Tag Archives: Books

Advent Calendar Day 16: The Right Roman/The Time & Space Problem

In the Freiburg calendar today was Immanuel Höhn who’s not to be confused with Jonas Fõhrenbach, I’ve never confused them in a game but I did with their pictures and only just realised my mistake. With Jonas I have an excuse, he’s new to the senior team. I have no such excuse with Immanuel.

There was however no confusion with the Dortmund chocolate wrapper as the title suggests, I finally have the right Roman. It’s also very fitting that today is the day I got the card of defender Mats Hummels in the DFB calendar, because today is a Dortmund day after all. From a Roman point of view it’s all the more important to me personally, I’m hoping that he and Matze as former Freiburgers can make me feel a little better and knock FCA out later tonight.

Mats Hummels - DFB 2015-16 card 1 Mats Hummels - DFB 2015-16 card 2 Roman Bürki – Dortmund advent calendarEarlier when I was thinking about who today’s DFB card would be and wondering if they’re saving Jogi’s card till last it occurred to me that I’ll never get a Hansi card from an advent calendar. Not unless I made one myself, I wish I had come up with this idea a month ago. I would have done so for this year, not just for myself but for the other two people I know in real life who are fond of both Jogi and Hansi. Now there’s a fun project, making pictures for the wrappers, perhaps a trading card as well. And making chocolate, foil wrappers and then the pictures on top. This is definitely going to be a lot of fun. I may not be able to make it for a whole year but I can certainly plan for it, and maybe in a few months make a prototype.

In one way it’s a good thing I didn’t come up with it now, I have more than enough to do and I’m not even keeping up with that. This week is about three things only, the DFB Pokal, writing and sleeping. Anything else is irrelevant, until Sunday that is when Freiburg play 1860. It’s most likely not a good idea to let an obsession dominate like this but it’s better than the alternative, than wandering around not knowing what to do. On one hand there’s no room in my head for anything else and there’s no time for anything else but at least I know what I’m doing, I know what’s happening and what’s going to happen. Plus one advantage is that when I go to bed I fall asleep pretty quickly, something which doesn’t happen most of the time. The downside is that no matter how sleep I get it never feels like enough, but then it rarely does.

I just want Christmas over and done with, not so I can get my hands on my presents quicker, not even because I want to hurry up the return of the Bundesliga. No it’s more because I want to get back into some kind of routine. It’s impossible to do so with Christmas thus I haven’t wasted any time trying. The disadvantage however to not trying is that there’s plenty of room for my obsessions to have free reign.

I never thought I would have this problem, that the thing keeping me awake at night is a notebook. I’ve had similar problems before but they involved games or TV. I never thought that instead of almost falling asleep in front of the TV with a Playstation controller in my hand that I’d be doing so with a pen and notebook. Thinking about this I remembered all those conversations online about games, the people who say that games are for kids, that ruin your life, make an addict of you and that serious grown ups or people who have a life don’t play them. And someone who stays up half the night playing games always gets mentioned and used as an example of how pathetic they are. Well I’ve stayed up all night for many reasons, playing games, watching TV or football, reading a good book and because I’m writing something that I have to finish there and then. Is it somehow better or more worthy that I stay up all night writing instead of playing games? I don’t think so.

To get back the topic of being unsettled Freiburg losing to 1.FCN on Sunday did not help. I wasn’t arrogant enough to just assume they would win, I would never do that even when I’m close to 100% certain they will. It’s not just the fact they lost but how they did. Two cases of bad luck and both of them involving the same player. As luck would have it that player is the one I got mixed up with Immanuel Höhn.

On Sunday night partly I think because of the result of the game I made a somewhat rash decision, for once it wasn’t one which involved money and it wasn’t a bad decision, just a slightly surprising one. Feeling a little off after the game I decided I needed something to do, something to focus on. Preferably some kind of repetitive task, so with that in mind I decided on putting all the blu-rays from my football archive in the case I bought. But I didn’t do that, I changed my mind. Instead I cleared one of my shelves of DVDs, removed them from the cases, put the discs in the case and threw out the cases. A surprising decision because whilst I’ve been convinced of the logic of such a decision for a while I’ve been resisting doing so. Partly because I didn’t want my room to change anyway and partly because I’m quite partial to DVD cases. I like seeing them all lined up on the shelf and I like going through them. Apparently I changed my mind, deciding all of a sudden it’s a good idea and one I can make my peace with. It didn’t take long to make best use of the space. After some moving around I now have a sticker shelf and a place to put all my German books, newspapers and press clippings. Not to mention that I finally got to clean up the ever growing pile of books from the floor.

I haven’t got rid of all the cases for my DVDs, only about 300 of them. I think there’s at least another 250 plus an unknown number of blu-rays. The blu-ray cases I’m keeping, I like those too much. As for the remaining DVDs I suppose I’ll repeat the process, except for my German and Danish collection and any special ones. Having made progress on this front I’ll soon have no excuse to avoid sorting through my books. Though this will be a lot more difficult. I’ve already started thinking about ones I don’t need to keep and ones I could give away. I’ve made no progress whatsoever because with almost every book I look at I think of the time I last read it, of the memories associated with it, of the time I bought it. It’s a lot harder to get rid of books that I bought in person. Though some of them I would never get rid of anyway. Like “All That I Am” for example, this has three very good reasons why I would never part with it. Firstly it belongs on my German shelf, secondly it’s a great book and thirdly I bought it on a very special winter Saturday. That is the day it snowed and I saw Django Unchained for the very first time. Every time I pick up the book I remember that day and the other two books I bought with it, HHhH and The Killing 3.

Sorting through my books is going to be a most difficult project indeed. I think I should start first with books I bought and never read, ones I’m not so attached to. It may make it easier.

On a related note whilst I was sorting out the DVDs I realised that I might as well tidy up my desk as well. A task I’ve meant to get to all year, I’d almost forgotten what it looked like so long has it been since I’d seen it. I found some most interesting things there, an issue of Der Spiegel from January, the remaining piece of last year’s Jogi themed wrapping paper and a note for The Dressing Room Adventures which was sadly undated. I would have liked to know the day I came up with that idea.

Today is a Dortmund day but also as it turns out a Darida day, that is Czech midfielder and former Freiburg player Vladimir Darida. How ironic, in the summer he moved to Hertha BSC and tonight they are playing 1.FCN, the team Freiburg lost to on Sunday. As I’m typing this 1.FCN are currently 1-0 down to Hertha BSC courtesy of a Darida goal in the 32minute.

Yesterday was Bayern’s day but it’s not the game which served up the most excitement, though I have to say Xabi Alonso’s goal was a work of art. There may have only been one goal but it was a very special one. The most exciting thing last night was the laser show, which unfortunately they didn’t show all of but some of it is better than nothing. And it was worth it just to see Manuel Neuer in a Santa hat:

Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 1 Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 2 Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 3 Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 4 Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 5 Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 6

Advent Calendar Day 8: The Two Lukas’s, Two More Books & The Sweetest Story Ever

Behind door number 8 in the Freiburg calendar was right winger (and occasional striker and right-back when needs be) Mike Frantz. In the DFB one there was a most amusing coincidence, behind the door with Lukas Podolski’s face on it was indeed the card of Lukas Podolski. A fact made even more amusing because in the Dortmund calendar was Polish defender Lukasz Piszczek. A situation made even funnier because of course Podolski was also born in Poland but he grew up in and chose to play for Germany:

Lukas Podolski - DFB card 2015-16 1 Lukas Podolski - DFB card 2015-16 2 Lukas Pisczezk - Dortmund advent calendarAs well as having two of Lukas I also have two more books to add to my collection. This was not entirely planned, just yesterday I was writing about how I think I have too many books but that didn’t stop me from picking up these two. One about ancient Greece and the other about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It’s technically three if you count the one I got in the post but I don’t count that one. For two reasons, firstly I didn’t know it would arrive today and secondly it’s been on my wishlist for over a year. The book in question being Berlin Noir, consisting of three Philip Kerr novels, March Violets, The Pale Criminal and German Requiem. I don’t know whether or not I’ll find time to read it between now and Christmas but regardless I had to buy it now. I felt like I’d just keep putting it off. I’m meant to be reading The Man from Berlin but I’m not making much headway with it. I’m not sure if it’s the book or if it’s me. A few days ago I finished reading Savage Continent and it was a very intense read. Maybe I need to take a break before starting on another book, especially one that touches on such dark themes. I would say I should read something lighthearted but I’m not sure I could find something that fits that description.

This is exactly how my collection got like this. You stop off at the bookshop just to see if they have something you’ve been looking for or to see what’s new in stock. You do so full well knowing that as long as you have cash in your pocket you’ll find it impossible to leave without buying something. Truth is if I hadn’t bought those boxes of stickers last week  I could have bought six or seven books today, and I still wouldn’t be completely satisfied. There’s always something else to read, something else to learn about. I suppose in a way that’s a good thing, that I still have some enthusiasm for something.

Right now I feel guilty because I’m not getting a lot of reading done and it’s not because I’m spending too much time watching football or playing Playstation, though I will admit the former does take up a lot of time. But it’s not the main thing coming between me and my reading time, because I find it easy to switch off from football, to not think about it for a little while. Or at least if I am thinking about it then it’s not dominating my mind in quite the same way as the real reason. Which is that for the most part I’m too wrapped up in my own adventures to be following someone else’s. This is part of the reason I have little interest in reading fiction right now, even when the book in question has Nazis in it like The Man from Berlin does.

I’m not sure what if anything I should do about this state of affairs, whether or not I should simply allow it to continue like this or try to change it somehow. I’m not sure that forcing myself into reading is a good idea. But then equally I’m not happy with reading just three books a month. I think that’s part of the problem, that I’m trying to quantify this, that I think it matters how much I read. Surely what you read is just as important as how many books you get through. I’m a little frustrated I guess that I no longer get through at least two books a week. But I’m being harsh on myself, I wasn’t writing anything back then and had a lot more free time. So it’s not really comparing like for like.

When it comes to obsessions I’m not sure what’s best, whether or not one should be reined in, to attempt to create some semblance of balance. If it’s a good thing for one thing to be dominating so much. I’m not sure if I have much if any choice in the matter. There’s an interesting exchange on related matters from the film The Prestige that I like to quote:

Angier: “Haven’t you followed your obsessions?”

Tesla: “Yes, for too long. I am their slave and one day they will choose to destroy me.”

That used to freak me out, it doesn’t anymore. Because now I know the pattern. I know that at the end of every special interest or obsession I kind of self destruct. It’s just how things go. There’s no point wondering what things would be like if I didn’t get so obsessed and focused on one topic to the complete exclusion of everything else because then I wouldn’t be me. I follow my obsessions partly because I want to and partly because I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know who and what I’m supposed to be. I have some idea what other people want from me, I know what they want me to be. And I know I can’t live up to their expectations, I can’t be what they want me to be.

Not because I don’t want to but because I really can’t. The two conversations I had today in relation to the story referred to in the title is a perfect example of this.  The story originates from my dislike of the new Champions League album, I decided to turn my rants about it into a Jogi adventure. It’s not just about the sticker album, it’s about lots of different things changing and about him missing Hansi. It also has little Matze in it which means there are some sweet moments. It’s these moments which were the focus of the conversation because such things aren’t like me at all. For one thing everyone is of the impression that I’m not particularly fond of kids, which I have to admit is sort of true.

Both people who read it liked the story and both came to similar conclusions, firstly that it’s not at all like me and secondly that it’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever written for Jogi and Hansi. This kind of sweetness and sensitivity is not particularly evident in real life so when people read these kind of stories they are seeing a side to me they didn’t even know existed. And what frustrates some of them is that it doesn’t seem to transfer to real life. That whilst writing such things has caused me to become more aware of feelings and in some ways to better understand my own, it’s not had any effect on my ability to express them or to demonstrate any kind of attachment to some of the people in question. I understand that it hurts their feelings in a way. I get that it hurts them to think that I have more of an emotional attachment to my football team than I do them. That I can talk all day long about how much I love Jogi, Hansi, Manuel, Matze or any of my other favourite players but I can’t express or show in the way they’d like such feelings for real people. I don’t have a simple answer for them or really any kind of answer at all. Actually I’m not even sure what my point is. Maybe my point is that I know I can’t provide that kind of emotional fulfillment for another person and that I don’t expect them to provide it for me, not that I’d be capable of receiving it anyway. That I’m well aware I have to seek it elsewhere, hence why I have such a great attachment to my characters. I don’t know, maybe this is just more random ramblings on the subject or maybe I’m actually making some sense for once.

To completely change the subject today went about as good as it could have gone. Especially considering I only got three hours of sleep last night. In spite of that I got up just in time to record the Christoph Waltz film I wanted, though I hadn’t meant to watch quite so much of it. I was meant to be getting to ready to leave but there was something oddly alluring about him in this particular film. I’ve not been a fan of his post Django stuff so far but I’m finding his older German roles to be quite interesting. It was however I have to say a slightly surreal experience, seeing Christoph as Father Christmas. One good point about the film is that whilst he was his usual slightly sinister self I didn’t detect a trace of Hans Landa which I so often find in his later characters:

I think that lack of sleep played a part in how the rest of the day went, as did the fact I’ve not been spending a lot of time outside in recent weeks. All day long I’ve been on edge, feeling like I’m being watched and jumping at the slightest noise. Hearing people laughing has been one of the things that’s set me on edge today. I don’t know why, nothing has happened lately. So it’s most likely just the lack of sleep and not having spent much time outside. Also a source of anxiety was my worry that the person I was meeting would not show up. I had no rational reason to think this but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. To the point where I wished I’d stayed home and watched Gladbach’s game instead. This is what I hate about being so anxious, it makes people think I don’t trust them. That I don’t trust them to show up, or not to be too late, or to believe them when they are telling me something. Except it’s not me, I’m not choosing to be this way. I don’t like it either.

Now it’s all over and done with and I’m glad I didn’t stay in tonight. I’m happy I got to give them their presents and that they’re happy with them. I’m happy they like the books, more importantly I’m pleased they liked the card I made. But then how could they not when it had these two pictures on the front. I think this picture of Jogi may just be the sweetest picture of him in existence:

joachim-lc3b6w-e28093-sco-deu-press-conference-7 hansi-flick-dfb-interview-06-08-2015-13

I saw two films today, The Night Before and then Black Mass. The first was not so good though I did enjoy seeing Michael Shannon in it and he had a bigger part than I anticipated. It’s always fun to see him get to be something other than the crazy bad guy. He may have been a little off here but he wasn’t crazy and he most definitely wasn’t a bad guy, he was an angel in fact complete with wings. I just don’t think the humor of the film appealed to me. I get that it was just meant to be a lighthearted Christmas film, but I just found it too juvenile for my tastes. I also think it dragged a little and that some aspects of the plot didn’t really fit the tone of it. Or maybe it was just that they were less engaging than the other characters. For example I didn’t think much of Issac and Betsy’s parenting worries, I just didn’t like a lot of their scenes for some reason. Like I said I’m not sure it was my kind of film to begin with. Michael Shannon on the other hand as their old science teacher Mr Green, well to riff on a Dude quote a little, he really tied the film together. He was my main reason for seeing the film and he did not disappoint.

Black Mass did also not majorly disappoint and neither did Johnny Depp surprisingly. The film tells the story of Boston gangster Whitey Bulger who became an FBI informant. Crime and mobster films like this are dime  a dozen but this one is worth seeing if not just for Depp’s performance as the truly terrifying Whitey Bulger. It’s not a great film but it’s still worth watching. The acting was great but the plot is a little lacking. I feel like they could have got more story into the two hour running time, perhaps show a little more detail as to how he rose to power. In fact a little more detail and focus in general would have been welcomed.

Same as always after such an evening I find myself unable to sleep. This time however it’s also part of a bigger problem, I’m unable to shake the problem I’m having with sleeping at nighttime. I can’t manage more than two or three nights in a row. It’s been almost a month now since the incident which caused all this happened and it’s showing no signs of changing. I thought the league resuming and getting back into the usual routine would fix it but it hasn’t had the effect I hoped it would. It’s been made worse by the nightmare I had two weeks ago involving being chased by rifle-wielding terrorists. I still don’t really understand it or, it makes no sense to me why I should react this way or have such trouble dealing with it. I mean I wasn’t there, I wasn’t in any danger, the team was. In fact I wasn’t even in the same country as them. It makes no sense at all and I have no idea how I’m meant to handle it, if I’m supposed to do anything or if I should just wait it out. How can I do anything when I don’t even understand what it is?

Advent Calendar Day 7/Too Many Books & Other Random Thoughts

Behind door number seven in the Freiburg calendar was American midfielder Caleb Stanko who recently made his first team debut in Freiburg’s 4-1 win over Paderborn. The DFB calendar is particularly special today because not only is it door number seven being opened but Jogi is on that part of the box. It would be tempting to think his card may be lurking behind the door. No such luck, that would be rather obvious, a little too obvious. In there instead was defender Erik Durm. In the Dortmund one was midfielder Moritz Leitner who spent last season on loan at VfB Stuttgart:

Erik Durm - DFB 2015-16 card 1Erik Durm - DFB 2015-16 card 2Moritz Leitner - Dortmund advent calendarAfter yesterday I could have done with a little cheering up. So it’s a good thing that there was something very special to greet me in this morning’s post, several things in fact. My Jogi collection is creeping ever closer to completion for I now have a photo-card from one of the Swiss teams he played for. I also got a signed card from his time at Eintracht Frankfurt, plus two signed Match Attax cards, one of Vincenzo Grifo from his time at Hoffenheim and on one of former Freiburg keeper Roman Bürki:

Joachim Löw – FC Schaffhausen signed photo cardJoachim Löw – signed Eintracht Frankfurt cardVincenzo Grifo - signed Hoffenheim Match Attax cardRoman Bürki – signed Freiburg Match Attax cardOn the subject of completing things my list of Christmas related tasks is almost done, I’ve gotten the card finished and I have the final book ready to wrap. As far as the things I have to make I just have a few more things to print and I’m done. The only thing left is to actually give the people in question their gifts and to purchase and put together the gingerbread house. There’s also the question of Jogi, Hansi and Matze’s Christmas adventures to finish but that’s not on my list of things to do. I think I should be able to get it finished in time but I don’t want the extra pressure just in case I can’t. It’s proving slow going at the moment, truth be told I’m not sure I’m in the right mood to be writing something like this. My Need for Speed related frustrations are not helping any on that count, though I’m not sure if it’s the game I’m angry at or if I’m just a little more easily frustrated than usual right now. Either way I think taking a break from it is for the best, my PS3 controller already has a crack on the side thanks to last night’s frustrations. I keep playing and it may end up going the same way as the XBOX controller and that wouldn’t be good at all, because I have neither a back-up nor  money to buy another right now.

What I do have it plenty of books to read, I’m starting to think I may have too many in fact. I spent a large part of yesterday attempting to find my copy of The Man in the High Castle. I’m planning on watching the show and I thought since it was quite some time ago I read the book that re-reading it would be a good idea. Or it would have been had I been able to find it. I did eventually locate it, hidden behind Dresden. Whilst looking it made me think about just how many books I have and what I should do with a book once I’ve finished reading it. I just keep everything unless it’s something I really hated, then I put it out for recycling.

Different people have many different opinions on the matter. Some people like to keep almost everything and like having a lot of books. Completely opposite is people who only keep their favourites and believe in giving books away, because to them an unread book is a wasted one. I see their point but I don’t like parting with anything. And it’s not always easy to decide if you’re going to read something again or not. My problem is not helped by the fact that the majority of my books are non-fiction, meaning for almost all of them I can make the argument that I should keep them just in case I need to look something up. But the problem with that way of thinking is that you end up with a lot of books this way, so many that searching and finding for what you are looking for can be a very trying experience. So much so that you may as well just google it if you can.I know I have too much stuff, not just books but DVDs and other random collectibles. But doing something about it is easier said than done.

One thing I’m sure won’t be added to my collection when it comes out is series three of The Bridge and not just because I’m a little short of cash right now. More because I’m finding this series a little disappointing. Danish shows like this tend to end after the third series and I don’t think it would be a bad thing were this to be the end of The Bridge. I’m just not finding it as engaging as the first two series and whilst I do like Henrik I miss Martin a lot. I’m also not liking the story with Saga’s mother, whilst I do want to know exactly what happened to result in her sister living with her and how their parents ended up in prison, it makes for very difficult viewing.