October 8, 2009

Ponder Yonder

So last time we took a quick glance at life, the universe and everything. This time I'd like to share some thoughts... or better yet... feelings about the second of the three with you. I won't be rambling on about how immensely vast space is, though. Well... not exactly, that is... HEY! Wait!! Where are you going??

Have you ever spent half a day browsing through Wikipedia reading through articles about the universe, different discoveries that were made far outside our own solar system? Did you stumble upon articles about eerie space phenomenas you'd never heard before, chemical properties you'd never imagined before and inexpressible names you'd never tried to spell before? Well... I did. Twice!

The Big Picture

And you really get the strangest feeling when then stepping out of your house, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin and watching the sunlit ground, the shiny concrete, the moss grown trees. Recognizing that all the everyday hassle, the superfluous ruckus just doesn't mean a frickin' thing! It's then you realize that - presumably - all the people around you (especially the ones CREATING the superfluous ruckus) don't see the big picture!

Taking a stroll around town, you see the creations we humans accomplished. Houses, streets, cars, schools, everything. What if something from outer space, some incomprehensible something would happen? Something that had effect on our planet? Something that would galvanize the whole world! I do believe (note: without worrying about dangers from space!) that it's quite possible! It almost seems natural - just think about the fact that we know next to nothing about space, what's behind the whole thing or what's "beyond" it!

We all would get along a whole lot better if we'd just focus on how insignificant we are and that everything we're doing on Earth merely serves the purpose to enable and embellish our lives! It doesn't have effect on ANYTHING else!

It's like we're hamsters in a cage that's standing in a room in some house. It's extremely hard to get out of the cage, to begin with! So what does that hamster do instead? It ignores the rest outside the cage. It can see the room, it can look outside the boundaries - but all it can do is focus on what's going on in its own small "world". It cares about food, about drinking, about cleaning its "lair", about cleaning itself and about passing the time. If there's some other hamster around in that cage, it cares about that one too, of course.

Exactly like that, we choose to not care about what's outside Earth (our "cage") because we're not going to get out anyway! And the hardly apperceptible vastness BEYOND our solar system (the "room in which the cage stands")? We try to IMAGINE what it's like out there but that's all - and even that is hardly possible!

But the fact that we're merely imagining the whole thing out there results in a strange effect - at least I think so because I'll never be able to validate it. It's as follows: imagine you're asleep, randomly dreaming of a specific place you often visit in daily life. This usually feels sort of strange. The place you're dreaming of doesn't feel as sharp-edged, as clear, as well-defined than when you're actually there. If anything, it feels more cottony, blurry and... well... dreamlike, actually! So I BET that's how it would be if we were to roam in outer space. Everything will be a lot clearer than in our imagination - and really corporeal! Because it's not just some place we imagine! It's something that really exists - even if most people chose to ignore it.

Most people don't even try to imagine anything at all! I mean... go ahead and ask some guy from Wall Street if he has recently thought about the universe. Apart from thinking you're some esoteric sandal-wearing hippie who believes in the power of stones or in the existence of fairies he'll be splitting his sides with laughter. It's all a matter of perspective, I guess.

The Urge To Escape... Again!

Ever felt the need to get off this planet to just see what it's like outside? Of course we don't have that possibility (unless you, reader, are an astronaut, which I highly doubt), so all we can do is: escape into artificial worlds, into a simulated universe. Ever heard of "Elite", "Frontier" or "Starflight"? Yep, those are REALLY old computer games. But they do the trick a lot better than newer simulations. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, I DO know what I'm talking about. No, I'm not going to shut up. Oh yeah?? Well, same to you, pal!

These are really brilliant. While the graphics - of course - can't compete with space games that are released nowadays, there are plenty of realistic features that simply aren't contained in recent space simulations. Of course, games like "Freelancer", "X²: The Threat", "X³: Reunion" and "Darkstar One" try to follow the footsteps of their spiritual predecessors but at the same time lack one single element that's been craved by many gamers who enjoy this genre:

Landing on planets!
I mean... what would you find most interesting when having the ability to roam around in space with your very own vessel, your trusty, speedy, nimble spaceship. Would you prefer to board space stations and visit all the same places over and over again (i.e. bar, commodity merchant, ship dealer, mission terminal - isn't it always like that)? Communicate with other spaceships via radio? ─ Or would you rather land on a strange, unfamiliar planet and explore its surface, anxious about what wonderous otherworldly beings, colonies, ways of life you might find...? Now...? ...... I thought so! :)

In "Starflight" you may land on each of the countless planets and explore them. The word countless might not say enough, so let's be specific here: there are 270 star systems and 800 planets. All yours to explore! In the different versions of the game, the exploration part looks different too. You can fight or capture creatures, you can mine minerals or find cities, ruins, crashed spaceships - now THAT's the sort of exploration I was waiting for! That's the thing I'd actually do in real life if I had the chance to! Here are some screenshots you might find interesting (click to enlarge):

Of course... graphically it's not really satisfying. But there are so many nice descriptions that really motivate your imagination so that you're able to imagine what it might look like if you were actually stamping through this strange terrain. When you scan the planet before you land you get informations like what gravity that planet has, what the surface consists of and so on. When then exploring the surface you get infos like "it's raining" or "it is hazy", so that you can imagine everything a lot better. Again: it's not perfect but a lot better than just static screens in tabular form, isn't it?

"Frontier - Elite II" also provides that great possibility - and this time in full 3D! Then again, the 3D aspect might not look as appealing to persons of this generation - as it's kept completely polygonal. And again, the aspect of imagination is important because naturally it'll never look like that in real life. But you get the idea! Take a glimpse at these (click to enlarge):

The best aspects about the universe in "Frontier" are:
1.) You've got a whole huge universe on two small disks (and I'm not talking about DVDs or CDs - it's really only two small 1-MB-3,5" disks)!
2.) The universe depicted in the game is absolutely true to the REAL universe out there! The real development on the game started back in 1988 and the game was eventually released in 1993!! Most of the time was spent for research and inquiries about the universe! The development team (most of all David Braben, the true creator of the "Elite" series) took all the information they could find about star systems and their locations and made a huge star map which is even acknowledged as true to the original universe. (Of course the regions that are unknown to humanity consist of planets that are merely made up and thus have randomly generated names, too.)
3.) Believe it or not: there are 100 billions (read:!!) star systems contained in the game, most of which have their own name and individual properties. There are systems with one and systems with many planets you can land on (except for gas giants). Even if you could see each planet in only a second, you could never see each one in your LIFE!!!

Here's a "small" version (2250 x 1819 px) of the
star map that was delivered with the game.
Please click to enlarge it in all its glory - it's amazing:

You might wanna scream right now. You have the words "There ARE some modern space simulations which feature the ability to land on planets!!" on your lips, haven't you? Well... you're right. There's almost always the possibility of landing - but once you're on the planet there's not much to explore. There are mainly the four aforementioned locations (often depicted by single static tabular screens). You never have the chance to actually SEE something of the planet! (Except for maybe "Privateer II: The Darkening" - but that doesn't really have that many planets to see. It's great that they're all different and the landing sequences and different locations are beautiful! But there's not much to actually explore because you've got to stick to the storyline mostly...)

Well, there IS a quite modern game in which you have the ability to land on planets and explore them in full 3D first person perspective glory. It's called "Parkan II" and apart from the fact that it crashes about 5 times per hour it's not too well made in other ways either. The only "lifeforms" you'll ever encounter on planets are stupid robots that instantly attack you and spit out some really ridiculously pathetic comments - I can't decide what's worst. Other than that there's not much to do on the planets themselves. I do admit that the planet surfaces look gorgeous...

...but there's really not much to do; you'll find yourself bored quite quickly, strolling around without purpose. The only place you can go is some trading outpost (which looks alike on EACH of the planets). So it's not really that interesting after all. What a letdown.

So I guess there's only one thing for me to do when yearning for space exploration: dig out the old disks, fire up the old Amiga 500 and wait for the long loading sequences to finish...


September 22, 2009


No, that's not gibberish, it's Finnish! (Even though it may sound like gibberish, I must admit.) By now, all the Finnish people out there will know exactly what this post is about; it's kind of a general post about life, the universe, 23:07... and everything!

Did you ever enter "the answer to life the universe and everything" in Google? This is what happens:

(Did you - by the way - use the Google calculator before? It's really great, also for conversions of currencies! Just type "10 US Dollars in Euro" and it will show you the result! Just thought I'd mention it as it's quite surprising how many people haven't heard about that.)

But in this blog entry I actually didn't want to start writing about that incomparably awesome novel series by that incomparably hilarious Douglas Adams (who'll - sure as hell - look down on us from some strange and incomprehensible afterlife-ish place while splitting his now non-existent sides with laughter about us not having a clue about life, the universe and everything)! Just one thing: if you haven't read "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", "The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe", "Life, The Universe And Everything", "So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish" and "Mostly Harmless" yet: PERKELE!! (that's Finnish again) JUST WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING HERE, READING THIS MINDLESS LOAD OF CRAP?? GET OUT, BUY THE BOOKS AND WASTE YOUR TIME MORE THOUGHTFULLY, WILL YA??!

With that out of the way, let's get down to business here.

It's really hard to explain what "life", "the universe" and "everything" actually IS, so let's split this up into three seperate things and change the order a bit:

1.) The Universe: what it's made of
2.) Life: what it's really about
3.) Everything: what extraterrestrials would think of us

1.) The Universe: what it's made of

It seems that most people out there ignore the fact that the way our universe is "built" is really bizarre! I mean... what if you were to create a universe? Would you really think about burning balls with other balls (not burning, preferably) floating around them? With nothing but blackness between them? (Well... maybe you chose a black background instead of a white one because a white background just isn't that cool, just like in Windows Paint or something...)

But the real problem is thinking in bigger proportions! Space is huge! Vast! Let's quote Douglas Adams here: "you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space!"
I mean... just imagine the whole thing is infinite! That's a thing we humans just can't do: imagine something that's not limited in any way (except for maybe unlimited refills in a Subway's or something)! That's the invisible wall against which our minds regularly crash. Just like a fly that simply can't comprehend that there's a solid transparent material (like a window) one can't fly through and thus keeps smashing its tiny head to goo, we Humans always imagine a place with walls or cliffs or other restrictions. No matter how large something is - it definitely has to end somewhere!

So I guess we all agree that the construct of our universe might as well just be a construct of someone's imagination. Like a huge dream in which we all play a part. That's the theory of The Maya (not that people/culture called the maya, but that illusionary/universal thing of the same name - read THIS); it's like we all live in ONE dream of some creature - that's almost too easy an answer, isn't it? As lunatic and fucked up as this world is, this might be the only solution obvious enough to be true. Then again: what's death? Do we die because that one thingy which is dreaming all this crap is fed up with that one piece of the mosaic which is the person that dies? Who knows. But it's a funny thing to think that way! Even if it means that we're never gonna see the "real world" because we're just residents in a dream and thus don't even really exist.

2.) Life: what it's really about

So what exactly is life about? About politics? About career? Religion? - In my personal opinion that's exactly what life is NOT about. From a universal point of view (imagine yourself looking down on Earth from the outside): what does it matter whose "God"-figure is "superior"? What does it matter which politician is obliged to decide something? Who cares how much money your neighbour makes an hour? Or that you're still missing that very rare Pokémon in your collection or something?
You know what? There's only ONE SINGLE THING that actually counts:


Really, come to think about it, it all comes down to emotions. It's the only thing that counts. It's the source of all the little things that count: love, pleasure, the warm sun on your skin, music, a good book, that incomparable shiver you get when you suddenly remember a long forgotten toy from your childhood, the carefree laughter of a child. There's nothing else that really counts. Life is short. Even if you're one of those guys who believe in reincarnation you'll agree that the timespan of one lifetime is really short! So what should we concentrate on in our lives? Jep: the really important things. And not making that timespan even shorter for other individuals (i. e. killing people and other such uncomfortable things)!

Let's think about politics and all the worries we have about the country we live in. That's absolutely insignificant!! Imagine some thing in space which makes our planet drift out of it's normal course around the sun or something like that! Or the fabric of the Universe crumbling into bits for reasons unknown to us humans (because - and let's admit that - we don't know crap about the real consistence of the universe, let alone its purpose)! What do we have left then? What do we care about then? About ourselves and the ones we love, exactly.

3.) Everything: what extraterrestrials would think of us

I don't think that - if that universe-crumbling-occasion actually happens - anyone in those "suicide-bomber-countries" will think "goddamn it, we couldn't finish that war against our enemies" or anything like that in that last minutes of his life! So what's the purpose of our stupid conflicts on Earth?

"If I could fly high above the world, would I see a bunch of living dots spell the word 'stupidity'?"
("Stranger Than Fiction", Bad Religion)

Yep, that's the line that always comes to my mind when I imagine extraterrestrials (supposing they actually exist) watching us ass around pathetically.

Imagine this (transcription of an alien dialogue):

Gzrîa: "Hey, Nllè! Look at these creatures I found living on this small planet!"
Nllè: "Oh, Gzrîa, how many times have I told you not to care about those insignificant beings on the planets in this sector! Enough that you drew a face into the sands of that red planet right next to this one!"
Gzrîa: "I was bored. Anyways, have you seen their activities down there? It's the strangest behaviour I've ever seen! They're holding little sticks in their claws, putting them in one of their inhalation holes and thus producing blueish grey clouds that are poisonous! Who would do that?"
Nllè: "Oh, it's the Humans you're talking about! Yeah, rumours about this space sector say that Humans are quite sadistic, suicidal and masochistic. You know what they do to their dead?"
Gzrîa: "I don't know if I want to hear that..."

Nllè: "They dig up a hole in the ground and bury them in there to be eaten by the little creatures living underground. Nasty, isn't it?"
Gzrîa: "Those Humans really give me the creeps."
Nllè: "Oh, that's nothing!! They're actually producing video transmission material showing what they'd do to visitors from other space sectors - if they'd be stupid enough to land on their planet! You curious...?"
Gzrîa: "Well... let me see!"
Nllè: "HERE it is. 'Enjoy!'..."
Gzrîa: *makes a noise that's supposedly equivalent to a human 'gulp'*

(End of transcript.)

So I guess some might still wonder what that "23:07" I mentioned up there means! It's a simple, yet quite strange and funny thing. It's that specific time (11:07 PM for US citizens) which tends to pop up uninvited everywhere! Well, for me personally, that is.
You know when you look at your digital watch (makes you proud, your digital watch, doesn't it? :D) and find it funny that you're checking the time the exact same moment you've done the day before? If that happens it's not really strange because it may simply indicate that you've got a strict rhythm in your behavior - even in little habits such as checking the time.

But there were plenty of happenings that made me find this 23:07-thing absolutely strange. Not creepy because I think it's a cool thing, but strange. Here's one of those happenings I found really funny:
I was in the kitchen of my first girlfriend because she wanted to introduce me to her mother. It was about three o' clock in the afternoon and when we went back outside I took a quick glance at the time display on the microwave which said... of course... 23:07!
Another time I was getting ready to go to a party with my girlfriend and was quickly checking the time before we left for that party and the clock said 23:07. Not that spectacular. But when we arrived there, I couldn't help but notice the huge "23:07" that was displayed on the TV screen to which the Wii of that party host was connected. Again: not creepy or anything, just funny.

Those things happen to me all the time, so I started to joke around whether it's some kind of omen or something. Will the world end in the year 2307? And what do I care? I'll be long dead then!! Did something significant happen on March 2nd, '07 (or Febuary 3rd, '07)? I don't remember but I don't think so. Each year on the 23rd of July I'm waiting for something special to happen but it simply doesn't.

Guess that would be too easy, right, Universe??!

September 2, 2009

The second biggest blog entry I've ever seen!

Okay, first of all let me get the nostalgia stuff out of the way:

I am - like most people I know who like computer games - a huuuuuuge "Monkey Island" fan. The first "Monkey Island" game was the first adventure game I had; back when I had a 386 SX with 2 megs of RAM and 20 MHz.

Before that, I got to know "Murder On The Mississippi", then "Maniac Mansion" and then "Zak McKracken" - I played all of those on the Commodore 64 of a good friend, so I wasn't a complete stranger to graphic adventures with a SCUMM interface back then.

I remember sitting at home of another good friend watching him play through "The Secret Of Monkey Island" in two sessions together with that friend I mentioned above. So it was basically more like watching a funny adventure film in two parts on two evenings rather than playing a game because we "only" watched. It was an awesome experience nonetheless, of course. So later I got the game myself and really enjoyed it. (Probably mostly because I still remembered the solutions to most puzzles in the game, I must admit.) You might imagine the awesomeness of having an own comedic, piratey world to explore in form of a computer game at home.

That was 19 years ago.

Of course, I also got the sequels that were made. "Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge", the voodoo-soaked epic adventure with the weird and definitive ending which was so strangely glossed over (if not huggermuggered) about six years later by the long awaited, near-perfect and very moody comic extravaganza "The Curse Of Monkey Island". Apart from the fact that main (anti-)hero Guybrush Threepwood(, Mighty Pirate™) had apparently turned into a skinny beanpole and the whole epic plot from the predecessors were replaced by a story that resembled a comedy series feel like "oh fun! What will that droll evil LeChuck be up to next?", everything was just perfect. With the (again, long awaited) fourth part of the series, "Escape From Monkey Island", which came out another 3 years later, it got rather bland. The once so romantic and adventurous pirate world was replaced by some dull 3D environment that felt like an artificial tourist trap of the present day instead of a pirate-infested caribbean dream - with real estate brokers, Starbucks, desk job contracts and lawyers. Well, at least it still was relatively lively and full of detail and contained some recollections of places and persons of the first game, so it was sort of okay. If you were able to cope with the horrible keyboard controls, that is.

Now it's 2009. For 9 years nothing had happened in Guybrush's world. Then - suddenly! - three things happened. Firstly, I nearly got a heart attack when I read the headlines that secondly, there was a new "Monkey Island" underway and that thirdly, the first part of the series would get a remake by LucasArts themselves. Little did I know what all this would turn out to be...

Let's first turn to the remake of "Monkey Island 1", called "The Secret Of Monkey Island - Special Edition". It contains all-new comic graphics, speech that's done perfectly and the great soundtrack that's also been redone. "What more could you ask for?" you might ask.

Well... for starters, Guybrush's looks quite... erm... take getting used to a bit (the portrait you can see above is one of the better pictures you'll see in the game). With the rest of the character portraits (that were so magnificent in their original versions in 1990) it also varies a lot! Carla, the swordmaster was masterfully recreated as well as her acquaintance Smirk. The two guys they absolutely f*&ked up graphically are the two pirates in the Scumm Bar: Mancomb Seepgood and the other guy with the glass eye that's so afraid of LeChuck. Well... some people say they fit in that new style of graphics but in my personal opinion they look absolutely ridiculous. In their original portraits you could take them serious, you could imagine they're real pirates. In their new versions they look like retarded fools, nothing more. This new graphical character design is a shame - because the locations in the game are breathtakingly beautiful!!

Thus, it's a good thing you can change from new graphics to old graphics in an instant by pressing a button, of course! But that doesn't make the new style of graphics any better, does it? Oh, and they messed up the controls, too... with an emphasis on changing between keyboard and mouse control it gets unneccessarily difficult. Anyone ever tried freeing Otis with these controls? Another thing which in my opinion sucks a lot is the fact that as soon as you change to the old graphic style you don't hear any speech anymore. I can understand that it changes the background music to the old style but the speech should have been there anyway! Why didn't they implement an option where you can turn it on and off? Would have been the best way if you ask me.

Oh well, let's stop hanging around in the past and let's see what the NEW stuff is like! Telltale Games, the ones that already gave us the great episodic "Sam & Max"-series now makes a new series called:
Until now, there are two episodes out already (yeah, it's episodic, too, following a monthly schedule), called "Launch Of The Screaming Narwhal" and "The Siege Of Spinner Cay". I've played through the first one and I'm right in the middle of the second one. Which actually is the reason I started this (huge) blog entry in the first place.

In the past few weeks Telltale Games began spreading the word that "Tales Of Monkey Island" is their best selling game series of all time - like that's some kind of achievement! Yeah right guys! No matter what other company would have made a new "Monkey Island" game - it would have sold JUST AS MANY COPIES AS YOU!! 'Cause it's a "Monkey Island" game! It's a game each and every adventure gamer has been waiting for in the past 9 (read: NINE!!) YEARS! Just what did you think would happen??! Each time the topic "graphic adventure" is mentioned in a conversation anywhere in the world, the next words that come up are "Monkey Island", sure thing!

Bad things first: the new "Monkey Island" is in 3D (am I imagining things or did I actually hear some fans yelping in frustration again...?) with some surprisingly empty locations, (senselessly) horrible controls and really sparse dialogue. The worst thing about the controls is that you navigate Guybrush via the WASD-keys on the keyboard or (if you really feel like you need the extra frustration) you hold the right mouse button to make guybrush run and turn some tiny compass that's to be seen around him with the mouse to specify the direction - you can see that (really thin) circle with the arrow around Guybrush in the picture on the left. That simply sucks. It is beyond me why Telltale didn't use a simple point & click interface! Or... as the Angry Video Game Nerd would put it... "what were they thinking??" Sometimes I think they used these controls to hide the fact that there are too few things to click on (that's what I've been talking about above by mentioning the "surprisingly empty locations"). If they had used a point & click interface it might have been too obvious that there's actually not much to point and click on!

And as there's not much to see, there's not much to say either. Remember the huge amount of funny lines, all the hilarious dialogue from Monkey Island 3 and 4? I've played through those two games quite some times (German and English versions) - and still I know I haven't heard all of the countless contained comedic comments! Now, "Tales" may leave you sore as there are roughly five short lines to choose from in each dialogue with a character and as soon as you've clicked them you'll recognize that there aren't any more! They just repeat all over again! Also, Guybrush doesn't seem half as funny as in the previous parts! In Monkey 4 he always had a funny (and senseless, most of the time) comment to say between two sentences. Well, not anymore. Just keep that in mind when you buy "Tales", so that you aren't that unpleasantly surprised later on.

And did I mention that Guybrush - again! - looks quite strange? In my opinion his face is a lot too long and the emphasis on his cheekbones looks unpretty. I liked Guybrush most in Monkey Island 2 (in-game) and Monkey Island 4 (on the boxart). Then again, that's a matter of taste, too...
Well... as soon as you're actually IN the game you'll recognize that it's an experience you want to make anyway! Wanna know why that is?

"Tales Of Monkey Island" has some brilliant voice acting (featuring the original voice actor for Guybrush: Dominic Armato, who REALLY did a great job), an awesome soundtrack, nice puzzles and an interesting plot. In fact the plot is so interesting - I wish they had done something like that earlier on in a 2D-game!! On the other hand it already seems quite a bit predictable how it all will turn out.

How it will turn out exactly? I guess we'll have to wait another 4 months for that - until the last of the six episodes will be released. I'll launch ScummVM now and play a bit of "LeChuck's Revenge" again... now where did I leave that bottle o' near-grog again...

August 25, 2009

Down in space it's always 1982

There are a lot of people out there wondering what this strange lyric from David Bowie's song "Slip Away" (from the album "Heathen", 2002) actually means. I don't. I simply love it. Not least because I tend to connect David Bowie with the breathtaking BBC-TV series "Life On Mars" (and "Ashes To Ashes"). Based on this, I made myself a rather thoughtful David Bowie best of CD which I named
"In Your Head It's Always 1973".

While I share my girlfriends aversion to the style of clothing and make-up of Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie as a person strikes me with awe - not in the frightening but the admiring sense! I often wonder why that is because frankly, I don't have a clue. It's not like he's really some guy from space as his Ziggy character intended to suggest. And after reading the great Bowie-biography written by Christopher Sandford I validated the thought that he's just some guy who makes great music. So nothing to be particularly excited about.

I guess I do know how that came to be. To my disgrace I must admit that I started listening to David Bowie because of the (breathtakingly fantastic) computer game "Omikron - The Nomad Soul" which started with the Bowie song "New Angels Of Promise" (in a somewhat changed version than the album version) and starred Bowie as a character in the game, too. As it's a game taking place in a futuristic dystopian parallel dimension, I instantly connected David Bowie's brilliant vocals to the science fiction genre. Not only that! Bowie seemed to sing out of a futuristic parallel dimension! Now, isn't that some way to start creating a mystical image of a person that's basically just a simple man who sings songs...?

So how did I continue with the myth that is Bowie? If I were to believe in fate I would probably call it that. Let's just say it was the Universe that made my next "encounter" with Bowie equally parallel-dimension-ish. "Life On Mars", anyone? The BBC TV series, not the song. I mean... of course, it's the song that connects the TV series to Bowie again. And that's how I "encountered" Bowie again. Let's see...

"My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad? In a coma? Or back in time? Whatever's happened - it's like I've landed on a different planet. Now maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home."

It's that quite theatrical song "Life On Mars?" from the legendary "Hunky Dory" album (from 1971) Sam listens to on his iPod in the car when he has that accident. When waking up in 1973, he also hears that song - from an old tape player in the old 70s car he wakes up next to. So it's that song which accompanied Sam during his travel through the dimensions (if you want to call it that).

But still! Why is David Bowie that mystical to me? I mean, I do understand it's both just fiction, the old computer game and that TV series. It's brilliant fiction but merely that, nothing that has anything to do with reality.

Maybe it's because David Bowie himself is a connection between those two worlds. Between the real 1973 and the present day because fortunately he's still alive and kickin'! You could say "my grandpa's also a connection between 1973 and 2009, why don't you go and adore everyone that age?". But David Bowie wasn't a normal guy back then. And he wasn't only a big star! David Bowie was a huge idol and icon of a whole generation! A significant universal milestone of that decade.

For Sam Tyler in "Life On Mars" the world of 1973 is just the world of his imagination as he's merely in a coma in 2006 imagining the whole 1973-thing. (Which isn't a spoiler now, don't worry. That becomes clear almost directly in the first episode of the series.) But how this world comes to exist, no one knows. Can it really be sheer imagination? Or is that comatose world more than just a vivid dream? Is it some other dimension? Where does our mind go when we dream anyway? Some place far away in space? And does time pass there like it does on Earth? "Down in space it's always 1982..." Hmm... 1982... the year I was born. Maybe I'd go there instead of 1973 if I were to be invovled in an accident and my mind got catapulted back... (I could start with something called "The Maya" now, but I won't. It would be too much for one simple blog, I guess...)

Nowadays I have almost each Bowie CD at home; most of his songs have something special in them - they aren't just rock/pop songs, they always have that tiny bit that makes them special. Though I'm worrying about him quite much as he's 62 years old and I haven't heard much from him lately. His last appearance was in the film "Prestige" in 2006, the same year in which he re-recorded the Pink Floyd song "Arnold Layne" together with David Gilmour. But the latest Bowie album "Reality" came out in 2003 so it's about time!! Here's the latest picture I could find, it's from the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009. He does look rather healthy so I'm relieved for now...

The Sam Tyler from the (quite crappy) US version of the series "Life On Mars" sais in the last episode: "David Bowie... why does everything always come down to David Bowie?" For me it's fun imagining David Bowie being some supernatural connection between dimensions instead of just human. Real life's so damn boring, isn't it?

What are cellphones for, anyway??

So I wrote an SMS to my girlfriend in the morning. One of the kind that doesn't actually require a reply, like wishing her a great day, telling her that I quite miss her and stuff. I think it was around 10:00. I didn't get a reply, which wasn't tragic as I said. Instead she called me in the evening at around 8:00 PM (20:00 for non-US-citizens). A part of the conversation went like this:

She: "Hey hun, I love you too!"
I: "So you got my message this morning?"
She: "Of course I did. Sorry I didn't reply, I just read the message a minute ago! I was shopping with my mum this morning."
I: "Well... where was your phone?"
She: "At home. On the nightstand."
I: "Why'd you leave it there?"
She: "Those annoying ringtones are so embarassing when your phone rings loudly."
I: "Yeah well, do it like I do: turn off the ringtones, turn on the vibrating alert."
She: "Yup, I might do that."

So then she actually did that. No more calling her nightstand, yay! Confident that I could call her, I dialed her number because there was something I needed to talk to her about.

I waited... and waited... and waited... and waited... and hung up eventually.

That evening a part of the conversation went like this:

She: "I'm sorry, I saw you tried calling me today?"
I: "Yeah, I did! Didn't you take the phone with you this time?"
She: "I did! But I didn't notice you calling."
I: "So you didn't feel the vibrating alert?"
She: "No, I didn't. I had the cellphone in my handbag, so I didn't notice it."

Not... quite... the place to keep a phone with vibrating alert, I'd say...

August 24, 2009

It starts...

... and all the people out there who are also fans of the great old classic computergames from the MS-DOS era might have some kind of flashback now, remembering that neatly animated scene from the beginning of "Disney's Lion King" jump 'n run game in which Timon waves his arms in the air, announcing that Simba's tragic and yet triumphant story is about to begin...

Even though some most people who have accidentally stumbled upon this blog and have read through the first passage, may now feel a passionate urge to exit this blog once and for all... bear with me a while. Maybe there'll actually be something interesting in the near future...?

So this is where it all starts. I didn't even know whether to start a blog or not because - and I admit that - it's not like there aren't enough of these annoying things on the web yet! In fact I was quite repelled by the thought of starting an own one at first (you know, like being repelled by the thought of getting a cellphone when you've always been the last one in class who didn't have one ages ago - and were sort of proud of that).

But then, having flipped through countless pages of my ancient diary I'd written sometime between 1998 and 2002, I thought it might be fun to start writing stuff again. Well... let's see what this turns out to be.

Oh, and to all the people out there who are thinking "great, another blog - where are the Rapidshare links??" - sorry to disappoint you! ;) It seems I have chosen the most irrelevant kind of blog: a blog without downloads. Well... maybe there will be something I uploaded soon. Maybe not.