Archive for the ‘internship’ Category

This past week at Florentine saw the entire gang gathered to screen the second visual pass of a documentary on the Dust Bowl (release date 2013, I believe). For the two days afterward, the bigwigs gathered for script rewrites, which offered me my first chance to see Ken Burns in creative action. I observed, I bantered, I poured a few cups of my fresh-brewed coffee, and I learned.

Realizing that not everyone gets such an opportunity–and it being the season for giving–I thought I’d share some things I learned about KB from an unlikely source: The Simpsons. In the first clip (skip to 5’20”), we learn from a lesser-known documentary by Ken Burns about Ken Burns that his twin love of baseball and jazz explains his famous boyish coif:

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In the second (17’55”), we learn that Ken and his brother Ric are direct descendants of Colonel Burns, who is C. Montgomery Burns’ father:

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Dah duh dah dling!


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A year ago I met two important people on my porch.

The first was a gal named Thelma. We first spoke in the kitchen–which was apropos–but we met on the porch, chatting and staring at the stars and the city across the way. My life with her has had the indolent pleasure of a ceaseless brunch whose end I wish never to come. Knowing Thelma’s appetite, I’m sure she would agree.

Here we are last Christmas on said porch, one from a series some people somehow took seriously (such is the mystery of our love):

The second important person I met on the porch was a fellow by the name of Taylor. His arrival on the porch was at first inauspicious, as it interrupted one of the aforementioned conversations between Thelma and me.  He soon won us over, however, with a bottle of duty-free scotch initially intended for our landlord.

Here is Taylor on CNN talking about his organization in Rwanda, and here he is snuggling with me on the porch (photo credit: Thelma):

Through a logical chain of conversation since unlinked by poor memory, Taylor and I got to talking of my teenage fascination with World War II and his work as associate producer on The War, a documentary by Ken Burns which I had watched just before coming to Rwanda*. Seeing my interest in the process, Taylor offered to link me up with someone at Florentine Films for an internship while Thelma rubbed my shoulders encouragingly–our first meaningful physical contact.

That was a year ago on a porch in Rwanda. Much happened in the meantime, but as of last week I’ve begun an internship at the editing house for Florentine Films in Walpole, NH until December. I’ve washed dishes and taken out the trash, but I’ve also gotten to do some (very very) basic editing work on a DVD extra for the upcoming Prohibition and may have made my first visual contribution by finding some period newspaper articles on FDR’s 1910 state senate campaign for The Roosevelts (coming in 2013!). Here’s a boring and unlikely to be used sample:

Beyond a rendezvous with Thelma in Germany I don’t know what the new year will bring, but so far things have been nicely unpredictable.  The only ill harbinger at the moment is the prospect of my first New England winter, which will surely keep me inside and off any porches.


* In another strange linkage, I had first seen The War during my year in Germany but quickly changed the channel because I didn’t want to watch it in my limited German and have its impact lessened as a result.

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A project manager at my past German internship sent me an e-mail talking about the firm’s involvement in the Hanse Sail at Rostock, a yearly celebration of the the famous Hanseatic League that brought so much wealth to the northern cities of Germany in times past. He also referred me to the a news article containing a statement from the mayor about the success of the latest iteration:

Nun ist auch die 18. Ausgabe der Hanse Sail Rostock bereits vorbei. Unsere Hanse Sail ist erwachsen geworden.

Clicking on the English version yields the following result:

Now the 18th edition of the Hanse Sail Rostock is already over. Our Hanse Sail has become adulty!

Well said Lord, er, Major!

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After what has been perhaps the busiest day of my internship, I am calling it quits for the week and heading to Berlin for the final conference of my program. The break will be welcome, as not only today but also most of the past two weeks have wholly consumed many in my office as we prepare to send off a political and business delegation to the USA next week. So busy were we—and so crucial was I, it seems— that my boss tinkered with the idea of excusing me the conference due to “sickness.”

One of the more time-consuming tasks was translating about 50 pages of speeches for the minister of economics of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. One element present in two of his speeches makes for a funny intercultural story that I hope to share on the blog when I return.

Until then, however, I’m going to Berlin.

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Fore & Aft

After a particularly long week escorting an American business delegation all along the coast of Meck-Pomm, I am happy to have finally some time alone to relax and recharge. In truth, the week was like a vacation in many respects with a lot of good food and interesting tours, but it also had it profound moments of stress, such as when I was asked to serve as translator between an American mayor and his German counterpart. The trip was also noteworthy in that it allowed my mug to be transmitted several times via print and broadcast news, making me absolutely certain that I’ve now been featured more often in European media than anywhere else (no matter how superficially).

As I noted before, the week culminated with a several-hour event with Chancellor Merkel. I was exposed to the openness of German politicians before when I met with my Bundestag representative in Rostock, but I was still nonetheless astounded by the easy access to the Chancellor during the event. In the last part of the evening, which was a mix and mingle phase where everyone walked around sipping drinks and eating finger foods, the Chancellor was just as easily approachable as anyone else, and I was thus able to talk to her individually for a few seconds with no trouble whatsoever (Had my associate not taken off to parts unknown I would have gotten a picture as well, but such is life. I was at least able to snap quickly the photo below earlier in the evening.).

Ms. Merkel also gave a speech and allowed 30 minutes or so of questions during the event, and I must say that my cynicism vis-à-vis politicians was challenged by her frank directness. I took some notes during the speech with the thought I would write a post about it—we’ll see, but next up will be a post I started doing the legwork on before I left last week. I think my readers in Germany especially will get a kick out of it.

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It is with some regret that I must inform readers that there will be no blogging during the next week, for I will be travelling to the coast in order to impress a business delegation from Kansas with my Wikipedic knowledge of the region.

Personal highlights will be visiting the island of Rügen, one of the most popular vacation spots for Germans ( the chalk cliffs of the island have been captured in a famous painting by Caspar David Friedrich, who readers will know is a favorite of mine), a Bar-B-Q in Trinwillershagen, where Dubya also enjoyed some suckled pig at the G-8 summit two years ago, and a several-hour sit-down with Chancellor Merkel herself, whose brazen display of femininity in this little number is a topic of conversation I have been dared to broach.

Interested readers can read more about the week in this small article that appeared in the Wichita Eagle.

Bis dann.

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Excitement abounds, for tomorrow I will be driving to Düsseldorf and back—IN A CAR! The trip will mark my first time experiencing the Autobahn from behind the wheel, and the danger and novelty of this will no doubt be enhanced by the fact that I haven’t driven a car in nearly nine months and that I’ll be taking the company car, errr, MPV.

The occasion which facilitates all this is a trade fair, where I will be duly representing the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to any and all potential investors. To be perfectly candid, I think I’ll hate the fair and the meetings because I hate schmoozing, but hope springs.

The fact that the colleague who is accompanying me does not like driving means that I’ll be in the driver’s seat for most of the 1,000 km round trip, but this distance (and our unwillingness to stay overnight in Düsseldorf) in turn means that we’ll be departing at 4:00 AM tomorrow morning and returning sometime before midnight.

Thus, I must quickly away so that I may achieve early slumber.

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