Category Archives: Humor

Autumn Day

By Johna Till Johnson and Vladimir Brezina

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Blame it on Rilke… Or his translators, actually.

On a recent late-fall evening, Vlad was chuckling over the varied translations of the poem “Autumn Day” by Rainer Maria Rilke:

Herbsttag

Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiel den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

The translations are here.

And even if—like Johna—you don’t read German, it’s rather obvious they’re rather, ahem, divergent when it comes to cadence, connotation, and tone.  Different from each other and from the original meaning.

Johna read them over Vlad’s shoulder and burst out laughing. “‘Summer was awesome?’ We could do better than that!”  Well, maybe not better… but different. If it’s acceptable to say “summer was awesome”—well then, that opens up a whole host of possibilities!

So here you go.  “Autumn Day” loosely translated for the modern era:

Autumn Day

By Rainer Maria Rilke (sort of)

Dude, it’s time! Summer rocked, but
It’s over. Sucks.
The sun slants low now.
The autumn wind sweeps through abandoned
Bodega stalls. Across the last bruised fruit,
Fermenting fast.
At least you’ll have some awesome vino.

No place to crash? Tough.
Too late. You’re solo now.
Time to stay out long
And ride the board
Up and down darkening alleys
Where the trash swirls.

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is The Sign Says.

Kayaking out on open water, we meet few signs. But as soon as we come in to land, signs abound. Some of them do their best to be unavoidable. Nevertheless, we sometimes manage to avoid them—

Some years ago, Erik Baard and I paddled down from Manhattan and landed on the beach near the northwestern tip of Sandy Hook. We had a leisurely lunch, took a stroll along the beach, lazed about, and after a couple of hours were ready to paddle back to Manhattan. But just before we launched, we thought that we might, just out of curiosity, find out what those two big signs that stood there, facing away from us, said…

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And not far from that spot was another, complementary set of signs that helped complete the image of Sandy Hook, at least in those pre-Hurricane Sandy days…

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(Our first interpretation of “The Sign Says” was here.)

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is The Sign Says.

On May 20, 2011, during our multi-day paddle down the Hudson River from Albany to New York City, we landed in the town of Highland for a meal in a riverside restaurant. And we saw this sign, promising Judgment Day for tomorrow. Devastating earthquakes were predicted to usher in the Rapture!

It sure looked like our trip would enter some seriously uncharted waters. Nevertheless, we kept paddling, and made it through May 21 without incident. We later learned that Judgment Day had been postponed until October 21, and then it was abandoned altogether…

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P.S. Some people have read the bottom line of this sign as “Ediblefellowship.com”, suggesting quite another set of possibilities…

(A second interpretation of “The Sign Says” is here.)

Just Hanging Out in New Orleans

By Vladimir Brezina

Most architectural sculptures work hard at their jobs.

Caryatids carry things on their heads….

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… atlants bow down under the weight of entire facades

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… even gargoyles make themselves useful when it rains

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But these guys are just hanging out, shooting the breeze…

What was the sculptor thinking? Any ideas?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Wrong.

Stand up paddle boarding is becoming very popular. There’s the right way to do it…

… and the wrong way.

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More photos are here.

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Travel Theme: Summer

By Vladimir Brezina

Update, May 25, 2012: A week later, it turns out that the theme of the official Photo Challenge is also Summer. Ailsa and Sara should really coordinate a bit better! On the other hand, I have my entry all ready:

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Ailsa of Where’s my backpack?, who stepped into the breach and organized last week’s wildly successful Alternative Photo Challenge on the theme of “Reflections”—and then found the time to look at the hundreds of photos and answer the hundreds of comments that flooded in—wants to do it again!

This time she’s proposed a theme that combines her love of travel and that of the summer now upon us, at least those of us in the northern hemisphere…

As soon as I saw her double theme, I knew I had just the photos for her! I offer you… the English summer holiday at the seaside!

Lonely as a cloud

The traditional pony ride

Wetsuits of August

Please, let’s have no indignant defenses of the English summer. I know what I am talking about!

(Or, if you must, do first review the categories that this post is listed under…)

More photos are here.

Kayak Silly

By Johna Till Johnson

"You're gonna put your BUTT into my MOUTH?!?!"

Courtesy of Dan Kalman (caption mine).

Spam Poetry

By Vladimir Brezina

As surely as a flame attracts moths, a comment box attracts spam—with pretty much the same results. WordPress has an excellent spam filter that kills most spam outright. But occasionally it presents a particularly delectable piece of spam, under quarantine, for our enjoyment.

These spam comments, which the filter has quarantined but not killed outright presumably because it’s not quite sure whether they are spam or not, have a distinctive tone. They are, indeed, like real comments—but from some kind of mad dream.

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