Monthly Archives: December 2010

A Christmas Miracle

Switzerland has been painfully deficient in cans of Diet Coke. They have plastic bottles, but as my wife will tell you, It Is Not The Same. She needs the icy cold pure metallic refreshment of a can of Diet Coke, especially in the morning.

So what a wonderful surprise when we found, shopping in France, cans of Diet Coke. It was truly the best Christmas present a Jew could receive. Jessica gets her fix, Ken gets a happier Jessica, the world blooms with sunshine on a cold snowy Christmas Basel morning.

A merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good aspartame + fizzy water + special secret ingredients.

Mmmm, so good.

The Border Crossing

I was on a special mission that entailed penetrating the Swiss-French border. It was just me in my German car, surviving on shear wits and the Gummy Bears I found in my winter jacket pocket. After several wrong turns down shadowy lanes and expertly executed j-turn maneuvering, I approached the border at 30 km/hr. It was then that I realized I did not have my passport. But it was too late, I had come this far and there was a mission at stake. So I roared through the checkpoint and was in the foreign country, a man without documentation, the potential to be a hunted beast.

The mission went off without a hitch, no collateral damage. Contact was made, the “package” was delivered. It was now time to get back to neutral quarters.

I steered the car and ahead saw a truck blocking the lane. An ambush? A barricade? Perhaps.

I swerved around the lorry and teased the gas pedal with my foot. Ahead was a border guard. Unseen were the cameras, computer face recognition evaluation programs, vicious guard dogs, metal detectors and take-no-prisoners intelligence agents weaponed and ready.

I nodded to the guard. Sweat began to trickle down my forehead — the heat was on full blast. But inside I was cool as a cucumber.

I was through. Back in Switzerland. I gave a hearty laugh. Double-O your mother, dude. I was the man.

What was the mission, you may wonder? That is between my wife and her dry cleaning.

Secret Agent Man

New Phrases Alert

Brought to you by the Wilan Brothers.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water: Water Vampires
Definition: Vampires that live underwater. Way cool.

The only tool you will ever need: Death Axe
Definition: What it sounds like. This implement guarantees death. It’s one scary bad axe. Welcome to extreme chopping.

The Face of America

Our washing machine broke so we are using our neighbor’s. At 9:20 pm I went over to collect our semi dry laundry (Swiss dryers take 3 hours to get clothes almost dry). Our neighbor was hosting a dinner party for her coworkers and invited me to the table for wine. She was French, and her coworkers were Swiss, Portuguese, Italian and British. And in comes the American. With lots of questions for all, because I am a curious sort. They seemed most interested in determining if I voted for Obama. And then I realized how I was representing the US: I was wearing the Homer Simpson t-shirt I had won at a Christmas party five years ago. D’oh!

Hello, world.

Guest Blogger: Carlos Navarro

A House Changes the Home
By Carlos Navarro

Carlos Navarro, his wife and two young boys moved from North Carolina to Basel one year ago.

One of the greatest things about living in Basel is that my inadequate German keeps me blissfully unaware of any problems that may be affecting our community. My bubble, however, doesn’t protect me from problems thousands of miles away, in this case the US economy and our house in North Carolina.

In retrospect, we made a terrible decision to buy a beautiful, spacious home in a desirable neighborhood. I’m not sure what we were thinking, and to make matters worse we bought the house with a hefty down payment… I know… awful. Now our home has been on the dreadful real estate market for over a year without anyone making a single offer. Our lovely brick house sits empty surrounded by a giant wooded lot. We’ve left the doors open with the keys inside, but even squatters are waiting to see what’s going to happen with the Fed’s quantitative easing policy before they make a final decision. So our house sits sucking the life out of us by steadily draining our bank account. The writing was on the wall: I was going back to work in the next two to nine years, but it all happened sooner than expected.

A neighbor emailed me a want ad, my wife not so gently encouraged me to send in a resume, and I managed to land a position with the Basel Ballet as the in-house masseur/medical director. Even though I used to work as an orthopedic physical therapist, it was a long shot as my previous dance experience was a tipsy tabletop version of “YMCA” at Carlos & Charlie’s in Cozumel. But maybe the description on my resume translates much more impressively. The days of shaving only on Thursdays, online poker tournaments, hourly status updates on Facebook and spending quality time with my boys are sadly over.

Now I spend 60 percent of the workweek rubbing the muscular legs of dancers and sitting out of sight on the stage making sure they don’t get hurt at performances. I am now one of the many people who have to wear pants almost daily and shave at least three days a week. Uniquely, I do spend the day surrounded by people who can touch their shins to their foreheads and pull off a rond de jambe en l’air with a smile on their faces. And the good news is that I speak primarily Spanish at work and a little English so my German is not likely to improve any time soon, keeping the bubble from local negative news intact.


James Frey, discredited memoirist and Oprah punching bag, is apparently putting together a crack group of writers to churn out, factory style, the next Twilight/Vampire Diaries series. Well, they should stop now and hire first graders instead. Because Jack came up with something awesome.

He was discussing Animal Land with his brother in the car. Animal Land is an amazing world of high animal drama. Think Wizard of Oz scale. The boys have been developing this world for two years. And yesterday they introduced… wait for it…. vampires into Animal Land. Which is cool. But here is the awesome part: The warrior animals attack the vampires and cut their fangs out with swords and…. THIS IS SO COOL…. then use the fangs to slice off the heads of the vampires. Divine retribution of sorts, and a clear message to the marauding vampires to get the hell out of Animal Land. Let me just say it again: AWESOME.

The Swiss Can Be Playful

I ordered a cappuccino. And along comes a typing woman naked save some boots. Why is she typing? Why is she naked? Why is she on a cup?

I suspect that a woman just naked would be too frivolous, because the Swiss like to be industrious, they need to be doing something. But ultimately, who cares. It’s a sweet caffeine treat wrapped in playful Swiss style. An unexpected pleasure.

Faster Pussycat! Type! Type!