A man, a book and a ship

Last night I left behind a sleeping baby and tired husband and drove the Autobahn south, to Cologne. I walked along the Rhine until I found the MS RheinEnergie/Literaturschiff at the KD Anleger, refulgent against the dark river.

IMG_20150317_202002In its belly waited a bearded word-smith, quickly signing away at a desk filled with books.

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The Literaturschiff was continuously flooded with guests until, shortly after 9 pm., the ship left shore and the excited susurrus swelled. As Patrick Rothfuss, of Kingkiller Chronicles fame, took the stage, one could find grinning faces all around, it was finally happening: the author was in Germany, in Cologne, and about to read excerpts from his latest novella, “the Slow Regard of Silent Things”. Joining him was ChrisTine Urspruch, whose gentle reading of Auri, Rothfuss’ pixie-esque trickster, was truly endearing, enchanting the audience as much as Rothfuss himself.

Joined by Denis Scheck for a question-and-answers session he spoke of growing up around books

“not literature”

his love for language

“I really admire Chaucer”

and especially for the Fantasy genre

“why can’t we do [what Chaucer does], but – with dragons!”

His disbelief was tangible when Rothfuss questioned why only “the tragic movies where people die” get all the Oscars, not the comic ones, referring to the late Terry Pratchett and his humorous genius.

It was a whirlwind of a night for a fan who wouldn’t have dreamed seeing “his wordship” in the flesh was possible. The pleasure was only slightly disturbed by Schecks impressive endeavor of trying to translate as much of Rothfuss’ detailed answers as possible. After the event, Rothfuss stayed until every one who so wished could take home a signed copy of one or several of his books, even if it took him until 1:30 am to do so.

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Sadly, the organisers managed to utter two conflictive pieces of information concerning where the actual signing session would take place, leading to much confusion and chaos for the fans – and for this one to suddenly find herself in the last third of the oh-so-long queue of waiting book-carriers.

Still, it was worth it, just for being able to simply say

Thank you for writing

and, though having signed for such a long time, seeing a content twinkle in those tired eyes above the beard, which itself seemed to say

it was worth it

The Slow Regard of Silent Things

This book has been lying around here since late October 2014, and I hadn’t had a chance to read it yet, because you know!

But now I’ve finally read it, which didn’t take all that long since it’s a 176-page novella, and I’m so glad I did.

 

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I’ve been a fan of Patrick Rothfuss’ King Killer Chronicle books for a couple of years now. Not only are they deliciously written, the story and its hero is unique. Kvothe is a brilliant arcanist, but he is flawed and down-to-his-bones human. Book one alone warrants a post of its own, which I can’t deliver right now. Let’s leave it at: best fantasy I’ve read in a long while and definitely worth being mentioned in the same sentence as Tolkien.

“The Slow Regard of Silent Things” is not, and Rothfuss will be the first to tell you, the long awaited third part of his trilogy, but rather a short glimpse into the world of one of his characters, Auri.

On his blog – and in the book’s foreword – Rothfuss warns the potential reader that the book might not be for everyone:

You might not want to buy this book.

I know, that’s not the sort of thing an author is supposed to say. The marketing people aren’t going to like this. My editor is going to have a fit. But I’d rather be honest with you right out of the gate.

First, if you haven’t read my other books, you don’t want to start here.

My first two books are The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. If you’re curious to try my writing, start there. They’re the best introduction to my world. This book deals with Auri, one of the characters from that series. Without the context of those books, you’re probably going to feel pretty lost.

Second, even if you have read my other books, I think it’s only fair to warn you that this is a bit of a strange story. I don’t go in for spoilers, but suffice to say that this one is … different. It doesn’t do a lot of the things a classic story is supposed to do. And if you’re looking for a continuation of Kvothe’s storyline, you’re not going to find it here.

On the other hand, if you’d like to learn more about Auri, this story has a lot to offer. If you love words and mysteries and secrets. If you’re curious about the Underthing and alchemy. If you want to know more about the hidden turnings of my world…

Well, then this book might be for you.

Even though this is certainly a weird book, having only one character, neither storyline nor dialogue, I immensely enjoyed reading it.

When you’re hungry, sometimes you wolf down fast-food. You might even enjoy it, but you’ll be hungry again soon. And it’s not healthy.

Other times, you need a dark piece of chocolate, one you let dissolve in your mouth for minutes, that tastes oh-so-good.

This novella is like said piece of chocolate. Reading it is pure bliss for bibliophiles.

Rothfuss had to take some sh** for it, being blamed that he “only did it for the money” and shouln’t have written it, because “Hell, where is part 3? You OWE me part 3, and you waste your time on this?”. These accusations are rather ridiculous. Aside from no author “owing” their reader more books, accusing Rothfuss of being greedy is just wrong. Anyone who has a mind to can check out his blog and see just how much of his time and effort are directed at “Worldbuilders“, his charity. I don’t think that many other authors “who made it” spend so much of their time working towards helping others. More than once, reading his posts has warmed my heart, sappy as it sounds.

Sure, you could say that as writing is his dayjob, he should be so good at it that he’s believable, but reading posts like this leave me thinking that I could do more, myself:

I don’t want to get all heavy here in the middle of my charity post. But I’ll be honest with y’all. These last couple weeks have been hard for me. Sometimes it just feels like everything in the world is spiraling into shit. Politicians are awful. Corporations are worse. Our justice system seems to be irrevocably fucked. Cash register receipts are giving us cancer and the oceans are poisoned with our plastics.

There’s just so much of it, all the time, and I can’t fix it. All this shit is so wrong and it’s just so fucking *big* and I can’t do anything about it.

There is a word: “Weltschmerz.” I’ve heard it defined as “the despair we feel when the world that is, is not the world we wish it would be.”

I feel this way all the time. I am so endlessly angry and disappointed in the world. If people really understood how constantly, incessantly furious I am, nobody would ever dare come within arm’s reach of me.

That’s why I run Worldbuilders. Because the world isn’t what I want it to be. And I can’t fix it all, but if I don’t do something I’ll either start drinking or simply rage until there’s nothing left of me but ashes.

I can’t fix it all. But I can do this.

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(Imagine obviously owned by Patrick Rothfuss and taken from his blog)

There. That’s what I’m about. That little guy is so fucking excited because he has clean water to drink.  That I can do.

At the risk of letting this post get even longer, here’s another snippet from his blog, where you can see that even the little Rothfuss knows what it’s about:

A couple days ago, Sarah made the questionable choice of reading an entire toy catalog to Oot. He showed it to me when I came home, all excited. He had circled about twenty things in it with a red pen, and explained each of them to me. There were two marble mazes. A laser game. A skeleton with removable organs. A fossil kit….

Score one for rampant consumerism.

Later on, he came into my office, clutching the magazine. He started to explain the items to me again, focusing especially on the little terrarium that is supposed to grow plants that look like brains and eyeballs, as well as carnivorous plants (A pitcher plant, I’m guessing from the illustration) and a plant that moves (A sensitive fern.)

“I remember these,” I said, interrupting him gently. “You showed this to me last night.”

“Oh yeah,” he said. “But I was just thinking that you could order all of these on your computer. Not all at once,” he said quickly. “You could do some e-mail. Then order one. Then do some more e-mail. And then order one.”

It breaks my heart that he knows how busy I am. That he feels like he has to fit himself in between my e-mails. I’ve been neglecting him during the fundraiser. today I kissed a llama more than I kissed him. That’s wrong. I’m going to start making that up to him starting tomorrow.

“Those are pretty cool,” I said to him, then added. “Did you know that some families don’t have very much money? There are some families that are so poor that the parents can’t afford to buy any toys at all for their children for Christmas?”

I was going to lead him down the garden path. Explain the concept of something like “Toys for Tots” to him. Make a plan with him about how we could go out together and buy toys for other families.

But he didn’t even give me the chance. He started chattering on almost as soon as I’d finished. “Oh,” he said. “Well if you could buy this one thing for me,” he pointed to the terrarium. “Then we could give all of those other toys to other kids.”

That was it. There was no hesitation. He didn’t have to think it through. I could see his face when I explained that some kids didn’t have toys. It was confusing to him. His is expression said the five-year-old equivalent of “Some kids have no toys? Seriously? What the Actual Fuck?”

So they should get all these other things. He was fine with just one present.

He’s my sweet boy. He’s good. That’s the moral of the story here. He gets it. It’s just sharing. It’s simple.

That is how you raise your kids, people.

The end.

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 😉

Neue Moleskine-Notizbücher für Zuckerkünstler

Oooohohohoho, dachte ich eben wie ein verworrener Nikolaus, als ich meine Emails abrief: Moleskine hat neue Notizbücher! Aber nicht irgendwelche, nein, sondern das “Passion Journal Dessert” für Backverliebte – wie mich.

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Das Cover zieren eingeprägte Kuchen, Cupcakes und weitere Naschereien. Noch süßer wäre es, wenn es nicht schwarz wäre – zarte Pastelltöne hätten mir sehr gut gefallen! Laut Shop kann das Buch mehr als ein klassisches Notizbuch:

Das Journal bietet vier vorgefertigte Themenabschnitte und vier Tabellenabschnitte zur selbstständigen Gestaltung;
Glossar der wichtigsten Werkzeuge und Begriffe für einen Patissier, Anleitung zum Kuchenanschneiden, Platz für eigene Rezepte, Agenda für Partys und Raum zum Designentwurf.
202 Klebeetiketten zum Personalisieren Ihres Journals.

Hört sich doch sehr praktisch an!

Vor fünf Jahren hätte ich auch das “Passion Journal Hochzeit” gut gebrauchen können – und mir dabei die unordentliche Lose-Blatt-Sammlung erspart, die ich bei meinen Planungen immer dabei hatte.

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Ich werde zwar von Moleskine nicht für diesen Post bezahlt oder bestochen (“noch nicht”, *zwinker*), aber wer vielleicht eh noch einmal den Shop besuchen möchte: Dort haben sie gerade die “City Notebooks” mit eingebauten Stadtplänen, U-Bahn Netzen und und und … reduziert.

Mein persönlicher Favorit, natürlich, San Francisco.

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If I had a Delorean (Part I)

If I had a Delorean, and you know which one I mean,

 

 

I’d go straight back to 1994. Driving down Kölnerstr., I’d park behind the post to visit the old library.

 

 

I dream of pushing back the heavy old doors, turning left to the giant staircase.

I’d love to see those steps again, polished shiny by generations of feet.

If I’d climb those stairs they would take me to the first floor, the smell of old books and coldened coffee greeting me.

I’d turn right to check out the tapes first, looking for ones I haven’t checked out yet, or for old favourites.

But my true goal would lie to the far left, past all the other shelves, where the fantasy, fairytale and horror stories are kept, away from books about girls and ponies.

 

I’d love to read those stories for the first time, again.

My first ghost stories, the first vampire anthology I laid my hands on, the tales sending shivers down my spine, making me want to stop reading, but at the same time making stopping impossible.

 

If I had a Delorean I’d go back to that time, and once more fill my basket with more books than I could carry…

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.

 

 

 

He kept his promise

Years ago I’ve watched “Love actually” and fell in love with it. That’s why upon watching “the Walking Dead” I already knew main character Rick Grimes’ actor, Andrew Lincoln.

Now Jenny added a nice piece of knews:

Lonely Guy from “Love actually” kept his promise, to love Keira Knightley’s Juliet for always:

 

 

Eek! I for one do not see that much of a difference between the last picture above and this one:

 

 

Someone get that girl a sandwich, already.

Among friends

All I see is rotten bodies with a greenish hue. Dripping eyeballs and flaking skin.

Their sounds are scary, crunching bones mingled with moaning that would be heartbreaking, came it not from an undead, no longer a person.

They are shuffling, some with missing limbs, all of them dirty and probably stinking like the sixth circle of hell.

Now they have smelled something, they shift their bodies and cock their heads, sniffing, searching. They are hungry, closing in.

 

 

 

I’m pulling my blanket up, on the verge of being afraid.

But these are my old friends, surrounding me.

And not only the undead, though they have shared my life for quite some time now.

I mean the others. My husband, to my left, holding my hand. My newest friend to my right, leaning in to my old friend, her husband-to-be, squeaking at the Walkers when I am.

Last our glassblower to the front, protector of the fire.

 

I can’t put my finger on it, but something about the combination of Undead, old friends and various snacks makes my heart heavy. In a good way.