Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's about sex and death

It seems to me as if the main thing the authors of this article (it's German, sorry) couldn't accept, even though they didn't say it, is not the brutal murders in the novels they write about, it's the fact that the writers are female. Women don't imagine such brutality if they're normal - this seems to be what they really think.

I happen to like Tess Gerritsen's novels. They are sometimes brutal in the descriptions of murders and suchlike, but most of all they are well written and picture strong characters - not few of them women.

And, let's face it, we are living in a brutal world. Sex and death seem to be destined to rule our lives. And if I pick up a thriller, I expect it to show me the dark sides of our real world. I don't expect it to be all fluffy bunnies and pink tutus. And for me, to show the full extend of the madness embedded in the minds of the murderers also means to show the full extend of the blood and the gore they revel in. It's not something that gets me off, but it's something I find necessary and almost normal for a novel of that kind. And I've read it in novels written by men as well.

So this seems to be what it all boils down to: those are women writing such dreadful stories (instead of the shallow love-stories and melodramas they should be writing). Not strong men who might have been cops once in their life, but women who are not supposed to be so cold-blooded and used to violence.

And from my experiences - and given the fact that, for example, most pathologists these days (which means those recording the dreadful details of a murder) are women - that's a very old point of view. Women are usually committing less violent crimes, but they do experience violence just like everybody else - if not more of it. Women are beaten more often in their family (while most men are beaten somewhere else, like a pub). Women are more likely to be raped or assaulted (sexually or otherwise). In other words: women are more likely to become the victim of violence than men, on the whole.

Still, talking and writing about violence is still seen as the domain of men (just like talking and writing about sex, but that's another topic). So it's scaring for some people to see women writing about it that easily and that successfully.

It's the 21st century, not the year 21 A.D., so learn to live with it!

Wake-Up Call

And then there's this article (German as well), published on the same website on the same day. How long have the authors of this article slept? Ten years, twenty?

E-sports isn't very well known in Germany, yes. But after writing several articles about how teenagers and people in their twenties are gathering and playing "Killerspiele" together on so-called LAN-parties and organizing themselves in "Clans", the journalists in Germany should have stumbled over e-sports before ... honestly.

In other countries, there are people who live by taking part in e-sports tournaments and playing "StarCraft", "Unreal Tournament" or other games for a living. In Germany you can maybe finance your next vacation with it, but that's all.

But now even ordinary people and groups working together in normal companies build clans and come to e-sports events. So you can't go around saying any longer "it's just some murderers-to-be who are doing this".

The shock of it must have been immense.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Haicuts and Magazines

I got myself a haircut today. That's not something special, I wear my hair short, it grows quickly and so I have to get a new haircut about once every eight weeks. It's something which doesn't bother me a lot.

I usually visit a rather cheap chain of hairdressers, both because I don't really care a lot about who cuts my hair (and the people working there surely are a good as the more expensive hairdressers, but at half the price) and because you don't need to make an appointment beforehand. I decide I need a haircut, I go there, I get it, done. That's how I like it.

The bad side to not having to make an appointment is that you usually have to wait a lot. But that's not a problem for me, on the whole, because I go to the hairdresser when I don't have an appointment to keep. So whether I wait twenty minutes or two hours doesn't make much of a difference.

This is where the magazines at the hairdresser come in. In Germany you'll find a bunch of magazines (usually in special covers) wherever you usually have to wait a lot. Doctors and hairdressers are on the top of that list, naturally. But while doctors usually keep a large variety of magazines stocked, the hairdressers have an overflow of gossip- and fashion-magazines and usually between two and three other magazines - which is the only kind I like to read. I'm a woman, but I'm not really partial to gossip ... or fashion.

And even I can't make one good magazine (the other one was missing) last for two hours. Waiting for the haircut this time was torture ... but, to be fair, I got a marvellous head-massage afterwards.

This has given me a lot of time to think and so I wondered about one article in the magazine (but more about that below) and the reason why most of the stuff they keep there is so ... girlie-like. I mean, am I the only woman in the world who only uses gossip- and fashion-magazines when she can't sleep? There's only so much time you can spent with the crossword-puzzles in there and afterwards they get boring - at least, if you're not interested in the whole "who has cheated on whom with whom"-spiel or the latest fashion trends from Milan (or elsewhere) you can only wear if you're one hour from starving to death.

Anyway, I survived the two hours and got myself a nice new haircut.

What about the quality of TV?

While I was waiting for my haircut (see post above), I read about the low quality of private TV-stations in a magazine (for more about the quality of magazines in a hairdresser's shop also see post above). And that made me wonder how a magazine which basically does pretty much the same "infotainment" magazines on the private TV-stations do as well could judge them like that. But then, it's one of the very righteous magazines which also go against "Killerspiele" and everything that doesn't fit with their pseudo-liberal view of the world.

They were bemoaning - at length - the fact that only very few private TV-stations (as opposed to those controlled by the government) put out a lot of documentaries (although some of them do...). They have to make money with the stuff they show, after all. Low rates of viewers means less money from advertisements. But then, what does that in essence mean?

It means the stuff those TV-stations air is exactly what most viewers are interested in. They have to take care of that, otherwise they won't get the rates they need. But putting away what they don't want to show isn't limited to private TV-stations.

ZDF and ARD are the two governmental supported TV-stations in Germany (ARD is composed of a large group of regional stations, actually). Ever since they breached out, they have also changed the quality of their program quite a bit. For example they've banned everything high-cultural, like theatre or opera, to a special station, 3Sat, which is a cooperation with Swiss and Austrian TV. The same goes, to a certain degree, for ARTE, a French-German cooperation. There's a special station for documentaries as well (Phoenix, which I quite like to watch). And there's a special station for children's programs, too. Ever since "Kinderkanal" (Children's Channel) went up, ARD and ZDF have shown next to 0 programs for kids. In addition, even though every adult in Germany has to pay around 17 Euros every three months for those stations, they have, over the last couple of years, started to work with advertisements as well. That makes me sick, especially as I probably watch a total of one or two hours a week of their programs.

Private stations never claimed to be anything but specialized on entertainment. They have their own news which - while maybe a bit shallow - nevertheless cover the same stuff the online-versions of most print magazines in Germany (which I browse every day) also cover. So how can the print-version of a magazine go on at length about 'bad journalism' which they do online as well? Hypocrisy, I guess. They have some cultural magazines (usually late at night) and are specialized in showing what 90 percent of the viewers want to see.

Young people - those who watch the private stations - tend to get their information elsewhere, usually online. They don't need 20 magazines and news shows on TV. They tend to make their own picture of the world - and especially the internet, where you can search and cross-reference easily, helps a lot with that. And the private news shows tend to do it better, with more explanations and a better wording.

Older people tend to watch ARD and ZDF (or their regional stations) a lot anyway. But - as I know from my parents who are both 60+ - even they quite often find the programs boring.

While the private stations tend to create their own series - or simply buy the ones from other countries they like -, ARD and ZDF seem forced to produce their own versions of formats that have been successful somewhere else. Where's the point in that? Imagine a successful series from the US or even the UK, but with German actors. That takes a lot of the fun out of it, mostly (an Australian format translated decades ago is the only one which I personally find has made it very well in it's German version).

I don't just watch a show like "House" (for example) for the medical cases. I'm not a doctor or nurse myself, neither am I a fan of series like "E.R.". I watch it for the cases, but I also watch it because of Hugh Laurie who plays such an interesting character. For me, Dr. Gregory House only works that way when Hugh Laurie plays him. I don't even want to imagine a German actor in this role (especially as some of the stuff probably would not happen in a German version - it's different if they just do a voice over for it).

The same goes for other formats. The only remotely interesting Sci-Fi series ever produced in Germany (in the 60's, if I remember it correct) had six episodes and was more fun than suspense. Nevertheless, "Raumpatrouille Orion" is far better (despite gigantic goldfish, equipment that screamed "recycled household stuff" and absolutely hideous dances) than other attempts (very few) to produce something that could look a series like "Star Trek" in the eye. (We can do for cinema, though, just watch "(T)Raumschiff Surprise".) We Germans do great crime stories and mediocre soap operas, but we're really bad at most other stuff - 'cause it's against our idea of culture, I guess. So why take a format and produce a new, usually worse series instead of just buying the series as a such and do a good German dubbing? Works perfectly for the private stations (which also produce their own formats, but have left the idea of stealing the formats far behind - after "Married … with children" [calling the German version a disaster would be flattery]).

Quality of TV is decreasing everywhere, at least from my point of view. But to me it's more shocking what happened to the supposedly 'better' government-supported stations that to the self-financed private ones.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Update on the World of Darkness

I really did have to get the world straight again, after all, it's a matter of life or death. (Well, joking here, sort of.)

The "World of Darkness" was created by White Wolf Publishing as a background for various role-playing games dealing with monsters and magic. Currently, after quite some redesign, it's four different types of 'monsters' the player can be: Mage, werewolf, construct (like Frankenstein's creature) or vampire. All of them are to be found in the "World of Darkness" which is basically like our world, just more brutal, more corrupt and a lot darker.

After some serious reforming, the role-playing games have been renamed. The new games are called "Mage: The Awakening", "Werewolf: The Forsaken", "Vampire: The Requiem" and (new) "Promethean: The Created" (Promethean comes from Prometheus, a figure of Greek Mythology that's supposed to have created the first artificial life-form - man). I am partial to "Vampire: The Requiem" or - as I knew it until yesterday - "Vampire: The Masquerade". (The Masquerade is the most important rule among the vampires in the World of Darkness: Never let a mortal see what you are - unless, of course, you plan on killing him anyway.)

There are quite some changes in the game: different clans (13 down to 5, two of which are new), different organisation (not just 2 fractions, but 5 covenants) and an overall change in the vampire world.

The old "Vampire"-system sparked two computer games: "Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption" and "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines".

While "Redemption" had a rather soggy story about a young crusader who falls in love with the woman taking care of him after an injury, kills a vampire who has been threatening her and the town she lives in and is subsequently turned into a vampire by one of the other clan elders, "Bloodlines" is much more free in the whole storyline. In "Redemption" the character is given to the player by the game, a young fighter named Christophe who gets turned into a Bruhja (that's one of the 13 clans of "Masquerade"). As all clans have different special abilities (known as disciplines), game-play is, to a certain degree, limited by this. On the very positive side is that the whole story starts out in medieval times (in Prague) and ends in modern-day New York. After about half the story (and a trip to Vienna), Christophe gets trapped in a crashing castle after a fight against a boss enemy. In the basements of a society hunting down vampires, he returns to life about thousand years later. (As, in the role-playing game staking doesn't kill a vampire, they just fall into a trance.) The good thing about this is that the player gets the chance to play a vampire both in medieval times (with swords and so on) and in modern times (with guns and suchlike). For the time the graphics were great, too, so playing the game was really fun.

"Bloodlines" on the other hand - created shortly before the role-playing game was changed into "The Requiem" - features the clans usually associated with the Carmarilla (one of the two fractions in "Masquerade") and turned the player into a newly changed vampire whose Sire (the vampire who made him) was executed for creating a new vampire without being allowed to do so. Nevertheless the player was allowed to live, just to prove he was worth living. So he was sent from L.A. to Santa Monica first - and that's where playing started in the game. As "Bloodlines" was based on the "Half Life 2" engine, the surrounding was great, there were a lot of different jobs to do, there were 7 different clans to come from (and the player could either answer questions to find the right one or just choose) and the whole starting point was different. It was far more role-playing like. The story wasn't that soppy either ... well, apart from the execution right in the beginning, of course. Imagine: You don't even know you're a vampire and suddenly people storm into the hotel suit, stake the woman/man you've been spending the last night with and pull both you and him/her out of it. A short time later you're in a desolate theatre and a guy you don't know starts talking about how sorry he is to be forced to do that and has his gorilla behead the woman/man. And the only reason why you get out of this alive (well, sort of) seems to be the rather angry comments of one of the people in the audience.

But back to "Vampire: The Requiem". I have to admit that the new basics are rather interesting. There's more fractions (and the five clans are split up in some more) and there's a few rather interesting new ideas. So I'll have a new source book to draw information from ... especially for writing my own stories, but for other things as well. (And writing the post has made me consider reinstalling "Bloodlines" on my computer.)

Although I'm glad not to live in the "World of Darkness", it's an interesting place to visit.

Shadow of the Vampire

No, this post is not about the movie with this title (thought it's extremely good and you should watch it, if you get the chance), it's about "Dracula" overshadowing Bram Stoker's other novels. And the whole post is an addition to the one about "Vampire".

Even for a classic, "Dracula" is an exceptional book in many ways. Since published first in 1897 (due to the content it was sorted into the 'pornographic' section of the market - what can I say? vampire brides are loose women...), the novel has never been out of print - and it has been translated into almost every major language still spoken on earth.

To be honest, the book isn't as 'hot' as most of the movies based on it. There's pages and pages written in the style of various diaries, excepts from newspapers and stuff like that. It's a good read, if you like that sort of thing (as I do), but it's not a fast read ... or easy to understand. It's quite thick, too.

But what Stoker has understood on a very basic level, just like Polidori when he wrote "The Vampyre" or Sheridan LeFanu when he wrote "Carmilla", is that the vampire is a very sexual creature - even without vampires having sex themselves. The werewolf is a savage creature, the ghost usually can't interact with people on a physical level and we all don't want to imagine Frankenstein's creature on a date, but the vampire hunts - and kills - by seducing. This has made "Dracula", whether you read it or watch a movie (I'd suggest the Francis Ford Coppola version - or the one made by Hammer, although it's not exactly close to the novel), one of the longest-lasting stories in the media. Count Dracula himself does not just jump out of the dark, grab a person and drain it (although he probably could...), he seduces, drinks from his prey during various meetings until the final moment of the kill (or the change of a mortal into a vampire). The same thing is true for Polidori's Lord Ruthven or LeFanu's Carmilla. And if you look to modern vampire stories like those of Ann Rice, it's even more obvious.

But Stoker, although not a full-time writer, wrote more than just one novel. In addition to "Dracula", he wrote three more novels (although I have to admit that I never managed to read through one of them) and a host of short stories. The short stories are actually better than the novels - a fact also true for Arthur Conan Doyle, but that's another topic. Especially those gathered in "Dracula's Guest" surely are worth reading. Stoker wrote rather dreadful stuff, especially when he was not using pages over pages for it.

But this is about the other novels (which have also been converted into movies). There are two I can recommend to those who have managed Dracula (as they are rather similar in style). Those are "Lair of the White Worm" and "The Jewel of Seven Stars".

"Lair of the White Worm" has only been transformed into a movie once (and said movie features Hugh Grant in a kilt - a good reason to watch it on it's own). The basic story is that of a priestess serving an old god (said White Worm, which is rather a dragon without legs or some sort of dinosaur than a worm in the way most people would understand it today). The priestess wants a young (and, naturally, innocent) girl as the next sacrifice for her god ... and a host of heroes (men, but in Stoker's time that went without saying) are fighting the serpent-like woman and her god. You might hazard a guess on the outcome, but it should be clear what happens in the end...

"Jewel of the Seven Stars" has been used for a movie at least twice. There's "The Awakening" with Charleston Heston and Stephanie Zimbalist and "Bram Stoker's The Mummy" (produced not so long after "Bram Stoker's Dracula"). The latter is more true to the original story, although both have been taken from their original setting (Stoker's own time) and 'replanted' in modern times. It doesn't really harm the story though, unlike "Dracula" and "Lair of the White Worm" it hardly works with specific means. And an ancient Egyptian queen (one of the evil sort, of course) coming back to life in an archaeologist's daughter isn't bound to a special period of time. And it's not ending too well...

In both cases the movies are actually better than the novels, at least for a modern reader. Stoker's style isn't easy to cope with and he definitely wrote better prose in "Dracula" than in his later novels. Maybe it's because essentially (though with female villains) he's been rewriting "Dracula" in the other stories. It's always basically the same. There's a threat coming from outside (so the more or less reluctant 'heroes' are not really to blame themselves). There's a band of heroes that forms, there's the damsel in distress and finally there's the demise - which way ever - of the evil (though not in the movie versions of "The Jewel of Seven Stars", in which the queen survives).

But nevertheless, only very few people know about Stoker's work, as long as it's not "Dracula". And that's a shame.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

They must really need someone...

This morning I was phoned twice by a temporal employment agency in Bretten (a town not too far from my own). The second time I managed to get to the phone in time. But, honestly, it wasn't worth it.

I was told I had applied for a job with them and if I could come in for an interview this afternoon. When I asked for details about the job (I had not applied for), I was forwarded to another employee who told me that they had gotten a letter from the Arbeits­amt (which is an office of the German government, dealing with unemployed people - like me, currently). Since those letters normally are sent to both parties - the unemployed and the possible employer - and I haven't gotten mine (the postman comes to my house around twelve), they must have gotten theirs this very morning (and the first call was shortly after eight o'clock). Now, normally it would be my job to contact them (and most of the employers take their sweet time answering).

The fact alone that they get the letter and immediately phone me, even before I've gotten mine, is suspicious. And then the first words were something along the lines of "we've got a great job, wonderful office, interesting project". I mistrust such description when I asked before what kind of job this was. And then came the real damper: it's in Ettlingen. I personally only had contact with two call-centres in Ettlingen. One doesn't employ people from my hometown, because it's too far away and they usually have several hours break around noon. The other one is Walter Telemedien, a company I wouldn't work for if it were the last on earth. So I told them I wouldn't drive to Ettlingen from my hometown on a regular basis, it's too far and I need time for my web-master. They argued other employees would do it, that couldn't be the problem. But I know someone who drives over an hour for a call-center job from Stuttgart to my hometown, so the argument "others do it, too" doesn't really work for me.

I didn't even ask which call-centre it was, since first of all I find it very suspicious to 'catch' me like that, phoning and wanting the interview on the very same day - you never get that in Germany under normal circumstances - and in addition Ettlingen is too far away to drive there every day for a few Euros the hour (as temporal employment agencies never pay well, usually it's 7,41 before taxes). They obviously really need people for that job and if the office were so great and the people there were so nice, that shouldn't be the case. I would have gone there had the job been in Bretten or somewhere closer to home, but not to apply for a job in Ettlingen.

I've got another, regularly managed interview tomorrow (even though I doubt I'll take the job, it's quite far for those measly Euros as well, but there's a possibility to switch from the temporal employment agency to the regular employer, so I'll at least ask). And I've still got some time, I don't need to take the next best job, no matter where it is, who's employing me and what they pay for it.

What does that teach me? People who phone so early and urgently and can't just leave a message on the answering machine are not to be trusted.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Killerspiele" Update (The "I sense the summer hole coming" Edition)

I almost thought we were over it. I really did. I thought the media and the politicians had finally moved over the whole "Killerspiele" issue. I also thought somebody had finally chained Prof. Pfeiffer to a wall in some god-forsaken dungeon ... but no, the issue comes back again, just like a zombie. But, unfortunate, you can't kill it with a shot gun to the head.

Yesterday I was watching another magazine on TV - I have to do something in the evening, after all. And there it was again, the "Killerspiel". I had almost missed it.

This time it was ZDF and this time it was a lot along the lines of "all those studies which don't find a relation between Killerspiele and violence are done by people who get paid by the computer games industry" and it made me want to either run amok - which I haven't ... yet - or puke - which I haven't either, I hate puking.

What really should make the TV-stations think, though (apart from the fact that the supposed 'hero' of the "Killerspiele" issue, Prof. Christian Pfeiffer, has very good reasons of his own to damn them ... and guess what? they're financial), is the fact that a culture council in Germany has stated, not too long ago, computer games should be treated like movies - and thus there should be money for the makers, just as with movies in Germany. Of course, neither the politicians nor the media can accept that - it would ruin their reputation to admit that they damned something a specialized council sees as 'cultural', especially in Germany where culture is appreciated above everything. The horror, the pure, mind-bending horror of it!

In addition I read on the net yesterday that CryTec, one of the few German software and games developers, has already announced they're going to move abroad if the new law (making every game with violent content basically illegal) gets passed. Considering that they employ over one hundred people in Germany alone, they're hardly a little company.

And besides creating ego-shooters, their engine has also been used to create new software for architects, because the 3D-engine is so great and allows to create such life-like 3D-worlds. That's very important for architects. In fact, during the last couple of years, CryTec was one of the few companies that prospered in Germany. And now, because the politicians don't know what they talk about, but want the votes of people who don't know anything about it either, they will probably leave.

Strangely enough, you only get this "my child ran amok because of computer games"-spiel from the so called 'public' TV-stations, although the private TV-stations usually thrive on such eye-watering stories about sex and violence ... or just violence in this case. They, having the majority of viewers in ages that play computer games, don't jump on this new trend. I like to think they know why...

I know this is mainly because the media is in what they usually call 'summer hole' when nothing of interest happens. This year we had a slight deprive because of all the cyclists of the Tour de France taking drugs to drive faster, but now it's got us. Where's Nessie anyway when you need that damn plesiosaur?

I predict that, when it goes on like this, in a few years nobody will vote any longer, because they just despise all those politicians who have basically called them "mad killers-in-waiting". Or maybe Pfeiffer's right (may God prevent that) and we'll all run amok and thus Germany will be devoid of life. Whatever happens first...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Not much of a surprise, really

Okay, it's official now ... but it's not hard to get this result in this test...

You Are 100% Feminist

You are a total feminist. This doesn't mean you're a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).

You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It's a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.

But the question here is, how many women really don't agree with the questions of this test?

Is this some sick joke?

Well, I asked for it...

>You scored as Betty Page,

Betty Page


Mariyln Monroe


Betty Grable


Mae West


Jayne Mansfield


Audrey Hepburn


Which 1950's PIN-UP Girl are you??
created with

But honestly, I wish I looked like her...

Sunday, August 19, 2007


First of all, this is not Harry Potter, although Mr. Stibbons looks a bit like him. Don't worry if the title of this post doesn't tell you anything ... it only shows you're not reading Terry Pratchett novels.

"Hogfather" is the second novel dealing with Death's granddaughter Susan (and the fourth dealing with Death himself). Now, one might ask how a seven-foot-skeleton can possibly have a granddaughter. Well, Death had a daughter by adoption and the girl finally married his apprentice (who was another of those ideas his servant Albert despises). Both Susan's parents are dead by now, but strangely enough (though it's not that strange on the Discworld) she has inherited some abilities from her grandfather. She can use his tools (a scythe and a sword, both fit to cut souls from the body), she can walk through doors and walls (as there's no way of keeping Death out) and she can even do The Voice. After leaving school, Susan has first (in "Hogfather") become a governess and later on (in "Thief of Time") even a teacher. She's scarily good at it.

"Hogfather" also establishes the Auditors, forces of the universe that try to create and maintain order in the chaos that life brings (and thus can't stand any form of life, starting with bacteria and working its way up to humans). Unlike Death, who likes humans a lot, the Auditors thrive to destroy mankind - and all the anthropomorphic personifications humans on Discworld have created. Those include, beside Death, also the "Hogfather", the Discworld's equivalent to Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy (which, in "Hogfather" also has another job).

But I'm not writing this post about a novel that's been out for quite a while because I suddenly feel the notion to (especially as "Hogfather" is set around the time of Discworld-Christmas and my favourite read for this season), but because I finally acquired the movie. The movie has not been shown or distributed in Germany, but over amazon I got the version from the UK (which, luckily, has the same region code as Germany).

I do have a weak point for the novels dealing with Death and Susan (because they're both quite interesting characters) and I like good movies. My experience with British movies has been very good in the past, so I didn't think I'd risk too much in ordering the DVD.

After watching the three-hour-movie (it was actually produced as a two-parter for TV), I must say that it's just great - and I shall definitely include it in this year's Christmas rituals. Luckily my English is even far better than I thought - and so I could fully enjoy the whole movie.

The actors for the characters were well chosen, from Susan, Death (who has both a body and a voice) or Mr. Teatime (the villain of the tale) right down to minor characters like Nobby Nobbs and Constable Visit from the City Watch. I personally found the wizards of Unseen University especially funny (most of the faculty have gathered around HEX, the thinking machine, in the picture about this paragraph). But, to be honest, they're always funny.

The story is very true to the novel, with a few minor details left out (otherwise the movie might easily have been six hours long instead...). It balances out the grim aspects of the stories (like the murders Mr. Teatime does commit) with the funny ones (and there's a lot of them).

And it uses the many special effects in a very discreet way. They are there, but you won't notice them easily. Well, some of them, obviously. It's hard to ignore there's not a lot of flying horses around ... and even when you throw a poker through a skeleton, it's bound to hit something on the way through - the spine, if nothing else. Nevertheless, the movie never gives the impression of simply being build up on the special effects. They are necessary in some parts (and I've never seen a better likeness of the Discworld itself, plus the elephants and the turtle, of course), but there are there to tell the story, not just to be.

As an addition I will admit here that Mr. Teatime somehow reminded me of a German actor (although he's been in international films) who's been dead for quite some time: Klaus Kinski. Mr. Kinski was specialized in playing villains, he was blond (though he's not had two different eyes) and even the face and the voice pattern fit scarily with that of Mr. Teatime (who pronounces his own name Te-A-tim-E - but that's a villain's vanity for you...). If I were inclined to believe in reincarnation, I'd put my money on it that Mr. Marc Warren (the actor who plays Mr. Teatime) actually is the reincarnation of Mr. Kinski.

On the whole the only thing I can say about "Hogfather" is this: If you've got any interest whatsoever in Fantasy, watch it!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Returning to the Black Widower

Quite some time ago I stumbled over a collection of stories online, vampire stories with a host of quite interesting characters. The stories - at least the main story - are called "Black Widower", which is the nickname of one main character. Currently there's two pages with the stories, as the author is transferring to a new web-address.

I had been neglecting the stories for a while ... as it seemed as if there was nothing new. But this Wednesday I did a short trip to the pages again and found quite a host of new stories - and new chapters for the main story. Slowly "Black Widower" (as the main story is called) and "Changing Fortunes" (a side-story with two new characters) are merging a bit.

The story is set 40 or so years in the future, after the 'Supes' (homo superior, humans with supernatural powers like telepathy, telekinesis and so on) took over, enslaving 'normal' humans - or 'Saps' (homo sapiens, what else?). One of the two main characters, Angelo, the "Black Widower", has become a vampire before that time, when he was a 15-year-old teenager in southern Florida. A few years after his change he returned to his hometown and made his older cousin Dimitri his first child.

But Dimitri isn't the second main character, that's a boy named 'Weasel' by his Keeper (you could call that guy a pimp, but above all you'd have to call him dead, so it doesn't matter anyway) who found him stumbling around as a child without any memories of his past. His real name is Jaques Baptiste Drollet and he's sort of vampire royalty - the clan 'Baptiste' has very special powers that allow the members to become 'Broodmasters' who can actually feed off the blood their underlings take ... and includes, besides Weasel, his uncle Ardoin, who's head of the vampire organisation, and his aunt Angelique, who's a witch (Weasel also has witch-blood from his father's side) and hates her brother and his brood deeply.

Angelo and Weasel are, in many ways, total opposites. They look quite different (Angelo is dark-haired, dark-eyed and rather short; Weasel is a bit taller than him, has silvery-blond hair and green eyes) and they are quite different in character. Cam (a character from "Changing Fortunes") describes it like this: "Angelo is fire and Weasel is ice, able to cool him down and keep him under control." (No quote here, though, it's written a bit different in the story.) Nevertheless, and despite the fact that neither of them is completely faithful to the other, they really are deeply in love - and deadly to everyone whom they meet and can't stand.

Recurring characters, besides Dimitri, include Amorette, a vampire whom Angelo and his 'sire' (the vampire who made him) Sylvie created together - as her blood-thirst proved too large for Sylvie alone - and Radu, not a vampire, but a shifter (you could also say 'Werewolf', but not into his face), who's both a lover and an enemy to Angelo (they're too much like each other in character). Then there's, of course, the Broodmaster Ardoin himself - and sometimes his sister Angelique, too.

As the stories contain slash (what else do you expect from a story with two male characters in the lead?), they're probably not for everyone, especially as Angelo, Dimitri and Radu are quite ruthless when it comes to killing (Weasel being something of a 'good vampire', most of the time) and tormenting their prey. As Angelo states in another side story ("Angelo's Cures for Boredom"):

As anyone who knows me can testify, Angelo gets bored very, very easy.

I have several cures that I've developed over the years.

Sex, of course is a great cure, but only if it's good sex. If it's shitty sex, then we get to the other cure for boredom - mental and physical torture of a shitty bed partner.

Yeah, one of those kinds of kills. Let's just say if it gets to the point where I'm not concerned with being careful, there won't be much left of him by the time I'm done.

Gaming is a great cure as well, but only if the mark makes it worth it. I hate being bored.

This nicely brings together all his interests: Sex, hunting down prey and killing it. But on the other hand ... Angelo isn't a normal 'vampire' (none of the main characters are, in the reality of "Black Widower"), not even by his world's standards: he's half Sangsue (that's the vampires, you see) and half incubus, meaning he can't just suck blood, he can also drain another of all sexual energy - thus his nickname "Black Widower", derived, without doubt, from the deadly spider known as "Black Widow". Just as Weasel is half Sangsue and half witch. Radu, on the other side, seems to be a full-blooded Odogi (that's the werewolves).

It's a bit difficult to explain the whole story and the world in one post, so, if it sounds interesting to you, I suggest you take a trip to the current website (the other one is still a work in progress without index-page) or look for the "thesaurus-Black Widower" file at the new address. That file explains a lot about the expressions used in the stories.

If you like the vampire stories by Anne Rice (but always wanted something a little more explicit and maybe less 'elegant', too), you might really like the "Black Widower".

Finding myself

Just for fun I went ahead and typed my real name into Google. I wanted to see whether or not I could find traces of myself online. I couldn't, but that doesn't mean I didn't find women with the same name.

One lives in Bavaria and is registered on amazon, one is a lawyer, one has her own institute ... and there's other scientists and so on. But I'm not there ... and, given the fact that a lot of companies by now check the internet for inappropriate stuff about future employees, I'm quite glad about it. Obviously I've done well, always using an alias online.

And, quite fittingly, there's a woman with my mother's name on the internet, presenting her artworks. My mum does a lot of artworks, too, though it's usually the stuff you can put in your living room - or into the gardens. I think a lot of people would like to see a website with her own artworks, too. And there's even a chance as my father started a blog he's filling with them.

So, I can't say I've been finding myself online, but I've found that someone with my name can have a career - and that's a good thing to know, too!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Spoilers enough

I simply could not just leave this collection of spoilers (which is actually printed on a t-shirt) go unnoticed. And as most of the 'spoilers' actually are widely known by now (such as Darth Vader being Luke's father or Neo being 'The One' in "Matrix"), I didn't think it would hurt to show this. Even "Harry Potter 6" (where "Snape kills Dumbledore" comes from) has been out for two years now.

Of course, you'd lead a very dangerous life in some places (such as conventions), wearing such a shirt. I wonder if "extreme-spoilering" could be considered a sport. Wear a t-shirt with a large print saying "At the end of Harry Potter 7..." (expecting a spoiler? Not from me...) and walk proudly into a meeting of "Harry Potter"-fans just reading the last book. If you get out with your life, you'll get 100 points (limbs count extra, 50 points per limb you manage to get out with).

I still do hate spoilers, but I'd love to have this t-shirt!

A woman without a man is a fish without a bike - or so a feminist saying in Germany goes. This post actually is sort of an addition to my last post about gender stereotypes, dealing with the rather stupid idea that a woman can only be happy when she's in a relationship (possibly with children and possibly staying at home like a good housewife).

Humans on the whole - men as well as women - are social creatures. We as a species are not build to live solitary lives. But 'social' doesn't equal 'in a relationship'. The only thing 'social' really means is: to live in a group with other beings of the same species.

But nevertheless a lot of people - men as well as women - seem to think that a woman can't live without a man at her side ... the other way around seems to be different. There's nobody saying "boy, that guy needs a wife", just because a man has reached the magical 30. But be a single woman and reach that age and every friend you've ever met will try to play matchmaker in order to find 'the right guy' for you. And if you happen to have a lot of friends who're in a relationship, it gets worse. They're all so very, very happy and in love - and think you have to be crying yourself to sleep every night, because you're not with a man. Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't cry myself to sleep at night and I am solo. I happen to like my life as it is.

What is behind this, I guess, is an archaic picture of women, one that has been handed down for generations: Women need men to survive. They have to marry in order to be cared for.

But this picture is quite wrong today. Women can care for themselves, they are allowed to work - and even to vote, just in case someone out there has missed this. A woman doesn't have to marry in order to survive. She can marry, but she doesn't have to do it. That's quite a difference in my book.

So why do people instil this picture into their children. Why do people still tell girls to 'look out for the right guy' and 'marriage is the greatest thing in life'? A lot of people (all those who have gotten a divorce) would tell you quite the opposite. But that doesn't count. A girl should still strife for a husband, some kids and a small house in the suburbs.

At the same times girls still are told their future lies in family life, boys get taught to strife for a career. Why that difference? Because, once she's married and has kids, a woman will stop working anyway? In quite a lot of European countries women don't stop working once they've got kids. In France, Sweden, Denmark and quite some other countries it's normal for a woman to continue to work when the child is still quite young (6 months to a year). But not in Germany, oh no.

So what is a woman without a man, really?

Alone? No, because she could still be with another woman, couldn't she? And what does 'alone' mean, anyway? Without a relationship? Without friends? Without colleagues at work? Without relatives? The real meaning of 'alone' is "without any other human being" - and who of us is, in normal life?

A woman without a man is ... without a man, I guess. She might like it or not, but that's her decision - not that of her friends.

Gender stereotypes - and where to shove them

Looking back today, I have to admit I'm quite happy I grew up during the 70s and early 80s. During that time most young parents didn't want to raise their children on stereotypes and thus did everything possible to avoid it. This meant for me to be allowed to choose my toys and interests without always hearing "that's for boys, dear" or other stupid remarks (not that I would have minded...). Actually, even so, my aunts did say stuff like that sometimes...

I hate gender stereotypes. To be honest, I hate stereotypes as a rule, but gender stereotypes are even worse than other kinds. It doesn't matter whether it's stereotypes about men and boys or about women and girls. They're all restrictive and don't really fit. Humans come in all shapes, forms and sizes. There's no such thing as the woman or the man around. (Which is why I usually find statistics so hilarious...)

There's no such thing as the boy or the girl either, but nevertheless magazines, TV shows, books and other media try to make us all think there's just one way to happiness and that's to become a stereotypical member of our own gender. And unlike a grown woman or man who should (theoretically at least) be able to see through such manipulations and know everybody is an individual, the children and teenagers can't see through it. How should they, without the experience an adult has?

Yes, I read Enid-Blyton-books when I was young - I liked them, too. But unlike my friends I didn't see them as a reality for me. I wasn't one of those girls. I was different and - especially during my teens - I actually started to be proud of it.

I owned a large collection of Barbie dolls and I played with them (what else would I have owned them for, seriously). But my games weren't the kind about the super-model or the perfect wife in a perfect relationships (my Kens - 2 opposed to about 10 Barbies - would in real life probably either have become gay or died of loneliness). My Barbies went through adventures - but I've written about that before, twice at least.

And yes, I like horses. But I've only ridden a couple of times in my life and I never felt the need to work at a stable during my teens, just to be near them. I read a few books about horses (and the girls owning them), but I never became such a girl.

And I think I might have mentioned how much love stories and romances bore me before...

But what makes me even more averse to gender stereotypes than my own life (and there's always the odd one, naturally), is what it does to all women. Why? Because of one real strong stereotype: the 'woman can't understand anything technical'-myth.

That's a stereotype we all grow up with, isn't it? Whether it's in books, in movies, in TV series, even in school sometimes, it's always like that: technical things are done by boys. There might be some girls around who work with technical means or natural science, but they're 'not normal'. They are odd - they are geeks.

A 'normal' girl doesn't do such stuff and isn't interested in computers (except for the 'acceptable' parts as playing the new Barbie game or surfing the internet for tips about make-up or a new diet). In the minds of quite some people female technicians, female programmers, female web-masters (I still think the word 'web-mistress' sounds a bit dubious ... more like I'm wearing a whip and something tight-fitting in latex) simply don't exist. There are all those women, but they do not - or rarely - appear in the media. We had to wait for over 20 years until the first "Star Trek" spaceship had a female captain, for heaven's sake! (And quite some fans don't like her at all.)

But that stereotype is dangerous to us women. Fact is, a lot of the new, well-paid jobs are in the computer and internet business. To get them, you have to work with those new technical means. You have to understand and use those means. And unlike what some men think (and some men still think women can't drive a car correctly - while all real-life experiences about accidents say something completely different), it's not really difficult.

As a programmer you have to work carefully. You have to be prepared to do the same stuff over and over again until you've found the error and corrected it. That's tedious work, surely, but nothing a woman can't understand or do. And don't people always claim women are better with learning languages? Programming also is done with languages ... what a coincidence.

As a web-master you do some web-design yourself (depends mostly on the kind of job you get, some are more based on taking care of the network, others are more based on creating and maintaining a website or something similar). You have to know the technical basis for it, you have to know about servers, networks and other stuff. But you also have to have a good eye for proportions, for colours that fit well together and so on. Sure, taking care of a server isn't easy, but selling the new collection to a woman who doesn't look good in it, isn't easy either.

The only thing biologically separating men from women is one chromosome. Women have two X-chromosomes, men have only one - and a Y-chromosome. Genetically speaking everything with one Y-chromosome is male, although there's men with two or more X-chromosomes around... Apart from that our genes are completely identical. And I doubt all the stereotypes fit onto this one chromosomes (which men have as well, as you might have noticed from my explanation).

So why do we still spent so much time trying to figure out what's 'male' or 'female'? Is it female to be able to sew? Is it male to be able to hammer a nail into the wall? I can do both (and learned it both from my mother who wouldn't have let her daughter move out without knowing she was able to do normal repairs on her own). In modern times, it wouldn't hurt a boy to know how to sew on a button and it wouldn't hurt a girl to know how to use a hammer.

Gender stereotypes don't really fit into the modern world. We can't try to build the World of Tomorrow with the Views of Yesterday.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Don't get into my stories - it may kill you!

And another weekend throughout which I have been very busy is over. I've written, I've worked on my web-master course and I've read as well. I managed to kill a traitor (in a "Harry Potter" dystopia without Harry Potter I currently work on - well, he got what he deserved...).

Strangely enough I tend to kill a lot of people in my stories - maybe to prevent sequels. But seriously: I've written crime stories ever since I started writing (I was about 13 then) - and what can I say ... most of them are about murder. I've plotted two crime stories (although currently I'm not working on them) and one ends with the villainess dying in a truly gruesome way while the other has a host of different murders (everything from hanging someone right down to poisoning).

When I was younger, I had serious problems with killing off my characters, but that has changed a lot over the years. I love my characters, it's just ... well ... I love killing them, too. They are mine, after all. I have created them and so it's my privilege to destroy them when I want to. (That bears the question how God thinks about that sort of thing, doesn't it? Be grateful I'm not God, though, or you might suddenly find yourselves trapped in a pit with a hungry hyena or something.)

Ever since I dabbed into other genres, I had to learn how to do good action scenes (you try writing fantasy without a few sword fights...), how to describe landscapes people can't just google ('cause they're not in this world) and other useful stuff. And I had to learn how to do a good murder- or dying-scene without overdoing it or skirting over the important bits. I don't describe in detail where all the little splashes of blood land - go and watch CSI if you're interested in that sort of thing -, but I don't just write "and then he was shot" either. That would be pointless, because the police will later on claim "he's been shot" anyway. Instead I describe the situation.

For that "Harry Potter" dystopia I had to do two dying scenes already. I had a man burned (and that's a gruesome way to die, I know - let's say, he had some help in avoiding most of the pain, okay ... because I like him). And I had a traitor executed by the character he betrayed. After I wrote it and read it for the first time (it's different while you write it - for me, at least), I was very surprised - in a positive way. Who would have thought I could write such a scene from the victims point of view? It worked perfectly and allowed me to portrait one of my main character in a new way (God, she can be so ruthless ... and she should be, sometimes). (Oh, actually, I have to admit that there are a few more deaths, but they aren't worked out that well. Just two people and a unicorn dying quickly.) Talk about death rates in my work ... or rather: Don't!

Have you ever (and that's not off topic here) realized how dangerous it was in "Star Trek" for an unknown character in a red shirt to speak? A comedian I like very much used to do a little joke on that fact for quite some time. Wear a red shirt and say a word in a "Star Trek" episode and you won't live to see the end of it.

Well, with my stories, there's no such thing as easily recognizable mark for those destined to die. I can (and I have done it) write a story about a hero going forth to kill the villain - and then have the hero die slowly in the end. Every character that walks into my stories must be prepared to die - any time, any way. (And yes, I know I need help...)

That's probably why I wanted Harry Potter to die at the end of the last book (whether he does or not I won't comment on right now - I know the answer, if you want to know it, read the book). Killing your hero in the end means making a clean cut. He's dead, so there won't be another story with him (unless, of course, I really need him and pay a necromancer handsomely for some "return from the dead" spell [Richard from "Looking for Group" for preference...]).

So you have been warned: Never get into one of my stories as a character - unless you want to die anyway!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Found a new comic to enjoy

Thanks to Kate, I've found a new online comic to enjoy twice a week. I'm still reading "Dork Tower", "Nodwick" and "Girl Genius" regularly, and now "Looking for Group" will be added to this list.

What will be added to this post is the YouTube movie/musical-number "Slaughter Your World", which got me addicted to the whole comic:

(Just in case you're wondering where you might know the music from, it's "Part Of Your World" from Disney's "Little Mermaid". Not sung by the same person, obviously.)

I liked this musical number for several reasons. First of all it reminded me of the style used in the second "Discworld" game - and I love that game and animation style. Second I'm full of dark humour myself and watching an Undead Warlock go about his business was fun. Third I like the song - especially the 'dark version'.

So, after I'd watched the movie for the first time, I typed "Looking for Group" into my google search bar and soon enough found the comics - which are just as great.

Obviously based on the world from the MMORPG "World of Warcraft", I liked the comic from the very fist page (when Cale'Anon - a Blood Elf, I should think, who's supposed to be evil, but wants to be good - meets the Undead Warlock Richard [the guy from the movie]). Richard soon became my favourite character. I don't mind my favourite character killing others for fun (and thought the "Star Wars" reference in which he kills both 'Ben Kenobi' and his 'ghost' was really funny) and he's so very sarcastic and dark humoured like me. Apart from Richard and Cale, the group contains the Orkish Priestess BennJoon and her foster father, the Tauren Warrior/Scholar Krunch Bloodrage (to whom she often refers as "old cow"). Oh, and then there's Cale's pet, a black panther going by the name Sooba. But all five of them are quite strange (and set on the 'evil' side of "World of Warcraft", the Blood Elves have been added to it with the Add-On "Burning Crusade", to make up for the fact that the rest of the 'evil' races don't exactly look good).

I liked the "World of Warcraft" manga "The Sunwell Trilogy" a lot, but "Looking for Group" is far better.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sometimes it hurts

Yes, I do know not everybody is as fascinated by sharks as I am. That's only logical - after all, we're all interested in different things. But if I write an article about something, I ought gather information about it first. And I fear, some journalists don't.

I was reading more of the magazines after finishing my last post and stumbled upon an article about a primeval shark (with the picture shown at the left of this paragraph). The creature on this picture is a dunkleosteus (hope I wrote it right) and the topic of the article. That's a large and dangerous fish from the Devon (if I'm right), but it's not a shark. Sharks are among the oldest fish still alive today, but given the fact life on earth started in the oceans, that's not much of a surprise. It's had a head start, after all.

The dunkleosteus is a dangerous fish, as I already pointed out, with a lot of bone plates on the front half of its body. Actually, it doesn't have any teeth in the way we would understand it, but bites through its prey with sharp bone plates around its mouth. It's the largest and best known member of a whole group of fishes. Not something you'd like to keep in an aquarium ... unless, of course, you're a super-villain. (But in this case you're a couple of millennia late ... sorry to tell you.)

But, if that's possible without looking among the mammals in the ocean, it's the anti-thesis of a shark. A dunkleosteus is half-covered in bone plates while the only 'bones' a shark has are its teeth and jaws. Sharks and rays (is that the right word? my translator didn't accept "Rochen" and I know that "Teufelsrochen" translates into stingray) don't have bones by default, it's what sets them apart from all the other fishes on earth (octopuses don't count, they're no fishes). Sharks are fast and manoeuvrable, even the largest like the White Shark or the Whale Shark. The dunkleosteus wasn't. But as it was larger than most other fishes around, and well-armoured, too, it didn't have to be.

In fact, the whole article reminded me of a horror movie I saw some years ago. It was about a 'primeval shark', too (and the critter almost looked like the dunkleosteus). But that was just a horror movie - and I love horror movies about sharks, although most of the time they only make me laugh ("Shark Hunter" didn't though, that was one good movie - great meg). Now I wonder whether the journalist saw the same movie...

Anyway, I always thought a journalist should do a quick research before writing an article - and even the most basic information about sharks and other primeval fishes should make everybody see there's definitely a difference between them.

Obviously I was wrong.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What's the problem with German magazines, seriously?

Okay, so this Tuesday a famous (well, more or less) German couple decided to get married live on TV. Admittedly, it's not what I would do (but then, I wouldn't get married in the first place), but I can't really find anything strange in that. It's not as if they let the TV-station air their wedding night, too.

But one day later (today, as I write this, but I'm not sure whether I'll be posting it today, too) all the online magazines I read (apart from the one about computer games) report on it, saying, basically, how embarrassing the whole thing was. As if they'd been the first people to get married live on TV (what about all the royals from various countries ever since Lady Di?). So they got married, in front of cameras. So people got to see some of the party, too, through the cameras. What about it? We're living in a free country, nobody is forced to watch this (I, for instance, didn't, but I know my parents did).

Slowly I'm getting the impression everything the magazines are doing is simply bitching about everything that seems to be seen by more people than they are. A lot of people are watching stuff like this wedding on TV. A lot of them probably neither buy the print-variety of the magazines nor surf on the websites. But then, why bitching? To give those who don't watch such stuff a superior feeling? That's really poor.

First they were bitching about a new TV show (I've already covered that), just because it wasn't "cultural" enough for Germany (and everything in Germany has to be "cultural", but I covered that, too), then it was "Pirates of the Caribbean 3", "Shrek 3" and "Harry Potter 5" (but I guess it could have been every successful movie) and now it's this TV event. I never heard them complain about "yet another royal wedding" - although we've had quite a few during the last years. Maybe they think royals are more special than other famous people ... I don't know.

Whether or not somebody gets married on TV is the decision of the couple (and the TV station broadcasting the event). You may like it or loathe it, but there's no reason to start bitching about it. There's more important stuff happening!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What are men for?

No, I've not changed sides over night and become one of those "Female Supremacy" people. I still think it doesn't matter who's "supreme", it's always the wrong way. But after reading another post about it both at "E is for..." and here, too, I asked myself "What exactly are men for in these modern times?" Needlessly to say I couldn't really find an answer...

Let's face it, in modern times a woman doesn't necessarily need a man to survive. With the invention of modern machinery, in-vitro fertilisation and stepladders we can care for ourselves. So what do I personally need a man for (except for that one thing, you know ... and sometimes not even for that...)?

But still, I don't believe in being supreme to a man on principles (although there are quite some men I feel supreme to when compared). Admittedly women do have some things men have not. We're usually living about 10 years longer these days (but get less money in pensions). We can give birth to children (but need sperm, whether through a donor or a loved one). We're better with so called 'soft-skills' or 'social-skills' (and usually less good with outright violence). And we don't keep our most vulnerable body parts - the ones necessary for children - outside our body. We can also endure more pain - or so they say - and suffer through more things physically as well as mentally. All those old and new arguments for the strength (or supremacy) of women aren't completely wrong. But they're not completely right either.

Yes, I don't need a man to master my life. But then, to be completely honest, I don't need a computer, a TV set or an internet connection either. Nevertheless I have them. The fact alone that you don't need something doesn't make the thing you don't need obsolete. If humans only kept things they really need, we'd still be living in caves and wearing fur and eating our meat raw. We need something to keep us out of the weather, we need food, sleep and human company. Apart from that, everything is optional. But then, we were never happy with what we had, that's why we don't live in caves and wear fur and eat our meat raw today ... well, most of us.

Yes, I know women possess a lot of the abilities modern society demands of us. That's mostly because today our society is no longer based on "strength", but on "knowledge" and "ability" instead. Those things were always important, but in the past "strength" surpassed them out of necessity. With modern machines it has lost that position.

And yes, a woman has to care for a child longer than a man, simply because we go pregnant for about 10 months (while the man theoretically is 'through' with it after a couple of minutes of sex). But our society frowns on men not caring for their children almost as much as it frowns on women not caring for their children (but the issue of not going to work after you've become a mother is another one entirely).

But what does all that have to do with "Female Supremacy"? Ultimately the whole 'job' every living being has in our world is propagation. And (even though I'm not doing that job and probably never am going to do it) to do this job, you need both men and women. And the more equal we treat each other, the better the whole thing will work. Just switching from men dominating women to women dominating men (not in a relationship in which both like it that way, but in general) isn't the right way.

So, what are men really for? They're here to share this world and this life with us. We're not supreme to them and they are not supreme to us. We're all created equal ... and there's no-one 'more equal' than the others.

Sub vs. Dub

For those of you who have no idea what "sub" and "dub" might mean, it's like this: There's a discussion going on in Germany between those fans of animes who like the original voices (meaning the Japanese original) with subtitles ("subs") and those fans who like getting a German version of the movies/series (dubbed, therefore "dubs").

I personally am a fan of the latter kind. I like running series and movies on my computer while writing or doing other stuff - and as my Japanese consists of a handful of words, I can't understand the movies/series that way. So I like my movies/series dubbed, meaning I can listen to them while writing or doing other stuff. Other fans state that the German version is worse than the original on principles. I can't really tell if they're right (very bad Japanese, remember?), but I can tell that I usually don't like the Japanese voices for girls/women which are quite often very high and 'girlish'. I detest that when it comes to more or less self-confidant, officially adult characters.

As the German DVDs usually also provide the original Japanese voices, I don't see the point in always saying "the real fans don't need dubs, let's stop producing them". I'm already learning to be a web-master, I simply don't have the time to learn Japanese right now - and I'm not in the mood for just sitting in front of my TV with an anime, just because there's no German dub. I'm a real fan and I need dubs, so I want them. And where are new fans supposed to come from when they can't watch an anime, because they don't understand it? I don't really like subtitles. I like watching the screen (and not always watching the movie), not the lower half only, trying to read the subtitles. First of all they sometimes are really bad made (in colours which rather fade into the background - how am I supposed to read this) and don't really give me the feeling of the situation. (As the Japanese language doesn't necessary have the same voice patterns as German and I often can't say whether the sound of the sentence comes from the emotion of the character or simply from the language - bad Japanese again, I'm afraid.) In short, as a person living in a country where movies and series are dubbed on principles, I demand an anime to be dubbed as well.

But what I hate more than the discussion as a such (which is lost for the "sub"-fraction anyway - the publishers have realized by now that a dubbed movie/series sells better, thus they spent the money for dubbing), is what the "sub"-fraction insinuates: A real fan doesn't need a dubbed version, so everybody who's no fluent in Japanese or doesn't want to spent most of the movie trying to figure out what's happening and how the characters are feeling by subtitles and intuition, necessarily isn't a real fan. That's a stupid idea to begin with and doesn't get better by saying it more often.

Anime-characters necessarily don't have the best possible mimics. Their faces consist of a few well-drawn lines. While I like this sort of style, it's not exactly telling a lot about what someone is feeling. Now, I can say "I'm going to kill you" in a lot of different ways: stating it coldly as a fact; screaming it at my enemy in rage; crying while bowed over the body of my beloved, lost in grief. The words are the same, but the deeper feeling is different. And with less than a basic understanding of how Japanese is spoken, I can't tell what kind of feeling there is from simply hearing the Japanese version. The subtitles don't help me to understand this (as Japanese characters don't necessarily always act like Europeans either), the voices don't help me to understand this - and quite often neither do the other things I see on scene. So what can I do? I can try to guess it. And I even failed with that in French sometimes, while watching "Saint Seiya" without really knowing the background story.

In addition I usually don't devote my vast attention span completely to one thing - I listen to music or watch/hear movies or series while I'm writing. I have the TV running while I'm reading and so on. But a movie in a language I can't understand with subtitles forces me to only do that ... that makes me quite jittery. I like doing various things at the same time and feel unbalanced while only doing one thing at a time - unless I'm sleeping, of course.

And because I don't want to learn Japanese (and currently don't have time for it anyway), I'm no less of a fan than someone who did learn Japanese. I'm interested in manga and anime, not exactly in learning Japanese or knowing everything there is about Japanese culture. That might come some day, but not right now.

I really hate people who think they know it all - and I especially hate people who think they're the only real measurement for something!