Saturday, July 31, 2010

a tale of vodka

I was going shopping to the small Kaufman supermarket close to the University. I noticed that for a mere 5 Euros I could get a bottle of Boris Yeltsin Vodka. I was excited by this, partly because it seemed like a completely bizarre thing to see. Yeah Yeltsin liked Vodka, but not in a good way. Anyway I didn't buy any, but I am regretting the decision already, because it would make a good story. But I needed a rest from my dissolute life style.

I once tried to order vodka made in Liverpool in a Russian restaurant in Liverpool, because someone told me it existed. The waiter looked at me with a little contempt. Later I found that there is indeed a brand of Vodka that comes from Liverpool, but it is a cheap and nasty brand.

The wikipedia article on Yeltsin claims that he had medical or prescription drug problems that caused him to have problems (just trying to be fair).

Monday, July 26, 2010

At Swim-Two-Birds

I have just finished reading At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien. The book is a book with in a book, that is hidden inside a story. Normally this kind of complicated book annoys me, but in this case, somehow there was a streak of fun in the stories. After reading the wikipedia entry on the book, I realized I had not followed all of the threads of the novel.

Call me cynical, but I would guess that this book is set in some English (or Irish) literature exams. So some students may not read the book, but just use the wikipedia article to write essay questions. Perhaps, I should write myself into the wikepedia article on the book. Then students would write about me in their exam. This would be in the spirit of the book and the students could claim they just spent all day in bed, and never opened a book, just like one of the possible authors in the novel. The studenst would also learn the difference between reality and stories, because the student in the book passes his exams, but they would fail. This would cure them of any postmodern shit.

Looking at the back of the book, I think I actually payed 20 DM for it. I dimly remember buying it when I was living in Bielefeld. There were not that many books in English in the book store (I think I also picked up a book by Anne Rice that I read in a graveyard.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

inverting the pyramid

As part of the football world cup, I thought I should learn more about football. Most of my football knowledge comes from when I used to occasionally play at school. And that was over 25 years ago.

So I have read "inverting the pyramid" by Jonathan Wilson. The book was about the history of football tactics. The most important thing about tactics is how to partition 10 into integers: 10 = 4:1:3:2 This describes the distribution of players over the pitch. The book showed with examples of how the players were arranged over pitch, changed with time, as football got more sophisticated. I decided that I knew even less about football than I thought I did.

Perhaps the most depressing part of the book was a style of football play sometimes used by the English football team called "kick and rush" was developed by scientific methods. People looked at a sample of football games and counted the number of passes before a goal was scored. The claim seemed to be that only 3 passes were normal before a goal was scored, although there seemed to be some issues about the games included in the sample. So this is why the England football team tend to not favour a lot before attempting to score. of passing "Kick and rush" is widely viewed as a shitty English thing in Europe, but there you go.

I have decided that even though I am not really interested in football, I should be the next manager of the English football team. I would use new tactics based on partioning 10 using real and imaginary numbers. Watch out Germany!

Elberfelder Cocktail

I feel the need to party. So I was happy to see posters for "Elberfelder Cocktail" for this weekend. (Elberfeld is one of the towns that became Wuppertal).

I had visions of me sitting in some open air cocktail bar drinking Martinis. I wasn't thinking about me being sophisticated, but more drinking in the vein of Hunter S. Thompson, except I might need to bang my fists on the table, shout at people, foam at the a mouth, and just let go. The stagger back home to drink beer and fall asleep.

In reality what happened was: I went down to this "little festival". Essentially there were a number of stalls close to the streets near the railway station. In a square there was a stage and more stalls. For 6.50 Euros cocktails were available. It was a crowd of family and Saturday afternoon shoppers. So no crazy wild people at all (or lose women), just people enjoying the cool dry weather. I decided against trying a cocktail. I have too much to do.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I have been under time pressure for the last 3 weeks. One Sunday I thought I will have a quick read of something to relax. What caught my eye on my bookshelves was the graphic novel: Kick -Ass by Millar and Romita.

Anyway, my idea to read for 15 minutes and then get back to work, failed because I ended up reading it all in one go. Although the book is another take on normal people wanting to be superheros, it is done in a fresh way. I liked the surprise in the story, when it got way more violent, when the little girl was introduced.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blood and guts in high school

A long time ago when I was living in Liverpool, I tried to read some books by radical authors, in a vain attempt to improve my creative writing skills. One book I started was "Blood and guts in high school" by Kathy Acker. I started to read the book, but after 20 pages, I stopped becasue frankly it was shit.

Anyway after unpacking in Germany I decided that I should finish it. The blurb on the back of the books says: There is a young women writing on the West coast who has received no attention at all. Her name is Kathy Acker. She is literally the wildest writer going. Her prose is direct, fast, sexy, hot, horny, furiously honest..

Below is my attempt to write like Kathy Acker. I have a cock. My cock likes cunts. You have a cunt. I will die, if you don't love me. I am too tired to continue, but you can see that I didn't find the book very erotic, or even that interesting.

Also mixed in the book was the occasional discussion about literature, such as Madame Bovary. This looked as though it was copied from a homework from some literature class.

I liked the quote from Wikipedia

even Acker’s most recognized novels, Blood and Guts in High School, Great Expectations and Don Quixote receive mixed critical attention. Most critics acknowledge Acker’s skilled manipulation of plagiarized texts from writers as varied as Charles Dickens, Marcel Proust, and Marquis de Sade.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

On reading

I like to think of myself as a little bit well read. However when I read the Guardian's suggestion for summer reading I realise that not only have I not read any of the books they suggest, but that I have never heard of them either.

On the other hand, a lot of the reviews start with the phrase "this sounds like a rather boring subject for a novel, but ...." Me thinks that I will not bother to try any of their suggestions. A well written book on a tedious subject is still no fun to read.

I too would like to declare that the American novel is dead But I like the idea of Bizarro fiction.

Global warming

I have not read about philosophy for a long time. I remember reading about ethics. The question was posed as to whether an act is good, if the act was not done for a good reason. I thought I would read about "global warming", partly because of the future of the planet, but mostly because I was worried about the future of science after climategate.

I have read "Global warming -- a very short introduction" by Mark Maslin. This gave a good overview of the issues. I now know a little bit more about "hockey sticks" and things.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Dear old blighty

So last week I spent a couple of days in the UK for some R and R. I flew into the Leeds-Bradford airport from Dusseldorf airport. The duty free shop at Dusseldorf airport was giving out 2 Euro vouchers. They were also selling small bottles of nasty Vodka like booze for 3.50 that is regularly sold near the checkouts of German supermarkets. My head said no, but my greedy heart thought I would deserve a couple of shots after so much travelling.

Because the flight didn't get into until 21:30, I had to stay in a hotel in Bradford. On the flight I worried that I wouldn't make closing time at 23:00 (this is still an English disease even with relaxed opening times). My hotel was actually a room in a pub, so I managed a couple of pints before bed. As I sat at the bar I heard a two men and a woman talk pub talk about various boozers in Birmingham and their life in general. Their conversation was slow, slurred and boring, and I thought I remember why I don't spend much time in pubs.

So what has changed in the UK, while I have been away. I noticed that people crossed the road even if the red man was showing on the on the pedestrian sign. "Fucking Auslanders", I thought. In Germany I always wait for the greenman to show, partly so that I don't stick out, but mostly because I am usually out of breath.

Another new custom I noticed was that if you stay at someones house it is considered rude to say "there are 10 episodes" of the new Dr Who series on the Iplayer. I am now going to watch them all. Then we can decide what to do after that". Who makes these rules?

Friday night

I am bored! Sometimes people ask me what I do on Friday night in Germany. I start to look shifty and mutter "nothing much", and they look at me knowingly and probably assume that I get dead drunk in some Wuppertal dive bar.

What I actually used to do on a Friday night was to watch kungfu movies dubbed into German on one of the cable channels. But now no more. On Tuesday I came home to find that I had lost 20 of my cable channels. So no more kungfu for me. There is some notice on the wall of the apartment, the only bit I understand is that there are now only 10 analogue channels. Perhaps this is a punishment for England getting knocked out of the World cup.

I could read more books, but I have now worked out how to rent movies with Itunes, so I have a Ninja movie waiting for me on my hard drive. Friday night is back baby.