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.