Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vacation hiatus

I was trying hard, but I failed - again. When I started packing today I was really convinced that I would make it better than in the past, but no chance.

My place looks like I would move out and not go on vacation for two weeks. I am overpacked - AS ALWAYS. *SIGH*
The next two weeks I will not update the blog, because I go on my yearly computer, internet, TV sabbatical. It's not a cellphone sabbatical though. Means: For fresh updates you can catch me on Twitter as CKapaun.
In the meantime I'll have a glas of Babić wine every now and then (or a bit more often ;) on your health - I promise!

See you in August.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Favorite media moan: Dubbing

You know this feeling:
You are done – you feel stressed, tired, grumpy, thin-skinned. You are ready for vacation. That’s me right now. But no need for compassion – I am leaving for Croatia in less than 24 hours and will relax for two full weeks *happy dance*!

What I realize, when I am in this state of mind, is that I become impatient and things I can usually live with get really, really annoying.

In this bad mood I was lately watching TV - an episode of a TV show I usually like – and it was again so bad, that I had to break out in one of my favorite moans and decided to share it with you:


I am talking about TV shows and movies transferred into German language in a long, complicated and expensive process to make international productions easier to enjoy for the audience – something which is totally unusual in many other countries like The Netherlands or Croatia for example (lucky you, folks!)

I mean … there is a good part in it – dubbing is a nice way for poorly paid theater actors to make a living.
And of course watching something in your native language is more relaxed than struggling with weird accents in foreign languages and trying to read the subtitles at the same time, but people I tell you:
It’s so worth the effort!
I will tell my first and favorite example why:

A long time ago a dear friend of mine told me, that he is a huge fan of the sitcom “Friends”, but I kept telling him “Watch, what you like to watch, but let me tell you: That stuff is not funny.”
He thought that I was a fool, but since he is very smart he quickly guessed the problem, sat down and copied a big bunch of his original “Friends” tapes (English with Croatian subtitles) for me and sent them over.
I got the parcel, opened it – and went to work the next day with dark shadows under my eyes because I did not sleep at all.

I had watched “Friends” the whole night and laughed my ass off. I’ll quote you one of my favorite parts:
Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) wants to go to a sold out show of Sting so badly, that she starts stalking his wife Trudie Styler faking that she is the aunt of Sting’s son’s schoolmate. She tells that the boys have a problem she needs to discuss with Trudie. Of course Sting’s wife realizes quickly that Phoebe is just a stalker who wants tickets for the show and says “You better leave now or I call the police.” And Phoebe smiles brightly in excitement and asks: “Really? THE POLICE? A REUNION?!?!?!”

And now go and dub this into German! See?

You can transfer these examples to every TV show or movie you may like:
Sex & The City's Mr. Big / Chris Noth is so much more charming when you let him speak for himself.
“Meet the Fockers” – even in German kind of funny – will KILL you when you listen to the original cast giving its BEST.
Or on the very other hand take Danis Tanović's Oscar winning drama „No Man’s Land“ – this fantastic movie becomes almost pointless when the dialogues in the diverse languages are dubbed all in German.

You get the point:
If you never tried it you maybe won’t realize, but dubbing changes everything in a movie or TV show. The meaning, the tone, the relationships between the characters, ... everything. It kills off half of the work of the actors and writers and leaves only a shadow of the original production behind.

I know – I will neither change the German media system nor the watching habits of my fellow German people. But maybe I can encourage you to choose the next time you go to the cinema the original version with subtitles or pick when you watch a DVD not automatically “German” from the language menu.

I promise you:
even if you do not get every single word the difference is really, really worthwhile!

And speaking of positive side effects:

That lovely gentleman, who sent me the “Friends” tapes, is amazingly fluent in Croatian (his native language), English, German and Spanish without going to language school – blame it to Satellite TV and the absence of dubbing on Croatian channels!

Or when I attended a wedding a few weeks ago a friend of the bride talked to an American guest in a beautiful fluent English with a very cool NYC accent. When the US guy asked if she had lived overseas, she just laughed and said: “Never been to the States, but I LOOOOOOVE “Sex and The City” - in the original version.”

So watching TV does not necessarily make you stupid – you just need to do it right.

Give it a try :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Recipe of the day: Octopus Salad

I know it is not Paul's fault. The only thing he did was - chosing the correct team.

But I am super, super, super sad about the loss of the gorgeous German team last night and I need to do something with my emotion and need to find somebody I can blame. Could be the referee, who is responsible for Mueller not being on the field last night - he was missed so badly. Could be last night's referee who could have given us one or maybe two penalties. Could be simply our team for just not playing well enough. Could be the Spanish team for playing too well for us (but they weren't that good - just difficult to play against, but sure not made to carry you away in a wave of enthusiasm). But that is all not doing the job for me.

I feel like blaming the damn Octopus - yes I DO! And that is how I would like to channel my energies:
Octopus Salad Croatian Style
Take 1,5 kg = 2 octopus that were cleaned and frozen - freezing for at least 2 days makes cooking easier, tenderizes octopus meat.

Almost defrosted, place in a pressure cooker with some water, and cook for about 30 minutes - depends how large octopus you have. Leave it to cool a bit in that water.

Now chop one large red onion and put it in a serving bowl, sprinkle with salt to make it "sweat" - this makes onions more pleasant to eat.

Add 1 chopped green pepper and 2 chopped tomatoes (seeds removed). Cut off tentacles and remove the skin and suckers - if the octopus is properly cooked, it comes off easily, just wipe it off with your fingers.

Cut into small chunks, add to the serving bowl, plus2 spoons of capers preserved in vinegar, some chopped or whole olives, olive oil, juice of 2 lemons, grounded black pepper.

Stir and refrigerate for at least one hour, serve with bread.

Sorry, Paul - but it helps ... emotionally!
The recipe and picture can be found here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The eight arms of doom

If asked people how they would describe a typical German one of the most popular adjectives will be “rational” and “earnest” or “serious” .

Well, forget about it. We are nothing like that all.
Want an example?

Since last afternoon EVERY single talk I had – from family, to coworker, to friends started with the following sentence:
“I am scared! Did you hear that Paul roots for Spain?”
And I kept asking myself: “Who the f*** is Paul?”

When I finally asked the diverse people looked at me like I was an naïve idiot and the following conversation occurred:

Friend: “This is so bad! Did you hear that Paul chose Spain as the winning team for the semi final? I am seriously scared.”

Me: “Everybody keeps telling me this. But who is PAUL?”

Friend (puzzled): “You don’t know? It’s Paul, the octopus soccer oracle, and he never failed.”

Me: “WHAT???? Octopus soccer oracle? You serious?”

Friend: “Sure!”

Me: “Oooookay.”

And that’s the story:

Paul lives in an aquarium and is indeed an octopus. Before a game his animal caretaker puts two containers with octopus food (fresh mussels btw) in the aquarium. Each of the containers has the flag of one of the teams on it. The team whose container is chosen first by Paul to eat from wins the game. He never failed with his predictions for the German team during this world cup. Yesterday he chose SPAIN and now everybody is officially scared!

Am I scared, too? Yes I am a bit, but not so much because of Paul but because of Thomas Mueller not being allowed to play tonighgt.

But I still believe in our team and so I say: See you in the final, Oranjes!


Twinkling in the Twilight

I am late – almost too late.

I was busy the last couple of days looking for pictures for this posting, researching book and movie titles, but I got distracted too much by work and SOCCER.

So it happened what had to happen – Ginny was first with her gorgeous Twilight posting on That’s Church. And it looks like that even with the big chunk of land and water between Munich and Pittsburgh some brains think alike ;) .
So go and read what I was – kind of – at some parts supposed to write, too, (but won’t ‘cause that would be boring) and get a first bunch of Twilight fun at That’s Church.

While you are hopefully back now, I could sort my thoughts a bit. So let’s get some things straight at first:

Before anybody hires a killer to rip me off the net:
I have nothing to say against Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner. I just don’t care about them much, because I am not into kids and not even kids with six packs. I also have nothing against Kirsten Stewart. I love the kid for so NOT being Miley Cyrus.
And I have also nothing against vampire stories at all. I do completely the contrary - I LOVE vampire stories in books and movies. With my grandfather being born in Lord Dracula’s (Vlad Tepes’) own country I am really fascinated by the myth.
Finally I do not even want to talk people out of reading the Twilight Saga although - seriously - it’s not a highlight of contemporary literature language and style wise. But at least it makes people reading, who usually don’t read and that’s always good.
I personally could not do more than the first book. I kind of enjoyed the action parts – especially the main showdown, but I cannot stand the Bella & Edward thingy. I mean, on like 75% of the several hundred pages it is all about the girl questioning herself, why that 100% perfect boy falls for her and her admiring him for his perfection. Uh– sorry it’s 2010 and for me this is not the idea of a relationship I want to have planted in the brains of 14-year-old girls. Seriously NOT.

But still – read what you love to read as long as you read at all …
What I would like to do here now, is encouraging everybody interested to read more and maybe check out some more cool movies. There is a lot of great stuff out there in the world of the undead and what I will mention here is only a tiny selection out of my favorites:

Go back to the roots and check out “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”. It’s a great book and a real classic. And if the movies are more yours than books – no problem:
Genius Francis Ford Coppola made a FANTASTIC movie back in 1992 and for me there will be never another vampire giving me girl’s chills than Gary Oldman.
Sorry Rob … you’ll have to practice a lot to get any time close to the acting capability of Mr. Oldman, but he was 10 years older than Robert Pattinson now, when he became the Prince of Darkness so there is some time left for RPattz to catch up - maybe.

If you are like me interested in the myth and its historical background then my next recommendation, is “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova, a lady who dedicated a whole decade of her life to the research for this book and makes it feel amazingly real. Just the ending is a bit disappointing in my opinion, but it is still a great book which will make you shiver joyfully.

All that old stuff is not cool enough for you? No problem – go for Russia and check out Sergej Lukyanenko’s trilogy "Night Watch", "Day Watch", "Twilight Watch" and you’ll never look at a pocket lamp in the same way again and always have one by hand - just in case.
The Russian movie for “Night Watch” is a very cool and pretty disturbing experience, too, I can strongly recommend.

Still too eccentric for you? You just want to rent a DVD and eat Popcorn? Then – as long as some splatter and splashing blood is not a problem – Wesley Snipes’ "Blade" movies are yours.
That could go on forever … with the books of vampire queen Anne Rice (not so much my piece of cake, but classics of the genre) or the stories around the bloody (historically proven) Countess Erzebet Bathory, who’s story influenced the myth around Dracula a lot, and much more.

So you young (or not so young anymore) blood suckers – go out and read:
There is so much more to explore than just Twilight – even in this little side path of storytelling and mythology.


PS: Just one more thing: When a vampire is hit by the sun he or she is NOT sparkling like Tinkerbell, not twinkling and not shining. He / she’ll die with a noise like "tsooooosh" and that’s it. PERIOD.
FOLLOW UP February 6, 2011:

Since I wrote the posting my whole little vampire world good shaken up, but the good way.

Starting with a looooong DVD session at my friend's place on new year's eve I became SUCH a fan of the TV show TRUE BLOOD.
MAN ... that is vampire stuff at its best ... dark, sexy, ironic, funny, sad, crazy, thrilling, sometimes really evil ;) - and always sooooooooo good!!!
I love the excellent writing, the spicy dialogues, the sense of humor, the incredibly detailed décor of the sets, the cool special effects - just everything (I am enthusiatic - I know).
And ladies - this show has the hottest male cast ever with Pittsburgh's own Joe Manganiello and viking Alexander Skarsgård being the best eye candy on prime time TV since ... I don't know.

BTW ... these TRUE BLOOD vampires also BURN when they try to daywalk and the visual effect is the opposite of twinkling ... just sayin'!

WAITING SUCKS ... Season 4 will start summer 2011!

Monday, July 5, 2010

She’s a good girl ... loves Jesus and America, too / Part 1 - 4th of July

Don’t worry. This posting is not about religion. Not that there would be nothing to say about it, but it is definitely one of those private topics I am not planning to discuss here in public. The headline is just a quote from Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ” and the important part of the line is “and America, too”.

I told you already something about places I love like Munich, Croatia in general or my village Rogoznica and today I would love to focus on the third country after Germany and Croatia I have a soft spot for in my heart – the USA. And could there be a better day than July 4th? I don’t think so.

There are a lot of people in Germany, who associate the USA with total freedom, unlimited possibilities – a place where you can make all your dreams come true.

That’s not me.

Maybe the reason is that I have too many US friends -people, who are not dreaming of having a life like in the movies, but live real, regular lives. Maybe I know too much about the downsides of the American lifestyle – especially when I look at it from the German perspective of social security and the high standard of living we are used to here.

But of course this is only one side of the medal. On the other side American culture is affecting almost every part of my life:
That starts with my absolutely lovely US friends and great coworkers (as well from my old team in my former company as from my recent team) and goes on with all the American music, art, literature, movies, … I really love and which are influencing my life a lot and ends with the very special feeling I have in my tummy, when my airplane goes down over the San Francisco Bay and allows the first view down to the Oakland Bay Bridge. Not speaking of the incredible feeling, when you are driving from New York City over to Long Island and look back to the breathtaking beautiful golden skyline in the evening sun.

It’s a special feeling – not to compare to with anything else – and slowly, every time I am crossing the Atlantic it gets a tiny bit more difficult to leave again.

And so it’s really a fact: She loves America, too.

I am already planning more postings about this topic and then I will write about some of the places I love most, already visited or which are very high on my travel list.
So watch out for “She’s a good girl … / Part 2" and more!

Happy 4th of July everybody!

PS: Speaking of American art influencing me – the flag I chose is not the “correct one” but an artwork of one of my favorite artists, Jasper Johns, and is part of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.