Glass Hearts

Part of the plan that I made is to keep the Ohrwurms going and then write something from the heart mid-week’ish. What better way to start than to talk about something from the heart about hearts. A special kind of heart, a heart that is weak, a heart that rubs me the wrong way, because it’s cold – the glass heart.

I have written before that recently there is not really much that makes me angry or riles me up in a way to write a blog post about or constantly bothers me. There is something. Something that seems to have developed and grown over the last few years or so, it seems to me.

It’s the thin skin that a lot of people are walking around in. It’s the constant state of victimization that some people find themselves in. It’s the brittle glass heart that unfortunately doesn’t really pound, as this would show strength and life, no, it just makes a screeching sound whenever some resistance in life shows.

What I am trying to say is, that people seem too easily hurt, outraged and for the lack of a better phrase: are just weak.

I am not going to make this about China or me, just the state of the world that I am watching from my little window of existence. As I am typing this, on this H3H3 podcast they mention that SJWs (that is something that came into existence) find it ‘unethical’ to promote breastfeeding as it discriminates against woman that do not breastfeed. This is exactly what I am talking about!

This whole feeling that the world seems to be out to get you and the hubris that these people think the world revolves around them is absolutely baffling to me. The world doesn’t revolve around me or you. We are insignificant to the matters of the world for the most part. Try to be an example of how you would want to be treated and live by example. Somehow the outrage seems to be exemplified and somehow multiplies and changes the world recently. For the worse!

Currently I really dig the latest Body Count record, Body Count, a band that became ‘famous’ (in the mainstream) for the outrage over their song Cop Killer. In hindsight, even without having heard the song this sounds like a terrible message and without context it 100% is, but it is first and foremost just a song. You know who understood that? The kids at hardcore/metal/crossover concerts back then. In context it is about the completely unjust and horrible killing of a black kid where the prosecutors (they happen to have been cops) got away with it. But don’t listen to me giving my opinion on it, listen to the man that came up with the song.

Context matters. But it’s lost to glass hearted people. It’s sad to me and I am not even surprised anymore. Living in an international city sometimes this might seem a bit amplified, even though one would think, given the many nationalities and cultures represented would allow for a bit more acceptance and tolerance, that this is not the case. Context flies out their window. Sometimes it feels to me that the glass hearts forget they live in a different country.

I am forever grateful and proud that I grew up with very liberal friends, with a scene (talking about Punk, Metal and Hardcore here) that is insanely tolerant, open and friendly (for the most part) and that I made it mantra of mine and got it tattooed under my (thickish) skin that reminds me to be the change I wish to see in the world. And maybe just maybe, listening to music where a style of singing is pretty much shouting, made me more accepting for someone getting loud, let’s say in an argument or in a sports game, but again, the context matters, maybe they and I get loud because it is about the game or for the arguments sake and this is fine. Not personal, I don’t think of you less and neither should you. I wear my heart on my sleeve and it doesn’t take a genius to understand when people do that. It never did, it takes some common sense, context and the knowledge that you and me are not the center of the world.

Sometimes it takes a beating heart, some strength and doing the right thing in leading by example. Less whining. Get rid of the glass hearts – you are human. People went through way tougher times than you or me or us (if you are not living in a war torn country, of course – but somehow I feel the need to mention that. Let’s stay and get strong/er instead of devolving into overly sensitive glass hearts.

 

Ohrwurm of the week 23/2017

With the recent plans I made, I am bringing something back. The weekly Ohrwurm (literally ear worm meaning a song that is stuck in your head). So I am trying to do this every Monday and this might give you an idea of what kind of music I am into and maybe there is an interesting video there or you discover your new favourite song and/or band.

I am going to write a couple of thins and something like a short review of the band and what I think about them coupled with some facts. So here we go:

Fire From The Gods – The Voiceless

I have discovered this band roughly a year ago. The band is a rap metal/crossover formation from Texas. They evoke the spirit of Twelve Tribes (that I saw live) and a bit the Mike Terry Bury Your Dead times.

Not going to joke, when I discovered the above video, I replayed the song 10 times and I got super emotional. The warmth in AJ Channer’s voice is really something different and in times where singing parts can get annoying and/or are over produced there comes this dude with power, soul in the singing parts and no doubt he can pull that off live too. The lyrics are system critical and to the point. If you do like The Voiceless, check out the slightly different End Transmission with an equally amazing refrain, but the video has a bit of an odd, slow start and reminds me of some late Born of Osiris videos (with a far greater video opening though).

So If you, like me miss some of the fantastic singing that Howard Jones (don’t get me wrong, I love Jesse Leach just as much) showed with Killswitch Engage, here is his equal and a band that I am sure will come out with a lot of great stuff.

How I almost got beaten up by gangsters

Boy oh boy this was a day!

When a day starts at 7:10 (AM that is, if you are not using the superior 24 hour system, because it confuses people) with a pick hammer and knocks on what feels like the wall that you sleep next to, then it is not easy to make that a great day, not to say that it is impossible.

So I jumped out of bed got dressed, put some cold water in my face, smiled in the mirror (I do that daily, I am weird), then swishing some oil, all over the span of maybe 1 minutes with hammering going on (and pick hammering). Then I found the source (not that I have not done that before). 3 floors down, 2 dudes renovating an apartment for like 1 month so far, doing the majority of their work at around 7 on random weekdays and most favourably weekends, where they start a bit later, at like 8.

I knocked the door. Not really. Like maybe 2 times before I smash the door with my hammer fist as hard as I can. It`s one of those (new) doors that look like solid metal, but they are actually tin can thin aluminium (I assume) and a thick layer of styrofoam inside, so I am sure this has a dent know. The two times before the door was not properly hinged in, so I was able to just scream away.

This time the door got opened by 2 workers that looked like they have been up all night, they looked less awake then I got from them starting their work day at 7 not having had their morning routine, but who am I to know, they might have swished baijiu and then swallowed it. Possible.

So out came my wrath with the force of 2 death metal singers and years of training on stage. It is by the way a misconception that Chinese cannot be loud or super angry, like some comedians seem to assume, at least that is what I remember from a Comedy Open Mic Night the week before on Monday.

Selected outtakes:

ARE YOU SICK IN THE HEAD?, DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS?, DO YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE SLEEPING?, DID NO ONE ELSE EVER TELL YOU? OKAY, I CALL THE POLICE THEN.

You can tell I am HSK 88!

To my surprise another neighbour from below comes up the stairs and backs me up. Pleasantly I nodded his way, did that arm motion, one does before flipping someone off, but without the middle finger and just the hand swinging up (try it, it looks pretty cool) and strolling up to the apartment.

Cue to the rest of my morning routine, which is having a glass of water, two Chlorella tablets, a vitamin C tablet and a fish oil capsule. While doing this the two construction workers loudly discussed what could possibly make the neighbour and the foreigner so upset. (if you want to know more about people always renovating around you in China read the top comment in this reddit thread and have your mind blown)

Now you wonder where the gangsters are. Those were not the ones, this is just how the day started.

My morning routine then goes on to watching a youtube episode (this morning this one, that is a bit too harsh with the movie, especially as the swearing is fitting, the this dude somehow has issues with) while the water boils for some coconut powder, honey and turmeric. This should last until either a podcast or the youtube episode is done. Off from the sofa it then is and on to some weird yoga, push up, squat and stretching routine I have designed and then get the cat to not scratch the mat too much and brushing the teeth, cold water in the face again and kiss the two girls goodbye (cat and girlfriend that is) and on to work it is.

Then it is time to get my bicycle out of the pile of trash (from the renovation remember, that conveniently stays of days where people park bikes and scooters) and scooters and other rusty bikes it got trapped in. Headphones on and along the river while shouting at some suicidal drivers (on average maybe 2). The route is scenic and if the sun is out and the sky is blue it is amazing, it most of the time is, the shouting is really just me helping these people to maybe get one shock (or mild surprise) so they learn to hopefully not kill themselves in traffic.

Work is in an odd building. It`s on the river and has 22 floors. Most of it seems empty or under construction, but there is a LensCrafters there and some sort of tax bureau. Also: gangsters. Not the tax bureau, but the gangsters still have to wait.

The building`s elevators and floors are labelled 1 to 15 and then 16, 16 and a random letter, 17 and a random letter and of course 18 then 18 O. We work in the top floor. This odd naming somehow originates in a law that existed before that allowed buildings in that are to not have  more than 18 floors. Clearly they outsmarted the system!

So, a couple of months back, these gangsters moved into one or two of the offices on our floor. They are tatted up, they have beer bellies, usually black shirts, massive gold chains, short hair and they smoke a lot. Office time for them is usually watching something on their phone for maybe 1 hour a day sitting at a massive oak table, alone, while the fourth of formerly five fish in their aquarium stays afloat belly up. I ran into them a couple of times in a day usually they are smoking at the urinal or on the toilet passing the no smoking sign on the way to the toilet.

Sometimes you catch an elevator with them, while maybe one of them smokes in there with you. Today I was about to head home waiting with my bicycle in front of the elevator door.

The elevator reaches the top floor and before I can push in, the best looking gangster (no belly, a black button down shirt, showing the yakuza style breast piece he has and the gold chain), typing/playing on his phone pushes my front wheel out of the way and gets into the elevator first. I acknowledge this with a look of disapproval and a shaking head movement. His gangster friends join us in the elevator and the door closes.

In Shanghainese they discuss what a hubris ridden asshole foreigner that is, too poor for a black Audi, I might be and how they could take me out. Maybe next time. I chat to my colleague. Then a stare down happens, I look the handsome gangster deep in the eyes not saying a thing. Hours pass, I feel like fighting that battle in Hero with Donnie Yen) actually it’s just seconds, I lose the battle, I look up and above the elevator buttons, there is not much to see there, so the back of my head hits the wall of the elevator.

The doors open and everyone leaves the elevator. The gangsters walk slowly. I overtake 3 of them. Outside the good looking gangster smokes, opening the door to his black Bentley that he conveniently parked in front of the stairs instead of the parking garage. I carry my bike through the small spot between said car and a black Audi to head home.

This is the story of me almost getting beaten up by gangsters…

I haven`t blogged in a good long time and I got a marvellous keyboard that I yesterday learned to type on properly and typed this article out. There is a plan for this blog and no plan is real before put into action and this is the firs step, so there is more to come, more structure and more articles. I thoroughly hope you enjoyed this piece. At least I feel a relieved and relaxed after typing this out and maybe next time I try to break the intense state and maybe make a joke or present some oddball humour to the situation instead of the mental fight I had. So here is a great video from the amazing Charisma on Command guy on the mesmerising Tony Robbins (who fascinated me with two great books and an interesting Netflix documentary). I leave you with that and hopefully not with depression:

Some of your world grows bigger, while some of it becomes smaller….

This time we are getting a bit philosphical and dive into some cultural perceptions and subjective experiences from yours truly!

Life is ups and downs and kris and kross (sometimes it’s so confusing we forget which way the clothes are supposed to fit) but some things seem to expand constantly and this can be the world or your universe.

Let me explain. On my old blog I might have mentioned that in detail some years ago, so it’s an old hat, but I haven’t put that into writing for a broader audience. Coming from a tiny village, before you hit puberty a trip to the neighbor village is a serious undertaking and if your parents have to drive you there or you take the bus, this broadens your world a substantial amount. You become a serious traveller, a wanderer that just left White Orchard (the fist playable area in the Witcher 3 and a tutorial, the link goes to a page describing the experience of playing that part before the full game came out – like a demo of life) and discovers the world and you are happy with it. You know may have friends from a 2km radius, because you can walk that or you see them daily even when they come from realms way outside, but that could be a different star for all you know.

Then at maybe around 14 to 16 if you get reallty good at sports or decide to pursue higher education or learn a craft you might have to travel to the next ‘big city’ – we are talking 10000 people here, seriously big. This is when things go crazy, you might have to permanently move, you will make friends that come from a 30km radius or more.

By this time, not only the area around your house and that of your neighbors and friends is yours, no, it’s like all the woods in your village are yours. This is where you build tree houses, caves, bunkers and fight off other friends. It’s all yours, you bring stuff from home into the woods to leave in your buildings. You chase your friends through said woods and again, that is your area, you name things there, like that one ‘Lion King Rock’ and every day you go there you find that there is more and what feels like yours is even bigger.

Now, that you are 17-18 it is the most exciting, because now, you can either ride a moped around already (nowadays even drive a car, but that would not be the same with a ‘grown-up-copilot’, but of course that is the right way to go about it) or you can already vividly imagine how it is to drive a car and explore new streets like you did new corners of the woods. It’s most exciting because not only are the woods yours and the area around your house and your friend’s houses and huge parts of the village, now also a random parking lot and bus stops in the bigger cities are yours and you discover more of these on a weekly basis. Again you do leave stuff there, from your heart now: memories, maybe kisses, maybe stories that you share over a beer or many and maybe a couple of bruises. You can almost smell the driving license’s ink and the freedom that comes with it.

Then you move out at 18, or you did so at age 16, like I did and you will have your own flat, in a big city, you owned before, where you remember the bus stops and the beers, but now your world shrinks a bit. Now the four walls you live in are clearly yours, maybe the car and what is inside and maybe your parents keep some of your stuff and a room where you maybe sleep over once in a blue moon, but the woods seem to be not yours anymore, because who would do all the stuff you did there, now that you have responsibilities. Being an adult you don’t bring stuff there anymore, being an adult the parking lots become a bit weird and you might not feel as free having that one beer before you can drive an hour later when you leave it with your car.

From then on, a lot of things you don’t dare anymore, because they don’t feel right. Moving flats you don’t really dare to let things stay on the pavement in front of the house, because people probably own this and it’s definitely not yours. You might go back to your village, have a walk on the paths through the woods and a talk with your friends, but you don’t build stuff there anymore or leave the pathway much apart from watering a tree after a couple of beers.

Some of your friends now life hundreds of kilometres away and while you cover the whole the distance in your car, that is yours, with your stuff and music and heart, only the room or flat of your friend there is yours where you are free, maybe the whole dance floor while you are at a metal show where you leave sweat condenses at the ceiling and rips down. Then you cover a couple of blocks walking with your friends reminiscing the concert and for those minutes, it seems the whole world, from the village you came from to city your friend lives in is yours. You wake up the net day and drive home to your four walls and the world is small again.

Some day, for me that day is a bit in the past already, but it might be in your future. You leave your country, the village, a lot of friends and take a lot of memories and you might live, maybe, in a different country. You might have had some holidays in different countries before, but that is more like a dream, not so much a part of your world. So some of your wold just shifts, it doesn’t grow, it might even shrink, because things are different, no one roamed the woods there with you, they don’t even look like your woods. You have no memories of the bus stops there or seen a parking lot where the youth hangs out. You build part of your new world and make it grow again, but you do not dare much to make parts of it yours.

Living in a different country changes you, but I think the world you are responsible for shrinks to whatever you feel, in any given situation to what you believe you should and can take care off or for. So it might grow actually. You might grow a family or add new friends or old friends into that part of your world and there can be days, when it feels like every tree bending in the wind, every little story from years back makes you smirk and all the world can be yours again.

Hope you enjoyed this wall of text, I certainly did enjoy writing it and coming full circle, sometimes things here in China have a certain magic to the chaos. So, as angry as it makes me, that the people in the complex I live, seemingly own all of the compound, especially the bicycle parking space that is taken over on a monthly basis by a neighbor renovating his flat with piles of rubbish where bicycles are thrown on piles. And the sidewalk that can be parked at however you want or the red light you wait for to turn green while you throw out two trash bags, that a rude foreigner on a bicycle throws back (has a bicycle – that peasant!, it’s me), there is a moment when you are out and about, with friends, while you are having beers and even through the first park didn’t allow you to sit on the grass (it’s not our or anyone’s part of the world, I guess) you move to a park, where people leave you alone. A park and a place where people are curious and let you do silly and weird things, where after a few beers, ideas are thrown around and your friends involve you in the making of this video and suddenly that whole park is your part of the world, in full and you rest your chin and greatness, that you can keep up with Baopals:

Click here to watch the video that will make you giggle, that I have no idea how to embed because it is on QQ-video

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…