Black Sunshine – through the years

This will be a short one. And full of clichés, so bear with me.

When I was 14, I discovered that, contrary to my classmates’ beliefs, there was more to music than N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Thank God.

My hometown’s music scene leaned heavily towards Rock and Metal, no pun intended. So I went to every gig there was, best friend in tow, staring doe-eyed at the guys and girls on stage – one eye always on the clock, lest I broke curfew.

Fast forward 17 years to last night.

My first real night out in… a too embarrassingly long time. I stood there, beer in hand, no curfew in sight and simply enjoyed my first “Black Sunshine” concert in 13 years.

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And it was good.

Not just the music, though I immensely enjoyed that. More the certainty that no one would call out “Mama” and I would have to stop anything I was doing at a moment’s notice.

I talked to old friends and aquaintances, met new ones, stood in people’s cigarette smoke and enjoyed the beer on their breath, simply for the novelty of it not being milk…

And then, at one a.m. I called it a night, hugged my friends and drove home to find my husband and daughter knocked out from the exertion of a sleepless evening. And it was good, even though duty called again at 6:30 and I was nowhere near being well-rested. Life is good.

Randnotiz – “Männertag” auf EinsLive

EinsLive hat kürzlich den Kampf der Geschlechter ausgetragen, bei dem die Männer aus dem Sektor knapp gewannen.

Deshalb wurde letzten Freitag der “Männertag” gefeiert. Dabei wurden besonders “männliche” Hymnen gespielt, unter anderem von Pearl Jam, AC/DC und den Queens of the Stone Age – alles Bands, die man sonst nicht gerade täglich im Radio spielt – und über die ich mich riesig gefreut habe.

Schon einen Tag später ging es dann wieder gewohnt “unmännlich” zu in der Playlist. Jason Derulo bot den girls an, den 1. Klasse Sitzplatz auf seinem Schoß zu nehmen. So wie sonst 50 Cent großzügig anbietet, seinen “Lutscher” zu teilen. Etc., etc.

Leicht ironisch, dass ich mir da wünsche, es gäbe öfters einen offiziellen Männertag im Radio – der wäre zu den sonstigen inoffiziellen während des restlichen Jahres eine nette Abwechslung.

 

Hofgarten Center und Solingen Bashing

Manchmal habe ich das Gefühl, dass des Solingers liebstes Hobby das Solingen Bashing ist.

[bashing = criticizing or defaming]

Gibt es irgend etwas Neues in der Stadt, muss es sofort zerrissen werden. Aber woran liegt das?

Tendieren wir zu einer vorsichtigen Grundhaltung, mit der wir alles Neue erst einmal in Frage stellen? Gehen wir damit einfach nur auf Nummer sicher? Natürlich fühlen wir uns prima, wenn ein Projekt den Bach runter geht und wir danach selbstgefällig sagen können “Ich habe es schon immer gewusst!”

Natürlich ist es leicht, Neuem vorerst kritisch gegenüber zu treten. Es macht uns weniger verletzlich, als wenn wir unvoreingenommen und, *gasp*, vielleicht sogar positiv darauf zu gehen.

Warum ist dieser Zynismus so chic? Macht er uns zu etwas besonderem, macht er uns anderen überlegen? Ich glaube nicht. Ich glaube, dass er uns auf Dauer verbittert macht.

Schließlich können wir nicht alle wie Statler und Waldorf sein, die trotz ihres nun schon über 30-jährigen Bashing-Marathons immer noch sympathisch sind.

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Ein super Beispiel für das beschriebene Phänomen ist Solingens neues Hofgarten Center.

Dass viele Solinger dem neuen Shopping Center skeptisch gegenüber stehen, ist verständlich. Schließlich konnten wir alle beobachten, welche Schwierigkeiten die Clemens Galerien am Mühlenplatz haben, ihre Geschäftsflächen zu füllen – und gefüllt zu halten. Die Tatsache, dass nun sogar einige der großen Mieter aus den “CleGas” weg- und in das Hofgarten Center eingezogen sind, ist definitiv besorgniserregend.

Jedoch kann das neue Einkaufscenter auch eine Chance für Solingen sein.

So wie tausende andere Solinger habe ich mich letzten Donnerstag in die Innenstadt aufgemacht, um das neue Center zu bestaunen. Und gestaunt habe ich!

Denn das Hofgarten Center ist größer und geräumiger, als ich es erwartet hatte.

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Es ist modern und hell gestaltet, wirkt luftig und bietet einen, wie ich finde, guten Mix an Geschäften.

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Diese beiden Fotos habe ich gegen acht Uhr geschossen, als es noch verhältnismäßig leer war – hatten doch bisher nur der Saturn Markt, dm und Edeka geöffnet. Die Bilder entkräften eine der häufigsten Beschwerden, die ich bis jetzt über das Center gehört habe: “Die paar Rolltreppen und Aufzüge sind viel zu wenig!”

Das glaube ich nicht. Wenn der erste Ansturm der Neugierigen abgeklungen ist und ein normales Besucheraufkommen herrscht, werden die Rolltreppen völlig ausreichen. Dass es am Eröffnungstag zu üblen Engpässen gekommen ist und die Security Leute einzeln auf die Rolltreppen schleusen musste, ist nicht verwunderlich – aber wie gesagt, das war eine Ausnahmesituation.

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Ich glaube, dass die Auswahl der Läden recht geschickt war – immerhin sind nun einige neue Labels vertreten, die bestimmt viele der Leute in Solingen hält, die sonst zum Shoppen in den Umkreis geflüchtet sind – und Luft nach oben ist immer.

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Stichwort Shopmix – natürlich bin auch ich fähig zur negativen Kritik: ein Manko für mich ist der Foodcourt des Hofgartens, innerhalb dessen gefühlt jedes zweite Lokal ein Asiate ist. Ich liebe asiatisches Essen und könnte es dauernd verputzen – aber etwas mehr Auswahl wäre schon schön gewesen. Ganz abgesehen von meinem persönlichen Wermutstropfen, dem fehlenden frozen yoghurt Stand 😉

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Ich persönlich würde mich freuen, wenn demnächst einige Leute sich ihre Unkenrufe vorerst sparen würden – und erst einmal abwarteten, was passiert.

Vielleicht wird das neue Center von Solingern und Shoppern aus dem Umfeld ja gut angenommen. Vielleicht läuft es sogar so gut, dass sich weitere, neue Geschäfte in die Clemens Galerien wagen und die dort entstandenen Lücken füllen.

Und ganz vielleicht geht sogar mein heimlicher Traum in Erfüllung: dass sich die Clemens Galerien in eine Kultur- und Lifestyle Oase verwandeln, die das gesellschaftliche Leben in Solingen in neuen Schwung bringen.

Obwohl auch da in den letzten paar Jahren tolles passiert ist – denken wir nur an die Bemühungen rund um den Südpark, das Waldmeister und den Cowclub (um nur drei Stichworte zu nennen), die alle großartige Sachen auf die Beine gestellt haben…

Nana-nana-nana-nana… Batcat!

I love Batman. I love him from his “nana-nana” to his butler, who made me cry during the last cinematic release on this epic superhero.

I love him for his dead parents – poor, lonely Bruce! – and for his attitude. He is no Tony Stark, arrogant and attention seeking.

He visits charity events because he has to, even if he stayed out late the night before, defending Gotham City, and would rather retire to bed early – and he does all that, not because it is easy, but because it is right.

Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice. (Alfred Pennyworth)

Besides being tall, dark and handsome, which never hurts, he is kind and clever.

It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.

To me, he’s everything a superhero should be – and this Batcat does a remarkable impression of him!

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Doesn’t he look heroic?

Was haben Rayman Legends und Incubus gemeinsam?

Die letzten Wochen über habe ich immer wieder das neue “Rayman Legends” in die PS3 gelegt – manchmal habe ich gespielt, bis meine Finger weh taten und ich nicht mehr konnte.

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Es ist ein einfach großartiges Jump’n’Run, sehr detailverliebt, spannend, einfach lustig – und teils total schwierig! Laut Hubby schwieriger als Dark Souls, und das will was heißen!

Am besten gefällt mir am Spiel das Artwork und die Musik. Oft hatte ich gar nicht das Gefühl, ein Game zu spielen, sondern in ein Bilderbuch eingetaucht zu sein (hier lohnt sich die große Ansicht!):

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Rayman-Legends1und was für eins!A

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Neben den tollen Grafiken ist die Musik meist großartig – was mich nicht mehr wundert, seit ich weiß, dass Incubus ihre Hände im Spiel hatten:

Gern würde ich noch etwas zur Musik sagen, das mich im Spiel umgehauen hat – aber ich möchte nichts spoilen. Per PM rücke ich es aber gern raus 😉

Solinger Jugendkulturfestival 2013 – Patrick Salmen, oder: die Späten bestraft das Leben!

Bei einem Mittagessen im Nordstadt Café kam mir dieser Flyer in die Hände:

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Hurra, dachte ich, Patrick Salmen kommt wieder in seine alte Heimat!

Ich wollte mir nicht von 18:00 bis 22:00 Uhr am Rathausplatz die Beine in den Bauch stehen und horchte also nach, wann in etwa der Auftritt sei. “Gegen 20:00 Uhr” hieß es – also trafen wir erst um kurz vor acht ein, um festzustellen: Salmen war schon in vollem Gange, hatte er doch schon um halb 8 gestartet.

Mist, wie Bernd das Brot sagt.

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Wir bekamen also nur noch die letzten, knapp 10 Minuten mit. Und fragten uns: wo sind die ganzen Jugendlichen? Der Altersdurchschnitt im Publikum lag bei Mitte 20; ich hatte eigentlich eine strahlende Horde weiblicher Teenies erwartet, die sehnsüchtig den bärtigen Mann anstarren.

Ich selbst habe zwischen 15 und 18 jedes Jugendkulturfestival besucht und wäre total froh gewesen, mir einen deutschen Poetry-Slam Meister ansehen zu dürfen – darf man hier so eine alte Phrase wie “Was ist los mit der Jugend von heute?” verwenden?

Gab es eine große Konkurrenzveranstaltung? Ist das Marketing gescheitert?

Die, die da waren hatten jedenfalls viel Spaß – hoffen wir, dass der Axtträger uns bald noch mal besucht – und den Teens eine zweite Chance gibt.

 

Cute Halloween costumes for all!

Forgive me, I haven’t posted cutesy stuff for a long time, it’s practically like I’ve weaned myself off it, but I couldn’t bypass this!

Today I read GCC‘s post about her trying to find Halloween costumes for her twins, and she talked about Pottery Barn‘s costumes.

And they are killing me, people. Killing with cuteness! Cuteness overload! Cannot comcute compute!

Before I start drooling on my keyboard, just check out those kids in tights:

 

 

It seems like the owl trend is still going strong, like this costume proves. I know at least one person who’ll be happy to know 🙂

Mrs. Prosch’s Olde Bakery digs this zappy number, how couldn’t she?

 

 

Had I a baby, I would consider this group costume– who can resist a delicious baby? Nobody, that’s who.

 

 

Might be a bit cannibalistic for some tastes, though.

What are you dressing up as for Halloween? Cute or scary? Or even skanky?

 

The World According to Irving

Over ten years ago my friend lend me one of her father’s books. It was a tattered, often-borrowed German copy of “Owen Meany“, published by Diogenes.

http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/3257224915/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_g14_i1?pf_rd_m=A3JWKAKR8XB7XF&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1Z6F22HXAZ66JEMVZ563&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=463375173&pf_rd_i=301128

John Irving took me by surprise, to say the least. I had just met the master of first lines.

Take a look at the beginning of “A Prayer for Owen Meany“:

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice. Not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God.

I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”

This is how you hook your audience.

Fortunately, Irving’s grip didn’t loosen over time. I got caught up in the story as if it were a vortex, with some apprehension – could it be as great as the first line promised?- but without the possibility to stop.

Soon I discovered the second thing Irving’s mastered: the entanglement of what seems like a hundred characters and storylines, all wrapped up in a tightly woven ball of yarn. And the surprising discovery that all makes sense in the end. If “A Prayer for Owen Meany” hasn’t made me a religious person, it certainly has helped to enforce my belief that most things happen for a good reason. Still, I’m no believer like Owen:

“It made [Owen] furious when I suggested that anything was an “accident”— especially anything that had happened to him; on the subject of predestination, Owen Meany would accuse Calvin of bad faith…”

Next in line was “The Cider House Rules“. I got the German version “Gottes Werk und Teufels Beitrag” from the same friend’s father, though I bought my own copy not too long afterwards. http://www.amazon.de/Gottes-Werk-Teufels-Beitrag-Irving/dp/3257218370/ref=pd_sim_b_2

 I quickly fell in love with Dr. Larch:

 “Goodnight you princes of Maine, you kings of New England”

who would later be portrayed by the amazing Michael Caine in the 1999 adaptation that would win Irving the Oscar for its screenplay.

Following those two novels I began a barrage on my local bookstore and library, my shelves filled with all the beautiful Diogenes copies of Irving’s books.

As my English improved I rekindled my love for Irving’s prose with the originals. “A Prayer for Owen Meany” is still dear to me, but my favourite is, and always be, “The World According to Garp“.

Weirdly, it never was published as a paperback by Diogenes, which led to a hiccup in my otherwise white wall of Irvings. Garp und wie er die Welt sahIt is hard to explain what “Garp” does to me.

Among Irving’s novels it’s the one I’ve read the most often. I lost count along the way, but I can vouch for at least six sessions.

Every time I read it, I discover something new about the book and about myself.

Though I find saying “this is my favourite book” somewhat silly, it comes dangerously close to that title. Were I to run out of my burning flat, and had I still room in my arms next to my cats, I’d probably snatch my copy of Garp.

 As I began to re-read Irving’s novels I discovered “Black Swan”, who published pretty paperback versions like this one: World According to Garpand helped me get over my white Diogenes paperbacks, which weren’t available in English.

Anyone who has never picked up one of John Irving’s books should take his 70th birthday as an opportunity to give him a gift. Buying an Irving novel would be a nice idea.

If you’re stumped as to where to start, this is my top five list:

  1. The World According to Garp
  2. A Widow for One Year
  3. A Prayer for Owen Meany
  4. The Cider House Rules
  5. The Hotel New Hampshire

And if you’re still hesitant, here are the first lines of my top five, as an incentive:

  1. “Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theatre.”
  2. “One night when she was four and sleeping in the bottom bunk of her bunk bed, Ruth Cole woke to the sound of lovemaking – it was coming from her parent’s bedroom.”
  3. “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice.”
  4. “In the hospital of the orphanage – the boys’ division at St. Cloud’s, Maine – two nurses were in charge of naming the new babies and checking that their little penises were healing from the obligatory circumcision.
  5. “The summer my father bought the bear, none of us was born – we weren’t even conceived: Not Frank, the oldest; not Franny, the loudest; not me, the next; and not the youngest of us, Lily and Egg.”

A (short) adventure with Bubble tea

Last week many of my students arrived at our centre with bubble tea cups in hand, most of them gushing over how awesome they are.

So if, like me then, you’re not in the know about this trend, this is what wikipedia has to say:

 

“Bubble tea is the name for pearl milk tea and other similar tea and juice beverages that originated in tea shops in Taichung, Taiwan during the 1980s.

Drink recipes may vary, but most bubble teas contain a tea base mixed with fruit (or fruit syrup) and/or milk. Ice-blended versions of the drinks, similar to slushies, are also available, usually in fruit flavors.

One of the famous categories of bubble teas is “pearl milk tea” (also known as “boba milk tea” in parts of America), which contains small chewy balls made of tapioca starch, called “pearls” in Chinese (also known as “fenyuan 粉圆” or “zhenzhu 珍珠”). Pearls made of tapioca are also available in many places.”

 

In their opening week, Solingen’s shop selling the “tea”, located in the town centre on Kölnerstraße, had its customer’s lining up on the street for a beverage.

What for, I asked myself.

I had to see what all the buzz was about, so tonight I went there and checked it out.

After lots of contemplating, I ordered a small yoghurt grape “tea” with passionfruit bubbles.

The buying of the drink itself was an adventure.

Hubby and I stared at the three (!) ladies it took to mix the drink. One was pouring milk into a cup, the next one was measuring some grape sirup into a small cup whilst the third was engaged with a weird metal machine. After a few minutes and some more mysterious goings-on a label was coated to the top of my cup, which was then handed to me. Quite unceremoniously, as I might add, concerning all the brouhaha it took to make the drink.

 

 

Oh dear. The “tea” itself tasted nothing like grapes and a lot like Red Bull, making me question the amount of chemicals I had just swallowed.

I had to build up the balls to chew the bubbles, and making them pop was a rather unpleasant experience, with their somewhat milky and slick content spilling into my mouth. Blech.

After a few sips I decided that it wasn’t for me. How to dispose of the rest of the drink, I’m not sure yet. Does it classify as toxic waste?

The only pro I see in bubble tea are the rather cute pictures on the cups’ labels, like these two:

 

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This is definitely the first and last time I’ve bought a bubble tea.

 

I don’t think so!

 

Why the girls of Hayao Miyazaki are better than Disney’s Princesses

This morning I stumbled upon an interesting article on “Wired“: “Great Geek Debates: Disney Princesses vs. Hayao Miyazaki“.

Author Erik Wecks ponders the disadvantages of his daughters’ growing up while looking up to Disney princesses as role models.

 

 

He concludes that the majority of those girls embody a negative self-image for young girls as most of them have a troubled relationship with their parents and rely on their prince to save them.

 

 

Though Wecks agrees that this is more a cultural than a Disney problem, he fails to see that all of these movies derive from old fairytales.

This is a genre where not only the princess is more of a figure than a character, the prince, the king, the evil stepmother all are. In most cases they don’t even have a name, only a title.  “Snow-White” or “Cinderella” are the exeptions, and those are only descriptive names.

To conclude, as Wecks does as well, Disney is not to blame. It even started to create active heroines, as soon as the early nineties.

Remember this girl?

 

 

It is true, she had some fights with her over-protective father.

But she had a goal, too: She yearned to live at the surface. Meeting, and rescuing!, the prince was only the incentive she needed to go for her dream.

 

Erik Wecks does not only thrash the Disney princesses. He offers a healthy alternative in the form of the studio Ghibli films.

 

 

Wecks describes their assets very well in his article, so I won’t repeat them here.

Let’s only say that I completely side with him when it comes to the values Miyazaki’s films convey.

 

So what is my verdict here?

I’m certainly not one to condemn the Disney princesses movies. I grew up watching and loving every single one (up until “Pocahontas“, which I didn’t really get at that time and never bothered to watch).

But it hasn’t left me feeling like I need to be spectacularly beautiful just to snatch a husband.

On the contrary, my favourite princess, besides Arielle, has always been Belle.

 

 

Sure, she is beautiful. But she’s a booknerd, too, and rescues her prince in the end.

No matter what some jealous people say about stockholm syndrome ;-).

 

If I’m lucky enough to have the chance of raising a daughter one day, I’ll certainly let her watch Disney, just like my parents let me.

But, just like my parents did, I’ll be careful to provide her with some counterparts.

My parents took to Ronja, Pippi and the rest of the Swedish girl-force.

I for one will make sure my daughter will benefit from Chihiro, Ponyo, Kikki and the rest, as well.