Friday, December 29, 2006

Second Snow

Without me noticing, sometime in the last few hours, snow fell down from the sky and covered our garden - how wonderful. It hasn't snowed since mid-November and I was sad to have a green Christmas (again). But at least now we might have a white New Year.


If you want to read a hilarious Fantasy story, go and check out Elf vs. Orc by Ursula Vernon. The story isn't finished yet, but there are nine installments so far. Up to number four they are good, then they get very good and from the sixth installment on I couldn't stop reading (and laughing).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'll take you any time

Good golly. I'm gonna write my diploma thesis on Fantasy.

I hadn't planned to get into the topic this early, but the teacher who I wanted to be my supervisor for the thesis liked one of my essays so much that she offered to supervise my thesis. So I went for it.

I initially intended to write on the depiction of Elves and Fairies from folklore through Shakespeare to Tolkien, but it seems to topic is too broad. So I'm now looking for a nice, small topic in the genre and am frankly blown away by the multitude of themes that are offered to me. So many great authors to investigate - Gaiman, Beagle, LeGuin, Pullman to name some contemporary ones, but also the 18th and early 19th century writers, Tolkien, Lewis, MacDonald, Morris. Been grinning all day, I'm so happy to be able to write on the genre.
I'm lucky to be at a university where one of the head teachers studies fantastic literature. I'd never have dreamed of being able to write on Fantasy when I started my studies.

Now I'm trying hard to find a list of significant Fantasy stories and authors online, sorted by date.

Monday, December 18, 2006

G. here and there

I'm reading "Das neue Schwarzbuch Markenfirmen" by Klaus Werner and Hans Weiss at the moment. It's about companies, brands and globalisation, very similar to Naomi Klein's "No Logo". Very, very similar, actually. There are quite a few things repeated in the Schwarzbuch Markenfirmen that has already been written in No Logo. Some stuff is new and interesting, though, e.g. that Milka chocolate and the Mozartkugeln are produced by an American company and that an African 14-year-old child costs 30€.

The positive thing about the book is that the content is more local to the German-speaking countries, so companies like Aldi and Eduscho get mentioned. These are the companies that you never hear about in the American books on globalisation.
Otherwise the books gives a very general overview on the impact that globalisation and big companies have on all sorts of products in the world. Food, toys, clothing, oil, medicine, electronic gadgets, etc. It's not as detailed and in-depth as No Logo, but a nice introductory book on the topic.
About half of the book is also dedicated to single companies. So every company has a two-page company profile, listing what violations the company is accused of.


Jehova's Witnesses were at our doorstep again. The very same people who were here the last time I posted about them. They said they could give us stuff to read about God and religion, so my mum told them she's not interested in it and sent them away again. They must be quite desperate to return.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Good Day

Lots of nice things happened today.

I donated blood. That needle is huge, but it wasn't as painful as I expected it to be (after seeing the needle). It also didn't affect me and I felt like I could donate again right after I was finished (not that they would have let me). I got chocolate and some drinks for it, and the Red Cross people were really nice.

Then, right after leaving the building, I stumbled across another Fairtrade shop (Eine Welt Handel) that I hadn't known yet. The more, the better.

And lastly, I never thought I could find a biological/Fairtrade chocolate that I'd like. They all have some peculiar taste that I can't stand, and I've tried all brands in the bio and Fairtrade shops. So I decided to go back to Milka, Dove, etc. because I'm not gonna buy chocolate that I don't like just because it's Fairtrade.
But. My brother has been telling me about an Austrian chocolate brand for ages now. It's really expensive (more than the Fairtrade one; 3€ for 70g), typical quality chocolate that you usually buy as a present for someone. So I only bought one bar some days ago to see if I like it. Today I opened it, had a closer look at the wrapping, and it says "bio and fair". Awesome! Chocolate switch to Fairtrade initiated. (It tastes good.)
Check out the website: Zotter
They have about 60 different standard flavours, plus some flavours that change seasonally (plus drinking chocolate and chocolate liquors). My brother already ordered Zotter chocolate for 55€, and he and Christine are planning to visit the factory (where you can taste all the chocolate), and I'm coming along. That will be great.

So, good day. Very good day.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

You better leave The Mum alone

My mum rocks when it comes to people ringing at our doorbell to convert us to some belief (Jehova's Witnesses, usually). She has no problem with being unfriendly or offensive, which is surprising because normally she's the friendliest person I know in the world. Granted, her lack of patience with bell people probably comes from having two houses and having to scare them away from both.
Which happened today.
First they rang at my brother's house, where she shied them away immediately. Then she came over to our house, as did Jehova's Witnesses. Imagine their surprise when seeing the same person opening the door again. She tried to make them go away again, to which they replied with "But there are still so many bells here" (we have about 6 or 7 bells at the front door because we used to let the rooms in the cellar). Read: "There are still so many people living here that we can talk to and convert". She made them go away quickly.

The idea of my mum being all unfriendly is very, very amusing.


As promised, photos:

The local train around the Chiemsee. Very nice looking, but slightly cold.

The area right after the entrance

One of the musicians. He was amazing. He used the melody of well-known pop-songs and added medieval lyrics to them. One was "Hotel California". The lyrics were similar to "Welcome to the Halls of Valhalla. Who needs the Hotel California, when you can dine with Odin and his guys?". He also played a song he composed himself called "Little fat elf girl".

Here one of the groups put up the pole for the sun wheel to celebrate Yule. Unfortunately I had to leave before it was set on fire.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

6 in 101

A month has passed and I went through with drinking 2l of water and making my bed every day. It took 2-3 weeks to get accustomed to it and by now it's no effort at all to do it.
There are several reasons why I do this 1001 thing and why the things that are on the list are on the list. Some of them are on the list because they simply do good (like donating blood). Others because they're things that are done, but that I almost never do (like making bed every day) and again others because they're supposed to be good for you (egoistic selfish thinking; like drinking 2l of water per day).
I couldn't care less for the 'things that are done', but it's a new experience to do them anyway. The point of the whole list is (for me) to try certain things and keep doing them if I like them or if I find them useful. I'll go on drinking water. It doesn't taste as bad as it used to when I was a child and I can drink until I'm not thirsty anymore without getting bored of the taste. I'm also saving the money that I used to spend on drinks. Plus, when I do drink something different - like the chocolate tea that I bought some time ago - it tastes better than I remember and I appreciate it more (which is the point of expensive teas, to appreciate them).
I don't know about the bed-making. It's not much of an effort and it looks nice, but I don't get anything out of it (monetary, emotionally, physically or otherwise). I'll see how this develops now that I'm not forcing myself to do it anymore.

Okay, new tasks for the next month:
- Do exercises every day. I have a messed up spine since my teenage days (at least that's when it was discovered) and I'm supposed to do exercises every day so it doesn't get worse. I don't do them regularly, only when I wake up and my back hurts like hell. I know it's not good, and it doesn't improve by the way I'm always sitting at the computer (basically forming an L with my spine).
- Don't hit the snooze button anymore. That's similar to making my bed every morning (concerning how useful I find it ... not at all). At least it should prevent me from falling asleep after having been woken up already (this morning there were twenty minutes between the alarmclock ringing this morning and me getting out of bed, and I don't remember lying in bed for that long; either my sense of time is dwindling or I fell asleep very shortly and woke up again for some reason).

Also, I'm going to donate blood next week. The Red Cross is coming to university faculties, so I know where I have to go (which was what prevented me from donating blood previously).
If you're in Salzburg and have time, go donate blood as well. Tuesday 8.30-16 at the NAWI (Dekanatssitzungssaal), and Wednesday same time in the Kapitelgasse 4 (Senatssitzungssaal).

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Legend of Amerang

I had a blast. Even though a few things went wrong on the way to the castle, all in all the day was loads of fun and it felt so good to walk among people in medieval clothes again. The market wasn't too big. I'd say it had a nice, comfy size - not too big to get lost and to not see everything and to not be able to talk to the people, but also big enough to offer some variety. All the artists were so open and friendly that I felt completely at home. I spent quite a while talking with the couple from Vergessene Künste who sold some liquors, bathing stuff and food. They were nice enough to explain to me how they make their stuff, why they can't offer mead, and they also showed me how they make their mustard (like it was made in the Middle Ages, just without the stones that make your teeth disappear after a lifetime). I also got a small discount for wearing historical clothes. Yay.
I also repeatedly came across one of the jesters, who then started to tell another visitor that I was following him around and pretend-flirted with me. God, it was fun. Also talked with another seller about night markets and how they're much better than markets that end at 6pm.
The fire-show was amazing. Not as impressive as other shows I've seen (especially since by now I'm somewhat used to them). Still, I cringed often. The two guys from the show set the stage on fire, as well as the towel they used for killing the fire and their clothes. One of them set his tongue on fire. The other one fell into a heap of glass splinters.

I once again realized that I much prefer small sellers and companies to the big mass-market ones. The couple from Vergessene Künste seemed to enjoy explaining their work to me and kept giving everyone who approached their tent drinks (here's the difference between small markets and big, commercial ones: you don't get free stuff to try on the commercial markets - you even have to buy a glass of mead to drink before you can decide if you even like the mead and want to buy it).
There was also a big difference between the trains. I had to change once, using the Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) for the longer trip and the Chiemgauer Lokalbahn (local train for the area around the Chiemsee) for the shorter one. The local train was much cheaper. The Deutsche Bahn made me pay extra because apparently there are different fees for taking different types of train, even when they're going to the same place. So because I took a train that had a travel time of 52 minutes instead of 57 minutes I had to pay 5.30€ more. I wasn't made aware of that when I bought the ticket, only when I already was in the 'wrong' train and the unfriendly ticket woman told me that I have to pay more. Thanks. Also, the staff from the local train was much friendlier. The Deutsche Bahn woman was unfriendly as hell (which I'm not used to, since the staff in the Austrian trains is always very polite and friendly). One of the people from the local train chatted a bit with almost every passenger when they bought their tickets, and the children got chocolate at the beginning of the trip (as it was a special occasion because of the market). When I went back home the same guy also talked with me for a while, asking me about the market. Big kudos to the staff from the Chiemgauer Lokalbahn - they worked all day (with a 30 minute break) to operate the train so we could get to the market and didn't have time to see it for themselves. They're also donating 1€ to the kindergardens in Amerang for every ticket that's sold this weekend.
The Deutsche Bahn discourage me to go to Germany again by train.

The weirdest sight of the day was probably the goth girl smoking a black cigarette. It reminded me of the shop in which you can buy black toilet paper for 2.50€ per roll.

Photos will follow.

Meet me on the sunny road

After having learned that I'm going to have a baby from the Pope on December 25th (it's a girl!), I also found out that I'm a bubble.

Now I'm going to bed to dream of rainbows and shiny knights before waking up and seeing them for real.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Chant d'automne

Nature is beautiful at this time of the year. Three times a week I'm going to Hallein by train (as I'm teaching at a secondary school there) , which is a 20 minute journey. Here's where the Alps start. On the train from Linz to Salzburg I see mostly flat land (and a lake), with the mountains looming far behind in the distance. To Hallein, I'm going past the mountains. They are to the left and to the right of the train and change every day. One day the sun is shining, and I see the crisp edges between the sun-lit side and the shadow-side, with white patches of snow crossing the sides at the top. On other days it's misty. Then the lower part of the mountains is hidden in fog. Only the peak shows, peeking out of the fog. It never ceases to amaze me.
The mountains are even more beautiful when you go from Linz to Graz. Then you literally go over the mountains, with steep cliffs at one side of the train occasionally. This must be the sublime nature that the Romantics adored.

Tomorrow I'm going to a medieval market in Amerang (between Salzburg and Munich, in Germany). The last market for this year. I'll miss them during winter.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fictional Letter by a 13-year-old boy/girl

Dear parents,

Since I am seven years old I have been getting a weekly pocket money of 10€. With that money I can buy a healthy school lunch three times a week at most; I am starving the other days. I can never go to the cinema, or indulge in other offers of the entertainment industry, without begging you for money, which is quite humiliating. I'm not even mentioning that I'm being bullied at school because I cannot afford to buy brand clothes. Therefore I ask you, my highly esteemed parents, to think of the psychological well-being of your child and grant me a weekly increase in pocket money of at least 200%.

Your poor and neglected (not to say unkempt) child, who loves you nevertheless

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shanti, shanti, shanti

Not too long ago I thought, being in a somewhat unhappy state then, that it had been a really long time since I had read/seen a really good book/film. Most are average, or good at best, but rarely are they amazing. I remember Pillars of the Earth and the Lady in the Water, both which were good, but still had too many things that I didn't like all that much. When you're out to see good films and read good books, instead of just getting some entertainment, this rather average average isn't that encouraging. Being confronted with quality stuff improves your life and makes you happy. It really does.

Last time I was in Britain (some months ago) I wanted to see Children of Men in the cinema. The cinema in Salzburg only shows animations in English, too (except for some blockbusters like Da Vinci Code), so I usually take every opportunity I have to see films in the original language. Of course, my then boyfriend couldn't be bothered to go see it with me and so I waited patiently until the film was released in Austria.
I can definitely say that's the best film I've seen in a very long time. It has the single best use of music as a foreground element, and the story, the director (who also directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), the actors and their characters together have created a very powerful film. The Ruby Tuesday scene and the scene at the end with the soldiers blew me away. I love the pseudo realism and pessimism. I love the little details that can be found in the background - posters, slogans, paintings. I love how the film has futuristic designs (e.g. cars), and at the same time makes them look old and rusty to show that these futuristic designs are already outdated by the time the story begins.
I hope the film wins lots of oscars and the actors, the producers and the director get lots of money. I hope there'll be more films like this one.
I really want to see the film again (in English, on DVD) and I really want to read the book now.

Go and see it. Now.

Monday, November 20, 2006


The upside of the New Age of Internet is that you don't have to believe what the newspapers say, but instead you can find out background information on the people in the news and, sometimes, even get a different truth from the people who are directly involved. Some weeks ago the newspaper reported that a teacher had decided on a student's grade by throwing a dice. The newspaper quoted the student, but a fellow student replied to the article online, saying that no reported ever interviewed the student. So where does the quote come from?

The shooting at the school in Emsdetten is, of course, a more serious topic.
I read that the student was a satanist and that he played violent computer games (Counterstrike). Only three days ago I had a discussion with three other students on the effect of violent computer games and whether they make the players aggressive. I was the only one who thought they didn't. Needless to say, such an overwhelming majority didn't encourage me to argue my point further. Now the overwhelming majority called media keeps arguing for a ban on violent games, and I'm more than surprised such a thing would even be considered.
As I said, the internet is a marvelous tool. You have tons of teenager write blogs to share their thoughts, so future employers can read them and decide if they really want to have an outspoken person like that in their company. You also have the Livejournal of the boy who did the shooting in Emsdetten, as well as forum postings in which he talks about his aggressive feelings and intentions and asks for help.
His goodbye letter shows a lot of aggression and anger, as well as a lot of exxageration and thoughts that shouldn't be there. Still, all the information that you can gather on non-news sites tells me that he was a pretty normal teenager, facing the problems that most teenagers face. Problems in love matter and at school, being bullied (including physical attacks), being the outsider. To me he seemed like an intelligent young person who was very critical of society (and, in my opinion, a lot of his criticism was/is justified). That happens when you get disappointed by society a couple of times too much.
All his postings and blog entries are from a year ago (or older). It looks like he had a lot of anger inside back then, but as far as I dare to judge, not enough to do it. I'm more interested in what happened in this past year that made his anger take over his intelligence than in what colour his clothes were or what kind of games he played. The colour of your clothes or the games you play for fun don't make you take a gun and shoot people.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Worse than Babelfish

Translators of film titles never cease to amaze me.

In my most recent discovery, the upcoming film 'The Holiday' turns into 'Love doesn't need a holiday' in its German translation.
It's a romantic comedy, of course.
Maybe Austrian and German people are considered too stupid by translators to be able to read teasers and synopses, so we need a clue in the title to realize what's a love story and what isn't.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I think I've spoken about this before. My brother cleaned part of his flat during summer (Until I started to help him and Christine by throwing everything out of the cupboards onto the floor, and Christine yelled at me because she couldn't keep up with throwing/putting the stuff on the floor away. Then I didn't have time anymore to help and they stopped cleaning up, too.). During that time I ravaged the whole flat for books that sounded interesting enough to give them a try.
So now I have a cupboard full of unread books. I started reading last week.

A great part of these books are 'Reader's Digest', collections of classics and bestsellers. I was always wary of those, because they look like they're boring classics that everybody should know, and therefore are collected in these digests (so people can buy them to at least pretend they know the stories).
Well, surprise, I like half of the book I've read so far. That is, I've read 2/3 or 1/2 of Benchley's White Shark (like most stories in the Reader's Digest, it's abridged - so 1/3 or 1/2 has been abridged away and I can't read it) in a day. Gore, missing limbs, and a love story. The heart of every bestseller. I liked it enough to wonder what's written in the missing parts of the book. I'm guessing it's the adultery part and lovestory.
Next were short stories by Ephraim Kishon, who apparently writes satire. I read those on the train, smiling and chuckling. Some of them are very good and insightful (concerning society and humanity), others are predictable. They made me want to read more of Kishon.
Last story of today, the one I only started reading, is Richard Martin Stern's 'The Tower'. I'm intrigued by it. It was written in 1973 and is about a recently finished huge tower in New York. During the opening ceremony a suicide bomber causes havoc. I believe there'll be a fire and lots of dead people, but I haven't read that far yet. The World Trade Center gets mentioned several times in the first few pages. One sentence startled me a bit, at the end of chapter 3 (rough translation): "In a world, in which violence seemed to be the norm, sabotaging a building was anything but unthinkable." 1973.
According to the introduction, Stern wanted to warn people of catastrophes. Shortly before the story was published 50 people died in a fire in a themepark, and some months later 200 died in a fire in an office skyscraper. Still, people want to build higher and higher, and only recently the newspapers published a planned project in Dubai, where some mad millionaire wants to build the highest skyscraper on earth (if I had ever read the Bible I'd probably reference Bablyon now; instead, I'll just do some elegant Babylon-namedropping and pretend I know what I'm talking about. Lalala.).

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

If you love enough you lie a lot

A recent look on my Amazon wishlist revealed that it contains 94 items. I could have sworn it was around 70-80 only shortly ago. Where are these books coming from?


And this is another good reason why you shouldn't use Paypal: Blogposting by George R. R. Martin

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Partial end results and 101 in 1001

I figured that shopping on Saturdays is ... no good. Most of the small shops close at 12. So I couldn't go to any of the bio-shops and the Weltladen was also already closed. I could see from outside that it has about twice the size of the one in Salzburg, so that's promising. Apart from that, the experimental afternoon was successful and encouraging, though. I could put several additional chains on my sweatshop store list, but also found a (very expensive) shop that seems to have its clothes produced in the US. I also found a quite big Fairtrade shop with lots of nice stuff (among them woodden boxes that I've been wanting for some time now), average prices and very friendly staff. I think the friendly staff is the best thing about small ethical shops. I've never felt so comfortable in a shop before.
Another amazing discovery was ... a Fantasy shop! We have a Fantasy shop in Linz. Who'd have thought! It doesn't seem to have a lot of stuff that I'd want (few jewellery, some clothes that seem to be made out of a bad material), but its simple existance is great. I wonder how long it has been there.
Now I'm happy and excited about my findings, and buying in those shops actually makes me satisfied for longer than five minutes. Let me get girly here for a bit and talk about shopping.
I don't like shopping. It takes time, hurts my feet and you never find what you want. Shopping for books is ok, but even there I've switched to Amazon because the local bookshops don't have that many English books. Shopping for clothes is hell. I don't even know why I do it. I have enough clothes, I don't have space for more clothes and shopping for clothes is The Pain. Still, every 2-3 months I'm overcome with an urge to buy clothes. I supress it for a few weeks and then go on a day on which I'm less than unmotivated to buy stuff. Then I walk into every shop that sells clothes and looks at the clothes. Most of the time I'm turned off by the price and the style, so in 2 out of 3 times I walk home without having bought clothes (only books and stuff I need for everyday life), being grumpy because I've seen too many clothes for one day. After four shops, I really don't want to go through another shop to find nothing. Shopping for clothes is very demotivating.
When I do find something I'm willing to buy (usually because it's cheap and looks alright, not good, but alright, and I'm too fed up to look at more clothes, so I buy what I have) I get home, curse on the way, then throw the bags on the bed, go to the computer and forget about them. This isn't very satisfying.
Buying in Fairtrade shops has been different so far. It made me feel good, made me want to try their food and makes me do it as soon as I come home. No throwing away to the side and forgetting about it. Even looking through shops scanning the labels for signs of sweatshop work made me feel good. Everytime I found a "Made in China" I thought 'Oooh, you've been made in a sweatshop. Bad shirt. Bad shop. Baaaad shop. Let's see if the shop next to you is as bad as you' and got a bouncy, satisfied feeling while I wrote down the details. If the shops hadn't closed, I could have done it for hours. That must be my inner judge getting an evil sense of satisfaction from blackening company reputation.

Anyway, good results. Not finished by far yet, since I only covered half of the area that I intended to search. But I've found several nice shops with nice staff that I want to support, and that's more than I expected from that afternoon.


On to something else. I've found this fun project on a forum, 101 Things in 1001 Days. You make a list of 101 things that you want to do in 1001 days and try to actually do it. I've never had a problem with keeping lists and achieving the goals on them (although I don't really do lists, so maybe I forget about the goals that I didn't achieve), especially not short-term ones. I guess it's a bit harder for long-term goals, since your expectations from life change and so do your goals. Still, this looks like it will make me do things I'd not normally do, which will be a nice experience (hopefully).
I admit the idea doesn't sound so exciting and fun as it did yesterday when I made the list, so tomorrow I might think it's outright stupid - but I'll try. Started with 1 and 5 today.

Tasks completed: 29

1. Make bed every morning for a month [done December 5, 2006]
2. Bake a cake for the family [done November 11, 2006]
3. Get up early and go to the Saturday flea market [done February 17, 2007]
4. Exercise every day for one month straight (spine exercises, breathing) [started December 5, 2006]
5. Go for a walk once a week for two months [started February 19, 2007]
6. Drink 2l of water daily for a month [done December 5, 2006]
7. Read one book on astronomy
8. Write a short story. [done February 11, 2007]
9. Start a conversation with someone I don’t know. [done December 2, 2006]
10. Finish this list [done November 5, 2006
11. Go a month without chocolate.
12. Go a month without indulging in commerce (meaning I only buy what I need – have to figure out what I ‘need’ first)
13. Honestly compliment a stranger
14. Buy something for a total stranger
15. Illustrate a book (at least five paintings)
16. Visit Ireland again to take pictures of the Black Church
17. Donate blood [done December 13, 2006]
18. Write a letter/e-mail to a friend I have not heard from in a long time
19. Send a card to a friend “just because” [done January 15, 2007
20. Give the whole D&D group presents at the beginning of the game, so they are too confused to cause havoc in the following 8 hours [done March 19, 2007]
21. Do anatomy practice/sketches for an hour per day for a month
22. Read all Loomis books I have as .pdf
23. get a job or at least one freelance commission that earns me my own money [done April 2007]
24. Take a picture every day for one month
25. go to bed every night at 10pm for one week
26. Give flowers to someone who isn't expecting them.
27. Graduate from university
28. Discover five new bands/artists that make me happy (1/5)
a. Tori Amos
29. Don't use a computer at all for a day [done March 24, 2007]
30. Brush my teeth twice a day for two months [started February 24, 2007]
31. Take another nude drawing class
32. Buy a proper, working fountain pen [done February 5, 2007]
33. Eat no meat for a week
34. Eat three pieces of different fruits every day for a week
35. Do five things straight away that I'd usually procrastinate over (1/5)
36. Take an afternoon and watch children in the playground
37. Go on a date
38. Actively write in a paper journal 1x a week for two months [done March 9, 2007]
39. Go to a club and actually dance without feeling like people are watching
40. Read a book about a different religion [done Mai 7, 2007 - Paganism]
41. Go a week without watching any television (note that I can take a week here, but only take one day without a computer) [done March 22, 2006]
42. Read the DM Guide again
43. Walk to/from university once a week for a month
44. Go swimming every day for two weeks (please let the weather be nice)
45. Accept all social invitations for one month (dates, lunch, happy hour) whether it’s something I want to do or not.
46. Get out of bed by 8:00 am everyday for 1 week
47. Visit the family grave at least 3x (once a year)
48. Donate to charity or to a good cause I believe in
49. Dress slutty for a day and observe people’s reactions
50. Do an oil painting
51. Do a comic page
52. Paint something realistic from everyday life (no fantasy content)
53. Go 1 week without saying anything negative about anyone ~ no gossip, no complaining. [done February 7, 2007]
54. Read Revelations, this time without falling asleep and putting the book away for good (come on, it’s only ten pages) [done March 18, 2007]
55. Communicate for a day in written word only
56. Try making a cocktail [done December 31, 2006]
57. Meditate daily for two weeks
58. Smile at people for a whole day
59. Start a chat with one of the artists at a fair/festival
60. Go to one of the non-university-seminars that get advertised so much in Salzburg
61. Get my Amazon wishlist below 10 (not by deleting the books from the list)
62. Celebrate Samhain
63. Buy a piece of clothing that is incredibly expensive [done February 5, 2007]
64. Help a stranger [done April 15, 2007]
65. Explore the scary, dark northern forest
66. Drink only water for a week
67. Read 10 pages of an English book every day for a month and look up all words I don’t know the exact translation of (no use of context) [done January 16, 2007]
68. Find laced leather boots that I can wear in summer and that fit my medieval clothes
69. Write an article on my findings on sweatshop stores in Linz and Salzburg
70. Make a pure graphite picture
71. Write reviews of five books
72. Release a message in a bottle
73. Design and make three new skirts
74. Translate one of Ovid’s Metamorphoses
75. Get a cat/cats
76. Wear one of my corsets in public without any reason
77. Spend less than an hour each day online for a week. [done March 25, 2007]
78. Have candlelight dinner (this can be with friends.)
79. Go to the local bookshop and choose one book from a section that I’d never look at otherwise, buy it and read it
80. Write a poem that rhymes and has proper metre
81. Put flowers or heart-shaped chocolate into my brother’s flat without being noticed, preferably so his girlfriend finds it first
82. Buy the expensive special edition of one book I like
83. Get a better printer
84. Get a new computer
85. Take photos of the nice statues at the cemetery
86. Make the anti-brands illustration that has been floating around in my head for months
87. Go to Graz to eat at my brother’s favourite Chinese [done Mai 6, 2007]
88. Water the rose bush that my brother gave me for my birthday every day for two weeks in Summer
89. Participate in Buy Nothing Day [done November 25, 2006]
90. Read a scientific book on the Fantasy genre and Elves [done Mai 11, 2007
91. Epilate instead of shave
92. Design a realistic (it must be wearable) and creative Halloween costume. I don’t have to wear it
93. Take someone up on an offer I would normally decline
94. Design a CD cover, including leaflet cover and backcover
95. Buy 1 legitimate piece of software
96. Design a SciFi monster
97. Transform one room into my own, personal library (hopefully in my own, personal flat)
98. Go to a medieval fair and dance to the music
99. Paint 10h on one day
100. Design a set of jewellery
101. Do not hit snooze button for one month [finished February 18, 2007]

The challenge ends on Sunday, August 2, 2009.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

First snow and bombs

It started snowing yesterday. Makes me excited like a little girl. Today it was already snowing heavily and you can't see the grass anymore. If I had a cat I'd probably throw it out into the snow and make a video of its reaction, out of curiosity.

In Salzburg there was a bomb from World War II blown up near my flat (German newspaper article). Now I wish I had been there this evening to hear the detonation and maybe to feel the floor shake (wheee), and besides that to check if anything in my flat got damaged. I guess I'll have to hope for the next bomb.

Tomorrow my sweatshop experiment continues and I'll ravage the shops in Linz for the labes. Let's see if I still like the snow tomorrow evening.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Pillars of the Earth

Mild spoilers ahead.

After finding out that one song on the recent album of my favourite band Schandmaul was based on Ken Follett's 'The Pillars of the Earth', and after having been told repeatedly by one of my professors that it's the most widely read book in Germany (followed up by Lord of the Rings and some other book ... maybe the Bible?) I decided to give those 1000 pages a try. I never throught that a story that evolved mainly around the building of a medieval cathedral could interest me, but it did. There were a lot of repetitions, especially when characters had a closer look at each other, so the book would have probably profited from some more editing, but the vivid descriptions made up for that.
You believe Ken Follett when he tells his story. It's dark, it's cruel and it's realistic - not a fairytale. Similar to George R. R. Martin's 'The Song of Ice and Fire' there is no guarantee that your beloved characters will survive or come out of the trouble unharmed (which, again, is realistic, considering that the story spans over several decades). This is what's partly appealing about the book, even though the endless suffering is maybe a little too overdone, with too many tries to corrupt the building of the cathedral. Ken Follett also isn't very kind at all to his characters (which is good) - peasants get killed gruesomely and their wife's get raped, and the main couple of the whole story almost splits up because she can't bear anymore to not be able to live with her lover. But in the end, it's a book and the cause of this inability gets killed. So maybe it is a little bit of a fairytale after all.

I guess sometimes you just want books to tell you the truth. You want them to give you answers and solutions. Instead, you get miracles. And those are no good.
Of course, most of the time you want them to lie to you. You want them to tell you that everything is alright, and you want them to show you all those miracles and magicks.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Circling around the target

First of all, plugging a demo that was done by some of the students in Salzburg this week. In Salzburg we have to pay the highest price in all of Austria for a semester ticket for the bus. When I started uni it used to be 64€, after I returned from Oxford it was 96€, this semester it's 99€. So a handful of students reacted and said "Since the semester ticket costs so much we can't afford a flat. Therefore we will live in the bus." And they did. On Monday they "lived" in one of the buses from 9-6, got into the media and repeated the process on Tuesday. It's looking good that the ticket might be cheaper for next semester. At least there'll be a hearing next Monday.
The website (German) with photos: Wohnen im Bus


Onto my sweatshop issue:
Did a couple of hours of online research again today. My approach is pretty chaotic, but it shows first results, which is encouraging. I found a list of Fair Trade shops in the UK, unfortunately not one for Austria. I'm obviously living in the wrong country. Instead, I found a blog by a likeminded person, which lists several sweatfree companies and brands, plus links to further information: Weißliste (German again). It's late and I only had a glance without taking notes. Tomorrow I'll have a closer look and check which of the shops are interesting for me (meaning they have stores in Austria or ship to Europe).
Some of the companies seem to be very good, having not just the simple shirts without print. As expected, they're more expensive than what you get in shops here, but - in the end - that's alright.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

An Experiment

In the last weeks I've been looking for more ways to win my not-so-eternal struggle against sweatshops. I figured drawing a picture about it is pretty much useless right now, since I'm simply not good enough to make enough people look at the picture to make a difference (which is why I'm holding back some ideas for painting for later, when I'm - hopefully - good enough to get them out into the world).
So, instead, I did a little experiment. I went to city centre (in Salzburg) and went into every single shop and had a closer look at the clothes that were being sold, and their labels. Every single shop includes the small shops that are always empty because they are so posh that average people don't dare to walk in. A pleasant surprise was that despite my obvious student-y look I was treated better in those shops than I was in the obvious sweatshop stores like Orsay or Schöps.
The result of the experiment was discouraging. As Naomi Klein, author of "No Logo", says on her website, when shopping for clothes we don't look at where the clothes were made, only at the price and (sometimes) the quality. So I pretty much only looked for the origin and partly the quality, and only had a sideglance at the price. In the end there were three shops in all of Salzburg's city centre that don't sell sweatshop clothes for sure. Instead, they sell designer clothes from Italy and France (and are priced accordingly). Interestingly enough, the quality of these designer clothes didn't really convince me. Sure, some items were well made, but for some reason the current fashion is this kind of ragged look that implies bad quality.
About half of the labels didn't mention where the clothes were made, and the other half mentioned Turkey, Greece, Hong Kong, Morocco and China - typical sweatshop countries.

I created an Excel file with all the stores, mentioning the origin of the clothes, the quality and the price, plus some additional comments for myself. I'm also adding the law violations that are mentioned on for some of the shops (unfortunately, the website seems to target mostly American shops and brands). That should give me a nice list to compare the ethics of various shops/brands.

Next step is to repeat the procedure for the shops in Linz, and to do some more research on the shops/brands that don't mention the origin of the clothes. I'm guessing it means that they're also from sweatshops, since I can't imagine why else you'd withold the origin.

In the end, I don't have much faith in finding a shop that sells non-sweat clothes (apart from dedicated no-sweat online stores). I'd imagine a shop that considers non-sweatshop labour important would advertise the fact, and I haven't come across that yet in Austria. In Britain, there is the Ethical Trading Initiative, but looking at their list of members I'm doubtful if they can really hold up to their proclamed ultimate goal on closer inspection. I'll believe it when I see it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

This blog needs more art

So I present to you a stereotypical naked demonlady.

Unfinished picture I did today just to sketch a bit. Got bored when rendering the body, so I just added some jewellery and then gave up.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I changed my mind. Girls are allowed to do that.

I believe I talked about Dreamfall before, how I'm absolutely gonna love that game and will so buy it.

I take it back.

Not all of that, of course. I bought the game. Not loving it. Actually, not starting it. Not finding the DVD (the PC, that is). Computer not finding the DVD means no installation.
Thank you, copy protection, thank you! Without you I wouldn't spend 40€ on a game that I can't play. And that I can't return, because nowadays you can't return opened games.

The games industry really sucks at present.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lady in the Water

After a big disappointment on seeing "Click" on Monday (Oh. My. God. No more American Comedies anymore, no more Romantic Comedies, no more pure Romances, no more Horror or Drama. It's all just too bad.) I was heavily reconsidering if I should go and see a film again today. Negative cinema experiences always make me very reluctant to see another film anytime soon.
I'm glad I did go and see 'Lady in the Water' today, though.

I understand that most people are disappointed by the film. I also understand that this is mostly due to the fact that they expected something else - a horror film. Yes, if you're misinformed and want a horror film instead of a fantasy/fairytale then you won't be very happy (on the other hand, if I had judged the film solely by the trailer I'd have expected more horror as well, and wouldn't have watched it at all because of that). It's a shame that the trailer didn't highlight the strength of the film, namely the beautiful, bedtime-story quality which reminded me of Peter S. Beagle's "The Innkeeper's Song". I'm undecided of whether I like the book or not, and the film stands in a similar position. The pacing is slow, especially in the first half of the film before more action settles in. If you expect Fantasy special effects you're in the wrong film. It's all realistic - which I like. I was delighted to see healing/resurrection without blue sparkles and blinding light. That was wonderful.
You can also see that obvious CG was only used when it was absolutely necessary, i.e. for the fantasy animals (the hyena/wolf type creature, the apes and the giant eagle). The advantage being that these creatures were well done and did not have the typical CG look.
The story is slightly predictable (as fairytales typically are), but in a nice way. You expect something to happen, but are not 100% sure, so when it happens you get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. In the end, the film comes down to the character and their actions, and what they are willing to do and sacrifice. The film begins with one lonely person and ends with many people working together. Seeing this is the ultimate joy of the film.

It's a beautiful film. Probably not one that I would watch twice or buy on DVD, but one that made me happy and urged me to keep sitting until the credits were over and I was forced to leave. A film that has atmosphere and conveys feeling for more than 110 minutes, if you let it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hold fast to your hair

Twice a year we have a small festival in Linz which is basically a small-scale version of Disneyland. Rollercoasters and wild stuff like that, sometimes even glass labyrinths. I haven't really tried any of it in a long time, because they're somewhat expensive and being shaken around for five minutes doesn't equal my definition of fun. I fail to get any kicks out of it.
But, thanks to peer pressure and friends shouting 'That's sooo cool. We have to do that again later.' I decided to give it a try again and have some fun. It wasn't a rollercoaster, rather a semi-open ball that spins around its own axis so you end up with your head closer to the ground than your feet a couple of times. Shortly before the ride started, a staff member came up to me and said 'Could you do me a favour? Can you hold your hair during the whole ride? It's too long. You don't have to hold onto the security handles in front of you, it's safe enough.'
Right. Imagine having to hold your hair all the while during a rollercoaster ride. Instead of having nice, firm handles that you can grip to keep you from being shaken too much, you grip your hair. That's fun.

So, I paid 3€ for holding my hair for 5 minutes and wondering why I actually do this.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Mirrormask and Exotique 2

I've finally bought Mirrormask. I was looking forward to the film since Neil Gaiman announced it on his blog. It's a low-budget film that heavily relies on CG, so I didn't expect a lot - basically just a good story in a mediocre presentation (as I don't fancy Dave McKean's style too much either). In the end, I definitely got more than I expected and was positively surprised. It's a nice, average fantasy story with very funny dialogue and absolutely appropriate art. Dave McKean's style fits the film perfectly. Mirrormask is in the same range as Labyrinth, so anybody who likes Labyrinth should check out Mirrormask as well.
Like anybody else who saw the film, I now want a Really Useful Book as well.


Ballistic Publishing has announced Exotique 2. You can browse through a page gallery on their website. The book looks nice. As with Exotique, it's purely eyecandy, unfortunately. I guess you don't need to create an exotic character to get into the book. A human that's very well rendered will do fine. Which is a shame - after looking through the page gallery I got fed up of pretty faces and wanted to see pictures that actually have a deeper content.
It's a bit like with the ImagineFX covers. They're ALL pretty faces of girls. The magazine is for SF and Fantasy art, but the covers don't necessarily reflect that (they mostly do, but some covers might as well be non-SF/Fantasy girls). I realize that covers need to be somewhat generic to reach a big audience, but if you have a limited target audience anyway you might as well go all the way and let the cover reflect the content of the magazine fully (which partly has been done, but the tendency seems to steer away from it).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Getting rid of memories

My aunt died in 97. This summer my brother, who now owns her flat, started to clean out the flat, throw away huge amounts of shoes, candy boxes and old spices. I saved some books for myself, and now have about four new metres of books to read. My wild frenzy of helping my brother throw away stuff went like this: I opened all sorts of drawers, looked at the stuff inside, threw the things that we didn't need anymore on the floor and opened the next drawer. My brother's girlfriend cleaned up after me. In this wild frenzy I found, amongst other things, a box of letters from a French penpal my aunt had written to from 1964 to 1972. It amazed me that they had written to each other for so long.
We threw all the letters away, except for one. It was the first one my aunt had received from her penpal, and which included a photo of the then about 10-year-old girl, who now must be around 60.

Every summer, during the holidays, I thoroughly clean out my room and throw away whatever I don't need anymore. I always end up with some more space that I can fill over the coming year. This year, the only thing that got thrown away were some letter from my penpals - a girl who had lived next to me and moved to America upon her parents' divorce; my Canadian exchange student; and a French guy whose address I had got from an online penpale database, but who apparently had never added it there (he was surprised to get a letter from a strange Austrian girl, but nice enough to always reply anyway).
I only kept one letter from my mother in which she told me ten times to take care of myself (written to me when I had spent three weeks in England over the summer).

I have four pillow on my bed. An ordinary one that any bed has. A 'healthy' one that is supposed to put my neck into a good position, but - in my opinion - only puts it into a comfortable enough position to sleep, not a healthy one. A cuddly one, with fur, of which a friend said it wouldn't last a year (we're in year two so far, I believe).
And an old one. It's not really a pillow. I got it when I was four years old. It was part of those cribs that you get for dolls. At the bottom of the crib, below the proper, nice sheets with patterns, there was this pillow. Small, white, just a few layers of cloth, really. I named it 'Windel', which is German and means 'diaper'. That's what it's always been. I don't know where the name came from, I don't remember to even have named it. My only pillow with a name, which wasn't really a pillow.
I took it with me whenever I spent several nights away from home - scout camps, the three-week trip to England, the year in Oxford. It wasn't even comfortable to sleep on, since it wasn't a pillow. But sometimes it came in handy. It didn't take up much space, but if I folded it to a quarter of its size, I could have my head in a comfortable enough position to fall asleep (and then have it roll off the pillow while I slept). That was only really necessary on scout camps, though. For the other trips, I guess I just took it with me because it had become a tradition.
Some weeks ago I looked at the pillow, instead of just grabbing it and sleeping on it. The cloth had ripped in several places, and its colour resembled yellow rather than white. I told my mother, and she said it's probably time to throw it away (well, she actually said she knew and when changing the sheets the next time she'd throw it away).
Today, being semi-incapatitated by a cold, I looked at it again. I saw the ripped cloth, the colour, and with a sigh I took the ripped strands of the cloth and tugged at them until the first layer of cloth had completely come off. Lo and behold, under it the cloth was as white as ever. Without the remains of the ripped parts and single threads poking out, it would have looked like it had 18 years ago.
Still, after it had served me well for 18 years, I decided it was time to release it to its deserved retirement into the wastebin.

And that's how it is.

You put all your memories into boxes, and when it's convenient for you, you throw them away.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


On Friday and Saturday we had Chocolate Days in Linz. Lots of activities, events, exhibitions, shows and lots of chocolate to buy and taste for free. It was very enjoyable to stroll through downtown and look at all the different varieties. Unfortunately, it seems dark chocolate is fashionable at the moment, and it's a bit too bitter for my taste. Most of the free chocolate was, of course, dark chocolate.

There were two (guarded) chocolate fountain and a chocolate Titanic. The Titanic was impressive. It weighed 250kg and was 2.75m long. 480 hours of work, made out of 1200 parts. I wonder who ate it afterwards.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Middleages aren't so much Fantasy after all

And there you thought the Middleages were over and the Crusades a mistake from the past. I can only shake my head at the current argument about what the pope said. Of course, if people are actively looking for a reason to wage war, they'll find it. Anything the West says about Muhammed will probably be taken as an offense by certain Muslim groups. Sad world.

In the end, they are just words. You don't respond to words with violence. You simply don't do it. I can't even find an appropriate analogy. Beating somebody senseless because they made fun of your hair will only make you seem weaker. Hitting your wife because she said you're a spaz will only get you a divorce and (hopefully) a whole lot of money to pay. To words, you react with words. Explain, elaborate, make people understand in what way - in your opinion - they are wrong. You don't blow them up when you could make them understand instead.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Big Brother

There's an article in one of today's newspaper about tracking-devices for schoolkids. The device is done by a company in Graz and is similar to a mobile phone. It recognizes all mobile phone poles on the child's way to and from school, and when the child is too far off the way (like Little Red Riding Hood) automatically calls the parents. In the future it should be possible to precisely track the child's position.

That made me think. It's common to chip one's cats. So when will we start chipping our children?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Queen of Nothing

I lost myself to gold
When it faded
I was queen no more

On becoming queen, she started to value her treasures more than anything. The jewellery, diamonds and gems became the centre of her life, so much that she lost herself in them, lost her identity. Her kingdom fell apart, her servants abandoned her. Her castle broke into ruins and she escaped into the forest, which had died with her realm. Only there her golden mask could crack, giving her a chance to find her identity again. But don't tell her. She hasn't realized it yet. Right now, she is only lamenting the loss of her gold.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Interesting observation. I check the website of an Austrian newspaper daily to keep up to date and have a secondary view on events (instead of just the view of the newspaper we have subscribed to). So, with all the 9/11 anniversary drama, this newspaper apparently has also picked up an impressive headline for the big day.
When I checked the website last night, some time after midnight, I got a big picture with dust clouds with the title 'Is the war against terror already lost?'. I think "WTF?", because - for some reason - I found the title inappropriate. After I read the article I understood it better, since the article basically said the war is lost because Bush keeps ranting about and dramatizing terror, so people will stay afraid and therefore the terrorists will have achieved their goal.
When checking the website again today, the title had changed to "9/11 shakes US self-confidence". It's not uncommon for the newspaper to have website articles rewritten and resubmitted with a new title, but I haven't noticed it happen so often that just the title was changed.


On my last day in Rome, while waiting at the station for the train to arrive, I bought War of the Worlds and Marry Shelley's Frankenstein. I had a book with me, but I wasn't sure if it would last for the whole journey home. Needless to say, I slept through most of the journey and didn't even finish the book I had brought myself.
So I read it at home. While War of the Worlds was a bit tedious, as written previously, Frankenstein was just the opposite. I knew parts of the story, of course, because we had discussed and read extracts in English class and I believe it also turned up in some lecture at uni. Still, my basic idea of the story was that a mad scientist created a nice, but horribly looking creature, and fled from it. And that the creature followed its creator out of duty and to get things straight. That's what Hollywood does to you.
I didn't expect the long descriptions of Frankenstein's childhood, his years as a student and his work. I enjoyed it. Unexpected parts are always good in books. I also enjoyed the landscape descriptions, which surprised me. The descriptive style in War of the Worlds got tedious. It sometimes bordered on being too excessive in Frankenstein, but overall it's a nice, distinctive feature of the book. Definitely one of my favourites now among classic literature.

I also finished watching the anime Monster. Very good one. The last few minutes of the second-to-last episode were very touching. I like the overall idea of the whole anime. Anything I could write about the story would spoil it, so I'll keep my mouth shut. I might buy the manga as well, since it doesn't consist of too many books is probably more condensed than the anime (hopefully making the story clearer by that).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

"I don't wanna die. Screw you."

Best famous last words of a manga character that I've read so far.
Death Note; a 108 chapter manga. I came across it months ago through random browsing. The drawings were nice and the story interesting - a notebook that causes people, whose names are written in it, to die, if the writer knows their faces. The notebook belongs to Shinshigamis, gods or spirits of death. One of these notebooks falls into the hands of a student, who decides to create his perfect world by killing off all the people who are undeserving to live.
The manga is a mixture between crime story and thriller. There a lot of puzzling involved, by several characters. Sometimes too much. I enjoyed the general theme and story of the manga a lot. The beginning was very good, as was the ending. The middle part got tedious after a while. Too much scheming and planning, too much guessing and too many conspiracy theories. After that, too much explaining of conspiracy theories and how the plans were executed. Pages and Pages of it. I ended up skipping the explaining and just accepted that it had happened somehow. I guess I also lost some interest in the mange after two of my favourite characters were killed off, and the third (Misa) was pushed into the background; so I had a break of some months in betweeen in which I stopped reading the manga.
The last 10-15 chapters raised my interest again a lot. The last pages of the last chapter are fabulous in their atmosphere and execution. I don't fully understand them, but it was a good ending. Very satisfying. Plus, good dying words.
The manga is being published by Viz at the moment in English (up to Volume 8, I believe; you can even get it through German Amazon), and in German by Tokyopop, even though there's only one volume published so far, from what I know (maybe two).


I read on the Shadowmarch Forums that Tad Williams' next novel Shadowplay will be illustrated by Todd Lockwood. That's awesome news. A book by one of my favourite writers with a cover by one of my favourite artists. Can't get any better (wait... what about 'illustrated novel'?).

Sunday, September 03, 2006


"It was a girl, standing in the open doorway, dressed all in black with a long coat and close-fitting hat. No, maybe not a girl - how could you tell anything with these folks, anyway, especially age? - but certainly with every appearance of young womanhood. She had a heart-shaped white face and wide, startlingly violet eyes; all he could see of her hair beneath the hat was a tar-black curl on her forehead. 'Oh, God,' Theo said miserably. 'Is this your suitcase?'
She looked at him curiously for a moment, almost startled, then a mischievous smile curled the corner of her mouth. 'No. But now I'm rather certain it isn't yours, either. Are you thieves?'"
- Tad Williams, 'The War of the Flowers'

Friday, September 01, 2006

PvP and Anime Realism

Kinda having a nostalgic evening. After watching the Weiß Kreuz OVA I got the "Oh, watching Sailor Moon again would actually be neat" mood. I know the anime is cheesy, teenage-y and the German sub is godawful (I hate the main characters voice - hate). Still, it was part of my teenage years, I got mocked at school for watching and liking the series, so I have some kind of emotional connection. The only problem is that buying the anime is more than expensive (and I hate the sub), and it's impossible to get the manga in shops or even on Amazon. Sold out, no reprint. Since it's old, it's also hard to find scanslations online (Yes, they're illegal. But what else can you do if you can't get it anymore legally?). No luck, I just found some extracts. Which is probably better, since I'm sure I'd get bored of it quickly due to the repetitiveness. That's the problem with old loves. You have fond memories of them, but when you come across them again, they're not as good as you thought. I had the same problem recently when rereading R. A. Salvator's Darkelf Trilogy. I loved the books when reading it the first time, but the second reading wasn't as good. I'm currently fighting my way through the third book.
Anyway, on my nostalgia trip I also came across a website of an artist who I liked years ago, after some searching. He's been doing SciFi covers for decades. He's also been doing Sailor Moon fanart for some time. What intrigued me about him was that he is drawing the characters realistically - something that I tend to do as well when doing anime or manga fanart. I liked his interpretations of the characters very much. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to improve his skill a lot; but his art is already on quite a high level, so I guess it's not that bad. Alan Gutierrez's website


I don't know if I have plugged PvP here before. It's an online comic about the lives of people who work for a gaming magazine. The comic is very good and deservedly won an Eisner Award recently. It brings much enjoyment and gets updated daily - since I began reading it there has never been a day without an update, which is amazing.
The reason I'm plugging the comic at this point is again the most recent storyline (as happened with Megatokyo), which is very touching, and funny. The storyline begins here. I love the fact that the webcomics I'm reading had amazingly good storylines recently. It's just a pain to have to wait for the updates.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Medievalism and War of the Worlds

The medieval market was grand, as expected. It was more fun than I had thought, especially when we sat together at night and just talked. Definitely the most impressive market I've been to so far. The weather was nice, except for some rain on Sunday. There were loads of different shops and a quite good program, with lots of variety, so usually there weren't too many people at the different events (since they were repeated frequently throughout the day and since there were many different artists having their show at similar times). We didn't see all shows, but we saw what we wanted to see most, and for the rest we just couldn't get enough energy anymore. Lots of walking around.
I liked Commedia dell'armi most. It was some kind of medieval musical with weapons, even though the artists probably give it a different name. It was funny and impressive. The songs were mostly modern and the artists picked just the right songs for the death and rejection scenes. Seeing it purely as a fight show, it was also one of the most interesting ones. The artists didn't seem like they held back to not hurt each other, as it often happens. That was nice. I wasn't surprised to hear later that they are professional actors. Their acting was fully convincing, which made part of the fun.
I was also impressed by the shops. Usually anything at medieval markets is quite expensive, especially jewellry. This time I found lots of stuff that was cheaper than in normal shops downtown. Needless to say that I bought fairly much. Among it was a nice fibula, something that I had been looking for forever. We also bought a box of mead, since we discovered that the German shop Zwergenschmiede again sells it. It's the best mead I've found so far, except for a certain Dutch mead. About a year ago we ordered roughly 20 bottles from Zwergenschmiede, and right after that they stopped selling mead (we never got the bottles). So we are quite happy to once again have Zwergenschmiede mead.


Comedia dell'arme.

Another sword show. The artists showed original medieval fight techniques which were recovered from medieval plates.

And naked people who used the public bathtub (with warm water!) on Sunday morning. We only realized they were fully naked after we went to them and chatted a bit.


I finished reading The War of the Worlds today. Haven't seen the film, because the trailer looked like it would be a horror-thriller flick with no interesting story or characters. On the last few pages of the book a sense of joy and relief came over me. I'm still not sure if that was because I was glad that the book ended (I was!) or because of the cheesy ending. The ending wasn't bad, I just expected a less happy one. When reading the third to last chapter, I got some cynical joy out of wondering how Hollywood would certainly not make the girl die and have some kitschy reunion between them all. Then, the book provided that. Oh well. I prefer books with bad endings, because they touch me more and are less common.
All in all, it probably isn't a bad book. It's a classic, and that sums it up quite well. Classics, like Lord of the Rings, have a tendency towards a nice story or background concepts (thus why they became classics), but usually also have a less interesting style, because they are usually quite old. I'd have prefered some more dialogue in the book. The parts with dialogue were good, the rest got a bit exhausting after a while.
But, as I said, the concept is nice. And it's the concept that Wells, and other SciFi writers, are famous for, and it's what is the most important part of SciFi. So I guess, despite the style, War of the Worlds is a successful SciFi book.

Friday, August 25, 2006

No more Pluto 2

This is great. Love the asteroid one.

No more Pluto

Reading the news about the now un-planety state of Pluto, I realize how limited my personal universe is. The most profound thought that the news caused in me wasn't "This is actually an interesting debate. I always thought Pluto was quite small for a planet." or "Hey, this is a major event in world history. It will change the perception of the universe of generations after me. And I'm experiencing it."
It was "That's how much use school education is for you. Five years ago you have to learn the names of all planets by heart, and now they're not even valid anymore." and (tadaa!) "Wait. The Sailor Moon girls are named after the planets. Sailor Pluto doesn't exist anymore. The series is screwed up now!".

On a more serious note (how serious is the loss of a planet anyway?), I'm going to a medieval market this weekend, Saturday and Sunday in Golling/Salzburg. The only market this year that doesn't take place in the middle of a city, and instead has it's main attractions on a nice, big field. Also one of the few that don't end in the afternoon, but continue until deep into the night, so you can look at fireshows and talk with the artists over a horn of mead. Yaaaay!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Insides Out

This is what DrownedKeyboardTM looks like from the inside. Note that this is AFTER the drownage came over it and drowned the major dirt out of it.
Do not hold back you disgust. It is deserved. It is also cleaned and in use again. The other it, I mean.

To easen your disgust (I do hope you don't eat while reading my blog) I'll give you something nicer to look at. Illustration inspired by Subway to Sally's song 'Die Rose im Wasser', follow-up to an older painting of mine ('Kleid aus Rosen').

Das Abendrot vergoldet ihre Wangen
Ein Aal schlpft ber ihre weie Brust
Und durch die Zweige geht ein letzter Seufzer
Ein Hauch von Trauer und ein Hauch von Lust

- Subway to Sally, 'Die Rose im Wasser'

If the big versions of the pictures don't work for you, I have no idea how to fix it. I can enlarge them once and then I get letters and numbers. I'm thinking Blogger has an implemented self-security to prevent people from intentionally torturing themselves visually.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Buy Gothic Clothes. More expensive than anywhere else.

I managed to empty a glass full of perfectly drinkable liquid over my keyboard. Now my computer keeps making a beep sound twice a second, which is rather irritating *sigh*
The keyboard also stopped working an hour or two after it got drowned.
I'll learn from it and keep the liquids to the other side of the table, where insects fall into them at night (lamp over glass, results in insects going up, burning and going down again), but where they don't get pushed over.

Thankfully, I'm an orderly person and have a spare keyboard in my room. Being an orderly person is helpful. If you're not an orderly person, you might lose stuff that you had 35 years ago, as it happened to the NASA.

Apart from my sarcasm, I had some small fun creating an imaginary Gothic fashion label in the wake of Gotika666's creation, and designing some magazine ads for it (including the logo design). They company is called 'Inky', because Gothic clothing is all black and you might as well use ink to make the clothes that you used to wear in your coloured periods of life black.

For the pityful non-German speaking people out there: "Todschick" means (literally translated) dead chic/classy. Now go and laugh at my amazing sense of humour.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Just posting to point everybody who comes across this blog to an online comic that started recently, Hero. It's made by one of my favourite online comic artists, who did a different online comic previously ('follow'). I loved 'follow' and was not happy about Hwei Lim stopping updating it. It had a more appealing, dreamy story than any other webcomic I know. 'Hero' seems to have the same feel so far, and even though I still prefer 'follow', the new comic also shows a nice way of using the internet as a medium for comics, deviating from the typical online comic style (in relation to methods). Check it out and you'll know what I mean.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Elfwood *rant*

I've always liked Elfwood. It's the one place that made me start to draw, so it always got some inherent respect from me, and I didn't care much for the (valid) Elfwood-bashing that came from most other online fantasy art places. Yes, there are mostly beginners with anime-drawings on Elfwood. It's also true that there's no real constructive criticism, so Elfwood doesn't harbour artistic development much (which is fine, since I don't post there to get constructive criticism; if I get it anyway, it's a plus). I also didn't mind when its entrance requirements were tightened, because I agree that 'my cat' and 'a stickman that I drew during class on lined paper' don't belong there.
However, recent occurrences have made me lose some of my appreciation and respect for Elfwood. Firstly, the HUGE outcry that came from various places about the "Pimp my Elfwood" livejournal and later the same project on Eatpoo. Right, so someone takes your art, paints over it and (for the most part) improves it. I can imagine that some people might be miffed if they come across the paintover by chance, but I don't see why they'd be offended by the simple idea of people improving their pictures. I certainly don't understand the huge cloud of annoyance that hangs over Elfwood and Epilogue because of it. One picture doesn't mean the world, nor does a paintover.
Secondly, Elfwood's definition of 'Fantasy'. It's a Fantasy art gallery, so I understand the restrictions. 'Fantasy' isn't just humans with pointy ears, though. Yes, running gag, if you draw pointy ears on it, the picture will get into Elfwood. But there are things like Urban Fantasy, or Medieval Fantasy. Still, a picture that shows a girl in a medieval setting gets rejected because it's not Fantasy. Not all characters in Medieval Fantasy are non-human. 'A Song of Ice and Fire' features mostly human characters, and it's still Fantasy. Fantasy isn't just High Fantasy with Elves.

Friday, August 04, 2006

New monitor

Wheee. My new workspace:

Emphasis on 'space'. Finally I don't have a huge amount of my desk being taken away by a huge monitor anymore. Awesome! I already feel much more comfortable working here.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Qilué Veladorn, Chosen of Mystra and one of the Seven Sisters.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Call Me

Because giving your kid a mobile phone for Christmas doesn't mean you're done with your parental duty.

Monday, July 24, 2006


I've been on vacation in Rome for ten days, thus the lack of updates. Rome is beautiful, but the heat is killing you if you go there in summer. Since then I painted and sketched eight hours a day and now I'm in a nice work rhythm, which is a good feeling.

Some photos of Rome:

There's a dress code to get into St. Peter's. We watched some people in their struggle to get in, arguing with the guards. Some tried to cover up their shoulders with towels, their hands, and others ... with maps:


And two interesting links:

Here is an interesting documentary on living in the Gaza strip. I don't have nearly enough background knowledge to comment on it politically, so I can just say that I find some of the opinions and actions of both sides shown in the documentary shocking.

The first 24 minutes of a film called 'Scanner Darkly' can be viewed here. The style is interesting, albeit not perfect and probably not to everyone's taste. Still, it's nice to see experiments in the film business.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Recent Paintings

The medieval festival in Linz last Saturday was great. The day was a bit cloudy and rainy, so I could try out my cloak for the first time. Nothing can beat the feeling of walking through the shopping street of a city all cloaked up. I smiled through the whole day.
All in all, I'm very impressed by what the OÖ Familienbund achieved. You could see they put a lot of effort in the festival. There was no entrance fee (usually it's just free for people dressed in medieval clothes) and in the evening there were two concerts which were also for free, thanks to sponsors that the Familienbund found. Very, very impressive. There were also a lot of events going on and a good amount of sellers. I had a great time.
I'd have loved to share it with somebody but my brother and his girlfriend were still in Graz to study for their exams. Really, the only thing that would have made the festival better would have been being there people who enjoyed it as much as I did.

I also got asked for information at least 10 times because people thought I was one of the helpers.


Couple of recently finished paintings:

My entry for this round of the DAF artbattle. There are loads of extremely cool entries there. I was blown away by the sheer amount of skills.

A painting that I've been working on and off for a couple of months. I simply can't get it right, so I've abandoned it now.

And a practice head done some time ago. Playing with skin tones.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Today I had the last seminar on Language Acqusition. We had two presentations during the seminar, and one of them managed to keep me amazed for the whole day. It was on English as an International Language, and it included 1337 5p33k as a variety of English online. As an example the student who gave the presentation showed us a short message written in 1337, which contained something like "I learned leet from Megatokyo". The student said Megatokyo is another forum poster, but I concluded it would rather be the online comic, since one of the characters speaks 1337 occasionally. And this opened a whole trail of thoughts for me.
Megatokyo's readership is huge. It's not particularly deep or philosophical, but a good comic and an enjoyable read. Still, I wouldn't have imagined anybody would start learning a new sign system, or even a new language, because of an online comic - until I remembered people discussing subtle linguistic differences in Japanese on the MT forums. Just imagine what comic creators could achieve with that in mind. It's a completely different approach to bridging cultural gaps and making people aware of what is going on in other countries and their cultures. What bigger compliment can exist for a comic artist than to have people start a learning process that might take years because of their work?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Remember, remember...

I have more fond memories of my early time online than I have of my schoollife. Some years ago I was part of a mailing list on the German author Wolfgang Hohlbein. It was grand. We wrote up to 2000 messages a month on all sorts of topics, from books to philosphy and society to roleplaying (discussing and actually doing it). The average age was 16-18, I think - when the people in our surroundings were at the height of their puberty and we complained about the unfairness of life and the stupidity of the world (justly, I believe). The group was a crazy bunch of people from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of opinions, which always spawned discussion. I loved it. I still think fondly of a lot of these people, and they have influenced an important part of my life a lot. Gotika666 stems from some of the popular ideas that were thrown around in this group, albeit that stereotypical twist that I gave her.
Every now and then I remember this time, and I wonder what happened to them. Today the mailing list has more members than ever, but it is dead. The discussions have been reduced to "How did you like this book?", and the Old Ones have left the list. I wonder where they've gone. I probably couldn't take 100 emails per day any more, being busier than I was five years ago, but I do miss their wonderful emails. We're all older now, and we've moved on. I wonder if they're still as crazy, if there could still be discussions like the ones we had if everybody was brought together again. I wonder what Toran, Salid, Aeon, Dago and all the others are busy doing today and why they seem to have disappeared completely off the public side of the internet. Loved reading their short stories, too. I still have a whole folder with printouts of them, somewhere. I once read the beginning of a longer story by Toran, "Khel", and I was sure he'd become a famous author within a few years. God, I'd have loved to read the whole story.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Medieval Festival in Salzburg

Last weekend there was a small medieval festival in Salzburg on the Festung Hohensalzburg. I went there on Sunday, unfortunately not in medieval clothes, since I thought it was even smaller than it turned out to be. It was loads of fun, even though I went alone. The best part was the music this time (by Saltarello). I loved how the musicians made the people interact - some even got up to dance. It made me feel like joining them and dancing as well, but this would have been kinda hard with two bottles of mead in my bag.

Somebody dumped a helicopter on one of the main places of Salzburg and called it art:

And pictures from the festival:

Next Saturday there will also be a medieval market in Linz to which I'm going. I believe it will be bigger than the one in Salzburg and the programs looks nice. Salzburg basically had only two music groups and one sword-fighting group, plus some sellers. The program in Linz is packed from 10am to 11pm with several activities going on at different places at the same time. I also hope there will be more sellers.
So I started sewing another medieval dress today - more colourful and more fit for dancing. I hope I'll have time to finish it, as I'll only return to Linz Friday late evening.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I'm very impressed with Fred's work on Megatokyo right now. The last part of the story arc was simply amazing, concerning both the expressiveness of the art and the simplicity and, similarly, the expressiveness of the dialogue. Within the last two weeks I got really hooked on the story arc.

So I decided to buy his comic books as well, since he's giving the world an excellent, free webcomic which updates regularly three times a week, which really should be supported as much as possible.
Plus, I want to reread the comic to understand the overall story better, and I really won't reread 800 pages on the web.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Folding Shirts for the Lazy and Talented

How to fold a shirt

It looks very impressive and apparently it works, too. Gotta try it next time I need to fold a shirt (usually they just end up getting stuffed into the wardrobe somehow). Allegedly it only works with shirts, though, not with jumpers.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Coloured Gotika666

And here she is.

Nobody knows her real name, she simply calls herself Gotika666 - because, really, to get a name by somebody else and not be able to name oneself and have a name that fits one's personality is one of the prime examples of life's unfairness. She fancies Alucard, reads black books because they match her eyecolour and after a hard day's work she writes depressive poetry (which shows stunning similarities to Vogon poetry). When a feeling of needing to be social overcomes her, she visits black forums with red fonts, posts her poems and writes some comments.
Thankfully, nobody knows that when she was 15 (a year ago), she was normal, blonde and listened to boy-bands.


My character for the DAF Artbattle. Colouring her right now.

I made some logos today and a couple of sketches that I'm happy with, quality-wise. Right now I'm giving presentations and handing in papers at least once per week, which really adds up to stress and time pressure. So spending a couple of hours on art was a very welcome distraction for my thoughts. Very relaxing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Long Journeys

I went to Scotland for the weekend to see my boyfriend. The most distinctive feature of the trip was the utter and complete lack of reliability that public transport showed. Of the four flights that I had to catch, three were delayed. One of them even managed a 3.5 hours delay (from Stansted to Edinburgh) in which I almost finished the book I had taken with me that was supposed to last for the journey back as well.
So the next day, after not quite enough sleep thanks to plane companies who can't deal with fog and don't offer compensation even when you're starving, we went to Holy Island, which is only really an island at certain times when the flood cuts it off from the mainland. I found that quite cute. It was less cute when, after the flood had gone away, we were waiting for the only bus that takes you off the island when you don't have a car. After 45 minutes of waiting we, and about 10 other people, figured it wouldn't come.
I feel like this was Let's-piss-off-people-who-use-public-transport-weekend.

The book was Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman and I found it quite entertaining. The ending is very good and I liked it better than the rest of the novel. Reading the semi-autobiographical parts that I knew from the interviews was fun, and thinking about the parts that sound semi-autobiographical but might or might not be as well. I think those might even have been the best parts of the book.
Since I ran out of reading material I picked up two other books. I'd have bought Good Omens too (by Terry Pratchett and Neil) if the shop had had it, but I only saw it at the airports where I didn't have the time to get it ... because of late planes an check-ins that take an hour of queueing. Still, if I had read this before leaving the airport, I'd definitely have bought it even if it had meant running all the way to the plane to not miss it. Since I had not read it, I just walked very quickly.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New Links and Sketching

I've added a couple of new links to blogs. Check them out.

And here's a small sketch:

I've started to sketch at least an hour per day to improve my drawing skills. I hope I can keep it up no matter how much other work I have to do. For now it works quite well as I'm usually putting on some DVD feature and listening to it while I draw. I feel unproductive if some of my senses aren't occupied with doing something, so listening to extras should help here. The commentary on Buffy is very good for that. Next is the commentary and the features of the LoTR extended editions. Fun. It's usually relaxing enough so I spend more than one hour sketching.
Another good listen while sketching are Neil Gaiman's interviews. I listened to this one yesterday, when I was actually already too tired to sketch and wanted to go to bed. Worked like a charm and made me lough out loud a couple of times.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Tristan and Isolde

Watched Tristan & Isolde today. I find it interesting which parts of the original story (stories) Hollywood changed. It kinda gives an idea of how our perception of a successful narrative changed from the 12th century to today.
I heard the story some time ago, but didn't remember much of it. So did a friend of mine. We both had the feeling that the original story was changed a lot. It turned out that the stories weren't changed that much (Hollywood basically took all of the existing Tristan stories and picked out the parts they liked and merged them together). We simply perceived the story as very different because the one item that makes Tristan and Isolde stand apart from other stories of that genre - and thus makes it recognisable - was left out: the love potion.
Having a rough look at both stories, it seems to me the original story was more focused on how the king reacts to his wife's unfaithfulness and what political consequences it has, while the 2006 Tristan and Isolde has the focus on the love story. The political implications are still there, but they are only the secondary story.
The fact that Hollywood deliberately removed the love potion makes me believe they don't think a love story made of "fake" love would be commercially successful. Admittedly, it probably wouldn't be. It's still a pity the love potion was removed, since, for me, it was the one critical item that I remembered of the story. The 2006 story is just another love story now. Shame.
I think the film would have been more successful if it hadn't been promoted as the 'love story pre-Romeo&Juliet'. While the fight scenes weren't the best, they were the interesting parts for guys. Me, I went to see the film because of the medieval setting and the costumes. Lots of girls probably went to see it because of the love story. Guys, for the most part (I imagine) would only see it when being dragged into the cinema by their girlfriends. So I'd probably have given the political intrigues a bigger part and kept the love potion. The relationship between Tristan and his uncle was interesting enough to carry one of the main complications of the film. It just wouldn't have lured all the love-hungry girls into the cinema.

I also was vaguely amused by Isolde's heart-shaped earrings. I'd be very surprised if earrings like that existed in the 12th century.