Monday, July 7, 2014

The Beauty of Barcelona

The reason why I am so spellbond by Barcelona is its magic architecture: Modernisme, the Catalan version of Art Nouveau or Jugendstil is omnipresent. Therefore, don't walk down the steps of the metro, walk down the streets. Look and enjoy the beauty of Barcelona. 

If you don't want to walk alone, if you want to see behind the fin de siècle facades, take Daniel Brühl with you. He's tiny. You can put the actor in your purse and let him talk to you. He speaks German, Spanish and Catalan. And he will tell you about his city, where he was born as the son of a German TV director and his Spanish mother. A day in Barcelona:

He takes you to up Tibidabo, a mountain overlooking Barcelona. After you've enjoyed those spectacular views, he takes you down to the city: To the quarters of Sant Gervasi, Montjuïc, Gracìa, Born, El Raval and will show you all his favorite secret spots, (which then, can't be be secret anymore). He will tell you how he found the best peas in town for a delicious paella and what Camp Nou means to him.
View from Tibidabo
Can I move in?
The ever growing Sagrada Familia

Gaudís "La Pedrera"

Park Güell

Are you ready to get lost in the streets of Barcelona to find your very own favorite spot?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Judge a book by its cover

You shouldn't, I know. But how, then, should one decide which book to pick? I don't want Amazon's algorithm to do that job. Books are beautiful, and this is why:

  1. They are decorative: Book covers can be a work of art. Like the front page of a magazine or a newspaper, the cover of a book should whet the appetite to read it. When I recently bought the first book out of a series of of F. Scott Fitzgerald's most notable works designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith to mark the 70th anniversary of the author's death, two of my friends couldn't keep themselves from informing me that this short story collection can be downloaded for free. Yeah, I know. But I had to own this one, like I want to own the other five. I will put them all in a row on my bookshelf and then I will take a shelfie. Speaking of shelves, can you imagine a home without books? Those 13 examples make me want to move into a bigger apartment immediately.
  2. They are personal: If you own a book, it's literally yours. Like footprints in the sand, you leave your marks in there as well: Dog-eared, Spilled coffee, greasy spots of sunscreen, maybe even stains of tears... And if you like to highlight serveral sentences, like I do, they also remind you of what used to be important to you while you read that book. Maybe this will have changed when you re-read it, maybe there are some sentences which always hold true for you.

  3. They are a treasure: You can download a book and save it to your kindle. But apart from missing out on the decorative part there is nothing special about having downloaded a book like thousands of other people did. Like wine, books get better the older they are, especially when they are rare - which turns them into real treasures. In addition, they most often have some personal worth like this collection of Shakespeare's works I inherited from my Great Grandfather. It is the first German translation by Schlegel and Tieck who translated Shakespeare in the spirit of German Romanticism. Those books are dated  "1825" and there are probably the most precious pieces of paper I own.

  4. They smell: Yes, they smell very good. The older they get, the more they evaporate that scent of: "I have stories to tell".
  5. They give you a feeling of achievement and progress: I feel lost in a kindle book. Seriously. This tiny number on the bottom of the page which tells me the percentage of how much of the total I've already read actually tells me nothing. Those are just figures. A bookmark shows your where you are, you see how close your are to the end and - if it's a really good book - where to start slowing down in order to be able to enjoy the story for a bit longer.

I love books. But I still own a kindle. Why? Because I also love to be able to carry a tiny library in my purse. And because I like to read big newspapers on the train without bothering the person sitting next to me...

Friday, February 14, 2014

I pick books instead of flowers

Roses are red

violets are blue

I cannot rhyme

doesn't matter

I've got book recommendations

just for you

Happy Valentine's Day! What a great opportunity to start another new section of my blog where I want to share what I'm currently reading. Like Kurt Tucholsky's Auf dem Nachttisch, On the Nightstand will be about the books currently waiting beside my bed to be read at night before I fall asleep. Right now this place is occupied by two books which can be linked by their main topic: love. But they are no cheesy Rosamunde Pilcher style romance novels but rather books that look at love from a different angle. Romantic but yet realistic. Heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time.

F.Scott Fitzgerald is one of my all time favorite American writers. Not only because of The Great Gatsby. I also love his short stories and liked his essay Echoes of the Jazz Age which he published in 1931 when the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties, were aleady over. After having read his retrospective of this time, I had always been curious how it was like when he met his wife Zelda, when they travelled Europe, and had the time of their lives. Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda is a collection of their love letters. They do not only reveal an extraordinary relationship, but have also been a source of their literary works. Especially Scott borrowed many of Zelda's sentences. Like her comment on the birth of their daughter Scottie:
"I hope it is beautful and a fool - a beautiful little fool." 
Words he later gave to Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. But only about 20 percent of the collection cover their happy times together - the bigger part of the book shows a difficult, nonetheless deep love between those two writers whose affection for each other did not stop them from being rivals. Letter by letter the situation worsens: Scott's alcoholism increases and Zelda's mental health deteriorates. Most of the letters are written by Zelda from some sort of mental institution. But however far away they were from each other physically or due to their psychological weaknesses, emotionally they were always close. It is fascinating how tender the tone of their writings were. Up until the end.

Jeffrey Eugenides is my favorite contemporary American author. After having devoured all his novels - The Virgin Suicides, The Marriage Plot, and Middlesex - I was craving more. This is how I found this book. And although it doesn't contain one single story by the man with the Greek lastname, it is a great book. Why? As the editor, he picked all the short stories which he published under the title My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead. The Pulitzer Prize winner only wrote the introduction to explain what made him publish such a collection and how it got its name (From a story by the Latin poet Catullus who was the first poet in the ancient world to write about a personal love affair):
"Love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births and feuding families, on matrimonial boredom and at least one cold heart. Love stories, nearly without exception give love a bad name [...] I offer this book, then,  as a cure for lovesickness and antidote to adultery. Read the love stories in the safety of your single bed. Let everybody else suffer." 
The subtitle reads: "Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro". In addition to "The Lady With the Little Dog" by the Russian which I had only known as a great dramaturge and playwright and "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" by the lady who just won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the collection also contains stories by James Joyce, William Faulkner, Vladimir Nabokov, Robert Musil, Raymond Carver and twenty more.

The American book review magazine Kirkus Reviews stated:
"Eugenides offers a perfect Valetine's Day gift for lovers of literary fiction"
Let's go to bed - with a book.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Vorsicht, heiß und fettig!

Klausundklausundklaus sind im Haus. Und reißen es gleich wieder ab. Von der Küste sind sie gekommen. Mit einer Reminiszenz an die beiden norddeutschen Schunkelbarden machen sich Fettes Brot mit knallroten Clownsnasen über das Klischee der Spaßkapelle lustig für die sie gehalten werden, gehalten werden wollen.

Sie bleiben diesem Klischee auch treu und kokettieren gleichzeitig mit Versuchen, dagegen anzukämpfen. Josephine  beginnt ganz gedämpft und gediegen: "Ich lege mich jetzt erstmal symbolisch auf den Flügel", kündigt Dr. Renz an. Und plötzlich geht es ab im Diskofarbenneonlicht und aus Josephine wird beinahe Emanuela. Wie Eichhörnchen auf Speed hüpfen die drei über die Bühne. Drei ist 'ne Party heißt das aktuelle Album. Würde reichen. Doch die vor der Bühnen machen mit. 

Der Versuch der Contenance: Von den drei spielen zwei vierhändig Keyboard während einer rappt. "Wir werden euch wieder buchen", ist das Fazit nach The Grosser. Und: "Es ist nicht der allerschlechteste Beruf, den wir hier haben", nach dem kritischen Crazy World.

Dann wird "gedöpt". "Döpdöpdöpdöpdöpdöpdöööö / döpdöpdöpdöpdöpdöpdöööö / Döpdöpdöpdöpdöpdöpdöööö / döpdedöpdedödödödödöööö" (Popcorn), "Döööödöööpdedööööpdee" (Smoke on the Water), "Dedöpdödödödöpdööödööö dededededededede" (Eurovisionshymne) und schließlich der Song aller "Döps": Jein. Bei dem das Publikum zeitweise auch die komplexeren Textpassagen übernimmt und sichtlich irritiert ist, dass in dem "Kommst du mit Schiffmeister, du Kollegenschwein?", jetzt von "Björn Beton" die Rede ist. Lange her. Genauso wie Die Definition von Fett, die sie kurz anspielen, um dann zum ..."Klaus und Klaus" würden wohl "Hitmedley" sagen, überzuleiten und dem deutschen Hip-Hop zu huldigen: Reimemonster (Afrob & ferris MC), Partysafari (Blumentopf), Sie ist weg (Fanta Vier), Weck mich auf (Samy Deluxe) und schließlich auch Cros Easy. Vielleicht spielen die drei Hamburger auch mit Kusskusskuss (Hast du schonma ein' Rapper geküsst?) auf den Hype um den "Panda-Rapper" an. 

Die Texte des neuen Albums sind gespickt mit Reminiszenzen wie Mettigel mit Zwiebelspalten. 
Wer's beim Titel noch nicht gemerkt hat, der merkt es spätestens beim "Für immer immer? für immer immer?," dass die Brote hier auf Outkasts Ms Jackson (For ever? For ever ever?) anspielen. "Ein drittel Heizöl, zwei drittel Benzin", die Zeile stammt nicht aus Caspers aktuellen Album und dem Song Im Ascheregen, sondern von der Punkband Slime, sagt König Boris. Mit der Zeile "Ich liebte ein Mädchen in Köln / auf dem Foto in der Küche sieht sie aus wie Katja Ebstein" winken sie verbal ihren Hamburger Rapkollegen Deichkind, von deren Remmidemmi sie die Zeile eins zu eins übernommen haben. An dieser Stelle unterbrechen sie das Reimschema, auf dem das gesamte Lied basiert, und stolpern bewusst. Holprig ist auch so mancher Vorschlag von Fans, die während der Tour täglich eifrig mitreimen, wenn Fettes Brot via Facebook dazu aufrufen, das Lied um eine Zeile für den aktuellen Tourstopp zu erweitern. 353 Fans haben sich für Wiesbaden als MCs versucht und auf die Bühne schaffte es: "Ich liebte ein Mädchen in Wiesbaden / vorne und hinten im Mietwagen."

Wie es hinter die Bühne schallte, so schallte es wieder hinaus. Nach dem ersten Abschied von der selbigen wurden die Zugabe-Rufe erhört und es erklang (ein) Echo. Schwule Mädchen brachten schließlich den ganzen Schlachthof zum Schwitzen, als wolle man das Video nachstellen - mit Fettes Brot durch die Friteuse.
* Ich habe es übrigens einem Mädchen aus Blankenese (Nein, sie trägt ihre Haare nicht wie Jonathan Meese!) zu verdanken, dass ich dem Konzert trotz ausverkaufter Halle beiwohnen durfte. Danke dafür!
** Eine Entschudligung für die schlechten Bilder an dieser Stelle... hatte nur das Handy zur Hand...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Two Big B's

Anna [a fellow blogger, and also one of my favorite co-workers and companion when it comes to coffee breaks and the like] of the wonderful travel blog has passed me a blog baton a couple of days ago. Now that I am back from my skiing trip to Flaine, France, I finally have the time (and feel the travel spirit again!!) to answer the 11 questions she asked. Merci beaucoup, Anna! 

1. What does adventure mean to you?
Snakes and spiders, sleeping in a dangerous environment - all this could mean adventure. But it hasn't to. In a positive sense, adventure means to me to overcome one's inhibitions and inner contraints - and feel pleasure and joy. Like somebody who used to be afraid of flying. Usually those adventures are calculable. There are also adventures which aren't intended. Like when you sleep in a US-motel in the middle of nowhere (many horror movies start like this, don't they?) and your phone rings at 4 am and an upset and almost crying voice asks you: "Did you just call because somebody has been shot in your room?". And your answer is "No" and the voice replies: "But somebody has just been shot in your room!". Then you hang up the phone with utter irritation you see a shadow standing in front of your door through the tiny gap on the bottom. True story. 

2. If you could chose any travel companion – who would you chose?
If time travel was possible I would choose Kurt Tucholsky as my travel companion. I would love to walk through the streets of Berlin and Paris in the 1920s with him. Luckily he left many texts about his city strolls so that at least I can follow him in my imagination. However, if Tucholsky wasn't available I would accept Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway as my travel companions (who would have guessed that Midnight in Paris is one of my favorite movies?) 

3. Is there a city or country you would never visit?
Ha! What a funny transition from the last question: I always said that I would never ever accept a proposal in Paris. Too cheesy, too unimaginative - like you have seen it a thousand times on TV. Nevertheless, for any other occasion I would love to got to Paris. I wouldn't participate in any "dark tourism": Like going to Chernobyl for fun (I just learned that there is also a movie about that theme: Chernobyl Diaries which supposedly is the most crappy horror movie I've ever heard of!).

4. Which means of transportation do you like most?
Plane. Period. 

5. Do you remember your first holiday fling?
Nope, never had one. Just had a Tunesian "suitor" for quite some time, we became pen pals. His name was Mohammed.

6. What is the most hideous souvenir you ever bought?
I seriously can't remember (I'm pretty good a suppressing embarressing stuff).

7. What is the most beautiful part of your hometown?
If by "hometown" you mean the place where my family lives:

If you mean what I call "home" - I would say everything. Just look at this city silhouette:

8. Is there anything you would never leave home without?
They key to my apartment. 

9. Who is the addressee of your postcards?
My grandma, my parents, my godmother, my friends. 

10. Beach or hillside?

11. Why did you start blogging?
Because I needed space for "everything that doesn't fit into the narrowly spaced columns of a newspaper". Tagline stop. 

I'm passing this blog baton on to Wolfgang. Those are your questions:

1. Would you rather travel in space or time?
2. What was the most suprising thing you learned while travelling?
3. Is there a place you travelled to more than twice?
4. Which place you travelled to would qualify for moving there for good?
5. What food/beverage only tastes good while on vacation? 
6. What is the taste of travelling?
7. Do you feel pity for people who aren't interested in travelling?
8. What improvement would you like to invent to make travelling easier?
9. The most beautiful picture you ever shot?
10. The biggest mistake you ever made while travelling?
11. How do you decide where to go next?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Cheerful Schizophrenia

"He has bridged the ridiculous antithesis between professional and artist, between journalist and poet, and has created in himself this vivid type of author whose definition has to be left to his dearly loved jargon."
wrote Friedrich Sieburg in the Frankfurter Zeitung in 1928. He talked about his colleague Kurt Tucholsky who would turn 124 today. He died aged 45. Way too early. But he still had enough time to leave hundreds of texts which elude any clear-cut definition.
Was he a poet? Was he a journalist? Even at his time people tried to force his writing into a corset: "He is a novelist!," they exclaimed when he published his first longer prose work Rheinsberg (1912). They shouted even louder when Ein Pyrenäenbuch (1927) and Schloß Gripsholm (1931) followed. But Tucholsky just laughed about it.

Most literary scholars still consider Tucholsky to be journalist. Because it's the easiest thing to do. Tucholsky published most of his works in newspapers, so he cannot possibly be a true poet, not even a mere novelist, they say. But his contemporary Emil Ludwig believed "that he is a bigger poet than most of the novelists of his epoch." And his language is in fact literary. But who says that journalism cannot be literary, that literature cannot have journalistic traits?

He didn't want to be immortal. Unlike novelists, he did not write for eternity, he wrote for the day.  In his "Plea Against Immortality" he stated: "Don't peer into the future, there is nothing waiting for you. There is just one word for you if you are wise enough to voice it: Today."
Nevertheless, he reached immortality with his texts which he claimed to produce to be thrown away the next day, to wrap fish in the paper they were printed on.

Tucholsky  was a traveler, a flaneur, an observer - of details which he  used to explain the whole. He took pictures, snap-shots, arranged and re-arranged them to make his point clear. Once he said he was suffering from the Schriftsteller-Krankheit, the novelists' disease: "This obsession which cannot let things go, because you could still say it even better, even clearer, even shorter."  

Sometimes he was bitter, cynical. Satire was his weapon. "What may satire do?," he asked. "Everything", he answered. 

He used multiple pseudonyms to be able to express his views (and also because the little weekly, Die Weltbühne,  he worked for "did not want to have four times the same man in one issue"). Ignaz Wrobel, Peter Panter, Kaspar Hauser and Theobald Tiger became his alter ego."It was supposed to be a game, invented to be a game", but "ended in cheerful schizophrenia".

I am truely happy to share my birthday with this man: 
"A gentleman remembers the birthday of a woman, but forgets about her age."  - Kurt Tucholsky

Thank you, Kurt!

English language resource of Tucholsky's texts (By the way, the blogger calls him a "satirist")
News and interesting facts about the journalist-novelist-satirist

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Four Fall Favorites

Yes, I love alliterations - and delicious food (have I mentioned that before?) which is why this is another post on my favorite recipes. These are the results of some fall weekend cooking.
[for further instructions, just click on the pictures]

Citrusy Millet Salad 
with Kalamata Olives, Fennel and Hokkaido Pumpkin

citrusy millet salad

 with Grapes




Vegetable Stir-Fry with Buckwheat-sweet potato-noodles Asian Style
(vegan, gluten-free)

vegetable stir-fry