How to Be Sad with Frightened Rabbit

Why the sad face, Frightened Rabbit?

Why the sad face, Frightened Rabbit?

Having a bad day? Bad Life? Are you “looking for a place to lie, guess a grave will have to do”? Then I would highly suggest that you turn on some Frightened Rabbit. This Scottish Indie-Rock band has perfected melancholia, and validates your sadness in a way that you didn’t know you wanted. 

The band formed in 2003, in Selkirk, Scotland, but is now based in Glasgow. They’ve spent their

Frightened Rabbit rocks out on stage

Frightened Rabbit rocks out on stage

last 11 years touring and making music that is both sad and deliciously clever. Their own blog is surprisingly upbeat (I was shocked my all the exclamation points), but don’t let it fool you.

While they probably aren’t coming to a city near you anytime soon, I would argue that sometimes the best way to listen to them is while you’re crying on your bathroom floor.

In preparation for that moment, I have compiled a list of 5 Frightened Rabbit songs you should listen to and when you should listen to them.

“My Backwards Walk” 

Type of Bad Day- Your soul has just been crushed and you now need to start your whole life over.

While this song is most explicitly about a break up, it could suffice for any major screw up or loss. It very perfectly illustrates the feeling of needing to move on, but not being able or ready to do so.

 “Footshooter” 

Type of Bad Day- You keep making the same mistake over and over again, and now you have confined yourself to a life of misery.

Everyone does this. You know something is going to end up badly, and you do it anyway. And then it ends up badly. Frightened Rabbit would call that “shooting yourself in the foot.”

“If You Were Me”

Type of Bad Day- You had to make a tough decision, and it is haunting you, and may continue to haunt you for the rest of your life.

Sometimes, you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, and you choose the hard place. But it’s the only thing you could’ve done.

“Nitrous Gas” 

Type of Bad Day- You are so sad and you would prefer to just sit in your melancholy forever and ever. You’d prefer to bring everyone down with you too. Everything sucks. Leave me alone.

“The Loneliness and the Scream” 

Type of Bad Day- You feel all alone in the world, and there’s no one there to care. That’s not true though. Frightened Rabbit is always there for you.

Well, I hope you are all prepared for your next bad day, and if not, Frightened Rabbit has 4 full-length albums and 2 EPs! There’s got to be a song somewhere in their discography to sympathize with your sadness.

…and for a little lit of Eurokulture, Frightened Rabbit’s love/hate letter to Scotland in song format:

“Scottish Winds”

How To Butcher a Black Forest Cake (And Still Make It Taste Delicious)

 
The Black Forest Cake in its natural habitat

The Black Forest Cake in its natural habitat

The Black Forest Cake wasn’t created in the Black Forest of Germany (obviously, you can’t bake a cake in a forest…) but was named after the cherries that grow there.

The Bollenhut

The Bollenhut

Now I have been making this cake for YEARS and nobody ever told me that there was a black forest cake hat. This hat is truly sensational, and combines two of my top 100 favorite things: cherries and hats.

 

At this point I feel that it is my civic duty as a global citizen to share with you the secrets behind this delicious cake.

Here is the first secret: I cheat.

They don’t sell Kirchwasser at Wal-Mart and I don’t have the patience to bake a chocolate cake from scratch. However they do sell cool whip, cherry pie filling and chocolate cake mix at Wal-Mart, and my short attention span can deal with all of those things!

So without further ado, here is the college kid’s version of a Black Forest Cake:

Make the chocolate cake according to the directions on the box. Put it in two circular pans.

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I know what you may be thinking: that is not a circle. I know. I know my shapes and I also know I don’t have enough money to buy circular pans. So I went with rectangles cut in half. Hopefully it’ll taste the same!

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Remove it from pan. I have never done such a perfect job. This cake flip is so good it should be on the cover of a magazine. Or win a blogging contest.

 

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Lather some Cool Whip and cherry pie filling on top of that baby.

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Now plop the other cake on top and repeat the last step. Feel free to make it fancy.

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Wow. That is one not aesthetically pleasing cake. But it tastes good, further proving that it is truly what’s on the inside that counts.

 

This German tradition that I have so cavalierly butchered holds its own amongst the dessert battle throughout Europe. In my expert opinion (I eat a lot of desserts) the Black Forest cake crushes the cannoli (figuratively and literally, it is a very dense cake), defeats flan and massacres macaroons. Black Forest cake is yet another example of German excellence, throughout not only Europe, but the world.

“Animals United” Is Just One Big Copy Cat

It's tough to say what the saddest part of this movie poster is: its uncanny resemblance to Madagascar, or the fact that they spent money putting this film in 3D.

It’s tough to say what the saddest part of this movie poster is: its uncanny resemblance to Madagascar, or the fact that they spent money putting this film in 3D.

The 2011 film Animals United (or “Konferenz der Tiere” for the German crowd) was produced in Germany, voiced by Brits, and unanimously hated by everyone around the world. Attempting to capture the magic of box office hits like Madagascar while shoving global warming down the throats of children.

Not only is the political agenda uncomfortable and blatant propaganda, but everything else pretty much blows as well. The characters in this movie will remind you of all favorite animated animals: Gloria, Timone and Pumba, the Coca-Cola polar bear, but if they were poorly developed, animated, and lacked any type of charisma at all.

Here are select few thoughts I had while attempting to follow the depraved plot of this dismal film:

  • Does the lion in this movie REALLY have a scar? AND a dead brother? AND a forbidden area? Did the filmmakers think that maybe no one saw The Lion King, the 3rd highest grossing film word wide?

    Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 11.11.35 AM

    I think Sushi the polar bear decided she was just too cute to be associated with this trash.

  • Is that the Monsters Inc. factory?
  • Did they really get David Newman to do the score for this film? David Newman, Brother of Thomas Newman, 10-time Academy Award Best Original Score nominee, including a nomination for Finding Nemo?
  • Wait, why are they singing? Is this a singing movie? (It’s not)
  • How come the polar bear isn’t in it more?
  • How come the Australian animals have Australian accents, the French animals have French accents and the African animals have British accents?

 

It’s not just me, everyone on the internet agrees that this is “THE WORST ENVIRONMENTAL MOVIE EVER” as it was eloquently put by one blogger. David Cox, a film reviewer for the guardian found himself concerned about the negative implications this might have for biodiversity, and the misguided use of anthropomorphism (animals with the characteristics of people). However, I think this movie is so unmemorable; it would never be able to achieve any lasting impact on anyone.

This film has been seen by many as a “anti-human propaganda film”, trying to further the environmental goals of Europe, but fails to capture the audience and fails to produce an honest film. Thanks to Netflix, people are still watching this film, hoping to find a diamond in the rough animated flick, and ending up feeling dead inside.

Big Sky, Bright Lights Constellate a Country

Things were gettin’ funky overhead in the Northern United Kingdom, and everyone and their smart phones stopped to notice.

Seeing the night sky light up in a thousand different colors a la the Northern Lights isn’t something that happens every evening, even in the northern most parts of the UK.
Everyone took note, including avid instagrammers


avid astronomers

Astronomer/Blogger Will Gater managed to snap this photo of the Northern Lights.

Astronomer/Blogger Will Gater managed to snap this photo of the Northern Lights.

 

avid photographers

Photographer Mark Hume traveled great distances and fared the bitter cold for weeks, only to have his best work come from his very own backyard in Blyth.

Photographer Mark Hume traveled great distances and fared the bitter cold for weeks, only to have his best work come from his very own backyard in Blyth.

 

and avid journalists.

What is more or less as amazing as the lights themselves is the deep, interconnected web that the lights brought together across the UK. Astronomers gave the web an early warning that some crazy cool stuff  was about to go down overhead, and why.

Photographers, as well as iPhone users were then all set up to capture this phenomenon. These photos fueled thousands of news articles and blog posts (including the one you are reading at this moment). The very nature of the Northern Lights fed into this mass aggregation practices. Since they vary so much, each and every photo has something different to show.

Its almost as if the Northern Lights were made for this digital age… although solar flares have likely been going on since the sun was born, so maybe not. But perhaps their trek down the British countryside is their way of taking advantage of their hay day.

Trees Go Trunk to Trunk in Unique European Competition

The Welsh entry has a long and turbulent past

The Welsh entry has a long and turbulent past

The polls are being flooded with votes for the hottest contest in all of Europe: The Tree of the Year Award. Most of these trees have been growing for hundreds of years, in preparation for this very moment.

Contestants hail from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Ireland, Poland, Scotland, France, Italy and Wales. Each of these trees has a story to tell, some impressive and some heart wrenching.

 

Famous Fiddler Niel Gow once fiddled under this famous tree

Famous Fiddler Niel Gow once fiddled under this famous tree

Scotland’s woody competitor belonged to Neil Gow, the most famous fiddler in all of 18th century Scotland.  That’s right, this behemoth Sessile Oak tree was nothing but a mere seed 300 years ago. Many leaves later, it has proven itself as the best tree in all of Scotland, and hopes to take Europe by storm as well.

On a more melancholy note, Wales’ entry has not lived a life of luxury. This Pedunculate oak has been around over a thousand years, long enough to witness the battle of Crogen, a brutal battle between Welsh and British troops in 1165. This is the first Welsh tree to be entered into the contest, and it plans on making a grand entrance.

The Woodland Trust, an organization who works towards preserving ancient trees in England and Scotland, is heavily backing the Welsh candidate. As of now, it is unclear how their support will effect the polls, although their clear passion for super old trees is certainly undeniable.

 

Bulgaria's entry in the competition stands strong in the middle of town.

Bulgaria’s entry in the competition stands strong in the middle of town.

Every single one of these contestants has something to bring to the table. Bulgaria’s Field Elm is a “centuries-old silent witness of the city’s turbulent and heroic past” Slovakia has also entered a Pedunculate oak, although this one has experienced years of privilege, sitting in the garden that was once doctor and writer, Dr. Zechenter’s.

The competition is fierce. The contest is judged based on popular vote, and does not show these votes in the last week of voting, so at this point, it could be anyone’s game. Anyone of these trees could be awarded the prestigious honor of being European Tree of The Year.

 

 

Every vote counts, so make sure your voice is heard, and vote here. The winner will be announced in Brussels March 19th.

Take a look at all of this years contestants:

Europeans and Trains: A Love Affair

High Speed Train

 

Europeans are all about traveling by trains. If the sheer number of train tracks criss-crossing the continent isn’t enough proof, all one has to do is look at hashtags for any of the major European train lines. Take #Eurostar for example:

 

 

 

That is a lot of train love… and it isn’t just a fling.

Eurostar Patrons are feelin' the love at one of the many Eurostar stations. Photo courtesy of @ppparis.

Eurostar Patrons are feelin’ the love at one of the many Eurostar stations

Contrary to popular belief, trains were not solely popularized by their role in the Harry Potter series. Locomotives choo-chooed into the scene roughly 171 years before Harry met Ron on that fateful September day. The first mechanized railways appeared in England in the 1820s, and kick-started the industrial revolution across the world.

 

While the metropolitan rail system was being developed rapidly in London, continental Europe began to expand their rail services, starting in Belgium. For many countries, the development of the railways was a tool used to improve their economic and social systems. The French hoped that their rail system would bring about social modernization in some of the more rural areas. Germany’s aims were to strengthen the nation as well as promote industrialization.

 

Although the industrial revolution has come and gone, trains continue to rule the tracks. With the advent of high-speed trains, one minute you can be French kissing a stranger under the Eiffel Tower, and ogling Prince Harry at a polo match only two hours later. All this, without ever having to leave the ground. In fact, 81% of travelers prefer to ride the rails rather than take to the air when going from Paris to London. Millions of Europeans take advantage of this and journey billions of kilometers every year. France alone carries 54.72 billion passenger miles per year.

 

By choosing to take the train, passengers can choose when and where they want to depart from, similar to air travel. Although unlike air travel, passengers do not have to deal with as many rigid restrictions and can enjoy amenities like sleeping cabins and dining areas. Yet neither planes nor trains have developed an effective system for ejecting crying babies from the vehicle, a problem that consistently plagues both types of transportation.

 

There are a lot of miles of high speed rails in Europe... and the number is only growing.

The number of high-speed rails zooming across Europe continues to grow faster and faster, just like the trains that ride them.

Despite the fact that the last time many Americans rode a train it was in the mall, 10 or 20 Christmases ago, the United States is actually ranked first in the world in railroad miles. In the United States, trains are most commonly used for cargo transport, rather than human moving.

 

The widespread nature of the US  just doesn’t operate the same way that it does in condensed Europe. Its not surprising that most people would rather take a two-hour train ride from Paris to London than bear the 37-hour journey from Minneapolis to Seattle. Having cities closer together and numerous high-speed trains that connect them make travel seem a little less daunting and a lot more doable.

 

 

Throughout the years and numerous technological innovations, trains have stood the test of time. They have successfully connected a continent and its people, and will continue to do so, with over 11,000 miles of high-speed rails in the works. Trains have made it clear that they are to stay in Europe, and not only because the tracks are made of steel and are very difficult to erode, but because the continental pastime is one that Europeans can’t, and have no desire to shake.