Mystery Blogger Award! Is it spoopy, is it mysterious? No, it’s mostly a chain mail thingy

The last time I did one of these chain mail-majingies was in December when I did the whole b/w-challenge (7 black and white photos in seven days without any people as motives) on Facebook which was actually quite fun.

Before that, it has been at least 3 years because I remember that I did that one questionnaire on my blog to intrigue and amuse my then very new boyfriend (spoiler alert: it worked).

So, since then, because relationships and 9-to-5-jobs suck out every ounce of time I had before to waste on this blog, it has been a little less social on here. But then Muriel did the thing and not in the murdery sense like that one chain letter horror novel I once read and which cannot be googled because all you get is Christopher Pike and that’s not the story I am thinking of, argh! Wait, where was I? Ah yes …

No, he invited me to yet another blogger award which still is a thing if you can believe it.

So, let’s get this started (as enthusiastically as I am when that Black eyed Peas-song of the same name starts which is not very):

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog.

At some point in this chain, this image will have the worst resolution and be just three pixels with a mysterious file name, so it fits the theme, I guess.mystery blogger award logo

  1. List the rules.

(How is this #2 on this list and not #1?)

  1. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

Yeah, thanks Muriel, thanks a lot!

  1. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.

You know what, that blog looks airy, light and pretty, I will actually check that out, haven’t been on good pretty blogs in a while: okoto enigma

  1. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • I think I am naturally uncool and real life cool people make me really nervous because I know that I simply can’t measure up to them.
  • I love to read and have a lot of great books at home and generally, I love all sorts of genres but most of the time, I will pick a horror novel instead of that really amazing sad novel by that young German writer because I love to be spooped.  
  • I usually play games on the easy mode and only sometimes on the normal mode because I hate dying in games (like, I really hate it, it stresses me out). I will rather cower behind a box for twenty minutes to stealth kill an enemy instead of trying out a bold move. 
  1. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.

This is … look, I am 33, I have the aforementioned boyfriend, I have a job, I apparently play video games and struggle on easy mode and I have a few other embarrassing hobbies I will keep secret for now. How in the world can I know 10-20 blogs that I read regularly?

Ok, so here it goes: dear fellow bloggers, you don’t have to do this and if you don’t, I will not spam you or be mad because I really get it. So I mainly put you in this list because I truly enjoy your blogs and want others to enjoy them as well.

Spoiler Alert: all of these are mainly in German, sorry, not sorry.

Fluegge: this lovely lady writes about journeys, “Fernweh” but also about other things and she is just an amazing human being (as far as I know, who knows what deep dark secrets she will reveal, muahaha). And I guess because these awards are also here to extend readerships, I simply have to nominate her.

JHubner: my music blog is a sorry excuse of a blog compared to Mr. Hubners amazing trove of alternative and indie music, musings and pop culture tidbits. If I have the time and want to discover something new, I can just randomly pick a review of his and it will be at least a 8/10. He also makes his own (good) music, so it’s a given that I will totally recommend him.

Loosy Says: because she did the thing back then and helped me to be charming for my new boyfriend. I recommend Loosy for everyone who loves food and cat pictures which on my account is at least 99% of the internet.

That’s it, my fourth choice would have been Muriel but he already did the deed, I told you I don’t read blogs. Gosh dammit, should I start again? Is it even worth it? This award really got super depressing …

  1. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.

I will … I did. 

  1. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)

Urgh.

  1. Which song reminds you most of your hometown and why (second part doesn’t need to be answered if too personal)
  2. What’s the one place you always wanted to travel to but haven’t gotten to yet?
  3. What’s the weirdest thing you ever ate and did it taste good?
  4. If Steve Buscemi had to play a main character in a hot new remake of “Mean Girls” who would he play?
  5. What movie always makes you happy, no matter what?
  1. Share a link to your best post(s)

It should be that one about the boobs-playlist but to be honest, one of my favorite posts is my apocalypse-playlist because – without really planning it – it veered into crazy territory.  

And I guess to get a glimpse into my writing about music, this “defense of pop” is a nice entry.

Last but not least, one of my newer features which is a collection of horror movies featuring mermaids.

And here’s the five questions asked by Muriel (I gotta say, though, it’s pretty difficult to decide which one is the weird one …)

Do you like meat?

I do. I like it less than I did, I noticed, but sometimes I turn into a ravenous beast and then I eat a lot of it. I don’t like all kinds of meat and usually try to get the ethically less horrible version but yeah, I like it.

Do you think you’d write for Springer if they offered enough? For the purpose of this question, we will suppose that they might be generous, but the perspective should be in the realm of possibility, so if you’re going to say „Sure, for 500,000,000€ a day I might consider it“, please don’t. Or actually: Go ahead. You can just name a price. I guess that would be a good measure of your willingness to write for Springer, or lack of same.

(For the international readers: Springer is a publisher who publishes stuff like the US FOX news or British the Sun – some of it is really bad and badly written, some is okay but still ethically dubious because there is a lot of sexist, racist shit with blaming all problems on poor people, migrants and other minorities and they also show a crass disregard for privacy rights of individuals)

Here’s the thing: I already sold out when I entered the marketing world right after I got my degree and I even worked in boulevard journalism for a while, so obviously I have no soul and would work for Springer in a heartbeat. 

BUT! I am at a point in my life where I actually enjoy writing for a company and would rather look for that kind of job than being a journalist. I also – at least now (knock on wood) – am not the kind of person who needs that much money to enjoy her life, so it wouldn’t really be about the amount of money that made me do it. I am quite happy with what I have, and of course I know how horribly cheesy that sounds.

So, I guess my answer is: no. But I really get why others would and definitely wouldn’t fault anyone for it (I would only fault people if they write actually ethically dubious stuff for Springer). And maybe at some point I have to make a decision like that. But it wouldn’t be about “how much are they willing to pay” and more like “do I not have other options, are they paying much more than literally anyone else for an amazing job and working atmosphere?” 

Sorry, to be so lame with this answer, I know I should have been super witty and sarcastic with this one but …meh.

What’s your favorite post of mine?

I really enjoyed your/Muriel’s writing experiment for “Bright Outlook.” which is – sorry, dear English speaking readers – in German. It’s a psychological experiment-thriller kind of story (something I really love) and I am so amazed that he basically put his story as a work in progress out there to let us – me included – comment and criticize away. It’s also a fun read. Also, I am technically cheating because this is not one but about a gazillion posts but if this was about movies and I would say “Godfather Trilogy” – or rather, in my case, “Lord of the Rings”, no one would bat an eye.

If you were caught in a different time stream than your own and had to kill Christian Weirich for a chance to return to your own, which kind of weapon would you use, if any?

Who is Christian Weirich? What kind of time stream is it? Are the people I know in that time stream as well? Do you know that I am against the death penalty and therefore could never kill someone, so what kind of sadistic shit is this, Muriel?

Is this some kind of insider joke and I get drawn into it, naively, innocently? Am I part of bullying a friend or foe of yours?

Also: do they still have the Szechuan Sauce from McDonalds in that timeline? Because if so, I would totally stay (I’m kidding, all McDonalds sauces are gross).

How do you feel about being nominated for this? Please be very honest and very extensive in your answer, especially if your feelings run in the general direction of „Was this really necessary I HATE those things!“

Well, I actually like questionnaires but I always feel horrible when it comes to the nominating part. Like, why would I want to be someone who forwards a chain letter. Didn’t we learn back in school that you can never win with chain letters?

I also always think that surely no one can read this and think ‘oh, this is interesting, she plays video games on easy-mode!’ – I know that this is some boring-ass shit and that it’s super egocentric and banal. 

However, to fully answer this question, I think it’s nice that I got nominated because it’s nice that there’s at least one (and probably not more than two) person out there that reads my blog. So, thank you, Muriel (this time without the sarcasm). 

I’ll play myself out with the iconic song by the Blood Red Shoes: “it’s getting boring by the blogging award entry”

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Let’s look at my favorite movies, tv shows and games of 2017

You already got to read the few albums and artists I discovered last year (and liked), so here’s (part of) the reason why I didn’t have more time for more music. Yes, I am a couch potato and I couch potatoed my way through last year.

  1. Claws

If I had to describe “Claws” to anyone, then I would say it’s a crime story centered around a nail salon, told with the ridiculous twists and drama/comedy-tonality of “True Blood”. So yes, it wouldn’t make much sense. I try not to think too much about the plot of “Claws” because for one, Niecy Nash, who plays the protagonist and nail salon owner “Desna” is so good that I actually don’t care about anything else. BUT! The styling of the show, the plot twists and especially the cast of women are so good (“True Blood” Kelly Preston, Judy Reys from “Scrubs”, Jenn Lyon and Karrueche Tran are such a good team, I could watch them without any crime stories or other plot just minding their business in the nail salon every day).

Usually, I am really not into these kind of shows. Did not get into “Breaking Bad”, didn’t care for “Weeds”, did not get into “The Wire”. The whole money laundering, drug, mafia-stuff is really not my cup of tea. But “Claws” really got me.

  1. American Gods

Like many, I really love the Fullerverse (the usually intertwined universe Bryan Fuller creates with his TV shows) and especially his aesthetic and use of music. The soundtrack for “Hannibal” and “American Gods” is absolutely amazing and so is the one for “Pushing Daisies”, for completely different reasons, though.

I read the book “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman about 10 years ago in a library sweep of all his graphic novels and novels but had forgotten a lot of details. So, I was generally interested to renew my memories. But the real reason why I eventually stuck with it were to cast-choices I absolutely adore: Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Stormare respectively as Easter and Czernobog. I first saw Chenoweth in “Pushing Daisies” (and actually would have preferred her as the love interest because of her intense, overwhelming charm). And I basically watch everything with Peter Stormare in it because that’s an actor who gives it his all and is always so mesmerizing, no matter the movie. I still would recommend “Smalltown Murder Songs” as THE Stormare-movie because it’s such a good performance and an overall perfect movie (the soundtrack, people!, is the perfect metaphor of the protagonist’s inner rage).

Ok, but “American Gods” is generally cast perfectly and all those little stories between the main plot are incredibly beautiful and occasionally transcending. I can’t wait for season two because I actually forgot how the novel ended.

  1. The OA (and particularly Alice Krige)

This weird, fantastic realism take on an abduction story is one of the oddest entries in this list because I still don’t know whether I liked it or not. Is it too ridiculous? Is it too cheesy? Still, it had an impact, a very emotional and visual impact on me and when I think of that show, I feel things and that’s, after all, something, isn’t it?

Most of those feelings and most of the reasons why I really loved the show came from Alice Krige’s acting. She plays the mother of the protagonist who sees her daughter after she has been missing for seven years. Every scene with Krige is absolutely beautiful and devastating.

In fact, she ranks amongst the most memorable acting scenes in the last few years for me:

(in no particular order):

Alice Krige – The OA (2016) (every scene in season 1)

Peter Abernathy – Westworld (2016) (episode #1, season 1)

Peter Stormare (see #26) – American Gods (episode #2, season 1)

Viola Davis – How to get away with Murder (episode #4, season 1)

  1. Insecure

I wish I had this show when I was in my twenties because it’s so funny and fun without dodging serious issues when you’re young, broke and full of self-doubt. I also love how the issue of racism is prevalent but never on the nose. There is a subtlety to it that is really effective because it portrays the micro aggressions that are difficult to address because “they’re not really racist, but …”.

Issa Ray’s fashion is also the best thing I’ve seen this year on TV (it’s a close race with that one Niecy Nash bodysuit in “Claws”, though).

  1. Survivor

My boyfriend and I got into “Survivor” recently and I have to give it to Jeff Probst and Co: this show is so well executed and thought out. I can live with the evil editing of some characters (I mean, that’s basically what makes reality TV interesting) and can tolerate some of the more forced emotional moments. But it’s in generally an excellence example how great editing can make the most inane premise thrilling and how devilish you can create drama with simple twists in the game formula.

  1. Channel Zero

I love this show. “Channel Zero” takes on a different creepy pasta (basically an urban legend born out of reddit or tumblr threads) each season and runs with it. The acting is amazing, the atmosphere is throughout unnerving and super creepy and the make-up and special effects are never over the top. The plot generally is pretty tight, so no “American Horror Story”-going-off-the-rails with this one. This is the horror anthology I expected when AHS started out.

  1. Big Little Lies

Ok, so, I will start with a disclaimer: Given the ending, I feel like one particular actress should have been featured a lot more often and not pushed to the sidelines that much. But that actress also was able to tell her story in one singular scene without even speaking. Which means: if there is a season 2, give that woman more to do because she obviously is capable enough to even work with an undercooked character and breathe life into her.

“Big Little Lies” was so mesmerizing because despite its sometimes pretentious-leaning look it was so well made from the set, the camera, the soundtrack, the lighting and obviously, the acting.  I loved the fact that the scenes were given time to play out, that the characters could breathe and really get everything out of the performances. There are certain scenes with Nicole Kidman that convey so much that it breaks your heart (it reminded me of “Birth” where she was equally amazing).

I still wonder whether reading the book will actually expand that great impression or minimize it, that’s how good that show was.

  1. GG Gab and MrKravin

I have these weird phases were I can’t be bothered to watch TV or read a book but want to just lie there and watch Let’s Plays. But I generally prefer horror games and non-problematic Let’s Players who are not too loud and annoying which really decimates my choices. This year, though, I discovered GG Gab aka Evelien from the Netherlands who is not only a lady (hurray!) but also fun, swears without slurs and is entertaining without putting on a show. Plus, she plays a lot of games, so even when I want nothing but watch Lets Plays for a whole weekend, I will not run out of material. Thanks for that, Gab!

And it’s Evelien’s own fault that I discovered MrKravin aka Mike through her because she recommended him a couple of times. MrKravin is equally one of the more low-key players in that you can watch him and not get your ears shattered with every jumpscare-scene because the player just screams in your face in (mock) surprise. He’s also pretty funny and tends to go for even the shittiest horror games which can be quite entertaining.

(also: wordless commentary on tired clichès)

  1. Horizon Zero Dawn

I finally brought myself to buy a PS4, because I want to have it when “The Last of Us 2” comes out (don’t fight me on this, Muriel, I know you didn’t like the first one but that’s just how it is!). The first game I decided on was “Horizon Zero Dawn” which is basically an open world game with robot animals and dinosaurs. It’s visually striking, has a good storyline and a pretty awesome protagonist. You can’t get lost in it that long which was a shame once I really got into it but generally that’s quite good because as a working adult in a happy relationship and numerous interests I really don’t have the time to ever finish stuff like the Witcher ever (EVER!).

  1. The Big Sick

The weirdest thing about “The Big Sick” on this list is the fact that the last romantic comedy that I loved as much was “Obvious Child” and it’s equally about a stand-up comedian. Maybe that’s my kind of genre? I don’t know. Kumail Nanijani’s kind of autobiographical love story is really funny, very well plotted and superbly cast (give me Holly Hunter every day, even though I will have to scrunch up my face sometimes in concentration to really understand her). What I also love: at least for me, it didn’t have those weird, lengthy moments where I am wondering how long the movie might be till the end. That’s a good thing!

  1. Prey

“Prey” is a PS4 game set in space but without the great saga element of “Mass Effect” which somehow really puts me off (it sounds too time-consuming!). Instead, it’s a pretty fun sci-fi-dystopian story and you’re basically trapped on a space ship and have to fight an unknown (and evolving) evil. I know that it was originally supposed to be a remake of an old game with a similar premise and that fans of that old game were not too happy with the result but since I haven’t played that original game and don’t really care, I’m like … yeah, whatever.

Disclaimer: I played the game in easy-mode after two attempts to hack it in the normal mode. I am a casual player and can not be bothered with investing hours on end honing my gameplay before I can finally beat a single, measly boss. Shame me for it, I don’t care.

The game is beautiful, it plays up to my hoarding-tendencies that I have by making collecting crap to make other crap necessary to survive and the story might not be mindblowing but it is interesting, somewhat unique and makes for a fun 20-30 hours. In a way, it was a bit like “Horizon Zero Dawn” since it also is a somewhat open world with a very clear cut main storyline and a few fun side quests.

I also liked that I could choose between a male and a female protagonist, even though promo material and most reviews picked the male “Morgan”.

Cover me badly: stop covering “Halo” – it won’t work!

I already mentioned that Florence Welch tried and failed covering Beyoncès “Halo” but at least that seemed to be in fun and not as a single release. However, Jono McLeery thought he could cover this icon of a pop singer to start this year dreery and kinda annoying.

Jono does everything I hate about bad cover songs:

  • He somehow manages to slow down a ballad (that needs no slowing down)
  • He extracts all the amazing pathos and leaves a soft, soggy singer/songwriter tune
  • speaking of tunes: he absolutely slaughters it, he starts out ok but then he veers off, leaves the original melody on the wayside like a sad dog, stop doing that, Jono, write your own songs if you want to make up your own melodies.

Look, I am all for violins and a warm Winter ballad and the orchestration is actually quite beautiful but there’s no need in destroying the melody of a perfect Pop song just so you can be unique and quirky and put your own twist to the song. The best cover songs manage to keep the spirit alive of the original song and to be honest, Jono failed majorly.

He is not the only one, unfortunately. “Halo” is the white whale of many an accomplished artist. Ane Brun – who I love! – did the same with the song. With a beautiful cello, it turns into this timid soft ditty.

Love the cello but NO to the song

Lotte Kessner, meanwhile, somehow creates a funeral march with it.

NO! THIS IS A HAPPY SONG, GODDAMMIT!

People! “Halo” is amazing because it is sung as an ode to someone who is overwhelming, who leaves you breathless, who is like a storm wave, a force of nature, an epiphany. There’s no place for timid breath-singing, this needs to be sung with euphoria, exactly like Beyoncè does.

And before you’re like: well, some of these songs are supposed to be intimate, duh. Here’s Beyoncè singing a live rendition in a hospital for children with just a guitar alongside and she still burns the house down because that’s just how this song is. How can you sing a line like “you hit me like a ray of sun, burning through the darkest night” and think that this should be a sad, depressing song to sing like Denethor is about to send Faramir into death and all is lost?

This love is all encompassing, people, why would you sell it short?

Let’s look at my favorite music of 2017

I love to do my end of the year-lists and I already had one figured out for 2017 but then I started playing “Prey” on PS4 and also decided that I could divide the whole list in certain clusters, so they are more topical and then the holidays happened and well …

The result is a little late but it’s here and it starts with the music that I genuinely liked last year whether it was a single song, an album or the whole aura of an artist. As usual, I am kind of off when it comes to the general best of-lists of cool people and music journalists with a few exceptions but then again, why would you see yet another list of the same ten bands? (I am even so unhip, I only made it to 9 on this list).

Btw: these artists are listed in no particular order because I don’t do that, it’s unhealthy and way too dependent on daily mood, weather and level of sleepiness. Continue reading

Favorite Song: The Stranglers ‘Golden Brown’ – this song is about what now?

I was such a naive little thing when I got into music. I remember how I discovered “Golden Brown”, probably in some Guy Ritchie movie on the soundtrack or some such and I was so much in love with it and with Hugh Cornwell’s voice. I bought – to my shame – not an album but a Stranglers sampler (I like to think I did that because it was not yet the time when you could get everything via Amazon and so I only found it on the sampler in my local record store) and listened to it on repeat.

And now, doing some research on the actual meaning of the song, I have to find out that it probably 100% was about heroin. Crickey!

I have hardly had a drink in three years and have merely tasted the marihuana a couple of times in my life and there I am, humming and singing an ode to heroin. Geez, that’s the horrible thing about Brits and their music. They really know how to sing a song about drugs in such a pretty way that you’ll never guess (Americans somehow haven’t yet managed to be that sly and cheeky about it).

Ok, but I still love that song and wanted to feature it because Hugh Cornwall who wrote the lyrics also said that it might have been about a girl. I actually think that this was just an excuse so people like me would not be totally horrified by the lyrics and clasp only a few of their pearls.

Ok, so here’s the reason why I love the song: that solo guitar in the middle, this incredibly simple, close to monotonous melody, that voice (!) and then this repetitive carnival’s music, that kind of puts you into this weird trance. It’s a beauty even if it’s about a horrible horrible drug.

I also want to add this version which is Hugh Cornwall playing with the Mariachi band Mariachi Mexteca which is really absurd but works surprisingly well.

(I also would like to add how lovely Hugh’s voice still is)

The Weather Station ‘dto.’ – Tamara Lindeman is amazing

Tamara Lindeman is one of those women who you read about and you wonder how they managed to smuggle from Themyscira into the real world to shame everyone else. Tamara is an actress, an amazing musician and she apparently also is good enough at snowboarding to have been a licensed snowboarding teacher AS A TEENAGER!

She also worked with Bruce Peninsula and that’s the point where I’m like: enough! She is too fantastic!

Her current album is from her band The Weather Station (dto.) and it is really really beautiful. It’s the kind of hearty folk music that has these nearly painful moments of tenderness but it’s not tender per se, rather strong and meaty. You hear the Canadian-ness in all its lovely glory because even though you can hear all those 70s singer/songwriting influences, its still a modern album and modern takes on old genres is Canada’s best specialty.

Tamara is the same age as me and so I am super into the lyrics which mainly deal with relationships but all amidst our time, our society, technologies, politics.

Oh, and those lyrics. On The Weather Station’s website you can get all the lyrics to the new album and they read like love letters and Tamara sings like the lyrics are a tightrope and she needs to keep going not to stumble and it’s one of the reasons why her music never meanders, is always energetic, powerful and moving.

All in all: I love it.

Under the sea! Underwater horror movies

I love horror movies that play in confined spaces. And before any serial killer thinks that this is the best way to scare me: no, I am actually not very claustrophobic but anyone who doesn’t think that being trapped in a little metal box at the bottom of the ocean is not scary might be Cthulhu himself.

Anyways, so obviously, the underwater setting already is a good one. Submarines come with creepy sounds because of the pressure on the metal and also the stuff that goes bump in the night water. However, weirdly enough, there are not that many really great horror movies out there that play with this concept (somehow, space is more interesting – I beg to differ, though). So, here’s a list of a few favourites and a few meh-movies just to not make this list look sad and shabby.

Ah, the horror of discovering Disney racism in movies that framed our childhood…

There may be Spoilers ahead: Continue reading