Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Stars Are Blazing

Pet Shop Boys' Stars Are Blazing remix of Killer's Read My Mind so kept me going lately. This is my tune of the season and listening to it Toño's arms makes the pop glitter sparkel even brighter.

I have no idea why, but I usually prefer a remix version of a song. Or as my guru says: Reframe!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Treading Water from Paycheck to Paycheck

I cant help it but lately, when I'm leaving the office in the evening, I've got the feeling that I done nothing but...

And I'm still far from leaving the office today...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Love, Passion & Till Death...

Last Sunday, the Roman god of the dead and the ruler of the underworld, a.k.a. Pluto, proposed to my former flat-mate Tigresa and she accepted.

Tigresa will drag a long blood trail of broken men's hearts behind her when she will approach the altar.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Don't Try This At Home

Maybe you remember, I made my mother a Collapsed Chocolate Soufflé Cake for her birthday. It was the first time I made it and I was curious to find out how it tasted, when I was visiting my mother mother yesterday: Don't make this cake again. I was delicious, though, everybody was constipated for days. And your father had painful cramps. I reckon - for once - I'll listen to my mother.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Marlene

Today, my sister Marlene, yes the Best Swiss Miller, can celebrate her 50th birthday.

She does look far from 50, doesn't she? Well, Toño and I gave he a crate of fine groceries.

But only her horses, dog and cat greeted me when I brought it this afternoon. She has the late shift at the gristmill today. Nevertheless, Happy Birthday Marlene!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tom Ford For Men

When Tom Ford was working for Yves Saint Laurent, he brought the hair back on men's chests.

"I wanted to show a man who represents a natural and relaxed image of male beauty," he said. Well, I haven't heard his quote to the ad of his first fragrance under his own label.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Vancouver Aquarium

Yesterday, we had some hours on hand and well, Vancouver showed its trademark image. Yes, it was raining. The weather man on the radio said in the morning that the rain will slow down. This became, our running gag for the day. Maybe the drops fell a bit slower. Whatever, we decided to use the time for a visit at Vancouver Aquarium.

We saw some cute animals...

... some I fear almost like snakes,

... and some really amazing creatures like the Arapaima, one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.

I've never seen anything like this.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

KLM - The Scond Leg

There is not much to complain about the second leg from Amsterdam to Vancouver of my trip. I felt safe and sound and perfectly pampered. Here are just some points:

The Netherlands are not known as a wine country. KLM solves the problem of Dutchness on the wine list by selecting certain wines from Dutch winemakers around the globe. Unfortunately, they did not have the listed Pinot Blanc 2006, De Kleine Schore, which was actually from Zeeland.

A bit surprising were the choices of the second meal, which were all Indonesian. I guess this was chosen because Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony.

Beyond expectations were the earphones - actually the best I've ever had. They even featured a functioning ambient noise suppression.

If I really have to find a fly in the ointment: Nobody cared to clean under my folded footrest. It was rather filthy down there.

A big silly is the give-away. What do I need a dust-collecting Dutch house for? I took it anyway, because I'm entitled to.

Bottom line: KLM delivers a state-of-the-art European service - i.e. not quite as breathtaking as the big Asians but still better than you actually need. However, we always deserve it a it a little better.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

KLM - Interim Review

I have to fly on short notice to Vancouver. So short, that only KLM could guarantee a round trip without waiting list.

If I recall correctly, I've been flying KLM only on two trips so far. The first was in Summer 1998, when I flew to Kazakhstan. The pilot warned us before the landing that it will be rough: I usually don't land that bad, but this tarmac does give me little chance..

Me, riding an ibex in Kazachien

The second one was to Scotland in late November 2001. We thought that it will rain anyway in Scotland. So going in November could not do any harm. Who were we to know that the tourist infrastructure is closed in November. It was even difficult to find a bed & breakfast. However, I have no memories regarding the flight with KLM.

This time, I'm flying the first time business class with KLM. Let's review my experiences on the first leg.

I'm sitting in the KLM lounge at Schipol Airport. Wireless internet access in the lounge costs big Euro which is a big minus for my KLM experience. Even worse that my virus alert keeps popping up reporting worm attacks.

The other big minus is that on the KLM Cityhopper, three business class passengers were squeezed into a triple coach row. One of which was me.

However, the meal served was a big fat plus. It consisted of a delicious cheese quiche with parmesan cream and assorted fresh fruits in a raspberry coulis. Everything was served in a handy and stylish bento box.

The service was charming, attentive and flawless. A stewardess and the pilot were even unloading the luggage when the ground crew failed to show up. I reckon that was far from their job description. Hoist the skirt, step into the mud and do the right thing. I like that attitude.

Let's see in due course how KLM performs on long haul.

Berlinale - Interim Report

You might have asked yourself how Paula and her film Gardens of the Night were received at Berlin's Film Festival Berlinale. Today's NZZ published an intermediate report, which I read with pleasure.

The reviewer called Gardens of the Night oppressive and deeply saddening. The film's relentless portrayal of paedophilia let to indignation at the festival. However despite the controversy, it is one of the better films at the Berlinale.

Nevertheless according to the critiques forecast, the biggest changes to win the Golden Bear have up to now There Will Be Blood and Elegy. Elegy is based on Philip Roth's The Dying Animal, one of the few books by this author I really enjoyed and actually finished. Penélope Cruz must give in this film her best performance in an English spoken picture so far. I'm looking forward to see this.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Black Day for Zürich's Darkrooms

Not that I frequent such locations, however I'm rather pissed off by today's verdict by the district court of Zürich. It has toppled a Gentlemen's agreement between the Police and landlords of gay establishments on the rules of how to run a darkroom. Or in the words of the court: violation of order and public morals by tolerating sexual activities. Thankfully, the convicted will appeal against the decision. What will be next? Prohibition of toilets on air planes?

South Cantonese Sandwich

I know, life is far too short to watch telly. However, I'm happy not to have missed that moment:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Stomach Italy

Maybe I just always had bad luck. But I've never been to an Italian hotel, were I really felt as snug as a bug in a rug. Like last week, when I was sent to Genoa by my caring employer to evaluate a potential supplier. But despite the nasty hotel experience, I have absolutely no reason to complain. The treat of such trips is being taken to a really good restaurant for dinner, which compensates for a lot. I had:

Acciughe ripiene alla ligure
Trofiette al pesto
Tagliata di tonno al sesamo
Tarte tatin di pere con gocce di cioccolato
accopanied by Rossese di Dolceacqua

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Universal Roten

Michèle Roten is a young Swiss journalist, who writes with the verve of the young Julie Burchill, only a bit more egocentric (yes, this is possible).

The other day, I saw Michèle Roten for the first time in a talk show on telly. I know nobody watches talk shows, or at least nobody is going to admit it. But I have to.

I was a bit disappointed. It was like when you see the film version of a novel on the big screen. It is just not like you had made it up in your twisted mind (not that I would compare Miss Roten with a novel, but I think you get the picture). When I was reading her columns in Das Magazin, I imagined an eloquent young woman with feminine curves. Unfortunately, the real (or TV) Roten is a bit different. Don't get me wrong, she's a beautiful young woman, but who definitely writes better than she talks and she is IMHO an X-Ray of a beautiful young woman.

I was planing to blog about this, yet Miss Roten was faster than I am, by publishing today in her column a quite complete list of labels the rest of the world may choose at one's leisure to refer to her.

All seem to go back to a certain Regula Stämpfli. I can't remeber to have ever heard of this woman before I read an interview with her a week ago in Das Magazin. Judging based on that interview, I did not miss anything by not knowing her.

However, some years ago, this Regula Stämpfli called Michèle Roten Schwanzlutscherin (cock sucker). From pooftah's point of view, there is nothing derogative with this term, but obviously, Mrs. Stämpfli had got and still gets quite some feedback to that labelling. Today, she apologized to Miss Roten and gave her the new label postmodern arbitrariness zealot.

Well based on this, Miss Roten came up with the ultimate list, which I try to translate for you:
  • reactionary fast fast writer
  • nail polishing bra burner
  • over caring pot plant mother
  • neurotic nail clipper
  • bourgeois slapper
  • butt
  • totalitarian shoe dictator
  • smiley Nazi
  • unfaithful telephone autistic
  • anorectic salad fetishist
  • mock member of the educated classes
  • skinny jeans wearing high heels feminist
  • coarse motioned head age kisser
  • sectarian Thomas Mann disciple
  • moody stinking sock
  • snooker tournament watching phlegmatic
  • emotion resistant counter girl
  • anti-social "hi" girly
  • beer motioned opening machine
  • tattooed rap groupie
  • German philology student
  • contacts wearing wannabe blond
  • nervous schizo aunty
  • oversexed dick bitch.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gong Xi Fa Chai

[Click to see the rat's eyes]

The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat

It has been on my mind for years, but I finally did it. Last night, I finished Ryszard Kapuściński's The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat.*

Machiavelli's Il Principe and Sun Tzu's The Art of War are fine, but when it comes to the fine mechanics of power, nothing beats Kapuściński's reportage.

* in German: König der Könige. Eine Parabel der Macht

Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives

It had been eight times on BBC four but I missed it completely:

Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives: Documentary which follows Mark Oliver Everett, the lead singer of US rock band Eels, as he travels across America to learn about the father he never knew – quantum physicist Hugh Everett III. Hugh died of a heart attack in his home in 1982, where his body was found by 19-year-old Mark. Even though they had lived in the same house, the two of them were alienated. Only by entering the paradoxical world of quantum mechanics can Mark hope to understand why he was such a stranger to his own father.

See extracts: E in the Rain and E'Journey

Luckily, thoughtful Toño bought the ticket for Eels' concert in Zürich on March 6 ages ago. It's sold out but we have got tickets!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Soooo Exiting

We'd just learned that our dear friend Paula Huidobro's latest work as cinematographer Gardens of the Night is in the competition at Berlin's Film Festival Berlinale. Toño called her a few minutes ago, and caught her sitting in the plane to Europe. We are soooo exited, but - bugger - can't meet her in Berlin (and be cheering when she will get her golden bear). Toño's Mexican passport is expired and Switzerland still hasn't finished the process to give him a flashy red one.

Read more about Gardens of the Night.

By the way, read here what Paula said about Swiss men.

And we only talked about her lovers when we met last Summer for breakfast in Hollywood...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

How To Be Good

Yesterday, my mother celebrated her 76th Birthday and - for once - I did not forget to be a good son and showed up with a home-made cake. I made her a Collapsed Chocolate Soufflé Cake as recommended by Michelle.

While we visited my mother, we learned that somebody has sent my father 200 Swiss Francs. In an enclosed note, the sender said thank you to my father for taking good care of the standard fruit trees in his orchard.

The pictures show my parents working in the orchard about 20 years ago.

Standard fruit trees are considered far more ecological - contrary to the bush shape, which is more economical (read more about tree shape). My family has about 200 of those standard apple trees, but none of the bush shape. At least for once, they actually brought some money and we can leave the Clintons to the U.S. of A. to clean up after the Bushes.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Minted Beef and Noodle Salad

With the Chinese New Year ante portas (my Latin), we thought going a bit Asian would be wise choice. Our first one was Vietnamese Minted Beef and Noodle Salad.

I hope we will not be roasted on bamboo sticks for mixing Vietnamese Food with a Chinese festival. Things are even more complicated: The recipe came from New Zealand. Mickle in NZ sent it to me a few weeks ago. Here it is:

For 1 serving:
100 grams lean minced beef
1 tablespoon fish sauce
crushed or chopped garlic
finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
¾ teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
finely chopped red chilli (for chilli lovers)

Mix the ingredients listed above together and leave for at least ½ an hour if you can. Is okay to prepare it and then refrigerate for several hours or even overnight.

Next prepare the vegetables and noodles: About 100 grams fine rice noodles, prepared according to the manufacturers instructions

A piece of Daikon radish, chopped
A piece of cucumber, chopped
Handful of bean sprouts
1 lettuce leaf, sliced

To cook: Heat a large pan or wok and add a little vegetable oil. Add the meat mixture, breaking it up as much as you can, and cook until browned. Add the drained noodles and the vegetables and heat through. There will be liquid in the bottom of the pan. It is supposed to be like that. Garnish with your choice of chopped nuts, more fish sauce, more mint, fresh coriander.

As my guru says: Reframe!. Well. Michelle did the same. Here are her notes:

I've also made this using chopped up lamb steak, I just added a splosh of cooking oil to the meat mixture when I prepared it. I use grapeseed or olive oil - just use whatever oil you normally cook with.

Mint - traditionally made with Vietnamese mint which I don't like and is hard to find. Excellent made with Thai basil and/or with plain ordinary mint.

One daikon radish is way too big for me to get through. I just use ordinary red radishes.

Alter the vegetables to your taste. I didn't have any bean sprouts tonight. I added sliced celery and used chopped fresh spinach instead of lettuce. Would also be nice with fresh rocket added. I add the leafy green vegetable last and heat it all until the leafy green is just wilting. I've also used mushrooms sometimes.

Alter the amount of the spices and seasonings to suit yourself. I love fish sauce so add it generously. I loath fresh coriander and can have problems with nuts, so I avoid these. Instead of curry powder you could use tumeric, ground coriander (which I do like) and ground cumin, or whatever you like. I like Thai basil and mint so often add more than in the recipe.

Sometimes I use bean thread noodles instead of the rice ones. Would also be nice made without any noodles and served with rice.

Well, we did not stop there and continued the theme with fish on a bed of vegetables. It's not really Asian, but it looks kind of like.

Gong Xi Fa Chai

Friday, February 01, 2008


There are those days - you hear a song, which takes on your vibes and perfectly matches your mood, and you can't help humming it for the rest of the day. Today, Starlovers by Gus Gus did it for me:

Well, you know who my star is.