choco_frosh: (Default)
Most guys get drunk and hit on women.

I'm too considerate, AND inept, AND terrified.

So I get drunk and invite people to Readercon.
choco_frosh: (Default)
Rosenmontag: How could we be bored?

You know, I never thought it would be POSSIBLE to be bored during Carnival, least of all during a parade. And yet, that was exactly what happened on Sunday afternoon. There was a parade of EVERYBODY involved in Fastnacht, from the five solid minutes of Blätzle at the beginning to the Waldwichtel house at the end. In between came innumerable bands, witches, wizards, goblins, people in oddly terrifying traditional costumes, and combinations of the above, as well as the pirate ship, the castle from the Stefansplatz dance party (pretty unbelievable, considering how narrow the streets are), the Kaiser riding on a zeppelin. It should have been exciting, fascinating. After three hours of it, it was pretty boring. Probably a lot more interesting if you´re marching.
Read more... )
A lot of the last couple of days of Vasnacht was like that, actually--I felt like I should be having fun, but was actually not doing anything very interesting. Unfortunately, we didn´t have anyone to go party with--almost everyone was out of town or unreachable, and my TANDEM-partnerin hates masks and brass bands, and was buried under an essay on eucharistic theology into the bargain. And on Monday, for the last night of carnival, Johann Albrecht was so packed out that you couldn´t get in, whereas every place else in the Niederburg seemed to be deserted as a result...
As such, I never did find out what Rosenmontag was supposed to be about.

Mardi Gras: We were late for the bonfire of the vanities
As I should have expected, Konstanz sees Fasnacht out in style. Unfortunately, we didn´t know this, and so missed most of it. We did get to the tail end of them burning a bonfire of the vanities on Stephansplatz, complete with bands and theatrically weeping Waldwichtel, but we didn´t actually see what was on there. And we missed the blazing Blätzle dummy on the Augustinerplatz, and the bit where the Seegeister are ceremonially banished back to the depths of the lake. They should really print up a weekend schedule...
As we headed home, the bands were marching their way out too. People were still headed for the pubs, but the mood was quieter, and a small boy remarked, in response to some comment "Nein, Fasnacht ist schon vorbei."

Donnerstag nach der alten Vasnacht: Despite the snow
Perhaps it´s not surprising, given how early they put them up, that the Niederburg only today began taking down the Fastnacht banners. Or perhaps it was the snow, which has given us little accumulation but a lot of white-outs, and caused bus service up to the Uni to be cancelled this evening. (Wusses. The slope isn´t THAT steep. They should see Ithaca).
It´s Donrstag vor Invocavit. I can believe that it´s Lent. I can´t believe I´m more than half way through the year. yikes.
I also can´t believe that it´s also (and much more importantly) Thursday Before the Berlin Fulbright Conference. Again, how time flies.
Well, I guess that´ll make up for my relatively low-key Fasnacht.
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Being some reflections (architectural, liturgical, sociological) on Narrengottesdienst (the Fools´ Service) at St. Stefanskirche in Konstanz.
We´ll start with the building. I´d never been in for a service before, since I usually go to the Münster when the Old Catholics aren´t having a service and I want to go to church but am not in a lutheran mood. St. Stefan´s claims to be the city´s oldest parish church, which is at least arguably true. The tower´s a familiar landmark, and Margaret and Catherine may recall the statues of the church´s patron and (randomly) of John of Nepomuk outside. Inside, the Nave, with its medieval architecture, neo-gothic glass, and 16th and 19th century murals more or less works, and manages to include some renaissance monuments, modernist stations of the cross, and a rococo organ without too much difficulty. The Chancel, however, got Rococo´d at some point in its past, and while that´s unfortunate in itself, it´s pretty restrained and would be relatively attractive...if someone in the 19th century hadn´t partly re-gothicked it. As it is, the line of the original east window protrudes rather crudely through an 18th century cornice, and the bright colors of gothic revival windows clash horribly with the pastels of the celing painting. Moral of the story: if you´re going to redo a building, at least for the love of God make a thorough job of it.

Anyhoo, back to people wearing silly clothes. (And this time, it´s not just the clergy!)

Narrengottesdiest appears to be a well-established tradition (the Lutherans wera having one too), whereby people bring their costumes--and some of the atmosphere--of carnival to church, both literally and metaphorically. So the church was full of Blätzle and people in wizard costumes and camel outfits and carnival masks, we were played in with a brass band (also in wizard this a tradition, or just Potter-mania?), and the first reading was the Emperor´s New Clothes. (No, before the liturgists ask, there was no mocking of church services in general--no black puddings, or burning shoes in thurifers...) The Gospel, appropriately enough, was Mark 2:18-22: which of course has to do with fasting vs rejoicing, clothing, and wine, the themes of the week. And the sermon took this up, calling on the church to be willing to embrace the new and the strange without rejecting the old. Admittedly, some of the new things which the priest was praising were the arrival of some certain conservative politicians on the German and Catholic scene...but I´m willing to forgive him. He did the whole thing in verse.
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One of the ways in which Germans are very uninhibited is that they have very little hesitation about looking in one's windows. This was brought home to me with particular force around five yesterday afternoon, when a trio of strangely dressed (and slightly tipsy) people were looking in at me as I sat at my computer, commenting on the apartment and tapping on the window to tell me I should come out. I did, so they would get off my case.
"Ho Narro!"
"Ho Narro! Why are you still inside? You should be out partying! Are you working? Are you Swiss??"
"You're right..." "You're Swiss?" (Apparently they have a reputation for being excessively hard-working)
"No, I'm actually American. I meant..."
"Oh, you're American?" [Usual round of 'Where in America are you from?', etc., follows] "Do you live here? You should know that there's going to be a parade going down this street in two hours--you should probably close the shutters. And you should wear a sort of long white dress..."

I already did know that, actually. There's a tradition of dressing up in nightshirts on Schmötzige Donrstag (Dirty Thursday, the beginning of Carnival, for those with short memories). So I'd taken Grace's nightdress up to the Uni for their Fasnacht party earlier that afternoon, only to discover that it ended at three--greatly to the distress of Grace (wearing multiple sets of clothing and a bath brush in her guise as the "Shower witch") and her Tandem Partner, who'd arranged to meet her at...3:15. We chatted for a bit anyway with her and a Swabian Texan whose family runs a vineyard, then went back to the important task of checking email.

But I didn't know that the parade was happening at 7, specifically. So I rushed dinner onto the table, and then Grace and I got attired again, armed ourselves with chocolate, and headed out.
There were no Blätzle this time, but EVERYONE in the street seemed to be wearing nightshirts (an optical illusion--there were plenty in pirate outfits, Waldwichtel costumes, or even (God forbid) normal clothes, but they were the minority). When the parade showed up, there were more bands, and this time also fire...though noone juggling--v disappointing, though probably wise, given the croud. What there mostly was was a lot of schoolchildren, pausing in front of the many bands to chant before sprinting down the street, or caarrying huge signs on their shoulders that made fun of their teachers. Very cool, even without the giant people. Unlike yesterday's parade, it was a little hard to tell when this one ended, but it did and everyone went back to the enormous random block party that had already begun. The house next door had turned itself into a bar/headquarters for one of the many Besenwirtschäfte (societies of people who parade around with brooms), which was packed with people like us drinking wine and trying to dance to Sex Bomb. The music there and at the other place in the fifteenth-century basement across the street gave the impression that we'd been transported back to a Williams party in the 90s, but it was a great deal more civilized.
But people were still partying hard. We walked around the city, exclaiming at the pirate ship parked in the Münsterplatz and the giant devil with the disco ball just beyond; joined hordes of German teenagers dancing to techno on Stefansplatz (which I think I found a lot more fun than Grace); and listened to yet another de facto Battle of the Bands on the Obermarkt.
Yes, this event IS like a marching band convention collided with a Ren Faire and a couple of rather strange college theme parties. And possibly also an acid trip, given how bizarre some of the people and/or things look. Blätzle, for example.
Today the streets were covered with broken glass, discarded pizza plates, and confetti. No one was bothering to clean it up--possibly they too had hangovers, or possibly thhey just figured that trying to clean up before this thing ends would just be an exercise in futility. Tonight things are quieter, ironically enough, and I'm looking forward to getting a decent amount of sleep for a change. But nonetheless, Ho Narro! to all of you whose Mardi Gras is less exciting than ours.

Hm. I could use some more raisin bread...
choco_frosh: (Default)
Although the decorations have been up practically since Christmas, and Blätzle (people in the traditional Fas(t)nacht costume which looks kind of like an early medieval rendering of a chicken) have been wandering about the place for several weeks, often carrying musical instruments, yesterday night was the official beginning of Fasnacht. We went out to watch the opening parade, which had about a zillion different groups. Unfortunately, I´d forgotten to clear the photos off the camera before we headed out so we didn´t have a lot of space for more. Grace has no doubt already posted what we did get: the official Night watch, complete with real lanterns and replica halbards, which should amuse Catherine, people and their kids in random costumes, slightly scary guys in knee pants and hoods (I was wishing for my garb...), and some of the gajillions of groups in the parade. But no camera could really get the flavor of the occasion. The impressiveness of people throwing flags of Konstanz and various Narrenzünfte (fools´guilds) into the air and catching them doesn´t translate well, even onto video. There´s no way to photograph the sound of two dozen Blätzle, in rainbow and black feathers and covered with bells, going by. And a camera can´t really capture the mood of the drunk ravers in skin-tight clothing skipping against the direction of the parade while shouting the traditional cry of "Ho Narro!" (as the crowd shouted it back at them, while trying to get them out of the way). Or the way the sound of a dozen guys in what look like gorilla suits all twirling wooden noisemakers...or the tiny bit of primeval panic when they charge you (and possibly throw glitter at you). I guess you could get a photo of the guy who looked like Jesus selling sausages and beer in the trailor pulled by a tractor...but that wouldn´t include the techno beat. And I tried this morning to get photos of the people cracking whips, but that doesn´t get the explosive noise, or the excitement. And of course, cameras aren´t good at getting the THUMP in your very bowels as a band all wearing goblin heads goes by.
Oh yes. There were bands. The WCMB (or the YPMB, for that matter) would have been having WAY too much fun. And hey, they´ve already GOT the basic requirement of silly hats.
Really cool. And ruling. Lots of beer, but people of all ages from retirees to babies marching while wearing silly--and yet somehow numinous--costumes. Later on, when we went out again, the bratwurst stands were in full operation, the X-treme Guggenmusik (minus most of their goblin heads, but still with the banner of Imperia with one) were holding an impromptu concert on the Münsterplatz, while the Überlinger Löwen (more like the medieval idea of a lion--all in red, and with crowns) had taken over the Leckere Waffeln place near our apartment. Later still (when I went out to see if anything was going to be open today), they´d teamed up with a band in silly peasant hats to sing and dance on the Münsterplatz. I joined in, despite not knowing any of the words (note: they should really have taught us some drinking songs in Landeskunde). And the "Jacobiner" had taken over the square by the Tiergarten (with the statue of a renowned Fasnacht standup comic in the middle), continuing 200 years of the Konstanzer making fun of the French revolutionary army that took over the city in the 1790s.
Professor Patschovsky warned us that this was the one time of year when we´d probably want the shutters on the apartment. We didn´t realize that we´d want them (and earplugs) not at midnight, but at 6:30 AM, when what must have been a "Coalition of the awake" paraded down Konradigasse. With a band. Twice.
I can understand now why there´s a "No Narro" party for people fed up with the whole business. But I still think it´s pretty damn cool.
It´s now Schmötzige Donrstag (dirty Thursday). Everything is closed except the bars and restaurants, a number of additional examples of which have sprung into existance, seemingly ex nihilo. And I´m up at the Uni for IT´s Fasnacht party. Which reminds me...I need to get into costume. By this evening, I´ll probably be speaking with a swiss accent (kinda like Margaret...). So more later.


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