In Minneapolis, there's a German restaurant called the Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit. That should, of course, be Gemütlichkeit, but I suppose some marketing consultant thought the umlaut might terrify/confuse potential customers.
People had been intermittently advising me to watch the American sitcom Arrested Development over the past few years, but I somehow never found the time. Until, that is, I found out that the show feature a character with an umlaut in his name, namely: Dr. Tobias Fünke.
Why was this not brought to my attention earlier?
Fünke, it turns out, is one of the greatest American comedic creations since Ignatius Reilly. Trained both as an analyst and therapist (Business card: "Analrapist"), Fünke has ditched psychotherapy and is trying break into the acting business.
His attempts to do so are hampered by many horrible problems. First, his last name, which, as he constantly has to remind people who call him "funky", is pronounced FYOON-kay. Second, his utter lack of charisma and hair. And finally, his complex, multi-faceted, poorly repressed LGBTsexuality, which drives him to generate endless streams of unintentional homosexualistical doubles-entendres (see above). It has also put a strain on his relationship with his wife, Lindsey, in whom he shows no erotic interest behind the scenes, despite bragging in public about how, while he's making "sweet love on her", the "clatter of her breasts" is positively deafening.
Fünke is also proud of his German heritage. We see this, first and foremost, in his near-constant wearing of socks-and-sandals combos, often sogar with white socks. He also proudly claims to share a psychological disorder with two members of the German Parliament. Finally, he repeatedly utters the German word for "shower gel," Duschgel, at various moments during the show:
Over the weekend, I visited the magical kingdom of Swabia. Its ancient tongue is an unmistakable sing-songy drawl, and its inhabitants are the Germans' Germans, in the sense that some writers are 'writers' writers.' The Swabians are Germans' Germans for two reasons. First, they embody (many aspects of) Deutschtum at its purest and pristinest. Second, like novels written by 'writer's writers,' Swabians are, shall we say, a niche product. Other Germans complain loudly about the Swabians' obsession with order, as exemplified by officious neighbors who crawl inside of garbage cans. Why do they do this? To make sure that whichever tenant was last obliged to clean them during the Kehrwoche (weekly rotating cleaning duties) had done a proper job.
But let's put that to one side for a moment -- especially since I have a looming deadline. For now, you'll just have to content yourself with some pictures of things I found amusing. Translations, if needed, provided in the hover text.
'Stop it!' you're screaming. 'I can't take it anymore! Wasn't there anything -- anything -- redeeming about Swabia?'
Why yes, this bird, resting on the letters of a beer advertisement in a passage under the Stuttgart central station:
With just two days to go until the 2009 SXSW Film Festival, a special event has been added that’s sure to be the talk of the fest. “Brüno,” or as its rumored to have been titled, “Brüno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt,” will be previewed as part of new section Fantastic Fest at Midnight.
The film, which is Sacha Baron Cohen’s follow up to “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” centers on one of the three characters Cohen created for his HBO series “The Ali G Show” (the others being Borat and Ali G). Bruno, a flamboyant Austrian fashionista, comes to America in the film to, as its alleged title suggests, for the purpose of making heterosexual males visibly uncomfortable in the presence of a gay foreigner in a mesh t-shirt.
[emphasis added]. As Germans often say when reminded of certain other Austrians, don't forget he's Austrian.