Catching up!

So with the sudden change from winter to summer, over the course of what seemed like a week, here is a longer recap of what is going on and burning hot!

I have made the jump into the latest console gaming generation and got an Xbox One and boy, oh boy, is it a blast. Playstation is not my thing anymore because after having a glorious Playstation 2, I jumped onto the Xbox 360 train and never really looked back. The controllers seem to be bigger and I always liked the menu and the idea of having that one machine as an entertainment system, which it now is. Even got this sound bar to amp up the sound of the TV that came with the apartment. Apartments in China come furnished with the necessities but no Xbox One or cool furniture unless one puts a good amount of money down.

Typing this, I am rewatching a uncut version of Logan and it’s even better. So if that movie was an 8 out of 10 before, without cuts it’s a nine. The music is great too and memorable compared to other Marvel properties and yes, I know it’s a Fox movie, duh. Still no Winter Soldier, Batman Returns or Dark Knight but a fitting swan song for the character played passionately by Hugh Jackman. If you happen to have seen a cut version, please do rewatch it, as you and I have seen a far inferior version of this violent movie and the violence has to be there…

Obviously gaming swallows a good amount of time, but I got to say it was probably the most worthwile investment it recent years. So, so much fun, relaxation, brain tickles and action for a comparibly little amount of money.

Having said gaming system and greatly enjoying it, had me drop a couple of TV shows, that for one reason or another don’t give me an equal or greater amount of enjoyment than gaming. I might have superpowers, namely 1) Dogs usually love me, 2) I can look at people and they say will say ‘hi’ or nod and question how they know me and 3) I am really cool with myself and can find something positive in the the worst situation/person/circumstance, but I only have the same amount of time in a day that everyone else on this planet has. So bye bye:

Arrow – It’s been great, your second season was the best, I greatly admire the dedication of Armell that does most of it’s own stunts/action-scenes and the salmon ladder but it’s too meddled now and we are in soap teritory most of the time. Maybe I watch the episode or two when Deathstroke comes back…

The Flash – Your first season was amazing, touching and smart. Now the bad CGI (can’t really fault you all the time) and parallel characters and seemingly repeating storylines are getting old.

The Blacklist – I dropped you a while ago, but your only quality is Mr. Spader otherwise you are an average waste of time.

The Walking Dead – Haha, you are a joke by now, nothing, absolutely nothing happened since the first episode of the current season and no developments. The finale was disappointing and I was glad I saved 12 hours. Good riddance!

American Horror Story – This god-awful found-footage/confusing real crime story thing did not work for me at all and an upcoming election themed season doesn’t sound appealing to me in the slightest either.

Homeland – It has been great up until the season in Germany, that was a snoozefest and this season picks up right at the peak of snoozefest and has the best character go through PTSD and drug problems. No thanks!

Supergirl – You were never really made for me, but I have watched you and enjoyed the first season more than I thought I would.

Legends of Tomorrow – Had a blast the first season and enjoyed it while cleaning up, cooking and other chores, much like Supergirl but if I would feel bored (which probably never happens) I would watch an episode. You are a great stupid but smart show, that is super enjoyable but I have Gotham that already scratches that itch.

The Strain – Not much, to not like here, but I probably would use that time to play a horror and/or zombie/vampire game or read a book.

So what am I still watching?

Gotham – haha! Silly Gotham – you are great, please don’t change!

Better Call Saul – My god, this is such a leasurely paced and amazingly acted and scripted show. Can’t wait to watch it every week.

Silicon Valley – So good! Watch it, it’s smart and funny. Nothing more and nothing less.

Bates Motel – Biting my nails for the last couple of episodes. So well acted, so underrated.

Into The Badlands – Amazing fight scenes, cool world, brutal, good escapism. Acting could be better, but that is enough to like.

Fresh Off The Boat – Modern Family equivalent with amazing kids, a good chuckle factor and according to the missus often accurate in their abroad Taiwanese/Chinese dpection.

Modern Family – You are consistently good, heart warming and funny. Please stay that way and go on forever!

Fargo – Every season an example in world-building, depth and acting.

Leaving the shows with a long wait out, so obviously Game of Thrones, The Defenders and others are on the list to watch…

Around 90 hours in The Witcher 3 have to come from somewhere. It’s such a good game and I am more than happy to have paid full price for this masterpiece. The sound bar also brings out all the work they put in sound design – it’s a work of art in any way I can think of. Buy it, play it, be amazed and brain tickled!

Let me review a couple of games that I have played on the 360 before, not counting games I played on my old 360 in Germany, as this is ages ago and I don’t really remember:

Darksiders – Soooooo good! Possibly one of the best games in terms of art style – it is so up my ally, it’s unbeliavalbe. The game is basically a heavy metal version of Zelda and some superb controls and action from maybe Devil May Cry. The art style is incredible in the sense that it goes sooooo deep, even the collectibles you sell are in a flush, nicely game themed window you can access. Can’t praise this enough and picked it up again for free on games with gold and bought Darksiders 2 on a sale.

The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition – I have no idea what was enhanced about this, as in the beginning this game felt massive, but after leaving the first DVD I finished it an afternoon later, it was almost like the game was suddenly on rails with no way to stop and look around (but that might have just been me). Horrible menues and controls like in a truck simulator do not bring this game down by much – it was amazing but not as good as the sequel.

Skyrim – Woah! Sooooo good, endless fun, totally got sucked in. I was arrowing my way through caves and shouting at people and did never ride a horse. I probably pick the remastered edition back up and start anew. What a beast of a game and remembering Morrowing fondly this was such a good time. I did not finish it but roughly sank 80+ hours into the game.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 – That was a mixed bag. I loved the first one, but horrible stealth parts (can’t stretch that enough!) and odd pacing as well as insanely long loading times made this game fairly disappointing. Satan got ripped though compared to the first one. There are interesting ideas in there, like the first person sequence in the beginning and some great artwork and design, but one can tell that there was interference with a great team that lead to a mediocre sequel.

Fallout: New Vegas – I bought instalment number three for my Xbox 360 in Germany and stopped somewhere halfway through and enjoyed it, but New Vegas is a different beast, with more color and more choices this was some great escapism.

South Park: The Stick of Truth – It’s like being in South Park and living in a couple of episodes. Great!

Deadpool – Now that game had potential and some of it works, but the moves and action becomes so repetitve that this game falls short in the end. Pick up the awesome X-Men Origins: Wolverine which is the best version of the movie and possibly one of the best superhero movie spin-off games ever and rivals only Logan in terms of violence and intensity!

Diablo 3 – So that was good too, had great fun playing with the missus on the couch, but she was complaining about the uneven looting (I was picking basically everything up). Now owning the Ultimate Evil Edition this is basically a different and much fairer game – can’t stress enough how good this game is on the couch and still has support and new stuff after 5 years. Woah!

Borderlands 2 – Diablo as a shooter with comic style graphics and great humor. Amazing! Now having the Handsome Collection even more and better looking fun.

BioShock Infinite – Best and most thought provoking ending in a game ever. I don’t need to say more, a little bit more though in the stupid but smart article.

Tomb Raider – Best reboot or re-imagining or call it whatever you want of a game I remember fondly. Liked it better than all of the Uncharted games I played with superb combat and great story that really made this character relatable while updating Lara to a more timely heroine. The secrets actually made me want to find them for fun – achievement unlocked!

Enough of my ramblings. I have caught up with writing and you have caught up with my opinion on things.

Lego Batman, Logan and Iron Fist

A good weekend of two movies in the cinema and a TV show that I was looking forward to. Let’s jump right in!

The Lego Batman Movie – Almost got me completely hooked, like The Lego Movie back in the day. The first 10 minutes were rapid fire fun, jokes and references. Then it seemed they decided they can’t keep the speed up. From beginning to the end, the animation is marvellous and the voice acting is superb. But it is missing the heart that completely unexpectedly pounded with warmth in the third act of the Lego Movie and made it deeper than I expected.

Maybe I am expecting too much and it was/is a kids movie and don’t get me wrong, it’s a good one at that. Be healthy, have abs, be friends. Mild spoiler incoming…

***

I was waiting for that human layer that might lurk beneath Gotham and was expecting maybe Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson telling their kids how to get along or Adam West trying to explain the Batman lore to a Kindergarten. I think that would have given the movie another level, without that it felt a bit, for the lack of a better word, simple. 

***

On to another favourite hero of mine: Logan a.k.a. Wolverine a.k.a. James Howlett. The universally beloved huge jacked man delivers by far the best solo Wolverine experience. I would have not seen such a big jump in quality coming from the same director of The Wolverine, which I found mediocre. Coming from that movie I didn’t expect too much and I feel this movie has been a bit over hyped.

I loved Hugh Jackman in all the X-movies. He is/was Wolverine, even though he is a tad to mild-mannered and too tall, but what does that matter now? Logan did not make me cry, whereas The Fountain (with Hugh and with critics again being wrong) and Arrival (critics okay for once) for example had me sobbing. I am the kind of person who gets watery eyes in Titanfall 2 when the Pilot of the Titan you eventually take over dies, so it didn’t tug my heartstrings, however the X in the end had me smiling and lovingly look back with tinted eyes.

Then something happened! I realized that all previous entries missed the swearing and violence, even though I saw a version that apparantly had 14 minutes cut (thanks Obama China). This felt fuller and right for the characters, more realistic and honest. Speaking of that, apparently people who swear tend to be more honest.

What happened is that once the rose-colored nostalgia wore off, I started to miss all this honesty, swearing and violence in the previous movies that we finally got thanks to Deadpool. So all in all it was a great movie, but it is not one of the best comic book movies ever made, at least not in my book.

Can’t wait to see the new pick for Wolverine and personally I’d suggest this guy. Seems shorter, is buff enough, young and I can easily picture him in mutton chops. However seeing that he will be in the Inhumans TV-show and Marvel’s all is connected mantra we have yet to see an actor playing different roles within the MCU. Your move Iwan!

Now to the ‘worst Defender’!?! Iron Fist… (Rotten Tomatoes say it all: critics 15% and audience 84%)

I don’t know where to start. Should they have casted an Asian actor? Maybe. Is it the savior character people are tired off? Maybe. Is it a bad show and a waste of time? No.

6 episodes in, as much as the ‘critics’ got before, I really dig it. It’s better than Luke Cage (critics!), by a mile for me. I got a bit of Arrow vibes in the beginning but that slowly faded with the miles better acting, especially by the Meachums and Colleen Wing. The fighting is somehow not as polished as on Daredevil and the first fight had me giggle a bit, but Danny is holding back, is inexperienced (not in fighting but in the ‘real world’) and I am sure he doesn’t want to hurt people severaly due to his beliefs. Almost everything people critique about Finn Jones (wiener not featured in the show but on Game of Thrones) acting can be explained with the plot and the ‘soft’ martial arts he uses. I belive they are meant to look relaxed and he has yet to find himself in the real world. I for one, like the childlike attitude of Danny.

Netflix show rating by me: Daredevil Season 1 > Jessica Jones > Daredevil Season 2 > Iron Fist > Luke Cage.

Someone explained the misconceptions about the titular hero better than me:

Rey0208 via Screenrant Comment in this article:

“If you wish to see the truth, hold no opinion.”

-Zen Saying

This show was burdened with expectations and perceptions that were not aligned with what the creators were trying to do.

You complain that it spent too much time on the “sordid family drama

of the Meachums” or the “corporate shenanigans of Rand Enterprises”, but

 we knew from the beginning that they were going to be big parts of the

show. The trailers and casting news were very clear. The Meachums were

the first characters to be cast. And the first trailer was about Danny

coming back home to claim his inheritence. If you didn’t want to see

that, that was your fault for ignoring the trailers and casting news.

You also complain that Danny Rand is a terrible hero. He “takes

action despite having no plan,” is the “least likeable protagonist and

least convincing superhero,” and is a “pale copy of other billionaire

superheroes,” because he “wanted to be Danny Rand, New York

billionaire,… and K’un-Lun paid the price.” If this is why you didn’t

like him, then you misunderstood the character.  In interview after interview,

Danny Rand has been described as having the mind of a child. Madame Gao

even tells him so. And why wouldn’t he be? He was orphaned at 10 years old

and lived a cruel and brutal life for 15 years. Of course he’s going to maladjusted!

But his flaws are what makes him interesting. And if you can’t see that, then

you don’t truly understand the character. You’re just upset that you

didn’t get to see another hero that fits into the cliched billionaire

superhero stereotype. If anything, this show did something tremendously

different. He’s a flawed hero. It’s original and compelling.

Aside from these uninformed expectations, critics also had misperceptions.

They were upset that Iron Fist doesn’t advocate a social justice

issue like JJ, LC, and DD season 1. But DD season 2 didn’t advocate a

social justice issue, even though some people stretched and said it was

commenting on gun control. But, c’mon! It’s the Punisher! If anything,

DD season 2 was a commentary on veterans. And you could stretch Iron

Fist just as much as say it was commenting on drug addiction, mental

health, homelessness, or corporate responsibility and business ethics.

But why do any of these shows have to advocate for a social justice

issue to be good? It’s a superhero TV show! What are Flash, Arrow, or

A.o.S. advocating?

They were also upset about “white-washing” or the “White Savior

Complex”. But, (1) Danny Rand is white in the comics. And (2) He’s not a

 White Savior. If anything, he’s a derelict. And, again, Madame Gao even

 tells him so. But the same critics crying about White Savior were also

the same ones praising Doctor Strange. And that’s hypocrisy! Because

Doctor Strange is an actual White Savior. White guy shows up at an

exotic place, becomes better than everyone else at what they do, and

single-handedly saves all of them from a threat they should have been

prepared to defend against themselves. But nobody ever points that out!

So why is Iron Fist taking the heat? The White Savior criticism is

unfair and hypocritical, and profoundly misunderstands Danny Rand’s

character arc.

So next time you say something about this show, at least try to keep

in mind what the creators were trying to do — tell a story about a

flawed and reluctant child-like character, while staying faithful to the

 source material and not being burdened with a social cause.

The Fans and Critics are the problem

We are the problem…

Really, unlike with video games, where fans keep calling publishers out on their bullcrap and someone like the amazing CD Projekt Red comes out of the woodwork and delivers on all accounts without aggravating (what I believe) a single consumer, with the grandious Witcher 3 (so yes, I am part of that cult too now), movies are a different kind of beast.

We are entitled brats when it comes to comic book movies…

I understand that it is staggering and actually kind of scary when there seems to be 20 movies a year being hauled at the consumer that come from the comic book genre. But is that even a genre? I see spy thrillers, sci-fi operas, action movies, comedies, action comedies and everything else. Hell! Road to Perdition is a comic book based movie. The Walking Dead is a TV-show based on a comic book series. It’s not a genre. It is hard for me to think of another fan base of movies that is so vocal about every nook and cranny and seemingly cares so strongly about X being better than Y – it’s the biggest dick measuring contest you can be part of. And here I am commenting on this contest.

Star Trek versus Star Wars might be something that has been argued about a lot, but to be fair, it never struck me as that comparable. I kind of enjoy both but am not the biggest fan of either. I remember they always got along in the end and strolled through galaxies happy and married and one had a tad more action, the other was more brainy and now they are both touched by J.J. Abrahams and a bit closer to each other than ever before. Why divide fans? Why can’t we all just get along?

Some voices are too damn loud…

The internet keyboard warriors that fuel this fire in comment sections on comic ‘fan’ sites and movie pages are the jet fuel that makes the structure of these weak (doesn’t melt it though) and sets unrealistic expectations or let them ‘fail’ before they even had the chance to watch them in their entirety. Thank you trailers and critics. For the most recent example look at Iron Fist and the hate it gets for having shown half the season to ‘critics’.

And the outrage over the casting etc., but let’s not get into that. So some people, who may or may not be fans look at basically half a movie/TV show and rip it to shreds. Before you have a go and can enjoy or hate on it as much as you want. I guess maybe some people really enjoy getting told what to like. These movies or shows, do make money and they are there to do that and they do a good job (mostly).

Who are those critics anyway? Oscars and the Academy Awards and all of that. It’s the self fellatio contest to the dick measuring of MCU versus DCEU.

Some people say the right thing…

…and get drowned in the battle of profanities and arguing over tastes, here is a fantastic comment by Dr feelgood in the Screenrant comment section of this article:

 

I’ve made this statement before and I’ll make it again, the problem

is not… NOT the movies or the directors or even Warner Bros. It’s you ,

the fans. The fans are a bunch of hypocritical children who turn angry

at the drop off a hat when they don’t get what they perceive to be right

 or correct. They get this fanboy rage when someone either likes or

dislikes what is not what the mob likes or dislikes. Articles like this

and the “what does marvel have to do to get an Oscar” article do nothing

 but divide the fans further inside that perception of goodness or what

is correct. The mob turns on one person for saying something but

embraces a different person for saying the same thing. James Cameron

praised Zack Snyder you people went crazy, called him a hack said he

needed to get back on his meds threatened to boycott his movies and

worse… Scott derickson praises Zack and all the sudden Watchmen is

everyone’s favorite movie… WHAT?? The fans have no idea what they want,

they just know they don’t want others to like what they don’t. It’s all

very childish and stupid. I liked BVS quiet a bit therefore my taste in

movies must be flawed. But I liked winter soldier too so I’m OK? Can’t

have it both ways fan boys. Batman and the DCEU will be fine as soon as

fans stop acting like entitled children who “deserve” anything. You

don’t deserve anything. You get what you get, you like it or you don’t.

It’s that simple.

 

Couldn’t agree more. Like the poster of the comment above I really enjoyed Batman v. Superman and Watchmen and Winter Soldier.

I was as scared as the next guy and by next guy I mean a person that cares for Batman, when Ben Affleck stepped away from the director’s chair of ‘The Batman’. I want to see that movie and I want it to be good and be made and made properly.

Personally I want a mix of the magic of the Tim Burton Batman, the richness of the Nolan Batman, the bombast, impact and ripped from the comic pages scenery of Zach Snyder and John Wick/The Raid inspired fight scenes. Is that too much to ask for?

Here is Kevin Smith talking about Ben stepping away. He says it better than I could write. Now, with the Planet of the Apes director at helm, things will work out. I am excited!

It’s a great time to be alive! Try to calm down a bit and enjoy what is put in front of you – it’s not the end of the world.

Let me try to conclude this with another comment on a Screenrant article by ambrosia about the DCEU not changing to please critics:

I love reading some of these comments that are just portraying

exactly what the article is stating. Critics judge a movie based on

contemporary values. If a new artistic language shows up, they have no

foot to stand on. I also love reading the internet-majority parroting

terms like “pacing”, “structural issues”, “editing”, “narrative”, etc,

but never going into detail beyond that. Like you scratched the surface

of a literature/movie-making essay, picked up on those fancy, technical

terms but never bothered to go beyond that.

Other people just want Batman, Superman and other DC characters to be

caricatures of themselves. An infallible, perfect Superman , a nigh –

omniscient Batman, etc. A reason why the meta, fun, oh-so-self-aware

formula of The Lego Batman Movie is so appealing. 75+ years of DC Comics

 and I guarantee you it changes overtime and the generations that

preceed a change in (Golden, Silver, Modern) Age consider that same

change… a “misunderstood attack” on the characters.

Bottom line, in my opinion? We’re witnessing a new cinematic art and

much needed expansion of the superhero genre . MoS was first horribly

received but now is considered by many to be a contender for best comic

book movie. A similar transitive process that occurred to… 2009’s

Watchmen.

…and as said in the beginning I agree with this and time will tell if Batman v. Superman will be considered a better movie later on, I don’t doubt that. If not by critics than maybe by movie buffs but certainly by me.

So here is the Power Rangers trailer that gets the kid in me excited while seemingly striking a good balance between being dark(er)/grounded and still delivering on the fun, something the latest Fantastic Four movie failed horribly at. I have thrown my two cents out there.

The Blues and Winter Shanghai

Winter is unfortunately still not over. Today the mercury rose to 18 degrees (celsius, the other one I can’t wrap my head around), thing is, it drops close to zero at night and it feels even worse.

As a matter of fact winter here used to be much more depressing. It was super grey and super polluted before. This cold season there hasn’t been a day with the AQI over 500 nor have their been more than my fingers days where it was noticeably bad and I have a full set of fingers. Somehow the closing of hundreds of factories around Shanghai made a massive change.

This month there is a crackdown on scooters and I (not owning a scooter, but a bicycle) couldn’t be happier. Traffic got better in days. I don’t have to worry about charging my bike and stay fit at the same time. Now I am even a bit safer. Winning!

So living here is often a fine line between one extreme and the other, but during the winter almost everyone gets a bit of the blues.

What got me to write this article was this, not really comprehensive or super helpful article, but it’s something and it inspired me to put some words on the screen and give my two cents on the subject.

I am not a typical expat that is crying from an ivory tower window, nor do I have relationship problems, maybe some problems with food (my size used to fluctuate a good bit) and a solid 3 year plus streak of having at least one alcoholic drink a day in between my stay here that I just broke last year with fantastic results.

My superpower, if I have one, is to adapt quickly to new situations. I seem to have a very short or shorter shock phase for changes of all kinds and then just think: okay, let’s deal with this new reality, be happy and make the best of it.

This does not mean that I always force myself to be happy. As an armchair psychologist I’d say that would be horrible for your psyche. Live the emotion a bit: scream, even if it’s just inside or punch a punching bag or be sad, cry a little or a lot, be sad or mad and then move on and adapt to that reality and make the best of it. 

A while ago the YouTube sunshine Prozzie posted this video:

His mannerisms and and behaviour in this particular video is in stark contrast to all his other videos, but while watching this one, this seemed oddly familiar. People leaving, people not coming back. The feeling of being alone and isolated.

Here is the one thing to fix that completely – change the perspective!

Trick your mind. The city is half empty – make it your playground. Go have a beer walk. Make it nice and cozy in your apartment and read that book or get lost in that game you have, the one you always think you have no time for. Friends leave – you can’t change that, so why worry? Be a bit like Will Forte in The Last Man on Earth, dive in it, try to find what brings you joy.

Maybe it is about joy. I might completely oversimplify all this and this sounds so easy, eh? But maybe, just maybe it is. Sometimes the answers are right in front of you. If you have the time and the space then what is holding you back from doing something that gives you some childlike joy? Find it! Do it!

And to not sound like a hippie here is some great music to delve into the gloom for a bit. For all the positivity that radiates from me, it might sound odd, but I assure you it’s not, that I really, really dig some sad tunes. You know why? Because everyone who is human feels sad too and I can allow that for a song or even longer and then you move on and deal with stuff.

Get out of the blues with some sad music while diving into it, let it flow through, like Wim Hof does with the cold. It cures!

More Than Life with incredible Melodic Hardcore

Katatonia with sad and gloomy melodic Doom Metal, Max Richter with sad and deep Classic Pieces, Clint Mansell with a flawless record of Soundtrack Music and Asche & Spencer with more sad Soundtrack Music 

 

Dinner for one or how to lose a superhero

This is something about a hero of mine. A person that I spend most of the New Year’s Eves of my life with, a person that shaped me more than any comic superhero ever has and will be. My beloved Grandma!

Sometimes life hits harder than Superboy’s punches that bring heroes back from the dead. I wish I could punch reality and bring you back. At almost 90 years you went to sleep without getting up again. You will always live on in my and everyone’s memories.

I will visit your resting place this winter, until then, here are some words from me to the world that will not do you justice but give a glimpse of what was and will live on:

Every weekend of my youth I had sleepovers at your place. I was the (hopefully funny) chubby kid in school and that was porbably because every Sunday morning I got up early, I believe 6:30 am and gave myself the full dosage of X-Men, Power Rangers (later on), Hulk and sometimes the weird cartoons that aired before that, I believe Captain Planet and that weird one with a ship’s captain trying to safe the environment. Sometimes I got up so early that the screen showed the no signal screen and/or later the credits of who dresses up the news anchors and a lot of staff and stuff by Endemol. Then you got up and made me coffee and after breakfast fed me whatever I wanted, mostly pancakes and loads of them, which led to me being chubby and maybe all the chocolate inbetween and cookies and everything up to lunch and after that. It was love that filled my belly.

You have also always been an avid reader, even until your last days. All of Paolo Coelho, The White Massai and tons of other books you devoured. Me and my sister at some point doubted you actually read all these books and questioned you and you replied with Wikipedia like knowledge without knowing what Wikipedia is. You win!

When I was 3, 4 or 5 you read that bird book to me and I somehow was able to name all these birds from the pictures alone. So you gave me superpowers. Obviously now I am super bad at telling birds apart nor would I be able to name more than 3 birds out of that book on the fly, but I still read and will continue to do so.

One day you had to cut me out of my winter overall because it froze shut after playing in the snow all day. Not long after we found several cans of what we, as kids, believed to be ooze that might have gotten us Ninja powers, what it got me instead was my hands glued together. Nothing you couldn’t fix, it took a chunk of butter, warm water and time and again love, something you had in throngs.

Another time you washed and scrubbed the back of my hand until it hurt until we both realized that I was just incredibly tanned.

Going to find mushrooms in the woods was one of my favourite things to do and you were the best to find them with. You pretended to not see some of them (I know that now) and made me win all these ‘competitions’.

At age 14 I dressed up as ‘Dolly Buster‘ for the German version of the carnival and complimented me on my fantastic legs with the advice to ‘be careful not to get touched, because I could really pass as a girl’. Haha! It was the most lucrative going from house to house I remember. Don’t judge me, Dolly Buster was a legend in late night German TV and always a good laugh in her German SNL parodies.

Never really bringing girls home you assumed that I was gay and even that was completely fine with you (You know that we lived in years way after the 80s. You told me to please bring however I am seeing next time I visit from China or whoever I am dating. Regardless the gender.

But most fondly I remember the New Year’s Eves. Sitting there until way beyond my bed time, you have had one glass of sparkling wine prepared for me. We were sitting there, waiting, eating, talking and watching ‘Dinner for One’ a classic and most repeated sketch on TV, that I to this day laugh about and enjoy. Watch it here:

There is even a Netflix contemporary version here…

We always had a dinner for two and then you let me light all the fireworks and the next day go out and collect misfired fireworks or some that haven been lit that I set on fire with my friends. Safe!

You have always been nothing but amazing to me and you will forever be. Rest in peace Omi!

Periphery in Shanghai or how to not handle a bad situation

Let me start this with: I was stoked! We don’t get a lot of great bands here. Let alone such a highly technical and mass appealing band like Periphery.

I came across them years ago while writing reviews for a now unfortunately discontinued German e-zine. It was a great time.

Periphery are a highly technical Djent band from Washington. They are great – listen to this and this. Opening act was Abstracts from Japan and they killed it. Fantastic sound, fantastic energy and amazing vocals. Basically Architects meets Structures meets Counterparts. It was seriously worth the ticket price 220 RMB or around 30 Euros.

Abstracts – the band that saved the night and concert

Then Periphery came on with good news and bad news and as everyone knows: people wanted to hear the bad news first (we never got to hear the good news, but I guess it was that they played in some way). They are terribly sick and there will be no lyrics. There was no ‘being sorry’, so they started playing and it was great, they handle their instruments well, they obviously are seasoned and great musicians.

The band without the singer and Jake not pictured

I was bamboozled with having requested to sing every note and word along. I don’t know most of the lyrics of bands I adore (apart from Manowar, who are also responsible for my English, but that is a different story) or bands I covered and screamed for, let alone a highly technical band with that kind of lyrics and vocal style.

Surprisingly people tried really hard and partly succeeded in the song Merigold. What they got was that they could do better and later that they don’t measure up to the excitement of Hong Kong – really?

I can think of multiple ways to make the concert still work somehow:

  • have a fan come on stage and sing
  • as band, sing along (at least for parts), it baffles me that this seemed not to be in the realms of possibility
  • have the recording or vocal track play in the back and play along (obviously you can do that)
  • get the Abstracts guy to do some of it or a Roadie
  • hum, step away or sing/scream parts or explain what are the words (every band I played in knew parts if not all of the song)
  • have someone scream whatever along the way
  • have someone randomly freestyle on what you play

Look, you are not a post-rock band nor a Killswitch Engage where people are entertained solely by the music nor do they have a chance to even remotely (in China) know the lyrics and notes of every single song. What were you thinking?

I could have excepted everything that happened but lost it completely at the encore, the fact that you played that stuff, to wait and have people ask for it (I have been there and we have planned it) was sooooo out of place, people actually asked and chanted for it and you got it. And asked for even more… I couldn’t believe it. Play the tight set, apologize and walk off. Or have the grandiose (I am serious) opener lead the show, play 20 minutes of your best songs instrumental, apologize and introduce them to a band that is amazing and came with the energy of a thousand suns. Let them shine and be humble.

Instead we got someone who was in the unfortunate position to break the bad news and I understand that working in customer service who gets riled up and antagonizes the crowd with everything he says. I feel sorry. I feel sorry for the 3 dudes who clearly tried and had fun and played everything with passion and sincerity and every one of them would have probably been a better spokesperson than Jake (I think that is your name and I am really, from my heart of hearts sorry to critique you that way, but that came off as arrogant and completely misplaced).

It was immature. I understand people shouting negative things and I am surprised not more people have left early. I am hands down amazed by the people that were okay with all that and kept asking for the next song and clapped, I tried and did so first too.

Again, I am glad I was there, I would have missed out on Abstracts and I understand that a refund was probably not in the books, nor would I have asked for it. I also do understand and appreciate that the band played, but man, this was so badly handled, I have trouble finding a lot to redeem that and I leave this with a sad feeling. Something seemed off and I hope the singer is okay and recovers but on the top of my head I can think of at least 3 or 4 ways how that could have went a different and better way. You can do better and I saw the disappointment that you were aware of and maybe you were all a bit sick but you powered through but not in the smartest way.

A couple of years ago Deafheaven played here and I think for a whole song (it was one of the first songs and I don’t think the screamer was sick) the microphone gave up completely. The singer shouted over it and played along for the whole song, not missing a scream and it was not audible but dayyum, it impressed me and that act alone made me hear the words in my head.

I feel bad for the band trying so hard and clearly being passionate about it, but Jake my man, I am disappointed and I hope one day there is at least that one word ‘sorry’ that could have made it all bearable…

The man that brought me to China

I wanted to become a Shaolin monk when I was 12 to 14’ish…

No jokes! I have written about this before, but I would like to take some time and elaborate a bit more.

I’m from a little town in the Ore Mountains in Germany and a bit earlier, if I remember correctly it was when I was 11 years old, I joined the young firefighters in our village. I wanted that so much, that I annoyed everyone so much, that they let me join at age 11, officially it was 12. This little dragon was my idol (an Italian cartoon I just learned).

So I was the kid that at that age told everyone dirty jokes (for real!) and bullied one of my childhood friends a lot. We know laugh about that. Kids are horrible to each other but I think we just wanted that kid to be more like us. At one point we even did one of those make-over shows, without these shows being a thing, where we dragged him to get a haircut and pick ‘cooler’ clothes from his closet and bought him how to ride a bicycle, which ended with him trying on his own, riding down the neighbours driveway, crashing into the neighbour’s kids scooter and landing, breaking his fall with his wrists and two wrists in casts. This guy never really had it easy. I believe months later he came to school with a duck face, before that was a thing, a wasp got him on the upper lip. We had a laugh. Kids are terrible. Shortly after that, we learned how to solder (I actually did not, I believe, because I was in the artsy group, so I learned acting and playing keyboard and stuff, while my friend really liked it when the teacher showed him how to play and touched the back of his head with her bosom – but that is another story) and he tried to cool the thingy blowing air at the iron and someone slightly pushed him, so back was the duck face but different. Oh boy! My dad thought him how to swim, while we annoyed splashed water on him and had a laugh. Man, kids are really terrible.

Let’s get back to the cast(s). There is a man that found himself countless times injured and in said casts. A man that finally got an Oscar he so well deserved, the man that brought me to China. Jackie Chan

ASH’s Kung Fu and the end credits of the fantastic and first big American movie Rumble in the Bronx with a superb soundtrack, a movie that made me fall in love with the idea of living in America (I have never been) and idolise this man even more).

At the age of 13 or maybe 14 there wasn’t a weekend where I didn’t watch one of his movies. Countless times I have rewatched ‘Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow’ my then favourite movie with him, which is now toppled by the non-aging movie ‘Wheels on Meals’ that came out when I was born. If that isn’t a sign?

Jackie Chan is unfortunately not the idol he is or was to me here in China. He gets flag for some stupid stuff he said in recent years and maybe rightfully so, but you can google that yourself, I want to keep this more on the positive side. Just to name some, he said his son was rightfully imprisoned for weed consumption and possession, he denies one of his daughters I believe, he said stupid things about the US, about Taiwan and was turning his alliance like it suited him, but again, how much of this is really him. I like to think better of him.

So there was I, doing the Snake Kung Fu expressions, dreaming of leaving the village behind and living in the mountains in China where everyone knows how to fight and everything is a bit goofy and weird. A van Damme poster on the door to my room and countless VHS tapes with Jackie Chan movies, every other weekend a VHS rented to devour and practice some of the moves in front of the TV.

The movies are kinetic. You feel every fall, every punch and swift kick has a weight to it and sometimes lands for real. You feel that when you watch most of those movies. It’s entertainment in it’s purest form, it’s fascinating and magical. It’s an art and the danger is real. The stuntman are outstanding and you cringe sometimes watching this. For a good while I was going back to find an older article with the following video, but I wasn’t able to find it, so here it is again, no one made a better list, thanks Angry Video Game Nerd!

I believe this is all you have to see to admire the athleticism and genius that is this man and his team. Maybe while you are at it and you can’t get enough – watch this video by the great Every frame a Painting on what makes Jackie the man of Action Comedies.

After years and years of admiring the movies and eventually moving to China, accidentally I see Jackie Chan in person, 5 meters away outside of Chunking Mansion in Hong Kong promoting a movie and the magic was there again.

Say what you will about his personal life and think what you want to think of him as an actor. I would like to leave you with the following scene that made me cry and hopefully will do the same to you. He is not that good of an actor for it to be staged (I find that insulting if you think it is) and I thank this man for many good hours of my life, all the good that came out of him making movies with this dedication and wish for more people like him:

 

Happy Chinese New Year!

It’s the year of the cock! Or rooster or chicken if you are into superstition – here is everything you need to know and some made-up numbers. One could almost think this is a holiday blog now.

So what is going on at that time in Shanghai? Not much I gotta tell you and that is great. This year the government outlawed fireworks within the inner ring of Shanghai and when this time of the year meant war in terms of sound before, this year it is calm bliss. It worked. There is no sound, no noise that disturbs my beauty sleep.

Wait! There was sound. The second day into the holiday I woke up at around 8:30am and here this Shanghai chant in a high pitched voice, followed by what sounded like rhythmic fireworks and that went on for the whole morning. It sounded like a badly recorded techno song mixed together from crackers going off and a traffic announcement in Shanghai. I checked from the balcony and outside – there was nothing. A quick glimpse into the hallway allowed me to see the culprit. A plug-in-firework-door-hanger-thingy by my neighbour who also coughs every morning at the same time with the same melody. Maybe I am the weird one for noticing all this.

In previous years there was apparently a ban too and the population of Shanghai was just like ‘meh’ and had their usual fireworks 24/7 for two weeks leading in and out of the Chinese New Year. This year is different. It’s incredible how a whole country pretty much shuts down. It’s magical almost. It’s like that little city Aue in Germany close to where I am from during a football match (and I couldn’t think of something less fun to watch) – pure bliss. Scratch that! I can’t find a video or picture that compares. So think ’28 Days Later’ in Shanghai, minus zombies plus some life and cars and traffic here and there.

This is also the first time blogging with having a cat and said cat sleeping in my lap while I type away and catch up with Fargo (season 2 now). My significant other meanwhile has a splendid time in Japan.

Initially I was planning to write about the books I read this year so far, but that is a bit to dark, so here is another run down of what is going on with games, shows, movies and life in Shanghai.

I spend the 5th Chinese New Year with my Shanghainese friend and his family for 2 dinners. Time really flies. It’s a time of fantastic home-cooked food and me and the Xbox 360 and the cat and catching up with shows.

Let’s start with the shows I stopped: I stopped watching Supergirl. It’s fun and colourful but too long and too ‘episodic’ to draw me in. I stopped Legends of Tomorrow for pretty much the same reason. Homeland had to go too, it’s just too bleak and unfocused.

The Flash unfortunately suffers a bit with all the characters and Barry making the same choices, but I’ll continue. Arrow is back on the okay track and I continue as well. The clear winner is Gotham – it’s madness, it has no rules and is just fun and an escape from reality not bound by rules. Fresh Off the Boat and Modern Family are constantly delivering. Last but not least, a show from the History Channel out of all places, with the show that rivals, maybe even tops Game of Thrones in places: Vikings. I cannot wait for the finale.

With movies The Accountant showed again Ben Affleck’s brilliance and Arrival moved me deeply in the cinema. Before I saw Arrival, we had the music on the always brilliant Song Exploder Podcast taken apart and explained. Give it a listen here. Great music, great movie!

The gaming part I will spare you this time and stick to podcasts. For one there is The Shanghai Show with yours truly! And then there is Kung Fu Komedy and Baopals with me partly in the picture.

Again have a fantastic year of the cock and stay cocky.

Some updates to stay updated about stuff and art

For the technical people among you and those interested this site runs now on WordPress 4.7 – it’s an amazing platform and I wish more people would blog. By the way, my friend does blog, in German and it’s short stories that make you think and are on point, we also have similar values and ways to look at the world. Like traditionally, like writing words, loads of them preferably. I really, really like to read, especially some long form, articles and books, even though with books, I believe I just read 2 in 2016. Shame!

I am hosting this site on a service called Dreamhost and that costs money, it’s money I believe is well spend, it’s money and effort from me and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to read a couple of hundred words, so I hope I force you to read a bit more just with that. You are welcome!

It saddens me a bit that this art of reading and writing seems to go away, not the books, they are here to stay it seems.  My kindle helps with reading and stores a ton of books when the apartment doesn’t have a massive bookshelf. The two books I devoured in 2016 were ‘Beautiful You’ by my favourite author Chuck Palahniuk (it’s mediocre), the previously mentioned ‘Presto! …’ by Penn Jillette (it’s fantastic) and hopefully some more books that I forgot about (there must have been more). I vow to keep better track, write about it and read more books this year.

YouTube, Snapchat and all that other stuff seems to be louder than people that write something, something more than 100 words. Not a lot of people like to read or write long texts. Twitter has had a 140 characters limit and was super loud too. Speaking of which, I deleted that, I never really used Twitter, I don’t really understand it and there is not a lot of words there, maybe I was using it wrong but it added nothing to my life. It’s also blocked in China and with Facebook and a lot of other things it is worth to find ways to get that working, I never bothered to check Twitter. Farewell!

I get that attention spans are seemingly getting shorter. Train that – get stronger and better!

Speaking of art, Meryl Streep gave a semi-touching speech at the Golden Globes: ‘You and all of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now.’ – Oh! You poor, underpaid and unappreciated people in Hollywood. And then this: ‘Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.’ – really? Why single out these examples? I respect this actress and her ‘art’, but I don’t like those jabs at thing other people enjoy as a form of art. What art is, is debatable. Is this art? It made them and me laugh, I find that is an art in and on itself. That being said, the rest of the speech was agreeable and again I still respect this actress and her art. Enough with that word.

Blogs are in decline and a lot of it is odd stuff, here is an interesting article. If someone in PR for something wants to pitch, please do, we can make stuff work if our language matches. Maybe it pays for the hosting or maybe I get cool products and if so, I would genuinely say what I think about it and my superpower is to be happy with a minimum amount of recognisable effort or if something makes my life easier.

Look at Baopals, yes, I work for them, does almost everything in their communication speak to me. Internal and external. There could be more words on the website or stories or people writing something special like the review for this product. I am currently waiting on my Misfit Ray to replace my aging Fitbit Charge HR. I write all this, not because they paid me a cent, but because I want to and for the update. Look, Baopals here makes the shopping life easier in China and mine and I write about it, because I love it!

I remember coming the first time to Shanghai and having quality ‘expat magazines’ in every other bar, that I was looking forward to read on the throne and collect every month. They are not there anymore or write stuff I am not in the slightest interested in. There is The Shanghai Show for example and Kung Fu Comedy. Here we have, thankfully, some positive people that produce interesting and fresh content from people that are still in touch with the world around them. Art. Here we are again.

There is so much to update you with and this might seem like the ramblings of a mad man, but there is a lot of beauty to be found and things I want to tell, so let me share this fantastic and touching video:

The truth is, that if that much beauty comes out of a tragedy then it’s not all fucked up, it’s what you make of it, even if it seems like it’s all fucked up or is actually all fucked up. Find the positive or transform that situation. It’s an update – it’s art!

Have a good start of the year and here is something to do that with:

Happy new year to everyone!

This is a little piece to start the year off right. Blogging was good from me in 2016. I blogged regularly and am happy with what I wrote about and every pair off eyes that sees this and takes something away from it, even if it is a slight smirk. Thank you!

Living in China is not always easy but it is 100% of the time exciting and keeps you on your toes. There is definitely something that has expats go a bit bitter and/or explode after a certain amount of time, but that hasn’t happened for me yet and this is almost six years and counting now. Anyhow, before the year ended I have watched this super interesting and fun documentary bit on Youtube by Wired UK (which is worth a read as well):

The copy mentality and building everything just so it is ‘good enough’ (chabuduo) does get my blood pressure up like a good P90X warm-up, but the documentary above really puts that in a different direction and gives it a little spin and boy, oh boy, does the dude with the raspy rockstar voice and cigar(s) nail it with the example at the end. Watch it, it’s positive, it made me happy and think and that is not the worst thing to start the year with.

For some reason, especially towards the end of the year a lot of my media consumption came from the UK. With the Brexit after-shock and Trump later in the year, no one could sum it all up better than Charlie Brooker:

Now if you have watched this you might have noticed the super-funny, kind of Karl Pilkington channeling red-head – Diane Morgan as Philomena Cunk being posh but thick with a great accent and she made me laugh like Karl Pilkington did before (have a listen to these compilations from the radio shows), here she is on Christmas (and here on Shakespeare):

Baopals is going well and comes with the right list of ‘Realistic New Years Resolutions’ and products for that. Had me giggling. Personally I did not have any resolutions, maybe reading more books, as all in all I have not finished a lot of books in 2016, so that might be something I work on and continue some of the paths I started trailing in 2016. Bam!

Let’s finish this with my favourite ‘Youtuber’ – H3H3 and his thanks for the year, which had me in bits too and if you find one of the scenes or memes or goofs and gaffs funny – check all his videos out. Have a great start of the year: