Susan Boyle Sings on Britain’s Got Talent

Britain’s got Talent! As for the opening act of the season, we were told as children: Don’t judge a book by its cover. The old “freakshow” is alive and well, and it’s still got morals for the masses.

The embedded video doesn’t run, so see it here.

What I’m doing with this
A group of adult students (conversation class) will watch this and take parts of articles (Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and Perez Hilton‘s blog) to extract words describing Susan Boyle’s abilities and attributes and put them into categories of their own making (looks, ability, intelligence, status … or nice/nasty… or ….). The group I’m thinking of doing it with is small, so it’ll be a card writing and sorting whole class activity. A “freakshow” story like this? We’ll be talking about what we classify as normal, subpar and extraordinary.

Pink by Aerosmith

A pink song of the week? I could have posted Pink’s “Dear Mr President”, but I don’t even want to think about the guy. Pink Floyd? Too serious. But Aerosmith’s Pink is old and it’s still nice. Back in 1997 when this was a hit I was writing about freaks and monsters. It must have been in the air.

Pink it’s my new obsession
Pink it’s not even a question
Pink on the lips of your lover, ’cause
Pink is the love you discover
Pink as the bing on your cherry
Pink ’cause you are so very
Pink it’s the color of passion
‘Cause today it just goes with the fashion
Pink it was love at first sight, yea
Pink when I turn out the light, and
Pink gets me high as a kite
And I think everything is going to be all right
No matter what we do tonight
You could be my flamingo
‘Coz pink is the new kinda lingo
Pink like a deco umbrella
It’s kink – but you don’t ever tell her
Pink it was love at first sight
Pink when I turn out the light
Pink gets me high as a kite
And I think everything is going to be all right
No matter what we do tonight
I want to be your lover
I wanna wrap you in rubber
As pink as the sheets that we lay on
Pink is my favorite crayon, yeah
Pink it was love at first sight
Pink when I turn out the light
Pink it’s like red but not quite
And I think everything is going to be all right
No matter what we do tonight

Creatures of the night

Campy creatures of the night: Restrained Edward (Robert Pattinson/ Twilight) has replaced unrestrained Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry/ Rocky Horror Picture Show). Poor Edward: a brooding, earnest, long-suffering teenager without the relief of being able to laugh himself out of his addiction. No, give me liberating camp any day. Read Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp” online here. The best quote from it is actually not by her: “Life is too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.” (Oscar Wilde, Vera, or The Nihilists)


Halloween is a wonderful celebration for young people. But in Ireland, where it originated, and in the States, guys, not here in Germany. Here, it sucks. There is no tradition, and it just doesn’t work.

My mother sewed me my first costume at age two, and I went as a green Peter Pan. At four I got another fairy costume, this time with pink lacy wings made from a clothes hanger. It took me until puberty to cross over to the Dark Side. The routine was easy: I got together with friends, usually under the guidance of a parent or older brother or sister, and we would go from door to door saying “Trick or Treat.” Then we’d collect candy bars and get incredibly sick from all the sweets. Heaven. My father, on the other hand, would stand at our door and hand children apples, which they would accept more or less politely and then throw into the bushes (of course). It’s amazing that our garden didn’t turn into an orchard.

Thinking back, the best party I ever gave was a Halloween Party at age 17. We lived in a very big house, and my parents hid upstairs in bed and pulled the pillows over their heads, like good little parents. Downstairs I moved all of the furniture out, set up a large keg of beer, a huge pot of chili and tons of chips, a record player and my extensive record collection …  and the whole neighborhood came. Costumes included a boy wearing his mother’s wedding gown, two guys in golf clothes who putted across the dance floor without speaking to anyone, a boy and a girl who arrived separately from one another in 50s clothes and promptly fell in love, assorted vampires and zombies and monsters, of course, and a man in a gorilla costume. I never did figure out who he was. I think 70 people came, and we had a blast.

These days not everyone goes in for my brand of minimalist fun. More money is spent on Halloween, with its decorations and costumes, than on any other celebration except Christmas.

But Halloween in Germany? No way. Forget it. Boycott it. Down with German Halloween!

For the Leos

lionelAn amazing number of Leos populate my world. Family and friends, colleagues and students, this one is for you:

Meet Lionel, the Lion-Faced Boy, aka Stephan Bribowski from Poland, who graced freakshows at the turn of the century. He was covered in luxurious blond hair, a condition called Hypertrichosis, which according to circus lore was due to his mother having witnessed Lionel’s father being mauled to death by a lion when she was pregnant. A legend, of course.
Continue reading For the Leos

Maurice Sendak turns 80

Maurice Sendak, writer and illustrator of immortal children’s books, turns 80 today. He finds that children’s experiences in particular—joy and discovery, fear and suffering—are among the purest and strongest ones there are. And children recognize that he is truly talking to them. For me, “Where the Wild Things Are” picked up where “Beauty and the Beast” left off. In Sendak’s cosmos, monsters are moody, melancholy beasts that a child can tame and overcome. Max’ order, “Let the wild rumpus start!” is quite possibly the best invitation to a party ever. (Sendak has fans at Lesekreis.) Sendak is still going strong…


Pop-up book 2007: Mommy?
Continue reading Maurice Sendak turns 80

Animating girls

Two very different scenes – street theater and pixels – and yet somehow they are mirror worlds inhabited by the same kinds of dreams. We love puppets of all kinds, don’t we, especially those who seem to really come alive when we pull the strings. Who’s controlling whom? A little creepy (unheimlich) and wierd – but magical wonders. Come see the amazing little girl giant and her virtual cousin. Continue reading Animating girls