Monthly Archives: December 2008

2008 was


Words, words, words

Life of Pi – Yann Mantel**
Until the last, let’s say 10 pages, I was wondering why the hell I was reading this book. If it were not for the 300 pages before, it would have been absolutely great. Unfortunately, you need them for the understanding. Great reading but a 100 pages less would have improved the story line.

Stefan Zweig – 24 hours in the life of a woman*
Not a bad reading. I like Stefan Zweig but the image of women have changed quite a while since and all this talking about what a woman should not do because of social standards, family, etc. is too far from my reality.

Neil Gaiman: Sternwanderer
Worst book 2008 though the movie was nice. The book is a crude mix of fairy-tale, fantasy and porn. One of them would have been enough.

Nick Hornby: Fever Pitch**
The perfect book to prepare yourself for an important football competition. Alternatively, a good attempt to describe what football is about; even for people who haven’t a clue about it.

Anna Gavalda: Ensemble c’est tout***
Read the second time because I liked it so much the first. A romantic, slightly kitsch love comedy. Nothing I would ever watch as movie but the book is great.

Traudl Jung/Melissa Müller: Bis zur letzten Stunde***
The memories of one of Hitler’s secretaries contributed many years later to the movie “The Downfall”. A fascinating book from a fascinating woman showing again that the devil can have more than one human face.

Dan Simmons: Endymion I & Endymion II*
Following the great Hyperion novels, biggest disappointment 2008. For all those who enjoyed Hyperion: Don’t read it.

Sébastian Japrisot: La dame dans l’auto avec des lunettes et un fusil***
French polar with all elements a polar should have. An interesting main character, a slow revealing of a thrilling story, a powerful ennemi and an unexpected ending.

Jean Ray: Malpertuis*
Weird book about ancient gods who, captured by a sailor, live in an old house. I don’t think I fully understood the story. Not sure though if it was me or if there was nothing to understand.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt: Besuch der alten Dame***
A good, quick reading about how much power money has and that vengance, especially served cold, is the sweetest dish.

Eric Duchatel, Jean-Philippe Postel: Pandorre et l’ouvre-boite**
A book I only bought for the Wortwitz in the title and the idea behind. Two authors write the same polar but from a different point of view and with a different main character. Two books in one, so to say.

Phillipe Claudel: Les ames grises**
The title sets the tone: grey. Not a book with much jokes though well written. The murder of a young girl shows the limits of humanity in a small French town during the first World War. Others are more fund of it than I was.

Gothold Ephraim Lessing: Nathan der Weise**
One of those classics I wanted to read since long because we didn’t read it at school. The Ring Parable is one of the best examples of regligious tolerance and the best part of the book. The rest is too many emotional for my liking.
Eric Emmanuel Schmitt: Odette Toutlemonde**
Collection of short stories about love. Well written, good to read and feel well fast food for the soul.

Athol Fugard: Tsotsi***
One of those books I should have read before going to South Africa. Or at least while being in South Africa as it gives a good insight into what life was for black South Africans in the townships during the Appartheid. A young gangster “tsotsi” decides to take care of a newborn he kind of stumbles over. The tone, the story, the characters – undescriptible.

Gregory Maguire: Wicked*
Very good start and very week ending. Though, that’s not fair to say as the ending of the Wicked Witch of the West is known but the story in between could have got some more… punch.

Tad Williams: Otherland*
The first out of four novels. Five or more main characters are presented in their storylines and it took almost 80% of the book until I got  into it. There are many good ideas and some characters I really liked (Paul!) but it was not enough to make me buy the second.

Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlwait, Andrew Thomson: Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures***A book to read in the metro or tramway just for having the fun of seeing peoples faces when they read the title. The authors, all working for the UN, meet for the first time in Cambodia and stay in touch though they find each other in very different zones of conflicts over the following years – Liberia, Haiti, Congo, Yugoslavia, etc. An excellent book for all idealists who still believe that humankind will eventually evolve towards something better. And an excellent book for everybody else.

Philippe Janeada: Le chameau sauvage*
Loooong story for a moral worth five cent. Well written but I was truly asking myself at the end if this was really it. Somehow the contrary of the very first book in this list.

Danniel Pennac: Messieur les enfants**
Easy reading for a busy end of the year. A few good laughs and a happy ending. What else do you want?


Movie maker

Elisabeth II**
Nice movie, not necessarily close to historic reality but not that far from it either especially in the portray of the queen. A pity I missed the first one.

I am legend**
Good one but too many religious references. Never watched the alternative ending as I was told to do.

No country for old men***
It took me quite some time to make sense of this movie. Still, my favourite for 2008.

The bucket list**
Not a movie to watch with high expectations. Though for me, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson – that had to work. And it did.

Bienvenu chez les Cht’it**
A friend kindly forced me to watch this movie with her. I still don’t understand how it became the most successful movie in France ever but it is well done. Surtout à cause des chiens.

I did not read the book so I couldn’t compare. The friend I went with had and was a bit disappointed. Not me.

Darjeeling limited*
Well, nice but kind of pointless.

Chasseurs de Dragon**
One of these movies I absolutely wanted to see. It’s a French cartoon and meant for an audience under 12. Consequently was I the only adult in the movie without an accompanying child to explain my presence. The movie was what I had expected: well done with a not too deep story.

Kindly forced to see as well and also better than expected. Good entertainment.

3:10 to Yuma***
I like Western and when I saw the trailer for that one, I knew that I had to see it. And, I was right.

The Dark Knight***
It is true that often, the good die young. Heath Ledger  was a great, frightening, mad Joker. The magic pencil trick at the beginning set the tone for the rest of the film. I doubt that the next one can get any better.

In Brugges***
I watched that on following the advice of a friend. Best politically incorrect and blackest humor of the year. A bit too much blood at the  end though the irony in it is unbeatable.

Belgian roadmovie watched on the advice of a colleague. Weird, weird sense of Belgian humor. Not necessarily advisable.

Vicky Christina Barcelona**
I’m not a fan of Woody Allen but that one is good. Not absolutely perfect but good. And I liked the song it starts with.

So small, so courageous, so sweet. Nothing more to say.

* Matter of taste
** Good one
*** A have to!


Same procedure as last year? Same procedure as every year.

The rituals around Christmas – coming home, decorating the Christmas tree, going to church at 4 in the afternoon, preparing the presents, chatting with the family – give me this incredible feeling of Geborgenheit;  the knowledge that no matter what happens in life, their is always a place to come home.

Noisy food wrapping

It is true that I’m more sensitive to noise in some moments than in others. But what I do not understand is why people have to wrap their sandwiches, their bottles, their apples and their biscuits into tinfoil and unwrap it next to me just when I’m sleeping in the train. I understand wrapping the sandwiches but why the hell did they have to wrap the bottle???

How to repair any technical device

Error code E 61:00:00 – the object glass of the camera doesn’t draw back anymore.

In the first shop, they said 130€ for the reparation, in the second they adviced me to go to a third one which would probably take 200€.

A few gentle slaps fixed it. So far.

To finish with this

X-Ray "before"

Please note the two wisdom teeth below and their nearly 90° angle. Gone, forever.


One last word


Took not even 10 minutes to get them out. And the doctor was impressed how well the wounds had healed.

However, it’s a pity I only started blogging in 2006. If I think about all the vocabulary I learned in a similar painful way in France, I could fill pages. I remember one of the first words learned in a medical context: mollet (Wade, calf). Good old times…

Un peu plus de vocabulaire

aka – Word of the week

Couldn’t find a Frensh translation…

Kiefersperre is a common symptom after a wisdom teeth extraction. I remember my parents joking often when my sister or I were taking a really big bite from a sandwhich that we should pay attention of not getting a Kiefersperre.

Well, it’s not funny.

Lobbying against lobbying

The winners of the Worst EU Lobbying 2008 are

  • The Agrofuels Lobby for their misleading campaigns to promote agrofuels as green.
  • Piia-Noora Kauppi, Member of the European Parliament for abusing her role as an MEP by promoting the interests of her future employer, a big banking lobby group.

(Voici les candidats pour ce prix préstigieux)

The whole award initiative is, quite obviously, lobbying in itself. A group of organisations lobbying for a mandatory public register of lobbyist and against bad practice. I wonder how they call this activity themselves. Probably not lobbying. But, as a matter of fact, they are trying to influence legislation, which, following Lieschen Müller, is nothing else but [guess].

Another proof that most tools (in politics or other) are not good or bad but depend on the intentions of those who use it. Pretty wise for someone who just lost all wisdom teeth, hein?