Thursday, July 24, 2014


At this time of year I enjoy my workplace in the corner very much. Even when the temperature outside hits thirty degrees the flat remains thanks to its orientation agreeably cool. The sun only encroaches briefly in the late afternoon. And then when it hits the screen of my laptop, making further work impossible, it means that it is time to head out for a refreshing beer.

It is also now heartening to see that serious construction work is under way and that the refurbishment of what used to be Café Schwabing is making progress. It remains to be seen, of course, what kind of establishment it will be when it re-opens. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Writing matters

Aromatic florabundance,
leaves and petals in the sun dance
for the pleasure of the eye while
perfumes waft, inspire, beguile.

Don't worry... I can explain. It has been over a week since my last blog post. It was a week during the course of which I finished the first draft of my latest manuscript. The fact that no more needed to be added to the narrative left me in a writing void, hence the penning of artless couplets. And I do love heavy perfumes, Oud particularly reminding me of the Sandlands as the Eid holiday approaches.

Okay, TheodoraLand! 115 thousand words, about 290 pages in my Word file. And now ahead of me the laborious editing phase. Soon it needs to be ready for uploading to a self-publishing platform. But this time it will not go to Amazon, to be lost among those 600 thousand works which are on offer with the brand-new Kindle subscription model.

This time I shall try my luck with Epubli, a German platform. It is claimed by the Berlin-based publisher that...

"Germany is one of the most important markets for books in English. More than 40 million people living in Germany are fluent English-speakers. They do not only adore British and American television series... they also love books by British and American writers in both original and translated versions!"

Worth a try, given that my new story is set exclusively in German speaking locations, Munich, Canton Thurgau and the province of South Tyrol. Is there perhaps also the irony that my tale got its impetus when the abandonment by the Hugendubel chain of Munich's best English-language bricks-and-mortar bookshop was announced for 2012?

It closed its doors in the beautiful old bulding where bookselling had commenced in 1893 not with a bang but with a whimper. 

However the storyteller in me opted for the loud detonation of a bomb on page one, on the last imagined day of Manduvel Bookshop's existence and much intrigue and mystery follows on the pages thereafter!

(Sorry about the rhyming couplets!)


Monday, July 14, 2014

Mia san mia

from Deutsche Welle...
"It's hard not to think simultaneously of Bayern Munich when thinking of Germany. In the 2014 World Cup final, six of Germany's starting eleven were Bayern players and there was a total of seven in the squad. That seventh, Mario Götze, came off the bench to win Germany the title. Bayern Munich's grip on the national team is so great that the 2014 triumph has been labeled as the Bayern Munich cup. Captain Philipp Lahm is perhaps the most intelligent player in the world, while Manuel Neuer is beyond doubt the best goalkeeper. Thomas Müller hunts space like no other and Bastian Schweinsteiger's heart beats the loudest in a team of pride. And with a similarly possession-heavy style and captain Lahm in midfield, Germany were even playing like their leading club."

This was celebrated by over 80 thousand fans on the main boulevard of our Schwabing neighbourhood until the wee hours!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Reading matters

Lorenzo McLeod has rescued me. After a most disquieting Kindle reading experience... of which more later... I have found the series of books by the Scots author Peter May and all is once again in order. I have six more of his books to look forward to. The first, Extraordinary People, is tightly plotted and populated with supporting characters whose destinies one comes to care about as much as one is fascinated by Enzo himself. Okay, I must admit that a fellow countryman, a successful author and who calls France his home calls to mind the expression 'jammy bugger', mais tant pis! I look forward to a few weeks with this anthology.

Now what disaster pre-dated this welcome discovery? One which demanded that I return to the subject of seriality. I love nothing more than wallowing in a series of stories and thought I had found one in German, from the pen of an author I shall not name. The first of his Kindle titles was priced cannily... downloadable at no charge. Given my circumstances an offer I could not refuse.

I was not immediately enthusiastic although the narrative fit well in my preferred thriller genre. Each chapter, I felt, was on its own well crafted and indeed entertaining. But there was not the arc of a narrative scenario, not the dramaturgical paradigm I demand of myself as a writer and expect as a reader. Instead of 'moving the story along' I felt that the chapters were like circus acts, not those of a play or movie. If each was on ist own a respectable effort… sometimes even a tour de force… each resembled most of all a circus number. One was captivated by the girl on the high wire, then awed by the lion tamer. Yes, the acrobats were splendid, the elephants amazing. No, clowns were conspicuous by their absence (but then this was a German text) and above all I missed any continuity that an accomplished ring-master might have provided.

Hence I was already less than satisfied when the progress bar on the Kindle announced about ninely percent completion of the file I had downloaded. And then came the shock... the next page invited me to preview the next section of the story which was 'to be continued'!

WIth some misgivings I hit the one-click purchase button. More bravura under the Big Top. Now let me cut to the chase. I also paid for a third installment before deciding that all five would add up to an inordinate amount, even given that German e-books tend to be much more costly than those published in English.

But it is the business model I find perverse. Even had I not had reservations about the writer's style I would have baulked at the recurring requirement (analogy maintained) to leave my seat in the circus tent,  return to the box office four times to buy another ticket!

Back in 2007 when I was looking for ways of monetizing Sex & Drugs & Profiteroles I considered many alternatives. 39 chapters... my template was the scope of a television drama season... each released as a weekly podcast audio file... the first 13 available at no cost and then a single modest payment if the customer really wanted to find out how the story developed. That approach I still find viable, not so different from the free previews currently used to promote titles.

Alors, I like to think that Enzo McLeod would also scorn the German's approach to seriality. And a good novel must be more than a succession of círcus acts!


Celebrations anticipated

In the meantime, the French will be dancing at their Bals des Pompiers, on the eve of Bastille Day. Should Germany win tonight's match I think it could well result in a National Holiday atmosphere here, too.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Off script

I first met Anna Poetter when on her laptop at the next table in Café Schwabing she was editing soundscapes she had recorded in various Munich cemeteries. It is fair to say that I was mightily intrigued by this performance/installation/documentation undertaking.

A while later Anna invited me to join the participatory art project 'Broken/Unbroken'. I threw myself into it with playful gusto and for many months there was the egg standing on my desk... until it finally eggs-ploded.

This was almost exactly three years ago. Today Anna is working on a new project which is intended to culminate next year in an exhibition titled 'The Church Of Money'. Currently she is undertaking what she calls a pilgrimage collecting artefacts and experiences, particularly in centres of finance such as Zurich, Frankfurt and the places where banknotes are printed. She is also travelling with a pop-up tent for accommodation and with what amounts to a 'begging bowl', seeking the funding her venture calls for. One of her ports of call a few weeks ago was Art Basel, whence the photos shown above. Her 'Ofrenda III' blog in German is here.

Another challenging young woman was also an Art Basel interloper. Milo Moiré's 'The Script System' performance has an interesting underlying concept.

" is inspired by the script theory of cognitive psychology. Each of us knows these scripts... recurrent, stereotyped action sequences. Especially early in the morning on the way to work, we function almost automatically, often without awareness of our environment. This everyday blindness I wanted to break through [with} my performance."

Milo left home one morning, took a Basel tram filled with fellow-commuters, paused to enjoy her takeaway coffee and finally reached her destination. She followed the kind of routine 'script' which dominates the everyday lives of so many of us. She certainly invited us to pose some questions. Her website is here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

No comment

From The Guardian...
"Germany's 7-1 victory over Brazil in the World Cup semi-final sent shockwaves around the football world, but it was also a big deal on Twitter. The social network says that the match became its most discussed sports game ever, with 35.6m tweets. It easily beat the previous record of 24.9m tweets set by the Super Bowl earlier in 2014. Germany's fifth goal, scored by Sami Khedira, also broke another Twitter record, helping the match peak at 580,166 tweets per minute (TPM)."

And also...
"Germany's World Cup semi-final clash with Brazil was a big night for BBC sport and its team generally did a creditable job of avoiding crass wartime analogies in describing the winners. However, several BBC viewers complained on Twitter after commentator Steve Wilson referred to German fans singing 'Deutschland über alles', not the country's national anthem since the end of the Second World War and a matter of some sensitivity."