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X-MAS Round the Corner - 3rd Christmas Present Drawing is Final

X-mas drawing - 1 X-mas drawing - 1 X-mas drawing - 1 X-mas drawing - 1

Lohr, 07.11.2010
We saw it coming with all the spekulatius and cinnamon biscuits piling up in the supermarket. But the dark afternoons after the switch to Winter time finally makes us feel it: Christmas is getting close. Therefore Marius & Sabrina were reminded that this year it is their durty to do the Christmas present drawing. You'll wonder what this is about?

Let's go back in time almost 3 years. Christmas at the Winter home, grand parents, parents, kids and spouses under the candlelight of the tree, singing (just a bit - we wouldn't want to torture the mice), nice supper ... could have been a nice family night had it not been for the unaccomplishable task of unwrapping the presents.

A dozen people simultaniously unpacking present by present, gift wrap paper piling up, room filled with never ending oooh's and aaah's, and going on for at least five perceived hours.

Finally Sabrina couldn't stand it any longer: "We're supposed to have a good time but all we do is unwrapping stuff simultaneously instead of talking and laughing together. Not to mention the burn out from procuring all the stuff during previous weeks. We must stop this!"

And Sabrina came up with the solution too: Since then two months before Christmas someone designs a methode of radomly selecting pairs of donor and donee. Now our feast is a happy one and the unwrapping of the few presents is managed by an emcee. As you can imagine, the reduction of quantity lead to an increase of quality and fun - although - or more to the point - because - the value of a present is strictly limited!
Now you have an idea .... every picture tells a story.

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UFO haunting the Spessart ... or just a sassy rabbit?

'UFO' im Spessart? - 1 'UFO' im Spessart? - 2 'UFO' im Spessart? - 3

Lohr, 20.10.2010
There is a wonderful new page just added to this site: Karl's 'Fotofalle' (camera trap) feeds us with Spessart wild and night life. In the last batch there were 3 fotos I couldn't resist steeling for my blog (hope Karl doesn't mind!). What are these three unidentifiable flying objects (commonly called UFOs)? At night the camera uses infrared for shooting fotos - so it may just be some hot rabbit racing by in search for his spouse.

Almost two months have gone by and you may have wondered what the cause for Richard's long silence was? One of the major reasons was the 'renaturalization' of Claudio's room. OK, it wasn't like Heracles' Fifth Labour - neither 30 years have gone by nor 1000 cattle would fit into the room; on the other hand: no river was close by for taking over the job. Anyway, it well may be nature's late revenge for anti-authoritarian education. This came to my mind each time I tried to entice a couple of the millions of yellow or blue tiny beads into staying in the garbage bin. They were - no: still are - omnipresent and swift like hell.
I won't go into details. I'm finished with the task anyway and I don't want to loose my most constant reader.

But I wonder how American middle class families manage to keep the kids' rooms in a state that seems to preserve a child's universe from the first teddy bear to the late baseball trophy. The last item I recovered from the room was a bucket full of building blocks; sitting there just waiting for Hannah to discover the world of self made castles and towers - such fun to knock them over after grandpa has build them up tediously. And here the circle closes and so does this blog entry.

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    Lohr, 02.09.2010
    "I have a question for you!" or: Days of Fun, Friends, and Music

For 3 weeks we toured the Northwestern US. I had the vain idea of writing my blog simultaneously but either you live or you write ... that's my excuse.

Travelling but at the same time meeting friends and family on unknown territory is absolutely the way to spend the boring days of the summer break waiting for the first day of school to start (Maybe I'm getting this confused with my kid-time-summers, but anyway a terrific time it was).

The picture of this intro starts with the end. The fabulous Brandi Carlile concert on the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand. We don't do rock concerts - one Bob Dylan at the SAP Arena in Mannheim (at least one Bob Dylan is a must when you are friends with Udo) - but this show under the warm Minneapolis sky was a real treat and we discovered a new singer for our list of favorites. Check out Brandi Carlile's site and sing along.

But let's start with the beginning ....


If work is so terrific...
After years of living in miniature Germany we finally are on Highway 63 on our way to the lake house (two days of comfort beyond belief in the wilderness of Wisconsin). We almost forgot: everything is double and tripple size: the roads, the cars, the fridge ... But besides the music the country is full of self-ironic humor: 'If work is so terrific why do they have to pay you to do it' ... written on the stela in the middle of advertising.


Master of Barbecue
... and at the lake house we found a native American pursuing the most typical activity - just kidding; that's our beloved Don posing for me shortly after a #3 question: 'Do you want salmon?'. Some of you won't know, Dan invented the famous classification of questions for educational purposes. (#1: kids have a real choice; #2: there is a choice but the first is what Mom really wants; #3: no choice at all, just shut up and do what asked).


Our Frisco vacation home - garden view
We didn' fly Trans Love Airways but found our peace of mind anyway (although Eric Burdon forgot to mention the booze needed to feel 'a warm San Franciscan night'). Our vacation home in Frisco was a nice surprise: what looked like an old fashioned, scary appartment in the web turned out to be a wonderful house with garage and garden and nice neighbors near Golden Gate Park ... at home again!


Marius & Sabrina
Reunion dinner with Sabrina & Marius (both major contributors to this site) at Victor's Pizza in Polk Street. The chance to meet the 'lost children' was the driving force to overcome our European inertia and wage the long trip. This was an Italian to our gusto with checkered table cloth, restroom in the kitchen corner and tasty pasta. But the kids had to show their ID anyway in order to share the Chianti with us.
In the meantime, Sabrina is back in Shanghai, munching her daily delights and shooting her new short 'Siebenschläfer' (or 'Groundhog', the international titel) ... another typical Sabrina story.


De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park
Appearances are deceiving: we experienced no earthquake in Frisco, the De Young museum in Golden Gate Park was built this way from the beginning. Although San Francisco is definitely one of the most beautiful cities, it has some surprises for the movie-tampered crowd. The biggest one was the cold in this August summer. We didn't believe the Mark Twain quote everybody was citing to us: "The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco" - and truly this seems to be a fake.


Caffe Trieste
Caffe Trieste where Renate dropped me in order to browse the famous nearby City Lights bookstore in peace. I hoped to read my book in peace - hope in vain. First a cremator of German origin involved me in an intensive chat about the German American relationship and related topics. Then more and more men gathered around me to complain about the American way of life in general and the Chinese influence and power in San Francisco in particular. I think his name was Kirchner and he was proud of all the lawyers and physicians with this name in the directory ... but somehow he himself missed out on the American Dream.


Bus on Balboa
Balboa Street was our gateway to downtown and when you look closely you'll see the Pacific twinkling at the end. Finally the bus is coming which - get used to it - is a happy event. Forget about schedules; they may be of some use in the early morning - which we didn't really manage to check - but otherwise you wait for ages and then they come as a pack. Wise thing to skip the first one as the next is empty and catches up soon. Unfortunately trolley buses can't pass each other.


Castro Theater, SF
Me, movie buff, Castro, double feature, heaven! ...I get breathless by the sheer thought of it. The Castro Theater, built in 1922 is not only a gem of a cinema but also the programming and the projection is outstanding. For 8 bucks you can watch a double feature all day. We watched a Barbara Stanwyck double ('Baby Face' and Frank Capra's 'The Bitter Tea of General Yen') and they showed fantastic 35 mm prints in the original 1:1.37 Academy format.


Redwoods behind Arcata Campus
After a long day's trip North through winding coastal roads we got to Arcata, a small but fun town as it is dominated by the Humboldt State University of California. The Redwoods start right behind the campus; these forests are unbelievable and our Spessart back home seems like a minature now. Not only once Renate's epiphany was: "No wonder the Indians didn't care about technology - they had a vast paradise to live in .... till the gold miners and lumbermen invaded the country.


Minor - Moviehouse in Arcata
In Arcata we were invited to live in the Common building of the Marsh Commons Cohousing where the residents "are consciously committed to living as a community" (Website). It was fun staying there and even more fun talking with Mary & Jing about their two-continental-family-life. Both are anthropologists, Shao Jing researching and lecturing in China, Mary at the Humboldt State University. As everything on this trip was on the lucky side, Arcata too has a wonderful old move house and so a joint movie night watching the strange comedy 'Cyrus' was the thing to do.


Battle Rock, Oregon
Driving in the States is easy; you just need to remember 2 or 3 numbers, that's all you need ... exept the cardinal directions that is. On our way to Portland we were driving the Highway 101 North all the way up to Oregon. Whenever you have a chance take a walk at the Ocean side - don't miss it! There are not many coastal roads in the world where you can actually see the sea and gorgeous landscapes like this Caspar David Friedrich kind of Ocean view. And from time to time you turn into the deep and dark Reedwoods - it's like driving through a cathedral all the time. Gosh - so many fotos we missed to take!


Portland - city of books
What a relaxing time in Portland: we were spoiled by our friends Joe (best breakfast West of the Missisipi, as Udo put it) & Marie and her twin sister Genie (both driving stick shift cars but one with and one without sense of direction ... topic for twin research?) and Gaston (grilling the best Burgers West of ... you know what and proud owner of a fabulous 1890 pool table - I have to get back their to play this beauty!). Portland is a city of books. Not only parking garages are diguised as book stacks, the city has also one of the best bookstores West of ... where Renate and Udo spent their days and some money too. Two pics are hidden behind the bus of Powell's City of Books.


Junction Inn @ Hyw 199
This Inn got terrible comments in the Web. We stopped there hungry on our way back to California. After miles and miles of breathtaking wilderness finally a non-chain restaurant appears. An old diner which transports your mind back to the 60ies and immediately 'American Graffity' comes to mind. "If you want to truly 'step back in time' to an easier era of American lodging, look no further than the Junction Inn", someone commented. Taking our orders, the waitress asked the usual question: 'Where are you guys from?'. It turned out that she is French and stranded in Cave Junction due to love - coming as an au pair she found the partner for life there!


San Francisco View from Sausalito
The best of Sausalito is the view of San Francisco - this we can confirm. Anyway it was a wonderful ending of our California trip and the supper at 'A Taste of Rome', a wonderful bayside restaurant, sustained us for a nightmarish night at the airport motel. Time for some advice: Lodging at the airport in order to return your rental car relaxed the next morning isn't as good a concept as it sounds. It took us half an hour and multiple stops at gas stations to find the rental return. Better go back to the highway drive back to the city a bit and then turn - from the highway signposting is OK, but no signs whatsoever at the side streets of the airport.


Stealin' Home
Not sure whether this is part of the American way of life or just the sweet air in Minnesota but there is always music in the air. Don played Dylan and folk songs at night in the lake house. Back from SF we were greeted with a wonderful party where Stealin' Home (Don, Jay & Steven) gave a smashing outdoor performance despite a coordinated attack of the beastly mosquitos. As a sports dummy I associated the name of the band with an age-appropriate 'stealing away from home' but 'Stealin' Home' is a baseball term also called stolen base. Later on with everybody giving up and fleeing inside, Sally & Steve played Mendelssohn and Rachmaninov for the cheering crowd.


Birds of Prey at the State Fair
The following day a trip to the Minnesota State Fair was a must. I'm not the fair type and suffered a bit in the beginning through heat & crowd & deep fried stuff on sticks (you get even a Snickers bar deep fried !!!). But except the fares and the food it's not at all like a German Bierfest. There is a huge variety of exhibitions like the Birds of Prey show above and contests for everything you can think of (from jam to bulls) and funny artwork like the butter sculptures of dairy queens.


Emily's show
At 6 pm Michael's friend Emily was scheduled at the amateur contest at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell (Leinie is a beer) and with it came a seat in the shade! We were amazed about the astonishingly big variety and high quality of music performances. Above Emily's performance at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. It was her second participation at the amateur contest and it was a wonderful song. But I tell you - the competion was immense - you get the impression the Yanks are born with music.


Minneapolis Downtown View
A melancholic look back at Minneapolis - the days of fun, friends, and music are over.
This would be the right spot for one of Don's poems as an epilog, but I forgot to ask for one.
I'll have to remember it when they all are back to Europe next year and then the performances of the 'Stealin' Home' at the Ballmertshofen Filmfest and in 'Mehlings Keller' will certainly be reported on this blog.


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Lohr, 08.08.2010     A Week After    ... a personal diary of the 33rd Ballmertshofen Filmfest
Ballmertshofen 2010 - Festival director Udo looking at the rain Festival director Udo looking at the rain: "Couldn't have done it better myself"
Ballmertshofen 2010 - Getting up the tent Getting up the tent - a major task for students of fine arts.

Hard to believe: 33 years have gone by and The Times They Are a-Changin' but wait: there is one tiny village up on the Härtsfeld were time stands still and every year the wonder of Ballmertshofen is repeating itself. To be honest, I thought Udo was getting crazy when he came up with the idea of a filmfestival in the middle of cows. Silly me - I hadn't considered his countless sisters, making this unique event a constant and unchanging manifestation of the lost flower power generation.

Ballmertshofen 2010 - Dark clouds over Ballmertshofen Dark clouds over Ballmertshofen - and soon the "Starkregen" started.

Udo definitely isn't the 'practical' type but early on he has learned to delegate and I bet his sisters were his first training objects ... and the sucess is visible still. A good reason to dedicate this blog to Heida, Gaby & Butz (OK - not really countless - but when you were there you too would have thougt there were dozens at least) the fabulous Legner sisters.

Ballmertshofen 2010 - The day after: a hazy world outside but soon .... The day after: a hazy world outside but soon ....

One needs to be fair: the wild bunch of the Filmfest managing crowd has grown significantely since the first 16mm film cast its dimm light on the wall of the school classroom; there are the sister kids grown up long since and always there to help. There is famous Flo, the magic projectionist (see the entry dedicated to Flo's work).

Ballmertshofen 2010 - young couple takes a sun bath behind the Kartoffelbauer ... the young couple takes a sun bath behind the Kartoffelbauer

But the list is getting much longer: Ed, patron behind the beer counter, Ann, his beautiful wife preparing delicious "Seelen" and other delights, Barbara, head of administration and everywhere at the same time (so it seems), Dina, the best griller of sausage ever (these alone are reason enough for the trip), Heidi with the dreamy glance, supplier of sausage and cheerful soul since the beginning of time - oops of the Filmfest.

Ballmertshofen 2010 - World famous festival director after his toillet mission World famous festival director after his toillet mission

And there are certainly dozens more, I apologize not mentioning them. Just think about all the Netherland folks coming well in advance to get everything set up and ready for the show.
But back to Udo, keeper of the cows, angel of the thirsty, untroubled soul of emergencies, famous sleeper in the lesson of the Dylanologist ... he requires his own chapter or better two or three.

  Ballmertshofen 2010 - Tents becoming more comfortable each year Tents becoming more comfortable each year

It's just not true that Udo only performs his role as Maître de Plaisir. He also is dedicated to important tasks as you can see in the last picture of the first column - probably a late revenge of the three sisters. Like me, he is the typical only-boy-in-the family type: the chosen ones. After almost 40 years of life with Udo I think I've found out about his secret recipe for a happy life: it's trust! Udo trusts everyone and everything, even something as weird as the Deutsche Bundesbahn.

Ballmertshofen 2010 - the catering area the catering area

I strongly believe that without Udo's confidence Ballmertshofen would long have turned into the forgotten Härtsfeld village again ... and would have not remained the place Udo's vision and persistence put onto the map of fine Filmfestival locations. With his washed-out t-shirts, short trousers and never without a cap he is omnipresent in the buzz of the fest.

Ballmertshofen 2010 - busy feeding the masses At all times busy feeding the masses

Just at it, it's probably no betrayal of secrets that Udo has two fixed stars guiding his life: Bob Dylan and Schalke. He often reminds me of the two Englishmen in 'The Lady Vanishes" trying deperately to get the results of their cricket team. Anyway, between these fixed stars there is a cosmos of movies and books and friends and women I won't have the time and space and courage to go into.

Ballmertshofen 2010 - Documenting the documenter Documenting the documenter

'Taking Woodstock', one of the first shows, was the signature movie of the festival - which got an excellent follow up with the home grown production of 'Woodstock by Bayern', first of a series, I bet. This self-made movie from Dr. Goehringer was entertaining and a very well cut documentary of the 2008 festival. And - as we have learned - an universally valid picture about this permanent replay of the seventies.

Ballmertshofen 2010 - ..and there are many more taking care of lunch ...and there are many more taking care of lunch

It's a pitty, I don't have a pic of Felix, world famous Dylanologist, perfoming his midnight show. Udo was betting in advance not to fall asleep .... you guess right - it probably is another constant in Udo's life: the admirable ability of sleeping everywhere and at all hours. Anyway, besides the wonderful new Dylan pieces (choosing the right DVD starting point got Flo's adrenalin level up again at this late hour) and the insightfull expert knowledge Felix demonstrated his magic handling of the yellow case, a competence Renate is longing for - the dot on the I of a teachers profession.

Ballmertshofen 2010 - guys shooting for the price in the Backgammon tournament ...except the hardworking guys shooting for the price in the Backgammon tournament
  Ballmertshofen 2010 - Blonde on Blonde Blonde on Blonde

Saturday the table-soccer tournament started. A highlight I missed to join all the years back. But Claudio got us listed - his own back-in-time undertaking of the weekend (trying to get his dad happy - which - I admit - worked out pretty well) - and addicted although we were playing lousy at the first games. But it is fun and another good reason to make the trip to the Schwäbisch Alp.

Ballmertshofen 2010 - A serious game A serious game

Did I tell you how lousy cold it is at night? I had to promise Renate to remind her, bringing the Winter coats and stuff along next time. Smart ones secure their place at the camp fire in time, but #1 we want to watch the open air movie and #2 we are probably too old for singing along. And there is always rain - a yet undiscovered law, which too has started in Woodstock. Lucky for The Jumpin' Jacks this time the festival started with rain and the concert was spared. Although Singing in the Rain is a nice concept too .... unless it is cold ... what brings us to the opening of this paragraph again.

Ballmertshofen 2010 - Günther enchanting the crowd Günther enchanting the crowd... Ballmertshofen 2010 ...and the Band... ...and the Band... Ballmertshofen 2010 ...plays along ...plays along

The concert is a highlight in general and Günther slipping in the shoes of Mick Jagger in particular (Although he refused to play Knockin' on Heaven's Door ... and I thought playing Bob is a prerequisite for getting a gig in Ballmertshofen). Deaf people like us avoid loud music; funny the good hearing young crowd assembles next to the speaker box, presumably they want to become as deaf as we are, longing for the happiness showing in our faces. Just kidding, but truth is that having a picnic under the beech tree is becoming a tradition. Together with our Parisian friends and plenty of bread, paté, cheese (the cheese was missing this time while last we had nothing but cheese), and Riesling the Stones revival was twice a treat.

Ballmertshofen 2010 - Eardrops made in Ballmertshofen Eardrops made in Ballmertshofen presented by CC

Granted this is not Claudia Cardinale on the foto, but the eardrops were still warm, just put together by Esther and hung into Mirja's ear for us to admire the beauty.
This is only a tiny fraction of all the activities going on in parallel at the filmfest. I once had a dream, writing this blog in real time at site. Forget it - there is just to much going on and always someone to talk to and when you think of letting go and relaxing a bit ... then Udo emerges out of the blue, a fresh bottle at hand ... and writing blogs is no longer a concern of yours.

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Hannah's first blog
Hannah's first blog picture 1

Hi folks,
I'm Hannah, I'm 5, and it's about time to enter the virtual community. 5 months to be precise - not sure what you thought; I'm looking older than 5 months which really doesn't bother me much.
When you click on the pic you'll see exactly how I look at this world. Americans would say: "It's OK" - definitely a lot of potential for improvement.

Hannah's first blog picture 2

What I'm looking at? I'm looking at Grandpa's world: coffee & pipe. He likes Jim Jarmusch a lot but no cigarettes. By the way - that's my mother I'm sitting in. Excellent way of transportation: high up like in a SUV, panorama view, and integrated catering. Couldn't have done it better myself - OK, that's Udo's slogan but I can't invent the wheel over and over again.

Hannah's first blog picture 3

Almost forgot: built in affection too. Enough about my luxurious life, blogs need to address issues, grandpa tells me.


Let's start with the constant banter between Ma and Grandpa about my appetite for numbing clamor. What fun when within seconds the world starts spinnig all around you.
I have reduced it quite a bit: you have to give them a break once in a while. But it's definitely worth a serious study regarding the strange species of grown ups

Hannah's first blog picture 4

You don't have to feed them, they just come, look at you like at a creature from outer space, make funny faces, and talk a lot of nonesense; anyway they are fun to look at and although they try to dissimulate their words I'll learn their strange language - just give me some more months.

Hannah's first blog picture 5

That's Great Grandma I'm talking with. She is full of stories but has quite some troubles with walking. I would rent her my mother mobile but it's not licensed for the grown up species and as a war child Great Grandma doesn't like the comfort it provides anyway.

Hannah's first blog picture 6
  Hannah's first blog picture 7

Last column already - time flies by and I have so much more to tell you guys. Maybe I should ask grandpa for my own page like Sabrina, Claudio and Ma - you would be thrilled about the insight and perspective someone like me could provide to you. It's all about details you know; in my confined environement you have to seize the elements of creation.

Hannah's first blog picture 8

I'm getting philosophical here - must be the influence of my artsy host family. But that's Ok by me. I'll just have to focus on my future as so much is taken already! Aunt & Uncle competing in film, Ma with her wonderful writing (Hopefully I can bring her into publishing more on this site, maybe I will hire her as ghostwriter for my memoires, I plan to publish one volume per year), which leaves me with singing.

Hannah's first blog picture 9

Wait four years! That's enough. I practice all day sounding the vaste scope of the human voice. Be patient, enjoy your day, and when you want to please my Grandpa, write a comment.
Faithfully Yours, Hannah

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Wednesday 14.07.2010       East & West - Inauguration of the Tryptich

Sabrina's Shanghai Tryptych Part 1 Sabrina's Shanghai Tryptych Part 2 Sabrina's Shanghai Tryptych Part 3

Opening the inbox, finding Sabrina's new paintings, throwing them into the web was one! Seriously, this tryptych shouldn't be dammed into the backroom of her galery (but you can find them there too - everything has its place for eternity).
Kind of a coincidence: while Sabrina is diving into Chinese culture (her Shanghai Page ranks immediately after this one in popularity), Renate hosts Chinese students and teachers of Shibei High at her school and she reports nightly about their exploration of German hospitality and (they love it) Italian food and icecream.

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Ballmertshofen, Sunday 04.07.2010
Detour to Coppola

Sabrina - you can skip this entry: multiple topics, no details, no depth. I just felt like writing one after a wonderful weekend in Ballmertshofen in the heart of the Härtsfeld deep in Schwabenland.
But before we go there I have to tell you about a wonderful mail, Marius sent me a couple of days ago.

The Sentinel Building, San Francisco - Home of American Zoetrop, Francis Ford Coppola's company

Lazy me I just give you a brief translation:
Dear Richard,
Some crazy coincidence happened today.
On my way downtown Frisco the busdriver made a gigantic detour (blocked streets due to the Gay Parade as I learned later).
I was pissed ending up with a 45 minute walk until I realized that I was standing opposite the wonderful green building and remembered:
"This is Coppola's Offices!"
Lucky chance the bus leaving me exactly at this place. Anyway - I took my camera to make a photo for you.

Plaque at the Sentinel Building, San Francisco - Home of American Zoetrop, Coppola's company

Crossing the street to get a closer look a car passed me by.
I couldn't believe my eyes: Francis Ford Coppola sitting at the steering wheel!
Can't be, I think! But no: the car turned into the parking garage and minutes later Mr. Coppola leaving the garage passed me and went into the green building.
I was too paralyzed to call on him. No idea what to say.
Anyway - it was a thrilling experience. What a city!
Best wishes
Yours, Marius

  Movies and Cows - A day in Ballmertshofen
Projection unit in the gras: Zeiss Tonkinokoffer-Anlage TK 35/47 II Type C

The object of our weekend task: The "Zeiss Tonkinokoffer-Anlage TK 35/47 II Type C" a mobile projection unit made in the GDR at least 40 years ago (you even find the TK 35 Manual in the web - a nice treat for technic freaks). The TK 35 needs to run smoothly at the Filmfest, a small step in Udo's lifelong project to turn Ballmertshofen into an A-Festival. It's into its 33rd run - what a wonderful example of persistence.

Zeiss TK 35 Power Unit from above

Whilst the German Soccer team was performing their fulminant victory over Argentina, Flo and I were testing the power unit (isn't it a beauty! Solid German engineering - unbreakable).

Zeiss TK 35 Power Unit Front Design

Almost everything worked as expected only the laser for the sound didn't show a red light. The 4:0 already achieved, cheers everywhere in the little village ... just us brooding over causes. Flo sat down and started finding solutions!

Flo brooding about a solution
  Adjustable transformator with the plan

Finally, as you can see above, the brilliant solution was born. When you click on the pic, you will be able to read the clever connection scheme complete with part list and all. But be reminded: copyright by Flo (although with a couple of beers and some of the delicious Filmfest sausages, you'll get the license).

TK 35 twins back side

Our TK 35 twins from back (above) and front (below). One running smoothly and silently is now back in Flo's trunk and will be refurbished according to the plan. I feel a bit guilty that he has all the work but Flo happily stated: "No problem! The tricky part is making a plan - the few steps of drilling, cutting, screwing, and brazing are peanuts!"
He made it look like an easy job to make me feel less guilty, I guess.

TK 35 twins front side

Thanks to this result, the next day, the tiny Filmfest bunch could enjoy the wonderful breakfast served by Udo's mother, the Grand Old Dame of the Ballmertshofen Filmfest.
Happy faces despite the rain.

Breakfast at Ballmertshofena

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Lohr, Sunday 27.06.2010

"Less topics more content" was basically Sabrina's comment to my last entry. Almost a month later I'm still undecided about the topic to choose. It's paramount: Sabrina probably accounts for 25% of my readers (another 50% sharing Renate & Claudio, with Hannah taking care of Katharina she certainly manages 10% at best .... which leaves a substantial 15% for my world wide audience ... the German FDP probably would be glad to get back to that number).

Anyway - I just have to start with something; why not my lifelong number 1 topic which is - you have guessed it already - movies. Movie houses (these dark places where for just a couple of bucks you can slip into a parallel universe) to be accurate.
Actually a link forwarded from Elina (Tattered Palaces) triggered this in general and the picture No. 8 especially. It shows the interior of the Chicago Uptown Theater on Chicago's Broadway (quite different to the New York one, but back in last century's 30ies it was the place to be). And here is the story:

When living in Chicago we loved going North to Uptown Chicago to visit the Green Mill, one of Chicago's finest jazz clubs. When you go to the Green Mill you basically walk round a huge theatrical structure - the Uptown Theater. I couldn't believe, this ancient movie house was just sitting there, closed, empty ... what a waste! Every time we passed it I started day dreaming about opening a gigantic art house cinema within this wonderful building. It was a more rundown area back then but in the 30ies it must have been the entertainment district with stars like Chaplin and Gloria Swanson producing films at the Essanay Studio on Argyle Street just around the corner. More about the Uptown you'll find at the Landmarks Illinois site, and the Wikipedia entry about Uptown Chicago is especially worth reading.

There is something strange going on with films. They are different, depending where you watch them (and - true too - on the mood you are in). Lately I deserted my favorite place on the sofa next to Renate and the table holding wine glass, ash tray, pipes and remote controls (in our family we call them "die Macht", back from the days when the kids were home and always fighting about which channel to watch) took an old fashioned easy chair and placed it 1.5 meters before the TV screen. It's better but no good at all. And I don't believe in putting up state of the art home cinema equipment. It's your home, the fridge is near, the program is under your control and not in the hands of an underpayed operator.
Last Sunday we watched "Boxhagener Platz" in Karlstadt. Despite all the efforts in production design and historical 'true-ness' this is more a soap piece then a film. Seeing this in one of the best movie houses in our area while watching cinematic masterpieces on our mediocre flat screen at home .... this is kind of perverse.

The movie theater business is probably closer related to circus than "normal" ventures like pubs or gaming alleys. And what they say about the Circus is true for the movies - born into it you never get away from it. Despite my growing dementia I never forget the stories my father told me. Otto (his name like Hannah a palindrome, a subtle dedication to the great-grandpa she will never meet) was born in 1908 and was already working as a projectionist in the silent movie era. Funny little details (details! you read this Sabrina!) like accelerating the projector's motor at the last show of an evening when the boss was gone and the staff wanted to get home early. Another story of a creative projectionist who, having only one projector, managed to get the complete film on one spool but had no space below to install a take-up reel. But he had an empty room below the projection room and cut a hole into the floor; the trick: when you let film slide on the floor and don't touch it, you can easily roll it up again. But when the end slips through the hole you are stuck. It happend once to us: while watching a film in the auditorium the spool stopped wheeling and when we came up to the projector a mountain of film was crawling before us. A nightmare I don't want to remember actually.

Those were dangerous times for projectionists because of the fire hazard the nitrite film material was posing. One had to have a licence for projecting films back then. That had changed when I started: end of the 50ies the safety film had long been invented and nitrite material was no longer in use.
But the gadgets were still there: little nitro stripes above the film loops which in case of fire - melts immediately and stops the projector. And - very important - there where claps falling down to prevent communicating any signs of fire or other danger into the audience. Also - big inconvenience for the lonesome projectionist - no direct access from the projection room to the theater was allowed. I think I can safely tell now: my father had made a small hole in the wall in order to get quickly down to the cashier avoiding a hiking tour through neighboring stairwells. When a security check was due - the hole was just closed up again. Whether auditors smellt the fresh plaster and didn't care? I just don't know.

I could go on forever with stories from my past as a cinema orphan (everybody was out in the theater at night, but as soon as I was able to count I joined the family business first by selling candy to the audience) and maybe I will eventually. And in case you didn't catch it: there is no other way to watch a film than in a proper movie house.

Uptown Theatre, Chicago. Opening day Green Mill, 4804 N. Broadway, Chicago Uptown Theatre, Chicago Filmfest in Lohr, July 1981 - audience with guests Rainer Langhans stellt Peter Fleischmanns 'Hamburger Krankheit' in der Kino Passage Erlenbach vor As a young couple at the box office of Kino Passage, Erlenbach click on a photo to enlarge

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Nordseeküst im Nebel
Wednesday 26.05.2010 World craziest filmfestival is coming up quickly
Painted in Shanghai New room in Sabrina's virtual gallery
  From the Cold North Sea Coast

In case you wonder - the picture above shows our first glance at the North Sea. It looks like winter and - to be honest - it feels like winter. But don't worry, sun is coming out quite a bit by now and you see the sea, the ships, the islands.

My god - it worked: Udo's first comment materializing just with the force of written words. That requires a reward and therefore I reused a North Sea cow photo for a Ballmertshofen Filmfest advertisement. Can you imagine it's the 33rd edition of this unconventional gathering of film freaks in the middle of Schwäbisch nowhere? Hope I'll see you guys there and maybe there will be something feasibly coming in my mind and eventually trickle down into my blog.

Grandparenthood for Dummies
Our first three generations summer (OK 12 degrees celsius doesn't feel exactly like summer but with the sun up till 9 something pm it's definitely not winter either) at the sea vacation with Hannah as the absolute center of the tiny but cosy vacation home universe:

I'll have to be careful not to loose the last bit of sympathy left by letting loose my ironic (they'll probably call it sarcastic) temper. When our kids where young; I considered us being over-protective parents; it's a wonderful example of progress that compared to the parental behaviour of our kids we look like "Rabeneltern". Grandparents teaching there folks about raising kids may only be a fairy tale - they get a mirror of their misbehavings: Our kids surely got shocktreatment using air seeping through slightly open windows, being left in the stroller crying for more than a minute ... no wonder their art work tends to the dark side.
I guess you get it: it's just an old man grumbling realizing his age. Truth is we spend a wonderful time in this wonderful place.

The column is used up (it kind of helps me to overcome my fear of writing to set up the space first getting the feeling: "you can make that much blabla, can't you") but there is still one breaking news left: Marius has finished his entry exam at the Ludwigsburg university and it went well. We all cross our fingers that he gets his acceptance letter soon and we can open a bottle of champangne and celebrate. In the meantime you can watch his 72 hours flash movie he made for the university: Hausland .

Nordseeküste bei Duhnen

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Wednesday 19.05.2010

Horst Janssen - Ausschnitt mit Spiegelung

  Who'll Stop the Rain or:
"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"

Excuse the title - it's just the mood which overcomes me when I look out of the window. And - I have to admit - it's for Udo and the vain hope that there will be a comment ... some day in my life.

More than a week has gone by and I had many topics for this block - most of them already forgotten. May be a good thing: I'm afraid of writing, it makes me nervous, I'd rather type 50 pages of the Salinger stuff than one sentence of my own. I spent hours and hours (two days to be precise) getting the right add-in for showing Sabrina's video diaries. Finding them is no big deal - but getting them to function reasonably; that's the challenge. The result looks like nothing, but see for yourself .

Another day. The last one ended on a sour note when message came and was confirmed that my little video arrangement doesn't work everywhere and definitely not on a Windows machine.
That's a challenge: how to test something that works on your machine. Solution is to test it on our old notebook with XP running. In theory I should be able to access my Apache test server within our local network from there. As so often: theory and reality don't agree. I can ping but the browser always ends up with a time out. This time Google isn't my friend and I'm swearing and groaning like hell but to no avail yet. And that is just setting up the test environment - the real problem still ahead. I'll tell you, programming in general and web development in particular is a masochistic activity.

Just got a call from Katha - it doesn't work on her Linux machine either. At least it doesn't look like an OS issue ... When I finally manage to get the error reproduced in my test system - maybe then I'll get somewhere.
And the answer was: silly coding and just something tiny set wrong (you look for the big bugs and overlook your obvious mistakes), e.g. the URL for the videos still pointing to my test server. And as my machine knows this spot and can access it, I had no trouble - only the rest of the world was sitting before a dark screen.

Enough of this boring kitchen-sitting-pipe-smoking-pseudo-developer-talk! Ready for some good news? Let's talk about Greece. OK, that's misleading - Greece being a buzzword for anxious Euro believing citizens like me - but a good catchword for introducing our new economic section at this site. It's hidden behind the inconspicuous new menu item "Klaus".
Klaus Fritsch (good friend and former boss of mine) wrote this interesting paper about political economy and the relevance of money about three years ago, well before the financial crisis. He has some provoking theories, I'm still not sure whether they are valid for a global economy (the essay is written with the assumption of a closed economy) but it's paradigm shift is well worth reading and more so thinking about.

Just in case someone else than Claudio got a Kindle I've added an option to download the "Traktat" in Kindle format. I hope Claudio keeps feeding me with these files and I can add the service for other articles (Especially Schwarz's Salinger essays come immediately to mind).

For once we are up-to-the-day. Check the link page for an update on another scientific breakthrough.
Have to get going for the lunch shopping - The End.

Weinblätter im Regen

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Monday 10.05.2010


  ... 5 minutes before midnight Muttertagsgruss aus Shanghai

Sabrina will hate me for this - but it's just too much fun to miss it. Old hippie parents like us don't care much about "Muttertag" and this seems to challenge our kids to tease us every year. The big file coming all along from Shanghai, China opening up at our kitchen table was a big success at mother day's eve!

Anyway - I'm in Wunstorf again, had a great but exhausting day with Katha, Hannah and Roland's tax records. And although it's now 2 minutes past midnight I can't go to sleep without getting Sabrins's latest deliveries online. There are new photos at Sabrina's Shanghai a glance at them is worth the trouble. They show pictures of China significantely different from what you consume in the media (they tend to either go the "China-look what problems!" or the "new-glittering-China-world" route) - Sabrina's pictures show scenes so familiar - just round the corner in the "Eichenstrasse" (don't mix that up with "Lindenstrasse" - that's a totally different animal, although one of grandma Edel's favorit "Geschichten")

And I didn't manage to take one new Hannah foto - shame on me! Tomorrow is another day and a good night to all of you wherever you are and what time it is.

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Wednesday 05.05.2010


  ... just some quick notes before supper

No entry without a picture - just linked this from the Hannah album. Last time I talked with Schwarz, he cautiously - guess he feared that I take this as an offence - remarked: "do you know, looking at your pictures, you look like Karl Valentin". He was referring to the one to the left. And naturally, Valentin being one of my favorite comedians, I took this as a compliment.
And by the way: the next Salinger article about Salinger and sports (Catcher and Pitcher) is in the proof reading stage and will show up soon.

In order to get the comments working in Internet Explorer as well, I ended up redesigning the whole comment functionality. Being at it I changed the comment storage method too - which makes my web life a bit easier now. Instead of having a file for each and every section (many of them left empty - shame on you) I store them now in one flat file and just pick the ones needed programmatically. One step toward a database but still simple and up to now with good performance. May change when writing comments gets en vogue at WintersWeb - I can hardly wait!

When testing in IE (it still looks ugly but at least it works now) it crashed browsing to this page. Finally I identified the code from the embedded vimeo movie as the culprit. Therefore I had to change it to another plug-in. I'm not 100% happy with it but at least in Firefox it plays the pic in good quality. Have to look around anyway in order to be ready when Sabrina's video diary finally hits my inbox.

Speaking about Sabrina - Putting up a new page with her Shanghai pictures was on today's to-do-list as well. But that will have to wait till tomorrow.

Next day: checked and the comment ticker and the diplay of the comment count aren't working! Dammed! I'm so sure it worked yesterday! OK - no redesign without bugs. At least the display of comments works. And - as expected - Sabrina's film doesn't show up in IE (it's just loading forever) but at least that works in Firefox although it takes a while loading the 35 MB. I'm working on everything - promised!

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Sunday 25.04.2010


One of the reasons this entry took so long was the upcoming visit of princess Hannah. Before: house cleaning was paramount. While: cruising with Hannah in the stroller, cooking fresh vegatables for Katharina, and the exhausting challenge of hushing the crying baby (quite a physical exercise lifting her up and down, up and down, ....). After: mourning that our sweet grand daughter is gone.

She wasn't that bored all the time as you will see when you watch the new additions to her constantly growning album.. It's amazing how communicative such a little worm (just past 2 months of age) can be. It's like talking to someone from another continent (finally we have a unifying element between left and right side of the blog): you don't know what you are talking about but the universal body language tells you it's a good conversation anyhow.

I really had to restrain my irony - Katharina in her new role as overly caring mother was such a grateful object. OK - I take the "overly" back, I'm not suicidal yet. Katharina brought along a present from Wulla: a glass of sugar beets syrup which I love so much. With almost every word from my side there was the threat that Katharina will take it back. Thank god it was a heavy item and the danger manageable.

All in all, it were wonderful four days with 3 generations of a family under one roof (and on Sunday even 4 when Hannah was the absolute star at the great-grandparents' coffee table) and I'm looking forward to more.

I have to watch out for the symmetry of the Lohr and Shanghai columns and get to an end. More grandfather stuff will follow for sure - small doses for better congestion.

  Lohr - Shanghai
Aunt Sabrina goes East


Since the beginning of April Sabrina has been in Shanghai as an Exchange student. It took quite a while before we heard from her. It takes time to get your communication channels set up in a foreign country (although in the end probably much better than Pitigliano, Italy). And there will be even more water washing down the Yangtse till the first video diary (she promised!) will reach the WintersWeb head-quarter. But the first photos, impressions of Shanghai with the fresh look of an unterfränkisches girl are in. Remember the guy Sabrina is having lunch with? If not, have a look at last year's entry about the 3 Chinese guys in Lohr. Right! It's Bo "the cook" and naturally Sabrina is eating with him in what looks like a student's cafeteria on a Shanghai campus. She's eating all the time anyway, which reminds me of Katharina's wonderful story I came to China for the food.

Today we talked with her while she was looking for a downtown Shanghai room. There were three options so far and a decision will be made as we speak - you guess it - in a restaurant. I'm ironic again and that's not fair. Click on the photos above and you'll see that she has a special view on this mega-city which doesn't correspond to the average Shanghai media coverage. Some of the 3-sat Shanghai screenings this week have this differentiated view too, I have to admit. Her pictures bring back memories of our short visit to Chengdu 3 years back: this unique coexistence of "American splendor", monastic refulgence, and picturesque meagerness.

To sweeten the time till Shanghai dailies come in, I have embedded Sabrina's last film from the vimeo site. Remember the shooting stills from the 13.01.2010 entry? It's One of the rare cases where the original German titel " Bücherschlepper" is significantly shorter than the English one: "People Who Carry Books". Click on the picture below to start the movie in a separate tab (only tested in Firefox so far).

Time flies by - even more so on Sundays - and it's almost time to prepare dinner. I just wanted to vent my frustration about this browser stuff. I was happy that the comment thing finally worked. When the comments didn't show up at the Windows PC in the little Pitigliano bar, I put the blame on the Italian security settings, but testing it on my XP machine I had to realize that it really is a bug. So once again I'm redesigning and testing and swearing like a sailor. IE guys bear with me - I will manage eventually (you could say: why the hassle, it's only Claudio and you ping-ponging comments - but hope dies last).

I just finished typing another Salinger article which right now is in the proof reading stage. Claudio mailed something new for the review page: a funny article about an old Charlie Kaufman film. And Renate and I watched 2 movies ("A Single Man" and "Chloe") last night in Aschaffenburg - with some luck, I will manage a couple of lines about the Julian Moore & designer houses double-feature.

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Wednesday 07.04.2010

it's all about food
  Italian Journey - Final Notes

These are extremely personal and probably unbalanced views collected in our 10 days' existence as tourists in one of the most beautiful parts of Italy - Maremma, the wild part of the Toscana.
First of all it's all about food here and there is a wonderful rhythm you need to adjust to: In the morning the bakeries and vegetable stores, the butchers and the bars are open. Not sure when they start but at 8am when I went out for breakfast stuff they certainly were open for business. That is unless the patrone is round the corner for a coffee (that's why the bar is included in the early session; but they are an exception anyway: bars are open all the time, expresso must be available at any hour).
Then there is a small slot (between 12:30 and 14:30 little plus / often minus) for lunch. Naturally the shops are closed then and as there is no way going to work after an Italian lunch they wont reopen before 4pm.
But with dinner coming up at 7.30pm they close again about the time restaurants reopen. Don't expect to get something proper to eat after 9:30pm. Better adjust yourself quickly unless you want to diet - but dieting in Italy is just absurd.

What scared me most were Italian drivers. But that's probably just me - traffic works just fine down south. We witnessed no accidents, there are no wrecks at the side of the road - it's one of the unsolved secrets! For one thing speed limit signs seem of no importance here, an Italian driver chooses the speed he can handle - and he can handle a lot. So get used to it: watch the rear drivers close angle face in the rear window, stay in you lane (something an Italian driver would never do: they prefer the medial strip for best utilization of the road) , as in the next second he will show you his profile to your left. Although there are more curves and bends than straight roads, passing is a national hobby.

Another miracle is the coexistence of vehicles and pedestrians in the alleys of the town center (centro storico). At first glance you think there is no way for any car to get through these tiny streets filled with folks, displayed goods, old men and women sitting on chairs where the sun just finds a gap. Men smoking, women knotting, both chatting. Just watch out and be prepared to run for cover in a doorway: There is substantial traffic going on. Although they look like a museum towns they are vibrant, lively towns with real people living in the wonderful old building who need to be supplied.
Good thing that most of the transport is done by those small three wheel vehicles like the one you see on the right. Even a deaf guy like me can't miss them with their roaring engine. Time enough to seek shelter.

No reason to complain. On the contrary we must be thankful for the Italian way: Elsewhere buildings had to yield to traffic here it just manages with the situation as is - and has been for centuries. We have to thank the Italians for preserving thus eternally beautiful things.

Mystery of Waterbottles in the Maremma

I could go on forever with boring little stories but blog entries need to be short (at least for my gusto) and so only one little mystery we stumbled upon in almost every town: There were plastic bottles filled with water in front of many houses. It looks a bit like the milk bottles in England but we never saw a water-delivery-service anywhere. Unfortunately, I got only one example on film (see above) where one could think - actually Renate's theory - that they are in place for watering the flowers properly (flowers love stale water as you certainly know). Other possibilities: Preventing rain in order to show the gods that there is an amply supply of water left (it rained anyway at Eastern) or keeping evil spirits out of the house. Anyway, we have no clue and our Italian is so poor that we couldn't ask. Maybe someone who knows could shed a light and leave a comment (comments in Italian - or any other language by the way - are welcome).

Last but not least: there is so much beauty and joie de vivre in this landscape. Weren't it for the absence of decent movie houses I just would have stayed there forever.

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Saturday 02.04.2010
Quiet Days in Pitigliano

It's probably not fair to all you guys out there working in rainy and cold Germany or elsewhere to boast about lazy days in the Toscana. Sitting near the fire (although sunny it's not really warm yet) where the hand-collected wood spends cozy warmth. Collecting wood in the surrounding forests is somewhat challenging: there are lots of dogs, probably nice and harmeless fellows but they bark like beasts. Renate is afraid of dogs and we need to avoid "doggy" paths. Which is only fair as Renate on the other hand stood by me and saved me of a horror trip with Deutsche Bahn - I was close to a panic attack when I had to face staying in the overcrowded train (see the 21.02.2010 entry). Renate is grading papers (a teacher's work follows you everywhere) and I put together a little photo diary, a small collection of which you can see on the side.

It's like a mantra: eat, drink, sleep, walk, read ... and little other things I won't mention here. What is haunting me though is "Solar", the latest Ian McEwan novel I just finished reading. I loved his other books but this one upsets me; sometimes I was tempted to close my eyes in order to avoid reading the inevitable you see coming - it just freaks you out. Michael Beard, the 'hero' of this save-the-earth tale, although getting fatter and fatter as the story evolves, is not really a man of flesh and blood - he's a caricature of the 21st century's "hero of the western world". An overgrown child nurturing his perverted needs for food and sex, the scientist side of his only being a means to the end of his ego. A one-time achievement getting him the Nobel prize leads to a life of self-deception, to plagiarism (today a very hot topic indeed) and a finally fatal quest for recognition and wealth instrumentalizing the hype about "global warming". Maybe McEwan meant it to be that way: a monstrous caricature of the modern entanglement of science with big business. You can't stop reading but it freaks you out the more the story progresses. I hope Claudio finds the time to write a review: he looks at things in a more rational way than I do.


Lake Bolsena

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Pitigliano, Monday 29.03.2010
Italy - my god it's gorgeous!

After a break in Augsburg we crossed the Alps (first picture shows Renate at a gas station near Trient with a last glance back at the mountains) and landed after a scary drive across the collini Maremma into the town of our dreams: Pitigliano. In the morning while getting pane, burro and other essential breakfast stuff I took a first picture of the "vicolo" (to stick to the facts: they actually call it via but to our standards it just looks like a "Gässchen) we have the luxury to live at for the next ten days.

The last days before this trip were busy and I had no chance for an entry after Wunstorf. But I hope the honored reader (if he exists) has noted the new tiny section listing the new additions to this site. Dr. Schwarz's Salinger universe has a new article with wonderful insights in the "naming" in Salinger's stories. Claudio presented us a new review about David Mamet's 'On Directing Film' and I did a small approach at expressing my affection for Clint Eastwood - some lines about 'A Perfect World'.

The bar with the hot spot has closed today and I'm still living in hope that I'm able to release this tomorrow. 12 hours later my hopes are gone. Getting the breakfast rolls this morning I stopped at the bar having a cafe and inquired about the "Internet Point". It turns out there is only an old-fashioned PC with Internet, no WLAN in the whole town - due to security reasons a nice guy told me. I wonder what that might be: Etruscans sending messages from their graves?

Typing Salinger articles lately I got the urge to reread his stories. I just finished "Franny and Zooey" and it is just breathtaking. Half a day in the life of the Glass family (Zooey) and a whole mythical universe unfolds. Not sure whether it's right to do this but I too want to dedicate this little blog to the Fat Lady - Shine your shoes, be funny for the Fat Lady. "There isn't anyone out there who isn't Seymour's Fat Lady" (J.D.S.)

Last remark for today; we watched "Shutter Island" in Augsburg (unfortuntely the dubbed version) and we saw not so much a film noir / thriller but more a Greek drama - a modern version of Medea. And there is no solution, no redemption, and no reality to hold on to. This leads us to Ian McEwan's "Solar" ("Do you honestly believe that what you don't know about doesn't exist?") the review of which - I hope - Claudio will contribute soon.


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Tuesday 23.03.2010  

Crazy grand-dad with
grand-daughter in ice-cream parlor
From Wunstorf With Love

I have only a couple of minutes for this entry. Be patient with me. I'm up North for play acting my grand dad duties and spreading my wise crack ironic remarks and you can't imagine what helluva lot of attention and entertainment an almost 6 week old baby needs. No idle time for blogging and surfing or whatever old guys usually do. I guess you can read my eyes looking at the picture to your left. This morning we spent quality time with Hannah at Martini - one of zillion ice cream parlors in Wunstorf - but no movie house! World upside down.

Finally the spammers have found my site and junked the comment section. I was still believing in the good side of the virtual world and now this. Right now I clean the mess up afterwards but we go travelling to Italy soon and what then? Guess I need some spam protection device - not sure I manage before the trip to the South. For the time being I have disabled the comment form. Sorry about that.

An mail from Marius (Kuschper) just came in. When there was the least doubt about him actually being in the Land of Plenty here comes the proof: Marius live at the Sam & Max Exclusive Exhibit Documentary. Whatever that is - watch for yourself.

No more time for silly entries. I will come back before Italy but likely only once. I don't think there is internet where we are going - meaning you have some time to relax.

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Tuesday 16.03.2010  
Mail from San Francisco

    Marius with Steve Purcess Sketch

Trained looking at baby photos all the time we immediately start seeing similarities between the two guys above. Question is: did Steve Purcell draw Guybrush from Monkey Island or rather Marius (Kusper) disguised as Guybrush? Marius wrote enthusiastically about meeting Steve last week. He is one of his role models. Steve did the Guybrush drawings and animated part of the Monkey Island Game (back then for Lucas Arts. Steve sketched the above Guybrush drawing into Marius' scrap book.

Steve Purcell is working in the story development department at Pixar now. The studio which revolutionized animated film and challenged Disney, then collaborated with Disney, and finally is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company - a capitalistic fairy tale.

Marius himself is doing good. He's working as a cinematic artist (that's the official titel of his job - quite unusual for an intern) for Tell Tales' new Sam & Max episodes. You can watch the trailer here.

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Saturday 13.03.2010  
Claudio Got His Gadget

    The Men Who Stare At Goats

The picture shows Kevin Spacey (not in his best role) and George Clooney (would you have recognized him?) in The Men Who Stare At Goats. I wrote a view lines about last night's double feature in Würzburg.

It wasn't that difficult and so the new feature Claudio's recommended is up and running. Almost at the top of this page there is a little paragraph starting with "Recent comments: " where from now on the last 4 comments entered will be noted. Just a click on the GO takes you to the related comment section. Right now it looks a bit funny with all the "contributed by GO"- entries and it leads you nowhere - we have to wait for four volunteers to place comments till it'll be fully functional. I hope I can breath a little till Claudio's next request(s) will hit in.

Hannah is exactly 4 weeks old as of today. Good reason to add another picture to her album. Also the next Salinger article is in the proof-reading stage.
Stay tuned!

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Wednesday 10.03.2010   Salinger - Time Magazine Cover
TIME magazine cover featuring J. D. Salinger from September 15, 1961.
Dr. Schwarz's Salinger Page Is Open

I have been looking forward to this day for weeks. Finally I can proudly present (the trailer competition still in my head - but that's later on) the unique Jerome David Salinger Section on this site. Our estimated former teacher Dr. Christian Schwarz has provided for me his Salinger scripts. The first of these papers, "Jerome D. SALINGER und Wilhelm STEKEL", is now being originally published on this site. More will follow.

Officially he taught English and German literature, but more important for our relationship were occasional theater productions and long philosophical and literary discussions. Therefore, these pages will also be also a manifestation of my gratitude.

       Now what else is new?
  • Just in case you haven't noticed: At the review page , a funny discussion has been started about movie trailers (you'll have to open the comment section). Is "every trailer tells the story" a new trend or an immanent attribute of the trade?
  • Also the question came up whether the form (for writing a comment) should be placed at the end of a comment section. I admit: I placed it right at the beginning like a trap where you will fall in and can't help to write one. But the other way - printing comments in order of submittance and the form at the end - would make sense too. Let me know what you think - it's about time anyway that the comments outgrow the "family business".
  • The trailer business bore also a new entry in the link section: The Best Trailer Ever Collection.
  • Last and probably least for most of you: just in case you're building a web site and you're crazy like me not using one of the tool boxes for building home pages, then you could go to development section and use my solution for placing comments at your page. Doesn't cost you a cent but requires leaving a comment in return.

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Saturday 06.03.2010


... and where is your input?

Today's headline isn't intented to be provocative. Just couldn't think of anything else and yeah, I really would appreciate someone besides Claudio and me contributing to the review and/or link page (the lonesome webmaster's dream of the world connecting - "aber das liest bestimmt wieder kein Schwein").

Apropos "lonesome". Clint Eastwood, the lonesome guy par excellence, is getting 80 this May. Eastwood is one of my favorite film makers and Grand Torino was my 2009 favorite film. Come to think of it that in the 70th and 80th I refused to watch any Eastwood movies! Back then he was for me the embodiment of right-wing America. Getting older, wiser (?), and probably more conservative I have started enjoying his movies more and more. Good thing is, I have lots of movies in the pipeline still to discover. The New Yorker has published a wonderful critical acclaim of his ouevre. A good reason for switching to the link page.

I also added some thoughts about last night's TV movie (The Quiet American) at the review page. I'm waiting for your contribution and a lively discussion about what we all read and watch.

This was a lucky week with aunty Sabrina supplying me with fresh grand-daughter pics. This time I added a wonderfully peaceful one with the two of them sleeping. Look into Hannah album if you like.

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Thursday 04.03.2010


Back After Almost A Week of Desperation

You might wonder what this trashy postcard is about. Does Richard now start boring us with his ancient city tours? Is Big Ben the proper icon for the inauguration of the finally completed and hopefully improved comment functionality?

Wrong guesses and I bet nobody (except the close members of the family who know) will remember the subtle hints buried in the depths of this little site! Maybe I should put out an award for correct answers to the riddle! But what should the award look like? Publishing something on my site? Americans would call this a win/win, my German friends will call it perkiness!
Anyway - this postcard has a story and hopefully the sequel of ... (Oooops - I wont volunteer anything!) will be available shortly.

Now, what's that about desperation? Observant readers will note that the comment sections finally have a counter. It looks like nothing but it cost me days and days of coding and deleting over and over again. Goal was to have a cute little module doing all the comment administration work for me and some lines of html effortless to intersperse into pages. You would think a common requirement like this could be found in the web by the dozen. I found nothing! Therefore I had to think by myself (I hate it!) and grab bits and pieces together and make them fit.

Not only once I ran into a dead-end (desperately needed the first two P's myself - go there when you don't know what I'm talking about) and had to start all over again. You question yourself: am I too dumb, am I too old? But when you sit back and think rationally, you realize that a bunch of different code languages (html, css, cgi, Perl, JavaScript) aren't learned within a couple of weeks. Everyone has its own grammar, modules, and functions. Coding is a remorseless exercise: a missing hyphen, an unnecessary comma and nothing works. Blog writing on the other hand is a peace of cake - my worst mistakes are displayed without danger of malfunction. Only Renate catches them and by and by they will be corrected.

Sorry for the venting. At least it works now (on my test Apache that is) and I didn't go crazy. And something else I have learned over the last hours: never rely on local tests - test it on the provider's server before you are going to release something for good. The validation part of the comment form isn't integrated yet but until then I hope I have responsible and watchful commentators. Next steps include filling the gaps with comment sections and one day I will document it and put a new page on my development section (finally I'm getting beyond Excel and Access, hurrah)

Of course there are new Hannah pictures. Can't wait till she will visit us in Lohr and I can start doing the usual grandpa / grandchild stuff like building tree houses and such. I'm afraid this will take a couple of days. On the left you'll see a preview of my favorite pic from the recent ones. The rest to be seen on the Hannah album.


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Friday 26.02.2010


New Content Rolling In ... I Hardly Catch Up

What's new?

  • 2 new paintings in Sabrina's painter's workshop. For her teacher they are to gaudy and to crowded. Sabrina likes it this way but admits that she needs to focus more on quality than quantity in the future. Maybe the the peaceful times in Shanghai with the air of Konfuzius around will supply us with the perfect ones.
  • A complete new page started thanks to Claudio's book review. The idea is to have a page were everybody (!!!) writes about his current reading matter - a bit like a virtual salon.
    Addendum: A day later this page has been opend for all media topics and again Claudio provided an initial entry about Scorcese's Shatter Island
    Brilliant idea but Claudio's terrific first contribution makes it hard for us daring to write the next entry.
    I just finished the incredible dense Runaway from Alice Munroe - Maybe I'll work up the courage. Right now I'm rereading Salinger's Nine Stories, but Salinger will be a big upcoming topic on this site when I finally get the manuscripts of one of the best but totally unknown Salinger specialists typed and approved.
  • A new pic from Hannah with her brother in Hannah's album. I WANT A NEW FOTO EVERY WEEK! Hope the bleary-eyed parents can hear me in Hannover.
  • And as I'm at it anyway, I added a new grandpa story. There are a lot more to come too.

Finally I took Claudio's request in the first comment entries seriously and worked uncounted hours making the comment function more flexible and dynamic. Comments are now tied to the context they are placed at and - this was miraculously simple - you can unhide and hide them. But I became desperate trying to get the result of a Perl function (how many comments are there?) in an acceptable format displayed on the page. I probably have to rewrite the whole comment function as a Perl module - nothing done overnight! Therefore you must manage without knowing for some time. Another bug: The comment section is supposed to close when clicked again - won't do right now. But a page refresh with the browser button will do. Hope this wont deter you from posting your comment right below this blog entry!

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Sunday 21.02.2010


Deutsche Bahn Adventure

Würzburg Train Station, ICE waiting for travelers leaving the train Waiting for another train to come

This may look peacefully to you - travellers waiting for their train? Far from it! This was our train: thousands were already in the train and we with the others on the platform waiting in the cold for the next ICE to come. But the next too had missing wagons and the situation got worse and worse. The nice guy in the left praying and Renate meditating - nothing helped and we had to go back to square one and take the car to Hannover.
As a die-hard train traveller you are used to discomfort but this got us into a new dimension of customer torment. We experienced a power struggle between desperate passengers refusing to leave the train and a Bahn crew persisting on rules and regulations and announcing to keep the train put until enough folks volunteer to leave it.

OK they didn' involve the police to get us out. That's nice. They kept the lights and heating in the train on - that's nice too. Not all of the Bahn staff yelled at us, some were sorry about the situation without a solution. But nobody had any ideas or means solving the issue. I remember good old times when there were additional trains scheduled at peak times and not reduced supply for an increased demand.
The Swiss knew why they didn't privatize their train system.

Wednesday 17.02.2010


Finally You Are Able to Vent on this Page!

While writing this I'm still waiting for the my provider having moved me to the Power Packet. There is no such thing as free coffee, they say. And it's true also for having comments about your block. Hope the 3.99 a month is well spend - it's in your hands now and just a click away .

Tonight we start the Berlinale watching the remastered "Metropolis" from Fritz Land and 9:44 tomorrow the train will convey us to Berlin and Berlinale live - when the German trains master the snow that is. But first thing we will join the HfG installation in Wedding.

The above was written last Friday before we left for Berlin. It was a good plan but didn't work as expected. Firstly Deutsche Bundesbahn didn't have enough seatings for transportation of the "unexpected" masses wanting to travel north. Finally we gave up and took the car. Then Hannah arrived and we had to greet her instead of going to Sabrina's vernissage. But now we are in Berlin and are enjoying the extended screen count of the Berlinale. Even competition films are no longer a problem getting into thanks to the huge new location Friedrichstadt Palast. Yesterday we saw two really good - although though - ones: Koji Wakamatsu's "Caterpillar" and Benjamin Heisenberg's "Der Räuber".

Finally Claudio's piece he did for the Richard Powers' seminar is available at this site! I'm so happy about having this brilliant piece of writing finally in stock. It's called: Commonplace Observations

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Sunday 14.02.2010


13.02.2010 12:31 - Hannah Revealed Her Beauty to Us
More pictures now at the picture page.

Just coming up from my smoke break at Wulla's house - the happy parents stopped by and now they are already settled at home in threesome happyniness. Sorry for the umpteen pics which may be boring to the world but to us as newly turned grandparents Hannah is just the most beautiful baby in the world. With almost 4 kg and 54 cm the passage from the paradisal womb to the winterly cold of reality was not an easy one. But with Roland's calmness and commitment and probably more so Hannahs determination to conquering the world, all went well and within the expected timeframe for a firstborne (12 hours they say is normal and Renate was getting really nervous after noon).

Strange things happen: When Katharina's labor started (and we didn't know it yet) Renate got awful backache like in labor herself. After Roland called to announce Hannah's arrival, the pangs were gone. It reminds you of the twin-photon experiment: signals travel farther and faster than light?

While the birth went smoothly, our travel to Hannover was a major adventure of the unpleasant kind. But that's another story coming soon in the blog near you.

Monday 09.02.2010


Berlin - We Are Coming


HfG Satellit Berlin Schererstrasse 9-11, Berlin-Wedding
Video installation of Sabrina's school shown nightly from February 10th to 20th. I've a screen shot from Sabrina's piece "Kopf" stored in her Galery's Poster Section but you can also view it here.

Sabrina left today for Berlin and we will follow suit Saturday. Looking forward to the HfG show and - you wouldn't be surprised - the 60th Berlinale. But we are always on the go for Wunstorf to welcome our first grandchild!

With Sabrina home at the weekend, grading and other school chores were suppressed and we had a culturally enriched weekend. The Würzburg Nolde exhibition (a bit boring, I have to admit), the vernissage of Elisabeth's exhibition (see 18.01.) and "Up in the Air", the new Jason Reitman pic with George Cluny (trailer: see link page). I liked it very much.
And Sunday morning the habitual matinee at Burg-Lichtspiele in Karlstadt. We saw again "Das weisse Band" and the first time, since we went there, the movie was crowded. Probably due to the Oscar nomination, but this film is one of the best I have seen in years and it's heartening to it's the success. It's tough though and a scary flashback to the German pre-Nazi era.

Good news: I finally managed to get the comment function written with a bit of Perl code and using a simple flat file as "database". Bad news: Up to now it only works on my test server. On the host ugly "forbidden" messages from the web server on my test page prevent me from releasing it. I hope the Kabel Deutschland customer service will provide me soon with a solution and you will be finally able to yell at me visibly "on site".

Sunday 31.01.2010


San Francisco Days - The boys' first sight of their new country

Sabrina is getting mails and pictures by the hour. I am exaggerating - but not too much. Sabrina is drowning her sorrow in work: finishing an experimental movie, savagely painting new prictures, putting a finishing touch on her Berlin installation, and working with Bo's (you remember the Chinese student we christened "the cook"?) HFG film project. At the same time Marius and Thorsten are exploring San Franscisco.

Eric Burdon's song comes immediately to mind:
I wasn't born there perhaps I'll die there
there's no place left to go, San Francisco.

Sabrina forwards Marius's pictures, really nice of her. And so you too, dear reader, will get to see the first impressions of our adventurous two young lads, who - thanks to their brilliant flash movies - got the opportunity for an internship at TellTale Games in San Francisco. As you see, they even provided a nice appartment for them. See for yourself the first shots from downtown Frisco without any comment.

Sunday 31.01.2010


Moving (Out) & Removing (Snow) & San Francisco Nights

What a week: moving the stuff out of Sabrina's and Marius' Offenbach flat, Marius leaving for San Francisco (thank god the tears were dried when Sabrina came back to Lohr), and almost every day the morning exercise of removing the snow in front of the house. The first pic shows Sabrina getting her artwork from the storage room (more "moving" pictures are hidden behind a click). Then one of the familar snow around the house fotos - this one brand new - and it feels like the Winter is never ending.

Marius on the other hand now enjoys the Californian sun (although as you see in the hidden pic, there are clouds in Frisco too). He already gets spoiled from the Telltale guys. He went to a concert and to a film show in a wonderful ancient cinema (see pic).

OK - we had good movies too at the Würzburg Filmfest yesterday. Rudolf Thome was there at the screening of "System ohne Schatten". Renate would have preferred to see the Charlie Kaufman film but she liked the Thome pic which saved me a lot of mockery. Udo shot some pictures with his cell - he promised to send them to me for publishing here - another set of Thome fotos in the web. We love the needless stuff!

Tuesday 26.01.2010


Foresight: Of Parents and Grandparents

These pictures were shot shortly before the metamorphosis. We had a wonderful dinner in Steinhude at the very elegant Hotel Maris. Sitting together - still parents with daughter ,"Kuschper" and friend Wulla - you sense the future: this is definitely the last time we went to Wunstorf being parents. Next time we will be grandparents - something completely different as Monthy Python would say. When you look closely: my face is already dissolving - probably fantasizing about going to the movies with Hannah.

And I have started acting funny. When trying to reach the folks "up North" nobody was answering. I tried all numbers I knew of: cells and friends you name it. Ringing tones was all I got and all I could think about, was the couple on it's way to the hospital - emergency! no information! helpless! They laughed at me afterwards. Fact being, all were sitting together at Wulla's place, missing nascent grandpa's desperate call. Imagination is a strange animal - shouldn't grandpas be relaxed and quiet? I'll work on it - promised!

Transporting the wicker for the baby, we enjoyed the "wonderful Deutsche Autobahn". It was freezing cold up there in the North and we spent the night in the little Pension "Haus Berlin" (you know why we picked this one!) in Steinhude. The famous Steinhuder Meer was frozen up and spectacular to look at. Due to the temperature not a long lasting experience.

Monday 18.01.2010


Pottery & Paintings

KOMPOS(T)ITION, exhibition in Würzburg

Small town Lohr has its secret treasures. Unfortunately no art-house movie theater (although there is some thinking done as we speak - too early for facts but there is a spark of hope). No, the secrets are hidden behind workshop walls. And two of the great local artists will have an exhibition in Würzburg at the Spitäle next month. It's called "KOMPOS(T)ITION" (composition & composting) and features ceramic art of our friend Elisabeth Reusch-Heidenfelder and paintings of Hartwig W. Kolb. How the two go together, the above picture shows. There are some more when you dare to click. One of them is a picture of the tableware for Katharina's & Roland's wedding. We just couldn't get all that stuff on the train to Wilhelmshaven and so Elisabeth did this great picture with one of Kolb's paintings in the background.

More into music? Sven Schöllmann is playing the sax at the vernisage Saturday, February 6th.
If you are curious, there is more to see on the artist's sites:
Keramikatelier Lohr
Kunstwerkstatt Steinbach

Saturday 16.01.2010


Oma Edel and Opa Hans are Online

Lohr, Stadtbahnhof

I found this picture on the web. It beams me back into the time of my youth when the sound of trains passing our house was part of the universe. But the reason I picked this photo, was the introduction of a new section in our tiny universe of the WintersWeb. I started with one incredible story from grandma Edeltraud, one of the uncountable ones she usually tells during the sacred coffee hour. This story - sorry we are back to German here - is one of many about her zillions of travels between her hometown Lohr and her father's home village Bischbrunn. It almost freaked me out! The picture shows the Lohr city station of the railroad between Lohr and Wertheim. This is ancient history and by now the "Stadtbahnhof" is a restaurant with frequently changing owners and the railway is mostly downgraded to a cycling path. Anyway - this picture visualizes the happy finish of our story and when you understand some German you should visit the newly built grandparents' page . Just one story (or "Burle" as the Lohr people say) so far but I hope there will be more. But grandpa Hans too is full of stories and the regional newspaper published 26 of them 9 years ago. Step by step I will type them and publish here as well.

Friday 15.01.2010


3P Gets to a Second Dimension

I guess that headline means nothing to you. My kids know and while reworking Claudio's section in this little site (he finally sent me his second paper with license to publish) I worked on the intro and the header turned out to be: "Claudio the family philosopher". Now we have a painter, a poet, and a philosopher = 3Ps. Long ago I invented another set of 3Ps for educational reasons. The most important virtues you should aim for - I told my kids over and over again - are persistance, patience ,and politeness. Who knows how many dimensions there are?

You'll get to Claudio's stuff via his intro page and there's - Claudio will hate me - finally a picture. It's a nice parallelism to Katharina's page but she hates it too.

Wednesday 13.01.2010


Once upon last summer under the roof of the Lohr library (my god it was hot!) ....

Dreharbeiten Bücherschlepper, Stadtbibliothek Lohr

... Sabrina shot her last movie with the working title "Bücherschlepper". The above one is the only set photo (done by Monika Büdel from the Main Echo team) I have from the library shooting. When you click on it you'll find some more done at our house. Monika's article is still online at We watched the rough cut of the movie. It's a typical Sabrina movie again and there is something for looking forward to at the upcoming Ballmertshofen film festival - finally summer again! I'll take some screenshots from the rough cut one of these days. Tune in for more.

Rudolf Thome will be at "Internationales Filmwochenende Würzburg". You remember: his personal blog was the template for my little page (Here the link to his January blog which has besides other interesting stuff the Würzburg schedule of his films ). First I put PINK on my Lovefilm list, then I recorded the TV broadcast (not watched yet) and now we finally can watch it on the big screen.

Getting comments on this page drives me nuts. I don't want any prefabricated WorldPress stuff with plug and play. My ambition is to do it from scratch. But that requires a lot of learning: Setting up an local Apache web server, CGI interface, Perl programming and xml setup - I don't mention the stuff leading me to a dead end. But - what Katha wants, Katha gets ... even when it takes till the end of my life ("which I expect any moment" the judge used to add in "What's Up Doc" - I can't - not yet)

Tuesday 05.01.2010  

The holiday seasons comes to an end. Back to Lohr and back in the kitchen. Above photos Nic (you remember the nice Chinese guys from the 29/12/09 entry?) shot while we were cooking for them. Yesterday we had all my sisters over at our house and had dinner with "boeuf aux carottes" (I added the recipe to the "gourmet for lazy cooks" page) and an delicious "creme citrone" Renate prepared according to Anne-Marie's recipe.

We already miss Berlin. Our favorite films (besides Bright Star) were The Golden Coach from Jean Renoir and Festen from Thomas Vinterberg (both shown in the Arsenal). We liked Soul Kitchen and it was uplifting to see the large crowd before the cinema. We also saw a preview of The Visitor the new Thomas McCarthy (Station Agent) movie - a gem of a film. Don't miss it! We ended the movie year with re-watching Whatever Works the ideal good spirit New Years Eve movie.

More to read in the 2009 archive

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