Catching up with shows like the Daredevil I am

It’s probably the best time ever to be a comic book fan, for the movies and shows that is.

Here is the first glimpse of Batman versus Superman:

I am not as blown away by it as I should be, but damn that Batman voice is awesome and so is the costume. (I mean: look at the preview picture in the youtube video above – look at it!)

Let’s take a little detour. I finished House of Cards Season 3. Netflix by far makes the sexiest looking TV shows, but Francis Underwood‘s rise to power or and the shaking house of cards he built loses a bit of drive here. Mainly the lack of fourth wall breaking bothers me in this one. I do understand that this is due to him being not as comfortable anymore, but go do I miss that. Solid, but after the superb Season 2 this did not make me anticipate the next season as much.

Now back to the topic. It’s the heyday of comic book movies and shows. My latest binge watch was Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix. While I barely remember the Daredevil movie with the future Batman, it was definitely not as bad as the non-existent Catwoman movie. I have yet to see the directors cut of the Affleck installment.

Daredevil is dark, violent, well-acted, well-choreographed, visually impressive and full of heart.That is the short version. I was only semi-excited before this came out, as the promo material looked, for the lack of a better word, cheesy. The show definitely is not. It’s everything that Arrow was meant to be. There is no awkward romance, there is the Batman like qualities that you know from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Returns and the best fight choreography with steady cams and impressive, as well as believable fights since The Raid. I can see how people dislike Arrow, Oliver is always brooding and inexplicably unable to rely on friends (no, I don’t buy that), he also bangs every woman in the show left and right and is a discount Batman with all his villains. Love triangles galore and  cringe worthy dialogue here and there. All that being said, I still enjoy the show, though I like the more light hearted and better written and acted Flash show a ton more.

Now let’s get into the details. Daredevil has this hallway fight scene that completely seals the deal in terms of fight choreography, it is a nice homage to one of my favorite movies Oldboy, but read more about it here. My girlfriend said something that makes sense (she does make sense a lot): Charlie Cox is not a scene stealer, sometimes not even super likable, but that is why he is so great, everyone has a chance to shine in that show. Even Foggy, who I wasn’t convinced off in the first place makes absolute sense once you watch the emotional and heartfelt Nelson v. Murdock episode. Great stuff!

Another thing everyone will love the shit out of: Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin. It is questionably the best depiction of a Marvel villain on screen. You feel for him, you feel with him and he has motivations that are not too distant from the ones the hero has, only different means. My girlfriend likes him for his dedication to his girlfriend…

Again the show is awesome and better than all the other superhero shows currently on air. Gotham and the Flash still have a place but for the moment Marvel took the cake. So do yourself a favor and watch it.

I can watch all those shows for free here in China (legally) but sometimes there are major cuts. China is not a fan of boobies, beheadings (or other hypocritical censorship options) and dying horses (The Walking Dead) but they are somehow completely fine with showing footage of people suffocating between elevator doors shown in the metro.

 

And…we are back after a spam attack

A lot has happened. Frustratingly my tactic to approve spam comments and then comment on them massively backfired and left me with 400+ spam comments.

Good thing is, you learn from that. I learned there is good protection (listen kids!) – haha. Some trial and error made me find a brilliant plugin called ‘WordPress Zero Spam’ and guess what! It does exactly that. Highly recommended.

Another thing that I highly recommend is to update your MacBook Pro with an SSD and more ram. Man, my computer runs better than the first day and probably will give me another 5 years of usage. A mid-2010 13inch MacBook Pro with now 500 GB SSD and 8GB of ram is a monster! I was looking for parts being to lazy and incompetent and do it myself I got this competent, likable and trustworthy guy to do it – macbookmechanic – hit him up if you are in Shanghai.

Also a shout out to my poster: dreamhost – their support is incomparable and I got a got deal for the hosting and bombastic support. So if you want to host your own site, then hit them up. Use the lifehacker discount that is widely available and you start blogging or your site for something like USD 20. It is literally a dream to host with them.

This post sounds like a big advertisement. Haha! But honestly: credit where credit is due!

Wait! Another shout out – to Astrill my VPN provider of choice. China’s intranet can be a pain and speeds even with a VPN are not comparable to free countries, but they make that bearable and they love me too 🙂

So enough with the shout outs. I am back and have less excuses for not blogging and solved a lot of background issues – so yeah! Please enjoy and keep on reading and commenting.

Sometimes you discover good music that you knew about in the Apples Store

I will keep this a short one.

In a few weeks it is Christmas and I would have not realized it, if it wouldn’t have been for red starbucks cups and posts of my friends that show snow. I mean last week I went out in a T-shirt and other than a planned Christmas party at work there is not that much of a Christmas feeling. Which is a good thing when you are away from the place that probably celebrates it in the most ‘christmassy’ kind of way. Read a bit about it here in decent English and for future tourists.

What I wanted to say was: waiting for a friend in one of the couple of Apple stores in this city (Munich as a city where I lived has one to compare) I was playing this game to feed a hippo and a monkey and they where not too happy that I put more than tomatoes and cabbage in their salad and the monkey had fire breath after a pizza with 1 pepper. Kids growing up are in trouble of getting the right nutritional information is the lesson I take away from that. Maybe there too busy with gender inequality. F**k knows! (To clarify: this is sarcasm, I like all kinds of games and kids growing up are not any worse or better than my generation was or the generation before or the generation after and so on)

So if you want to find the particular game I played, I can’t help much, maybe your search result for feeding animals on a small island ios will reap better results. If you happen to visit an apple store in China in the next couple of weeks, then this is a game installed there. The name, if you should find it out, or a link would be appreciated. It was good fun.

Anyway, I was playing away and I thought I might test out some headphones. I have really cool ones – these – but why not try what the fuzz is all about with Beats and Bower & Wilkins and whatnot. Mine go up to 11 I think and have decent bass for everything from slow nuanced music to blastbeats.

There is an astounding mix of preview songs on those iPods attached to the headphones you can try. They have for example Mastodon, Muse, Ed Sheeran and then what I wanted to write about initially: Olafur Arnalds. This guy is 2 years younger than me and I discovered his music like a lot of my friends through one of my favorite bands (and everyone’s favorite German Metalcore band, for a time #2 album in the German charts and also all the band members with pretty much the accent that I am rocking when speaking German) Heaven Shall Burn. He was supplying them with amazing intros and interludes. Now he has one of the sample songs in every apple store around the world. Well done and well deserved.

Here is the song:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cOr7JmcOas]

Stellar movies and weekends

Yesterday I saw Interstellar in the cinema. I can’t quiet make out if I love it or not. It was a very brain heavy movie and the 6 beer before did not help. It’s the weekend. So what I can say without a doubt is that the visuals are absolutely magnificent and the sound and music is blowing your ears away. Sometimes it’s actually kind of too loud and it’s hard to make out what Matthew McConaughey is mumbling…

Here is the trailer:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LqzF5WauAw]

I did not understand the movie 100% and I believe it is not really necessary and I don’t want to make myself smarter than I am. It’s good but I would not recommend it to anyone. The movie is definitely one that needs a second viewing.

The day after I watched it I checked if I at least understood it to a certain degree. I did. However it is one of the few movies where an infographic can help to explain a lot more. Here is a whole website dedicated to that (Science) and here is an infographic for the timeline.

Recently movies have not really blown me away. Turtles was underwhelming and had enjoyable fight scenes and two other scenes that I liked/made me laugh – the rest was disappointing. More action, a better Splinter make-up/CGI/puppet and a funnier Will Arnett would have helped a lot – also: less darkness. Think Transformers – yes, I actually want the movie to be a bit more Transformers. Ah anyway – here is something cute 

The promised second language article

So here we go: no, I am not a native English speaker and there are a couple of words and phrases that give me away. Not necessarily as a German but yeah, as somebody with English as a second language.

The German in me makes all the ‘W’ sound a bit funny and muffled. Like in ‘weird’ or ‘window’. One time we had a meeting in one of the jobs I had and I was suggesting something that had something to do with winter sports… so everybody looked a bit baffled and and asked what I meant with ‘window sports’ – I kind of shouted it again and was understood, which leads me right to next thing:

I talk really loud and while I am able to tune it down a little bit in person (with sudden outbursts), I cannot do so while on the phone. It never ceases to amaze me how some people are able to whisper into phones and then I wonder about the superhuman hearing the person on the other hand must have. Maybe I am holding my phone wrong (but I tried a couple) but I am not able to hear you on the phone if you do that to me – whispering into the phone. I find it pretty hard to concentrate on the phone call anyway – but I am totally cool with my headphones plugged in, then this becomes much easier for me. Since I don’t want people to experience the same pain – I talk loud and mostly clear, which leads me to the next thing:

So I have my inner amp set on 11, but according to a Canadian friend of mine, it is still hard to hear if I say ‘can’ or ‘can’t’, like in are you Mexican or Mexican’t. After the double check by the person I am talking to I say ‘can not’ to make sure they understand.

On another sunny day we wen’t for Burgers here in Shanghai and I thought it’s best to go for the Cajun. So when my friends asked me what my choice of food will be I said the ‘Cadshoon’ – so this is apparently not how you say, but I know about the ragin’ cajun and should have known better.

Ah! Just came to think about another one: ‘gesture’ – I say it like Jestjure. I find it weird that to have that it starts with that hard kind of g.

Bonus: Warwick Davis – the guy from Life is too short and friend of my favorite TV personality Karl Pilkington. I say ‘war wick’ instead of warrik.

I’ll have a whole article dedicated to Karl Pilkington, but he is the funniest guy ever – don’t even know where to start!

Here is the update you are all waiting for

So yeah, there are a couple of articles drafted, but that is hard to see for the world, when you are not logged into my wordpress account.

Currently it is the best time, I mean weather wise in Shanghai. The temperature hovers around 23 degrees, the sun is shining and the AQI is in the green zone. Here is the information directly from the US Consulate in Shanghai which is located 50m from where I work. The thing is: last year December and January of this year, the level was over 9000, no, but yes, it basically exceeded the 500.

So I have been outside, I’ve been eating a lot of good food recently and we decided to start cooking after moving into an apartment with kitchen. Things are good!

Today was Gotham and Blacklist day. Monday is Walking Dead and Homeland Day, there is one Day with the Flash and Thursday is Arrow and American Horror Story Day, sometimes with Modern Family mixed in, but sometimes I leave that for the weekend. Agents of Shield I watch when I am in the mood, but I will not be bothered much if I miss an epsiode.

There is a couple of shows that I follow religiously as you can see and I am not religious.

Gotham is still leads the way and is probably the show I look forward to the most every week. It has a great charme, a bit TIm Burton Batman, a good cop duo, a really good child actor (who is basically already the greatest detective in the world – but I am not too bothered with that) and a hint of the Adam West campiness – it’s very enjoyable and a bit silly – perfect to escape to Gotham for an hour, not perfect but good.

Blacklist is okay but has brilliant music all the way through and of course James Spader who will be the evil A.I. Ultron in the upcoming Marvel madness Avengers: Age of Ultron, if you haven’t seen the leaked trailer yet, then do it:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmeOjFno6Do]

The trailer got leaked in shite quality and Marvel used that opportunity to upload the HD version and thank Hydra for the reveal 😉 Love how they handled that. It looks sick and the music is insane, probably the best thing in the trailer. The Pinocchio theme (that was easy for Disney Marvel and fits like an ass on a bucket – that is what Germans say). The only teaser/trailer that gripped me in the same way was this.

The Walking Dead started with a pretty much flawless string of episodes so far. It’s fast paced, things change, people are on the run, the team functions, there is character development and the cliffhangers make me excited for the next episode. They also seem to got rid of the Hyundai that remained always clean…  Maybe long before, but who kept track during all those filler episodes. Anyhow, we are looking at the best Season since the beginning of Season 1 it seems.

Homeland is somehow a guilty pleasure and I can hardly explain why I keep watching it. It’s probably Claire Danes superb acting and there is some tension, though I’d like to facepalm myself a couple of times *SPOILER WARNING* Quinn loves Carrie? Carrie gets romantically involved with a key person again? We saw what that lead to last time. Still something keeps me watching and I can’t quiet put my finger on it.

Flash, Arrow, Agents of Shield and American Horror Story I keep for another day.

In terms of movies I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy and it was brilliant. Probably the best Marvel movie so far. Last weekend was The Rock as Hercules and I went into the cinema expecting not much and was actually positive surprised with that take on the story. Brett Ratner can do better than ruin comic franchises – I am proud. I don’t want to give away too much but it is a movie that is fun and kind of clever for a normal action flick with charismatic actors.

On the small screen I saw Lucy and I will spoil it right away and tell you all about it, it is the prequel to Her (partially filmed in Shanghai!) – it makes perfect sense. Trust me, I am out and watch my dreams for now. And nobody believes that we on only use 10% of our brain anymore and if you do, fact check it here on Snopes – generally a great site to debunk myths like that.

 

 

 

A quick rant

This is going to be a quick one. At the moment my mind revolves around the things that are going on in Hong Kong.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5wSexIGURs]

It is a war with love as a weapon and I hope it does not turn violent.

I bought a new phone this weekend and yeah, in China it is almost a brick: no google services, no yahoo, no youtube, no facebook and now no dropbox – it has worked before but since my favorite email app and it honestly should be everyone’s favorite email app is linked to dropbox – that is only accessible via a VPN here from inside China.

It’s crazy, when you try to access websites like yahoo it doesn’t show it’s blocked or anything, it loads forever just to show you a warning that the server is currently down and that the site might steal your credit card information and whatever. Same with facebook – it times out, so as somebody trying to access it you mistake it for an actual server outtake. This is what they want from you, they want you to think that those websites are unreliable or unstable and to use the Chinese government backed equivalent. Fuck that!

Take the great firewall down Anonymous and not only a few local government sites. I am waiting on the digital revolution here and you gotta do better then a few WuMaos with computers…

/rant

Old dream – new post

On the 14th of May 2011 I have posted this piece on Facebook:

A weird dream

Had a weird dream tonight. Went into a hotel foyer as waves crashed in and filled the rooms with water, then people tried to flee and the water was rising fast to the level of everyones hips. I was running out of the hotel and found myself caught on a street between to blue shining skyscrapers and the sun was shining, I saw the waves of water pressing against the glass windows of the building I came from. The windows bursted and a gigantic wave caught me and threw me against the other building, the wave reflected back and I could hardly get away. Between the waves I found the time to jump into a trapdoor the lead me to a subway station. – Weird and somehow one of the best dreams I ever had.

I want to have a section here or regular and reoccurring posts that are throwbacks to my old blog or the past. That can be great fun. BurnToBeAlive.de was good too, but all in German. If I can finally manage to install my old blog locally then I might translate and recycle the best material that was there and breathe new life into the old version of this blog.

Regarding the dream: Today I can tell that I was probably experimenting with meditation as well as lucid dreaming (WikiHow is awesome btw.) and I was watching Donnie Darko and there is a scene where Donnie finds himself in a similar landscape and that was inspired by a painting, nah, I stand corrected, I just read that in a weird forum post that I found at that time after trying to make sense of my dream. I like dreams and I like looking at my hands and also try lucid dreaming and/or meditation – there is a lot of fun to have.

So yeah, I am saving a longer post for the weekend because I want to visit dreamland now and not half ass a post…

Ohrwurm of the week 41/2014

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qri3D4Ry0s]

This is the song where you really can hear your balls drop and it has possibly one of the best guitar hooks that creep up your spine and make the back of your brain tingle. I have a lot of love for that band and their album ‘The Road Journals’ they are still giving away for free.

Do yourself a favor and support this band, they are one of the hidden gems underneath all the Metalcore stuff that comes out of the machine and they do have Ohrwurm potential, but it takes some repeated listening, like in the good old days and I kid you not if I say that I bought albums before that I disliked at first and that grew on me and that are now somehow hovering in my top ten: I’m looking at you Controller.

And if you want to learn a bit more about Metalcore and my favorite band, the dig into this album review and come back with more knowledge…

Hello World! Meet The Foreigners of Shanghai

I’m not going to apologize for not posting a couple of days, that rarely makes a good read. There have been some background updates and I finished The Strain – it ended on an okay-ish note. There was some vampire slaying, a good couple of unmemorable but boggling decision and logical fallacies, but I am still looking forward to a confirmed 2nd season. The Blacklist meanwhile is going strong and so far there was no filler episode and there is humor, suspense and a fantastic James Spader, even without any of the main mysteries being closer to resolved. Gotham is continuing being fantastic – even the young Bruce Wayne grows on me and again The Penguin steals the show and I can’t wait to see how he eventually grows to be the tragic villain and gangster boss. I like how there seem to be James ‘Jim’ Gordon’s villains that give a glimpse of what is to come in the city. I can’t wait, winter is coming…

As a German here in China you meet a lot of other foreigners. What do I say? As a foreigner here in Shanghai you meet all kinds of other foreigners, maybe even as a Chinese. Chances are that if you are female and Chinese then all kinds of nationalities try to hit on you and flock around you, but let’s not go there for now and to be frank, that is not always the case – guess it’s in the numbers then.

If you mean well and you want to come to China and experience 5000 years of culture, ähem, ähem, *clears throat*, then you can have a look at a website like this and dream yourself into a parallel universe were people here solve arguments with Crane Kung Fu versus the famous Tiger Chen Style, but who am I to tell you that. I came here with Jackie Chan in mind and when I was a teenager I wanted to become a Shaolin monk. I kind of met my idol Jackie Chan in Hong Kong once, but I know that the ‘Shaolin Temples’ are more Disneyland than mythical places and no, arguments are not solved with amazing Kung Fu demonstrations, it’s more shouting and pushing, but at the end of the day that is how it is.

Tiffany Wang wrote an article in February 2013 that pretty much shows how the expat situation has changed and yeah, it pretty much happened that way. We are not the unique snowflakes anymore. But hold that for a second, I think I am, but not because I am a Batman this time:

There are I would say three types of foreigners here in Shanghai if we look at them from a time-spent-here-perspective. And this is not scientific by any means nor is it in any way a relevant sample, just my own thoughts, so without further ado…

1 – The internship or exchange student

I was part of that group. They are here for a brief stint, usually between 3 months and one year. They know they will leave after that time frame and they live life to the fullest. Every club has to be hit, it wasn’t a good night, if the location hasn’t change less than 3 times and hangovers are unreal due to fake alcohol. Whatever they do here ends and they leave no marks, but a broken heart here and there and a few furniture pieces they leave in their dormitory room or shared apartment for the next one to grab. They have a blast here, but sometimes they can’t imagine to stay here a day longer then necessary and sometimes they come back, if they come back they graduate to type 2.

2 – The up and down expat

This type of foreigner is here for some time from 1 year up to 4 years. This is the type of person that came back for more or decided to stay for a tad longer but is unsure about their 5 year plan (if there is any). I think this is the most common type. The sad thing here is, that if you are going to be type 3, or even if you are type 1 (not Diabetes) then or a fellow type 2 (not Diabetes again) then you will be hard pressed to be the one that stays longer and sees them leaving to never return (to China that is). Actually that happens even with type 1, but here it hurts more, because you developed a closer friendship. When this type exceeds the 4 years he will be granted the title Level 3 Expat (dips on the trademark).

3 – The longer you stare into the abyss expat

As a Level 3 Expat you are here for the long run, but most likely not forever. Staying here ‘forever’ and completely immersing yourself is rare, if you’d decide to stay and spend the rest of your days in China that might be as rare as The Black Lotus. Honestly, that rarely happens and you will never be considered Chinese. I am now part of this group or type and I can stay another year or two. Funny thing is, once you are in this group you plan from year to year, then you turn around another 3 years have passed.

It’s all good for me here at the moment and what I want to say is that sometimes it is hard to see friends leave and then you will have to find some new ones, I mean new ones that are geographically close, not that you completely lose the others.

So remember – things are good and you better enjoy the ride! Some expat friends walk the walk for a time with you and some don’t stick around that long. I guess living in a an expat city is a bit like living on steroids, you just have to cycle through it faster.