Archive for March, 2005

Urban life, rural life, and piles of stone.

Friday, March 18th, 2005

Kerstin and I are leaving Berlin today. We are going to make a trip to Greece to visit Eleni (and Tom!) lasting until the end of this month. Therefore you are probably not going to see any new entries before the beginning of April (when I will be quite busy because of the upcoming conference in Darmstadt). Ah, Greece. Never been there before. Just finished reading Mary Beard’s The Parthenon – a very accessible and entertaining cultural history of the most famous building in the Acropolis, and of the conflicts concerning it’s material and symbolic heritage. However, we won’t be visiting too many ruins. Things that seem to be more interesting to me are everyday life, hiking in spring-enlivened nature, getting to know Athens, and, of course, eating lots of good food.

Multi-layered humor.

Friday, March 18th, 2005

Finally! I was quite eager to watch The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. After being pointed to this movie by Elizabeth and watching the trailers (see below) I was hooked. This was the most anticipated movie for me since the last part of The Lord of the Rings. Red woolen hats! Bill Murray. Owen Wilson. Willem Dafoe. Jeff Goldblum. The extraordinary, incredible, marvelous Cate Blanchett. What a cast! Absurd low-key humor. It has almost everything that I really like in a movie. Could it live up to these expectations? Difficult to answer. I was not disappointed after watching this movie, but I have to admit that I wasn’t gripped by uncontrollable attacks of laughter during this movie. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed it very much. The humor was less blunt than I would have thought, and I am quite sure that I will discover more and more of the brilliantly funny ideas that made watching this movie really worthwhile when I watch it again. Which I will do. Preferably in English, since I am convinced that something got lost in the translation of this movie. (heh.) There are many adorable characters in this movie. The astonishing cast works out wonderfully in this movie – I am still baffled by how different Cate Blanchett can look and act in different movies – I don’t know any other actor or actress that would be a match for her in this regard. The story is interesting, several strands interweaving, not everything being resolved, some unexpected twist of drama, characters that unfold. The interns were great. Loved the interns. I still have to smile thinking about the fact that Cate Blanchett is called “Jane Winslett-Richardson” – Steve Zissou’s ship is not the Titanic, and we don’t have Leo doing a cameo, but for me, this is just one of the many examples of the fine tuned humor of this movie. To be continued…
IMDb entry | Trailer | Webisodes

Somewhat overrated.

Friday, March 18th, 2005

Good cast, good story, adequate photography. I liked Sideways when I saw this movie a few days ago. It just wasn’t as good as I would have expected it to be after all the praise it received. Perhaps the praise is the result of it being an independent american movie that does some close-to-real-life storytelling instead of generating just another Hollywood story. However, from a European perspective this is not exactly an overwhelming achievement. Nonetheless, it was pleasant enough to watch this movie, and if you’re looking for some storytelling and just this hint of real life in a movie; if you’re looking for a story about aging men and women who haven’t yet given up on their dreams you should watch this movie. Being interested in wine and liking the californian countryside are two more good reasons for watching it.

IMDb entry | Trailer

Being a fan.

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

This weekend I had ample opportunity to hone my skills as a fan. The most challenging aspect of this endeavour was the difference between the acts that I was participating in: On Friday, a Ska-Punk concert; yesterday, Pop-Music at the German qualification for the European Song Contest.

The concert of the Skatoons took place in the Tommy Weissbecker Haus in Berlin Kreuzberg. An adequate location. There were quite a few kids there, and not few of the female population was inspired by Avril Lavigne-ness. The concert was great fun, even though several members of the Band were ill or still recovering from illness. Fast rythms, great ska-brass-blasting-sounds and a fun crew on the stage. I have to admit that my oldest friend Henning is part of the Band, along with others that I know like Inga, Tobe, and Holle, therefore I might have been slightly non-objective in my judgement. However, I had the opportunity to watch kids that knew the lyrics of the songs they played (not of the cover versions!), and they seemed to have a lot of fun, too. Buy their records, visit their website, dance to their music!

Change of subject; different scene altogether. A bunch of friends and yours truly are in the Arena in Berlin Treptow, entering the set for the European Song Contest qualification. We were cheering for Mia, a good friend of my apartment mate Olli. It was warm there too, though much less sweaty, and more heads with hair on top were present. We had excellent – the best, I would say – seats right at the side of the catwalk that belonged to the stage set, and enjoyed a perfect view on the performances. Which weren’t always that great, sadly. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the event immensely, cheered as much as we could every time Mia Aegerter was mentioned or visible on stage and hoped the best for her. Bad luck. Somebody else had more active fans voting for their star and Mia did not qualify… I liked her performance of the song Alive on stage – surely the vote has not a lot to do with her performance though. Reinhold Beckmann, the moderator, was terrible: neither funny nor clever nor sincere. The one shining light (hehe) for me was: Emma the former Spice Girl. The choreography of her dancing crew on stage was really funny, and really well done. I can’t recall much of the song, but the performace was great. What is even better: when she passed our seats I could not resist and hollered Emma!! and received a charming smile from a real, life Spice Girl! What a day…

Do the bibliography.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2005

A few days ago the new version 8 of Bookends by Sonny Software has been published. Bookends is a bibliography software similar to Endnote or Bibliographix or one of the other bibliography managers out there. However, it is only available for Mac OS X. Probably because of this focus on the Mac market, the interface is much easier to understand than the interface of other bibliography apps that I have used. What’s even better, it integrates perfectly with the word processor of my choice, Mellel.
Noteable new features of this really well-supported software are:

  • Internet database searching and importing. (That way you can access the Library of Congress and other Libraries / Databases, search for references, and then import the references along with additional information like keywords and sometimes even abstracts into your bibliography.)
  • Smart groups to organize your bibliography. (They work similar to smart playlists in iTunes or saved searches in Thunderbird.)
  • XML import / export.
  • Bookends Server, which allows me to grant you access to my bibliography!

After getting acquainted with the new version of Bookeends and solving a few server related problems with Jon from Sonny Software (his response / solution time has been below 10 hours – and that is including time zone related delays), I am proud to present you with probably one of the first WWW-wide available Bookends bibliographies in this universe: search my bibliography. Username and password are currently set to: “freund” and “mellon”. I will keep the server running pretty often. However, I might later change these and mail the current username and password to you by request.

I have also created import filters for Bookends with search capabilities for the following library catalogues in Germany: GBV/GVK, HeBIS, and VÖBB. I haven’t tested these thoroughly yet. Additionally, I have created a custom format in German (this is the same format which is applied on the output of my online bibliography, so check it out). You can download it. Any feedback is very welcome.