Corona’s surprising effect on an evening at the theater

My favorite small theater has reopened after months of lockdown and we are attending a two-woman show called Primacomedy. I return here with mixed feelings. Would it be full? How will they deal with the social distancing inside the theater?

I enter — and gasp. The usual 50-plus seats have been whittled down to just 20, and half of those are empty. When the performance begins, I count just 11 spectators. It feels like a giant living room.

This tiny cultural venue in Munich, the Pasinger Fabrik, is housed on the…


(Click here for parts 1, 2 and 3)

Listen to this post read by the author Brenda Arnold

Munich is known first and foremost for its annual Volksfest that attracts six million visitors from around the world, a number that makes you question its “folksiness” — but whatever. Tracing its roots takes you back to — where else? — the Alter Südfriedhof (the old cemetery in Munich). Many of the institutions associated with this sprawling, brawling two-week party took shape under the leadership of men buried right here.

From royal nuptials to brass bands

It was the celebration of the wedding of the crown prince of…


Part 3

Grave Thoughts Indeed — Royal Rolicking and Frolicking read by Brenda Arnold

The Alter Südfriedhof dates to the 14th century, but most of its graves tell the tale of Munich’s movers and shakers from the 1800s, a time when the city’s population doubled. More people meant more buildings, streets and institutions. But this was also an era that saw one of Munich’s most famous scandals involving its king, one which left traces here in this cemetery.

Duke, duke, king!

During most of its history, Munich was ruled by a duke of the Wittelsbacher family, which was in power for 800 years…


I couldn't agree with this more. It's another way to inject humor into a situation, which is nearly always appreciated. As an American living in Germany who speaks (almost) perfect German, I have taken what might be perceived as a weakness - my occasional lack of knowledge of the culture - and turned it into an advantage. I have conducted many training sessions in German for Germans, and once in a while, I can't find the right word.

So I appeal to the participants: "Help me out, guys, German is such a tough language! What's the word for..." at which…


Part 2 — How war shaped the Alter Südfriedhof

Small German towns have monuments to the dead of the two world wars, sometimes combined into one, with all the names of the locals who died. The Alter Südfriedhof has no such monuments or graves. But war left its impact nonetheless, beginning with one that came centuries before.

Grave Thoughts Indeed, Part 2, read by Brenda Arnold

World Wars — the prequel

Long before the twentieth century, another conflict raged across Europe so deadly that it too is sometimes referred to as a “world war”: The Thirty Years’ War. Nearly every German town bears scars from…


The secrets of a historic Munich cemetery

To take a stroll through the Alter Südfriedhof cemetery in Munich is to revisit its history. Pestilence and death, war, aristocratic scandals — even the Oktoberfest are all written into the epitaphs of people who shaped the city. It feels like the who’s who of Bavaria are all buried in this one spot (though by no means all of them are). In this four-part series — yes, four — I will reveal some of the most intriguing stories behind the stones. …


This article reports that Europe is struggling with power grid instability due to Europe-wide grid integration and a shift to renewable energy. My point was that it was a lack of investment stemming from the privatization of the power company in Texas that led to the power outage. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/02/18/texans-grid-outage-deregulation/


It's hard for me to fathom the "Down with government!" mentality living in Germany, which is pretty much at the opposite end of the scale in its attitude towards government involvement. Here the government is expected to perform certain functions, and when it doesn't, it gets criticized. The idea that the private sector could wholly replace the government, as is de rigueur now more than ever in the U.S., is patently absurd.

Some things really are the job of the government. Companies are in business to make money, and if they are not held to account to provide the minimum…


Victorian parlor of Molly Brown House and Museum, Denver, Colorado

Language is constantly in flux. Words come, words go, and sometimes their meaning changes altogether. Long gone are the days when I associated the word “gay with being happy, dancing around the room and singing one of my favorite songs from the musical Camelot. When you leave your home country as I did, you must also pay close attention to language changes that happen in your absence, causing you to call a club by its 1980s name: disco. …


One of my best friends in the U.S. has a son in Philadelphia. After it became clear that Philly voters were going to tip Pennsylvania for Biden, his son texted him these two words: “You’re welcome.”

His father knew precisely what his son was referring to, a reflection of how intensely Americans experienced this election, one like no other in living memory. Many Americans like me may live abroad, but we experienced it just as vividly from afar.

My election night story begins when my friend Ruth sends me a link to the local Süddeutsche Zeitung. “I’m in the news!”…

Brenda Arnold

Expat life in Germany and raising 2 bilingual children make for a life full of adventure. Check out my blog www.expatchatter.net

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