from this location is to take the S-bahn and head back in the direction I came! I had to ride the two stops to Marienplatz, then another 3 stops to Ostbahnhof, where I would switch trains, and then get on S8 to the airport, whereas on a weekday, I could have taken S1 directly to the airport in the opposite direction (the routes run in a circle in opposite direction... except on Sundays). I knew this, but I didn't fully understand it, and I brain-farted on the Hauptbahnof versus Ostbahnhof directional details.

So, I figured I would be late now, by a lot.

But it turned out that I was not late at all, and the timing was perfect. So it's a good thing I didn't get particularly upset about the whole thing.

We took the train together back to Hauptbahnhof (this time on the S1, which does run in that direction), and then walked the rest of the way from there, about a half hour, weaving between huge crowds of people that had either participated in, or observed a road race that had happened earlier in the day.

After resting for a while and doing a little yoga (as in, a 3 hour nap, which I needed just as much as Allie, even though I was not the one who was supposedly jet-lagged), we went on a moderate length walk, just around the general neighborhood of Altstadt, just to get some air. The weather wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either. Then we went to dinner at a place called Kull Buffet, in the neighborhood of the hotel. It is a very nice place with great atmosphere and extremely nice service. It's owned by the same company that owns the hotel, but I didn't know that until after the fact. It was Wienerschnitzel Sunday, so that's what we had, along with Bartkartoffeln, both of which were great. And that was it for the evening of the first day.

23 June, 2014

A Literary Review of The Steve Miller Band's "Take The Money And Run"

This here's the story of Billy Joe & Bobby Sue
Two young lovers with nothing better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
Here's what happened when they decided to cut loose

The first verse sets the stage for what seems like a simple, perhaps trite, but potentially amusing story of typical youth in the 1970s. Disillusioned, bored, experimenting with drugs, and generally just taking it easy in life, with no real direction. Not unlike many stories from that era. At this point, other than the stereotypical characters, the story has modest potential.

They headed south to El Paso
You know they ran into a great big hassle
Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle
Bobby Sue took the money and run

At this point, very early in this story, I already feel like I have missed a huge piece of the setup. Where's the back story? Where's the character development? I don't know who Bobby Sue and Billy Joe even are, and next thing you know, BAM! Billy Joe has shot a man. And while robbing his castle, at that! Who lives in a castle in Texas? I feel like somewhere between heading south to El Paso, and running into this hassle, there ought to have been some diner scenes, perhaps some lovemaking in a truck-stop parking lot, perhaps an offer to do some kind of sketchy job for one of the locals, promises of better things that didn't come to be... probably weeks, if not months leading up to this discovery of some man who lives in a castle, to whose castle they can gain access. How was that possible? Was Billy Joe doing pool cleaning for him or something? Did Bobby Sue pretend to be flirting with the guy in a strip club, to gain invitation back to the rich man's house? All these things, I do not know.

And, best of all, after Billy Joe shot the man about whom we know so little (where did BJ come upon a gun, I wonder), Bobby Sue took the money. And run. Not ran. Run. Yes. Steve Miller was so determined to stay true to his song title, that he could not be bothered with kindergarten grammar.

Go on, take the money and run...
Go on, take the money and run...
Go on, take the money and run...
Go on, take the money and run...

No real criticisms about the chorus. It's definitely solid.

Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his living off other people's taxes

So now, things get interesting, because halfway through this epic, we are introduced to an entirely new character, also a Billy, but this time, it's Billy Mack. And at this point, I think that it was probably Steve Miller who was sitting around getting high and watching the tube, because he couldn't be bothered to tell us anything substantive about Billy Mack, other than the grammatically incorrect details about his knowledge of the facts (it was not, prior to this point, clear to me that there was any dispute about what the facts was). We didn't hear about the police. We didn't hear about probable cause. We didn't hear about evidence at the crime scene that would cause Billy Mack to have such certainty. We only know three things: (1) he knows what the facts is, (2) under NO CIRCUMSTANCES will BJ and BS elude the iron fist of justice (remember that, as it is important later on in the story), and (3) he works for the state.


Bobby Sue, oh, she slipped away
Billy Joe caught up with her the very next day
They got the money, yeah, they got away
They headed down south, and they're still running today

Without much of a struggle, Bobby Sue was able to wriggle free from the unstoppable Billy Mack. In fact, I am not sure that Billy Mack even had a chance to stand up from his desk and don his cowboy hat, before Bobby Sue was already enjoying Huevos Rancheros in the Chihuahua District. Keep this in mind when he promises he'll return the hedge clippers that he borrowed. His word is weak, at best. But, nonetheless, you figure, he's still got a decent chance of catching Billy Joe, who is apparently much slower moving than Bobby Sue, since it took him an entire day to catch up to her. But no. Billy Joe also got away. With the money. Yeah.

We're left hanging though, in the end, because they're supposedly still running. Even today. Thirty-six years later. Sort of like hippie, Bonnie & Clyde, stoner His & Hers Forrest Gumps.


Go on, take the money and run...
Go on, take the money and run...
Go on, take the money and run... ooh lord...
Go on, take the money and run

The "ooh lord" in the end really seals the deal on this one for me. A real quality piece of work.