05 November 2008


Image by Michael Buchino

01 November 2008

Love Sucks

It's not that I'm too lazy to write proper blog posts these days, I'm just kind of busy. Not too busy, however, to scour YouTube to find replacement material.

So next up for your viewing pleasure is a short film from France that nearly broke my heart the first time I saw it (about a year ago).

It's truly amazing what a talented filmmaker can do in three minutes and fifty-four seconds.

31 October 2008

A Hockey Mom I Could Hang With

Aside from the terror and rage that the McCain/Palin ticket unleashed among thinking people, it inspired an incredible creative response as well. Like this:


30 October 2008

FPOTUS Barack Obama


Seriously, there is no contest here. The fact that there's the semblance of one says far more about some American voters than it does about Barack Obama.

23 October 2008

The Best Coffee Commercials EVER ...

... or Why I Love the Internet Part 47,859

Someone with way too much time on her hands compiled the Nescafe Gold/Taster's Choice commercials from late Eighties/early Nineties into one fabulous clip. I remember being completely caught up in the relationship that played out over the course of these ads, and watching the compilation now I realize I definitely missed a few. Ah well, such is the beauty of YouTube.

I don't think a campaign like this could work today, given the slow luxurious nature of the individual ads themselves, as well as the unhurried approach of the concept itself. I just can't imagine a pitch being made today for an advertising campaign in which a couple falls in love over the course of a few years in a eleven 45-second spots. But what do I know? Maybe this was as hard to pitch in 1987 as it would be today.

In any case, finding this compilation was like seeing an old friend again: glorious.


09 October 2008

Frankfurt International Book Fair

Ahhhhhh ... the book people ...

Eichborn Stand 2007

Okay, I'm off to one of my favorite events on the planet and will be back here in a couple weeks.

06 October 2008

Goat "Condoms" and "Whore" Miles

The olor is a device being used by herdsmen in Kenya to prevent goats from mating during the drought. When I saw the headline for the BBC story, other images than device actually being used popped into my head. In fact, it's less of a condom than it is a kind of chastity belt, but I suppose "Goat Chastity Belt" takes up too much space. In any case, it's an ingenious device and seems to be 100% effective.

As for the story in the Independent about "whore" miles being employed by the Dutch as an incentive to ease women out of prostitution and into other forms of work, I doubt this strategy will offer the same efficacy. It's not that the scheme is bad per se–though it does strike me as a bit naive–but until the demand for prostitution dries up, prostitutes aren't going anywhere. It really is that simple.

There's a reason it's called the "oldest profession."

05 October 2008


A lot of my friends are sad because summer is over and autumn is here. Well, autumn happens to be my favorite time of year. On a very selfish level, it always represented a new school year, which meant shiny new school supplies and the best clothes (wool!!); new teachers who didn't yet know what a pain in the ass I could be; and my birthday, which was the one day that I could get away with thinking that the world truly revolved around me.

I grew up with seasons and I think they're important in underscoring the fact that existence is organized around the cycles of life, death, and rebirth. So here's to fall and its very special beauty.

Böckhstraße, Kreuzberg

01 October 2008

And now a Word about Dubbing...


No, seriously. I really hate dubbed* films and television programs, which is a bit unfortunate for me since I now live in a country in which foreign-language films are almost exclusively dubbed rather than subtitled.**

German Trailer for House of Flying Daggers

Aside from the cultural implications of watching a Chinese film set in 859 AD, in which everyone seems to be remarkably fluent in German, there is something disembodying (and creepy) about separating performers from their voices. For instance, one of my friends thinks that Brad Pitt and George Clooney are really hot, and I have another friend who is crazy about John Malkovich. Well these women have no idea how hot these men truly are because they've never heard their real voices. To German ears they sound like this:

German Trailer for Burn after Reading

Well ladies, this one's for you:

US Trailer for Burn after Reading

(Okay, to be fair, trying to spot Brad Pitt's hotness behind that haircut is a challenge, but I think you get my point.)

Furthermore, there aren't that many dubbing actors, so after a while Daniel Craig sounds just like Tom Cruise, who sounds just like Javier Bardem. And it's probably best to skip entirely what happens to black American actors in the dubbing arena. Aaaarrrrggghhh!!!

My voice is just as much a part of me as my face, my body, and my mannerisms. To open my mouth and hear another woman's voice would be unthinkable for me, and for anybody else for that matter. Yet, when I refuse to go see dubbed films and insist on either the original-language version or a German film, my friends get annoyed. They seem to assume that films are dubbed everywhere and that I should be used to it. Well I know that at least in the US and the UK they are not. Going to see a foreign film in either of those countries means reading subtitles. This revelation is sometimes met with disbelief, particularly in the case of the US, where it is assumed that we are generally too stupid to read ... as if stupid people are going to art house cinemas to watch foreign films.


When a foreign-language film is marketed in the US or the UK, sometimes there is no dialogue featured in the trailer--just music and/or a voiceover:

US Trailer for Pan's Labyrinth

But if there's dialogue, it is subtitled. Yes, even in a trailer:

US Trailer for The Lives of Others

Can you imagine how completely unrealistic and jarring that would have been with North American English coming out of those mouths? I can't and am really happy that I don't have to, either.

To be perfectly honest, I am quite lucky in Berlin. There are several venues that feature the films in the original versions or with German subtitles. So I can't complain too much. Still, when I'm listening to the film magazine on my favorite radio station, I have to switch it off. It drives me crazy when they feature a segment on Hollywood films, like the one this morning on Burn after Reading. After describing how great the performances are, they played a few audio clips. I don't know who those people were, but they sure weren't Pitt, Clooney, Malkovich, and the rest of the cast.

Well, at least not as I know them.

*The term in Germany is synchronized.
**In the interest of fairness, however, here's a link to a short article on the Goethe Institute website about the history of dubbing in Germany.

29 September 2008

I've Got the Music in Me

What a truly glorious thing it is to wake up singing. Particularly if that music is really only coming from your own head.

That's what happened to me this morning. I don't have a radio or a stereo; my MacBook takes care of all of my music requirements at the moment. Yet at 8:00 this morning I woke up singing the New Radicals, having used their hit, "You Get What You Give" as the soundtrack to a dream I was having. Actually, the song was the focus of the dream. I was being sent on an errand in a sparsely populated high school and it slowly dawned on me that to the extent that there were any students and teachers in the classrooms, they were all listening to the same song. And NOT because it was being piped in through any PA system. I actually watched one teacher put the LP (no, not CD) on the turntable and cue the song to the exact spot being played around the school. Weird, huh?

I'm not sure what any of that means, but I have to say that it was a wonderful thing to wake up singing; and not just any song, but a youth anthem about being true to yourself. The fact that I'm a long way from youth doesn't matter. Old or young, we all need to embrace--at least for four and a half minutes--the feel-good notion that joy comes with having the courage to follow our dreams.

And that today happens to be my birthday, I think the dream is the universe's special way of extending greetings and good wishes. Or whatever. I just know that I was really happy when I woke up singing.

27 September 2008

Enough Already

Even before I read this thoughtful piece by Coates, I had come to the realization that I had well and truly had my fill of bashing Sarah Palin on Facebook. There was something so incredibly painful about watching those interviews with Katie Couric that has caused me to redirect my rage to where it clearly belongs--with John McCain. She is so in over her well-coiffed head that it's not fun anymore; it's on its way to being a national disaster of epic proportions, brought on by an unprincipled political move stunning in its baseness.

That said, Coates is a bit more generous in his assessment of Palin that I am prepared to be, but I get where he's coming from. Well done.

26 September 2008

Sleeping Pilots Reinstated

According to an article on the BBC website, two pilots who fell asleep on a short-haul flight in February of this year "have been cleared to return to work."

WTF? ... BOTH pilots fell asleep 44 minutes into a 45-minute flight?!! Seriously? One apparently has a sleeping disorder, but the other one? No, really, both of them fell asleep at the same time on such a short flight? Aside from the fact that I'm highly skeptical about the official explanation given, there's a much bigger issue here.

Flying is hardly any fun since 9/11. I'm not referring to any fear I may or may not have of terrorists, I'm thinking of the ridiculous and stress-inducing security hoops one has to endure just to get on a plane. By the time I am cleared to fly, I have been grilled about the circumstances surrounding the packing of my bags, the contents of said bags have been checked, I have removed my footwear, my jewelry, and my belt, I have opened my computer, and I have had my body felt up and patted down. And depending on who you are and where you're flying, once you land you may have also had your eyeballs scanned, fingerprints taken, and your information sent off to some government database ... whether you like it or not. All in all, a series of events over which you have absolutely no say or recourse if you want to fly.

Well here's one for the airlines and the National Transportation Safety Board: while they're trying to make sure that I am not terrorist, they should also try figuring out if their pilots have trouble staying awake for 45 minutes on a f**cking short-haul flight.

Look, I have resigned myself to the reality that flying is less pleasant than it used to be. But when I read stories like this one, my head explodes. After going through demoralizing secruity mazes to establish that we are fit to fly, we are then forced to trust that the airlines themselves are. Passengers work under the assumption that the airlines have thoroughly screened their crews.* Ha!

And while it's obviously not safe to make that assumption any longer, there doesn't appear to be anything that passengers can do about it. I mean, do you think that flight information will ever include tidbits like:

This flight will be piloted by Captain Blah Blah, who has a sleeping disorder. Those of you not comfortable taking this flight will be switched to a different flight.

No, I don't think so either.

But perhaps airline passengers have more power than they think. They've certainly had many "suspicious-looking" types removed from flights because they didn't feel comfortable flying with them, and recently passengers on a German flight refused to fly after the pilot tried to take off twice with a plane experiencing technical difficulties. Perhaps change comes through actions like the one in Germany, where passengers simply take a stand.

So maybe the next time I'm checking in for a flight and answering all of their questions, I'll pose one of my own:

Does the pilot of this flight have any health issues that might hinder his ability to fly?

Or maybe not ...

*And their planes.

24 September 2008


There are only two black farmers in Britain? Seriously?

(Courtesy of The Independent)

Then no wonder that poor brother keeps getting hassled by the cops for stealing from his own field. I think it's time David Mwanaka introduced himself to his neighbors ... at least so that he can get his harvesting done without constantly being hassled. That said, his neighbors have probably seen him on TV or in the papers by now, so perhaps it's a non-issue. And the police ... they should definitely know by now, right? I mean, how many times do they have to go to the same farm before they sort it out?

But really, only two?


Swastikas ... in England

What the hell is going on in Somerset?

Okay, to be fair these idiots came from all over Europe for a weekend tribute to Ian Stuart Donaldson, the former vocalist for Skrewdriver, but they managed to gather in Red Hill in Somerset with no apparent difficulty. How is that possible? And how on earth is it possible that I can see the swastikas and hear the "Sieg Heils" in the video, while the pub owners--who were there--can claim that they did not? The folks in Red Hill need to send a clear signal to the pub owners that clientele of that sort won't be tolerated in the future.

I feel sorry for the family who made the video. I think that looking out of my window and seeing racist skinheads urinating in my garden would probably make me flee my house in fear, too. But were they too scared to call the police or was that just seen as a waste of time? There's no mention of the police in the story, except by the pub owner who says that she will cooperate with the police if there's an inquiry. Way to step up ... hardly.

Having spent a few years living in the UK, I am witness to the fact that there is hardly a week that goes by in which some television program about the Third Reich and its horrors isn't featured. Given the Second World War's devastating impact on Britain, it's really inconceivable to think that Swastikas--and the filth who carry them--would be tolerated there. Seriously, WTF?

If that's what free speech means, then it's a highly overrated concept.

23 September 2008

Happy Birthday Romy!

Romy Schneider is one of my favorite actresses, and today would have been her 70th birthday. In tribute, here's a scene from Le Vieux Fusil with the great Philippe Noiret.

12 September 2008

Baby High Heels

Every time I think I've heard/seen it all, I am reminded (and usually rather painfully) that I have not. The latest assault on my sanity comes in the form of high heels for babies. There's not a lot to say about this except that it's just WRONG and DISGUSTING.

Oh, and that I am officially NOT friends with anyone who thinks that baby high heels are cool or funny. Consider yourselves warned.

09 September 2008

Watch out Condi...

...not too much moaning about the absence of black faces at the State Department or they'll be calling you an "angry black woman," too...

08 September 2008

And THIS is why I hate zoos

I haven't been to a zoo since the summer of 1986, when I saw a polar bear in the San Antonio zoo who was incredibly thin and looked to be suffering from heat stroke. I can appreciate the idea behind zoos, but seriously WTF should a polar bear be doing in San Antonio TEXAS in the middle of the summer?

And now this??

Apparently there's algae in the water where polar bears in a Japanese zoo frolic:

(AP Photo/Kyodo News, Shuzo Shikano)

According to the article, things should return to normal in November "when the algae growth subsides." And even if that's true, it's still wrong.


07 September 2008

THIS is why I love the internet

Respect to the geniuses who put this together!

The World According to Inez

Okay, I've been away. It was summer and I was waiting for my residency/work permit, chilling, working, and learning to ride my bike. I was also exploring my neighborhood, knitting, drinking a lot of coffee, hanging out with old friends, and making new ones. In short, I've been busy.

But I'm back, and just in time to publicly record my descent into madness, which I am entirely blaming on the US presidential campaign. Okay, I really think it's specifically Sarah Palin's fault, but more about that later. Since I'm an expatriate, I suppose it could be argued that I shouldn't give a shit ... nevertheless, I would advise you not to try to argue that to my face. Just sayin.

In fact, I am actually surprised by how much I seem to care and quite shocked by how enraged I was by the Republican Convention. I've been ranting and raving for days and as a result my poor roommate has a few additions to his extensive English vocabulary that I hope he'll NEVER have to use. Yikes! So yeah, I'm back and before I start with the hateration, I'll offer a few pics of that glorious summer day when I bought my bike (Miss Marple) and tried to see Obama ... with a couple hundred thousand other folks.

Miss Marple

Through the Brandenburg Tor on the way to the Siegessäule

Braving the crowd with Silke and Till

As close as we could get

The speech wasn't THAT amazing, but I had a great time and the crowd was fun. There was even a McCain supporter there.

Here's hoping that he's looking as forlorn and ridiculous on November 5 as he does here.

15 May 2008


I've finally uploaded my first contributions to YouTube. Of course they have to do with Berlin. The first one is a clip from the May 1 celebration in Krezberg.

The quality was much better in the original, but the file was too large. I'll figure it all out sooner or later.

The second clip is from the Karneval der Kulturen last weekend.

Apparently, I have a thing for drumming...

Thanks to Silke who shot the second clip for me because I was too short.

07 May 2008

Cheap, Easy, and Delicious

Finally, the sun is shining in Berlin and I can take advantage of my little balcony. This is precisely what I did today, as I potted some basil and then made a delicious insalata caprese. I don't know if it's possible to come up with another meal that's as delicious and ridiculously easy to prepare.


After, Part I (with olive oil)

After, Part II (with balsamic vinegar)

Not pictured: the baguette used to make sure I got every drop of the sauce.

01 May 2008

What does it say about my sense of humor...

that I find this hysterical?

"Morbid" springs to mind...

30 April 2008


In honor of the mini-revolution that takes place in Berlin each year on May 1, I offer Gil Scott-Heron.

Since May 1 in Berlin is always televised, it must mean that nothing revolutionary happens. Wannabe anarchists burn cars and throw rocks at the police, while the police crack them on their heads if they get close enough. Then it's over again until next year. So predictable, it's almost as if it's scripted.

Still, it's nice to imagine a May 1 when something profound actually happens...

27 April 2008

Thriller Inmates Now a Popular Tourist Attraction

And why not?

Previously discussed on one of my blog entries last year, those dancing prisoners in the Philippines have apparently become a tourist attraction. According to Reuters,

At the end of the two hour program, which is held the last Saturday of every month, visitors can have their pictures taken with the prisoners. They can also buy souvenir prison shirts.

If you can think of a better reason to go to the Philippines, I'd like to hear it.

22 April 2008

Funny Games

It was summer 1999 and I was living in Park Slope and working on my MA in Film and Media Studies. I was wandering around the Foreign Films section of Tower Video in the East Village, when I came across Funny Games. I had seen a preview for the film on some other video I had rented, and thought that it might be a wild ride. It was also a German-language film, which is always a good way to practice listening-comprehension skills. Whatever. I took it home.

Wild ride my ass. Funny Games was a complete and total skullf**k.

I watched it repeatedly that weekend, then tried to force everyone I knew to watch it, too. I shudder now to think how some of them must have scurried in the opposite direction when they saw me coming, to avoid hearing me go on and on (yet again) about Michael Haneke's masterpiece.

I first heard about the remake a couple years ago, and my first thought would have been, "What kind of fuckery is this?" had Amy Winehouse been out back then, but she wasn't. So my actual response was denial, since I was loath to process such a ridiculous piece of information. My previous experience with a European director going to Hollywood to remake (and seriously f**k up) his own film was George Sluizer, who directed The Vanishing. Just thinking about that mess he made with Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland, and Nancy Travis gives me a headache. The brilliance of the Dutch version is the absolute horror of the ending. Desperate to know the fate that befell his missing lover, the protagonist unwittingly allows himself to suffer the same fate. Thus, his end is all the more chilling, and The Vanishing (OV) remains one of the most quietly terrifying films I have ever seen.

The Hollywoodification of that film lies somewhere in the belief that Americans need happy endings. This is perhaps true, and if so, very telling. As the conventional wisdom goes, the folks who flock to the multiplexes for entertainment, aren't there to see their heroes fail. And since Hollywood doesn't make films to lose money, the multiplex crowd must be kept as happy as possible. This wasn't always the case, but to save me the trouble of explaining why the movie industry in the US began to suck after the phenomenal success of Jaws, buy a copy of Easy Riders and Raging Bulls: How the How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, by Peter Biskind.

In any case, I digress...

I checked out the trailer for the new version of Funny Games and from what I can see, it sucks.

While it does appear (at least from the trailer) to be a shot-by-shot reconstruction of the original, Naomi Watts is not going to go where Susanne Lothar went in this role, and the places she does go are problematic. As for the Tim Roth-Ulrich Mühe comparison, there is none. Look, I know I'm being unfair, but that's the way it is. If you've seen it and disagree (but only if you've seen the original at least twenty times as well) drop me a line and let me know.

As for future remake madness, I will continue to pretend that I didn't read this article in the Guardian last year that claims that The Lives of Others is going to be remade. Apparently, Americans are too stupid to read subtitles, so the entire film has to be remade. In terms of the Americanization of this film I'm sure they could add a scene featuring Ronald Reagan in front of the Brandenburg Gate imploring Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."


On the bright side, however, it appears that Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck won't be tasked with screwing up his own film. That job has apparently been given to Sidney Pollack.

18 April 2008

Sometimes all I need is The Clash

Please don't ever let me get so drunk that I...

...fail to notice that one of my drinking buddies has stabbed me in the back with a kitchen knife.

I especially loved this line:

"We were drinking and what doesn't happen when you're drunk?" he was quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda as saying.

I guess this is what is meant by Russian Drunk.

17 April 2008

The Wallace and Gromit Effect

There's a story on the BBC website this morning about a five-year-old boy named Sam, who has received a patent for a double-headed broom. Inspired by Wallace and Gromit, Sam came up with the idea as he watched his Dad sweeping leaves. According to Sam,

I saw my Daddy brushing up and made it. There are two brushes because one gets the big bits and one gets the little bits left behind.

What's really stunning here, is that Sam was only three when he created his invention. As fate would have it Sam's dad is a patent lawyer. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

14 April 2008

The Subprime Mortgage Crisis

If you are inclined to explore the causes of the subprime mortgage crisis, you will undoubtedly be confronted with a complex tale of high-risk borrowers, mortgage-backed securities, and collateralized debt obligations.

In fact, all you really need to know is that the crisis now choking the globe was brought about by a bunch of greedy bastards (GBs), who thought that it was a good idea to lend lots of money to people with poor credit, often without verifying the income of the borrowers. Betting that the housing market would continue to rise, the borrowers and the GBs were then f**ked when the housing market began to fall in 2006: the borrowers because they were losing equity (which they could get on appreciating mortgages even if they weren't able to pay the principal monthly), thus making it impossible to refinance; and the GBs because the borrowers began to default to the tune of billions of dollars.

Of course the story is FAR more complex than this, but as I was "researching" this post I read that Bush's economic stimulus package might offer me a tax rebate, so I gotta go do my taxes...

If I do get a rebate I promise to buy something to stimulate the US economy and not the German one.

10 April 2008

Raising Girls vs Raising Boys

This post is dedicated to my brother, who became a father last August...

There was a scene in a film I saw last night, in which the father pressed a condom into the hand of his seventeen-year-old son and virtually pushed him out of the car to go meet his date. [That the son was a seventeen-year-old pedophile and not really interested in the lovely young woman waiting for him, was a detail the father was trying desperately to remedy.]

In any case, my mind's eye attempted to fastforward to some bizarre future where my brother would be pressing a condom into his daughter's seventeen-year-old hand, encouraging her to "have fun" and "not to worry about coming home."

At this point I felt my brain starting to melt, so I quit.

05 April 2008

Happy Birthday Bette!

Trying to find a clip to honor Bette Davis on what would have been her 100th birthday wasn't easy. It's not that there weren't clips available, quite the contrary. The difficulty was in choosing between a clip from one of her films or an interview clip. Each had its merits, but I finally settled on an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in which she discusses kissing scenes in Hollywood. The mind reels...

I'm loving the short black dress and the black boots. Ms. Davis was fierce!

04 April 2008

The Mountaintop

Chillingly prophetic given that he was assassinated the next day. That aside, it remains an incredible testament to the oratory power he possessed.

What a man...

02 April 2008

Old Women and Young Men: TV vs. Real Life

I was sitting in my favorite cafe this afternoon (no surprise there), when a thirty-something year-old man came in and sat at the table next to mine. I glanced at him when I noticed that the waitress put on a big smile when she took him the menu. Yes, he was handsome, well dressed, and seemed nice enough. He ordered and I went back to concentrating on the manuscript I'm currently editing. About thirty minutes later, a woman in her mid to late fifties came in and joined the man at his table. The waitress stopped smiling.

The woman, who wasn't German but perhaps eastern European, was very attractive and also well dressed. The only problem was her hair, which was [dyed] jet black, a bit too long, and seemed to be teased. No, really. I thought women stopped teasing their hair a long time ago. But what do I know, right?

In any case, she seemed happy to see him, and he seemed bored. To make a long story short, everything about that encounter--from the body language to the conversation--screamed that she was the weak partner in the power struggle otherwise known as a "romantic relationship." There was even an extremely painful moment (for me, at least) when she leaned over his food so that he would have to look her in the eye. Ouch. I actually gave her the quizzical eye, which was meant to communicate: "Okay, he's cute, but he ain't all that. Pull yourself together!" After which they moved to a more private corner at the other side of the cafe. She even said as they were going to the other table: "So we don't disturb you anymore." Tja, was kann man machen?

Well this got me thinking about a melodrama I saw on TV Monday night. [Yeah, I know what you're thinking: no TV watching in the US, but melodramas on German TV?? It's a transnational media studies thing. Seriously...] In this particular film, a beautiful, but somewhat shy fifty-year-old woman goes to spend the summer in Paris teaching literature at La Sorbonne.

The Woman

She stays in what must be the most beautiful pension in the world (thus, clearly beyond the budget of any adjunct lecturer I know), and is drawn into a relationship with the Russian author in the adjacent room, who happens to be about twenty years younger than she is.

The Man

When the two of them first meet, he has a girlfriend who lives with him in the pension and is a hair stylist.

The Girlfriend

They invite the woman to dinner and the man insists that his girlfriend cuts the woman's hair; the plan of course is to update her rather dowdy look.

Well, after a while the girlfriend goes back to Russia and the man and the woman begin an affair. Of course she is torn because: she can't give him kids; she thinks that he'll dump her for a younger woman; he's always making decisions for her; the girlfriend comes back from Russia and calls her old; and so on and so forth. Unlike the guy in the cafe this afternoon, however, this man is clearly into his old babe and goes to superhuman efforts to convince her that his love is for real and that he deserves a chance.

The Couple

Making all of this easier, of course, is the fact that both of them are really beautiful, she gets a contract to stay in Paris and teach, his book is a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and she has the support of her family, who thinks that the man is really good for her. Beyond all of that, of course, they are in the City of Love.

The City of Berlin, however, seems a bit hard on lovers, though I am perhaps reading too much into the experience of the couple in the cafe. We'll see...

Gotta go. A Tatort rerun is on...

Note: The pics are my shots of the TV screen.

01 April 2008

Blogroll: My Gayest Look

Hilarious response to Jay Leno, who appears to be an idiot.

Hauptstadt Graffiti

Berlin is famous for its graffiti, and there's so much of it that it just becomes part of the landscape. Occasionally, however, some stuff catches my eye...

(Translation: I want to live today, not tomorrow.)

31 March 2008


is incomprehensible. Really bizarre. Completely bonkers.

Just sayin'...


This is the first film I remember seeing. It was 1965. My mom was on a date at the drive-in theater and I was meant to be asleep in the back of her Rambler station wagon. I wasn't, which became clear to my mom and her date, when peeking from beneath my blanket I saw the dead naked lady painted in gold. Ah, childhood memories...

In any case, Goldfinger remains a very special favorite...and so does Shirley Bassey.

29 March 2008

Dutch Filmmaking

I'm a bit suspicious of films made by politicians; right-wing politicians even more so. Fitna, by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, seems designed purely to provoke. I haven't seen it and have no plans to see it, so perhaps I'm being unfair. Whatever.

In fact, I feel quite lucky that last night I saw another film, which I am pleased to offer as a more fitting example of Dutch filmmaking. Released in 2006 and directed by Kate Brown, Absolutely Positive tells the story of Dennis, who is 16 years old and HIV-positive. As the film begins, Dennis has just moved in with his aunt following his mother's death (AIDS-related suicide). He is an outsider in his new high school and anyone who has ever been in high school, HIV-positive or not, can relate.

Dennis (Hunter Bussemaker)

Dennis finds, however, that his new life isn't all bad. There is a girl named Sara, who is as intrigued by Dennis as he is by her.

Sara, right (Lore Dijkman)

A relationship slowly develops between Dennis and Sara, and when her parents leave town for the weekend, she invites him to spend the night. Without giving away too much of the story, suffice it to say that trying to tell someone you love and are sexually attracted to, that you are HIV-positive, is not particularly easy; in this case it is very nearly heartbreaking.

Absolutely Positive doesn't flinch from the difficulties of being an HIV-positive teenager. There is an especially moving scene where Dennis, in utter despair, burns his wrists with a cigarette.

At the same time, however, the film offers hope, and it is the hope based on the madness commonly known as love. And I'll take that over hate and intolerance any day.

I saw Absolutely Positive on the television station Arte, which is a co-production of Germany and France and perhaps the real reason I moved back to Berlin.

Note: The pics are all my shots of the television screen.

20 March 2008

Update: Toilet Seat Lady

The Guardian reports that the toilet seat lady's boyfriend has been charged with "mistreatment of a dependent adult."


I wonder what he would have been charged with had he refused to take food to her in the bathroom and she died from starvation. Classic fucked-if you-do-fucked-if you-don't situation, if you ask me.

Spring is in the Air

Thanks goodness I had the presence of mind to load up on my allergy medicine before I left DC...

19 March 2008

Just Saying...

I miss the Cold War.

What I Miss About New York...

It's been almost two years since I had this pastrami sandwich and I still can't forget it.

17 March 2008

Funk is Dead. Long Live Funk!

You see, this is why I love YouTube.

I was sitting here at my desk (or at Silke's desk to be precise) working on a copy editing assignment, when it occurred to me that what I should really be doing is updating the music videos on my iLike application on Facebook. Since I feature funk and classical on my Facebook profile, updating meant that it was time to search for some funk classics since my current classical video selection will be there for a while.

In any case, I allowed myself to wander back to 1978, the absolute height of Funkiness, and eventually settled on this:

I wish I had a Euro for every time I danced to this song back in the day. Written by that English genius of funk and R&B, Rod Temperton, Grooveline is a blast from a funk-da-fied past I am very happy to have experienced.

I'm not sure what happened to music like this, but I intend to find out. Stay tuned...

14 March 2008

The Flat Earth Society

One of my favorite smart-ass comments when someone says something that strikes me as old-fashioned is:

Yeah, yeah, yeah...and there was also a time when people thought the earth was flat...

Imagine my shock to discover that that time is NOW.

Okay, to begin at the beginning. I was watching a science program called Gallileo* and they were investigating conspiracy theories related to the Apollo Moon missions. Well, one thing led to another (as they do when one goes to Wikipedia to check a name, in this case Bill Kaysing), and before I knew it I was chest deep in Apollo Hoax theories. Fascinating. Not really my type, when it comes to conspiracy theories, but fascinating, nevertheless.

In any case, I soon found myself confronted with a group called The Flat Earth Society and after reading their Wikipedia entry and visiting their website, I felt my brain starting to melt. From a critical essay by Robert Schadewald, here's a sample of what they believe:

...the known world is as circular and as flat as a phonograph record. The North Pole is at the center. At the outer edge lies the southern ice, reputed to be a wall 150 feet high; no one has ever crossed it, and therefore what lies beyond is unknown.

The sun and moon, in the Johnson version, are only about 32 miles in diameter. They circle above the earth in the vicinity of the equator, and their apparent rising and setting are tricks of perspective, like railroad tracks that appear to meet in the distance. The moon shines by its own light and is not eclipsed by the earth. Rather, lunar eclipses are caused by an unseen dark body occasionally passing in front of the moon.
(Source: The Flat-out Truth)

"Johnson" in the above quote, refers to Charles K. Johnson. He was resident of the society until his death in 2001.**

Apparently, the United Nations also knows that the world is flat. Why else does their flag look like that? Oh and the whole thing, the society I mean, is based on a literal reading of the Bible.


*Yes...I am that girl...
**Hmmmm.... Johnson died on March 19, 2001. Exactly 177 days before September 11. Add the numbers 1+7+7 and you get 15. Then add 1+5 and you get 6. That has to mean something, right?

Karl Marx...

died on this day 125 years ago. From the volumes he wrote, I think I like this quote best:

History calls those men the greatest who have ennobled themselves by working for the common good; experience acclaims as happiest the man who has made the greatest number of people happy.

The quote was taken from a letter to his father, which was written in 1837, and published sixty years later.

A Bit of Irish

My eyes are definitely watery after reading this story about the Irish Dancing activities of a bunch of elementary school kids and their teacher in the Bronx.

Photograph: Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

I'm happy for these kids and others, who are fortunate enough to have teachers like Caroline Duggan. I'm sad for the millions of kids who are not.

A Bronx Tale indeed.

13 March 2008

No, seriously... I Saw this on Nip/Tuck...

...except the woman was stuck to the couch in the living room, not the toilet seat.

As it turns out, however, the Nip/Tuck episode was based on a true story. The clip below is the scene in which the Nip/Tuck pretty boys are trying to separate the woman from the couch. It seems that after a few years, her skin had fused with the couch fabric. Not for the fainthearted:

According to news reports, the toilet seat was removed successfully from the Kansas woman's posterior and she is recovering, though she may have lost the use of her legs.

There is obviously a lot about human nature I don't understand.

Room for Rent

There is an article on the BBC website this morning about landlords in Paris who are exploiting the very serious housing crisis there by offering apartments for rent in exchange for sex. Anything Paris can do, however, Berlin can do better.

As far as I can tell from the BBC article, these are landlords with apartments to rent. This means that they don't actually live with these women, rather they will stop by with varying frequency to "collect" the rent. In Berlin, which doesn't have a housing crisis that I'm aware of, the situation is a bit different. The horny guys placing these ads are looking for roommates. So conceivably, paying the rent could be a full-time effort.

I stumbled across these ads while searching for a roommate, and they're pretty straightforward:

M55, will nicht mehr allein wohnen
Region: Berlin Berlin Tempelhof
Erstellungsdatum: 04.03.08

suche nette Partnerin,die bei mir wohnen und mit mir leben und lieben will.Haus mit Garten,nicht zu gross,vorhanden.Kind oder /und Tier kein problem.Bis bald,hoffe ich.L G

Rough translation: Male 55, doesn't want to live alone anymore. Seeking a nice (female) partner who will live with and love him. House with garden, not too big, available. Child and/or pet is no problem. See you soon (I hope), warm regards.

The next one even offers a trial period of a few nights to test the chemistry, so to speak:

Meine letzte WG-Erfahrung hatte ich (M/40) im Studium, aber
Berlin Berlin
Erstellungsdatum: 02.03.08

ich habe ein separates Zimmer in meiner schönen Wohnung am Kurfürstendamm frei und könnte mir vorstellen, dass dort eine junge Frau übernachtet, mit der ich auch mal den Abend verbringe, wenn ich in Berlin bin und in der Wohnung übernachte. Zunächst ...quasi zur Probe (ob wir uns verstehen), könntest Du am Montag zu mir kommen und ...wenn Du willst ... KOSTENLOS Mo/Di bei mir übernachten. Klar gesagt: Auch wenn ich "M" bin und dieses Angebot bewußt nur an "W" richte, dränge ich mich garantiert nicht auf !! Ich bin also kein "verklemmter Typ". Das ich unkompliziert und unkonventionell bin, zeigt wohl schon meine Anzeige. Das bedeutet also auch, das bei beiderseitigem Interesse "Vieles" möglich ist ...ganz natürlich, selbstverständlich und ungestreßt.

Okay, this guy had his last roommate experience when he was in college, but he has an empty room in his lovely apartment in Kufürstendamm and could imagine having a young lady living there, who would also occasionally spend the evening with him when he's in Berlin and sleeps in the apartment. Therefore, he suggests a test run...Interested parties could come to him on Monday and spend the night FOR FREE. But to be clear: although he's a man looking for a woman, he won't force himself!! At the same time, he's not repressed. That he is uncomplicated and unconventional is obvious from the ad. This means that with mutual interest "a lot" is possible...but naturally and without stress.

There are quite a few people who work in Berlin during the week and go home on the weekends. This includes many civil servants who didn't want to move to Berlin when the capital moved here from Bonn. This second ad just screams civil servant/businessman with an adoring wife and three kids somewhere in another city.

In both of these ads, the rent is "free."

Ah well...

There is so much I could say about these ads, but if I think too much about them I get annoyed. I guess it's enough just to make it clear that when it comes to sleazy...well there's Paris-style, and there's definitely Berlin-style.

And yes, I have found a new roommate. I did not, however, find him at the site where I found these ads. But more about my new digs and my new roommate later.

12 March 2008

And the others?

Now that Eliot Spitzer has resigned for getting caught, I think this would actually be a really good time for all other public officials, who are involved in conduct unbecoming, to do the same. A sort of en masse, "I'm sorry, I fucked up," abandonment of duties.

You know you're out there, and you also know it's just a matter of time. Quit now and no one will even notice...unless of course, your indiscretions involve farm animals. Honestly, I think we've seen just about everything else.

But they won't take my advice, of course. The arrogance associated with power makes them careless, and quicker than you can say "I have a wide stance" they're all over the blogosphere.

Ah well, I tried.

05 March 2008

Der Himmel über Berlin & My Exit from DC

The day I took this photo I was moving from Hartmut's place to Silke's place. I shot it behind Hartmut's building when I went to take out the trash.

Der Himmel über Berlin

I've been in Berlin a month now, and before too much time passes, it's important to say Thanks to some lovely people in DC, without whom the only move I would have made would have been to a padded room while dressed in a very long-sleeved jacket.

First, Sarah Jane gave up two weekend days to help me pack. This involved not only packing, which seems obvious, but convincing me to throw out things I really did not need to ship across the pond. I won't go into details here, if you know her, she probably told you about my little "treasures" already anyway... SJ I really appreciate your help and your patience. Thanks again.

Then there was Josh, who responded to my panicked request (read: demand) that he get his ass over to my apartment the night before I moved out, in order to take a bunch of stuff I was going to simply throw away. You know who your friends are by that look they give you when you're totally freaking out and they know it, and you know they know it, but you both act like it isn't happening... Josh, I hope you're using the salad spinner... I miss your face.

Moving on...

It was a simple idea: get a valid driver's license before moving to Europe. Well, what did Steinbeck teach us about the best-laid plans of mice and men? Without going into the details (which beggar belief), let's just say that Mercury was in retrograde and as a result, what began as a brief little excursion to the DMV, ended up in John having to take a day off from work to make sure I actually made my flight. Further evidence of the madness of this day, is that my last meal in DC was at Burger King... Okay, it wasn't so bad, this was also the day that John rode a metro bus for the first time. God, that was hilarious. Dude, I owe you BIG time.

Special thanks also to Sue and to Terry for their beautiful (and oh so practical) going-away sentiments. Sue, my mom tried to steal those gloves, but since I was expecting this, I was ready for her.

Gosh, had I known how much some people in DC cared, I might have stayed... Just kidding, but you get the point.

Thanks my dears!

14 January 2008

Inez's Questionnaire

Since Vanity Fair probably owns the copyright to "Proust Questionnaire" I'll just call my version "Inez's Questionnaire," alter the questions slightly, and hope that keeps me out of some sort of intellectual property dispute...like they are sooo worried about this blog...whatever...just saying...

In any case, here goes:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
...and justice for all.

What is your current state of mind?

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Which living person do you most admire?
Aid workers around the world.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Courage, closely followed by a sense of humor.

What s the quality you most like in a woman?

What is your greatest extravagance?

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

What is your greatest fear?
The Ausländerbehörde in Berlin.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
"Virtue itself is offensive." --Nietzsche

Which living person do you most despise?
I don't have the energy to truly despise anyone.

When and where were you happiest?
2000-2001 in Berlin.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"What the fuck?!"
"Shut the fuck up!"
"That's hysterical!"
"My brain is melting."

Which talent would you most like to have?
To be able to play the guitar I own.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To be brave enough to fall in love again.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
A handsome and well-endowed man.

What is your most treasured possession?

My grandmother's pearls.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

What do you most value in your friends?

Loyalty, intelligence, and humor.

Who are your favorite writers?
DH Lawrence, William Trevor, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Keri Hulme, and John Le Carré among others.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
George Smiley.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Aid workers around the world, like Doctors Without Borders.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Nina Simone.

How would you like to die?
In my sleep, like most people.

What is your greatest regret?

Because we didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up, I had to choose between ballet and piano, and I chose ballet. Years later after surgery on both ankles, it was too late for the piano.

What is your motto?

"You get what you settle for."