Sunday, April 22, 2007


Denni, friend and RPG victim, lent me Gattaca, a Science Fiction film from back in the days when I didn't go to the cinema yet and therefore missed some good stuff (that's 1997, the year in which I went to the cinema precisely once to see Titanic). I'm impressed by what the film succesfully tries to communicate. There are so many layers of meaning in it that I probably haven't even glimpsed some of them. It's fantastic, and definitely helps my current thirst for SF-films that are set in a near future and show up possible scenarios.
Moreover, it's not typical SF with lots of action and technology and modern design. It's a quiet and peaceful and intelligent film. Very recommendable.


Very rough idea sketch for a painting I want to do:

The Freedom You Desire

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Not Buying It

I finished reading the book. It was okay - some good stuff and some stuff that wasn't interesting for me. The book is divided in chapters, one for each month. The first three months didn't give me much useful/interesting information. After that it got better, as the author got involved with groups and visited people who follow an alternative lifestyle.
Overall, though, the book didn't fullfill the hopes I had in it. Mostly it showed me that compared to some of the Americans described in the book, my own way of living is alright. I raised my eyebrows a few times as I read about kitchens containing at least four types of rice and about people who are proud to have eaten out only under ten times in the last six months.
The insights at the end were interesting, and mostly comply with my own point of view. I was surprised by the impact that year had on the author's relationship with her partner (they did the year without shopping together). For some reason I have the opinion that most guys wouldn't want to break free from the comfort culture (because they see no use in it?). If I did something like that, I wouldn't even consider asking my partner to join me - probably because most people in my surroundings get annoyed whenever I raise the topic ethic living.

I figured there are three behaviour types that are considered to be ethical in respect to consuming:

a. Buying organic goods
b. Buying Fairtrade goods
c. Cosuming less

While you can always do c, you get some problems when you try to combine it with both a and b. Firstly it's hard to find stuff that's both Fairtrade and organic - shops specialise either in organic goods or Fairtrade. Secondly, Fairtrade goods come from very, very far away, which increases the good's environmental footprint. Combine that with the try to buy groceries from local farmers and avoid fruits, vegetables, etc. from far away countries, and you're facing tough decisions.
If you want to buy apples, and have the choice between common apples from Austria/your country and organic apples from Spain or Italy, which is the better choice?
Thing is, every one of the categories I stated above stands for something else. Organic goods are produced with regards to the environment (their impact on your pocket will probably be bigger than their impact on your health, and they probably taste the same). Fairtrade goods center on human rights. Consuming less is a statement against pop culture and consumer culture. I guess you have no other choice than to set priorities (apart from c, which you can do regardless). Which is more important, human rights or protecting the environment? Does the organic-ness of the apples from Spain even out the transport effects on the environment? I have no idea.
(In the end I went for Austrian apples, though.)


Kendo training was outside today. What an amazing experience. We're lucky that our dojo is part of a leisure activity centre for children and youths, so there is a big greenspace attached. Not to mention how handsome the guys in the hakama look when they're standing on the grass and the wind moves the garment slightly (ever since I started Kendo and saw the sensai in his hakama for the first time I wanted to make a painting depicting it). Today's training was less exhausting, because we just worked on the zen mindset and practiced cutting techniques involving three enemies. Most of all, I like the constant support of the sensai - improving our techniques without saying what we're doing is wrong, adapting individually to our various needs. Shame I didn't start with it earlier.


Rough painting I did for one of the contests over at the ImagineFX website. The face is heavily referenced, obviously, to get the likeness. I still need to go over it again to polish it a bit - which I had intended to do before submitting it, but since I somehow messed up the deadline and had a day less than expected, this is how far it got. Those are the problems you're confronted with when you don't just paint for yourself :)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What's with all the screaming?

Ah, springtime. All the sun, birds and the warmth put me into a very giggly and playful mood, which I use to the utmost extend. I forgot how much fun teasing everybody around me is.

Now I am really ready for all the medieval fairs.

I went downtown today because I needed an envelope to submit a short story to a writing competition (I wrote the story when I had 38.5 degrees and everything was spinning around me - thankfully I've been more or less healthy again the last few days, after literally weeks of being ill).
"Pure Irony", I thought on the tram to the city. I was reading Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine while I was on my way to go shopping. When you do that, thoughts about shopping for pleasure roam around in your head all the while you're walking in and out of shops. Not that I bought much (compared to other people), but most of what I got was probably not necessary. I checked out a couple of shops that sell organic clothes, bought envelopes, a small sketchbook to carry around with me, two CDs, an organic Fairtrade shirt and a tiny lipstick box. (If you now think "What the hell?" you're entirely right to do so. That was just my thought the first time I saw the lipstick boxes. It seems ridiculous that a market exists for such a thing. However, the box has the perfect size to put some small pencils and an eraser in, to carry around with the sketchbook.)
70€ total, roughly. 10€ of that are for things that I needed (envelopes and office material). For all the stuff that's not needed, I have excuses. With the shirt I support the local Weltladen, and I'm on an all-time-low for shirts anyway, because I gave away a lot. I want to sketch more, so I needed a sketchbook and the lipstick-soon-to-be-pencil-box. I need new CDs to not go insane, because you tend to listen to a lot of CDs when you paint several hours a day.
I see I'm still quite a bit away from my year without shopping. I'd probably even try it as a project, but I just can't see how I could live without going to the cinema and buying books. I breathe and eat books. The last two weeks, I've been devouring them (seven books in ten days, mostly for uni or my diploma thesis). More, I don't just need books, I need to own the books I read. Books are the one thing that I need to possess and dominate, I reckon (probably for lack of anything else I can dominate, so maybe I can stop buying books once I have a pet).
Ah, books. Source of wisdom, travel companion, burglar stunner; I could not live without your pages of words.

Of course, a month without shopping is on my 101 list. A month is ok. I have enough books to last me a month. I just need to find a month without good films (and looking at most of the recent films, the possibility of such a month arriving gets increasingly likely).

These thoughts crossed my mind while I walked through the streets and shops of Linz, feeling increasingly bad due to the increasing weight of my shopping bag. Back on the tram, on my way home, however, I consoled myself by looking at all the teenage boys and girls with their plastic bags from H&M and all the women with their plastic bags from Kleiderbauer, some of who had more mass in their bags than in and on their bodies (shocking, really), while sitting there with my book and my cloth bag, in which I had conveniently hidden the plastic bag I had got when the shot assistant hadn't asked me whether I even wanted one.


I stumbled across musician Jonathan Coulton the other day. His songs are very entertaining. Typical pop tune, but the lyrics are hilarious. I especially like Skullcrusher Mountain. First of May and Chiron Beta Prime are also quite funny. Shame that it seems I can't get his CDs anywhere here.


Current insights from my reading of secondary literature for my diploma thesis:


Amazons somehow got pregnant (through raping their future victims, I presume) and killed their male babies (instead of bringing one or two up as a baby-making-machine).

They also cut off one of their breasts in order to improve their usage of the bow.

(Makes you wonder if that really works. My bow-shooting skills are quite good even though I have two breasts.)

(What do Amazons have to do with Victorian fairies, you ask? Nothing at all, love, and at the same time everything. Sexual liberation and independence.)


Sketches: Some mermaids here, because they've been part of my thesis reading as well, next to Amazons. Nina Auerbach compares them to angels in Woman and the Demon, saying both creatures submerge themselves, but to different means.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You would not want to make a universe angry

The weather's great. I went for a walk in the northern forest - I had completely forgotten how wonderful it is to explore a forest that I don't know by heart yet. The northern forest must be the more beautiful one when it's sunny and warm, and more scary when it's dark and cold; probably because it's deeper and further away from civilisation. All you hear is the water from the brook and the birds chirping. Seeing nature like that is simply amazing.


Neil Gaiman's Hugo nominated short story "How to talk to girls at parties" is up at his website as an audio file. It's cute and I love the Britishness of his phrases and expressions (probably emphasized by his accent).