28 November 2011

November draws to a close

So it's time to sort out all that pesky holiday stuff. Like will the German civil servants manage to get my permit in order so I can actually leave the country to enjoy the festive season at home? Who knows! WATCH THIS SPACE!

In good news, I just finished up our new year cards and submitted them to one of those online printing companies. A first. Let's hope that works out well!

I don't want to ruin the whole surprise, so all you get this year is a sneak peek and the knowledge that it's definitely quite similar to last year's.

I also just remembered that I have to upload pictures from this weekend's Weinachstmärkte and that I really need to wiki "advent". These people are into Christmas.

25 November 2011

Cold, clear light

There's something quite delicious about how the sideways slant of afternoon light on a cold, clear day can hit the world right in the face. I went to get a dose of this on a minor exploration of one of the many -ingens around here, Aidlingen.

The weather looks really nice, so you might hold out on putting on your gloves and then start to think it's not necessary, until you realise you've moved from cold, through pain, all the way to numb, and only by looking at your red fingers that you can't feel at all do you come back to your senses.

Seeing the ladies in black and white, which I assume to be some form of habit, always brings to mind Gauguin's Brittany paintings, like Vision After the Sermon.

Towards the end there are the rentable(?) gardening space pictures. We have these on the outskirts of Ehningen too. I assume they are rentable. Basically it seems that people who don't have gardening space where they live would get a space like this if they wanted to grow some things. It makes a lot of sense really. And it's probably not more than two or three kilometres from any corner of the village.

Tomorrow we'll really get to grips with the season by checking out some local Weihnachtsmärkte. Watch this space!

P.S. I would map out my route, but all the pathways aren't roads that you can track on Google Maps, so fail on that front.

24 November 2011

Japan album covers II

As promised yesterday, here is the follow-up of Retro Japan. Sunlight changes and paper is floopy, but we'll call this my better effort at photographing the album covers and inserts. Wishlist: large format scanner.

A lot of this is obviously quite amusing, but my favourite part is the singer "stats" given in the insert of The Checkers album. You're not a real fan until you know your favourite celebrity's height, weight, astrological sign, and—of course!—their blood type.

In the interest of being a more conscientious blogger than last time, here are the featured artists and the relevant album names.

23 November 2011

More retro Japan to come

I was planning to complete what I started with my Retro Japan post in July, but upon closer inspection some of the shots that I took of my remaining album covers this afternoon aren't so hot, so I'll have a photography do-over tomorrow.

Watch this space. I promise it'll be worth it.

21 November 2011

All Quiet on the Western Front

The other afternoon my brain was a bit finished, so I turned to this list of movies again. In keeping with my apparent love of war movies, I progressed from A Farewell to Arms to All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), based on the novel Im Westen nichts Neues by Erich Maria Remarque. It took the honours for best film and best director (Lewis Milestone) at the 1929/30 Oscars. It was also nominated for best writing, and best cinematography (Arthur Edeson). The interplay between direction, cinematography and editing is quite masterful in many scenes. You can forget about modern special effects, these guys knew how to make an account of war that you won't easily forget. Speaking of modern though, from what I've seen on IMDb, it looks like a remake is on the cards.

Please pardon the enormous image. I got a bit carried away with good shots and the narrative. It's also not the shortest film.

Here's an approximation of my favourite part of the writing. (Some random labelling of characters, since they die too quickly for one to remember their names.)

Beardy: Well how do they start a war?
Front: Well, one country offends another.
Beardy: How could one country offend another? You mean there's a mountain over in Germany that gets mad at a field over in France?
Front: Well stupid, one people offends another.
Beardy: Oh, that's it? I shouldn't be here at all! I don't feel offended.
Kat: It don't apply to tramps like you.
Beardy: Good. Then I can be going home right away.
Paul: Nah, you just try it.
(You'll probably get shot.)
Beardy: The Kaiser and me...
Beardy: Me and the Kaiser felt just alike about this war. Didn't neither of us want any war, so I'm going home. He's there already.
Young 'un: Somebody must've wanted it. Maybe it was the English. No... I don't wanna shoot any Englishmen. I never saw one till I came up here. I suppose most of them never saw a German till they came up here. Oh, I'm sure they weren't asked about it.
Cigar: Well, it must be doing somebody some good.
Beardy: Not me and the Kaiser.
Young 'un: I think maybe the Kaiser wanted a war.
Beardy: You leave us out of this.
Kat: I don't see that. The Kaiser's got everything he needs.
Another: Well, he never had a war before. Every admiral needs one war to make him famous. Why, that's history.
Paul: Generals too, they need war.
Young 'un: And manufacturers—they get rich!
Front: I think it's more... a kind of fever. Nobody wants it in particular, and then all at once, there it is! We didn't want it, the English didn't want it, and here we are—fighting!
Kat: I'll tell you how it should all be done. Whenever there's a big war coming on, they should rope off a big field—
Lying down: Sell tickets!
Kat: —yeah. And... and on the big day, you should take all the kings, and their cabinets, and their generals, put them in the center dressed in their underpants and let them fight it out with clubs. The best country wins.
All: (sarcastic) Hurray!

13 November 2011

Around town

Most Sundays in Germany, nothing is open. Well, not exactly. Some bakeries are open for a few hours in the morning and in the afternoon. Generally that's about it. This means that the only reason to go outside on a Sunday is to have fun, choice options being walking or cycling. Good thing we got our shopping and fun all in yesterday though, because the weather today was grey and cold, whereas yesterday was a real blue-skied pleasure. (Yes, it also follows that we haven't left our apartment today, and that we're very pretty pleased about it.)

But anyway, when I was dragged outside yesterday morning, I was happy to discover that the world had been preparing for my arrival. We strolled around town and found a cool apple/potato shop. The potato poster up in this shop was quite interesting. I mean, I know there are different varieties of things. Apples are an easy example. They taste different, and some might be better for eating, while others might be better for baking. But potatoes? I had to move to Germany to learn that you have to choose if you want floury potatoes, or potatoes that are good for boiling, or potatoes that are good for salad, or potatoes that are good for building a craft to go to the moon—presumably, I mean, I didn't read the whole poster.

We also wandered around some of the outskirts later in the afternoon. There were more apples, only most of them were rotting on the ground. Warning: be careful when treading on thick carpets of autumn leaves, they may be from an apple tree, and this will mean that you are also stepping in apple cider. For some wildlife viewing we spotted what seemed to be an enormous hare frolicking about in a farmer's field.

Later in the evening we went out to see the Ehningen Accordion Club perform, and on our way back there was some more German wildlife—a totally adorable hedgehog. Japanese elementary schoolers asked me, more than once, what a harinezumi is in English. I'd usually get them to draw me a picture, because I didn't ever memorise that Japanese word (in retrospect though, pin mouse, duh). And then I'd see it and say "Oh! A... krimpvarkie. Listen kid, give this old lady a while, she's going to remember the English word by the end of the lesson, promise."

10 November 2011

Boxes and biscuits

If you're one of those lucky individuals who has watched me try to organise a confined space before, you can probably imagine what a room looks like when I decide to start unpacking more of our moving boxes. In summary: I apparently really hate myself.

Anyway. I found these buddies (on left) amongst all the rest—why didn't I throw out more clothes!?—and now I need to find a suitable biscuit recipe.

Possibly also an avenue to get rid of more clothes.

But obviously biscuits come first in life.

09 November 2011

Life in a day / A day in the life

You may remember a post from a while back featuring some books I rediscovered in storage back home.

And as I mentioned then, this book is A day in the life of South Africa, published in 1982 as an independent project. "[It] takes one ordinary day, Wednesday 26th May, 1982, and through the lenses of thousands of photographers, it brings you South Africa, as seen by South Africans."

Well recently I came across the movie below. It's the same idea, except it's international, it's video, and it's 2010. At one and a half hours it's a long one, so switch to HD, get cozy, and enjoy.

P.S. Staying with the documenting theme, the link to this movie was posted on Twitter by one half of the Bicycle Portraits duo, Nic Grobler. They're now realising one of the final stages of their massive project to photograph and interview ordinary South Africans who love to use a bicycle to get around. I would highly recommend backing them on Kickstarter to get your hands on one, or all, of their books.

06 November 2011

I made it for you

I made this composite after the forest excursion. I mean, I guess people mark things that are to be cut down? And colours like red and pink are easy to see?

One of the bamboo pictures was from here, the other is from a set I don't believe I ever posted. That's about all about that.

P.S. Numbering stuff is interesting. I often wonder what a lot of the non-obvious numbers around us refer to. I guess a really small percentage of the population actually knows. Or maybe it just makes us all feel that the world is more orderly than it really is. Uh, good night.

03 November 2011

Yellow in the yellow

There it is. The bicycle is here. It's been put back together. It had to take its yellow self out to go and see the yellow world.

Some minor messing around in the woods and then reorienting myself to find my way home. Thanks autumn for exhibiting some pretty excellent weather thus far. And of course, those leaves.

Update: Here's the video.