Friday, July 28, 2006

Photo Album: World Cup

We ended Operation Cromulent in sunny northern europe amongst a happy reunion of family and friends. Oh, and we watched Italy beat France.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

We Ain't Dead Yet

The trip may officially be over, but there are still more OC goodies yet to come. After I'm done getting myself setup here in the VA, I'll be going through all the photos, videos, blog entries and souvenirs that we collected over the year, just to gain a bit of perspective on what we experienced. I've been trying to avoid looking all that stuff until I had the freedom to actually sit down and give it time it deserves. Well, that time is quickly approaching. Sometime this week, I'll start the sifting, and the memories, they will be triggered. I'm sure that quite a few blog entries, photo albums and video clips will be the happy result of the search. Mike may even be doing the same thing across the pond, there.

So, fear not, loyal OC reader. There is more to come.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Tales From The Other Side

I got back to the US yesterday and was met by my dad and brother at the airport. I'll be staying with bro for a bit while I get my act back together. Right now, I'm in my comfy room with a stable wireless network and a powerful stereo blasting the White Stripes while I go through all the shit that I packed up over a year ago.

Being back home is weird.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

This Is The End

Berlin, Germany

The 2006 World Cup is over, and so is Operation Cromulent. Tomorrow morning, Jason and I are planning to part company and bring an end to this year of tomfoolery. Dedicated readers can still look forward to back-dated articles, photos, and videos as well as retrospectives on the entire experience. Also keep an eye out for Operation Cromulent: The Movie - coming soon (ish) to a blog near you.

Soccer Is A Perfectly Cromulent Word

Germany and Nearby Countries

A World Cup volunteer told me that there were only 300 TST-7 tickets available for each of the 32 participant countries. I reckon the OC was pretty fortunate to get our grubby little hands on two of 'em. When we first go the confirmation email a year ago, I had to read it three times before I could believe that we were actually going to the final. From a global perspective, the World Cup final makes the Superbowl look like the Northeast Iowa Thumb Wrestling Regional Finals. I reckon it must be the world's single most widely watched television broadcast and the subject of more newsprint than all topics excepting perhaps phone sex.

The 2006 tournament was advertised as "a time to make friends". For us, it was really more of a time to catch up with old pals. Early on, we ran into fellow Caltech alumni Kevin B., Jason W., and Cynthia G. The latter two ducked out after the first round of 16 match and were replaced by the newly arrived Leo Rg. Both he and Kevin were fellow TST-7 holders, so we were with them off and on until the bitterly Italian end. Karoline and Sonja showed us a good time in and around Vienna and Beth S. was gracious enough to arrange free accommodation in her aunt's place near Kaiserslautern and travel with us a bit as well. We caught up with Leo Rs. and his Tokyo crew in Hamburg, were joined for the weekend by the lovely Katya, and also enjoyed the drunken company of the notorious Carl U. and an assorted cabal of Yankee extras in Dusseldorf. Falk U. came back with us from Amsterdam and went so far as to arrange for us and Troy to stay with his very gracious parents in Berlin. We also had the unexpected pleasure of seeing Andreas M., Max C., Martin C., and the one and only Nick H. for a few minutes before the final. After so many months on the road, it was a bit of relief to see so many familiar faces.

The European transit system was similarly welcome. A first class Eurail pass is about as far as you can get from a local Laotian bus service or a Brazilian river boat. And we made good use of those passes. The first major side trip was to Vienna and back for a wedding (discussed elsewhere). After the second Kaiserslautern match, we converted a couchette cabin into an American consulate. With five out of six beds filled with the OC, Kevin B., Leo Rg, and Beth S., we had just enough room left to watch Pulp Fiction on one a laptop before turning in for the night. The next morning found us in Copenhagen where we spent two days and an evening bopping around a lovely, if bleak, nordic city. Notable events included a street concert in a hippie "republic" and a show by Boss Hoss - perhaps the world's only country-style German pop cover band. Their version of "Hey Ya" alone was worth the price of admission. The final international road trip was the obligatory visit to Amsterdam where we reconnected with The Dykes, smoked some splif, and enjoyed one of the finest "beaches" in northern Europe before an excitedly blurry cycle road home.

I had been thinking that the OC would kind of wind down into a beer-soaked whimper, but it more spiraled up into a beer-soaked frenzy. It was an appropriately hectic conclusion to what has been a very busy year - the significance of which has been weighing a bit heavily upon me. So heavily, in fact, that the WC final was something of an anticlimax. Andreas M. commented over beers that we (the OC, that is - and Jason in particular) were notably serene in the face of so much energy and excitement. It is not that I did not have a good time, but I might very well have traded my ticket for another month in Africa or a chance to tour Central Asia. It is hard to get worked up about one thing in particular when there is so much left to see.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Video Gallery: Boss Hoss

When we were in Denmark, we saw a live show of a German band doing American country covers of popular hip-hop songs. Them northern europeans are some bored-ass people.

Video Gallery: A True Patriot

There are a rare few who are willing to sacrifice their own dignity for their country. Mike is one of those few.

Photo Albums: Romania

We were attacked by viral vampires and nearly slain. But, Romania was aaaaaa'ight.