Monthly Archives: November 2010

Living like Spiderman!

If you’re afraid of spiders, you should maybe skip this post. Then again, you’ll miss out on the good stuff, so you better stay.
Anyhoo, this post is not really about Spiderman, rather about how his flat would look like. Full of cobwebs and stuff, is that what you’re saying? Nah, Spidey is a tidy soul, plus he’s on top of his game, so there is only the best in design-o-land for him.

Admittedly, all of this makes little sense to you, I guess.
Besides two flatmates and no living pet, I have two pet plushie spiders. They usually hang around my bed, or crawl wherever I place them, but they are dear to my heart. So, as I was looking at them one fine day, I thought: Hey, how about some spider inspired interior design. Et voilà! There was an idea.

Behold the cuteness of Kryp, the green guy on top of my head in the picture to the left, and Ms Tarantula, who is really just a houseguest since her owner Agnes gave her into my loving care. Plus we both figured our two spiders would probably like to hang out. Cause that is what plushies think about all day.

So, naturally I searched the interwebz to find some pretty spider stuff, and I could dig up some arachno-gems. Keep in mind, that I don’t own copyright to any of these pictures, but you find out about that (and other stuff) by clicking the links provided below the respective pictures in the descriptions.
Let’s start out with the chairs, where you can place your very human butt in spiderly surroundings.

The steel-chair totally looks like it is about to crawl away, before it does so, you can find it here. The cobweb chair (which is really a miniature) to the right is to be found here, and the somewhat cute, somewhat scary spider-stool can be found here. Yeah, I kinda tricked you with the headline, but here is some real Spiderman, on a sofa, and you can check it out here.

Every good chair needs a table to stand beneath as the very old yet non-existent saying goes, so I took a look around for some arachnoid tables, and from very literal to more abstract ones there is a pretty range to be found.

Starting in the upper left corner, there is the modern chrome version coming with only four legs (to be found here), followed by the more literal table that’s being carried by a huge spider (find it here), and another cobweb themed table that would go nicely with the chair in the picture above (see more here ). On the lower left there is another six-legged modern take on the spider table (here), followed by yet another more literal version that could also qualify as an ant (find it here), and then two more abstact modern chrome-and-glass tables in black (here), and in white here.

Now that you sit on your chair at your table you need some light, of course, to behold the black-widow-aesthetic. But do not worry, there are some pretty lighting options spidey-style available for you:

The one hanging from the ceiling (find it here) looks like a spider-mom laying some eggs (which they don’t do like that, I’m aware, thank you). Going clockwise we encounter some technical construction that could be a light, a spider or something totally else ( more here), while the next two ones are like spider-mom and spider-kid carrying their inner light into your home and into your heart (here). The last one is a classic Tiffany-style lamp, with something resembling a spider on top, for all those who like understatement (they can check here).

All this arachnoidal glory made me want to give my best and come up with the first ever mood-boards/interior-sketches I have done in my life. In case you want to know what your potential spider-home would look like (and what you get by hiring me as an interior designer – which I am not).

Adhering to a clean and industrial aesthetic I give you room number one with a spider inspired chair (find it here), the accompanying sofa (here), the perfect table (found here), and the perfectly fitting lamp (here).

In this more playful ensemble I go colorful on your human behind with a spiderriffic table of wood and glass (find it here), an insanely awesome chair (here), an equally cool stool (here), and a sofa with moving legs that you can rest upon (here). Of course you need light, so why not try this spider-inspired lamp with swollen legs (find it here). And yep, that could totally be your kid running around dressed as a spider (costume from here), enjoying the room for what it is.

Now, mind you, all this work and talk and writing has made me tired and vulnerable, so I need some plushie time. How about these?

Isn’t Lulu, the blue little spider in the center just darling? Find her here.
Clockwise moving, let’s also not forget the brown and big-eyed spider on the upper left (here), followed by an itsy bitsy little thing that could have climbed out of a Miyazaki Hayao film (here), and the more realistic, red-legged spider that you’ll find here. Then we have the sparkly little black fella on the right (more here), another Ikea-resident (like my Kryp) to sit down upon (here), and yet another Ikea-resident-spider in the form a plushy hand-puppet (here).

Ideally, having a plush spider you’ll be as happy as her with her oversized plushie. Too adorable, right? Uploaded by her mom, I guess, to whose flickr account you get when you click the picture.

Phew, that’s good days work there, makes me wanna sit back and cuddle in with my two little arachnoid friends.

But alas, as a parting gift, I give you the now classic Spider-Pig, performed by the one and only Mr. Homer Simpson.

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Brontë Sisters Power Dolls

Found this over at tor.com and it was just too good not to repost.

Made by Phil Lord and Chris Miller this commercial shows you just why the Brontë Sisters qualify as Super X-treme Mega Action History Heroes.

heehee.

Going to church: St. Bonifatiuskirche Heidelberg

Yup folks, it is that time again: We go to church. You may just enjoy the view, just be interested in the architectural features or you might wanna sit down and pray, anyhow, you are very welcome. No need to convert though, I am not a Christian, nor am I religious, but I sure like them churches, so let’s take a peek.

For a long time the previously featured Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit Church) had been the only Catholic church in all of Heidelberg. But around the end of the 19th century the western part of the city as we know it today came to be built and from the beginning they had plans to erect both a Catholic and a Protestant church. The St. Bonifatius was thus built from 1899 to 1903 after Ludwig Maier’s plans and is of neo-Romanesque style, signified by the double-towers. The church was renovated in 1976 (interior) and then again from 2005 to 2009 (this time the exterior). You’ll find it in the (quite long, so google the exact position) Kaiserstraße in Heidelberg.

The interior of the church is quite beautiful and very unlike what many of us Germans are used to, due to seeing a lot of Baroque, neo-Baroque or Rococo interiors. There is a large wooden ceiling with paintings on it. Those look pretty medieval to my unqualified eye, so that came as a surprise, especially since the whole interior of the church is somewhat dark and gloomy while it looks so shiny and bright from the outside. That made for a nice contrast in atmosphere.

When I entered the church and took all the photos, there was actually just one other person there. This woman was obviously in prayer, sitting on one of the benches. Do I have to spell it out? I felt like the most offensive intruder ever, coming in all touristy and stuff, taking random pictures while she might be sitting there contemplating life and destiny and all the like. I toyed with the idea of just asking her if it’s ok for me to take pictures while she is there, until I finally came to the conclusion that I was too afraid to ask. However, the two times I passed her, we looked each other in the eye, smiled and nodded a friendly hello. So I totally felt accepted. And actually really happy. That was the nicest smile I had gotten that day, and the intimacy of the whole situation added a lot of emotional weight to it. So, dear woman in the St. Bonifatiuskirche in Heidelberg: thank you, and: you’re awesome!

If you happen to be in Heidelberg, take a walk out to the western part of the city and have a look at the St. Bonifatiuskirche, it is totally worth it!

Tim Wise is White – Like Me

I am about to give my thoughts on “White Like Me” a book written by the US-American Tim Wise (visit his website here), who is, like me, white, and does, like me, reflect upon issues of racism and raciality. I’ll say it upfront: I thought it was a very good book. And here is why:

via ccc.uci.edu

The thing about racism is that it is not a one-way street. Racism does not only affect non-white people – it also affects white people. It isn’t something that only upsets non-white people – it also upsets a lot of white people.
However, there are dividing lines that racism creates: It is a system that oppresses non-white people and privileges white people. While non-white people are usually very aware of this system, a lot of white people pretend not to be. All of this is part of the system – it only works so well, because it so skillfully masks its own existence and allows all those profiting from it – white people all over the world – to deny its existence, or at the least ignore it. That makes a lot of the discussion concerning racism difficult: How do you discuss something that deeply affects you with someone who denies the very existence of that said something?
In a twofold way that lies at the very core of this book: On the one hand it is wonderful to see other white people “seeing” it and “naming” it, because on the other very horrible hand, people who deny or ignore racism and its effects usually discard any critical discussion of the subject if initiated by black people or people of color (which are the terms I will use henceforth, since non-white is really a horrible label). That leaves us with the paradox that Gayatri Spivak pointed out consequentially in discussing the “subaltern’s voice” and the appropriation of it: It is a good thing, that those whose voices are discarded and are not heard are pointed at, emphasized and might finally get a listen, on the other hand, it is terrible that a white person does so and thereby perpetuates racist structures.

Tim Wise’s book falls into that paradoxical situation, but also, in part, it does not. Because what ultimately makes the book so rewarding and important, is stressing how racism is not a only a power hierarchy that serves white people and oppresses basically everyone else, but that also is in place to ensure sexist and classist oppression of white people, because it creates crude white identities that are perpetually told to join and identify with the “white side of things” because this very identification helps an elite to defend its privileges without sharing them – neither with black people, people of color or white people that they don’t associate with. But by creating that dividing line and making it seem relevant they obscure and hide the oppression they exert and divert attention to causes that actually don’t lie at the heart of matters.

Tim Wise giving a speech, via rastareason.wordpress.com

The central points one can learn from this book are
A- Racism does exist and is prevalent. We cannot escape it, no matter what color we identify with. By being white we are oppressors by default.
B- We do not have to accept and perpetuate racist structures. It is crucial to become aware of them, it is crucial to listen to those who suffer from them.
C- Racism will not just be done away with. It needs the effort of everyone involved – and that is basically everyone on this planet – to be aware of the racist pitfalls that exist in our diverse cultures and to resist them. Call them out, speak up against them.
D- As a white person it should be your interest to resist racism and racist structures, because: how horrible to perpetuate something so brutal and dehumanizing without even being aware of it and furthermore because: it most likely serves to oppress you in many ways as well. Issues of “race” are never disconnected from everything else, there are strong and dangerous intersections between racism and issues of gender, sexuality, class, ability and political participation.

I have three issues with this book though.
Tim Wise’s repeated use of the term “brown folks” and my unfamiliarity with it actually made this thing a non-issue or rather an educational issue, because now, thanks to some online research, I learned about the usage of “brown” for empowerment of those identifying thus. You can learn about that here.
It is a book about the United States and primarily for people in the United States. The whole dynamic of black and white is very different in the US than it is in Germany, because historically societies took different paths. A lot of the racist structures in place in Germany are very similar to those in the US, but some are very distinct due to the concentration of racist efforts in Germany on people who “look Arabic” as opposed to primarily focusing on black people. That makes for constructions that you won’t find in the book, but it does in no way mean that the issues mentioned therein do not affect German society – on the contrary.
There is a chapter about speaking up against racism when one encounters it and enter into arguments. While I thought it was very valuable and interesting I would have wished for a little more anecdotal stuff on how to behave when friends and family utter racist notions. Because that – for me personally – is the hardest part. Do I want to enter an hour-long fight on the issue or will I just ignore the remark. To my own shame, and make no mistake, shame it is, I often chicken out and do the latter. Because I can, because I still don’t really know better – intellectually maybe, emotionally not. And of course that is the dangerous part.

The book is always relevant, but curiously there is a funny “current relevance” to it, in that the version I read had an epilogue, an open letter to the US-society, concerning the handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 by US officials. Tim Wise claims that how things went down had a lot to do with racism and white privilege (and I believe him), while George Bush Jr. just recently said the worst moment of his presidency was when rapper Kanye West named him a racist, because he thought that racism informed a lot of the actions (or rather non-action) taken in the days and weeks after the Hurricane had hit New Orleans. Interestingly, and sadly, Kany West backtracked and says he regrets the comment – that I consider to be very valid – because of the way people accused him of being “reversely racist” after the VMA incident with Taylor Swift. And yes: WTF, really? We’ll get to the issue – or rather the myth – of “reverse racism” somewhen in the future though.

As I mentioned above: The book is awesome. Get your hands on it, especially if you are white and especially if you think that racism is really not that much of an issue and does not affect you. It does.

Raise your wand: First Part of the Harry Potter Finale

Yep, could not help it, resistance was indeed futile (thanks for letting me know, Borg).
Last night at around this very time I was glued to my seat witnessing with my very own eyes the wondrous magic that was the 7th installment of the Harry Potter movie series. I had been anticipating it for days, weeks, months, so naturally I had to go on the day it hit theaters here in Germany.

There is nothing much to say as I do not want to delve into novel/film comparisons or gender politics and the like, so I’ll cut it short: I loved it!
You were very right with guessing that I was a fan, and a fan I am, more so of the novels (with all their flaws), but also of the movies (with all their flaws). What this movie achieved is what all good fantasy can do: create an epic that tells of stories greater than any individual and remain at the same time touchingly personal. But enough of the pathos.

Not that I needed to be told to be excited about the very last installment that is going to hit theaters in July next year (since they decided to split up the last book into two parts), but seeing how awesome part 1 was I am ultra-pumped, cause it was all sorts of good and then some.
What really got me was the way in which they wonderfully captured the characters and their emotional development, cause that was something that only rarely shone through in the previous parts where the focus was more on the action. Action there was, but curiously it felt like a lot less of it, and for the better, or rather: I didn’t miss it, cause the time they especially gave the relationship between Hermione, Ron and Harry, with all non-plot-driving dancing and joking felt so right and so natural and so totally believable that I was smitten.
Needless to say that the animated part about the tale of the Deathly Hallows by animation director Ben Hibon was stunning eye-candy.

Accio Part 2!

Legendary feathered Guardians

Before I get to finally review a favorite movie again, I’m going to work my way through a review of the recently released (still playing in places) The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.
Oh, what is that? you ask? You’ve got a point there, admittedly. It’s interesting, but while the movie obviously cost quite a few bucks, they somehow didn’t spend too much on advertisement, since basically none of the people I told about this movie had ever heard of it before.
So what is it about? Think of a mash-up of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, re-enacted with owls. And yes, you read just right: owls as in owls, the birds.

See, I’m a big fan of all things fantasy, and Sauron knows how seldom fantasy movies are good, alone in terms of styling, look and alla that (let’s not even start about plot or messages). So I was pleasantly surprised, because being the all around CGI thing that Legend of the Guardians is, it looked amazing. As in really fantastically awesomely amazing. There are several sequences within the movie that are breathtaking, throughout the whole movie the animation of all the owls is superb and there never is a moment when the CGI looks cheap or just downright unbelievable. Seems like animators in China have worked overtime on this one.

via kinofilmtrailer.de

Having said all that, the movie sucks. Since it looks so good, expectations are high (at least when I want it to be a good movie), and I could have done with a mediocre plot and stuff. What ultimately happened is that I left the cinema feeling somewhat betrayed, because it’s all there: Awesome animation, the willingness to tell a story and a whole bunch of potentially interesting characters to work with. All of that didn’t add up because of some horrible mistakes owing to Hollywood-mainstreaming of tropes and characters and left me with the distinct impression, that there was a huge bucket of potential just thrown back in the sea, leaving us with a promise that never got fulfilled. Yes, that dramatic.

via filmonic.com

The storytelling in Legend of the Guardians has two major flaws: Forgetting that it is a fantasy and undermining its own message.
The first flaw is one that we encounter numerous times within the genre of Fantasy (be it books, comics, video games or movies): A fantasy world is created, and while it inevitably will mirror our world and our realities, it is important that it follows its own logic. And not that of our world. This concept boils down to one central question: When it is a fantasy realm, why does everyone have to behave like they’re living in our world and everything take place like there were no other possibilities? It is a frustrating question to pose at Legend of the Guardians, because it starts with interesting premises: There are no human beings in this world (although I got the sense, that there have been humans in the past – do the books elaborate on that?), or at least we never get to see them. There are other species besides the owls, but the story focuses on them, which is fine and works to some extent. Because this is the first step into troubling-questions-territory: Why does the protagonist-owl-Soren have a snake-nanny? And why is she the only snake we ever get to see? Even if she’s just a mere token to add some diverse flavour (which is a whole bag of no-no to avoid), why a snake? Leaving that question open does not create mystery, but confusion, cause it reeks of world-building not thought through.
A similar problem is the owls blacksmithing: The concept itself is so ridiculous and out of the blue that it becomes really intriguing, but the movie never takes it to the level of exploring how owls would come to do this, and how their physical features would lead to the creation of other techniques and tools. What we get is owls working with human tools and human concepts and some (terrific, admittedly) CGI to make it look plausible.
But these two issues are only halfway to what really bothers me. If this is a fucking fantasy world, how come that we have to reproduce sexist gender stereotypes (among owls)? I would swallow a whole lot of the concept if it made sense, since we have a patriarchal owl society with supremacist tendencies, where a group of liberal minded owls struggle for the freedom of all, but while that makes for a nice concept, it never translates into the plot and into the characters, in that they are predominantly male, with the females being a) evil, b) love interests, c) sisters in need of protection, or d) mothers. And for the Bechdel test: the female characters never talk to each other in terms of having an actual conversation, and their interaction remains limited to either being enemies, rivals, or mother and daughter.
This film would have fared a lot better if it would have taken its female characters serious and thought about how this owl society might be gender equal (and still produce supremacist tendencies in some). The closest we get to that is with the evil queen Nyra, who rules and rages, but since she is the only one being that powerful or even round as a character and the unmistakably evil one – well, that makes for an unsettling message.
 

via filmkinotrailer.com

Which leads us to the other flaw:
I applaud the movie for taking up such a subject matter and turning it into a movie for children. It is a creative and slightly subversive way of talking about the issue of racism, about what happened in Nazi-Germany and Apartheid regimes all over the world. However, it goes terribly wrong.
While obviously someone (presumably the authoress) has thought, that the whole “the Tyto-owls are the best” mantra uttered by the bad guys isn’t really countered by, ermh, the hero (and the alterna-owls king and queen in Ga’Hoole…?), and it might be good to come up with Lyze van Kiel to provide a hero that is not of this particular owl-“race,” he ultimately turns out to not be able to really defeat the bad guy and we end up with the message that it is bad to think that the Tyto-owls are better than all the rest, but really, within the main cast, they really are better than the rest. I’m a little stunned that it never occurred to anyone in the production process that the whole morale of the story is basically undermined and that they actually perpetuate the supremacist-owls message. Which is basically like saying: Racism is bad, but what it really needs, is a white guy to free all them black folks, cause they are too weak to do it themselves. Which is, yep, a very racist notion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about either-or, both sides have to work together, but in a struggle against oppression by one dominant group, it is those who are not part of the dominant group by default, who should lead the struggle and define their goals. Soren is in a privileged position, and he rejects it, instead choosing to help, but he ultimately does not focus on the help aspect (which also encompasses letting other owls have their say and support them in their leadership), but becomes the hero by bringing about the sort of change he envisions. We’ll totally get to that in my review of “White Like Me” by Tim Wise, hopefully tomorrow.

via filmkinotrailer.de

So, to sum up: The movie sucks because there is beautiful animation, an interesting and highly relevant issue and some interesting ideas (Why only owls? Where does the whole story take place? How is the whole owl-society structured?), but ultimately the thing doesn’t take off, because the producers didn’t dare to make it the fantasy world that it is and even worse, didn’t trust their own message, blurted it out, but rejected it for the actual story. Non-white owls (cause that is what they are by implication) are just as awesome as the white-owls, we are told, but sorry, not awesome enough to carry the story and resolve the struggle, we’ll leave that to the white-owl-dude (cause how could it be a woman, right?). I just realize that I haven’t even talked about the Cain and Abel storyline of brother against brother, but let me say this: I felt it was forced, even though it could have been a lot worse than it was. And the addition of the little sister to make sure we understand on whose side we are supposed to be is blatant evidence of how little the producers didn’t trust their supposed audience to get it. Urgh.

Sum up of the sum up: The movie sucks in a lot of ways, but I’d still recommend you to see it. Not only for the amazing animation, but for the potential buried beneath the dreck. Oh, and it totally got me interested in the books, hoping they’ll prove to be better thought through.

Fashion hunting for jackets

My mind has been consumed by an unhealthy obsession with winter jackets lately. Now, mind you, I am not much of a jacket person, I could happily live in a climate where I can do without jackets at all, but every once in a while, a jacket comes along and touches my withered little heart.

This time the heart-touching-jacket-squad has attacked several times. First at H&M:

via coutequecoute.de

I’ve blogged about this particular woolen jacket before, and since my love for knitwear has somewhat grown over the last few years I thought I’ll give it a try. Curiously, I found it in a H&M store in Berlin recently, although they only had one piece in XL (which is exactly the size I would be looking for, actually) and I was to tight to shell out the 80 Euros then and there. Although I LOVED it. It’s such an awesome jacket, I’ve got to have it! I know that now. And haven’t found it anywhere else…. Mmmmh, I’m hoping this was just accidentally already in the store, and it’ll really come out, like, ermh, tomorrow. Maybe. Please?

On one of my H&M store raiding – woolen jacket finding missions in Mannheim I stumbled into a Peek&Cloppenburg store, where I found this:

Dear blog, meet Mikael, designed by The Red Collar Project. It looks simpler and more boring than it actually is, at least when I wear it (heehee, goodbye humility). Once again, I didn’t buy it, this time too frugal to spend 125 Euros on a jacket that won’t really keep me warm. Naturally, by now I could shoot myself for not buying it. Have. To. Look. For. It.

Then of course, all that jacket craving reminded me of another jacket that I longed for last year, after seeing it on iheartberlin.de. Behold its glory:

via coutequecoute.de

It is this wonderful asymmetrical jacket by Swedish label Odeur. It made me visit the Temporary Showroom in Berlin for the first time in my life, where I feel constantly underdressed and just not cool enough, no matter if I’m the only one inside or not. Needless to say, the jacket wasn’t there and I haven’t been able to track it down anywhere since. You do not happen to own one and want to get rid of it desperately? I’d be willing to help…

From Berlin to Paris: Stereo Total

Living in Berlin you have probably heard of Stereo Total before (if not: shame on you). If you’re living in Paris, maybe not so much, but then again, I don’t really know. Welcome to the review of their next-to-newest album Paris <> Berlin.
Stereo Total is a band that consists first and foremost of Françoise Cactus and Brezel Göring (in the past there were other band members). Françoise is from France and therefore lends some French credibility to the music by applying her signature thick accent (although I’ve read somewhere that her German is actually practically accent free) and has co-written almost all of the songs on the album, together with a Mr. V. Finsterwalde, who is really just also Brezel Göring under another alias.

Paris<>Berlin was released in 2007 and as Stereo Total releases usually go, created a little buzz in alternative and indie media, while that didn’t really translate into mainstream coverage (although they enjoy some visibility within the German media thanks to hits like Liebe zu dritt, Wir tanzen im 4-eck and Ich bin nackt). Also as usual the album features a mix of languages, primarily German and French, but also some English (though no Spanish or Japanese this time around).
Logistically I will go through the tracklist, try to limit my words so as not to bore you to death, provide some background info where necessary and give a X out of 10 rating to each of the songs. Yay, let’s go!

1. Miss Rébellion des hormones
Sweet, melancholic intro to the song and thus to the album. And a song about a girl in need of love attending a boarding school. “Elle a besoin d’amour, plus que de nourriture” (she is in need of love, more so than of nutrition). Haven’t we all felt like that at some point? 8/10.

2. Ich bin der Stricherjunge
One of the rarer songs on which Brezel is singing. About a gay hustler who is smoking way too much. It’s fun and it’s nice, but the major highlight is probably Françoise exhibiting her newfound trumpet-skills, that are rudimentary but totally suffice to make this song a little gem. 9/10

3. Plastic
A very typical Stereo Total song IMO, since there are several songs that sound very alike. It’s not bad, but nowhere near the genius that some of their other songs are. “I wanna be plastic too, less like me, and more like you” is a cute line though. I’ll grant it 7/10, knowing that Stereo Total average-ness is still above most of the rest.

4. Komplex mit dem Sex
A lot like Baby Revolution, this song is quite and cute, but centers around the issue of sex. While a song about sexual confusion (man? woman? nympho? masturbation? her libido is a fiasco) sounds like a horrible idea for most musical acts (because really, we don’t want to hear about it from the likes of Britney, Mando Diao, Bruce Springsteen or many others), it is a wonderful starting point for Stereo Total to be creative with the material. 9,5/10.

5. Lolita Fantôme
Much like Plastic in French, this is a song I’d consider to be average Stereo Total material. Neither mindblowing nor bad or boring, a good 7/10.

6. Küsse aus der Hölle der Musik
10/10, because this song is fucking fantastic and my favorite on the album. Name-checking the history of rock (and roll) this songs sends you a hundred thousand kisses from the hell of music (and when you receive them, you cannot survive). “Ich bin die neue Selbstmordwelle der Nineteen-Eighties” (I’m the new suicide wave of the 1980s) is a line that should be my new daily mantra. Never has killing canonical rock/punk/pop-history sounded so charming, complete with electric bleeps and stuff. Stereo Total bringing their A-game.

via stereototal.de

7. Plus minus Null
And the A-game song on the Album is followed by another A-game tune! Yay! Plus minus Null reminds me a lot of “Exakt Neutral” on the previous album “Do the Bambi.” Awesome contrast between the music accompanying verses and chorus. “So viel reden für so wenig Sex” (so much talking for so little sex) gives you and idea why she never arrives at the equilibrium of more or less zero. Deserves a 9,9 out of ten, just to make Küsse aus der Hölle der Musik a little more special.

8. Mehr Licht
It’s not bad and it’s diverse, but somehow it doesn’t get to me, so I’ll label it “skip-able” and give it a meagre 5/10.

9. Ta voix au telephone
Brezel singing (in French) and Françoise groaning to a tune that could well have been born in the 60s. Before re-listening to it I couldn’t remember how cool that song is, would totally make for an awesome driving-my-car (not that I have one) song. Âllo, âllo, tu m’entends? 8/10



10. Patty Hearst
Who is Patty Hearst? “Princess and terrorist,” according to Stereo Total (who ask to be saved by her). I like the song and give it 8 out of 10 (stars, points, whatever), definitely one of the poppier on the album. But what I really had to do for this review is finally informing myself about who Patty Hearst actually was and what she did. I’ve seen her image and heard her name countless times, but somehow I never got to the point that I had actual knowledge about this (leftist? alternative?) icon. So, here we go:
Patty Hearst was born 1954 to a wealthy family and was kidnapped while attending the University of Berkeley in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a left-wing urban guerrilla group, that tried to swap Hearst for imprisoned members of their group. This plan failed and they then demanded the handing out of food worth 70 Dollars to each person in need in California (which would have amounted to about 400 Million US-Dollars), a demand that was met only in part by Hearst’s father who donated 6 Million for food being distributed in the Bay Area. Ultimately, this didn’t change the SLA-members minds, but what happened and cemented Patty Hearst’s fame (or notoriety) was her switching sides, when she became an active member of the SLA, participating in a bank robbery that she was later convicted for. She refused to testify against other SLA members and held on to her commitment to the group, but her defense argued that this was caused by the trauma she had experienced through the kidnapping. After having been convicted to 35 years in prison, she actually only spent two in jail and was pardoned by US President Bill Clinton in 2001. She has worked as an actress and produced documentaries ever since.
Turns out that I actually have heard about her, but never connected her name to the story. Inneresting, ain’t it?

11. Baby Revolution
This one is co-written by iconic gay filmmaker Bruce LaBruce in that its lyrics are picked up from his feature film/porn-movie “Raspberry Reich” with its very own take on Gudrun Ensslin, revolutionary forces on the radical left and explicit sex scenes in shades of straight, gay and bisexual. Having said all that, the song has a lullaby-like quality to it, the lyrics being recited calmly and smoothly, with the music twinkling along. One of my favorites on the album, therefore a solid 8/10.



12. Relax Baby be cool
A cover of a Serge Gainsbourg song that is nice, but then again nice is kinda boring, so yeah, I don’t mind it, but it leaves me cold. I feel like it should have taken off somewhere, but doesn’t. Still, 6/10.

13. Chewinggum
A cute tune with cute lyrics, once again a good illustration of what Stereo Total achieve on average, if not slightly above. 7,5/10

14. Moderne Musik
Somehow in my mind Moderne Musik is closely connected to Küsse aus der Hölle der Musik, even though the two have little in common (well, yeah, except for both being from Stereo Total, being on the same album and scream-singing of certain lyrics….Shut up!). I feel that this one is slightly less stellar than the awesomeness that is Küsse, but it is still a cool track and works perfectly as an album closer, so 8/10.

I hope my review/Patty Hearst teaching lesson provided a little fun time for you, and if it made you interested in the album and if you haven’t already listened to it, go and do so, you’ll not regret it.

Going to church: Jesuitenkirche Heidelberg

Since it is Sunday, this is a good time for another “Going to church” blogpost. It’s been a while since the first one (which you can find here), but I’ve seen some nice churches recently, so yay, new material! As per usual, keep in mind: I am not a Christian, nor a religious person, I just happen to enjoy churches a lot, so here we go:

Let us first take a tour around the building. The curious thing about the Jesuitenkirche is, that it is one of the two major churches in Heidelberg in terms of sheer size. Yet, while the other one, the Heiliggeistkirche is easily visible within the historic city, the Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit church) is kinda hidden away and springs up rather surprisingly once you stand in front of it. It’s massive, but all the buildings around are so close that you only really see it from up above or if you stand right in front of it. Since I lack a good camera and there was no way to stand back far enough, there is not picture of the whole church, except for the one at the bottom of this post.

The Jesuitenkirche is at the heart of the Jesuit Quarter in Heidelberg and main church of the Roman-Catholic Heilig-Geist-parish of Heidelberg. It has been built from 1712 to 1759 in the style of the Baroque, but the church tower is a more recent building, having been completed in 1872. Instead of being oriented towards the east, as churches usually are, this one is oriented towards the south, for whatever reason (but makes for a little curiosity, right?). The pieta is by the sculptor Julius Seitz, created in 1905. The organ is the most recent addition, dating back to only 2009, when the old organ was given to a private museum.

The two pictures right above and below depict two sculptures, that are part of a larger exhibition going on primarily in the church-adjacent Museum for sacral art and liturgy (in the church’s crypt apparently) titled “Gott – weiblich” (God – female) tracing back stories and histories of female depictions of God and asking for the female side of the Christian god. As a feminist I was very pleased to see that, escpecially since it is being made visible within the church itself.

Another really interesting project going on within the church itself are these two red towers in the image above. They are made of little clay bricks and serve to remember the dead. People close to one’s heart, who recently passed away, can be immortalized by writing their name in the wet clay, have the bricks be burnt and then added to these towers (representing church towers, if I remember correctly). I thought this was an incredibly awesome idea and love the fact that it is openly featured within the church nave. Cool things happen in churches, who’da thunk it?
And below one last glimpse on the church exterior, from afar, to be more precise: from on top of the hill where the Heidelberg Castle ruins are located. Go have a look, if you’re there!

Random Impressions of Heidelberg

I’ve been on somewhat of a tour-de-Germany this past week. Went from Berlin to Heidelberg to Mainz and then to the tiny villiage I grew up in south of Stuttgart. That explains why I post very irregularly and why my posts are particularly photo-heavy. Like this one. It’s been the third time I visited Heidelberg last week, but the first time that I stayed a little longer than just overnight, so I had the opportunitiy to have a closer look. Thank you Tobi and Sarah for giving me shelter, and for the awesome week I was able to spend there!

The image right above shows you the shop entrance to Käthe Wohlfahrt. There you can buy everything you ever wanted for Christmas (all year long) and more. Nothing is too cheesy, tacky or kitschy to not be featured here. So if you have a serious Christmas addiction, this is your place to be.

Obviously there is no posting about Heidelberg without mentioning the Heidelberg Palace. It towers over the city and is quite beautiful to behold. And lucky me I went up there with Tobi on a wonderful autumn afternoon, enjoying the view on the massive ruins.
The palace was built in the 13th century where previously there had been a smaller type of castle. A string of electors attached new buildings to the original construction and over time the Heidelberg Palace came to be one of the most beautiful Renaissance castles in Germany. It was destroyed during the War of Palatine Succession around 1690 and never really re-built. From the 19th century onwards it then became one of the most famous castle ruins throughout Europe.

For all of those who’ve never been to Heidelberg, I would definitely recommend to go there and have a thorough look around. The architecture alone is totally worth a visit!