I’ve learned that certain things which may be considered totally acceptable in one country aren’t okay in another. That customs and cultures don’t necessarily translate. Even the things that we find to be horrifically offensive aren’t universal.

Recently, I visited my family in Italy. I got to talking with my cousin, and she explained to me that the term “finocchio” (literally: fennel) is an offensive term to describe someone who is homosexual.

“You would never, ever use it,” she said, her green eyes wide.

It’s a reminder that words have power, that even something innocuous can be offensive if you are crossing cultural lines.

That being said, I do not consider this to be innocuous. I consider this to be seriously effed up:

This. Just. NO.

 

That is a poster for a recent production of a play (“Othello darf nicht platzen” – literally, “Othello may not burst”) featuring two white guys in blackface. When I saw it in the Munich subway, I found myself just staring blankly, my mouth hanging limply open.

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The first time I saw this thing outside my dad’s house, I sort of snickered.

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I remember staring at it, thinking, “Good heavens, that’s just awful. Whatever it is.”

And then I pretty much ignored it, except to cast a sideways glance in its direction every time I passed. Now I realize, like nearly everything in my dad’s home, it has a purpose. A very important one.

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It’s a little distressful when your favorite restaurant in Munich topples from the pedestal on which you’ve placed it. It’s like when you encounter your first love again, years after the fact. You find that his voice is higher than you remember, or his eyes lack that trademark twinkle, and you start to wonder: did he change, or did you?

Guido al Duomo was once my favorite restaurant in Munich. It is no longer. Don’t get me wrong: it is still very good, but it is now packed to the gills and the prices have risen dramatically.

This is likely the last dish I’ll ever eat at Guido. I am both heartbroken and entirely okay with this.

 

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I’m home, and trying to fall back into the swing of things. Back into writing. Back into sleeping in my own bed. Back into culling the internet for awesome links.

I’m still weirdly jet-lagged (3:00pm nap, anyone?) but I’m getting there. Enjoy.

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The unexpected octegenarian fashionistas of NYC’s Chinatown.

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Olivia Waite is a romance novelist who reviews other romance novels (and really, who’s better qualified to offer criticism?). Her skewering of Frankly, My Dear is absolutely brilliant – I don’t want to read the novel she reviews, but I do want to check out Waite’s work.

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The math geeks (and I mean that affectionately, of course) over at Five Thirty Eight completed a statistical analysis of painter Bob Ross’ work. A surprisingly revelation: not everything he painted features a “happy little tree.”

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