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.