A Groovy Obsession

Starting at the age of about fourteen, I stopped being a tv watcher. Not that I’ve never watched it since then, but I literally could go years in between viewings. Spouse, on the other hand, in the handful of years that we’ve lived, not just in the same country, for a change, but actually at the same address, has already worn out an armchair, so great is his need to vegetate every evening from at least 8pm onward. And, since the outbreak of this pandemic, I have picked up the habit of heading down to the mancave promptly at 7:59 pm for the 15 minutes of national news and then sticking around for anywhere from 5 minutes to several hours afterwards, depending on what’s on.

Usually crap, of course, which I generally don’t stick around for. But there was an interesting little show about Planten un Bloemen, the city park/botanic garden in Hamburg that is a real jewel of a place (definitely stroll through for an hour or two (or more) (it’s free! even the tropical greenhouse) if you’re ever bumming around Hamburg. I was there once myself, while I was killing an hour before a scientific conference that was being held nearby, and I was sad I only had that one hour. (I should go back! Hamburg is not soooo far away from here.)

And there was an interesting documentary a couple of nights ago about Jane Birkin, whom Spouse had never, ever heard of.

But last night was Saturday night and that is always a crap television night. But, alas, I was not fit for anything other than vegetation, so I stuck around after the news and we ended up watching a show called (in German, of course) Big vs Little (or maybe it was Little vs Big) (whatever). Basically, people wrote in to say my kid can beat (insert name of notable German person here) at (insert some totally super random odd task here) and then that’s what this show was about. The first kid, for instance, hung from the top of an aerial hoop by her hands and pulled her legs up and through 28 times in one minute and the very pretty young former circus star celebrity only managed 14 times (so, yeah, the kids generally won). Then there was the 6 year old girl who could identify the fairy tale before the end of the opening line (although her opponent, an actor who had played one of the seven dwarfs in some German tv show or movie, only lost on the tie-breaker by a fraction of a second). And there were, yeah, I wouldn’t say obscure fairy tales in there, but several a step beyond the popular standards (such as The Goose Girl, Thumbelina, King Thrushbeard, and Longnose the Dwarf, that most of us would be hard pressed to identify within the first paragraph). (Actually, I did okay (I even got Longnose the Dwarf), even though the text was in German, although Thumbelina threw me.)

But the most jaw-dropping of all was the little boy who claimed he could recognize more LPs from their grooves than the famous north German singer lady/tv show moderator. Basically, it goes like this… you see how many songs are on side A and how many songs are on side B and this narrows down the list of possible albums it could be. Then you feel how heavy the LP is or wiggle it to see how flexible it is and this tells you how thick the disc is and apparently this narrows down the possibilities a bit more.

So the boy managed to identify the LP correctly two out of four times, with his correct guesses being Supertramp’s Breakfast in America and one of Herbert Groenemeyer’s albums (I don’t remember the name of that one either). The ones he misidentified were Adele’s 21 and one of Sade’s albums (Diamond Life, maybe). That’s a span of nearly forty years, in terms of musical releases!

So here’s the thing: this must be a thing, this knowing an LP from its grooves, because his opponent BEAT HIM. She aced her four albums, recognizing Depeche Mode’s Violator, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Udo Juergen’s Udo, and one other album that I cannot remember at all. The poor little boy was totally crushed (although they gave him his prize anyway of the backyard trampoline that he’d been dreaming of).

Or else they narrowed the possibilities down to the 50 LPs they had to randomly choose from and let both the little boy and the singer/tv moderator go away for a few weeks to study them.

Oh, but THE BEST ONE OF ALL was the little girl who, from the slightest glimpse of the slightest bit of the face of a world leader could name them and the country they were in charge of. Like she even nailed Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana from the bottom half of his nose within less than a second (and had no trouble at all rolling out his name). Meanwhile the TEAM OF THREE national news presenters collectively scored 2 points to her 12 and encouraged her to pursue a career in international newscasting. (The head guy was impressed, saying that they rely on a computer facial recognition to feed the information into their earphones when they have to identify someone on the spot… and the computers need the whole face.)

So… it’s news time again in 7 minutes. But it’s Sunday now, and Sunday is Tatort night. Which is a semi-crappy crime drama set in one of about half a dozen different German cities (or Vienna). So I’ll probably stay for that and, if it isn’t too awful, actually make it all the way through to the end.

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