Five of the Week #7

Wednesday again. What can I say? Not so much did happen since my last entry. At least I’m keeping my promise to post something once a week. Even if it’s just the “Five of the Week”. But I’m going to post something different soon, promised. It’s not that I think my Wednesday entries are too boring, it’s just that they are not the reason I started blogging. The reason was, at least for me, to convey my impressions of life and the “Five of the Week” are just a small part of these impressions, i.e. if they are impressions at all. So, some time soon, there’ll be a new ‘real’ post and I hope that more will follow.

However, this time it’s just another “Five of the Week”. I hope that whoever reads this will enjoy it nevertheless.
Finally, summer is back in Germany and now we all hope it’ll stay for the rest of the season. So, today I was, again, thinking about what to write. Finally, I settled on “How to overcome a Writer’s Block” because that was the most obvious topic. Yeah, I had no idea what to write about, so I thought about means to change this. But…yes, there’s always a but in there. But when I was driving home this evening, listening to some music, it dawned on me and here goes another “Five of the Week”

This time I’m going to write about five beautiful things about a summer day.

1. Wake up on a sunny Morning
How beautiful is that? You open your eyes, like me, at half past six in the morning and the sun is already creeping through the blinds, illuminating the room just a little bit. It’s not too much light to keep you from going to sleep again. Before you close your eyes again you realize that the sun’s already out there, the birds are singing their morning songs and it’s just like the outside is happy that you woke up. It’s a good thing to know that, when you get up, a warm and sunny morning is waiting for you.

2. Go for a short Spin
I know, fuel isn’t cheap these days but this isn’t something you do every day. “So get yourself a car and drive it all alone” (Audioslave – Getaway Car). The time of day doesn’t matter, although I’d prefer late evening/night for the simple reason that there isn’t much traffic if any (yes, that’s the advantage of living in a small village). Open the sliding roof, turn up the volume of your favorite music and enjoy the ride. What else can I say?

3. Have a good Conversation
You can always have that, right? Right…but on a warm summer evening you can talk sitting outside (or in the car) with some good music in the background. And you can have that conversation wherever you want, either in your backyard or in front of a road house watching all the people running around frantically. Well, you can just enjoy the peace of sitting in a car, listening to music, having a good friend by your side and just talking for hours and hours long into the night. I did that a lot and it was great. Writing about it reminds me that I have to do it again.

4. Go to an Open-Air Concert
It’s terrible to be locked inside a concert hall with I don’t know how many people. It’s crowded, everybody’s sweating and with each song you feel like the heat is rising even further. No matter how good the concert is, you’ll be glad when it’s over so you can go outside and breath in the fresh air. This is not the case with open-air concerts. Of course they can be crowded but, unless it isn’t broiling outside, you have enough fresh air to fill your lungs and with a cool drink in your hand you can just watch the show and have some fun. Wonderful.

5. Go for a Walk
Going for a walk in the afternoon is great when the weather is good. You can watch the busy people rushing in and out of the supermarket or the frustrated driver’s honking their way through rush hour traffic, screaming at cursing. Then you sit down in a cafรฉ, have a coke (or whatever you like best) and maybe a roll or a pretzel and enjoy your evening. You’ll feel wonderfully relaxed when you go home again.

Five of the Week #6

Half a dozen “Five of the Week” in no time. No, I’m not starting on the time issue again ๐Ÿ˜‰
Today it’s all about lies. Not the lies you can read in the newspapers every day told by this or that person. No, it’s about the lies we grow up with. As a child we all have been lied to by our parents and often enough their lies aren’t even revealed by them. Sometimes other children do that or even teachers in elementary school. But somehow I hope that today’s children are still told these lies because they really make up a big part of a childhood as they help to preserve childish naivity.

Why do people lie to each other. Often it’s because they are afraid of the truth themselves. Others are afraid to hurt someone and yet others lie because they want to hurt someone (because of revenge or simply for the saking of hurting someone). I guess parents belong to the category of being afraid to hurt their child. Another reason is that they want their child to have a happy childhood and enjoy their childish beliefs. I think there is nothing bad about parents telling these white lies as they’ll be able to see things from the other side.ย  So, today it’s all about the five “White Lies” of childhood.

1. Santa Claus
Without knowing the meaning of Christmas every child knows it’ll get a lot of presents on this day. I know Christmas is not about presents but, come on, it’s one nice side effect, isn’t it? Honestly, you waited for Christmas the whole year. You wrote and re-wrote your wishlist a hundred times before it “disappeared”. On Christmas Eve you spend hours in church without really knowing why and maybe even not understanding what the Father is talking about. Ok, it’s not hours but to a child it seems like this. And now to all the parents who might read this: is there anything better than coming home, gather around the Christmas tree and see the bright eyes of a child taking in all the magic that happened around him? No, I guess not. And it’s exactly this magic that makes it worth to keep Santa Claus alive for as long as possible.
Oh, and isn’t it great to have your child tell you how it thinks it heard Santa Claus outside or even coming down the chimney the previous night?

2. The Easter Bunny
“How come there are eggs hidden in the house? We don’t have any hens around. And why are they painted? Were they like this when the hens laid them?”
Only someone with no heart would say: “No, they were painted in a factory, I bought them in the supermarket and hid them when your were asleep last night.” I think that would disturb a child’s view on Easter forever. Therefore, it’s better to be creative. Of course there were no hens in the house. No, the Easter Bunny collects their eggs througout the year, paints them in all colors possible and hides them in houses where children live. I guess you all can still remember the picture you drew as a child where the Easter Bunny, with a basket full of colorfully painted eggs, was in your house. Those pictures are always wonderful to look at. So, keep the Easter Bunny alive.

3. The Stork and the Babies
Mommy, mommy,where do the babies come from? Now you either come up with the bees and the flowers or with the stork. As it’s hard to explain the facts of life to a small child you’ll probably go for the stork. This is the better way as all parents come up with different stories. Some say that they ordered the baby and had it delivered by the stork which is, I guess, the most common explanation. My grandfather even told me that the stork who brought me was old and weak so he let me fall down in front of the hospital. Luckily my grandfather found me and that’s how I came to be part of my family. I love that story because it’s so much more creative than the simple truth. However, the toughest part about the stork is how to explain it when mommy’s pregnant with child number to? Did the stork do outsourcing??

4. The Power of Vegetables
Of course vegetables are good and healthy food. But what if your child simply doesn’t want to eat his vegetables? You tried everything and everything has the same outcome: “No, I don’t want to eat my vegetables!” How can you get out of that situation? There is only one man who can help you here: Popeye. I really want to know how many children eat their spinach because of Popeye. “See how weak Popeye is now? This is because he eats no vegetables. Oh, look, he’s eaten his spinach and now he’s kicking Brutus’ ass.” Yes, this is the best way to get your child to eat vegetables. Tell them they make him/her big and strong – just like Popeye. I grew up with Popeye and I still like that idea. It’s better than threatening a child with punishments. Simply do it the Popeye way – it worked well when I was a child. More spinach for Popeye ๐Ÿ˜‰

5. Stop making that Face…
…or it will stay like this forever. Who hasn’t heard these words from parents when their children start making faces at other people? I think most of us have. Of course no face will stay in a grimace forever. As everything is an issue of manners why not tell the kids that other people just don’t think making faces is fun? Sticking one’s tongue out at somebody else is something you just don’t do because it is impolite. Otherwise, it’s always fun to listen to that sentence as most children believe it. What always works best in this case is the wrath of God, e.g.: “If you don’t stop making faces God will make your face stay this way forever.”

Of course we are told more than these five white lies by our parents throughout our childhood (approx. 3000) but it’s ok because there is a good reason for their doing so. Protecting us and our childish innocence for as long as possible. In the song “Arriving somewhere but here” by Porcupine Tree it says: “Never look for the truth in your mother’s eyes” and I guess this really fits for parts of our childhood (and sometimes even longer).

Five of the Week #5

Well, it’s Wednesday again and time is still advancing quickly. But today it is not about how time is running away. However, this entry will still be about time – about passing time.
There are a lot of things one can do to pass the time. Some are more efficient than others and of course the activities differ from person to person. Or do they? It often seems to me that there is only a bunch of activities left to do, you know, something like ‘standard activities’. I consider them to be things that everyone does like partying, playing PC, surfing on one’s mobile phone or wasting one’s day in facebook. Ok, I have to admit I like playing PC myself but honestly, there is nothing special about it. Anyone can do it at any time. What really is something special, at least to me and I hope to anyone who may read this entry, are the things you don’t or can’t do every day. This can already be lying on the couch, drinking a cup of coffee and reading a book. When did you do that for the last time?

When the weather is fine people are, of course, outside, going for a walk, eating ice cream, having a barbecue you name it. Outside is where the action takes place and this is good. Fresh air is one of the best means to clear your thoughts. And when you ask people what they would do on a warm and sunny day they can list a hundred things. However, when you ask them what they do on a rainy day you will either name one of the standard activities or simply say “I don’t know”. If you want to say neither of those things then here is what you can do to pass the time on a rainy day.

Today I sat there for a long time and I had no idea of what to write about until it finally dawned on me. Yeah, it was to obvious to see it. It was raining and I thought “What would you do if you were sitting at home?”. Of course I came up with some standard ideas like listening to music, playing a game on my computer, you know the rest. But then I thought “Stop that’s nothing special” and I started to compile a list of things I thought, and think, special. Things you didn’t or couldn’t do for a long time and that maybe you need to do again.

1. Listen to old Records
We listen to music each and every day because music is always there (on the radio, the mp3-player etc.). Everyone of has a big playlist with enough music for days on his computer but that’s what you listen to everyday. What I mean is take a really old record and put it in your cassette player, CD player or even on your record player, have a cookie and a coffee and listen to it. Be it your first rebellious Nirvana CD, your Phil Collins MC or even your Led Zeppelin vinyl record with that typical crackling. Take your time, listen to it and take a long trip down memory lane. Do it once or twice in a month when it’s raining hard and you’ll feel the warmth of a good memory can be as warm as the sun you’re missing that day.

2. Write/compose a feel-good Song
At first, take a sheet of paper, a pen and a rubber. Sit down with a cup of coffee and some cookies (yeah, coffee and cookies, they are wonderful ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and write down a title. The title can just state what the song is, namely, The Feel-Good-Anti-Rain-Song and then add some anti-rain thoughts like:

If today the sun was shining
I would go outside
If today the sun was shining
I would ride my bike

Or something like that. I know, it’s not the most creative verse but hey, it should be an easy song. Let’s say you write three or four verses this way and then you add the chorus:

This is my feel-good-anti-rain song

Simple as that. Now you put the chorus between the verses and here you have your lyrics.
Now sit down at your computer if you don’t play an instrument but have a music software. Compose an easy drum beat for the verse. Now comes the bassline which can simply play whenever the kick drum plays. Then add a pad to it playing when the snare plays and last but not least comes the melody. The melody can, just like the song, be really simply. You all know the melodies to children’s songs. They are simple and easy to remember. Now you copy your verses and alter them slighty to have music for the chorus. Copy and paste verse and chorus according to how often they occur in your song and that’s it. Finally, you can record your sing. Don’t be embarrassed, it’s just for you. When you’re done you will have forgotten about the rain.

3. Start writing a Book
I know, this sound like a lifetime task but actually it isn’t. I have never written a book although I always wanted to but that another story. Anyway, you don’t have to write much or invent a story with a complicated and always twisting plot. Whenever it rains heavily and you don’t know what to do you can take a pen and a notebook (or your laptop) and start writing. Write down whatever comes to your mind. Remember, you’re not intending to write a bestseller. You might start with the most obvious first sentence there is in your situation:

Today it is raining.

This sentence will evolve into a story when you keep at it. When focussing on and enjoying your task for a while you will see how fast you can fill some pages. The best thing about this “project” is that you have to keep at it regularly as not to forget what you wrote before and repeat yourself. I think I don’t have to mention the coffee and cookies anymore, do I? ๐Ÿ™‚

4. Take a Walk in the Rain
Yes, I mean it. Put on some rain clothes and gumboots and go outside. And if you want to just do what you did when you were a child – jump into the puddles. That’s what parents don’t want their children to do but actually they’d like to do it themselves. You know, just be as carefree as a child, jump into a puddle, be soggy and have dirt all over their rain coats. This is life. Don’t think you’re too old for this because this is our biggest problem. We’re overthinking things. Of course you shouldn’t act without thinking about the consequences but you can’t always act with only thinking about the consequences. If you have the chance to go back to some wonderful childhood memories and activities, do it. You will be angry with yourself if you don’t. A good friend of mine wants to fly a kite and I think that’s a good idea. He liked it when he was younger, why shouldn’t he like it now? Just because he’s “too old”? I mean, are you really “too old” to be happy again – to feel as carefree as a child again?

5. Make yourself comfortable
When you took a walk in the rain and your all drenched and cold take a long, hot shower. It’ll work wonders. Then put on your favorite leisure suit. What you do next is you take a good book and snuggle up in a blanket and sit or lie down on your couch. Of course enough coffee and cookies (here we go again) should be at hand so you don’t have to leave your cozy place too often. Turn off your mobile phone and just enjoy a good read. When you’re done you can watch some TV. I know, you could do that anytime you want but it’s not about watching TV. It’s about enjoying the coziness of the day and to really appreciate its value.

P.S.: You can replace the coffee and cookies by whatever you like best ;-).

Five of the Week #4

Wednesday again. Seven days have passed in what seems like minutes. When you get older (yes, Ms. Fellow Blogger, I’m pushig 30 :-P) it seems that time is advancing very, very fast. I remember that, when I was a child, I could hardly stand the time I had to wait. It was like “Two days until Christmas” or “One day until the summer vacation” and I just thought “That’s one bloody hell of an eternity”. Things finally changed in the 11th grade. It was like BAM driver’s license, higher education entrance qualification (which is called “Abitur” in Germany) and now I’m not far away from finishing my studies at university. All that in the blink of an eye – or so it seems.

However, I’m not writing to tell you about how quickly time passed for me (although it is true). No, but still today’s Five of the Week are a bit more personal than the weeks before.
People say that music can already influence an unborn child and it influences them throughout their childhood. Actually, it seems to me that music never loses its influence throughout a lifetime. So, to honor music and its influence I’m going to write about the five albums that influenced me throughout my childhood, i.e. until the age of 12.

Today, I’m mainly into Hard Rock and Metal. Of course that wasn’t always the case because there were also other musical styles influencing me, e.g. the radio playing at the breakfast table. Well, to cut a long story short here are the five albums that made me like the music I love today.

1. Barclay James Harvest – Face to Face
I loved and still love BJH. Their music is simply enchanting and John Lees’ singing adds a special magic to each of their songs. ‘Prisoner of you Love’ and ‘He said Love’ are the two songs I liked the most because they made me recognize the band immediately before I got caught in the music for hours. And with hours I mean hours. I could sit in my room, play with my Lego, listen to the music and singing along without understanding a word (as I am German and was somewhere between pre- and senior kindergarten). This could go on for hours without getting boring. Quite on the contrary, sometimes my parents came into my room looking if I was still in it or if I had fallen asleep because of being so quiet.

2. Bon Jovi – Keep the Faith
Yeah, one of my first Hard Rock albums. I’ve been a big fan of Bon Jovi for years. Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, their new songs lack the quality of their older material. But that’s another story.
Keep the Faith is still one of my favorite Bon Jovi records and listening to it never gets old. I think I got that CD in elementary school when I still didn’t speak any English (despite some holidays spent in Ireland). Nevertheless, I could lose myself in the songs, especially ‘I Believe’, ‘Keep the Faith’ and ‘In these Arms’. ‘I Believe’ spreads a certain power that wasn’t lost on me back then. I mean, just listen to the chorus, it’s great and Jon sings it with a power and emotion so that you simply believe with him. It’s awesome.
‘Keep the Faith’ is one of the songs you can recognized immediately. The catchy bassline caught me for the rest of the song and it didn’t get boring over the years. Wonderful.
‘In theses Arms’: Even without understanding any English I could grasp the essential meaning of the song and I liked the guitar intro. And honestly, is there anyone who could sing a ballad better than Jon Bon Jovi at this time? I don’t think so. Although not being their heaviest record it might have prepared me for what’s to come.

3. Die Toten Hosen – Im Auftrag des Herrn
My first live record and one of the few German-singing bands I like besides Rammstein. In Germany there is an unwritten “law” whereupon you have to decide whether you listen to “Die Toten Hosen” or “Die ร„rzte”. I think I made this decision at a very young age (maybe in the 4th grade) and I still adhere to it. I like studio versions of songs but listening to a live version often reveals a special something. This is the case with “Alles aus Liebe”. Listening to the studio version is cool but listening to the live version still sends shivers down my spine. This is what made me stick to Die Toten Hosen for years. Songs from this record filled my cassettes (yeah, I still know cassettes and the Walkman) for years and I spent so many hours playing with Lego (you see, I played a lot with Lego) listening to the Hosen and thinking “One day I wanna see ’em live” and I did in 2005.

4. Dio – Diamonds
The Best of Dio. And it really is a compilation of his wonderful songs. The first song that really got me into Dio was ‘Holy Diver’. I guess I was around 10 or 12 years when I first listened to the song. At this time I understood a bit more English and I knew straightaway that there is a magic in that song you won’t find so often. It was in summer 1998 when I was on vacation that I listened to the song at least once a day (for 14 days) and it never got boring. What fascinated me then and still fascinates me now is Dio’s voice. No doubt was he one of the best singers, if not the best, of his time and genre. Let’s also not forget the drums. The drums in Holy Diver are still a masterpiece, as is the whole song.

5. AC/DC – Live
Another live album. I love the old AC/DC songs and I listened a lot to that album. It was my first and only AC/DC album for a long time and the power of the music as well as Brian Johnson’s voice amazed me. Be it the ‘Thunderstruck’ intro or any of the other wonderfully recognizable riffs, it caught me and didn’t let me go.
At first, I had the album recorded on a mini disc and later on, I got it on CD. That was great.

Well, that’s it. So much music, so many memories. And the good thing is that whenever you listen to an album or a song you can recall these memories. You know such a song, don’t you? If so, tell me. Of course some memories are more pleasant than others but hey, that’s life.