Mittwoch, Mai 05, 2010


It's May already. Where did the time go? 

Winter was the longest and coldest since at least 20 years, and the gardening season started late this year. On a warm day last week I finally planted my tiny tomato, chili and aubergine seedlings in the big pots outside. Now we have a storm with torrential rain, and temperatures barely above freezing. There goes my harvest for the Summer...

The last few months have been uneventful, to put in mildly. I had work, but no reason to travel. Not I am itching to get away from here, but there is one more job to do, and it will be July before I can live out my wanderlust. 

So, still not much to blog about, and time to stop prattling.

Montag, Dezember 14, 2009

Work in Progress

Where did the year go?

It's been a curious one, this 2009. For me, it meant moving, enjoying the new space (especially the roof terrace), and many weekends spent gardening. There were a few short but very enjoyable trips and travels, too - the most recent one to Vienna. Beautiful place, highly recommended, especially to art, architecture and history geeks like me - but there's something to say for the coffee houses, too.

For a couple of weeks now, I have finally been at work again, and I don't just mean digging the potato patch. Getting paid for what I do, once in a while, is quite a relief. Being a freelancer has never been so tough as in the last 20 months or so. Now I hope this work will keep me busy for some time, and help my bank account to recover and enable me to do some more traveling in 2010.

Maybe then I will have more to write about in here, too. 

Samstag, Oktober 17, 2009

Happy Diwali!

I am about to add a new holiday to my calendar - I guess you can never have enough of them. I am going to celebrate Diwali with my Indian friends here in Germany. It is a big festival for them, and a first time for me.

But maybe not all of it will feel alien to me. Some of its elements seem strangely familiar - the symbolism of the end of the year (or summer and harvest time), the connection to the souls of our ancestors, and the idea of lights, candles, sweets, gifts and firework... I haven't even seen it yet, but after reading about Diwali, it seems to me as if there are elements of Thanksgiving, All Souls Day (or Celtic Samhain), Christmas/midwinter/Hanukkah and New Year/Rosh Hashanah to be found in this ancient Indian holiday - or vice versa: Maybe there is a bit of Diwali in our Western winter festivals.

I guess, these holidays and ideas date back to at least the Bronze Age, and no one remembers their original name(s) and date(s). It just seems so likely that the end of harvest and beginning of Winter was a very important time for people of all eras. To light candles and lamps at this season, when days get short and the sun less powerful; to think of death and those who passed away; to celebrate the end of summer's hard work and give thanks for one's own life - and the full larders to keep alive until the next spring; to make gifts (sacrifices) to one's gods, protectors, ancestors and important ones; to celebrate with all the sweet and rich food one can afford, and to fight the demons of night, cold, winter and silence with joy, light, fire, music and noise...
...I suppose all that was always important to all people and all cultures, however long ago.

So much for theory. Now, I am looking forward to Diwali in practice - tonight!

Freitag, August 07, 2009

Safety First

A week ago, I came home from a very enjoyable and interesting journey to England and South Wales. I learned a lot, met wonderful people and had a great time - and once again resolved to travel more often. It always gives me a new perspective on so many issues.

But one thing made me want to laugh and cry lots of times. When I used to travel regularly in Britain, back in the 1990s, I always thought of the British as rather calm, composed and sane people, not prone to hysteria at all. This time, I started to have doubts about that, since warnings and really odd bits of safety advice have become omnipresent there. And I don't just mean the fact that every single door in every public building seems to be a "fire door" that has to be kept closed (do they expect e.g. hotel guests to keep the door to their room open all night otherwise?), or the usual suffocation warning on plastic bags.

No, I mean the lots and lots of no-brainers. Like the "Caution: Hot Liquid" print on a takeaway coffee cup, the "Danger: Pool" note at the edge of a pool, or this sign in the middle of a lake:

The tragicomical highlight was a warning on the map of a National Trust monument I visited, indicating the parking area and saying "Beware of vehicles in the car park".

So, can someone please explain to me: What happened to the homeland of Common Sense?

Mittwoch, Juni 03, 2009

On Obsession

I did a lot of internet research during the last couple of days, and some fan websites I found there simply creep me out.

I can sympathize with a certain amount of obsession, since I have been pretty obsessive myself, many times. I can get lost in parallel universes of books, film, music and TV - everything from classic literature and arthouse films to Sci-Fi series and Bollywood kitsch.
I dearly love some fictional characters and admire their creators - the writers, directors and actors who make the fantasy so beautiful and 'real'. I have phases when I buy DVD after DVD, book after book, and scour the internet for downloads and news.

But there's a firm line between reality and fiction. As a writer myself, having worked for TV, I know how films are made, been part of the process, met wonderful people there, and I also know that, like in any job, a brilliant actor, musician, director or writer isn't necessarily a brilliant person, or even a nice one (no - don't worry: most of them are).

Anyway. Lately, I searched the sites of several actors' fans, since I needed some information (and not all actors, or rather their agents, are forthcoming to insignificant foreign journalists), and those fansites often have amazingly complete archives of articles, interviews and trivia.

But they also contain loads of stuff that I find very odd. There are forums, blogs and guest-books full of speculations about His or Her private life; photos of (expensive) gifts the fans sent to their idols; fan-art and fan-fiction, ranging from the pseudo-religious to adolescent adoration and NC-17 stories. Uhm. Everyone is welcome to their own fantasies, but why make them public?

In know I am selfish: Though I have unashamedly used those sites for my research, I still criticize them.
But what may be devotion to those people looks like delusion to me. Why do they dedicate so much of their time and love to someone they don't know; why adore someone from afar whom they never even met (or just met briefly to have a photograph taken or a picture signed at some convention)?
I see little difference between this, and stalking. Both are versions of unrequited love, leading to loss of reality. I wonder what is missing in those people's lives that they give their live and energy to an unknown person.

Maybe it's the underlying desperation and loneliness that scares me most.

Dienstag, Juni 02, 2009

Missing Altitude

It's been some time since I posted any pictures. Here's one I made at the shooting of one of the last big documentaries I made. It was about high altitudes - a film on people living in some of highest and least habitable parts of the Swiss Alps, and the fascination of a life beyond the tree line, and often above the clouds. A harsh environment, a hard life, and a natural beauty that often left me at a loss for words. Another production I will never forget.

I hope I'll find time for a trip to the mountains, later this summer. I miss those highs, in every sense.

Montag, Juni 01, 2009

Brush Strokes

Something I read this week gave me an idea for a series of articles. And I think I already know exactly the right people (friends working for agencies and magazines) who might be interested in that kind of story. So, finally, I take off, high on a new idea. About time.

It's one of the most wonderful experiences I know - to have a head full of ideas and possibilities; a heart full of energy, and ten fingers on the keyboard just itching to write.

I already started my research, and I found many bits of information confirming a hypothesis of mine. It feels like a picture is forming in my mind, and there's already an easel and some brushes in front of me. Now, if I find a canvas and a palette of colours, I can paint that picture.

I missed being creative. I really did. Compared to this, my latest jobs (i.e. translating documentary commentaries, and ghostwriting non-fiction books) felt like a paint-by-numbers booklet: Pretty, but not original.

Donnerstag, Mai 21, 2009

Backwards Or Forwards In Time?

Although I have borrowed this post's title from my latest time-travelling obsession, it isn't going to be a post about Doctor Who. It is just another of those introspections of which my life seems to consist of, these days. So, if you find them boring, don't bother to read any further.

Ever since I moved - or rather ever since I knew I wanted to move - I feel at a crossroads, having to decide if I want to live my life backwards or forwards.

During the last decade or so, I was reluctant to change much, and as a result my life became increasingly stagnant. To get moving again, forwards in time, I now have to let go. Let go of things and possessions, but also of illusions, old habits, obsolete ideas. They all became dead weight, a ton of baggage that is slowing me down, binding me to my past, not belonging to my presence. And certainly not to my future, whatever that may bring.

Many are just jetsam and easy to get rid of, but others were dear to me, once precious assets and memories. To let those go is the most difficult and most liberating experience of all. Once I gather the strength to let them go, there's suddenly no more need to romanticise memories as of a love essentially based on emotional blackmail, or of past relationships mired in guilt.

So I am sorting through possessions, giving some things away, selling others. Furniture, bags full of clothes, boxes full of books, every one of them laden with memories. Although a lot is already gone, there's still too much left: Letters and diaries, photos and videotapes - countless parts of the person I was, no longer belonging to the person I am.

Dienstag, Mai 12, 2009

Regressive Evolution

The scarceness of work in the last year makes me think about my life a lot. Maybe it is time to reinvent myself. To let go of the idea that I am a documentary filmmaker for TV, since the TV stations I used to work for in the last 15 years replaced their documentary slots with more and more quiz shows and 'Reality TV', and don't need someone like me any more. Nor do they need my skills as a scriptwriter (if you wonder about that, I normally write in German, of course - this blog is just a means to practise my English so it doesn't rust too badly). These days, every TV series is rerun time and again - probably until the audience knows all dialogues by heart.

So I have become a dinosaur, facing extinction.

Which kind of evolution could save me? Guess I will try to find some ordinary office job soon, and be creative as a hobby instead of for a living.

There could be worse fates, but I still don't like the idea. I might just be a Pterosaur, but I can still fly. And I never wanted to be a battery chicken.

Samstag, Mai 09, 2009

Jobs, anyone?

More than a month since my last post. Sorry, Jackie (guess you're still the only reader of this blog).
But there isn't much to write about. I've been writing proposals and exposés for TV documentaries, and pitching them to producers - without any success. So, if anyone out there has a job for a German writer/journalist/translator/documentary filmmaker, please let me know!
No, I am not desperate.
Umm. Not yet. That's still a matter of a few months.

Oh well. As antidepressants, I'm still decorating and furnishing my new flat - which is fun - and lately, I delved into the (new) Doctor Who universe.

All my life (at least since my teenage days) I liked watching and reading Science Fiction, but (since the series never made it onto German TV, probably because of the rather incompatible sense of humour) this whole concept was new for me, and I love it. Loved it enough to order and watch three seasons of the series in as many weeks.
Although it's meant to be a program for children, it captivated me with its fantasy and broad-mindedness. Wonderful stories. And great, great performances. In my opinion, Christopher Eccleston was even more convincing as enigmatic, arrogant, powerful, emotionally clueless and unwittingly charming alien than David Tennant, although both are equally irresistible.

Next week, I'll get a new satellite dish. Not for the incredibly repetitive, predictable, uninventive and plainly boring German TV, which by now I simply despair of; but for BBC and other British channels.
And if I'll have enough money left by the end of this month (when the last payments are due for my new flat), I really want to plan a trip to Britain. England, Wales, Scotland; wherever. English isn't my native language, and Britain isn't my country, but I still miss that language, humour and culture in my everyday life.
Oh, and since life is just nature's way of keeping meat fresh, as I learned lately, I really should make the most of my share of it - before this meat starts to rot...