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Will this madness never end?
I'm no average woman and I don't have an average woman's interests. In this blog I hope to share my interests with the readers, so expect posts about society, computer games, literature, movies and TV ... and a few others, probably.
And another Weekend Update.
Plus a bit of rest and some fun, of course. A bit of iced tea would not go amiss either, as we’re having an early heat period.
...than to curse the darkness (and yes, I know, it’s a candle you should light - but a flamethrower has additional uses - sorry, shouldn’t have played “Dawn of War” yesterday). I could also put it like that:
There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel - pray it’s not a train.
Now, such remarks might sound a tad pessimistic to you, but they’re not. The light at the end of a tunnel might be a train - and that would be bad -, but it is not necessarily one. So it fits well with my own way of seeing life: Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
I’m not exactly the perfect optimist, that’s true. I never was, not even as a kid. But I trust the world - to a certain degree. I know there’s always something good that might come out of it. Sometimes it’s not a lot, sometimes it’s hard to see. And sometimes the bad things coming out of something are far worse than the good things, but still, the good things are always there. If I really were a pessimist, I would say “there’s always something bad in everything good”, but I wouldn’t say that.
Optimism as a such is a bit dangerous, in my point of view. Sure, it’s nice to always see the good sides only, but you have to deal with the bad ones, too.
So, it’s better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness - it’s not just giving you light, it’s also useful in case you find the darkness inhabited by demons and nightmares. Only very few of them have a chance against a good, strong flame.
Admittedly, the photo isn’t new (it’s from last year), but it’s time for great, delicious strawberries again. This is the time of the year when I really love living in an area where strawberries are harvested.
From now till the end of June, it’s strawberries whenever I’m in the mood.
I’ve just come home from the movie theatre, watching the new “Indiana Jones” movie. And I can only say one thing: I loved it!
It’s exactly what I had hoped for. They’ve kept the strengths of the series (action, humour and enough twists to keep the story interesting - oh, and Dr. Jones, of course) without trying to pretend the last 19 years since “The Last Crusade” didn’t happen.
So I enjoyed myself immensely during those two hours. I laughed, I was surprised (well, sometimes not much), I watched great fights and action scenes. I enjoyed the music from the Fifties. (The story is set in 1957, roughly 15 to 20 years after “The Last Crusade”.) I enjoyed seeing Marion Ravenwood (from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) again. I enjoyed seeing Indy fight the first female villain (Elsa Schneider doesn’t count - she’s merely a helper, not the main villain in “The Lost Crusade”). As I said, I enjoyed myself immensely. The money for the ticket surely wasn’t wasted.
If you want a summary, it’s like this: If you’re a fan, you will enjoy the movie - just as if the last 19 years did not happen -, if you’re not, it’s probably not going to turn you into one, but if you like action mixed with humour, you might still enjoy it.
A weekend update on a Wednesday? Well, tomorrow is a holiday in my area and I’ve got a free day on Friday, so yes, the weekend starts today this time.
In addition, I will go to the movies tomorrow to watch the new “Indiana Jones” and I will relax and probably/hopefully write something for fun.
When “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” came out, I was too young still to watch it. I watched it later on, of course, but always on TV or DVD. It’s my favourite “Indiana Jones” movie so far. Now, thanks to the chances Stephen Spielberg and Harrison Ford took, I can watch at least one “Indy” movie on the big screen. On Thursday, to be more precise.
Currently I’m wondering about what the movie will be like. Will it be good, bad or mediocre? (Ooops, unintended “Rocky Horror Picture Show” quotation here.)
What I hope for is the balance between action and humour the last movie had (the scene where Indy throws the Nazi out of the airship and then simply says “no ticket” to explain himself is one of my all-time favourites [with quite some other scenes from that movie]). If it were too “Temple of Doom”-ish (too dark and serious), I’d be disappointed. I want story and I want action, but I want a lot of humour, too. I like that in movies. After all, I go to the movies to be entertained and to relax. If I want to see people killing each other, the news are sufficient.
I’ll close this post with a card from someecards:
Strange, isn’t it?
The translation of the German title would be “The Return of the Riding Corpses” (or something along those lines). And what is it about?
Well, some really, really, really evil Templars were blinded, burned and finally simply walled in the cellars of their own monastery. Centuries later they rise again (why they actually make the effort? revenge?) to kill all the descendants of the villagers who killed them. But, as they are blind, they have to move by instinct and sound (how this might be related to them being hardly more than skeletons, is never explained in the story - a shame). So, if you manage to move silently and not to scream out when they break into your house, you’re quite safe. But, honestly, how many victims in horror movies can do that?
The movie isn’t very good (just as the other three movies about those corpses), in fact, it’s outright crap. But it’s funny crap. I can’t really get scared by the stories, but I can laugh about the bad special effects (you can almost hear the horses ... riding corpses, remember ... think ‘what crap have they tied to my back’ in some scenes).
So, if you stumble over it (preferably for free on TV or so) and have 90 minutes to kill, give it a shot. Just don’t expect to be scared.
“Airport Mania: First Flight” is the first one. As you can see from the starting screen (to the left of this post), it’s about planes. But the title alone should be a big hint, then, shouldn’t it? What I like about the game are the graphics and the basic idea. The game play is quite fun, too.
This is a picture of the first airport and one of the first levels. As you’re still learning while playing the first missions, there’s a tip on the lower half of the screen (I took the screenshot before playing that level, because in game I wouldn’t have had the time). The airplanes are kind of cute with their huge eyes - but that should not make you think the whole thing is too easy to win.
“Build-a-Lot 2” is the sequel to a game I’ve played before already. It’s a business simulation in which you build or buy houses to sell them later on (preferably after updating) or rent them out. In the long run, by the way, renting them out is far more profitable.
There are various neighbourhoods in which you build and rent your houses (and various goals to achieve in each level). This is the second neighbourhood which is sunny, not as green as the first one, but nevertheless nice. The empty lots there actually belong to me, but I still have to build on them (and for this I need workers, materials and blueprints). It’s quite challenging in the higher levels, just like the first one, and quite funny.
Another business simulation is “Fairy Godmother Tycoon” in which (slightly inspired by “Shrek 2”, perhaps?) you lead a potions shop, have to keep your ingredients stocked, your customers happy, the research going, the marketing up to par ... and your opponents out of business, with all means available.
In this first village, there isn’t another shop around (and the Magic (Hippie) Dragons in the second one aren’t that dangerous), so you can learn how to play. Later on, it gets much more interesting when you’re up against Goldilocks and her bears or even a Bull mafia. But, as I pointed out already, with the Goons you can hire you don’t really have to play fair. Your opponents surely don’t.
“The Hidden Objects Show” on the other hand falls into my favourite category of ‘search games’. My posts about various “Mystery Case Files” and other search games like that should have made this quite obvious, I guess. I love those games and they have helped me to both train my mind and improve my English (after all, as a German, I do not necessarily know all the English names for various objects you have to find in those games).
In this case, though, there’s more than one type of search screen. The one to the right of this paragraph, for example, doesn’t feature the names of the objects, but a short description. Others feature shadow silhouettes, only leave you little time to find everything and so on. It’s quite funny and challenging (though I wouldn’t have wanted to play it as the first game of that kind). And it’s long, I’ve won the first round and am right in the middle of the second one now. A third is still to come, before I’ve won (digital) millions of dollars.
As you can see, I’ve still got quite a choice of games to play while writing or working at my computer.
And once more, here it is, the weekend update:
And, of course, there’s still work to do for my webmaster course and I hope for some time to write.
I’ve posted it in this blog before. It’s an old painting I found printed in one of my books. But with just a little help from this page it can look like this:
Cool, huh? It doesn’t cost anything, there’s various effects available and you can play around a lot.
Why don’t you give it a shot when you’ve got the time (and the right picture)?
And now, a bit late, the weekend update for the long weekend:
And then there’ll be relaxation and, with a little luck, some more posts for the next week.
No, I haven‘t taken a trip to Cairo lately. I wouldn’t have had the time. The “City of Pyramids” I refer to is Karlsruhe, the next bigger city around. Strangely enough, Karlsruhe does have a pyramid in the middle of the huge Market Place, a pyramid motif on the doors of the City Hall (which is situated at the same place) some obelisks and other structures mainly associated with Egypt (although I have yet to find the Egyptian reference for the two winged dromedaries flanking one of the obelisks). And I meant to take photographs while I was there, but I forgot my camera.
Anyway, yesterday I took a trip there (which is the reason for not posting anything yesterday - after the trip I didn’t go online at all). The last couple of times I’d visited this city, it had been because of job interviews, meaning I never got the chance to just enjoy the stay and have some fun. I didn’t have the time to check out my favourite stores or just stroll through the city where I went to university. Yesterday I did have that chance - and I used it.
Starting at one end of the main shopping street of the city, the Kaiserstrasse, I made my way to the other end. I went to the Postgalerie, a shopping mall build into the old main post office. A great, old building with a very modern core - but it looks great, both from inside and outside. I found a small shop selling really innovative and delicious gummi bears and other sweets of that kind there. Now I’ve got jelly spiders, skulls, bats and ghosts and, in addition, jelly cups tasting of coffee latte.
Then I went to various shops (mostly bookstores, though), had lunch in my favourite fish restaurant, checked out the new comics in my favourite comic store and finally went to the second mall in Karlsruhe, Ettlinger Tor, which is even bigger.
For the first time I went to the highest level, looking down at all of it. It was great and I really wished I had not forgotten my camera then, because the view is hard to describe. (Still, the whole structure probably is small, compared to American shopping malls.) At the Ettlinger Tor, I went into various shops as well and had a delicious sundae (which looked smaller than it was on the menu, but was extremely tasty). Afterwards, well into the afternoon, I made my way back to the main train station and took a train home. Going to Karlsruhe by train is far more relaxing than by car, which is why I always do it this way.
I’ve still gotten two days to sleep in and relax this weekend (well, one more day to sleep in, as it is Sunday already). But I surely will be visiting Karlsruhe again soon enough - with my camera. Then I can show you all the great places.
As with a lot of things, I do have certain habits when it comes to surfing the net.
I’m not online 24/7, but only activate my router when I intend to use it.
So, the first thing I usually do, is updating my anti-virus (daily Monday to Saturday, normally). Then I check my e-mails, update my own blogs and check out my favourite blogs (which can be found on the right side of this blog).
Afterwards it’s time for the news, so I go through the online news sections of “Stern”, “Spiegel”, “Focus” and “Gamestar” (my favourite gaming magazine). Then I check out amazon and Gamefools (where I usually go for casual games).
“The F-Word” (for articles and blogs) comes right after that, together with lolcats and loldogs (new pictures for this blog) and someecards.
Comics come next: “Looking for Group” (updated Monday and Thursday), “VG Cats” (no regular updates), “Dorktower” (usually updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but not always), “Nodwick” (no regular updates) and “Girl Genius” (updates regularly Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Once or twice a week I also take a peek at the “DVD Round-up” at TV.com - although unfortunately they only do an update on new DVDs in the United States (and that’s a different region - UK works on my DVD-player and computer, US doesn’t).
The last thing (apart from irregular things like research or work for my webmaster course) always is the MangasZene forum. Currently it’s mostly the “Off Topic” section I check out, as it’s sporting new posts regularly, unlike all the others.
Usually this kind of surfing the internet takes between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on interesting news, new comic pages and a lot of interesting new posts in the blogs and the forum.
And afterwards, if there’s nothing else to search or do, I unplug my router again and use my computer for playing, working and writing.
...with a vengeance, I should say, but, honestly, after an April with rain, rain and rain (and I’m not living in London), I can’t, really. It’s getting hot very quickly (from around 10 degrees Celsius to about 25 degrees in just a little under two weeks) and I don’t really like too much heat (anything above 25 to 30 degrees). But there’s sun, the birds are singing, nature is blooming and I just feel good. More alive, more full of energy and ready to tackle my life again.
That much rain was making me feel a bit depressive. I like a bit of rain. A rainy afternoon with a good book, some hot tea (or hot chocolate, depending on my mood) and a comfy couch is a great thing for me. But weeks of rain with hardly enough sun to make sure you don’t forget what it looks like, that’s definitely too much, even for me.
Now I’m almost wakened by the sun every morning (well, my curtains are in the way; I pull them closed every night, because I have a streetlamp in front of my bedroom window). And it’s bright out there until well after eight in the evening, that’s great, too, if you get off work around half past four or so.
Nevertheless, this week I felt the abrupt changes - I do not take terribly well to hot temperatures and the sudden rise has given me a bit of a headache. But it’s gone now - and in a few weeks, my slight allergy to sunlight (which makes my skin all itchy until it’s gotten used to it) should be gone, too. I just need to continue my walks in the evening, exposing my skin to the sun, and before I realize it, everything should be alright. Until then, it will itch - but I can live with that.
I’m plotting for a long weekend, too, as we’ve got a holiday coming on Monday and that means one more day to sleep in. Yeah!
I’ll take a trip to Karlsruhe (the next bigger city around) on Saturday, just for some shopping and to enjoy the early summer day we’re expecting then. I’ll check with my favourite comic store (which I visited almost three to five days a week when I was still at university, but get to only rarely these days), I’ll also check the gigantic mall they’ve build three years or so ago and have some fun in the shops (and maybe a good sundae later on). It’s situated in the middle of the city centre and is a great place to spent time, no matter which kind of weather is to be found outside. Then there’s my favourite book store ... I guess, I better take a backpack.
Spring has come with all its gentle showers, methinks it’s time to hack ... ops, wrong text (that’s from a “Black Adder” episode). Spring has come and I feel like I’m blooming myself.
And, as every week (unless I forget about it), the weekend update.
Apart from that I enjoy the wonderful warm spring weekend.
It’s actually the only Stephen King novel I still keep in my over-laden bookcase, “Needful Things”. And I think it would even work without the occult edge.
Why am I thinking of this today? Because of the rerun they had on TV yesterday in the late evening. I actually like the movie as well (as both versions of “Salem’s Lot” – though the new one’s a little bit better).
I haven’t been thinking of the novel for quite a while ... and it’s been even longer since I read it for the last time. But from the first time I read it, I’ve been fascinated by it. It’s the way the story works out.
“Needful Things” is neither the first nor the last novel by King set in a small town somewhere in New England. That’s where a lot of his novels – including “It” and “Cycle of the Werewolf” and “Salem’s Lot” – are set. It is, I guess, his favourite setting. But in this case, with the story he tells in the novel (which is retold really good in the movie), it wouldn’t work anywhere else. King always was and still is best at building up the tension in his stories – and in “Needful Things” it works out marvellously.
The new shop in town (not un-similar to the one set up by the vampire’s helper in “Salem’s Lot”) is just concentrating all the tension underneath the neat surface of the town. There’s little wars going on everywhere, all which is needed is a catalyst. Gaunt is that catalyst, building up his army by giving away ‘special objects’ to some people. In return, he asks for favours – favours which actually fan the hatred between the people in town.
In essence (sorry, if I’m spoiling something for you here, but both the movie and the novel are quite old already), Gaunt is some sort of demon, an evil spirit walking the earth since the dawn of mankind. Wherever he goes, hatred, war, death and destruction follow. He gives people what they need – or rather think they need. He makes them play practical jokes on other people, to make those other people think someone else – someone they hate already – did it. And, finally, he gives the people of a place he comes to the weapons they need to destroy each other. Then he moves on, to start over somewhere else.
Other novels written by king deal with the same or similar motives. “Salem’s Lot” diminishes the population of a small town until basically all inhabitants are vampires. (Which really is a stupid idea – whom are they supposed to live off afterwards?) Pennywise in “It” lives underneath a town, killing children in more or less regular intervals, but it takes a long time before someone (children who fight him twice in their lives) finally realizes what happens. In “Cycle of the Werewolf” (at least I think that’s the title – the German one would translate into “Year of the Werewolf”) it takes twelve months until the werewolf is found and killed – which is a relief, even to the creature itself.
It’s not the big cities, King tells us over and over again, which we should fear. Even with all the crimes happening there, they’re still harmless, compared to what lurks underneath the surface of the peaceful, little town people want to live in.
Of course, that is what we fear most, isn’t it? We know we’re not safe in the big cities, we know it’s dangerous, living there. We know about the dangerous areas (the ‘no-go areas’, as they’re called today). We know we have to be careful.
But what about the small towns, the places we know from the happy, positive family series? What about the places everyone wants to live in? The places people know each other, care about each other? That’s where we let our guards down. That’s where we think we’re safe. That’s where we become careless. And that’s where we’re vulnerable.
King’s stories work out that well, because deep inside we know that. We know not all the bad people live in the big cities. We know there’s crimes happening everywhere. Murder is not just something for the ‘boys from the hood’ who grow up in a society in which only violence and strength count. Murder does happen anywhere: among the poor, among the rich, among those from the middle-class. It’s done by men and women alike (though quite often in different ways).
The supernatural (or the occult ... whatever you prefer) serves as a way to make it more bearable for the reader, I think. It’s not just us humans, being ourselves. There is something evil out there (a demon, an ancient vampire, a monster, a werewolf ... whatever) and it is poised to destroy us. That’s why bad things happen in the stories.
But even if Gaunt (to return to the topic of this post) were a mere human, the story of “Needful things” would still work. It doesn’t take the supernatural to see through the cobweb of hate in a small town and set the people against each other. And it doesn’t take special powers to sell weapons to those people, once the hatred has grown enough.
“Needful things” is a nice story to read (or watch) ... provided you like horror stories. And it’s a wonderful study of the human behaviour that should not be underestimated simply because it comes in the form of a novel and not a scientific thesis.