German Music: Schlager Singer Heino

September 19, 2016
German Music, Learn German

Squeaky-clean, conservative and religious, American singer Pat Boone left more than a few scratching their heads in 1997 when he released In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy. The album saw Boone covering hard rock and metal hits like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and Deep Purple. As if that wasn’t enough, the conservative and religious singer made appearances to promote the album in all-leather outfits, including a dog collar choker necklace. He was 63 years old.

Compare this with German Schlager and traditional singer Heino‘s appeal to a younger audience. In 2013, the then 75 year old Heino released Mit freundlichen Grüßen, a covers album that saw him doing versions of Sportfreunde Stiller, Rammstein and Die Fantastischen Vier, among others. The album went to number one in the German charts. Despite being one of Germany’s best selling singers for nearly five decades, this was his first number one album that went platinum.

Admittedly, Heino’s traditional tastes in music might not appeal to everyone. But, for German learners his style of clearly enunciated vocals is ideal. That’s why this month’s featured German language music recommendation is Heino.
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German Book Review: Stuckrad-Barre’s “Panikherz”

September 14, 2016
Learn German

benjamin von stuckrad-barre panikherz
Earlier this year, it was announced that German journalist/author/television moderator Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre was be publishing a new book. I instantly became excited. The author had seemingly disappeared from the public eye, at least from my point of view. After his RBB television series Stuckrads Homestory finished airing in 2014, things seemed to get quiet. And it had been nearly six years since he published his last book, Auch Deutsche unter den Opfern, a collection of previously published newspaper articles. It was that book that had originally brought Stuckrad to my attention when he was on Deutsche Welle promoting it. You could, of course, count co-writing the script to 2012’s Zettl with director Helmut Dietl. Regardless, Panikherz is a new book from my favorite German author. I quickly pre-ordered it from

Titled Panikherz, Stuckrad’s latest publication is a memoir. The book is written from the present with flashbacks interspersed. During that time out of the public eye, he left Berlin. Instead he moves to a guesthouse at the famed Chateau Maurmont in Los Angeles. There he spent a year to reflect and regather himself. In Panikherz, he recounts his struggles with drugs, alcohol, an eating disorder and his own insecurities.

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German Films: Actor Florian Lukas

September 12, 2016
German Films, Learn German

florian lukas
If this month’s featured German actor looks familiar you may not be mistaken. When hipster art-house director Wes Anderson made The Grand Budapest Hotel, it made sense for him to cast European actors in a very European flavored film. One of those cast is Florian Lukas. The Berlin-based actor portrayed Pinky, one of the prisoners that Monsieur Gustave (played by Ralph Fiennes) befriends.

But Lukas can’t be accused of going Hollywood. The actor has a long list of credits in German language films and television. This month’s German language film recommendations for German language learners features Florian Lukas’ Nordwand, Die Fremde, and Good Bye, Lenin!
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Must See: Picturesque Hallstatt, Austria

September 5, 2016

hallstatt, austria

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, it might be difficult to convince the Austrian lake town of Hallstatt. A Chinese mining company built an exact copy of the town in Guangdong. But you really can’t blame the Chinese. Many consider the village to be the most beautiful town in the world. It’s easy to see why Hallstatt, Austria is this month’s featured location on My Must See List.

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Book Review: The Elements of Pizza

August 29, 2016
Food, reviews

the elements of pizza book review

Round these parts, we take our pizza very seriously. And I know what I like when it comes to pizza: thin crust that isn’t soggy or a cracker, a tomato sauce that is slightly on the sweet side and just the right amount of cheese. Everyone’s got their local pizza shop where they get a pie every so often. But there is a certain sense of satisfaction to making your own pizza at home. And, it can taste better, too. James Beard Award-winning author and chef Ken Forkish has recently released The Elements of Pizza to help us home cooks up our pizza-making game.
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3 Great Eats in Downtown Washington, DC

August 24, 2016
Food, Travel

luke's lobster - eats in downtown Washington, DC

Like any major city, Washington, DC is full of great food options. From high-end to trendy. From French brasserie Le Diplomate (Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr’s DC version of Philly’s Parc, which is Philly’s version of NYC’s Balthazar) to the always happening Momofuku. But if you’re in downtown and have limited time, who wants to spend the day driving (or being Uber-ed) all over the city?

So instead, during my recent day trip to Washington, DC, I stayed in the downtown area. If you venture just a few blocks north of the National Mall, there are plenty of great food options in Washington. Although there are plenty of food trucks down near the attractions, it’s great to sit down and enjoy the city more like a local than as a tourist. Here’s three great eats in downtown Washington, DC that kept my belly full AND happy.
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Spending a Day in Washington, D.C.

August 17, 2016

Day in Washington, D.C. - lincoln memorial close up

Spending a day in Washington, D.C. is a great idea. Spending a day in Washington, D.C. in August (the first day, actually) can cause a traveler to have a second thought. But there I was with a day in Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital is full of fantastic options of things to see and do. There’s no shortage of great restaurants and shops. And while the city does have plenty of public transit options — from the subway to buses doing circuits of the most popular tourist attractions — the relatively flat landscape makes for fantastic walking. Yeah, a day in Washington, D.C. is full of fun.
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German Music: Singer-Songwriter Tim Bendzko

August 15, 2016
German Music, Learn German

tim bendzko
If you’re like me, pop music isn’t quite your thing. But every once in a while a pop song comes along that is just so infectious, so memorable. You can’t help but sing along as the tune gets stuck in your head on a seemingly never-ending loop. A few years ago, Tim Bendzko‘s “Nur noch kurz die Welt retten” earned this much coveted position: winning over a non-pop fan. Let’s get to know this German singer-songwriter better in this month’s German Music Feature.

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German Films: Film Director Uli Edel

August 8, 2016
German Films, Learn German

uli edel
German director Uli Edel has had success on both sides of the Atlantic. His English language projects have included films like Last Exit to Brooklyn with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Body of Evidence with Madonna as well as television miniseries like The Mists of Avalon. In German, his projects look similar: made for both the large and small screens. He was behind ZDF’s 2013 miniseries Das Adlon. Eine Familiensaga about the history of Berlin’s famous Hotel Adlon.

For this month’s German language film recommendations, the focus is on three of Uli Edel’s German films: Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo, Der Baader Meinhof Komplex and Zeiten ändern dich. All three films are big screen adaptions of books. Coincidence?
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Must See List: Giant’s Causeway

August 1, 2016

giant's causeway ireland

A church built on a rock surrounded by the sea and only easily accessible only at low tide. Prehistoric pile-dwellings on a lake in the Alps. A tea plantation not in India, China or elsewhere in Asia but the continental United States. So many of My Must See highlights are man-made.

But how incredible are the naturally occurring phenomenon that surround us? This month’s featured Must See is located in Ireland. Giant’s Causeway is a unique stone formation along the Irish coast made by volcanic eruptions. But what is amazing is that the formation is roughly 40,000 basalt columns. It might look like a pathway carefully crafted by human hands. But it’s not! It is just Nature doing its thing.
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