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:

 

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Ha! Cheesy!

You now have that song stuck in your head.

It’s that time of the year where I miss Germany the most. I think it is like the 4th Christmas in China or so out of 6. Not so much this time around. Let me elaborate why that is.

I basically come from a place where Christmas is something special. Isn’t that everywhere? Yes, you might think so, but in the mountains and the small area where I am from: one could say that Christmas is the front and center of family life. That one time in the year where it matters most to sit with your family and/or friends who are basically family too, the family you chose.

Here is a great and short video explaining what my hood is all about on Christmas:

Christmas here in Shanghai can’t compare and that is great. I don’t even see a lot of Christmas decorations apart from gaudy ones in malls. So I am not missing out, even if there would be more, nothing would be so authentic and homely.

It’s a festival of lights and there is tons of lights here as well and but it’s way different. I miss out on the family and friends in Germany and I love them dear but I am glad that Christmas here doesn’t come close, so I can celebrate however I want.

We do have a ‘Raachermannl‘ the traditional smoking wooden figurines that are powered by a cone of incense. Since everyone seems to know and love Rammstein, here is their version(s) of the figurine:

So born and raised in a 1600 (roughly) people village in the mountains, here is my little part in spreading a bit of the culture. I will probably be off for a bit, play games, chat with friends, Skype the family on Christmas and on the 24th I will think of everyone I hold dear and eat until it hurts and look at different lights, lights that also guide me home like the miners. Lights that are representing people and families that share different traditions that I can take part in or not and you can do so as well. Broaden your horizon and ask what traditions your friends hold dear. Learn, take some of it with you, adapt what you want and have a merry Christmas no matter where you are from and love your family and/or the one you cho(o)se…

I love you for reading this and I hope you enjoy, love and burn a bit with me, even if it is just a tiny candle. We share a laugh, a goof, a gaff, a smile, a adventure, a hug, a lightbulb, a lighter, a workplace, a hobby, a taste, a meal, a friend, a friendship, an idea, a bed, a roof or a big ass pulsing heart in your chest. Do something good and be nice for once!

There is smart and there is stupid smart.

I don’t mean stupidly smart – that exists too. I mean stupid but/and smart.

Lately I enjoyed the whole second season of Ash vs Evil Dead and that is an example of stupid smart. One could say it is goofy, dumb, funny and groovy and one would be right. It’s not for everyone but it’s smart in how stupid it makes me for the 30 minutes it runs per episode and takes me on a gory ride of fun. It is however, not stupid in a The Walking Dead kind of way, where it makes me stop watching, it makes me come back for more because it tricks me in this stupid smart way.

The main character played by the best B-movie actor of all time Bruce Campbell – Ash is a main character that surprises you with his unreliability of being stupid, being underestimated and cocky. In the season finale and I am not spoiling much and this is a show that won’t be hurt by spoilers regardless, there is a scene that had me face-palming myself and shake my head smilingly when he punched an old locked up woman in the basement of the cabin of the movies, because he thinks it’s a demon and and it’s funny, because I thought she is clearly not and it’s not right to punch an old woman that is in shackles and afraid right in the face and it’s weird how she doesn’t get insanely outraged or sad about that act (it’s a funny show – believe me and read on). Knowing by that point that this is an oddball of a show with a special, self-aware humour, this in itself, is not surprising and knowing Ash is a overly confident moron, I thought, he is clearly wrong here and even with the woman not acting like I think a person in real life would (because it’s movie/TV magic). I was led to believe she is not a demon and this is not right. The show turns all this on it’s head and spits it back, AND it turns out after Ash gets distracted and unshackles her, because bigger problems seem to arise, it happens: she disappears and IS ACTUALLY A DEMON/DEADITE. I giggled and felt a bit stupid but not tricked in a bad way.

The series surprises. It pulled that exact stunt or similar set-ups a couple of times before. It’s unreliable and goes meta with the viewer being tricked by thinking yes, this is not how a person would react and bring you down to the characters ‘stupidity’ and the over-the-topness of it all adds up to being excited by what is then naturally (or unnaturally) happening. It’s stupid and knows the viewers know and then plays with it and confronts us with a Schrödingers cat situation where anything could happen and we are surprised either way. It’s fun, it’s stupid and it’s smart.

Now compare this to almost every single TWD episode where I facepalm myself for watching characters that are supposed to be real and a show that is not self-aware and devoid of humour (apart from a Laurel and Hardy duo that is now devoid of the more serious guy that the other guy bounces off of) make decisions that make me shake my had not smilingly for stupid decisions from seemingly smart people. Let’s name a few: ‘Let’s split up.’, ‘We do this alone.’, ‘We can/can’t kill this character.’, ‘We don’t need more people.’ and ‘Yes Rick.’.

One show is stupid, aware of that and therefore smart, the other show is stupid, but not aware of that and not smart. I, the viewer am being tricked but once in an exciting and entertaining way and once in a very dumb way (and also to make you tune in after a 1 year break to find out who died!).

Enough of this. Back to philosophy:

I have finished Bioshock: Infinite this week. The game does something very similar, being a sequel to the original Bioshock game and therefore the also great System Shock (2) that also happen to share the same twist. You, the player are aware of a twist coming and then it comes and it is glorious. It’s possibly one of the best endings in a game ever. It’s touching, it’s philosophical and smart.

Let’s end this with the stupidly smart and great person Werner Herzog and this list (read Number 5 if you don’t read whole short articles). Please watch his movies and listen to his German accent or watch a producer being shouted at by the late and equally great but very different Klaus Kinski and be the calm that only Werner can show, even when being shot.

Gaming is good…

… everything other than being passive is.

I haven’t posted that regularly recently. I usually need a bit of anger or something that bothers me to write. There is less of that in my life now. Lifting my Macbook onto the desk that I use basically only for writing and serious stuff feels good. Words flow.

Shanghai is being great, a lot of things are improving. I am improving, there is no end to that until it ends and that is so far in the future, we probably will have real-life Westworld.

That show is the bomb, I think I mentioned it before and have to say it again: it’s cinema on the small screen and the most expensive looking TV show there is at the moment. It’s also the best thing since Breaking Bad. Watch it! If you don’t – you miss out on having your mind tickled and talking to people like Lost was ever any good (you can possibly tell I never got into that). It’s one of the show that you want to talk about with other people, a show that you will possibly dream of in one way or another and it’s a show that you want to enjoy every second of and makes it worthwhile. I don’t miss the show with dead people walking and fake-out cliffhangers, lame episodes in the middle and characters that make dumb decisions and characters I don’t care much about anymore at all (and it seems I am not alone).

It’s something active, it’s not mindless zapping through what is on TV and just watching something while cleaning the house or putting chips in you mouth while leaving crumbles on your couch (I am not condemning anyone who does that and watches Westworld though). It’s the best kind of TV.

Life throws stuff in your way. Every day, it’s not always fun, but you can make the best of it. You can act, you can choose before something is chosen for you. Choose what you watch, choose what you consume and chose how you react, how you get up, how you do things, how you look at things – then you change the world, then you decide, then you are in charge and you can change the world. Your world changed for the better – every day a little bit. My friend Ramsey wrote this splendid article about Protein (totally unrelated but as much worth a read as it is to give Westworld a watch, everything he writes there is great and I know for a fact that he agrees that change happens through repetition through doing it over and over again and have a positive outlook). I just hope VeganGains will not be onto Ramsey next – haha! While we are on that topic, please have a laugh here about how many days are in a week.

Coming full circle and back to the start. Why is gaming good? Because I say so! Because I got an Xbox 360 now and through Chinese magic there are tons of games that can immerse myself in, like I did before with my Raspberry Pi and Playstation and SNES games from my childhood, but this time with better graphics. I also learned that the AV cable makes your games look like you have a Playstation 2 and then you get an HDMI cable and I am too awestruck to tell the difference between that generation of consoles and the latest. Nah, gaming is great because it is active.

You don’t sit there passively and have something numbing you. You take part, your hand and eye coordination gets better. Your problem solving skills get a workout. Your willpower can grow. You can relax while immersing yourself in different worlds. I dream better – meaning my dreams go nuts, I ride dinosaurs and shoot laters and I am saving the world with my friends (apparently you can do that online now too – for me it happens in my dreams). I was a bit said to see that the couch co-op is somehow on the way out, sadly, it seems. That doesn’t hold me back from playing Borderlands and old split screen titles with friends or my girlfriend.

It’s the active part. Games are great. Games are as active as books. Reading a book is better than watching dumb cable TV. I probably don’t have to explain that or silly game shows or ads.

Having a beer walk to go from store to store and exploring the city is better than having a beer alone. Biking to work is better than taking the subway and waiting for said subway. Taking the stairs is better than taking the elevator. Writing a blog article is better than not writing something down and forgetting about it. Being strong is better than being weak. Being pro-active is better than being re-active. Gaming is good and so is life.

 

 

 

 

Being comfortable in uncomfortable positions

Life lessons with yours truly…

This headline is not invented by me, nor would I claim so, but it was swirling around in my head in recent years. Over and over again. Not to credit someone wrongly, but I think the first time I heard something to that degree was when I felt really uncomfortable.

I was lying on my back and a dude twice as old as me, a police man as it later turns out, both of us sweaty, he also twice my weight at least, sat on top of me. I wonder what goes through your head, but we were dressed, it was a hot summer in Munich and maybe twenty people did the same. We were ‘rolling’ (and your thoughts probably still run wild) or sparring on the ground how they called it some Martial Arts.

So not only was I uncomfortable there, I also felt for the first half year after finishing my studies that maybe working in recruiting and being expected to work long hours in a new city that was there to be explored and having no time for it at all was, not great. So this was in the back of my head too, but not at that moment.

That moment was physically uncomfortable, there was a lot of weight on me, it was hard to breathe, I tried to bridge out, but with weight on my midsection and belly that didn’t help. My legs were flailing trying to sweep his legs, but they were comfortably tugged in and then I heard the trainer say: ‘you gotta become comfortable in uncomfortable positions or make your way out of it’ or something to that degree.

It didn’t dawn on me right away, it took hours, it took repetitions, it took finding meaning for that phrase and what I make out of it weeks, months, maybe years. Now that is a bit of a mantra, it is a part of me.

Sometimes I call people weak (jokingly). I don’t mean that they are weak, I mean they are usually complaining about something that can’t be changed at that point in time and with their might. Instead they should just try to become comfortable.

Of course I don’t always do that and I am not a preacher nor am I always correct in that regard, but it works really well for me.

You are on your way to a place and it starts to rain, there is no umbrella, there is no way of getting one in time and you get just as wet running to the next shelter from the rain as if you were walking to your destination? Walk! Smile, walk, look up into the sky and continue, you get wet one way or the other and you get to were you want to go. Be comfortable. Don’t be weak. Be a Samurai or do you think they would run from the rain?

Your water boiler/-heater doesn’t work and the repairman comes tomorrow? Take a cold shower. Enjoy it, you probably can’t fix it and that stuff is insanely good for you. Read it here. Also note that the headline made it’s way into this article and I sound like a smart ass typing this in here, using it, but I swear this showed up on my newsfeed and it couldn’t fit better in this post, that I was planning since Friday.

It’s annoying to wait for the elevator from the 19th floor down? Take the stairs. It’s fun, you can think, you get steps in and it’s more comfortable to me than waiting three elevators and getting angry about your own politeness. That might just be me though!

Maybe you are having a tough day at work. You might as well get comfortable and I don’t mean lazy or slacking off, changing it and work your way out of it. Working your way out of it like you would when being pinned down by a stronger/heavier opponent and get stronger/wiser/more knowledgeable. Maybe just by learning a thing or two.

I still remember how the situation in Munich turned around. I moved, I planned to get back to Shanghai, I was super uncomfortable but I was in a position to change that. Soon after I got a job offer, a visa and booked a ticket back to China. I had not much, but I felt great. It was not a cozy situation sharing a room (yes, a room – in a bunkbed) and having plan C when the account balance drops to a one-way-ticket-back-to-Germany was the spikes on the bottom of the pit that I choose to climb. It went only up from there in the grand theme of things.

So here is an article with just one link. An article that I write with ‘Explosions in the Sky’ in the background (that is a post-rock band), after a cold shower, mid-movember in an apartment that my girlfriend and I made comfortable, because we can. One article with something that means a lot to me.

Today I could probably get out from under this dude, maybe because I am heavier, maybe because I am fitter, maybe because I got a little bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable.