Archiv für die Kategorie ‘Idle speech’

My New York: A Look Around

Veröffentlicht: Februar 13, 2013 in Idle speech, Uncategorized

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My New York – A Roof with a View

Veröffentlicht: Februar 13, 2013 in Idle speech

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My New York – A View from the Top

Veröffentlicht: Februar 12, 2013 in Idle speech

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My New York – Brooklyn Flea and Brooklyn Bridge

Veröffentlicht: Februar 11, 2013 in Idle speech

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My New York – Times Square and Bryant Park

Veröffentlicht: Februar 11, 2013 in Idle speech

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Veröffentlicht: Januar 24, 2013 in Idle speech
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It’s quite rare that a piece of music stops me in my tracks, makes my heart skip a beat, grabs me and holds me by the throat – not because I don’t believe in the power of music but because I rarely have the time and piece of mind to listen properly.
But this morning I was grabbed unaware while washing up by this wonderful song by the equally wonderful  singer Tracy Chapman. I remember when it came out in 1988 when I was in my final year at school: as a teenager of course I was all for the revolution and poor people rising up. So today it struck me as quite sad that Tracy`s words have as much (maybe even more?) relevance today than they had 25 years ago.

What do you think? Will the tables start to turn?

I’m in a New York State of Mind

Veröffentlicht: Januar 23, 2013 in Idle speech
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It’s only just over two weeks until I will be travelling to New York – and I am already all excited!

It’ll be my first time in the big apple, and even my first time in the States for about 15 years. Obviously I intend to see all the famous sights – the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the MOMA, Guggenheim and National History Museums, a show on Broadway, the shops etc etc etc – but I also hope to get a little feel of how the city ticks.

If I am not too jet-lagged I will try to blog as I go, so if you are interested in the project „Chris goes NYC“ check back here soon!

After the seminar is before the seminar!

Veröffentlicht: November 5, 2012 in Idle speech
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To all intents and purposes, this year’s W-Seminar „Scotland – a proud nation“ is finsihed! The students will hand in their papers tomorrow, nobody I know of seems to have had a major breakdown, the crying and panicking levels were all within normal parameters and so all that remains for the student to do is to help me clear my bag:After all I do need room for all those weighty seminar papers!

Of course there will be the small matter of marking the papers and the presentations (where I am sure my bag come in useful again 😉 ), but I still look onwards and upwards to the seminar for the class of 2013/15.

For this seminar I have decided to break with the admittedly rather lovely tradition of combining the seminar with a field trip to an English speaking area as only a quarter of this year’s students joined my on the trip to Scotland. I can hardly justify another big excursion to the powers that be with such low attendance levels…  So next year the seminar will be called LITERATURE AND FILM. The idea of the seminar will be to look at  literary works originally published in the English language that have been made into a film. We will look at the techniques that are used when transferring a book from paper to the big screen. Finally, students will choose one book/film combination to write their paper about.

Being the consciencious teacher that you all know me for I have been to the cinema already in order to prepare. I have dutifully read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road during the summer and then watched Walter Salles‘ adaptation – not sure which I found stranger…

Then I went to see Skyfall – yes, yes, okay, I have shoehorned this into the litarary section, but the basis of all the James Bond films were Ian Fleming’s stories, honest. Oh, I am totally obsessed with Skyfall, I just loved,  loved, loved the film, and I am sure everybody can appreciate the literary angle 😉

Next on my list of films to see is Cloud Atlas, which is due to premiere the week after next. I saw the preview the other day and was angry already at what seemed a complete simplification of David Mitchell’s complex and artfull novel. We’ll see whether I will have to eat my words.

Then, just to show that I embrace popular culture as well as high culture, I will sit through what will be my first Twilight film, Breaking Dawn Part 2, due late November. In an effort to be down with the kids I read the last two novels earlier this years.
Well… Where do I even start…  Do people read this shit for pleasure? I have to admit I had to skip over the whole werewolf thing, that was just more than I could take, so maybe I should buy one of those huge buckets of popcorn to hide behind when watching the film.

So that’s the plan for now. If the fancy takes me I will report on my cinematic adventures.

What about you? Do you have any tips for great film adaptations to watch?

Reading Tip: The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

Veröffentlicht: September 30, 2012 in Idle speech
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For reasons that I don’t remember I have been interested in Africa ever since I was a teenager. For a long time I have thought that what we in Germany learn about Africa is rather one-sided: there are the images of starving children with distended bellies, flies swarming around their eyes that populate our TV screesn with shocking frequency, the pictures of the most violent wars and their consequences, or alternatively the cliched African who loves dancing and is ever so friendly but who for the life of him can’t stick to a schedule. In the end of the day this restricted view of Africa can’t be the whole story and that’s one reason why I like reading books by African authors who can tell us more about the complexities of life on that continent.

The last book that has absolutely fascinated me is by such an author: Aminatta Forna, who was born in Scotland, lived in Sierra Leone, the birth country of her father, for many years and now resides in London.

Her novel „The Memory of Love“ takes the reader to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone on the West African coast and makes him experience life there through the eyes of two protagonists: Adrian, an English psychologist from London on secondment to an African hospital where it is his task to help people who are suffering from the effects of  a drawn-out and bloody civil war. He befriends Kai, a young surgeon from the same  Freetown hospital who escapes his own demons through work. Through the treatment of his patients, Adrian learns about the country’s past and about the fact that there is much more to peace than simply the end of fighting. There is one patient especially who has blood on his hands – not a lot of blood, considering the awful events that have wrecked Sierra Leone, but enough to want to rewrite the story of his life and who enlists Adrian’s help to do so. Then there is a love that both unites and tears apart Adrian and Kai and that leads to a conclusion that is so painful it made me gasp.

Aminatta Forna treats many issues that were new for me: for example the question whether people from the rich West who come to Africa to work for development agencies are actually helping Africans or rather themselves. Forna does not seem to be to keen on the often patronising way aid is given to poor countries and has some answers that question our received wisdom that „if Africans only did as we do, things would work much better“. I knew a little bit about the civil war in Sierra Leone and while Forna does not attempt to explain the reasons behind it (she is a novelist, not a historian after all) I have learnt a lot about what war destroys besides lives and property. I assume these lessons are universal and as true for survivours of present day conflicts as they are for the characters in „Memory of Love“.  And finally, the story works simple as a sort of who dunnit in reverse, where the perpetrator is clear from the start but the source and nature of the crime only becomes obvious throughout the story.

The author weaves the different strands of her story together in the most intricately written, beautiful prose that is complex but never complicated. I have found the book a real page turner and thought-provoking well beyond the last page.
„Ancestor Stones“, another novel by Forna which was awarded the German Liberaturpreis in 2008, is on my bedside table next!

Gold for Team GB!

Veröffentlicht: September 10, 2012 in Idle speech

London 2012, the Olympics and Paralympics; are over now and I think it’s time to award the last and most important gold medal to Team GB. In this case I don’t mean the athletes (having absolutely no interest in televised sport I have watched exactly zero minutes of olympic TV coverage so I have only heard of the British athletes‘ sporting prowess – Congratulations, by the way!!).
I think a gold medal should go to Londoners, and the Brits in general for delivering the Olympics in difficult times with such dignity, honour and good humour and for making the games such a memorable experience for everyone. You guys have had a glowing press from over here – most people here are more or less secretly in love with London anyway, but this time really everybody has been touched and amazed at how well things have gone, not only as far as the official organisation is concerned but also at the great spirit with which Londoners have welcomed the world descending on their city.
I have even heard that the British like themselves a bit more now! If that is true, that must be the most marvellous outcome of London 2012! I hardly dare to mention it, but I have read reports from Scotland saying that being part of London 2012 has made them feel part of the UK more than before. I am sure many people will hate me for this, but while I love the Scottish people and admire their spirit, I have found their petulant hatred of all things English quite boring and even a bit childish. If the Games have served to bring the British nations a bit closer together, I think that would be a wonderful outcome.
And so again, Team GB: Many congratulations on what you have achieved over the last few weeks. May you be really proud of your achievements and enjoy them unequivocally!