Monthly Archives: September 2010

Futuristic Living and Organic Architecture Pt. 1

For my workouts I started to watch videos on ted.com. Coz I wanna gets smartz, y’all. That’s why. Some of the speeches are very good, and practically all of them are very informative, catering to whatever you just happen to like at that moment. I stumbled upon two videos in specific that caught my attention, both of them being about the future of architecture. They deal with questions of sustainability, eco-friendliness and the incorporation of nature and living matter into architectural processes. The first (and short, only 2:57 ) video features Mitchell Joachim, where he talks in “Don’t build your home, grow it!” about using plants and chemically engineered tissue for building homes. Enjoy below.

Some of the ideas he presents in his speech are already being used by other people over the world, who try to grow homes. Below you find structures grown of trees who were “woven” together, using the incredible feature of tree-trunks that, well, they grow together if you force them long enough at a tender age. The structures are “designed” by (1) Konstantin Kirsch and Richard Reames (via fennelandfern.co.uk), (2) Hermann Block (via konstantin-kirsch.de), (3+4) a bunch of people in northeastern India (sorry for not being able in this case to be more specific [and yes, I blame western arrogance], copyright held by Vanlal Tochhawng, via v1kram.posterous.com). 

 

But combining nature and architecture can go in a very different direction, too. There’s tons of examples where organic architecture focuses more on the aesthetiques of organisms and tries to incorporate buildings into landscapes, nevertheless trying to make living things integral parts of the construction. One example is the “Urban Forest” by Chinese architecture studio MAD Ltd. (they hold copyright to the pictures below, by clicking them you get to their website)

Of course these MAD Ltd. designs totally remind me (and probably you, too) of science-fiction paintings and renderings that make the future seem a pretty sweet place to live in (or time, that is). Take for example the picture “Futuristic City Complex” below by artist Staszek Marek (who holds copyright, via coolvibe.com):

Or to take it even further, the below image by Mark Goerner (holding copyright, via cgfriend.org) where the city structure is not built into the natural setting, but the nature is rather built into the city itself:

 

The Urban Free Habitat System by Danish studio N55 pursues another architectural approach and does not create a static space for human beings, but lets the human being decide where to create his_her resident space. By using a simple steel construction seemingly public and open spaces can be transformed into private settings and zones of personal comfort.

Copyright of the above pictures with N55. You can visit their website by clicking here or any of the photos above.
Obviously, questions about sustainability and nature conservation arise, but more pressing for most would probably be to hear about plans for bad weather, unwelcome observers and the like (to be fair: they do address these issues in the according manual on their site).

The following pictures by Ilkka Halso take a different approach to nature and its relation to architecture by visually wondering what happens when we build around nature. Or specifically for nature, since we might be in need of preserving the little residue that is still left to us. And thus, what we often take as a given, becomes a museum object: 

Copyright to all of these gorgeous pictures by Ilkka Halso. You can get to the website either by clicking here or one of the above pictures.

And I’ll just close this post (there’ll be more though, that’s why it is entitled Pt. 1) with the second ted-talk I watched on the issue: Rachel Armstrong talks in “Architecture that repairs itself?” about her research into metabolic materials for architecture, imagining a way to restore the foundation of Venice and more (video duration 7:32).

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I am not either/or: LesMigraS Campaign

Ok, I was actually planning on treating you to some fashion eye candy and snatched my crappy digital camera to shoot the hell out of an AnOther Magazine editorial that featured our beloved Tilda Swinton. Heck, was I proud, until I realized that I could also just look if these pictures are available online. And yes, they are, in abundance. So no need for not-so-lazy me to look super-lazy by just coming up with some same old same-old. Thus no Tilda Swinton shoot from me, sorries.
(But yes, I do realize that you are curious now, so just go here and look at the gorgeous shoot)

So to have you enjoy some amazingness nevertheless I give you the three posters of the relatively new LesMigraS campaign that invites lesbian, bisexual and trans* women to participate in an online survey. You find the English translations below the respective poster.

Would you rather have your teeth kicked in or not get the job?
[] teeth kicked in            [] not get the job                  [X] no
Identity knows no “either” – “or”

Are you a lesbian or a migrant?
[] a lesbian      [] a migrant             [X] no
Identity knows no “either” – “or”

What is worse – Transphobia or Racism?
[] Transphobia            [] Racism             [X] no
Identity knows no “either” – “or”

copyright to all posters with LesMigraS, whose website you can visit by clicking here (various languages available)

 

Seriously, aren’t these posters like ice-cream served with all things good?
This campaign is so right, it almost hurts in its utter awesomeness.
Because yes, identity does not know either/or. Oppression creates hierarchies, but there is no hierarchy of modes of oppression. I’ve encountered the tendency to play out one’s own position as a victim of hierarchical oppression against other positions so many times, and it makes me wonder: Don’t you realize what you are doing? Don’t you see that you are not helping yourself by putting your identity above others?

I am a white German gay male. I am a boyfriend, big brother, flatmate, son and student. I am a vegetarian, blogger and need to wear glasses. And I am so much more than that.

Can we all get up now and give that campaign a standing ovation?

Me and Björk and Vespertine

Time for mu-mu-music!
I’ll have a go at another album review, this time with good old Björk

via thisheartsonfire.com

Now, many people I know and even people I do not know but who I’ve heard or read this from think that the best Björk album is Homogenic. I love Homogenic and I will not hate on it, but what I gather from other people’s reactions is that they think everything went a little downhill after Homogenic – with the release of Vespertine. Oh hell, here is one person disagreeing vividly. That would be me, because I think – take a seat – that Vespertine is her best album (gasp). 

Yes, Vespertine is the album on whose cover she wears the infamous Swan Dress that caused a stir at the Oscars 2001 – which is not only ridiculous when you think about it, but also terrible. What’s wrong with swans?
Musically she layered even more than she did before and I’ve heard from Hi-Fi aficionados that the Super-CD on full blast is a whole universe in itself, but I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got, don’t get me wrong.
I try to shorten my usually extensive reviews here a little and give you my top-5 and mix the rest together, explaining why they didn’t make the top-5. Deal?   

via keithianmusic.com

#1 – Undo
Now here it is, the real Undo, making me happy cause I am not confusing it with It’s not up to you anymore. Beats, claps, harps, piano (or whatever and whatnot) create such a wonderful fabric of sound to lie down on, close one’s eyes and start to dream of places that might just look like Lothlorien. Or wherever one would really like to be, okay. The beauty of the whole song is that it builds up from verse to verse, becomes more and more layered, all the while more ethereal and lifting. Superb contrast of raw and vulnerable lyrics with strings and choirs that could just sing you up some cloud. Ok, I deviate, but in case you couldn’t tell: I fucking love that song. 

Undo if you’re bleeding.
Undo if you’re sweating.
Undo if you’re crying, darling. 
 

#2 – Frosti
A song that is all just bells. A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Now to give you a little back-story: I was visiting Hakodate in Hokkaido, Japan, and we were going up resident Mount Hakodate, but there was only fog so we spent time inside the building on top and they have a music hall there. And there was a group of schoolgirls playing all sorts of hits and songs with handbells. Which sounded so freakin’ awesome you wouldn’t believe it. And they were all smiles and seemed so happy. Needless to say: I totally forgot about the view from this foggy mountain (well, for a while at least), but have fond memories of bells.
Oh, and the song is my cell-phone ring tone. So if you hear it on the train, somebody is probably calling me. 

via maxalbums.com

#3 – Heirloom
For a long time I didn’t even consciously register that the song existed until one fine day while the album ran through it just hit me: I fell in love. Such an amazing song, both repetitive and at the same time building up – towards something that never arrives. While that totally sounds like some lame-ass song, I think it’s wonderful, because it creates such an urgency (and of course beautifully reflects the lyrical theme of a recurring dream). I also like the imagery used in the lyrics. Big fan.

I swallow little glowing lights my mother and son baked for me.
While I’m asleep my mother and son pour in me warm glowing oil into my wide open throat.
I have a recurrent dream. 

#4 – Pagan Poetry
Probably the best intro of all songs on the album, my guess is: harps (or is it bells? Oh yes, I suck at things like that). I like the passive aggressive delivery of the lyrics by Björk (although admittedly she’s also shouting a lot in it, which wouldn’t exactly be passive) and once again the fantastic contrast with the choir that lends the song a huge chunk in the fragility department. Since I am a huge fan of bells and harps in music, and this song consists prominently of both, I’m in love with it. This was the second single, and frankly I think it got the best video for any single on Vespertine. Enjoy below.

I love him, I love him, I love him, I love him, I love him, I love him, I love him, I love him.
She loves him, she loves him, she loves him, she loves him, she loves him, she loves him, she loves him, she loves him, she loves him, she loves him…

 

#5 – Unison
A very pleasant surprise at the end of the album, as they usually come with Björk albums, the most positive and pop-y song kicks in last and every time makes me wonder why it was never released as a single. It’s got such a positive vibe that I always feel like a) dancing and b) embracing the planet. Seriously, can you even imagine how much I’d love to be at the most random of parties and have that song start to play? I’d dance a smile on your face.

 I never thought I would compromise

 

The lead single Hidden Place is a safe choice – for Björk’s standards. Meaning that it is the right mixture of mildly catchy, quirky without being off-putting and a good summary of what the album is about in terms of musical layering, choirs and lyrics.
I used to be a big fan of Cocoon, back when it was released as the third single off Vespertine. I still think that musically it is very intriguing with its use of distorted beats and claps (very reminiscent of Selma Songs, right?). Sounding like a Sunday afternoon ready to get you to bed within the next five minutes it is both soothing and sweet, garnered with some sexually charged lyrics – something you have to pay attention to in order to find out.
My relationship with It’s not up to you is kind of messed up because I keep confusing it with Undo, the song following it. Well, not anymore really, but I did. I like Undo better, but that’s curiously why It’s not up to you evokes feelings in me that are probably more positive than I actually really think. That being said, I also think it’s a beautiful song precisely because of the terrific build-up built in (heehee), when the music goes full orchestra on our ears and the choirs kick in. I’m just a bit unnerved by the beatbox-y beats coming with the verses and honestly, I could do without the outro.
Overall, I think these three are good songs, but they don’t blow me out of the water. 

  

I know it’s all there in Aurora, choirs and harps and Björk, but I never got into that song, and up until today it hasn’t changed. I don’t exactly know why, but the song just bores me 30 seconds in and somehow it doesn’t get better from there. Any fans of it out there?
Back when I was 17 I sometimes used Vespertine to fall asleep to. While Aurora set the mood after songs that I like, An Echo, A Stain probably did the rest and made me slide over into the realm of dreams. It’s not that I don’t like it, I actually do, but it’s not a song that I deliberately want to listen to.
Like Harm of Will I can read the title and not remember At All how Sun in my Mouth sounds. And listening to both of them I know exactly why: They unfortunately don’t evoke much more than slight boredom in me. 

Yep, short and to the point today, that’s how I am. 

If you haven’t had a listen yet, go do so! It’s worth it!

The Berlin Wall, or: not quite

Last weekend I graciously made the effort to visit the Naturkundemuseum (Natural History Museum) here in Berlin to get a glimpse on all their pickled animals. Which is what you see in the photo below, and it looks real pretty in real life.

 

But what I was even more surprised about, was to find myself standing in the Invalidenpark (in between Habersaathstraße, Schwarzer Weg, Invalidenstraße and Scharnhorststraße ) for the first time. I’ve never been aware of its existence nor do I think anybody ever mentioned it to me (except for Jochen, so, thank you Jochen). It’s not exactly super-spectacular or a vast area of thriving wilderness, but in the middle of it you can find the “Sinking Wall” (conceptualized by Christophe Girot) that is to remind visitors of both the church that had been standing here in the past, but also of the Berlin Wall and how it came down. And I must say: it really is a nice monument. Simple symbolism done right, yay!

(you can view larger versions by clicking the images)

 

I’ll give you two more impressions of this eventful day, namely some sculptural art on the wall of the ministry for technology etc and the statue of liberty in front of the Hauptbahnhof (main station), eating the moon for ice-cream and being all fenced in.

 

So if you haven’t been to Invalidenpark yet but happen to find yourself in the area, it is definitely worth checking out.

Just read A Game of Thrones

Ok, I know I’m late to the game. But then again it is a book. Books are for eternity and yadda yadda alla that. Didn’t you wonder already why no book-review has happened on this blog so far? You better have, cause here comes one.

via bscreview.com

A Game of Thrones is the first book of a series by George R.R. Martin called “Song of Ice and Fire.” It was published in 1996 and by now the whole series consists of four novels, though at least three more are to follow. Apparently, fans are kind of disgruntled for George R.R. Martin taking so long to finish manuscripts. They seem to fear that he might “pull a Robert Jordan” on them, and if you happen to love The Wheel of Time, you know what that means. And yes, in time we will get to The Wheel of Time. Don’t worry.

My overall impression of Game of Thrones is mixed. I was very underwhelmed in the beginning but the novel kept surprising me in good ways, so that I’m now able to firmly state: I’m going to read on!

SPOILER ALERT: This is not a review that is intended to make you interested. Well it is, but you have to stop reading here, then. Because from here on I tell you why I loved it and it involves some spoilers. The first section – The Minuses – are practically spoiler free, but if you haven’t read it yet, please do so first and skip The Pluses for now.

The Minuses:
It’s predictability in parts – owing to some cookie cutter characterizations.
Some of the characters in this book are just so very fantasy book characters that it hurts. Sansa the naïve princess. Even a worse item out of the cliché-box: Arya, with her being all non-lady-like and tangled hair and stuff and therefore supposed to be earning our sympathies all along. Jon Snow with his torn heart between filial piety and bonds of brotherhood, or whatever. Some of them feel like I’ve encountered them a gazillion times before, and while they were already pretty stale the last few hundred times around they are just too effing predictable this time.

Sansa.
Speaking of clichéd characters, here is one. Pretty, sort of stupid, but a heart of gold. Needs all her dreams to be shattered in order to see how people really are. Urgh. Not only is it uncomfortably sexist to only have a female character be like that, but it’s also so been-done-before and uninspiring that at the beginning of all of her chapters I wish it would just go away. I asked myself: isn’t it good writing when one character gets you on edge like that? It would be if it’d be the character and not the clichéd assumptions and tropes that inform the creation of that character. Sansa is a definite fail, but I guess I have to put up with her until the end, when she becomes all good queen or something. Please not.

The “can’t my father love me” trope.
I’ve read tons of little observations of sons discovering who their father really is and how they can form a bond despite all distance between them lately, but still, the “oh my father rejects me and I want to prove myself to him for his love” trope makes my toenails curl. Because it usually is so horribly oversimplified and downright foreseeable that it makes me cringe, and Game of Thrones unfortunately is no exception. Jon Snow being the prime example. Urgh, no.

Weak princess becoming strong queen. Sort of.
Daenerys, oh, Daenerys. Oh my, barbarians, and then, oh yes, love and sex, and then, oh look, how powerful I am because I am all strong inside now. This reads like something that happened lots of times before and leaves me with the distinct impression that there needs to be a twist to not make me hate that whole storyline. Luckily, Martin came up with one, so see below.

Bran.
Props for having somebody paralyzed but I hope hope hope he will not be recovering, and that’ll be the externalisation of his inner journey. Cause then I’ll hate him even more than I already do, cause honestly, the wide eyed curios boy getting in trouble but eventually overcoming all fears and obstacles thing gets on my nerves.

Robb.
I’m so young, but I gotta rule. Oh my, poor you. Get a cookie and cry some. Don’t get me wrong, responsibility is a burden to bear, but, well, does he have to bear it like that? Is there no other way to make him a likeable and responsible character but having him be the wise warlord? Thanks no.

The Pluses:
The Others.
Oh, why, hello! You are like undead zombies and eventually you’ll set out to kill practically everyone populating these novels? That sounds intriguing. Where do you come from, why do you want to do it, how come you are undead? The Others make me ask so many questions with giddy excitement, I so want to know more about them. Sweet, creepy action when they appear. More!

The Wall.
The Wall is super interesting because of what it represents, and what it represents is a) anything beyond, including the Others, the peoples living beyond the wall, the haunted forests and the like and b) it’s own history that dates back thousands of years. Who built it? Why? How? As with the Others, it’s the mystery that makes me want to read more about it, and more Jon Snow chapters, although I am not his biggest fan.

The Children.
See the Others and the Wall. Who were they? What’s the secret of the Godswoods and alla that? Interesting for being so deep down in the mists.

Tyrion.
His own kind of cliché it is nevertheless very refreshing to read about a character that is considered by basically everyone else to be disabled and therefore useless while he turns out to be one of the most able and clever characters around. I applaud that for its breaking-up of standard-hero-stereotyping.

Samwell Tarly.
The same goes for Sam. Yep, he is a done-before kind of character as well, but my sympathies are always with those overweight who have no interest in picking up the sword and admit to being afraid of the dark. Theses characters rock in their own sort of way, and Sam sure does.

Daenerys’ “book of Job”-like journey.
Ok, so while parts of Daenerys storyline annoy me, there are other parts that are so far on the plus side that it becomes actually interesting. So her brother dies, and a storyline that I though would be with us for like ever, just dies with him. Ace. Then her son who is prophesised to be the Chosen One (yeah, another one of these stereotypical fantasy tropes) never gets to be born. Another annoying storyline perfectly avoided. Her husband who turns out to be cruel but somewhat honorable (or whatever) wants to take her to her homelands and what feels to become a storyline for the next three books just gets burnt down on the grass plains beneath the stars when she sets his body to flames, after having suffocated him. That is some seriously storybending shit at every corner, not to forget her own myth-birth with the three dragons that by now I actually look forward to read more about Daenerys. Well done!

Main characters dying.
You might be able to tell by reading the paragraph before this one: I like it when main or at least important characters die. And whoa, we get a lot of that. King Robert, Viserys, Khal Drogo and most importantly: Eddard. All of that came pretty surprisingly, especially since I saw storylines unfolding that I feared to be around for the next three novels, and now, they never come to be. Creating their own new storylines just like that. Clever twist, and I appreciate it.

I’m curious to see if the next novel can keep the good impression up.
I also read about there being a TV series produced by HBO, and a first trailer is online apparently, but you have to youtube it yourself if you haven’t done so yet, because of stupid regulations I am not able to view any of the online trailers from Germany. Sucks.

So, if you haven’t read A Game of Thrones yet, and still made it this far in the post, I recommend you to do so!

Waiting for H&M

Ok, there was a time, not too long ago actually, when I decided that I will not buy any more H&M stuff. Because really, when you think about it, paying like 5 Euros for a T-Shirt means that the people harvesting the cotton and sewing it together will not earn anything much.
So, confession: While I have been able to withstand a while I broke my own rule this last April and bought my work-outfit there and have since acquired a few more T-Shirts. Which I justify with them being 50% consisting of organic cotton (and yeah, this is where you ask: wait, what? why not 100% ? exactly. nevermind).

But. This october which is only a few little-tittle mini-days away, they ship some new stuff to their stores, and some of them items I Want So Bad!

copyright: H&M, via coutequecoute.de

 I want these boots. Like, I really really want want want these boots. I’ve been wanting boots for a long time now, and boots tend to like always suck, but these finally look so non-sucky, I want to have them own them wear them.
And I love the jacket, which is not exactly a new thing, more of a catwalk-rip-off-for-the-masses, but whatever. I like it in this picture and will see if it fits, but I’m already doubtful, cause I saw it in this video here, where bryanboy styles a model with all that stuff, and the jacket looks kinda blah. But the boots, they look like heaven with whipped cream on top.

copyright: H&M, via coutequecoute.de

 I love the look of this jacket and want it, but can kind of already feel how I’m gonna look stupid in it. But I love the pants and guess what: want them. And since I saw that styling-video, I also want the shirt, cause it looks pretty amazing.

You can catch a glimpse on the whole collection by watching the video below, and of course there is also a nice lil post on it over at coûte que coûte, which you can view here.

so, yay, only a few more days ’til I’m gonna spend my money. But hey, first some more love for the boots:

copyright: H&M

Fantastic, says I, Mr. Fox!

I had the pleasure to get to watch Fantastic Mr. Fox yesterday.
And how delightful it was!

copyright: 20th Century Fox

Now, I’m not familiar with the children’s book by Roald Dahl at all, like, At All. So no baggage there, just in for the ride!
But I have to admit, it took me a while to go from “Ugh, is Mr. Fox gonna suck like that the whole movie?” to “I’m freaking enchanted by every character in that film!” I didn’t really realize who again Wes Anderson, the director, was until the Making Of mentioned him being responsible for The Royal Tenenbaums. So, would I have known, I probably would have been more apprehensive. I know people who love the Tenenbaums, but I called it crap and was so bored by it after an hour that I decided to discontinue my watching of this movie.

What was it that made me doubt the likeability of Mr. Fox at first?
Mh, I was kind of appalled by how macho-know-it-all-Mr. Fox seemed (because hey let’s face it, I’m neither a fan of anything macho nor of anyone knowing it all, or acting like, or both). ‘Seemed’ being the keyword here, we’ll get to that.
I was also not too fond of how his wife Felicity only seemed to be the token female (which admittedly she was). Seemed, not being a keyword here, because Fantastic Mr. Fox does not pass the Bechdel-Test, and that is always a minus in my book unless you come up with something worthy of un-considering the Bechdel-Test or happen to be Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring. So, ultimately I sort of liked Mrs. Fox, but then again always felt and still feel, that she could have been a bit more present and could kick a little more ass, instead of just being a caring Mom and Wife, which really is what she was reduced to.
I did also not like how “quirky little oddities” of every other character were thrown in my face In The Beginning, and I capitalize here, ‘cause that changed.

copyright: 20th Century Fox

How come my mind changed then?
First things first: How incredi-effing-awesome is the animation in this movie?
You don’t have to answer that question: I’ll do that for you.
It’s all stop-motion, it’s all handcrafted with puppets and stuff and it shows. In a GOOD way. OMG, not only is the style chosen for characters and objects and trees and whatnot cute and homely, but everything looks (and feels) like you could just touch it and it would be warm and glow-y and give you a good feeling. The amazing color-palette helping a lot in that department, of course.
What feels really fresh is the use of surprising camera-angles sometimes and the way these characters move. Like they’re puppets, which they are, but like they’ve really come to life – as puppets. I especially like how they all dance and wish I could bust a move like that! Dreams…

When I said that I was annoyed by every character being introduced with a quirky detail I really meant to say that in the beginning of the movie it seemed too obvious and heavy-handed, but after like 20 minutes I didn’t even notice and just had to admire how all the quirkiness was evenly woven in and came off as genuine. Because that is the difficult thing, y’all! I cannot stand to watch some crappy CSI show when the coroner is supposed to be some alternative sarcasm chick just for the sake of having her being an alternative sarcasm chick, because, hey, who would’ve guessed, right? Hate. That. Kind. Of. Stuff.
But here, aww. The funny thing being: When it is too heavy-handed, as it happens with a lot of films and what is actually my main complaint about Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums, it sucks majorly, but when done right, it really creates round and believable characters. Even minor characters like the rat or the farmers, but specially with supporting characters like the son and the nephew, they were able to create the sense that we get to know them and get to see them as full personalities although they only have little actual screen time.

copyright: 20th Century Fox

While I usually hate father-son bonding stories for their oftentimes inherent cheesiness and dumb simplicity, this one here is handled rather nicely to the point that it never really becomes an issue for Mr. Fox apparently, until he just resolves it by saying: “Hey, I’m so glad that you are my son.” Which is all they ever really want to hear, so yay!
My after-the-movie conversation brought up two interesting questions that are truly not answered and are a little puzzling: Why the hell do they never just go somewhere else? And how in the world would having to live in the sewage system for the rest of your life equal a happy ending? Does the children’s book come up with a better explanation?
However, having seen it, there are these questions, but they really don’t take anything away from the feeling that we just got a happy ending.

you can see the second part of the making-of featurette here.

Finally, a few shout-outs, where shout-outs are due: Farmer Bean’s wife rocks so hardcore in this film. I mean, I am all against sexism and stuff, but the way he always calls her (and she apparently does what he wants) and the way she trots around – that is some seriously funny shit!
I’m also very fond of how eyes just turn to little whirls, Xs or stars when people/animals pass out, don’t understand or die. Cute. Or how the animals eat, gobbling things up, no mind on any sort of etiquette. And that weird, freaked-out grin of Mr. Fox showing all his teeth.
And how good is the whole sequence with the wolf? Mr. Fox raising his fist (I giggled) and then the wolf … raising it back, all brotherhood and stuff? I have to giggle a little even now, just remembering the sheer awesomeness of that scene.

copyright: 20th Century Fox

That’s it, I wrap up: Fantastic Mr. Fox is pretty fantastic, Mr. Anderson. And sorries, no image of me holding the DVD, cause, well, I don’t effing own it. So, there.
Nevertheless, go see it, if you haven’t done so yet!

Sports, home edition

Are you doing sports? Or hit the gym?
I love to go for a run. But I don’t live close to a park, so running here in Berlin means that I basically spend my running time getting to and from a park. Which sucks. Majorly.
Plus, I feel kind of guilty if I just run. So for a while I tried to listen to audio-books while running, but my mind kept wandering, so I missed chunks of the story. Which might also be, because the book was so boring…

So here I present my solution, the perfect combination of running/walking/multitasking:

Yep, a step-machine. Called simply stepper in German. Or also mini-stepper. Which is really a ridiculously stupid thing when you think about it, but I love love love it. You can work out and watch a movie, or a read a book, or work on the computer. Unfortunately, this one broke, or to be more precise: It started to squeak so unbelievably loud that I can’t do a single step without feeling like ear-raping my whole neighborhood.

So, I bought a new one:

It’s bigger and it works differently. Well, because it is a side-stepper. Like: Evolution, maybe. Which is cool, but what kind of sucks is that it also tends to be loud… Basically meaning that soon enough I will have to be looking for a new one that satisfies my needs.

I’d totally spend my time working out by playing volleyball for a good while, but I feel like I don’t know enough people who share that wish. So, I’ll keep to the stepper.
What do you think: is it ridiculous? Or a highly efficient way to get your workout done?

Feminism and my breakfast

Innocent being that I am I opened the newspaper this morning (Süddeutsche – which is one of the biggest nation-wide newspapers here in Germany and considered to be somewhat on the liberal left) and stumbled upon this gem in their “Leute” – people – column:

‘Jamie Oliver, 35, britischer Koch, hat endlich einen Sohn. Ehefrau Jools brachte am Mittwoch nach drei Töchtern ihren ersten Sohn zur Welt, wie Oliver per Twitter verkündete. „Jetzt muss ich so tun, als wüsste ich alles über Fußball!“, schrieb er.’
(translates roughly as: Jamie Oliver, 35, British cook, finally has a son. His wife Jools gave birth to their first son after three daughters, Oliver announced via Twitter. “Now I have to pretend to know about football!,” he wrote.)

My breakfast, which was awesome btw since we had ourselves a nice little brunch with eggs and cheese and fruits and stuff, moved back up a little. Like: What the hell? Even if we graciously ignore their uncontested reprinting of his gender-stereotyping re: the football thing, this is some serious sexist shit. It’s not like they are saying: Jamie Oliver, father of already three daughters now has a fourth child, a son. They say: finally, a son. My guess being, they didn’t write a damn word about him having a daughter before. They make it sound like after three unsuccessful attempts at having children (that is: only daughters, poor him) he finally got lucky and now has a son. Makes me cringe.

Oh, but don’t expect the crap to be over right there. Because our beloved newspaper comes with a free magazine every Friday. Today the whole issue is centered around: men. Progressive, I know. Apart from what feels like a hundred stories about how middle-aged men bond with their fathers (something that I can accept to a certain extent) there is also a weekly column entitled “I don’t understand that” (Das verstehe ich nicht), where four authors take turns at writing about stuff that seems nonsensical to them. Fair enough. But being the androcentric issue that it is this week, Christian Zaschke writes about how he does not approve of how “the new language of equality” does away with “the man” (you can read it here, in German). At least that seems to be the threat that he perceives.
He particularly points at new guidelines in Switzerland where they are apparently trying to introduce gender-neutral language, like avoiding the term “father” and replacing it with the term “parent” (which is somewhat more problematic in German). While he does have a point that language should not deny that there is gender and various gender identities, his conclusion is that the male form is threatened, meaning that the man is about to be erased from German altogether. Which is terrible, in his opinion, because actually the male form (nouns like Lehrer – teacher – whereas the female version is Lehrerin) traditionally encompasses both male and female individuals. It functions as a plural or superior category that claims to be gender neutral – all the while being identical to only the male form of the noun in question. Feminism has come to challenge this, and it’s not exactly a new development.
Christian Zaschke uses the whole page of his column to bemoan the extinction of men from the German language. Like a well meaning paternal nod he admits that non-discriminatory language that addresses both men and women might be a good thing, but what he actually wants to say seems to be: really, this is going too far already. Later on he claims that his complaints have nothing to do with chauvinism, which is like a huge red neon sign screaming “chauvinism” in itself, and he completely fails to elaborate as to why questioning male supremacy in language might actually be a constructive thing for society.
Not to mention that he doesn’t even really bother to point to more recent developments like e.g. the Gender Gap, as in actor_actress (works even better in German: Schauspieler_in, the gap signifying that there is both a male and a female form, plus a space for all them people who don’t feel like they belong exclusively in one or even in either category).

So, that is my Friday: Sexism in both newspaper and its weekly supplement. Way to make a progressive leap into the weekend. Can’t wait for the women’s issue! Let me guess: it’ll be about shoes, make-up and shopping. Oh, and maybe diets.
BARF. Bye, breakfast!

Cosmic Living: Enter the Universe!

How appropriate: I’ve been toying with the idea to this post for a few days and just when I was about to start, I find my perfect point of entry! Namely: The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2010 has been chosen (you can learn more about that by clicking the below image). Tom Lowe from the USA won with his image entitled “Blazing Bristlecone” and it is really pretty spectacular:

copyright: Tom Lowe, via nmm.ac.uk

 Why appropriate, you might ask. Now that is, because this post was supposed to be about how images of our beloved little universe and all its pretty contents can inspire interior design and decoration. Granted, the two fields lie a little apart, but when they mix and mingle usually amazing results occur.

I’ll start with what could be labelled “my own two cents”, cause one source of original inspiration, mind you, were two pictures I have hanging on my walls. The first one is actually a postcard, the second an image that I cut out from our daily newspaper.

Please take special notice of my clumsy photography in the second picture, where you can see the reflection of my camera. Oh, and extra points for those who can name the planets shown in the first picture in the correct order.

So all these awesome pictures are only the introductory bit to what I’d like to show you now, which is fantastic interior design options, stumbled upon on the thedesignfiles.net (by clicking on the images you get to the respective posts).

copyright: the design files
copyright: Aura, via thedesignfiles.net
copyright: Pia Ulin, via the design files

The first one is from the Diesel stand at an interior design fair in Milan called Zona Tortona. The second picture features and interior by soft furnishings brand AURA from Australia, designed by Tracie Ellis. The third one is a photograph taken by Pia Ulin, making creative use of the lampshades that I kind of have a hate/ignore relationship with, although they can admittedly be used astonishingly effective sometimes.

Since decoration is like fashion for the home, I thought it was just fitting to throw in some clothing here as well: Voilà, the Christopher Kane resort collection 2010, via Tavi’s style rookie:

via thestylerookie.com

Makes me totally want to go out and buy some random shirt with, say, the milky way on it. Or something. Anyhoo, This post is almost about to be over, but since we were so heavily on the photography side up until here I’ll give you some thematically related watercolor images that I found on Alex Chapmans Blog (I assume he holds the copyright to them, or knows at least who does).




If you wish upon a star…