Movies

HOME – A Must See

Although this documentary is from 2009, I still consider it one of the best ever, and an absolute must see.

Director: Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Producer: Luc Besson, Denis Carot
Genre: Documentary / World Cinema
Country: France Language: English / AR / CH / DE / EN / ES / FR / IT / PT / RO / RU subtitles

The Earth is what we all have in common! Internationally renowned photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand makes his feature directorial debut with this environmentally conscious documentary produced by Luc Besson, and narrated by Glenn Close. Shot in 54 countries and 120 locations over 217 days, Home presents the many wonders of planet Earth from an entirely aerial perspective. As such, we are afforded the unique opportunity to witness our changing environment from an entirely new vantage point. In our 200,000 years on Earth, humanity has hopelessly upset Mother Nature’s delicate balance. Some experts claim that we have less than ten years to change our patterns of consumption and reverse the trend before the damage is irreversible. Produced to inspire action and encourage thoughtful debate, Home poses the prospect that unless we act quickly, we risk losing the only home we may ever have.

Music by Armand Amar.

Thoughts

Going off the grid

Since Khodovarikha is up and running in SL, I keep coming back to it. Some of my friends call it “the depressive sim”, and it has already become a running gag when I’m being fed up with something on SL I say “I need my fix of depressive sim now” and head over to Khodovarikha.

But actually I feel that for me Khodovarikha (much like Furillen in the beginning) is a place that gives me peace of mind. It is a place that gives me a feeling of “going off the grid” even while being on the grid.

And then I think about the times in my life where there was no need for being available 24/7, for having cell phone, tablet, laptop, PC, TV and and and. A childhood where you said “ok I am out now mom” and then you were not seen till dinner time. Today parents control their kids with Whatsapp every 30 minutes. Today if you don’t answer a call instantly you get a message “are you ok, why don’t you answer?!”. Today your boss expects you to be available even outside your working hours, I have friends who even take their business cell phones with them on vacation. How can they recharge their batteries then?

I realize that on one side I am a real tech junkie, but on the other hand I also have a strong desire to unplug the whole shit and do some “digital detox”. Watching that movie about Khodovarikha (“Arctic Limbo”) or other movies I have seen recently, for example a documentary about the Russian river Yenisei and the people living along it, I feel something resonate in me. A desire to go back to a more simple life. A desire to sharpen my senses again for the basic things in life. A desire to not be driven by meetings, appointments, obligations constantly.

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I watch kids walk into lamp posts on the streets because they can’t take their eyes off their phones, and I think about my childhood where we built treehouses instead or caught fish in the creek and grilled them over a campfire. I watch adults in a restaurant, sitting there, each one staring into their phones, and I think about evenings with friends, when we cooked together and shared a laugh and some anecdotes.

Being the tech junkie I am, of course I googled “going off the grid”. And I came across a book: “Off the grid – inside the movement for more space, less government, and true independence in modern America” by Nick Rosen.

image3The author created a website as well. It’s sort of a come together site where people can meet others who want to unplug, with tips and tools and interesting articles about that different kind of life style. Here is a YouTube video about it.

There are many different reasons why people wanna go off-grid. For some it is an ecological choice or the desire to be more in touch with nature, for others it may be a financial necessity, because they can’t afford the life within society anymore.

I found the following in a review about Rosen’s book on the “mother nature network” website: Rosen says people go off the grid for a variety of reasons, and they vary how deeply they go off-grid. “You can’t get off all of the grids all the time,” he says. “It’s a question of which grids you choose to get off of and in what way and for how long.” Some people live off the grid part of the year for leisure purposes, taking a few months off from their jobs so they can live in a more relaxed manner. Others get themselves off the public electrical or water systems but still participate in what Rosen calls the “car grid” or the “supermarket grid” or “bank grid.”

 “The best way to get off-grid is to go off with others in a group of families, so each have half an acre and share resources and skills,” Rosen says. “One is tending livestock and one is growing vegetables, while a third is looking after the power supply for everybody else.” Rosen says his own ambition is to create an off-grid village of 300 or so homes in his native England, provided he can find a local zoning board willing to allow it. “I think there’s a huge demand for off-grid living that can’t be satisfied because the places where you’d want to live off the grid are the places you can’t get permission to do so,” he says.

Rosen says most families could go off the grid with as little as a half an acre, “as long as it’s the right half-acre.” Ideal locations would have some woodland, an area for agriculture, enough light for solar power and a good source of water, either a well or a stream. “The era of 40 acres and a mule has been replaced by the era of a half an acre and a laptop and a solar panel,” he says.

And I think to myself – yes, that would be it: I wouldn’t wanna live like the Amish, neglecting progress and modern technology and be stuck in the era of horse carriages. No, not at all. But I would be all for growing my own food, producing my own power, live a naturally more balanced life, where I get my daily exercise working my fields rather than on a treadmill in some gym. And I would rather sit around a campfire at night with a dog at my feet listening to the crickets, than watch stupid crap on tv or go to some tie affair.

I think the basic longing behind going off the grid is a longing for inner peace. At least in my case it is. Get out of the hamster wheel, find my inner balance again, enjoy and live every moment of my life, and go to sleep with a peaceful mind that is not processing the schedule for the next day already.

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Slava has somehow done just that by choosing the Khodovarikha life. He has what he needs, even means to keep in touch with the world if he feels like it. And although his life to some of us must seem terribly boring or lonely, it is not for him. His life is simple but fulfilling for him.

Bildergebnis für slava khodovarikha

I remember when I was young, I used to say that I didn’t want to possess more than what I could fit into my van. That would always give me the freedom to pack up fast and leave whenever I felt the need or wish to do so. Well, that didn’t work out, today I need a huge moving truck to relocate my stuff. And if I am really honest, then about 50 % of it is unnecessary dead weight, things I hardly ever use.

Maybe I am not really ready to go off the grid totally. But I – and we – should keep our minds and hearts and senses open for the “real things”: It is different to turn the pages of a book instead of swiping across a Kindle. It is different to listen to a live concert of a Philharmonic Orchestra instead of listening to a MP3 on the cell phone. And an apple picked off the tree outside your home tastes different from one that has been shipped around the world …

We should all unplug from time to time … turn off our devices and do some digital detox and practice a little awareness for the world around us. Facebook will still be there tomorrow or in one week or in a month, so will Second Life … and hopefully Khodovarikha for my off-grid time on the grid…

Going off the grid

Music, Thoughts

Music was my first love

 

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I thought the opening of the latest sim addition, Bar Cafe Fabriken, would be a good angle for some stories about music and what music means to us. I would love to hear others on that subject as well! What does music mean to YOU, what role plays it in your life?

Let me start with my “musical history”. I grew up with music. My dad played the guitar and my mom the zither, rather folkloristic and not really the type of music I liked later on, but back then in toddler times any kind of music was welcome. I learned early that making music was something enjoyable, something that gave people a sort of togetherness and seemed to make them happy. Some of my dearest childhood memories are about hiking trips with friends and family which always ended in sitting around a campfire with my dad playing the guitar and everyone singing.

When my mom would prepare lunch, she always put on the radio. One of those old things that took ages to warm up before you heard anything. And then she would cook and sing along to the old easy listening tunes. (Maybe that’s why her meals always were delicious.)

I got toy instruments all the time, my first was a clarina:

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And my fav one was a toy piano:

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Not to forget my tin drum of course that really drove my mom crazy!

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I started to learn piano and guitar quite early after the obligatory year of horrible recorder that about any child back then had to go through. But becoming a teenager I lost interest in practicing and would rather spend my time with other things. My dad tried to make me stick to it, forcing my ass down on the piano stool, but after some months he gave up on it.

It was later on as an adult when I picked up my guitar again, and even sat down at my piano again. This time playing what I wanted and not what some teacher would force me to practice. I never had the ambition to become a great classical pianist, practicing Bach, Chopin and Beethoven for hours was not my thing. I rather wanted to be able to enter a bar, sit down at the piano and play some jazzy tunes.

And then one day after work I happened to enter a hotel bar in Munich with some friends, and there he was, an old guy, sitting at the piano, playing just like I would have loved to be able to. He sat there, wearing a hat, talking and laughing with the people while he played. I was fascinated and asked the barkeeper about him. His name was Simon Schott, and he was a quite famous bar piano player.

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He seemed a very interesting person and I wanted to get to know him. I kept coming back to that hotel bar (where he had played for over 30 years), standing by the piano, talking to him, listening to him play about any request he got (he had a repertoire of more than 2000 songs), always with a smile on his face.

One day I invited him for dinner and he told me about his more than interesting life. After WW II he played in Paris for Rity Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart (“He didn’t really like his movie ‘Casablanca’ you know, he never asked me to play ‘As time goes by’”) or at private parties of Coco Chanel. He played at ‘Harry’s New York Bar’ and knew people like Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway or John Steinbeck. He was also a writer, he gave me two of his books back then, one about his life and the other one about how to play bar piano, both very interesting reads. He died at age 92 and had played in that hotel bar nearly till his last day.

Here’s a clip about him:

I really liked that guy, and he inspired me a lot to go back to playing the piano. I will never master that instrument, but it is a great way to relax, to soothe my soul, and if I finally succeed in playing a piece I’ve been practising forever, it gives me satisfaction and the feeling of “yes I did it!”.

Music has always been an important part of my life, and I am happy I can play some instruments, even if just good enough for domestic use.

And finally for your listening pleasure, here are two of my favorite piano pieces to play:

Thoughts

What is Art?

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I have run into this question many times in my life. And I haven’t found a universally valid answer to it yet. I have been to exhibitions that made me go “wow, that’s amazing!” and I have seen others (like gallons of spilled stinky motoroil on the floor) that made me and probably always will make me go “WTF?!” Same thing when it comes to music – there are musicians that really get me and I consider them fantastic artists and others that make me wanna plug my ears and run away screaming. I have seen movies that touched me deeply and others that just made me shrug and wonder what they really are about although they have been showered with awards.

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In German there is a saying: “Kunst kommt von können.” Basically it means that the word “art” derives from the word for “being capable of doing something, having the skills to do something”, the German word origin actually is like that. Some “operas” I have seen truly made me wonder what other capability than splashing some paint on a canvas or triggering the camera release the artist would have. And I am sure that there are a lot of so called “artists” out there who just have a good laugh at the people standing in awe in front of their works that they actually didn’t put any artistic thought or effort into at all.

Untitled4US artist Cynthia Albritton “Plaster Caster” with a plaster cast of Jimi Hendrix’ penis. Her exhibition “Penis Dimension” with 25 penis exhibits has been discussed quite controversal (uhm really wondering why?)

Untitled545-year-old Mike Drake has been doing something bizarre in the name of art for over a decade – he’s been collecting all his fingernail clippings, stuffing them in paperweights, and selling them for $300 to $500 a piece! (Yuck, seriously?!)

Untitled6Like many other animal lovers, Dutch artist Bart Jansen found it hard to part with his pet cat, Orville, after he was hit by a car. So he decided to turn the dead feline into a unique piece of artwork called the Orvillecopter. (Alright, call the guys with the straitjacket!)

Yep, some things will definitely just make me flip the bird forever! Even if the artist’s name is Joseph Beuys and the “masterpieces” are worth millions:

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Untitled10The cleaning staff removed this art installation in an Italian museum, thinking it was leftovers of a heavy party night.

On the other hand I am also sure that many artists have an approach that is just only entirely different from mine. A different way of thinking, a different way of looking at things, a different way of perception, a different way of expressing themselves. What seems to be easy to achieve for me may be a huge effort or great achievement for others. Some skills I have that seem to be just part of me or natural to me, others would love to have them (so I’ve been told) or they have to work hard to achieve them. Some things I look at as ordinary and uninspiring to other’s may be special enough to use them for an artwork.

The definition of art is something personal I think. What someone considers art is determined by their own capabilities, by their taste, by their sense of aesthetics and beauty, by their education, maybe even by their dreams, wishes, desires. Art like beauty for me is in the eye of the beholder.

So is art on Furillen. When I scroll through the Flickr group site and look at all the pictures and movies there, there are some that capture my eye instantly and others that make me think “yeah well, ok, another snapshot”. But I also have noticed that I change my way of looking at works once I get to know the people behind them.

So basically I think the main thing is to keep an open mind for everything ranging outside our usual horizon, and that goes for about anything in life. We don’t need to like it all but we should just give things the space they deserve.

Reminds me of the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” which surely has some truth in it.

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