Category Archives: Writing and Blogging

Posts about writing, blogging, reading, books and other authors.

American Expat Living in Germany Looks Back at Blogging in the Year 2013

funny german couple at festival

“Damn dude, you have CHANGED.” — Photo by Alex Archambault (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lostintexas/)

2013 was a big year for The Wife and I. After living in the States together, we moved to Hannover, Germany! Now, I’ll be real honest with you: it was scary at times (there may have been tears). I dropped everything, including a house, car and job, and moved across the globe to a country in which I did not adequately speak the language. Meanwhile, my wife scrambled around finding us an apartment here in Hannover, moving everything in and launching her post-university career. Jesus Christ, I think I’m going to have a panic attack just thinking about all that stuff again. Yep. It’s on. “Honey, call the Krankenwagen; my thunderous American heart has finally given out.”

2013 was also a big year for our blog. In addition to our usual denglish posts, I began writing about life as an American expat in Germany, and the culture shock and linguistic misadventures which ensued. I also started making videos and posting pictures from our travels around Germany, which brought in a lot more new readers. We were featured on The Local and several other expat resource websites. On top of all that, one of our posts was ‘Freshly Pressed’ on WordPress.com. Our readership just exploded over the past year, and as of the writing of this post, we’re about to pass the 10,000 subscriber mark!

We would like to sincerely thank you for reading our blog and invite you to take a look at some cool information from this past year, including:

  • Silly Statistics
  • Our Most Popular Post Ever
  • Where Our Readers Come From
    …and of course…
  • Our Top 5 Blog Commenters

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 320,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 14 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to view the 2013 blog stats from Oh God, My Wife Is German!

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Inspirational Bloggers: Jonah Peretti, Author of Black People Love Us

Header graphic from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

The Top Humor Bloggers Who Inspired Me to Start my Own Blog, Part 3:

Jonah Peretti, Author of Black People Love Us!

I found this parody site back in the mid-2000s, and I never forgot it. It was written from the perspective of a fictitious and wildly naive white couple known as ‘Sally and Johnny,’ who flaunt the adoration they receive from their African-American friends through satirical quotes and photographs. Jonah Peretti wrote this site with a level of sarcasm far beyond anything I’d read online before. He highlighted modern racism through characters who were blissfully unaware of it, and the results were both insightful and hilarious. I read every single page of Black People Love Us in one sitting, and frequently returned in the years that followed.

Sally and Johnny from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

I’d never really seen such potentially divisive humor online before, and I definitely hadn’t seen it used so successfully. Using satire to highlight a subject like racism takes stones, and Jonah Peretti has great big ones. (I call them Perettiballs.) He made up these two endearingly ignorant characters — Sally and Johnny, who openly stereotype their black friends with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer — and put them out there on the internet as the poster children for modern racism. Not everyone understood his intent, of course, so the site received an impressive amount of hate mail, but Peretti showed no fear whatsoever, and I respected the hell out of that.

Some people took the site literally, and actually thought Sally and Johnny were a real couple, writing about their real black friends. I could not believe this. The hate mail left me dumbfounded. How could someone not get the joke? And how could someone fail to see the value in it? But then I realized something important; there are some serious morons out there, and no matter what you create, no matter how funny, cool, beautiful or insightful it may be, this portion of the population is going to trash it. Maybe they’ll take offense to it — maybe they won’t understand it or simply won’t like it — but the task of humor authors is to make people laugh, and criticism is part of the job. With Black People Love Us, Jonah Peretti taught me a lot about courage — about being unafraid to take chances with humor — and in so doing, gave my writing a big push forward.

Johnny from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

Here is a quote pulled from the site’s testimonials section:

“Johnny calls me ‘da man!’ That puts me at ease. It makes me feel comfortable, because I am Black and that’s how Black folks talk to one another.”

Here is another quote, also from the testimonials section:

“Sally’s always saying: ‘You go girl!’ while ‘raising the roof’ to mainstream hip-hop tracks at cheesy bars. That’s fun! I relate to that.”

Sally and Johnny from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

Black People Love Us was a huge internet hit when it went live, and it continues to thrive after all these years. A true internet pioneer, Jonah Peretti also wrote the massively-forwarded email thread, the Nike Sweatshop Emails, and he is a founding member of BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post. The New York Times called him a “viral marketing hot dog,” (which is a creepily-worded compliment, in my opition, but a compliment all the same). Peretti is a graduate of the MIT Media Lab and a member of the New York based artist group Free Art and Technology Lab (a.k.a. FAT Lab).

Much like The Reverand (sic) Nathan Runkel of Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail and Robert Hamburger of The Official Ninja Webpage, Jonah Peretti was a major source of inspiration behind my decision to start a blog of my own, and Black People Love Us continues to influence my development as a humor writer to this very day.

You can follow Jonah Peretti on Twitter at @peretti, on Facebook at facebook.com/peretti and on BuzzFeed at buzzfeed.com/jonah.

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Inspirational Bloggers: Robert Hamburger, Author of The Official Ninja Webpage – Real Ultimate Power

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

The Top Humor Bloggers Who Inspired Me to Start my Own Blog, Part 2:

Robert Hamburger, Author of The Official Ninja Webpage – Real Ultimate Power

I found this site back in 2002, a year after I graduated from college. Listing various reasons why ninjas are the coolest and greatest beings on the planet, Robert Hamburger made me laugh out loud by listing ‘facts’ as seen through the adopted persona of a 13 year-old teenager. Through the characterization of this pseudonym, Hamburger wielded a very raw form of satire, which perfectly spotlighted the fan pages and internet homages celebrating all things awesome back in the early 2000s.

I loved the astronomical level of confidence with which he wrote. Without the slightest hint of doubt, the author would make a statement running on nothing but raw enthusiasm, throw a hundred exclamation points at it and then dare you to disagree. There was such power in his adolescent fury. He made me want to play along immediately, not only because of the boldness of his tone, but also because he reminded me of myself at age 13. I adored ninjas, monsters and super heroes of all kinds. I drew pictures of them, made up stories and played games — all with that same blind worship Hamburger imitated so effortlessly.

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

Robert Hamburger’s site taught me about the art of internet satire. It showed me how to form a fictional personality — to wear it like a mask — and generate boundless humor by writing about the way that personality views the world. Additionally, it taught me how to mock something by exaggerating it; to join in the chorus surrounding a certain subject and sing so loudly, so absurdly, one cannot be ignored. The Colbert Report is a great example of satire in which a fictional personality is adopted for the sake of exaggeration.

I read and reread The Official Ninja Webpage dozens of times. I had it bookmarked on my computer at work so I could read it every Monday morning, when the great machine of post-collegiate employment was just beginning to crush the life from my soul. I bought a Real Ultimate Power t-shirt — as did several of my friends — and wore it proudly for years. It was my absolute favorite article of clothing, and I wore it until the day I fell asleep too close to a campfire at the base of Mt. Hood and an ember exploded, showering me with sparks and riddling my ninja shirt with burn holes.

Image courtesy of cafepress.com and realultimatepower.net

Image courtesy of cafepress.com and realultimatepower.net

The Official Ninja Webpage received millions of hits and prompted interviews by Brown University, Citynet Magazine and Public Radio International. The site gained the attention of the New York Times, evoked countless internet memes and imitation sites, and spawned Real Ultimate Power, The Official Ninja Book, which became a cult hit, selling 35,000 copies in just 2 years. Robert Hamburger earned all of this attention and blazed the trail for other internet authors, like Tucker Max and Maddox, because he sat down one day and decided to spout off about the sweetness of ninjas.

Here is a quote pulled from the site’s introduction:

“Hi, this site is all about ninjas, REAL NINJAS. This site is awesome. My name is Robert and I can’t stop thinking about ninjas. These guys are cool; and by cool, I mean totally sweet.”

Here is another quote. This one is from the Testimonial section:

“Ninjas are sooooooooooo sweet that I want to crap my pants. I can’t believe it sometimes, but I feel it inside my heart. These guys are totally awesome and that’s a fact. Ninjas are fast, smooth, cool, strong, powerful, and sweet. I can’t wait to start yoga next year. I love ninjas with all of my body (including my pee pee).”

And finally, here is a quote from the Q and A section:

Q: I heard that ninjas are always cruel or mean. What’s their problem?
A: Whoever told you that is a total liar. Just like other mammals, ninjas can be mean OR totally awesome.

Much like The Reverand (sic) Nathan Runkel of Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail, Robert Hamburger does not update his site regularly. He does add to his news page from time to time, but not nearly often enough for diehard fans like me who started their own blogs with a massive dose of inspiration from The Official Ninja Webpage.

You can follow Robert Hamburger on Twitter at @RobertHamburger and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/RealUltimatePowerVid.

official-ninja-webpage-real-ultimate-power-link

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