Monthly Archives: Dezember 2013

Frohe Weihnachten

or Merry Christmas as you would say in English. Alternatively I could wish you many other things for all those other holidays that are celebrated around this time of the year, but I stick with this one today.

A few weeks ago I was asked by the Fairytale Traveler Christa Thompson to write a guest post about the Christmas traditions in Germany.
Between writing my Bachelor’s thesis, getting sick and my laptop deciding to bit its final farewell, I managed to write a bit about how Christmas is celebrated around here. You can find the full post on her website: Christmas Traditions in Germany.
Thanks to TheFairytaleTraveler again for publishing my post. 🙂

Foto eines metallischen Adventskranzes mit vier roten angezündeten Kerzen.
Adventskranz (by SolLuna from Wikimedia)

Christmas is a time for the family to get together, a time of light and a time of wonder. Experiences you gain from your childhood sip into your adult life. For a long time now Santa Claus is just a man in a suit for me, but I still think it’s great that children do believe in this being, this guardian of wonders (A few weeks ago I reflected on my experiences on this Guardian of Childhood).
The lights that shines through the streets at this time of year. The candles that are lighted in the rooms. The Christmas pyramids turning their wheels and creating magical picture on the ceiling. It all has something special, something unique, that isn’t quite the same at any other time of the year. In short you could say: Halloween is fascinating for me because of the darkness surrounding it, Christmas because of its lights.

Also the Christmas markets that you can spend hours at with friends and families. Drinking Glühwein (hot spiced wine), eating Mutzen or roasted almonds. If you pass through a market on an every day basis like I have to with the Weberglockenmarkt in Neubrandenburg you could think you’d become tired of it, but it’s different. If you go there in private the atmosphere becomes different than just going there for lunch or passing through. I can’t explain why, but it just is that way and I don’t mind. This way a Christmas market can still be nice even though you’ve been at it several times.
So far I haven’t been at that many different markets. The most times I was at the ones in Neubrandenburg and Greifswald.
And only this year did I read the story behind the name of the Weberglockenmarkt, which is quite interesting as I might add

In a cold winter night a weaver (Weber) made his way home to Neubrandenburg, home to his family for Christmas. Shortly before he reached his destination he ended up in a horrible snow storm. The storm was that bad that he could not see where he was going. Whether he was coming closer to the city or straying further away.
For hours he wandered through the snowy forests until he heard the bells (Glocken) of the St. Marien church. The sound of those bells finally helping him to find his way or he would have frozen outside the gates of his home town.
In his memory the bells ring throughout Christmas and the market (Markt) gained its name.
(Read the full story in German here: Weberglockengeschichte)

Greifswald was always closer to my home town than Neubrandenburg. But it is a quite charming one with occasionally a Ferris Wheel that allows you to look high above the city, an area for children with booths were different Fairy Tales are portrayed and just a nice atmosphere in the more historic part of the city.
One time visits include Schwerin, Berlin (Gendarmenmarkt) and a small one in Hamburg and passing through the one in Elmshorn.

Schwerin was in my school time when we made a visit to the art museum and finished the trip with a stroll over the market. I can’t really remember it any more though.
The Gendarmenmarkt is a smaller and secluded market in Berlin where you even have to pay a small entrance fee. When I was there with Conan and Plusquamperfekt from The Forum and a childhood friend of mine, several years ago, it was just 1 Euro (as I just found the ticket in a book I’m trying to finish until the 31st). It was also quite full. Full of people and full of interesting (and quite expensive) self made goods. It still had a nice atmosphere for chatting about projects and Fantasy stuff.

I can’t remember which one we visited in Hamburg, but it was only a small one we had chosen for the Christmas staff party for the Eventteam (a small student project team for creating events for the students). It still was a great evening with some former, some current and new members of the team and a nice market.

I would like to see a couple of more markets in the future, even some bigger ones. They, however, have so many attendees that it’s far more stressful than fun and maybe not worth the trouble.

Even though there is much good done throughout the season for my family it unfortunately is also a time of mourning.
It was this day, five years ago that my grandfather passed away.
The first passing I consciously experienced within the direct family and it is still a sad memory. He will always be dearly remembered. Christmas time is a time to remember after all.
To remember what we have, what he have lost and to decide where we can go from there.
With this I wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope you will have some quiet time with your loved ones.


Why Wikipedia should be a quotable source

and why it won’t be for a quite a while…
The most annoying thing when you are writing a scientific or research paper is that you are not allowed to quote Wikipedia. And while writing my Bachelor’s thesis I was (and still am) confronted with this problem quite often.
Looking at Wikipedia to get a general understanding of what whatever I am looking for is has become some kind of second nature for me. And in most situation it was enough to satisfy my curiosity or even end a discussion with the proof needed for a point. Wikipedia is a great source for free knowledge that I’d seriously miss if it was ever shut down. Clever people sit down and write (in most cases) wonderfully understandable articles that combine so many thoughts and view points that it would be a shame if you didn’t use it.
But in a paper you can’t.
I don’t know what it’s like in other countries but in Germany it is looked down upon if  you use Wikipedia as information source for a scientific paper. In school teachers would scold you if you simply copied and pasted stuff from Wikipedia, but they would at least accept it if you took information from there and formulated it in your own words. One of the first things you learn about quoting in university, however, is: Never quote Wikipedia.
But why is that? Why can’t we simply use these great roundups for certain topics that are provided to us for free?
From an objective point of view this becomes apparent quite soon.

#1 EVERYONE (with access) can edit articles on Wikipedia

This is probably the most problematic reason for disregarding Wikipedia as a proper source.
The one writing the article can be an expert in the field he is writing about, but he can also be someone who just wants to mess with people or thinks he has an idea of what he is doing, but in reality doesn’t know a thing.
With aliases and everything you never really know who actually wrote it and you also can’t properly pin an author to what was written.
Therefore you can never be certain if what is written there does really represent the truth.
And because

#2 Articles do not quote properly

you can’t even prove it. This is not always the case and many articles have an information that says that points in the article aren’t properly quoted, but still. Without proper references to the original sources you can’t draw your own conclusions, like the author did for writing the article.
With no proper background for conclusions and explanations they are considered to be wrong. (For finding a truth value in a statement this would be different, but that’s beside the point.)
For a paper it would be more helpful to be able to look – and quote – the original sources, but if the roundup doesn’t provide those that is not an option. To make my own decisions I look into other opinions – in this case other sources – so I can use both things as reference.
And what if an author researched something and no one ever heard about it, because there is no official paper on it, just a seemingly wrong paragraph in an Wikipedia article? We wouldn’t know it and another editor would simply delete it.

#3 Articles can always be changed

When an article is written it is not written in stone, it is rather written on a chalk board. You can wipe away what you deem wrong and add your correction. If it is an old board you might even be able to see what stood there earlier, like what you can do with the page history. This makes it hard to pinpoint a version of the article you could use in a proper quote. As far as I know it is a common practice to include printed versions (at least PDF versions) of websites for references, but with an ever changing source like Wikipedia this is always a bit tricky.
Those three things can be summed up into:

#4 Formulating a source is complicated

A proper quote for a paper includes: Author, Release Date, Name of the Source and an URL.
While the name and the URL are easy to find, the others are not so much.
It is not really clear who should be credited as author. The one who generated the page? The one who wrote the most part of it? The one who edited it last? I’d say the one who wrote the most, but I certainly don’t want to look through the whole history to find out who that was. To be save you might even include a „Last edited by“, but you still only have user names and no proper authors.
Same goes for the Release Date. For an ever changing article like this the date the page was created can’t be seen as Release Date. It makes more sense to use the date the current version was released as reference for that. But what if it changes tomorrow again and you don’t look because you have your source? Well, then you better make it safe and add another date that says when you last looked at the source or made the print version.
You certainly can find a way to quote it, but it’s not really a satisfying way.
There are most likely way more points to this than I can currently think of, but I am going to leave it at that.
To turn Wikipedia into something quotable a lot of things would have to change.
Author’s would have to be marked as main author and editors.
Articles need way more references to underline their points.
Versions would have to be declared as quotable (acknowledged by experts, etc.).
And so forth.
There have been many discussion regarding this topic and there will be a lot more until we find a proper solution for this.
But from my personal point of view it would be a really useful help to be able to use the roundup as your source and as reference to other media.
Until then I need to search for other sources that I can properly quote and use as reference for my thesis (and only use „Wiki“ to find them 😉 ).

Guardians of my childhood

This is somewhat a follow up to my review of Rise of the Guardians.
I reflected on how I experienced the Guardians of Childhood when I was a kid and originally had added it to that post, but it was just too off topic so I put it into a post of its own. Like many children I used to believe in the „big four“ or at least to some extent.

Sandmann, lieber Sandmann…

Ein schwarz weiß Foto aus Unser Sandmännchen. Das Sandmännchen landet gerade in einem Heißluftballon
An old still from „Unser Sandmännchen“

The Sandman was a constant companion, as we have a children’s show here in Germany called „Unser Sandmännchen“ (Our little Sandman) that uses stop-motion technique to tell the story of a little man with white hair and goatee, a red cape and a pointed hat, always carrying his bag of sand wherever he went.

And he visited many places and everywhere he went the children asked him for a bedtime story. And of course he told them. We learned about the kobold Pittiplatsch and his friends Schnatterinchen (a duck) and Moppi (a dog); of Herr Fuchs (Mr. Fox) and Frau Elster (Mrs. Magpie); of the water goblin Plumps and the baby chicken Kücken and, when the versions from East and West Germany merged, also of the the piglets Piggeldy [a]nd Frederick. (Note on this: During the Division of Germany there was a version of The Sandman on both sides of the country. Nowadays they use the figurine of the East, but stories of both sides and of course new additions.)
So nearly every evening my parents would change the channel to let me watch it and let me accept that when he threw his dream sand it was time to go to bed. 😉

The Man in Red

Santa Claus or the Weihnachtsmann (literally: Christmas-man) as we call him was a phenomenon until I was about six when I realized that the guy behind the mask was in fact my dad and it was made of plastic. I think the following year I even took the mask and played Santa for my parents. Breathing was difficult underneath that plastic thing, but it was fun nonetheless. 😀
Before that it was great to tell dad that he had just missed Santa. 😀

Until I knew the truth he was pretty much a figure of respect for me, you had to do well reciting your poems if you wanted to get your present from him after all. When I knew it was just an adult dressing up I tried not to spoil the fun for the other kids, though I think I failed at that occasionally by loudly thinking … (like I did with some other things as well, but that is a story for another time).

There is a city called „Himmelpfort“ (Heavens Gate) that has one of Germany’s Christmas post offices, where kids can write to and get a reply by Santa or the „Christkind“ (Christchild) or the „Nikolaus“ – which are two other beings, said to bring presents to children. When I was a kid I once wrote them and got a reply I still have somewhere. A printed letter on green paper with drawings all around it. I don’t remember what stood actually in it, but I remember that I used a pen to redraw the angels and stars on the paper. 😀 It’s a nice idea for kids to have the chance to write the imaginary person and get a reply. And of course having this imaginary person in the first place. 🙂

Searching for eggs

Easter is still a holiday where we hide eggs for fun, though there is not much talk about the Easter Bunny any more – unless it is about the bunny that ends up as lunch. *cough*
But when we were at my grandpa’s at Easter the adults would hide little things in his garden and we kids (my cousins and I) then went to look for them. Everyone was gathered, everyone searched. It was fun.
This year was, I think, the first Easter after he passed away that we were able to spent with the family again, but we were only a few people and the only child being my cousins daughter. But my aunt wouldn’t miss the chance to also hide something for her children and me. And of course my dad and I played our little game of: „I saw this many eggs, how much have you found?“ Leaving the actual search for the others. 😀

The unknown legends

The Tooth Fairy wasn’t that present, I’m not even sure if she was mentioned at all, probably only one or two times when I lost my baby teeth…
I roughly remember complaining about the weirdness of the idea of putting my tooth under my pillow and waiting for someone to pick it up. I kind of think my mum made me put it there anyway and exchanged it for a coin somehow. Though I guess I mostly learned about her from television and I still think it’s a weird tale to tell a kid …

And here is when it becomes weird:
The first time I ever heard about „Jack Frost“ was in the „The Santa Clause 3“ movie, where he was portrayed by Martin Short. By then I wasn’t really a kid any more. The only frost „spirits“ I new were Väterchen Frost (Father Frost) from the Russian Fairy Tales and Frau Holle (Mother Hulda) from the Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the movie adaptations I watched as a child. I still feel closer to them.

The Bogeyman never really played a role either and I’m pretty sure that Pitch from RotG was only the fourth I had ever encountered. I think some of the „friends“ I had throughout childhood talked about „the Black Man“ (der Schwarze Mann, as one of his German versions is called) lurking in the dark, but my parents never tried scaring me with that.
Still lying in my room all alone at night was a completely different matter, though my room was never really dark as I had a street lamp right in front of my window. As soon as a limb would make its way out underneath the bedsheets it would be drawn in again.  Even faster if it came anywhere near the floor. My bed did not have space underneath it, but there still was the floor where something could be crawling at you. But I have to admit that even now, after I’ve watched (or read) something supposedly scary the shadows seem to be even darker as they usually are.

Well, the „Fear of the Dark“ is after all something basic that is settled deep within us and I don’t think it will ever go away. It might not frighten us as it did during childhood, but you will still have this weird feeling of something watching you, just not as strongly.
As I said, Pitch was only Nr. 4 and it took me a while to learn about the concept of the Bogeyman.
My first Bogeyman ever was Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare before Christmas the main antagonist and well, the singing sack of bugs, that tried to torture „Sandy Claws„. Not really frightening, but still a Bogeyman.
Number 2 and 3 both live(d more or less) in the city of Ankh Morpork which I learned about when I read (and later watched) „Hogfather“ by Terry Pratchett. A brilliant story about an assassin „killing“ the Hogfather (the Discworld version of Santa) and DEATH fills in for him. The first Bogeyman was a minor character that got clobbered by DEATH’s granddaughter Susan in the beginning of the story. The other is the first Bogeyman ever <spoiler for anyone who still hasn’t heard about it>that became the Tooth Fairy of the Discworld, which is pretty funny if you look at the story of the RotG movie 😉 </spoiler>.

I can’t really remember any other entities that I was told about as a kid, so I guess I’ll leave it at that.
It’s always nice to rethink stuff you experienced in your childhood when learning about it in a different way and this is just one of many examples I had faced recently.
The series Once Upon a Time and Grimm made me rethink the fairy tales I grew up with. Rise of the Guardians made me think about this. And probably many more stuff I have yet to remember.
But it’s nice that a simple story can do that. 🙂


© Rights for the pictures belong to their rightful owners.

The Day of The Doctor

A week after the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who was aired I finally managed to complete my thoughts and this post about it.
I even have a couple of things to blame for that, here, let me show you the list:
#1 I am currently writing my Bacherlor’s thesis, so most of my spare time is used for doing anything but writing – or thinking in general.
#2 Face it: I do not post that regularly anyway, so two posts close to each other would just be weird for my standards. (Though I have done it in the past and I do plan to get some kind of schedule after this whole studying stuff is over).
#3 Everyone posted thoughts and reviews right away, so why should I be doing the same?
#4 The flipping special was so breathtakingly stunning that I simply did not know how to properly articulate my thoughts about it.
Does that justify waiting a week before writing this? I like to think it does. 🙂
And as it was nearly as long as a proper movie, I will use the same categories I use for those.
And I will use Spoilers, you have been warned.

What’s the special about?

The Day of the Doctor official poster

In The Day of the Doctor we finally learn a bit more about the Time War that had haunted the Doctor since his return to the television screens in 2005.
In The Night of the Doctor we saw the Eighth Doctor regenerate into the War Doctor to fight in the Time War. When all seems lost he decides to use an old and powerful weapon to destroy Daleks and Timelords alike. But little does he know the weapon, the Moment, has developed a consciousness. In the form of his future companion Rose Tyler as the Bad Wolf it shows the War Doctor what he will become if he chooses to use the weapon. For this she opens windows in time that reach both the Tenth Doctor and the Eleventh.
Ten is seen with Queen Elizabeth I., a sub-plot that has been hinted at since (New-Who) season three in „The Shakespeare Code„, and accidentally gets engaged to her thinking she is a shape shifting alien, a Zygon, which she isn’t and ends up with two Queens when the window opens.
In more or less current day London Eleven had just invited his companion Clara to a new trip, but before they could start a UNIT (Unified Intelligence Taskforce) helicopter picked up the TARDIS and brings both of them to National Gallery to show him credentials of Queen Elizabeth I., which is a 3D painting of the fall of Acadia, the second city of Gallifrey, during the Time War, which we learn has two titles „No More“ and „Gallifrey Falls“. But he was summoned to actually look at paintings in the Under-Gallery that had been destroyed from the inside out. While looking at them his window opens and after some fez-throwing all three Doctors end up in Ten’s time line to figure out the plot with the Zygons and help the War Doctor end the Time War. With quite an unexpected conclusion in both cases.

The watching experience

Oh, I would have liked to see it in the cinema in 3D – even though I do not like 3D, as I have mentioned before – but the time and space factor wasn’t in my favour.
The nearest cinema that broadcasted the special is a 2 hours ride away from where I live, plus they did not allow tickets to be reserved, only purchased. Furthermore, I would have to drive there (and especially back) in the middle of the night on my own. No, sorry, as much as I was anticipating the special, that was not worth the trouble.
So, where did I watch it instead?
Well…through a BBC One Stream I fortunately found and with which I was quite satisfied as it only struggled for a few moments throughout the whole thing.
In conclusion I made myself comfortable behind my laptop and grinned like a bloody idiot at certain scenes.
As I mentioned before do I not know that much about the classic Doctor Who years, but even I could appreciate and enjoy the nods towards it. It must have been brilliant to experience all those funny and thrilling scenes, the plot twists and pretty much the whole thing together with everyone in the cinema. Even though I only saw it on my own I still had a great time.

The characters

The ones that impressed me the most were Billy Piper and John Hurt, as the Moment and the War Doctor respectively. The Rose-Tyler-Bad-Wolf-Moment was so much more than Rose on her own, so much more brilliant.  The War Doctor was unexpectedly funny and playful, dare I say adorable? Yes I dare: He was adorable.
My fear of not being able to see him as a Doctor version instead of the Dragon from Merlin was completely unneeded. He just so great was. (Please order the words according to grammatical correctness).
Ten was different to what we all were used to, sadder and even a bit tired, but seeing as his time line was closing in on „The End of Time“ it was reasonable. But David Tennant also looked a bit overworked in the interviews, so maybe he just didn’t have as much energy as he used to have. Which was quite contrary to the always quirky Eleven. I know I said, I never really connected to Matt Smith’s Doctor, but I still greatly enjoy his version of the Timelord.
But the most interesting thing was seeing those three Doctors interact, calling each other’s names („Sandshoes“, „Chinny“ and „Grandad“, just to name a few) and trying to figure out the two plots. And of course the brilliant revelation that they did not use the Moment, but instead used a technique usually used for paintings (as seen with the Zygons) to freeze Gallifrey. And for this all THIRTEEN Doctors (including the future incarnation played by Peter Capaldi, of whom me managed to see a hand and his eyes) teamed up to save the day. What a brilliant moment that was…all 13 TARDISes circling Gallifrey , all 13 being projected into the War Council room, all of them working together to save their home…
Still, they do not know if they actually managed to save the planet when they bid their farewells and returned to their respective time lines (in the process forgetting about it and still remembering it as having used the Moment to burn them).
When Eleven learns from a mysterious Curator (portrayed by the Fourth Doctor Tom Baker) that the title of the painting is actually „Gallifrey Falls No More“ and that their plan had succeeded he decides on a new journey, a journey to find Gallifrey, to go home „the long way round“ and we get to see all Doctors again, looking at Gallifrey. Really brilliant and proper conclusion for a 50th anniversary special.
As the Doctor was the main focus of the special other characters were pushed to the side a bit, but they nevertheless did a great job. The Queen and UNITs head of Scientific Research Kate Steward (the daughter of former companion Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Steward) did well in their roles as leader and impressed the Doctor(s) with what they were capable of. (The Tenth Doctor mistook the Queen twice for the Zygon and she even managed to kill the creature.) A little spotlight shone on Kate’s assistant Osgood, which was a pretty cool character. Some even say, she represented the Fandom, with her long scarf (akin to the one the Fourth Doctor wore) and the kind of hero-worshipping she had for the Doctor, even praying to him when a Zygon attacked her. But she wasn’t just a fangirl. She was a scientist, clever and the first to draw the conclusion that whatever came out of the paintings hid underneath blankets that had previously covered statues.
And of course you can’t forget Clara. She again pointed out the obvious to the Doctor(s). She saved them from being imprisoned in the Tower of London (through opening an unlocked door) and reminded them of what they swore when they became the Doctor. I really enjoy her, she is not as great as Donna, but she gives the Doctor a hard time as well. 🙂

General opinion

I don’t know where I should start…this special was, as I had imagined, spectacular.
All those references to the old and new series were simply great. The opening screen, the  junkyard and the school from the very first episode (Even one of the Doctors first companions Ian Chesterton was mentioned on  a plate as Chairman of the Governors). Catchphrases of former Doctors and of course the appearance of all of them. It was a little sad that even though they showed how the War Doctor started to regenerate we couldn’t see the full regeneration into „my“ Doctor, the one that made me want to watch more of the show: Christopher Eccleston. But I respect his reasons for not wanting to be involved in the special. I also do understand why they only included Tom Baker – the longest serving Doctor – as the Curator and didn’t include the other three still living former Doctors (Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy). If you still want to see them I recommend to have a look at Davison’s: „The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot„, it’s hilarious…and it gives you a different look at a certain scene in the Under-Gallery. 😀
All in all a brilliant way to celebrate 50 years of this great show and I am clearly looking forward to finally seeing all those other great Doctors in their own stories…
Stuff I’d like to add
Apparently I was wrong in my earlier post about the Anniversary: The Special was broadcasted in 94 countries, not ~80. 🙂
And as you can see from my writing, I am still grinning like an idiot about all those great scenes and dialogues and stuff and will probably watch the special a couple more times. 😀
I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did.
P.S. This was my 42. post that more appropriately should have been about „The Hitchhiker’s Guide through the Galaxy„, but at least it was about a Sci-Fi show. 😉
© Rights for the poster belong to the BBC.