Hot Dogs Gone Cold

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Owner of the World Famous Hot Dog Stand, one of Flensburg’s key attractions, dead at 66. Successor and future unknown.

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FLENSBURG/ KRUSA (DK)-  During my first time in Flensburg in 2010, I had a chance to visit several key wonders that made the city and the region famous. Flensburg is well-known as the rum capital of the world, has a first class handball team, prides itself on the beer, has the last of the coal-powered steamboat (Alexandra), several Danish eateries and food stores,….

and this one: Annie’s Kiosk.

The way to the kiosk was simple: over the Bridge of Friendship by bike into Denmark, followed by 10 minutes of hills and forest before entering the village of Krusa, the first Danish community along the Flensburger Fjorde. There, one is greeted with two islands within a five minute swim from the shore (Oxen Island) onthe right, and this one on the left. Flanked by several bikers, campers and other cyclists, the first impression of seeing the place is simple: people lining up to eat a world famous hotdog with various toppings on there- be it onions (fresh or dried), radish, many types of mustard and ketschup, cucumbers- whatever they had that was local and typical of Denmark, if you love it, you slap it on before indulging in the delicacy. 🙂

When I finally approached the stand, I was greeted by a old and friendly lady with red hair and  glasses. She spoke several languages, including English, and did not take long to recognize that I was an American tourist and writer wanting to try the hotdog that the place was famous for. While the encounter was brief, she made sure that whatever I wanted on that foot-long hot dog, I got that would satisfy the taste buds and the belly. It was the first time I was introduced to horseradish sauce that didn’t taste as sour and salty as the American counterpart. In fact, it was really juicy and somewhat a bit sweet- but just right. Together with fresh onions, homemade mustard and a bit of ketchup, it was the hotdog that came from heaven. Normally, while eating a hotdog at an American restaurant, like the Dairy Queen (which is famous for its Blizzard ice cream treats), one only needs a few minutes to devour a hotdog with Heinz Ketchup and mustard. However, it took yours truly a good half an hour to enjoy the hotdog, carefully made by Annie, and another first in addition- Danish ice cream twists with chocolate sprinkles, all vanilla flavor, which was also a first. 🙂  The food Annie offered reminded me of my grandma’s home-cooked meals, which also included hotdogs with chili and cheese (a.k.a. chilidogs) and homemade pie with ice cream provided by Well’s Blue Bunny Dairy in the Iowa community of LeMars. It was that delicious and it showed that local foods not only always taste better, but they bring in the best and happiest of people young and old. The love and care of that local hotdog brought in more people every year. Others like myself have added this place in the top 25 of places most likely to be revisited- preferrably with friends and family. Annie and her hotdogs attracted everyone from all aspects.

Unfortunately, the future of the kiosk is in question. Annie (her real name is Annie Bogild) died unexpectedly today, according to the local newspaper Nordschleswiger and confirmed by the kiosk’s facebook website. She was 66. She had been selling hotdogs for over a half century, having taken ownership of the place partially in 1974, and fully shortly afterwards. Her warm hospitality and friendly service will be remembered by many who either have heard about the world famous hotdogs and have tried it themselves, or have stopped there regularly for a coffee and hotdog. According to the facebook site, funeral services will take place on October 28th at a church in Holbol. A successor has yet to be named, but regardless of who takes over, Annie’s Kiosk will never be the same again. No matter how perfect the hotdog, it too will not have the woman’s touch, like Annie did with the billions she made and served in all those years.

I recently visited a newly opened hotdog restaurant in Weimar called Capone’s, located on the main road between the train station and Goetheplatz (city center). The person serving my dog had the same care as Annie. The hotdog with bacon, cheese and cucumbers was really delicious! 🙂 It is unknown whether he spent a summer working as a student worker at Annie’s Kiosk. If so, he and many others have Annie to thank. Sometimes a little bit of work and recipes bring ideas for your own business. Annie had just that. 🙂

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The Flensburg Files would like to offer its condolences to the Annie Bogild’s family as well as thousands of visitors and patron who have paid homage to her beloved hotdog stand. Flensburg lost a local great that can never be replaced.

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Genre of the Week: Mein Enkel

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Communication- the key to eliminating misunderstandings, solving problems and bringing people together. When one thinks of communication, we think of two things: a letter to a penpal or best friend living hundreds of kilometers/ miles away and talking to friends and family in a closed setting. I also think of communication as enjoying a cup of coffee while getting to know new people, talking with colleagues over lunch in a cafeteria like this one (this photo above was taken at the University of Bayreuth during my time as an English teacher in 2010), or even talking to parents and family members over the phone to see how life is like back home in Minnesota.

When the term communication comes to mind these days, we have the Smartphone, facebook and instagram. While they are meant to bring us together, they also separate us by not allowing the healthy face-to-face verbal communication. And while many in the older generations, especially the Baby-boomers have tried embracing the new technology, others have considered them the instrument of evil, especially when the computer language is English and it has penetrated many native languages, resulting in a bit of Denglish. 😉

And this is what takes us to this Genre of the Week, entitled “Mein Enkel.” Produced by Sebastian23, based in Cloppenburg, the short film was released in 2012 with a setting being in a semi-empty restaurant in Bochum. The characters in the film consist of three people in their 60s (specifically, the older version of the Babyboomers), a grandmother (Mathilda) and two of her male friends (Eduard and Roland), one of whom is into sugar and has problems catching up with the conversation with the other two. One of the characters (Mathilda) starts off the conversation of her grandchild registering on facebook and her being added to his friends’ list, which sets the conversation in motion about social networking using pure Denglish. Have a look at this rather “flustig” scene below:

This film has been used as a platform for many conversations and presentations on the pros and cons of social networking, specifically, who profits from this new form of communication and whether social networking is destroying the way we communicate with other people or if it a supplement to oral and written communication. Especially when Denglish (a combination of German and English) is becoming a hot subject among linguists and teachers of foreign language as many in these circles have debated on how inappropriate the language is. Personally speaking, Denglish is an informal form of communication which is best understood when people know both English and German and can speak it outside the work environment. However it is very funny to see how the language is used and therefore, there is an exercise for you to try.

  1. Decipher the conversation among the three characters in the story. What was the story about?
  2. Why do they consider the grandson’s registration on facebook to be an “epic fail?”
  3. What does Mathilda do with her grandson’s facebook page? Does she add him or not?
  4. What other social networks do they mention? Which one got the LOL by Mathilda?
  5. Why does Mathilda say “Opfer” after her granddaughter leaves to go play? What’s the meaning behind this?
  6. Who loves the sugar in the coffee? 
  7. Discussion: What are some advantages and setbacks towards social networking?
  8. Discussion: When should a child have a social network page, like facebook, and under what conditions?
  9. Discussion: Would you introduce or even allow a friend or family member of the Babyboomer generation (like the three) to social networking? If so, how would you teach them how to use it? If not, why not?

Please note, this is good for people learning German or English as a foreign language. 🙂

You can click to the website of Sebastian23 here to see more about the German slam poet and musician: http://sebastian23.org/

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Genre of the Week: The Beauty of What We’ll Never Know by Pico Iyer

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Take a few moments and ask yourselves these questions:

  1. What is beauty in your own terms? Is it what you look like, what you see, what you hear or feel, or is it based on a personal experience that you’ve encountered?
  2. What moment in your life was considered the most life-altering and how did this experience change you in a positive sense?
  3. What place (or person) would you like to see before you die? What about an activity or event?

These questions may be simple from the outside but have an important meaning when looking at them and ourselves more closely. We live in a society where we have a choice between two paths: one where we settle down, have a family, job, house and a set of friends to hang out with, talking about politics and sports and contributing to the good of the community. There is the other path, where you explore new places and experience new things that help you think about the beauty of the world and what it has to offer.

One can jump to conclusions and assume that Germans are wanderers of the world, travelling four or five times a year and exploring new areas, and Americans love to stay put and enjoy the local scenery- especially when looking at the younger generations starting with the ones born in the mid-1970s. However, when speaking from experience, I would go as far as saying that each of us have the urge of being a wandering family- having a partner and a child or two, while exploring both new places as well as our own surroundings.  It doesn’t matter what previous knowledge we have- if we have the urge to do something, we do it for a reason- for trying something new, experiencing the unexpected and lastly, being open about it.

And this is why we are looking at this Genre of the Week, entitled The Beauty We’ll Never Know, a TED Summit talk by Pico Iyer. Born of parents of Indian origin, who were both scholars of their time, Iyer was a Buddhist, born in Oxford, England in 1957,  and after having studied literature at the colleges of Eton, Oxford and Harvard, he started his career as a journalist at Time Magazine in 1982, before moving to Japan in 1992, having been married to a Japanese wife, Hiroko and settled down there, writing full time about life and his travels, while teaching on the side. He has written several British essays as well as those about Indian life, but has written several novels, including the famed Video Night in Khatmandu. He has done a lot of TED talks in the past five years about life and how we should take it for granted, as society has changed to a point where knowledge alone will not help in us understanding the process.

In this talk, he doesn’t talk about his experiences in Japan per se. That is only a side-dish. However, his theme of the talk deals with the way we should take in life and not worry about settling down and letting things happen, for after all, we learn something new every day, including all of the tiniest aspects that we don’t understand as a mainstream societal audience. Furthermore, there is beauty in everything we see, even if we don’t see it right away.   So have a look at the talk and think about the following aspects:

  1. Look at the environment around you and see it from outside the box. How beautiful is it? What aspects do you love about it? What would you like to do to make the environment even better?
  2. What things in life would you like to explore before you die? Could be things, people, places or the like.
  3. What holds you back from going out there boldly and learning something new?

Remember: The best knowledge is what we DON’T know.

For more on his work, please check out his webpage with details on his life as a British author of Indian descent, living in Japan and making the most of life. Pico has spoken many times at TED summits on many subjects. You can find this and other talks here.

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An Interview With Fiona Pepper

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How difficult is it to understand the language of another person’s tongue?  This is something that many of us have dealt with, especially when traveling to/ in a foreign country. It is even more difficult when you are learning the language of the country you are living in, only to find that no one understands you because of the dialect and accent you use. Take German, for instance. Most of the non-native speakers of German speak high German, yet when communicating it with someone from a region with a different dialect, such as Mecklenburg-Pommerania (with its Plattdeutsch), Franconia in Bavaria, or even Schwabia in Baden-Wurrtemberg, they not only may not understand what you are saying. In fact, they may respond with their own dialect, which despite living in the country for many year, you may not be able to understand at all.

I have to admit, I was taken aback when my former boss at a German university, who had spent 12 years in Scotland, once told me that my American accent was too strange to understand, even though it is Chicago-style, the dialect that is considered high American English and spoken in the Midwest, where I originate (I’m a Minnesotan, by the way). An article about this subject can be found here.

But suppose our language is indeed strange to understand?

Last year, the Flensburg Files profiled a genre of the week entitled Skwerl, starring Karl Eccleson and Fiona Pepper, to show how a foreign language can be strange from an outsider’s point of view, featuring an activity for students learning English or any foreign language to try and decipher . Admittedly, as a teacher of English, I tried it with my students, only to find that there were many interpretations as to how the characters behaved toward each other in the five-minute skit. One of many questions the students had was what exactly happened in the story.

Well, I took a chance to find out for myself by interviewing Fiona Pepper. Absent from acting for two years and is now a radio broadcaster in Australia, Ms. Pepper took a few minutes of her time to answer some questions I had for her. For those who guessed that the couple would break up, you will be amazed as to what she mentions about Skwerl and and how a person can interpret the story from many angles.

Here are some thoughts to consider:

  1. Tell us about yourself: Why go from actress to radio host? How many years have you done both?

I studied acting at a well-respected Australian drama school called Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts (WAAPA), I worked as an actor for around 6 years and during that time I was involved in the making of Skwerl. I’ve mainly worked in theatre as well as acting in some films and commercials. I’ve now been work in radio for around 2 years. I decided to study radio because I felt frustrated working as an actor and not feeling in control of my career trajectory. There are many parallels between radio and acting and really when it comes down to it radio is simply another form of story telling.

  1. How many (short) films had you made before making the career change to radio host?

I had been working as an actor for around 6 years before I moved into radio, I’m not sure of the exact amount of short films/ films I had made in that time.

  1. Skwerl was released in 2011 and your role was the woman who makes a special meal for the boyfriend (played by Karl Eccleson). Can you briefly describe the character and her changes in personality in the story?

The character is a mid 20’s woman who is in a serious relationship, she lives with her partner and in the film they have a disagreement over her partner’s decision not to attend her mother’s birthday. I think this is probably an ongoing disagreement that the pair have.

  1. Skwerl describes the way English can be perceived by non-native speakers, yet even from a native speaker’s point of view, up until the last two sentences in the clip, it seems a bit more Dutch with some local Australian in there (from my observation). Given that plus the script formulated by Fairbairn and Eccleson that I read, what language is spoken here?

We weren’t speaking a particular language, the words were all made up. In terms of where the words were derived from, I can’t be certain because I didn’t write the script but Karl speaks fluent German and French, so I’m sure when he and Brian were writing the script they would have been drawing from other languages.

  1. After trying this out with some students, here is the plot: A nice dinner ends up going down badly after the man forgets to do something; they both get into a fight; woman wants to break up with the man for his actions, takes the plates and runs into the kitchen, crying; man is very angry because of all the years of love and dedication with her; woman brings out a pineapple with candles on there and in the end, there’s silence with the two staring at each other. Am I right with this plot, or are there some important details missing?

To be honest, I don’t think we were particularly clear on the plot when we made the film, it is therefore very much open to interpretation. The films focus is obviously on language, so the actions of the film were fairly open ended. When it came to Karl and I defining the plot it was really just to help us try and somehow remember the dialogue.

  1. What’s the symbol behind the pineapple and the three candles?

Once again I didn’t write the film so I’m not exactly sure, I think the visual impact of the pineapples and candles were more of a focus then what they actually symbolized.

Author’s note: One of the points students and teachers have mentioned with the pineapple is the three candles where the candles represented the number of years the characters had been together and the pineapple represented the place where the two had met. However, this is open for other interpretations.

  1. By looking at the clip once more and from an outsider’s point of view, how strange is English?

I don’t think it’s just English, I think all language is strange from an outsider’s point of view.

To sum up the interview, what Ms. Pepper and the crew did with Skwerl is to present a dialog in a language unknown to any of us for two purposes: to interpret the scene but also to make a point that no matter what foreign language you are learning, it will become strange at first, especially when dealing with the different dialects and accents. It is more of the question of learning the language and all the tricks and tips involved. When that is done and you have mastered the language, it opens a new world, both big and small. Small because you can understand what the “natives” are saying, but big because learning a foreign language makes you more open to new things, as well as helps you foster your development as a human being with intellect and a diverse background.

This is something to think about, not just when you try this Skwerl exercise with your groups, but also when learning a foreign language or even a regional dialect in your own language.

To follow Ms. Pepper and her works as an Australian radio broadcaster and actress, please click here and enjoy all her documentaries. For her help in clarifying this interesting play, whose activities and genre profile you should click here to view, the Files has her thanks.

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