Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Old Skool

MartininBroda posted some older Trance tracks, because obviously the weather is to sticky to think today. Well I'm not thinking but ironing* and so I put his tracks on.

They were a good selection but a tiny little bit too trancy for my taste. Although Martin had other intentions, he made me think. Like how did I get hooked up to electronic music in the first place.

I reckon one of the oldest tracks I can remember was Eisbär by Grauzone. I did not actually listen to it in 1981, but about two or three years later.

One of my oldest maxi singles was automaten by mittageisen (embedding is disabled, so follow this link), which was published in 1985. I even went to a Propaganda concert, because mittageisen was the warm up gig (no sacrifice was too great).

Also heavy influence came from The Young Gods. Here is the proof that their early songs based on sampling also work in an acoustic version.

But if there was one song in the 80es that still makes me shake, it's Let's Get Brutal by Nitro Deluxe.

* I you're thinking, based on today's posts, that I'm doing all the chores here, that would be the wrong impression. Toño does far more than I do. I just talk more about it.

Chores In Overdrive

We have this flexitime thingy at work. That is, we can always be within ±40 hours of the time we are acutely supposed to work. However, if I'm over +40 hours at the end of the month, my caring employer cold-heartedly erases those above the +40 as if I had never lived through them. Yesterday, my figure was at about 42. Hence, I decided to stay at home this morning.

I woke up at 6am and remained completely idle was meditating until 9am. Then in the next 4 hours I:
  • cleaned the coffee machine
  • recycled glass (who drunk all that champagne?)
  • shopped groceries
  • yelled at the credit card bill (why is a hedonistic life style so bloody expensive?)
  • baked an apricot pie (with organic whole grain dough) for dinner (see picture below)
  • paid the bills (who ordered all that wine?)
  • washed and hanged to dry three machine loads of laundry (I strongly believe tumbling destroys the fabric)
  • swum a nautical mile (first time since a week, caught a spasm in the calf on Saturday during some nice activities :p)
  • sorted jocks and socks while watching The Daily Show.
  • fixed myself a quick lunch.
So, It's time to get some work done. I'm off to the office.

Added later Here at work, I first had to clean the coffee machine. My colleagues have ignored its blinking begging for being cleaned for weeks. We really need at least one of torchy!'s cb.
Added even later Decalcifying of the machine took 2 hours and coffee is tasting a bit funny now. I did not make many friends with this.

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Soundtrack of Summer

My spring was dominated by Love etc.. But now summer finally has arrived here in the most liveable city and I think it's time to change to more summery vibes. This year I feel like summer when I'm listening to French band Phoenix on their entire latest record Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. To be honest, I've never really listened to the lyrics. It's the freshness of the sound that gets me this feeling.

Oh, now I did listen "like we did it all summer long" :P I wish you a bombastic summer (or winter for the ones with the sun on the wrong side).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Spanking Nuts etc.

We went to visit my clan today, for which I usually bake something. I tried a new recipe I read about in a cooking magazine, which included some serious nuts spanking.

Sadly, I left the dough a tiny little bit too long in the oven and they turned out to be a tiny bit too crumbly :( Toño bought then on the way a strawberry cheese cake at Sprüngli's and scored significantly more points with my mother than I did.

Do you remember the kestrel nestlings a fortnight ago? If not see here. They are now equipped with a proper ptilosis and have started to leave the nest.

And aren't those just cute?

Toño is right now in the kitchen processing a brother or sister of them. Whoops :P We will have them with tarragon, olives, pees, noodles and a bottle of Penfolds Bin 8.

I hope you also had a joyful Sunday.

Unfaithful Sunday Morning

Coincidentally, while I was reading about...

I was listening to...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sophia Sling

I could not help it but to show off while being seated in coach again on my way back from Alexandria. I did so by reading the weekend edition of the Financial Times, of which the Food & Drink section consumed most of my attention.

As a free give-away, they described a drink that Sophia Berqqvist, the owner of Quinta de la Rosa in the Douro, likes to serve her guests. Unfortunately, I haven't got one of those rare white Quinta de la Rosa ports, but I tried it anyway with a (inferior) substitute:

This might not have been my last Sophia Sling.

Btw, this is another thing I found in the Financial Times.

Saturday Flowers

Friday, June 26, 2009

Out of Egypt

Yes I'm about to leave Egypt in 3 hours. Although this trip was badly planed (read about), I really enjoyed being here. Alexandria is a hospitable place and sea side towns often has this certain je ne sais quoi. But I'm also looking forward to spend the weekend with Toño. Inschallah, I will be able to kiss him awake tomorrow morning :)

Coincidentally, my current travel book is called Out of Egypt. It is the memoir by André Aciman on his family history and youth in Alexandria. André Aciman is the author of Call Me By Your Name, which is one of my favourite books.

Elvis Has Just Left The Building

I could not help but to hum this song all day. It is so sad that Zappa passed away far too early since we needed him right now for a new song.

Toño in Montaza

In order to get some kind of exercise today, I went for a walk to the gardens of Montaza palace here in Alexandria, Egypt. I did not have to go far since they are right across the Corniche from my hotel. Though crossing the Corniche equals half an hour of jogging if one measures the amount of (cold) sweat the body evaporates while doing so. The car drivers here behave like I normally cycle. Whatever, this is the palace I'm talking about:

Btw, these pictures get so much bigger when you click on them.

Montaza Palace was one of the palaces of the former Egyptian royal family. It was built in 1892 by Abbas Hilmi Pasha, the last khedive of Egypt, and it is surrounded by a lovely park. I more kind of strolled through the park since the exercise was at the beginning and the end. And so I had time to enjoy all the plants, which kept reminding me of Toño.

Like the five-petaled hibiscus, which is the national flower of Malaysia. A place to which Toño sent me numerous poems when I had to travel there regularly.

Or the delonix regia, which so flamboyantly displays flowers in Toño's favourite colour (and the Lada reminded me of Russia).

Of course, each bougainvillea I see anywhere in world reminds me of Toño, and there were plenty of them in the park. The bugambilia (as spelled in Mexican Spanish) is his favourite flower.

Who can look at an agave without thinking of Mexico? And Mexico is the place Toño was born and raised.

It was really worth crossing the Corniche twice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What Am I Doing Here?

I'm in Alexandria in Egypt and this has been one of the weirdest business trips so far and even threatens to dwarf my press-one-button trip to a nuclear power plant*.

Even getting here was a complete disaster. I though arriving at 3am and flying back at 4am would be the worst, I'm facing. Far from it. First I had to postpone the trip by 24 hours because the embassy needed more time to issue my visa. During rebooking, the useless twat at the travel agency:
  • put me from business to coach (what made him do that?)
  • booked me a one hour stop-over during the evening rush-hour in Frankfurt (tort of negligence)
  • claimed that my caring employer could save 1500$ by letting me fly back on Saturday instead of already Friday (of course, since the Friday flight would have been business class!)
As had to be expected, my plane to Frankfurt was late and I missed my connection to Alexandria. I was rerouted via Cairo which included 5 idle nocturnal hours at Cairo airport and I arrived in Alexandria exactly when I was supposed to be in the meeting, which was the main purpose of my visit. Well, I got the summary at the end.

In the evening I met some blokes from an European shipyard who invited me basically to find out if I'm interfering with their business here. Of course I am, but I cunningly laid a false trail by telling them what I planed to do for today of which I knew they were not involved. They conceded me valour but predicted a chance of less than 10% that I even pass the first test, which was getting through the first of many gates. They seemed to have experience in this and they do not go on such an endeavours without the helping hand of an admiral.

My task was to go onto a warship to make a survey. Sounds simple. The survey was organised by an attaché in an embassy in a southern European country (I prefer not to disclose more). All I knew was the name and phone number of this attaché, the name of the gate I had to report to, and the time I had to be there. Helpful would have been something in writing (preferably in Arabic), the helping hand of a local representative, a car with a driver, some basic knowledge of Arabic**.

Well I had none of them and bounced twice at the gate. The first time was at 9am. At eleven (meanwhile soaked in sweat) I got in. A pass was issued for me, permitting access to the ships. The only problem there... the ships were an hour-long drive away.***

Shortly after twelve I was sitting in a taxi holding the mobile phone with the attaché on the other end to the driver's ear. After the various destinations and terms and conditions were settled, I soon started praying since the driver kept texting on his mobile while he was trying to run over everything that dared to obstruct his flow.

Passing two further gates and another office later, I was actually on board of one of the ships. I had 20 minutes left to gather the information I needed, before the base was closed for the weekend. Mission accomplished! An officer on the ship declared me a hero after he realised that I'm on my own in this.

Without the really cute sailors at the various gates, who kept trying to help and kept communicating with me although we did not understand each other, I would have failed.

* I hat to fly to Germany, drive to a nuclear power plant, go through all the processes to get into the plant (like watching a 2.5h video and changing all the cloths including undies and shoes). And all I did was to press one button and then I did everything above in reverse (well, except the video).
** my knowledge of Arabic is derived from Raï, which only helps during pillow talk.
*** At this point I called Mr.Mac, just because I needed someone who was willing to listen to my moaning. Many thanks mate, it was what I needed at that point. Anyway, if I will ever develop a brain tumour, it's because of the trillion phone calls I made today.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fishy Morning

In a typical Latino manner, Toño came up with the idea this morning to spontaneously invite some friends for dinner tonight. Since those friends are 50% Latinos they actually condoned this behaviour by accepting the invitation. This did not make me panic yet. However, Toño then decided that he wanted some Swedish Salmon as the appetiser. This definitely made me panic. It was already 9:30 am. Far too late to get a good catch on the market. This recipe requires an entire salmon and Swiss usually buy only chopped versions of that fish. Nevertheless, I was lucky and got one. It is simmering in the pot as I type...

Saturday Flowers

Friday, June 19, 2009

Amazing School Building

In my neighbourhood the authorities of most liveable city in the world are building a new school. I hated PE but I reckon in that PE hall on top of the building even I might have kind of liked it:

If you want to know more about the building and how it is made, read this.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Most Liveable City

Strange, it was in Ankara where I learned that Monocle has ranked Zürich the most liveable city in world based on quality of life. Zürich moved into top spot thanks to "outstanding and still improving public transport...ample leisure activities...environmental activism in setting new emission targets; good business culture"

I'm already back enjoying the most liveable life in the most liveable city. Nevertheless, here is the view I enjoyed from my hotel room in Ankara:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yes, I'm jealous

Both Toño & I are on business trips this week.

In a couple of hours, my plane will take me to Turkey. Although, I'd been working almost two years for Turkey, I've never been there*. Strangely, my trip is not even related to a Turkish project...

Meanwhile, Toño will be on a business trip on his own to Geneva. He will be a member of the jury, which is selecting the best wines of Geneva (prix de la presse).

In other words, while Toño will be tasting cream of the crop wines, I will be sitting in boring meetings sipping Turkish coffee. And yes, I'm jealous.

*Though, I've seen Turkish soil when travelling Syria.

Never Being Boring

If Yevgeny Zamyatin's novel Мы was ever adapted for a motion picture I insist that the Pet Shop Boys will be responsible for the soundtrack. Their concerts are how I imagine a baroque mass to render homage to Taylorism. There is nobody else making pop music with such mathematical precision.

This is one of my favourite songs with a fabulous video by Bruce Weber:

We have been participating in such a mass yesterday evening. And did I mention that their stage design reminded me somehow of a la La Fura dels Baus' show I saw years ago? And Chris Lowe, the coolest person in pop, wore a mirror-ball hoodie :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Kestrel Nestlings

We went to the farm today and had a brief look at the kestrel nestlings. There are five of them in nest box. Two of them were close to the entry and I could shoot them with my camera. Aren't they just cute?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Coq au Riesling

Ms.Mac has recently indicated some interest in making Coq au Riesling, and since Toño made some today, I publish his standard recipe for inspiration.

The recipe serves about 4 persons. It takes 30 minutes for preparation and 40 minutes to cook, which can be used for setting the tables and having an aperitif.

  • 1,2 to 1.5 kg of chicken chopped in chunks
  • salt & pepper
  • clarified butter
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 3 dl Alsatian Riesling
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 3-4 twigs of thyme
  • 200 g champignon
  • 4-5 spring onions cut into rings
  • salt & pepper
  • butter
  • 100 g crème fraîche
  • some drops of lemon juice
  • salt & pepper
  • thyme for decoration
  1. Dab the chicken chunks dry with kitchen paper, season. Sear the chicken in clarified butter. Add flour, stir and roast gently. Deglaze with the Riesling. Add bay leafs and thyme and let it cook covered on a low flame for about 30-40 minutes.
  2. Steam the champignons and spring onions in butter with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the chicken chunks from the liquid and keep them warm. Sieve the liquid to the champignons, bring to a boil and let it boil down a bit.
  4. Add crème fraîche and lemon juice to the sauce, mix and season. Add the chicken.
  5. Serve decorated with some thyme twigs, and some rice or a fresh baguette.
Of course a Riesling is the best choice, however, a brut champagne is also quite nice.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Proffered To Perfection

Toño is a wine aficionado. That prevents me from selecting the wine for dinner. This is something, I happily leave to Toño. However there is much more ado about serving the wine.

One of the issues is, serving the wine at the correct temperature so that it can unfold its flavours and suit the palate. For this, one can put the bottle in a bucket with ice...

...or already chilled into an isolating wrapping...

...although nice to look at, these are less-than-ideal solutions. The only thing a wine aficionado can be satisfied with is an ostentatious temperature-controlled wine cabinet for up to 133 bottles (equals about 3 months of consumption) with 3 distinct temperature zones:
  • one in the centre for maturing wines in ideal conditions (10-14 °C)
  • one at the bottom for chilling (6-10 °C)
  • one at the top at room temperature (16-20°C).

Our cabinet arrived on Monday. Today, we were allowed to switch it on. And this is Toño selecting the first, perfectly tempered wine to be proffered for dinner:

I know, the cabinet still looks a bit empty. But it's quite a task to drag 133 bottles 4 flights up. This is another thing, I happily leave to Toño.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"I'd rather be alone than try to be someone that I'm not"

Eels have released their seventh studio album "Hombre Lobo - 12 songs of desire"

Although Mark Everett is not exploring new territory, as he so often does when releasing a studio album, I like this 12 songs about longing, loneliness, frustrated desire and desamor.

The title I chose is out of the last song Ordinary Man. Its desolate beauty is so typical for what I like when I think of Eels. And there is still some hope despite all the despair. The line is followed by and you seem like someone who could appreciate the fact that I'm no ordinary man.

Wines & Friends

For the fourth year, Toño's boss organised a South Tyrolean wine tasting (with finger food and band) in Zürich's Frauenbadi (Women's Bathhouse) and I best of it - I could again participate.

We met a lot of friends (we gave them the hint) and had a good time catching up with them. I was a really great evening, despite the occasional drops of rain.

I took this picture last year but it looked about the same.

Tomorrow, I will go for the first time since our holidays in Mexico for a business trip. I've spent more than a month in Switzerland. It has been a while since I did this. However, it will only be a one day trip to the Black Forest. I looks like that this month I will also go in Turkey and Egypt. I've never been to Africa so far. Might be interesting. Thought I'll have to wear a suit and it might be hot.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Rainbow Nation

My weekend was a bit like the weather, which changed from burning sunshine to heavy rain within seconds if not both were present at the same time. An emotional roller-coaster with tears of joy as well as desperation. Nevertheless, at the bottom line it was a good weekend.

Like this was a good moment, seeing rainbow banners streaming equally side-by-side with the ones of our federation and state all over the town:

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Quien golpea mi puerta

If I recall correctly it was in 2005 and I was in Malaysia, when Toño sent me the poem La pregunta by Pablo Neruda. In this poem Pablo Neruda told me what was happening. Toño was knocking at my door, knocking it down to enter my life and to live in my soul. Toño was neither a passenger nor a beggar, he was the one I was waiting for.

Poema La pregunta
de Pablo Neruda

Amor, una pregunta
te ha destrozado.

Yo he regresado a ti
desde la incertidumbre con espinas.

Te quiero recta como
la espada o el camino.

Pero te empeñas
en guardar un recodo
de sombra que no quiero.

Amor mío,
te quiero toda,
de ojos a pies, a uñas,
por dentro,
toda la claridad, la que guardabas.

Soy yo, amor mío,
quien golpea tu puerta.
No es el fantasma, no es
el que antes se detuvo
en tu ventana.
Yo echo la puerta abajo:
yo entro en toda tu vida:
vengo a vivir en tu alma:
tú no puedes conmigo.

Tienes que abrir puerta a puerta,
tienes que obedecerme,
tienes que abrir los ojos
para que busque en ellos,
tienes que ver cómo ando
con pasos pesados
por todos los caminos
que, ciegos, me esperaban.

No me temas,
soy tuyo,
no soy el pasajero ni el mendigo,
soy tu dueño,
el que tú esperabas,
y ahora entro
en tu vida,
para no salir más,
amor, amor, amor,
para quedarme.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Let it begin...

We're on the eve of another weekend. This one will be devoted to celebration and commemoration.

On Saturday, we will parade and celebrate at EuroPride, which this year is held in Zürich. The evangelicals prayed hard that it may rain and it most probably will. Though there was one thing they hadn't reckoned with - LGBT people are a quite waterproof bunch. We've been trough a lot more than a bit of rain.

This Sunday, Toño and I can celebrate our first anniversary - that is, a year ago, we invited our friends to celebrate with us*. We plan to solemnize this at the hottest party in town in the night to Sunday.

Sorry Ms.Mac, I nicked your pic.

Also on Sunday, we will commemorate our friend Isabel, who passed on a year ago. We plan to have dinner with the Swiss part of her family and friends. Toño will make ceviche after a recipe of his sister Chilo.

* We did everything in the wrong order: honeymoon, reception, registration. But it worked
just fine this way.

Con Pasión (y Mole)

Yesterday, we went to the Lila Downs concert. But first we had some warm-up champagne:

Although there was no need to warm-up. It took Lila Downs barely a second to do that anyway. On days like this, I really believe God created the universe for the sole purpose to give us the opportunity to be enchanted by the belleza and pasión of Latin women*. Like the dress she wore! It was of the kind only a Latina can get away with - those colours, those patterns and the movement of the body required to bring it into effect. And I had to think of Toño's sisters who'd cooked all this amazing food for us. Like this mole:

... or enchiladas con mole:

How does one make mole? Well, read chapter IV of Como agua para chocolate** by Laura Esquivel or follow the recipe by Lila Downs:

Cumbia del Mole

* and by Toño of course - and yeah by Kylie as well.
** The term como agua para chocolate is a Mexican synonym for passion, because it requires boiling water to make a chocolate.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Dressing for Lila Downs

Lila Downs will perform in Lucerne this evening and Toño and I will have front row seats at the KKL. I've neither seen Lila Downs before nor have I been to the KKL. How could I?

We'll have to go directly from work. Toño already left the residence perfectly dressed as the Latin lover he actually is (including matching orange undies *swoon*), while I'm still standing in front of the cupboard hopelessly trying to find something suitable.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


A year ago I was in the U.S. of A. for the integration of a system. For me, the most unusual thing was that half of the time in meetings was wasted used to praise the good work everybody at the table is doing. This was kind of new to me. Were I've worked so far here in Switzerland (construction & defence), doing a good if not exceptional job is something that is just expected. Receiving appreciation can be compared with masturbation, i.e. DIY.

However today, a VP came to my office and gave me a couple of bottles of a 92 points wine for this job. I was quite flabbergasted. It was even out of his private cellar.

He should have given them to me a couple of hours earlier, before I'd filled the employee satisfaction survey. Though there I did not bitch much about a lack of appreciation but that my caring employer sucks when it comes to diversity. As chance would have it, exactly this VP had no clue what a registered partnership is, when he'd inquired my matrimonial status. One has to teach those brass everything.

Lake Crossing

Just checked the dates for this year's lake crossing here in Zürich:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
In case of bad conditions it will be postponed to July 8 or August 19.

See you there.

Small print diclaimer: This is not a picture is of the lake crossing.

It's About Love

schwulengeschichte.ch, a webpagew covering about 170 years of gay history in Switzerland went on-line. I especially like it's tag line "it's about love".

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


When I was ordering The Devil's Paintbrush, I saw that there are also two films* adapted from the first two books by Jake Arnott, The Long Firm and He Kills Coppers.

I loved them both, although I'd read and loved the novels they are based on. Both are of those rare cases where one can enjoy the adaptation when one knows the novel or one can read the novel after seeing the film.

There is also something about it over at just some words (here and here).

* Mini series actually.

The Devil's Paintbrush

Last week, Jake Arnott's brand spanking new novel The Devil's Paintbrush arrived in the mail. I just could not resist, neglected Toño and rushed through it from cover to cover in barely a day.

A book with a title that is derived from the Maxim machine gun1 can expected to be a bit like a Roman holiday.

Briefly summarized: Major-General Sir Hector Macdonald, a paragon of Victorian military virtue, is about to be court-martialed for pederastic activities. In Paris in March 1903, he encounters the occultist Aleister Crowley, who calls himself the Beast. Together, they embark into a memorable nightly ride through the sinful city, which ends with Macdonald doing the honourable thing.

As always with Jake Arnott, his ability to drag you into the authentic atmosphere of a time is astonishing. And yes, it is a bit sordid.

1 The Maxim machine gun has a rate of fire of 666 rounds per minute, which makes it splosh red everywhere - hence the pet name.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Pilgrimage to Los Abrazos Rotos

We used Pentecost Sunday1 to travel to Fribourg in the French speaking part of Switzerland, because there, Pedro Almodóvar's Los Abrazos Rotos is already on show. We went to the afternoon show. So we could go for dinner afterwards and still travel home comfortably by train. One should not stress out on Pentecost.

We both loved the film2 and both agreed that it will be hard to wait the almost 3 months until it will open in Zürich to see it again. In the first viewing, I just dive into an Almodóvar and float with it. In at least one of the viewings I blind out the storyline and dialogues an solely concentrate on the set design. Or as Variety puts it: Every richly hued wall is covered with eye-candy artwork, every doorway reps a second level of framing, and there is beauty even in the scattered contents of a drawer or in a pile of torn-up photos.

I saw my first Almodóvar in 1987. This was La ley del deseo and it disturbed me emotionally far more than Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma by Pasolini. I had never seen anything alike. Since then, I'm constantly moaning that Almodóvar is not making more films.

It has been even longer since I've been to Fribourg. It was in Summer 1985, I remember this, because Live Aid was on, just as we left for it, and my bicycle had a defect when we were approaching the town.

We had some difficulties to find a restaurant offering local food. But eventually we succeeded. Toño settled for a plat fribourgeois and I chose steak de cheval.

1 Pentecost Monday is also a holiday.
2 A Irish friend who was born and raised in Spain recently complained that one is treated like a heretic when one says something bad about a film by Almodóvar (she hasn't even seen Volver yet, how dare she?).