Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Two fingered salute

Fortunately my smartphone is too large to fit this wonderful case! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Writing matters

It was the colour that dominated my view from the terrasse of Café Venezia yesterday... my mood was far from 'blue'. On the contrary, I find myself in a manic and slightly mad phase, with my writing getting quite out of hand.

It was on the 12th of July that I started on my latest manuscript and this week I shall reach the half-way point (40,000 words) of a first draft! And... the first-person narrative is the story of a protagonist who is about to mark his eightieth birthday, is guilty of two killings and reveals to the reader only slowly the secrets of his exploits in Abkhazia at the time of the 1993 war with Georgia.

There will, I assure you, be further reports... hopefully of continued reckless progress.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

You rock, girls!

Neither of the happy winners, Kira Walkenhorst and Laura Ludwig, were in 1984 even glints in the eyes of their respective parents. But in that Olympic year I was publisher of the quarterly periodical Eurovolley in which we speculated about the relevance of beach volleyball, with its implication of sun-blessed sandy shores, in our northern climes.

I was optimistic even then. My attitude towards sport was that of a provider of entertainment, spectacle for the eye and sufficient excitement to make the pulse beat faster. At the Cap d'Agde naturist resort I'd found mixed-doubles tennis involving naked players a bit grotesque, but beach volleyball had met with my unqualified approval. 

But in Germany could it ever be taken seriously as a proper sport, let alone an Olympic discipline?  Now the gold in Rio is Germany's first-ever medal in women's beach volleyball. It goves me some kind of satisfaction after all the intervening years.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Ponte di Ferragosto

However precious is the daily contact between Munich and Berlin thanks to the Skype IM app, it is always a joy to welcome Jessica when she can get away for a weekend. I find that her visit tends to give the month in question its indelible profile... imagery that will remain in my mind.

Mid-August can bring weather which invites lingering at an outside table as the sun sets and darkness falls. It's the time when Italy goes on holiday and even Monaco di Baviera seems almost abandoned. 

I wonder what Jessi's September visit will imprint on our visual memory? Will it evoke that autumnal 'back-to-school' mood? Whatever... I look forward to finding out she next comes to spend a few days with us.

Update... Nothing lasts!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Speaking out...

Six hundred American academics signed a letter last month...

"Historians of different specialties, eras and regions understand the enduring appeal of demagogues, the promise and peril of populism, and the political uses of bigotry and scapegoating. Historians understand the impact these phenomena have upon society’s most vulnerable and upon a nation’s conscience. The lessons of history compel us to speak out against a movement rooted in fear and authoritarianism. The lessons of history compel us to speak out against Trump."


On the fifty-fifth anniversary of 'barbed-wire Sunday', as the start of construction on the Berlin Wall is known, the border security business is booming. Donald Trump has made a wall on the US-Mexico border a controversial centerpiece of his presidential campaign, and EU countries have erected fences to keep migrants and refugees out. But the Berlin Wall anniversary should be a stark reminder... walls can only contain people for so long.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A small effort

With Jessica coming for her monthly Munich weekend, a bit of a clean-up was the least I could do! I wish I had the energy and physical stamina to bring about a comparable improvement in my living quarters!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Words matter

How Rohmer would have laughed. Matt Damon, in his latest Jason Bourne film, only says a total of 288 words, just 45 lines in the entire film. With Damon rumoured to have been paid around $25 million that works out at around $86,000 per word. The disappearing of dialogue can be partly blamed on our increasingly dumbed-down short attention spans. However the cost of translating and dubbing a large amount of clever dialogue is a relevant factor with international audiences being increasingly prized. China is now the second-largest movie market in the world and is predicted to surpass the United States by the year 2020.  

If fewer and fewer words are spoken in Hollywood blockbusters, some of the new made-for-television series are a welcome compensation. For me, however, the films of Eric Rohmer, criticized as static, verbose and boring, still are the best reminder of what is possible. The late Andrew Sarris noted that “there’s nothing more cinematic than the spectacle of a man and a woman staying up all night talking”. For Rohmer and those who loved his work, there is action galore in his movies but it is the action of what was said colliding with what one did. Kent Jones wrote that "over the years Rohmer has received a great deal of attention as a creator of films structured around talk. He has also been noted as a lover of beautiful young people, as a teller of tales and as some kind of moralist.” 

Rohmer’s films leave the viewer with something to think about for a long time afterwards. I doubt if the same can be said of the movies of the Bourne franchise.