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2011 blog entries:

Berlin (1) 31.08.2011

Editorial
Getting lazy with my blog - I know! Hardly can sleep at night! Although I I finally disovered the beauty of PHP and redesigned the whole site including the comment handling using this language.
I have still Sabrina's criticism in mind: Too many topics and nothing deep and no details! I have always tried to think of something worthwhile for this page since but it's never ever substantial enough.
I'm getting older and I give a s*** (we saw "I'm still here" and got an overdose of s*** and f*** I just have to get rid of some of them - sorry) and just jabber along and give you some Berlin bits and pieces.

Berlin Countryside
Two weeks in Berlin is a real treat and when the sommer is hot and the city an oven, just pack you swimming suit and your BVG ticket and ride to one of Berlin's beautiful lakes.

Müggelsee mit BVG

We went to the Schlachtensee (only lake I know having a train station) and to the even more bucolic big Müggelsee in the very east of Berlin. Beer gardens at the waterfront, sandy beaches, and BVG is running ferries on the lake (all included in your weekly ticket).

Cinemas

Coming back from Schlachtensee just get off the train in Zehlendorf and right next to the station there is a wonderful art house cinema. What can be a better ending for a day at the beach than watching a movie?

Bali Kino Berlin Zehlendorf

Another of our favorite cinemas situated at the border between Kreuzberg and Neukölln is the oldest still operating Cinema in Germany (founded 1907). My guess is that it was different in 1907. today it's a small 3-screen-arthouse cinema with a wonderful variety of films - often in original version.

Moviemento Berlin Kreuzberg

Shakespeare in the Park

Henry IV adaptedand rewritten for Berlin summer days in the park.

Shakespeare im Görlitzer Park

Spare your New York ticket - Shakespeare in the park is a regular summer event in Berlin too. We finally discovered the beauty of the Görlitzer Park and its surounding Kiez.
Check out their site Shakespeare im Park Berlin and put this on your ToDo list of the next Berlin visit.

Shakespeare im Görlitzer Park Click on a picture to watch more scenes from Henry VI in the park.


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Lisbon Diary (3) 22.06.2011

Without So Many Words - Lisboa Impressions

Pictures last row and above left from Miguel Palma Linha de Montagem (Exhibition in Centro de Arte Moderna, Lisboa)


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Lisbon Diary (2) 19.06.2011

The Good Deal

This is what we eat each day at least once for a starter. It's called green soup and it goes usually for 1 Euro. A good sized carafe with red or white house wine (about 5) and all in all the two of us end up with a good 3 course meal between 20 and 30 EUR.
I don't know how to solve the financial crisis of the European Union but from a single tax payer's prospective I consider spending the vacation in Portugal to be a good size return on my share of financing the bail out.
Would I have to guess an travelers spending index I would set Paris @ 100, Berlin @ 50 and Lissabon @ 25.

The Best Deal

We are strange tourists. Wherever we are we either walk the streets, sit in cafés reading, eat in restaurants (preferably with outdoor seating), and most importantly we sit in the dark rooms of the art house cinemas diving into the history of film.
There are no art house cinemas to speak of in Lisbon and the regular ones are mostly in malls. A ticket there is almost cheap with 6.30 EUR but what annoys us are the 7 minutes intermissions in every film - usually when the story really got you on and the audience is gluing in their seats: film stops, lights on, and you are supposed to visit the refreshment stand!

But then we found the Cinemateca Portuguesa which is just a paradise for cineastes. 3 films a day for 2.50 a ticket, a great auditorium with stadium seating, a perfect projection and ... no intermission!

This gets you really into a Paris / Berlin feeling. Then you wander the hills open-mouthed, facing one of the most beautiful cities on earth, stumble over the Goethe Institut, check out the Goethe garden and there - under cooling trees with a fresh Portugesian wine you eat Curry Wurst for lunch. Then finally you have reached the peak! By the way: the Curry Wurst was delicious and couldn't have been better in Berlin.

Surprises

What happens when there is a fair in your town? Probablly like everywhere they build up the stands and amusement stuff in a secluded area. Some parking spaces are gone but otherwise the holy trafic won't be disturbed. Lisbon is different. They shut down the main avenue of the city and change it into an vegetable garden as we speak. Same thing last weekend. When we arrived, the San Antonio festival was in preparation and the bus driver just stopped and threw us out: "road closed". We walked half a mile to our hotel but that was a nice beginning anyway.

What happens when a shop opens in your town? Huge billboards, Champagne and gifts for the curious customers to be, at the best some average band playing along. Lisbon is different! Walking to our restaurant at night we wondered about the opera music filling the streets. A look around the corner and we saw the picture above. Opera singers and acrobats at the wall ... an incredible spectacle. On the other hand where do you find shops like these:



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Lisbon Diary (1) 15.06.2011

East

>

When I was a young boy - not really young, just the age when you start smoking and behaving funny - nobody of us believed in a life after the turn to the 21st century. Now - a decade later - an old dream got true: Lisbon! Here we are!

Two days we were just walking and wa(o)ndering, the map volunteering only part of the truth: How to get from A to B is one thing but what it takes in terms of climbing and breathing another one. With younger eyes, maybe you see and read the little lines representing stairs but we were letting chance guide us the first two days anyway. More to the East at first and to the West later on. Something that catches your eye: The East is poor the West is rich. Not in an Parisian sense (nowhere - except in the grandess of some public buildings - you'll find the elegance of Paris) but more like the scattered beauty of Berlin - although more ancient and incredibly charming. East and West seems the European division of social status, which in the US cities mostly is a North and South contrast.

West



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Vital Matters (1): Do we need audio guides? 16.05.2011
Mirja presents Claudio's audio guide adventures Click on the picture to watch the clip (3:00 min)

Museums have changed quite a bit since my childhood days: now there are cafes, shops, and most importantly audio guides. I not a museum goer, I prefer the cinema: you can sit, pictures come to you, and you don't have to walk. Therefore I consider the cafe the best feature in a modern museum. You have a cozy place for drinking coffee, reading, and waiting patiently till your folks arrive.

Apparently I'm not the expert for audio guides, used them probably twice in my life (but at the Kiefer exhibition in Paris the audio guide was great indeed - lots of poetry and other original recordings developing the background of the monumental show). Why then audio guides as the first entry of a vital matters series (not sure there will be a second one .... just trying to get me going by assigning indices to blog topics)?

As so often it's a case of family business. When MC came back from Vienna the usual picture show was scheduled and in the middle of art & architecture & history a hilarious little video clip fascinated me. Mirja the comedian - truely a serendipity ... and a good reason to write a blog about nothing in order to be able to show the clip.
I will leave it to my two regular commentators to bring expertise into the subject while I'm waiting for step of evolution: cell phone tours (powered by Wikipedia) and the final challenge: the GPS tour. Recently, the Economist magazine stated that "aiming such services at tourists makes sense—since people are more likely to want information when in an unfamiliar place." All about family - QED

Anselm Kiefer's “Falling Stars” exhibition at Grand Palais, Paris


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02.05.2011 Movie Diary (1)
Liliom, Augsburg

Vacation time is movie time! You can easily spot the school breaks with an glance on my movie diary statistics - unless we end up in movie deserts like the Toscana or an North Sea island. Daily routine will kick in tomorrow and it's a race against time to keep the one-and-a-half ideas stuck in my head. While staying in Augsburg my enemies (as Renate calls Udo's computers I try to keep running) prevented me from writing along.

Film supply lasted just to our final day. "Mother and Child" (the Rodrigo Garcia movie) was the final one - an engineered truth-about-life movie we better would have missed. A rare case of Renate getting angry about a film.
Augsburg - before it slips my mind - has one of the most beautiful theaters in Germany. The Liliom (photo above) built above a Lech canal with an inviting Biergarten has a wonderful ambience.

I finally saw my first film in 3D even though I hate 3D (whoever remembers the 1954 masterpiece 'Creature From the Black Lagoon' in black and white knows why), but I guess you have to see Wim Wenders' Pina in the original version. I tell you what: subtitles are really great in 3D but I couldn't get rid of the feeling looking at a - admittedly giant - doll house.

Next day back in our habitual art house cinema, first row (the screens usually are small there) I realized something: Sitting in the 3rd row is just like 3D: you get absorbed into the movie, your are carried away from reality and immersed into the film, and - best of all - you need no glasses. I told Renate my revelation; "don't tell anyone" was her response "movie theaters are dependent on 3D nowadays!". I promised but, I think I can tell you - part of the small, elitist community of three visiting this site - without damaging the industry.

Last but not least: The real three dimensional experience was the video installation of Isaac Julien's Ten Thousand Waves at the Brandhorst museum in Munich. The dilettantish snap shot can't show the revelation you experience watching the film on 9 screens.

Watching Isaac Julien – TEN THOUSAND WAVES in Munich


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03.04.2011 Marius Conquers the Web
Rocketmen Click for having fun Rick Rocket Watch the origin of Rocketmen

A tidal wave is running through the net and a huge crowd of comic fans all is firing up its browsers, smart phones, ipads or whatever means it takes to tune into Marius' new comic strip series 'Rocketmen'.
Why then for heavens sake does it need to be promoted on this site?
Firstly the small fine crowd of the 7 visitors (a month!) to the Winter's Web doesn't follow the comic hype, don't even know it exists.
Secondly they would miss out on an important contribution to the Meaning of (virtual) Life. We just owe it to our mission filling in this gap for our precious audience.

Mission Debit Board I love the digital debit board - must be a reference to his father in law (me): his controller past always present. Financial crisis in the comic universe.

It all began with the wonderful little flash movie "Rick Rocket", Marius did about 2 years ago. It's a fairy tale about the brutality of technological progress. The lonely fight of a Low Quality David against the dictatorship of High Quality Goliath.
I still remember the old DOS games I installed for the kids on our first PC where even a kindergarten child could have counted the pixels on the screen. Remember "Gorilla" or the insatiable snake getting longer and longer and only the kids were able to navigate it around?



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Demo Second Generation - Guest Blog From Claudio 27.03.2011
Anti-Atomkraft-Demo Berlin 26.03.2011

Click on the picture to see for 1:24 min how we saw the Berlin Demo 26.03.2011 - Sorry for the finger in the upper left hand corner.

Finally: Mirja and I managed to go the the Arsenal Film Museum - but not for a movie. Alexander had invited us and a few friends to come along for the "walk against nuclear power" (if that is the right name). He suggested to meet at the Film Museum - which was a great idea since our group consisted mostly of film-makers - but getting through the crowd to that meeting point turned out to be an adventure of its own.

At first, I had have some reservations about the event because the umbrella organization of the event "ausgestrahlt" mentions on its website that it wants all nuclear power plants to go off line right away. In my view, this demand is Utopian and to a certain extend could actually harm the legitimate movement because it sort of discredits more realistic aims like "do everything we can to get out as soon as possible."

But the night before, mom sent us an email stating basically that doing something is better than doing nothing at all. And she was right: as you can see in the pictures and the video, the protest did not consist of environmental hardliners and Utopians but instead was a very colorful array of people of all ages and concerns (not to mention the striking number of small children and even babies - wearing ear-protection, thank god - possibly on the verge of being instrumentalized by their parents for political causes they can't yet understand ;). Sure, many minor political parties and "Die Grünen" did not miss the opportunity to use the event as a platform for advertisement (as you can hear on the video) - but all in all, if my individual impression is right, the walk was dominated by people who simply wanted to express their concern.

Nonetheless, simply walking against nuclear power doesn't by itself change anything. So I decided to add one more item to my already over-crowded "To Do List" for the semester break: finally switch to green electricity...



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The Digital Rabbit 25.03.2011
Rabbit at rest

No, it's not Dürer's famous woodcut in color but Karl's first digital photo copied from his zillion of slides he shot at the analog age of photography. We were thinking about setting up another theme page for him showing nothing but mushrooms. the Spessart, our deep, wonderful, and mystical forest next door, is abound with mushrooms.
Karl was desperate: If only I could transform my slides (having an abundance of mushroom pics in the archive) into digital photos! It took him only a couple of hours to realize that he already has an attachment for copying slides to paper which he now can use for slide to digital.
The first test run of this you can see to your left.
When you want to submerge into Karl's wonderful world of nature (or: And now something completely different, as Monty Python would phrase it) visit Karl's section on this site and look forward to the mushroom page - coming soon in a site dear you.



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Tangled Up In Blue 23.03.2011
Blizzard in Lohr Winter in Lohr 01
Richard caught in the foto trap

Emerging from a black hole - or was is it a time warp bringing me back on the blog after more than four months? On the other hand there are such amenities like hibernation bringing us through this snow laden Winter. I bet Karl catching me in the camera trap caused this ... at least it would be a nice story: Me, time warping into the spring by a mysterious device used to catch extraterrestrial gatherings in the dark Spessart (see Phantome im Spessart ).

End of last year our wonderful teacher (over 50 years ago he planted the seeds for Bob Dylan, Salinger, Jewish literature, theater, philosophy), mentor and friend Christian Schwarz died. Fighting his malady year after year we just thought he will live and live despite his condition.
Confined to bed he reworked the Salinger articles published on this site last year ... 2 still waiting for publishing.
He will live in and with us or - to use Dylan's dialectic - may you stay forever young.

    Christian Schwarz  


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