Tag Archives: Films

The Education of Charlie Banks: Sebastian Stan Pictures

The hunt for my favourite Sebastian film continues, this one wasn’t quite so bad as the previous one but it’s not something I’ll be watching again. This time Sebastian plays a rich preppy jerk named Leo who has more money than common sense and who doesn’t seem to give a damn about anyone but himself. My main reason for not enjoying the film a great deal is Jessie Eisenberg, he just always feels like the same character, no matter what film of his you’re watching. He’s the main character Charlie who meets Leo at college. The film centers around Charlie, his friend Danny and their mutual friend Mick. The latter is not a pleasant character and is the source of much conflict. You’re meant to feel sorry for him but it’s not easy to. He may have a had a difficult upbringing and his life isn’t easy but that doesn’t give him the right to act like a thug and attack other people. Though some people would argue the treatment he meted out to Leo was warranted. He was being a jerk and his actions could have cost the girl her job, yet he didn’t care. Because he’s rich and has no concept of having to work for a living. But then you could argue Charlie and Danny equally have no concept of such things. At the beginning of the film when he’s defending his involvement with Leo and why what he does is not so bad Danny claims that he’s not rich, his parents are. That kind of logic is totally bogus, who does he think pays for his stuff and later on to send him to college? He’s certainly not working his way through college like some people have to. His indulging of Mick’s dangerous behaviour is a way of sort of living through him. He can’t or won’t take chances like that but he can encourage Mick to.

In some way both Danny and Charlie are complicit in what Mick does because both of them could have turned him into the police and didn’t. If Charlie had not backed out of his witness statement all those years ago it’s possible Mick wouldn’t have been out to be able to kill or harm someone else. On the matter of being complicit, Leo’s friends play a part in his behaviour too. They don’t take his behaviour very seriously when he almost costs someone their job, they don’t laugh it off but they don’t pull him in line either. Because out of all of them Mick is the only one who knows what’s it like to worry about money that way. Yet it still doesn’t excuse his reaction, Leo may have deserved to be put straight but violence never solves anything and he certainly wouldn’t have learnt anything from the experience.

I guess the film was interesting and raised some interesting questions about what people become and if they are destined to be that way. If those things can change or are set in stone. Whether or not what happens to people growing up has to define who they become as adults. Whilst it was interesting it also lacked the final punch, I didn’t find the end convincing. At the beginning of the film Mick is shown beating up two jocks in a matter of minutes and with no real problem. Yet when it comes to beating up Charlie who should pose no problem it goes on forever even though Charlie isn’t fighting back. I’m also not sure that Mick would be able to stop himself from stomping on him, nor by how Charlie sees the situation. That it was a graduation of sorts, that Mick didn’t make that final blow because he cares about him or discovered his humanity or whatever. Another thing I was disappointed by was the lack of an explanation for why Mick was so interested in Danny. With the scene in his dorm they seemed to hint at some kind of romantic interest on Mick’s part but it never came up again. Anyhow, I did get some nice pictures of Sebastian. His character may have been a jerk but he was a handsome one:

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The Covenant: Sebastian Stan Pictures

Another Friday night with more of Sebastian Stan. This time round was The Covenant, it didn’t look promising from the description on the back of the case but then it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve sat through a terrible film for an actor I like. If I can put up with a terrible film for James Spader or Vincent D’Onofrio then I can do so for Sebastian. Though this one really tested my patience with rich kids, witches and plenty of teenage angst. Not to mention lame special effects and terribly predictable dialogue. The acting wasn’t great either. I always like to try and find something good in a film, just one redeeming feature. And I mean one other than how cute Sebastian looked or how much screen time he got, I guess it had it’s creepy moments, the spider nightmare and the darkling were pretty good.The scene in the shower where she’s convinced someone was watching her was very atmospheric too. On the counts of both character and plot development however, well almost non-existent would be the only fair word to describe both. Definitely not one to watch again. Up next on my Sebastian list is The Education of Charlie Banks, here’s hoping that will be one that’s worth a rewatch. Not that I could get sick of The Winter Soldier but it would be nice to add another Sebastian film to my favourites shelf:

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The Apparition: Sebastian Stan Pictures

Tonight I watched my first non Marvel Sebastian Stan film. I borrowed it from someone who’s a huge fan of him and they assured me it was scary so I was excited about getting to see it. I don’t watch many horror films because I don’t scare that easily so I don’t see the point. Other than getting a lot of cute Sebastian pictures this film was a disappointment in pretty much every way. Sebastian was ok, I don’t want to criticize not just because I like him but because he didn’t have a lot to work with. It was a pretty weak script, it’s not so much that I can’t find anything good to say about it but that I can’t really find anything to say about it. It was just kind of meh, for lack of a better word. I could see the moments where it was meant to be creepy but I wasn’t feeling it, I didn’t jump or get scared at any point during the film. And I didn’t cheat, I watched late at night with all the lights switched off but still no reaction.

It wasn’t scary and not interesting either. The story is when Sebastian’s character Ben was in college he and some fellow students attempted to conjure up a spirit of some kind. It went wrong and now that spirit is haunting them both. Tom Felton who’s best known as playing Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films plays his friend Patrick. So strange things start to happen, furniture moving, doors being left open and plants dying until things start to get steadily worse. Long story short his girlfriend Kelly finds the video of the experiment and she asks him to leave because he didn’t tell her about it.

They end up in a hotel where the spirit tries to kill her, because it’s not the house that’s haunted but them. Ben and Patrick try to send the spirit back where it came from but it didn’t work. Patrick gets taken by it and so does Ben when he and Kelly go to Patrick’s safe room. They get in the room and then he disappears. I have to admit that was kind of a neat trick. You think they’ve got to the safe room, so they’re safe. After all it’s where Patrick’s been hiding these past two years. I wonder if that means the spirit could have taken him anytime he wanted, if he was just toying with him. Because that is the worst thing such a spirit can inflict upon people, that kind of mental torture where they don’t what to trust or what’s going to happen next, the never knowing of if you’re safe. So I guess there is one good thing about the film other than how cute Sebastian Stan looked. Kelly gets taken by it too, though it’s not at all clear where she is. They didn’t show what became of Ben and Patrick. He mentioned purgatory, I wonder if that empty mall was her version of that. She hides in a tent but it gets her anyway. I don’t know what the point of that was. If maybe by putting the tent there it was providing her with the illusion she was going to get away. Toying with by making her feel safe and then scaring her to death. Or if it was meant to be symbolic of her denial of the situation. I don’t really care what happened to any of them, the film didn’t do a great job of making you care for any of them. If I didn’t like Sebastian Stan I wouldn’t have cared what happened to him.

Anyhow, to the good stuff. I figured since I put up pictures of Jogi from every match I watch why not do the same for Sebastian Stan and his films as I see them:

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Witness Protection

Witness Protection

When you do something scary or stressful — bungee jumping, public speaking, etc. — do you prefer to be surrounded by friends or by strangers? Why?

This is yesterday’s prompt but I didn’t have any thoughts on the matter then. Also I didn’t find today’s prompt particularly interesting which is ironic given the prompt in question asks what bores you. Logically it would be better to be surrounded by strangers, after all if you do something stupid or make a mistake then you’ll never have to face them again. But on days like today being surrounded by friends is a better idea. Well not surrounded, I don’t want to be surrounded by anyone. I don’t like groups of people, no matter how many people.

Today I went to an unfamiliar place, a cinema I’d never been to before and one I never plan to visit again. All of this was in aid of seeing The Hateful Eight, and it pains me to say it but it wasn’t worth it. I never thought I’d see the day when Quentin Tarantino disappointed me. I missed Freiburg’s friendly against FC Basel for this. For three mind numbing hours I had to be subjected to scenes which from a visual perspective felt very familiar, plenty of long and over indulgent scenes and substandard dialogue. The former I can live with, I actually quite enjoyed picking out the similarity of certain shots to scenes from Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. But the latter is not acceptable at all. It’s not the violence I have a problem with or the racist language used. Django features a lot of both those things, difference is in Django it had a purpose and was in context. Here it was just a gore-fest. And Tim Roth was doing a bad impression of Christoph Waltz, he was veering between Hans Landa and King Schultz.

But none of that is my point. My point is today wasn’t easy to deal with, having to deal with change or an unfamiliar situation of some kind never is. One thing which made it slightly easier is the thought that I was doing it for a good reason. That I would be rewarded for my suffering. Whilst that wasn’t true today wasn’t a lost cause. Today did prove to me that sometimes it’s good to have other people around, not only that but it’s ok to let them help you. It was just a small thing they did to help me out. It’s not what they did that’s so important to me, it’s how they did it. I’ve been on edge the past few days, mostly because of today and partly because of Friday. I’m both excited and yet apprehensive. More than anything I just don’t want something to go wrong. But getting back to today, being on edge and not having gotten much sleep meant I’ve been a little bit more twitchy and uncoordinated than usual. My friend was worried I would drop my popcorn and drink, as they put it “it was an accident waiting to happen.” Like I said it’s not only what they did but how. They didn’t make a big deal of it, they didn’t fuss over me or anything like that. They just took it from my hands and gave it back to me when I could take hold of it properly. I’m not good at letting people help me but I didn’t really have a choice. It was either let them take it or risk having no popcorn to eat. Sometimes practicality has to trump my own stubbornness and need to do everything myself. Even better is the fact I’m not beating myself up about it which is what usually happens. It’s odd that way, whenever I need someone to speak for me or help someone else understand what I’m saying I feel stupid about it and obsess endlessly over it. But when it’s something that requires physical help I’m less obsessive about it. I wonder why one is easier to accept than the other.

There’s also two other good things about today, one of which might not have happened if I’d stayed at home. Talking about how unsatisfying the new Millennium book is we naturally got to talking about August. It’s my view that August would be better off far away from his mother and that she doesn’t deserve a second chance at taking care of him. In discussing how lackluster the ending is I got the idea of writing my own version. Not only that but writing a back story of sorts for August. I came up with the idea partly because of a comment made by someone else about one of my stories. They want to know more of what the autistic character is thinking. I told them I’m not doing that, not yet anyway. Because the reader not knowing what he’s thinking gives some idea of how his parents feel. Why should the reader get to know things they don’t? Not knowing what he thinks gives the reader a better understanding of how frustrating such a situation can be for all parties. Despite my position on that story I do like the idea of doing such a thing for August. The second good thing was getting someone else’s opinion on the first Matze chapter. Not only am I happy they liked it but their comments really mean a lot to me.

December: The Month of Dieter

December could only be named for Hans-Dieter Flick and it’s quite fitting that I start writing this post now because on the day I started writing it there was a new video of Hansi posted on the DFB site. It’s also fitting in the sense December is the month you get gifts in and he and Jogi have certainly been the source of many gifts this past year. And now Matze too of course. In fact at the moment I have more Matze chapters in progress than Jogi or Hansi ones. He’s proving to be quite the little character.

Despite the month being named for Hansi it’s not exactly my favourite time of year. I’ve never been a fan of Christmas and I’m still not. But I did have a little fun this year, the Bundesliga took care of that because on TV Christmas morning was a repeat of Freiburg’s 6-3 opening night win against 1.FC Nürnberg. Seeing it again didn’t take the sting out of losing the reverse of the fixture two weeks before Christmas but it was still a lot of fun.

The only gift I really wanted for Christmas this year was for Freiburg to be autumn champions, they just missed out on that honour with RB Leipzig in pole position instead. It would have been nice but it is ultimately meaningless, what counts is where they are four months from now. That’s all that counts. At least they did get to start and end the month with a win, two routine victories in both cases. First a 3-0 win against 1.FC Union Berlin and then against 1860 München.

As things stand the gifts I did get turned out to be quite nice. A few books including the kicker Almanach which has almost all the German related football stats you could dream of. A most useful gift. I also got two DFB calendars, two Dortmund programs one with Thomas Tuchel on the front and one with Matze Ginter on there. Plus some Matze Ginter cards. The real highlight however for me was the wrapping paper. I love all my gifts but I love the wrapping paper the most. Three kinds this year, Freiburg, Dortmund and the by now traditional Jogi & Hansi paper:

IMG_20160111_182837IMG_20160111_183337IMG_20160111_183434IMG_20160111_182926Matthias Ginter - SC Freiburg 2011-12 signed card Matthias Ginter - SC Freiburg 2012-13 signed card Matthias Ginter - Borussia Dortmund cardAs I expected it was a rather strange month, even more so than usual. For one thing I watched thirteen films. Nothing I watched could beat the first film of the month which was The Secret in their Eyes. Every time I watch it I just fall in love with it a little bit more. It gets more perfect every time I watch it. I also saw a very odd filmed named Stuart Saves his Family late one night when I couldn’t sleep. I watched it purely because Vincent D’Onofrio was in it but it ended up being quite an interesting film and certainly gave me something to think about.

I’m not sure I’d say I liked the main character Stuart, in fact I’m not even sure I enjoyed the film but it did intrigue me. So much so I drafted a post in relation to some of the themes it covered. Gist of it is Stuart is a little addicted to self help groups and is a little overbearing. When you meet his family you understand why. He has his own TV show which is not at all popular and when it gets cancelled his life falls apart. In between dealing with the dramatics of his family he gets another chance at a similar endeavor. The second time round it works out. And it’s partly because of what he learned from his family that it does. Eventually he realises that you can only help someone up to a certain point, if they don’t want your help or are unable to recognise they need help then there’s not a lot more you can do. Sometimes when it comes to your family you have to just accept them as they are and stop trying to fix them all the time. Which is what Stuart does, he’s always trying to fix things. Sometimes you just have to play the hand you’ve been dealt. His motto is “Progress not perfection.”

This is what I meant to entitle the post but as I mentioned I’d been up late when I watched the film, thus it was even later when I drafted that post and as a result I ended up typing “Perfection not Perfect.” It amuses me but I’m not sure why, perhaps because I’m so much of a perfectionist that I couldn’t even contemplate typing the real title and accepting that something could be anything less than perfect.

At the cinema I saw Star Wars which I have absolutely nothing to say about, a disappointing Christmas film called The Night Before which I only went to see because Michael Shannon was in it (he was terrific, as always) and Black Mass which was the true story of Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. I know the film got quite mixed reviews but I quite enjoyed it. It was certainly a passable film for an evening at the cinema anyhow.

Other than that I revisited some old favourites. In the spirit of Christmas tradition I watched one of my favourite James Bond films Goldeneye. I also watched Ratatouille which is surprisingly moving for what is essentially an animated film for kids. The scene where the restaurant critic is served  the dish ratatouille and it takes him back to his childhood memories always makes me cry.  On the subject of childhood memories I also watched Toy Story and Toy Story 2. I’ve seen them at least twenty times each but I’ve only watched the third one twice, and I never watch them as a trilogy. It’s not because I don’t think it’s a good film or because I don’t like it. I think it’s more because in the third one Andy grows up and gives his toys away, I’m not good at accepting change of any kind. I think it bothers me that Andy grows up and gives away his toys. That’s the whole point of the film, about moving on, accepting changes, starting a new chapter in your life and all that. Except it’s quite so cut and dried for me. There is no clear delineation between chapters because the events which normally mark the beginning or end of a chapter aren’t happening for me that way.

Book wise it wasn’t a good month, I know I read The Book Thief but I can’t recall what else I read. I certainly hope I did read another book and I just can’t remember because if I really did read just the one then that’s a new low for me. On the other hand reading The Book Thief was extremely important. I did so to test a theory, to see if I still loved it as much and whether or not the plot hole bothers me. I’m happy to say it doesn’t, that I’ve fallen back in love with it. Though I don’t think I ever stopped loving it. I like to think of it like this, no person is perfect, everyone has their quirks and annoying habits but when you love someone it doesn’t matter. So why should a book be perfect.

It’s like two of my favourite games Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed. Neither of them are 100% perfect but I love the first one in the series for both way more than the others. Because for me the other games don’t have the same feel to them, they don’t have the same kind of charm. I don’t care that Assassin’s Creed is a lot more repetitive than AC2. I love the setting, the characters and everything about it. I know the flag missions annoy some people but I actually quite liked them. I’m not saying there’s nothing good about AC2, there is and I did enjoy playing it. I must have done since I’ve completed it three times. But it just doesn’t conjure up the same kind of feelings and excitement that the first one does. Same with Mass Effect. It’s why I’ve played through Mass Effect at least six times and why I haven’t done the same for Mass Effect 2. Though I have to admit part of the reason I don’t love Mass Effect 2 is because I’m still annoyed at not being able to have Kaidan in my squad. I was doubly annoyed because on my play-through with the female version of Shepherd he was my love interest. I really missed Kaidan and as much as I like Garrus, I would have preferred having Kaidan back.

Back to the topic at hand reading The Book Thief again was important for another reason, I found out just why I like it so much. That it’s not because the book is narrated by death or because it’s set in Nazi Germany. The person who recommended I read it told me just those two facts about it. As if that’s all I needed to know. They weren’t wrong, the first part alone would have made me read it. But reading it again lead me to think of it a little differently, a little deeper. Only this time around did I think about what I have in common with the book thief Liesel. I didn’t have many books when I was a child, though to be fair no matter how many I owned I wouldn’t have thought it enough. The books I did own I treasured. As much as I loved my Playstation and my Gameboy it certainly wasn’t as much as those books. And considering my Gameboy was like an extension of my right hand during my Pokemon phase, I mean  a lot. In fact I still have most of them in storage. But it’s not just about the books.

It’s about the words, about being able to tell your own stories. Unless you can read and write you can’t do that. When we meet Liesel for the first time she can’t read or write. It’s her foster father who teaches her to read. But that would never have happened if her brother hadn’t died, if she hadn’t stolen the book from a careless grave digging apprentice who dropped it and didn’t realise. And if the war didn’t happen she may never have met her Papa Hans who taught her how to read. She never would have met Max who helped her realise just how important words can be.

I didn’t have that problem, I taught myself to read before I started school. I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. And I think sometimes I take them for granted, not just the books but the written word in general. Not only being able to read but being able to write my own adventures. Just like some people overestimate the importance of being able to read and write so I underestimate it. Because whilst those people are wrong, whilst they are over simplifying the issues, words do matter, they do help. Because as I’m coming to realise when it comes down to it they are all I really have. At least words of the written variety anyway. Because when it comes down to it a lot of the time it’s the only way I can reliably express myself. For someone who talks a lot I actually say very little. That is whilst I can talk about my special interests until I tire myself out I can’t talk about what’s bothering me. I can’t explain what’s going on in my head. For that I need the written word. I need my stories and my characters. Without them I can’t make sense of anything.

As well as being a quiet month book wise so it was in terms of collectibles as well, obviously with it being Christmas I didn’t have as much spare cash as I would have liked. That didn’t stop me from purchasing one very important item however, something I’ve dreaming about getting since last year. The item in question is one of the newer DFB polo-shirts, the ones for the Euro qualifiers. It’s not a blue one like I wanted but the white one is quite nice too. The other small notable items I got include two signed Match Attax cards, one of Roman Bürki and the other of Vincenzo Grifo, a card signed by Joachim Löw and a signed Nils Petersen Bremen photo:

IMG_20151211_171831IMG_20151211_171922Roman Bürki – signed Freiburg Match Attax cardVincenzo Grifo - signed Hoffenheim Match Attax cardJoachim Löw – signed Eintracht Frankfurt cardNils Petersen signed Bremen photo

Vampire Jürgen and other Random Musings

Usually when I dream about a team near to a game they lose, I can think of only two exceptions to this pattern, happily on both those occasions it was Freiburg I dreamed about. I know there’s probably nothing to such things but I like making a note of them regardless, I like patterns like that. Last night it was Jürgen Klopp I dreamed about. Today Liverpool lost 2-0 to West Ham United. The pattern holds. What I don’t like is first dream of the year that I remember and it’s Klopp in it. Not Jogi, Hansi, Christian Streich or even Thomas Tuchel, but Klopp. It was I have to admit a most amusing dream. It took place at a school for vampires and Klopp himself was one, as was I. Also there was someone named Daniel. There’s three possible choices for who that could be. The real life one can be ruled out, it was definitely not him. That leaves Daniel Brühl and Daniel Siebert, the referee. I’m certain it wasn’t the former, but not entirely certain it was the latter either. It’s most disappointing that’s all I can remember, I would have loved to know what the story was. As for what the message was I don’t know. But there is one I’m choosing to take from it. If I got to bed at a decent hour and got enough sleep then maybe I would be sufficiently rested upon waking to remember more of my dreams. I don’t need to be told twice. Maintain a vampire schedule and you don’t get good dreams or to remember them. All you get is Klopp, albeit a vampire version. But go to bed at a decent hour and be rewarded with your favourite Germans, at least I hope so. In fact with how tired I feel today I could most likely happily fall asleep right now. The only reason I’m not is that there’s a repeat of an old game on later this evening that I want to see. After that I’m going straight to bed.

It’s the first of three football free weekends and it’s a very strange and disorientating experience. Combined with being tired and it only being the second day of the new year it all makes for a very confusing day. When I was watching part of Liverpool’s game earlier I got to thinking how slowly time was moving and how I never feel like that whilst watching Freiburg or Germany play. Then it’s like it’s over before I even know what’s happened, it feels like it’s just started and then all of a sudden it’s over. I feel that way about time in general, you spend a lot of time wondering where it went. Right now with there being no football on and having no fixed schedule for the weekend I feel the opposite way. Like there’s all this time to fill and I have no idea how to fill it. There’s plenty of things I could be doing. I just don’t want to do any of those things. I should be catching up on my Bundesliga posts, I need to do that before the season resumes. I can put that off for the weekend at least and get back to work on those on Monday. I also keep putting off rewatching the final two episodes of The Bridge and writing the final post about them. I’ve had enough time to do so, but I keep putting it off. It’s almost like if I don’t watch the final two episodes again then I won’t have to let go of Henrik and Saga. And I won’t have to admit that Hans is gone. I still can’t believe that. That they killed Hans off. For me that reason alone makes me wish there’s not going to be another series. Her having a new partner in the form of Henrik is one thing, but the thought of replacing Hans in anyway is unbearable.

Along with counting down the days until the season resumes I’ve been trying to work out what film to watch next. I keep thinking about Inglourious Basterds. Partly because that film is never far from my thoughts and partly because I read an article in which Tarantino said that the opening scene of that is his most favourite scene that he’s ever written. I would say it’s mine too but the truth is any line or scene he’s written that has Christoph Waltz in it is my favourite. Tarantino’s right about that, Christoph really does make his words sing. I’m not sure I could pick a favourite but if I really had to I would say the “That’s a bingo” line is the best of them all. There’s just something priceless about that scene.

The only thing holding me back from watching it is that the last time I watched it was the last but one week of the previous season. It was the night before Freiburg beat Bayern, or to be more precise since it finished so late, it was the very same day. It’s almost like a curse of some kind, I know Freiburg did beat Bayern but it didn’t matter in the end. On the other hand it seems like that’s exactly why I should watch it now, when the season is on break so I can watch it and not feel like I’m cursing anyone. Plus it would be a good time to watch it and Django Unchained, as kind of a preparation for The Hateful Eight on Friday.

I may be feeling a little lost today but at least I’m not worrying quite as much as I was yesterday. I think getting some sleep helped on that count, as did the Matze adventure I’m working on. I didn’t get enough sleep but enough to be of some help. The problem is still there and I’m still avoiding dealing with it but that’s ok for the moment. It will still be there on Monday. Right now my mind is focused on other things, I know all I’m doing is running away from it but that’s not always such a bad thing. I don’t think I come up with a solution just yet so surely it’s a good thing I’m not obsessing over it. Nor am I sure that I should allow myself to make up my mind right now, not when I’m feeling so confused. Allowing myself to be focusing on Matze and making character related decisions is not the worst thing to happen. Though it’s probably a little misleading to say I’m letting it happen, that implies I have any control in that matter. When truth is that couldn’t be further from the truth. Normally when I wake up I write whatever I can in my dream journal and I may make a few story notes if I have any random ideas. This morning I wrote a full three pages of the the beginnings of a new story for Matze. That was before doing anything else, it was after waking up and writing about the vampire dream, the third thing I did this morning. Writing the start of that story was apparently important enough to put off getting breakfast. Given how hungry I always am in the morning that means he’s pretty important then.

There are two other things which brightened up my day today besides Matze. Whilst I don’t yet know what Freiburg and Dortmund have planned for the winter break I do know that Bayern are playing Karlsuher SC in a friendly two weeks from today. So I will at least have one Saturday accounted for in the next three weeks. The other thing is something I got in the post, a very special signed picture of Hansi. I always like it when he smiles but I especially like it in this picture. I have by now quite a few pictures of him from when he was younger and active as a player, in many of them it doesn’t look like him. In this picture not only is his smile as wonderful as it always is but it looks like him too:

Hansi Flick – 1.FC Köln signed photo

2016: First Film of the Year and other Deliberations

Normally picking the first film of the year to watch would be a big deal. In fact it would not only be the topmost thought in my mind right now but it would already be decided by now. This year like the year just gone is a little different. Films are still important but they aren’t the foremost thought in my mind. Right now all I can think of is how many days there are till the Bundesliga returns and how many days till Freiburg’s next game. 21 days until it all kicks off again and Bayern play HSV. 22 days until a newly resurgent Gladbach play Dortmund. The prospect of that game is mouthwatering, unbelievably so. And most importantly and no less mouth watering is the game between Bochum and Freiburg, precisely 34 days from now. I’m happy they play on a Friday, it’s one less day to wait.

But of course there’s no football to watch right now, not live anyway. Not unless I watch the Premier League and so far I haven’t done. Back to the title, whatever the film I chose it was certain to be a German one. In the end it turned out to be a rather predictable choice, a by now very familiar favourite, The Lives of Others. Some films you just don’t get sick of, regardless of how many times you’ve seem them and how well you know them.What I love about The Lives of Other is it’s one of those films that makes me think every time I see it, that there’s always a new detail to notice. You really do gain something from every viewing. As for the first film at the cinema, I have a creeping suspicion that will be The Hateful Eight. It would be very fitting where that to be true.

Towards the end of last year I wrote a list of things I wanted to do in the year to come, some fun stuff and some serious stuff too. I haven’t done that this time round and I have no plans to. Not because I’m unhappy that I didn’t cross enough things off my list, I actually crossed off quite a few things, including the item at the top of my fun list. More because in the words of August from The Bridge my plan is to “not to have a plan.” I just don’t see the point, everything is all over the place and it’s close to impossible to make any plans, so I’m just not going to bother, not with any major overarching plans and not with any aims.

The first thing on my fun list was to learn how tie a scarf like Jogi Löw, which I am now able to do. The final point from that list was to write more Löw adventures. Well that’s pretty much taken care of it’s self, I have no worries on that front. In fact it’s taken over almost everything else. Everything but football itself that is.

Two things from my serious list were to save some money and to downsize my collection, that is my DVD and book collection. Saving money, not so much, but the latter I’ve had some success with and hope to move on to downsizing my book collection next. The most important thing on the list was to do the things which make me happy, regardless of whether other people find them strange or not. I’ve certainly done that, in fact I wonder if I may have committed to doing so a little too much. At the same time I can’t help but wonder how good the friendship in question was if it was almost broken over a special interest. And just what or who was in the wrong, If a special interest can really be more important than a friendship, And if you’re even asking that question, then surely the friendship doesn’t mean as much as you thought it did. Is it possible that I wanted an excuse, an out from it, and the special interest conflict just gave me the excuse I was looking for.

In a not so fun conversation a while back I was asked for my reasons for writing the Löw adventures, how it was that I who can’t stand romance in any form likes to write such things. And whether or not writing said stories made me have any interest in romance and relationships in real life. Or if it was the case that I was writing them precisely because I have an interest in such things but that I can’t actually have them, so I write stories instead. I do find them fulfilling in a sense but not like that, they haven’t given me any interest in pursuing such things. I do however consider my characters good company and they are a lot less anxiety provoking than real life people, that’s for sure. Which is most likely why I prefer them, I always know what they’re thinking, what they’re going to say and what they mean. There’s only confusion if I want there to be. How could I not prefer them to real life people?

One thing from that post I will repeat here is to list four things I’m looking forward to this year. I thought Euro 2016 would be top of this list, but I have very mixed feelings about it now because of what happened in November. But then I can’t figure out what else would top the list. So my four things to look forward to in 2016:

  1. Euro 2016, not to mention the U19 Euros and the Olympics because Germany qualified football wise.
  2. The second half of the 2.Bundesliga season and finding out what will become of Freiburg and their promotion campaign.
  3. The Hateful Eight, Tarantino’s next film.
  4. Writing more Löw adventures.

Were the list to have a fifth addition no doubt something sticker related would make the list, perhaps the prospect of a German album for Euro 2016. But then seeing as Hansi won’t be in there, perhaps not.

One thing which I’m not at all looking forward to or have a great deal of enthusiasm for is the prospect of spending time with other people. It’s barely the first day of the year and I’m already worrying about how to get out of something of this nature. I no longer have the excuse of being sick but I still don’t feel like being around anyone. I know part of this is because it’ll take some time to get back to a normal routine and I’m feeling out of sorts because of all this. With that in mind I shouldn’t do anything stupid or rash. Which I have to admit is unlikely anyway because that would actually involve me making a decision and taking decisive action. That’s not like me, that’s not how I screw things up. It’s more because of what I don’t do as opposed to what I actually do. I let things like friendships fall apart by doing nothing. It’s always a tempting proposition, to simply disappear. To allow everything to fade away. Not to make any decisions but to do nothing and simply allow old habits to creep in. Like they are now, avoiding other people and creeping around in the dead of night. Allowing such patterns to continue because you know you can avoid other people that way.

With all this friendship stuff I can’t win. It’s not a question of whether I want friends or not, or even of whether I’m lonely or not. It’s a question of which is more tolerable, because I’ll be anxious and worried about something either way. If I have friends then I’m worrying about getting it wrong all the time, and if I’m a good enough friend. And when I think something’s gone wrong which is a lot, I can’t let go of it. Whilst part of me is worried they’ll never speak or write to me again another part of me secretly hopes they won’t, it would make it so much easier on my part. It’s tempting to think that having no friends at all would be easier, at least I would have one less thing to worry about.

November – the month of Nils

I’ve been putting off writing this post all month, telling myself that I didn’t have enough time. That wasn’t really true, I could have found time. I just didn’t want to. I didn’t want to put down on paper (well virtual paper) my thoughts about this month. But I had to, for three reasons. Firstly if I didn’t Nils wouldn’t get a month named after him and if there’s anyone in the Freiburg squad who deserves a month named after him then it’s him. Secondly it would bug me, the incompleteness of it, every other month has a post, which means November needs one too. Regardless of whether or not I wish I could wipe all memory of the month from my mind. But I can’t do that and I can’t pretend it didn’t happen which is the third reason for needing to write this post. Pretending it didn’t happen won’t help, I need to accept that it did and writing this post is part of doing so.

It’s strange how it all worked out, at the start of the month I wasn’t that enthused by the prospect of the international break which is odd in itself. They are after all my favourite times of the year, but not this time. It was partly for football related reasons, I just didn’t want to have to wait two weeks to see Freiburg play again. As things turned out the break was good for them, they put an end to their streak of three games without a win. It wasn’t so good for me. How it went is mostly likely related to why I’m not at all looking forward to the next one which thankfully is not until March, so at least I’ve got some time to work all of this stuff out. At the start of the month I was musing over what would happen if I put a stop to my current obsession, if I were to pack up my collection. I sort of feel that way right now but for different reasons. One thing is the same however, I’m not sick of them. Not Freiburg, Jogi, Hansi, Matze or Manuel. Not any of them. It’s not that. It’s just if I’m not interested in them then I won’t be bothered by what’s currently bothering me. I’m trying to think of this logically which of course when it comes to obsessions and special interests simply does not work. The strangest thing of all is I worry a lot about pretty much everything, but never before have I actually been given a reason to really worry, to really be afraid. And the most confusing thing of all is it wasn’t myself I was worried about. I’ve never experienced that before, being so concerned with someone else’s feelings and their safety. I realise that must make me sound like a bad person who doesn’t think of others. But it’s true, I never have been so scared for someone else. I’m still trying to make sense of that part of it.

Obviously other stuff happened in November but everything is overshadowed by all of this. I would have had an easier time of letting go of it were it not for the reminders at every turn. Some of them coming in the most unexpected of places. Like asking Nils Petersen about it in an interview he gave before the game. Now if I had been watching an interview with one of the players in the Germany squad then I would have expected such a question, hence why I actively avoided any of those videos. But Petersen wasn’t there, he wasn’t on international duty. Why ask him about it? Freiburg were meant to be my escape from it all, and it should have worked. Because at the moment they have no German internationals in the squad, not in the A team, they of course have plenty of players in the youth ranks.

Since then I’ve just been pretending none of it happened, which of course is not the way to go. Not only was I pretending that it didn’t happen but that I didn’t feel the way I did. After wanting to talk about it I then avoided doing so, even when I could have. I’ve finally had part of the conversation I needed to have back then, plus I wrote several pages working through it all which I think helped somewhat. But it was the conversation which was most helpful, admitting and saying out loud that I was afraid for them. For reasons I don’t entirely understand that was important.

The month started out with me in not such a good mood, partly because I was still obsessing over a mistake I made, an error I made in a social situation. That situation is never going to be resolved and truth is it doesn’t really matter. I’ve made mistakes like that before and I’ll most likely make them again in future, that is if I ever allow myself to talk to people I don’t know that well again. Point is such things don’t really matter, not in the grand scheme of things. There are after all things which are so much more important to worry about. Words aren’t meaningless, most certainly not, but in this one case they are.

Seeing as how I ended up with quite a bit more free time than I anticipated I got to watch a few more films than I expected. First up was Burnt which I only saw because Daniel Brühl was in it. I didn’t like the film that much but then I didn’t expect to, I just wanted to see Daniel doing something different, he didn’t disappoint, he rarely does. Spectre on the other hand was disappointing. I’m just glad I’m no longer a fan of Christoph Waltz, were I still a fan of his I would have been hugely disappointed. In both the film and his performance. Usually I hate the film but like him, not so here. I also took the time to revisit an old favourite, James Spader in Two Days in the Valley. Some things never disappoint and James Spader is one of them, the film is quite good too which is a bonus because I’ve sat through many a bad film in my Spader quest. It’s right up his street, a creepy psychopathic hitman. And of course even though he’s the bad guy I still root for him, every single time. Along with Burnt and Spectre I also saw Bridge of Spies at the cinema which as forgettable in just about every way possible. My film of the month would have to be What we do in the Shadows, it’s quickly becoming my bad day film. The film I watch when I don’t know what else to do, when I need cheering up. I wish I could explain why I like it so much, I’ll have to try and do that some time. So far all of my attempts have failed, it’s hard to put into words and to pin down just why it amuses me so much.

Naked Among Wolves is also worth a mention. I watch a lot of Holocaust and WW2 related films, too many in fact. After watching so many and finding fault with a lot of them it’s hard to imagine coming across one that’s any good or that stands out in any way. This one did, though it may have been because of the time I watched it at and the reasons I watched it. I picked it thinking it would make me feel something, it didn’t work that way. But the film stuck with me, the main point of the story. If we can’t even protect a three year old child then what are we. Sometimes you have to sacrifice one person to save more, but they couldn’t do that, not here. They risked an uprising which had several thousands of people’s lives at stake, because sometimes the little things do matter. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter most of all.

Reading wise it was not a good month at all. I read just two books but I did enjoy both of them though in very different ways. Oddly enough they were both connected though it wasn’t deliberate. The first was Savage Continent, it’s a book I’ve had in my collection a while, since January in fact. I kept meaning to read it and just never got round to it. Part of the reason I kept putting it off is because I knew it would make depressing reading. Which makes it odd that I chose to read it in the middle of November and to keep reading it. It’s about the aftermath of WW2, about how it wasn’t the neat picture of reconstruction that some documentaries and books make you think. It certainly wasn’t how certain governments portrayed it and a lot of thing got swept under the rug. Not just the way Germans were removed from Poland, Czechoslovakia and other countries but how some of those countries treated other minorities. One fact is made clear the war did not end on VE day, not for a lot of people. In Poland for example there still fighting going on in relation to Polish troops and Ukrainians. It’s a fascinating read, if not a thoroughly depressing one as you would expect.  Only now do I think I understand why I kept reading it. I wonder if I kept reading it because it was a reminder that bad things have happened before and will happen again. That what happened in France was a terrible thing to happen but it was just one of many. That bad things happen but you can’t hide away forever. I don’t know, it’s just a theory, I’m really not very good at making sense of such things.

The other book I read was Grobar Partizan: Pleasure, Pain and Paranoia. It’s about a man who for work moves to Serbia and it charts his journey of picking a team to follow whilst he lives there and of watching said team, he chose Partizan Belgrade. Like I said it’s related to the previous book in that the book whilst being about football is also about politics and how the two of them are connected. It’s kind of an odd concept, for sport to be so politicized. It’s not something I’m at all familiar with. It’s certainly not the case here.  Here most fans are so apathetic they don’t do anything about rising ticket prices, sure they complain and grumble but most people don’t actually do anything. But in Serbia it’s very different, there’s a very different relationship between certain sections of fans and their clubs. It’s not necessarily a good thing either, whilst the author admires some of their dedication to their club and recognises some of the positives he also doesn’t shy away from noting the negative sides of the situation.

Football wise of course it was not a particularly good month, for one thing the football was not really about football, not in relation to international games anyway. As for the play-offs for Euro 2016 I got neither of my wishes, Freiburg defender Mensur Mujzda and his Bosnian compatriots will unfortunately not be going next summer and neither will Denmark, which also ruined a second dream I had in relation to the group draw. I would have loved it for Denmark to get drawn with Germany again. On a Freiburg front they played three games in November. First they drew 1-1 with Duisburg in a game they obviously should have won. After the international break they beat Paderborn 4-1 in an outstanding performance. In their third and final game of the month they also took all three points but their performance was overall rather forgettable, they got lucky. They didn’t deserve to win, not really. As disappointed as I was with their performance I have to admit it was kind of a thrill, winning with a last second winner like that. The game whilst being a derby was not a classic, not by any means. It was in actual fact a rather unpleasant watch, but that last second goal, it was special. And I’m happy that it was Karim Guede that scored it, very happy. I just hope next season that Freiburg will once more be facing Stuttgart in the Baden-Württemberg derby. Not that facing off against KSC and Sandhausen wasn’t fun, it was. But I want revenge for that 4-1 defeat at home last season.

Collectible wise I got quite a few good additions, some great tickets both for my Freiburg and my Jogi collection, a signed Nils Petersen trading card and finally the most special piece of all, a match worn SC Freiburg shirt of one Matthias Ginter:

Nils Petersen - signed SC Freiburg Match Attax cardIMG_20151222_190515IMG_20151222_190704

 

October – the month of Oliver

Naming this month was a little tricky, coming up with a name wasn’t difficult. The problem is he’s not the only Oliver. The one it is named for is Marc-Oliver Kempf who is more than ok in my book. Problem is there’s another Oliver whom I’m not too fond of, not because he left, it’s where he went that’s the problem. Obviously I’m not happy with him leaving but I could eventually get over that, him going to H96, that I can never get over. But I couldn’t come up with another name, and I didn’t think it was right to change it just because of that. I mean it’s not Marc-Oliver’s fault they happen to share a name.

I’ve been putting off writing this post for quite some time, that much is obvious given that it’s about October and it’s now December. I didn’t know the reasons why until I started looking through that month’s posts. Now I have an idea as to why that might be. October was the month in which Germany wrapped up their Euro qualification in none too perfect fashion. As for their game against Ireland, well the less said about that the better.

From a Freiburg perspective they got knocked out of the DFB Pokal. Not only them but the two other teams I was rooting for as well. Freiburg played five games in October and won just one of them, a 5-2 victory over Greuther Fürth. One win, two losses and two draws. The KSC game I can’t complain that much, if it had gone either way it would have been a fair result. A 1-1 draw is a fair result. It just really smarts, you figure a goal that late in the game has to be the winner but it just wasn’t meant to be. I’m more disappointed with the Braunschweig result, a own goal by Mujdza kicking off their comeback. That wasn’t just unlucky, that’s game they should and could have taken control of.

It’s not just for football reasons that I would prefer October remain forgotten, I made plenty of mistakes which I’d rather forget. Mistakes which are predictably social related. It’s for that reason I shouldn’t forget about them, I should remember them because they serve as an excellent reminder of why I should limit such situations. That is I should limit the amount of situations in which such problems could occur. In this instance it was partly my own fault. I should have just let it go. I know I could never make my peace with the situation but I was never going to get any answers either. There was going to be no good outcome. One thing is for certain I wasted far too much time obsessing over this. Time which could have spent on far more constructive activities. It shouldn’t take so long for me to realise that I’m obsessing over something and that I need to put a stop to it.

Sometimes time can help, letting some time pass before you attempt to make sense of it can be useful. I don’t know if that’s the case here, now I look back at what happened and wonder not only how any of it could have happened but just why I cared so much. The best thing to do I think is to accept that none of it makes sense to me and most likely never will. It’s most likely always going to be that way, jumping from one social related crisis to the next.

I didn’t watch many films in October but one I did watch was “The Hour of the Lynx.” It’s one I wish I really hadn’t watched, not because it wasn’t a good film, to the contrary, it was an excellent film. Just a very depressing one which really got to me, enough to write a post about it which isn’t something I do often these days.  As for what else I watched I also went to the cinema to see Michael Fassbender in Macbeth. For one thing I was glad I’d read the play because if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have had any idea what was going on. I did not enjoy the film at all and honestly it’s one of the few films that I’ve seen at the cinema which I seriously considered walking out of.

The other films I watched in October were Sicario, Secretary and Killer Joe. The latter I want to watch again before I make any comments on. Secretary however I do have something to write about.It’s not the first time I’ve seen the film, more like the sixth or seventh time I’ve seen it by now. I rewatched it because of a conversation with the only person I’ve met in real life who not only gets my fascination with James Spader but actually shares it.

They mentioned to me that we disagreed about the ending. I thought they meant that I thought it’s not real, which I’m not sure it is. I think it’s possible that the ending is just her delusion in her dehydrated state. Because I’m not sure that Edward could or would let another person in that way. But that wasn’t it. The point we differed on was whether or not they were both satisfied with the ending, with being together, assuming that it’s real that is. Because the real fun is not at home, it’s at work. Being left at home would not suit Lee at all, knowing that Edward is going to go off to work and that her replacement will be there. That’s the only place he can be himself, where he can have any kind of relationship. Writing this I’m not sure on what we disagreed, on who thinks what. Because thinking about it I don’t think either Edward or Lee is happy with the new situation. If it was real then it’s like he felt obligated to save her.

I’m starting to feel like I should take notes in such conversations, these days I can never remember what was said, or rather I can remember that but not who said what. When I don’t want to remember I can recall exactly what I or someone else said, and when I do want to remember I can’t. I’ve been a lot more distracted and unfocused these past few months. It’s most unusual, the winter months are usually my favourite time of year. When I come out of hibernation so to speak. This year has been all over the place, in lots of different ways.

I didn’t read many books either but one I did read made me very angry, the book in question being The Rosie Project. The source of my anger was when Don talks to the woman who’s responsible for putting together the presentation he’s giving about the genetics of autism. They have a conversation in which she expresses the view that the boys have to alter their behaviour so as to form relationships. But she commits a far bigger infraction than that when she criticizes him for using the word Aspie in his presentation. It’s easier just to quote the section in question:

“You know we never use that word, Aspies, We don’t want them thinking it’s some sort of club.” More negative implications from someone who was presumably paid to assist and encourage.

“Like homosexuality?” I said.

“Touche.” said Julie. “But it’s different. If they don’t change, they’re not going to have real relationships – they’ll never have partners.”

So many things about that make me angry it’s difficult to know where to begin. But how about we start with the fact that she’s presuming to speak for them, she’s not autistic and more to the point, she’s not them. How can she presume to know what they want, if they’re even interested in relationships or any of that. How does she know that they have to change in order for someone to like or love them. I find that insulting, like she’s saying no-one could love them as they are. How about another autistic person for one thing. And this is the thing that makes me angriest of all, who the hell is she to say whether or not they should use the word Aspie or not. She has no right to decide such things, to define how they should see themselves. And why shouldn’t they see it as some sort of club, god forbid we should feel like we belong somewhere. I don’t even remember if I liked the book or not, but then that’s not really important because I only read it for research purposes. Not because I’m interested in pursuing a relationship with a NT but because I wanted to familiarize myself with a such a concept in order to give me a little more perspective on writing a relationship like this. I wanted to know how much compromise such a relationship should involve and to see what the problems would be.

I didn’t get a lot of reading done, I only read two other books Who Invented the Stepover and Star Trek Academy: Collision Course. The latter is a favourite of mine and is one of those books I read when I don’t know what else to do. Whether or not Spock is meant to be autistic is irrelevant, point is this book is one of the best portrayals ever. It details how someone like Spock might think and also provides some excellent descriptions of sensory overload from an autistic person’s perspective. Who Invented the Stepover is a trivia book and provides many interesting football related facts from all over the world. And yes Jogi and Hansi are in there,because of their by now famous blue sweaters, there’s even a picture of the two of them looking rather fetching in said sweaters. Given the title of the section, “Best-dressed Coach” I’d consider it a travesty if Jogi wasn’t mentioned in some way.

IMG_20151221_122338That’s not my favourite thing about the book however. What I liked most about the book is Freiburg related. When I read the question “What is greatest relegation escape act of all time?” I knew Freiburg would not escape a mention in the answering of this question. I was not disappointed, in answering the question the story of their survival at the end of the 1993-94 season is told. Funnily enough the story also involves Nürnberg and Bayern. So in the same story you have a Jogi, Hansi and an Andreas team. In fact Andreas Köpke played in the game mentioned below.

The gist of it is with three games left to play Freiburg were four points and one goal behind 1.FCN in 16th place. Here’s the first incredible element of the story. After not winning one solitary game in four months, they then won their last three games. A fact which meant 1.FCN needed from their last three games one win and one draw. A draw they were in the process of getting against champions Bayern when a phantom goal occurred. Long story short they protested against the result of the game and they got a replay. They then lost said replay 5-0 to Bayern and were relegated on goal difference. The following season Freiburg achieved the feat of finishing third in the Bundesliga, whilst their local rivals VfB Stuttgart languished in twelfth. Then as is their way two seasons later they were relegated finishing in 17th place. Stuttgart on the other hand were at the time under the guidance of Jogi Löw and finished in fourth. His first season in charge and his team get relegated. Funny how things work out. Even more ironic is on the final day of the season Freiburg played KSC, another one of Jogi’s teams. The next season it was KSC who found themselves relegated.

Back to the topic at hand, to finish my favourite collectibles of the month. I got lots of great tickets including the two Germany ones for the month but it’s a Poland ticket which is actually my favourite of the month. For I not only got a ticket but a VIP one and a rather awesome case to go with it:

IMG_20151221_122733IMG_20151221_123057IMG_20151221_122830My favourite Jogi related collectible of the month was obtained by accident in that I didn’t buy it because of him, I didn’t know he was in there. It’s a program from Freiburg’s game with St Pauli, and on the first page is an article detailing their past encounters, an article which features pictures of both Christian Streich and Jogi from when they played for Freiburg:

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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:

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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?