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01 | January

26 | I rewatched "Wolf of Wall Street" the umpteenth time the other day and again noticed how good Kyle Chandler is in that one. There is, of course, the pivotal scene with Leonardo deCaprio, but I also love that last scene with him riding home on the subway after Jordan Belfort has just been successfully convicted. Besides Chandler and DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Rob Reiner are just fabulous in that film. There are so many great scenes in this movie that should have lead to a myriad of Academy Awards, like this scene and this one, the latter showing perfect casting down to the last role.

25 | ... and harking back to January 22nd, also check out how incredibly tight Van Halen was as a band by listening to, for example, "Atomic Punk", "I'm the One" or "Jamie's Cryin'" (or any of the other examples of Van Halen tracks without vocals available on YouTube). Great stuff.

24 | I guess I'm different because I like "The Book of Boba Fett" much more than "The Mandalorian". Then again, I have never been attached to the Star Wars universe as much as some of Boba Fett's harshest critics.

23 | Maggie Gyllenhaal is just about the only "celebrity" I follow on social networks and "The Lost Daughter" is probably the only excellent film I watched these past many months.

22 | If you want to hear how brilliant a guitarist Eddie Van Halen was, check out this fabulous playlist on YouTube, which presents the isolated guitar tracks.

21 | "The Psychology of Misinformation" by David G. Rand (MIT) is a video you should watch.

20 | I came across the fact today that the 1st American military court martial trial began in Cambridge, Massachusetts on this day in 1778. For some reason, although unrelated, it made me look up where the attempts of making an example of Julian Assange are at. I hope the High Court in London will allow Assange lawyer's to appeal to the U.K.'s Supreme Court against extradition.

19 | I finally broke down and purchased the 2011 reprint edition of "Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design" by Jennifer Bass and Pat Kirkham although I vowed not to buy larger books anymore.

18 | In my book, Anita O'Day was the only "white" jazz singer comparable to greats like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. She called herself "song stylist" and that comes pretty close to what she always did so well (presenting her material more like an instrumentalist than a singer). Reading her autobiography many years after she passed away (in 2006) is actually both depressing and uplifting. In "High Times, Hard Times" she, as honestly as possible, goes into her decade-long heroin drug addiction but also reveals what life as a jazz singer was like from early on (her tenures with Gene Krupa, Woody Herman and Stan Kenton) to much later when she traveled the globe as a solo artist. She was an absolutely fascinating personality.

17 | Every year I buy new Christmas albums in and around November. This year, there really wasn't anything exciting to buy into, so I opted for adding on to my "Ars Nova" collection.

Ars Nova produced my all time favorite Christmas album, "Julens Sange", but, as I discovered through extensive research online, they also published an incredible oeuvre of classical and contemporary music. I love that choir, which hails from Copenhagen, Denmark and is often lead by Paul Hillier. Absolutely wonderful music, usually excellently recorded.

16 | Getting doctors' appointments during this pandemic has been a pain in the ass. Just like with every other public service, the Covid-19 pandemic seems to have been an excellent excuse for everyone to work less, impose absolutely ridiculous rules and, all in all, be a general nuisance.

15 | I've always been a fan of the NWOBHM ("New Wave of British Heavy Metal") and I am rediscovering many aspects surfing through three books by Martin Popoff:

Popoff, Martin. Smokin Valves A Headbangers Guide to 900 NWOBHM Records. Wymer UK, March 2019.

Popoff, Martin. Wheels of Steel The Explosive Early Years of the NWOBHM. Wymer UK, July 2019.

Popoff, Martin. This Means War The Sunset Years of the NWOBHM. Wymer UK, October 2019.

14 | Waiting for my wife to arrive for the weekend. The powers that be still haven't decided if they want to allow us to live together permamently. Shame on them. Civil servants are just numbers to them ... to do with however they please.

13 | Right now, I need a (good) burger. I haven't eaten one of those for months. I'm always surprised how one's metabolism can be conditioned by some past food experience (by the way: the best burger I ever ate was one that was served up by some road-side diner in Orlando, Florida).

12 | For seemingly ages I have been following and watching the development and recent launch of the "James Webb Space Telescope". It is absolutely amazing to see what dedicated scientists and engineers can achieve nowadays. So many things could have gone wrong but, so far, that thing is working down to the minutest detail.

11 | The problems because of my January 3rd booster shot have been steadily increasing. No fun.

10 | Via Toto's "40 Tours Around the Sun" live BluRay and CD, I came across this incredibly versatile multi-instrumentalist, Shem von Schroeck. Besides the fact that he has a name that most people will probably be unable to unearth via Google because they can't remember how to spell it, that guy's career has been astonishing: opera singer, composer, producer and composer of film music, drummer, bassist, guitarist, lead and background singer, session and live musician on/for an endless number of recordings and bands such as Toto, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, David Paich, David Foster, Christopher Cross, Richard Marx, Don Felder, Al Stewart, Patti Austin, Stephen Stills, Tom Jones, Loggins & Messina, Gary Wright, Spooky Tooth, thriller author and martial arts expert. I was wondering how he finds the time but after a bunch of interviews the answer was clear ... that guy is just incredibly dedicated (and, apparently, a really nice guy). Check him out.

09 | The Poco phone (POCO X3 NFC) I bought last year has turned out to be one of the best investments ever. I turned it into a music player by removing really everything else on that phone and it lasted the entire Christmas weeks with music 24/7. The battery, once you trash each and every other funtion,m is absolutely amazing. After one week of constant music, I was still at 87% battery power!.

08 | Being a person who has had to deal with immune deficiencies these past many years, my booster shot has caused lots of problems. I'm not at work at the moment. Let's see how things pan out.

07 | Yes, I still have my Christmas tree standing around. I have been watching neighbours ditching each and every Christmas ornament since December 28th, but I'm keeping the tree around until the end of January. It just adds a ton of coziness to the living room on these many gray and depressing January days we've had this year (we've been plagued by endless fog for days now).

06 | I read up on Kalief Browder again today. Cases like these are absolutely depressing to study but what irks me most is that really all the people/officials involved usually make it out of their failure unscathed. Often they are even promoted.

04 | I don't think there will ever be a follow-up, but I personally do like Ridley Scott's two most recent Alien sequels, "Prometheus" (2012) and "Alien Covenant" (2017). I have both movies in glorious UHD and I did like the world- and mythbuiling he attempted here. Unfortunately, a possible next entry in the franchise will probably veer off the path completely ... again.

04 | Omicron is beginning to raise its ugly head around here but today I got my booster shot. Let's see how that goes.

03 | Marvel's "Eternals" is really one of the crappiest movies I have ever had the misfortune to watch. What an absolutely predictable borefest.

02 | Our new government took a while to jell, but one of my former students, Tobias Lindner, was made Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office. Shortly before, in the negotiations to form a so-called traffic light coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) following the 2021 federal elections, Lindner was part of his party's delegation in the working group on foreign policy, defence, development cooperation and human rights, co-chaired by Heiko Maas, Omid Nouripour and Alexander Graf Lambsdorff. Although I have been highly critical of some aspects of his party, Tobias absolutely deserved this position. I have been watching his work closely and he's a very smart, educated and dedicated politician. I trust him.

01 | Happy New Year, everyone! Let's see if this year will allow us to shake the pandemic. In my case, that would make work a lot more relaxed. And, by the way, I archived last year's micro blog.


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