Archive for January, 2009


Nothing is staying untouched by the snow and the human way to deal with it. See now … fucked up cars, ice flowers and all kinds of stuff that people in Los Angeles have neither ever seen nor heard of.


Door opening systems as seen from the “Poussez”/”Push”-side


Ice flowers are awesome!



The areas where brown snow sticks mark the future rusty parts of this pickup truck.

If there is something we men are constantly craving for, then it is … naked women. Come on guys, confess.

And, so goes the story, somewhen in old Greece some clever guys had an idea how they could see more naked women: By declaring the act of drawing them an art form. Following this logic, every woman who attends a figure drawing is therefore a lesbian. And all the men are horny guys who cover their drives with the “artistic wish of nakedness”

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Now that you’re all biased enough about figure drawing, I can confess…:

Montreal Figure Drawing group on meetup.com
The room is pretty spacious, very bright, with a couch, a queen-sized bed that is missing blankets in the middle. There is one huge drawing table, and a dozen scaffolds are filling the space in the art studio. Our model is about 35. I did not bring a pencil with me and the instructor generously lends me all kinds of drawing coal. (see Lorena, I integrated the word “to lend” in my vocabulary!)

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Drawing with coal is like picking your nose with your thumb: It’s faster and more efficient, but you are hardly able to manage the really tough buggers that need detail work. I love to pick my nose with my thumb (it’s less obvious most of the time, and I pick my nose pretty much non-stop). We are about ten people. The price for about 2.5 hours of drawing is 15$, which includes the following buffet:

  • Red Whine, white whine
  • Baguette, dark bread, white bread
  • Blackberries, blueberries
  • Three types of crackers
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Cranberry juice
  • Red grapes and green grapes

Basically, with 15$ I could never buy the items on this list in the quantity that I indulged on the figure drawing course. YUMM, YUMM!

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In the second break I want to help a guy who has complications with getting the proportions right. About two years ago, I faced the same problem, having huge insecurities about the proportions in my drawing. I opened an anatomy book and started to measure the different body parts and wrote them down – and I realized that the human body’s propprtions are nearly even numbers.
For painting and drawing those numbers really help, but please don’t use them if you are a surgeon.

I’m not sure if somone before me came up with that idea (but usually you’re never the first to figure something out) … here we go, for everyone who has problems with getting the proportions right:

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Simplified Bone Structure of the Human Body. Proportion Study, Tobias Deml.

It’s cold as hell outside, but in the North American society you just have to take advantage of any kind of circumstance, so why not extremely cold weather. It is like a computer game, like an everyday adventure: Will I survive the next 24 hours? Will I be eaten by wolves, moose, or Sarah Palin? Will I dissolve in the acidy salt on the street, how about my designer shoes and designer jeans?

Well, Montrealais are notorious for being kind-of resistant against cold weather or simply making the best  out of it..:

  • Nearly every park in the city transforms into a charge-free ice skating ring – it is so cold that even parts of the rivers around Montreal freeze, so no wonder that the little ponds in the downtown green areas are frozen. The city flattens them to create skating rings, and I would like to note that again: charge free.
  • To avoid having petite girls collapse dead in the street, struck by the cold air and the weight of their shopping bags, there is a humongous downtown down-under underground city located a couple of meters under street level. A giantic web of interconnected shopping malls and subways stations… pretty damn impressive, and prepared for any fashion fetishist invasion.
  • The body warmth effect: When you are close to someone, you will feel warmer. The daily mass of people in the subways during the winter – not everybody wants to ruin his car with aggressive salt on the street – reminds me of group cuddeling (which I of course never took part in, eww).

And last but not least: The igloofest, which I saw this weekend from a photographic side. Last time when I was there, I needed to dance and would stay there for nearly four hours at minus 22 degrees. This time, I had to go warm myself up every 20 minutes and stayed for less than two hours – taking pictures is not physically active enough to keep you warm.


The warmup hall, somewhere at 15+ degrees feeling like an oven.


Downtown Montreal as seen from the docks


Those little LEDs could display any color – like a TV screen!


Hot Chocolate? Beer? Mon dieu!


Burning witches gives warmth to everyone – a wise saying from medieval times.


All that is ice, except for the lights. Who has ever seen an ice chandelier?

Meetup.com gives people around the world to connect with others who have the same interests. And, compared to other social networking sites, it encourages people to actually meet each other in real life and pursue together whatever they are interested in. I went to a lot of meetups, most of them great, some of them weird, and a few of them comparable to a nursing home member meeting.
Simply use the searchbar on the right to review my encounters through meetup.

A special delight is this group …:

One thing I would take with me on a lonely island would be one of the tastiest Austrian specialties ever made: Speck. Speck is, to make a life-long fascination short, super awesome. Got that? Super awesome.

And because its so incredibly fantastic, outside of Austria its a rarity, findin speck abroad is like finding Osama bin Laden. The CIA couldn’t find him yet, but I am one step ahead:


Right next to the italian Speck: The M&M-package that will make you fat like a professional cheesecake tester. If not used for eating, you can use this m&m-pack as a prop for gang warfare.

… and this time with pictures that Naomi took. Chris and me received great feedback from the students after our recent presentation, which was the second part of the presentation from last week. It makes me absolutely proud to hear the student’s compliments and I’m excited to see that they showed such a great interest in our topic.
The PowerPoint presentation underwent a great deal of change and development during the last months, and I can rely on the tools and abilities I built in the Museum of Tolerance
For some reason, I had the strong urge to imagine myself as a history teacher; seeing fascinated faces of clever kids gives me a great feeling of enriching the world, educating children overseas about the mistakes my country made and the lessons we learnt (or did not learn).
A history teacher in my world should be a great story teller whose stories all happen to be true. Like a grandpa reading books to his grandchildren in front of the fireplace.


In the classroom of F.A.C.E high school, with kids whose first language is French.

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Besides from my teachery ambitions, living situation in our apartment changed again; Jenny and Sandra moved out and are currently in Buenos Aires, starting a backpacking-working-holiday adventure through South America. My new roommates name is Clement, and he looks like Michka, laughs like Michka and has the same graphic way to describe things in a language he doesn’t know that well… and he happens to be Michka’s brother.

There are two reasons that I didn’t post that much in the last week: A long distance relationship, and the search for work in Los Angeles. More about that in the next posting.

People in bars tend to surprise you with the most wicked stories and weird ways of telling them.
Eating little Koala Bears, commiting suicide by jumping from the Hollywood sign .. those are old shoes, my grandma could come up with those tales.

What really impresses me, is the story from tonight: I go to a couchsurfing meeting, with low expectiations to draw in other people’s faces or on their butts by the abuse of “The most washable markers in the world”.
I enter the rancid bar, some Canadian ice hockey thing where usually just men with a SOP are hanging out (Semen-Over-Pressure, e.g. someone whose only girlfriends are made of inflateable latex). Ouch, the people look dirty. In midst all those drunkards I encounter our romantic group of about twenty globetrotting fans, the couchsurfers.

I happen to talk to a girl who doesn’t look very good … but has an amazing job: She analyzes shit.
Cow shit. Rancid pieces of cow shit. Just kidding, the pieces are fresh and still warm.

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Guide on how to analyze shit (as told to me by the girl who studies poo)

First of all, you need an experiment idea. You are studying biology and want your masters degree, so why not study crap for it. Let’s suppose you have the idea to find out about the prevention of heartburn in dairy cows (female cows who give milk) through comparing the food that goes in and the feces that come out.
Next, you need cows. The girl has thirty cows somewhere in a farming town in the United States.

That’s the point when you put down pen and paper – let’s be serious, burocratics can be a shitty way to waste your time – and get your hands full of warm, brown poo. A hands-on-experience that is guaranteed the shit! No pun intended.
So, go up to the cows every six hours – 3 in the morning is your start. Pat the cow’s ass to wake her up – and as soon as the cow rises and stands up, be ready with a cup under her rectal outlet. Cows are namely not getting boners (erected penis) as a wakeup-reflex; no, they take a dump.

Actually, cows are pretty weird. You can train them so that they go voluntarily in a stall where there are little lasers detecting their nipples and automatically lactating them (sucking out the milk). If the cow could, it would walk around the shed and right in again. Not because it’s sexually arousing to get lactated (who said that?) but because it’s a relief… like taking a dump!

FLATCH! The doodoo falls in your cup, success!
Repeat this on all thirty cows every 6 hours. After a couple of days the shit will be stacked up in your living room higher than your head. Time to examine it.
Study the scat in a laboratory and analyze the content under a microscope – getting a close look of cow bollocks is an unforgettable experience for the whole family!
Now, you find out that you actually want to study the DNA contained within the shit, and for that, you need the Canadian national lab in Montreal. So, put all your shit in your car and drive to the border.
“Miss, you can’t just bring shit from the US to Canada!”
“But Sir, I just want to look at shit in Canada that I collected in the United States!”

The boerder guard will let you fill out a lot of paperwork – like “Shit immigration I-224”, “Feces Transfer form R26” and “Alliance of the Shit Certificate A2”. After filling out that stuff concerning your shit, you can cross the border with a trunk full of poo. And one night, meet an Austrian in a bar and tell him the whole thing.

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After finishing my conversation about shit, cockroaches, manboobs and milk, I approach a group on the next table. One guy is looking for a less-than-800$-car to go to a crash derby with it. According to the fairytales, you just pay 25$ to participate, and instead of driving on muddy ground with a shitty car, you are driving on ice.

Not to forget that girl that seems horny, tells me about watching old people playing benjo and how much fun that is, and her financial problems after the economic crisis. I daze off a bit and am sure:

If I can’t lactate myself, I’ll join an ice crash derby and afterwards analyze the shit in my pants. But to be honest, I cannot tell which is more probable since there are two guys I know who can actually sqeeze milk out of their nipples.

Probably it is the cold weather that makes brains numb and dysfunctional – the average Austrian would definately never have the idea to organize a four-weekend long outdoor festivals during a time of the year where your spit freezes in mid-air. Well, the Canadians do have ideas like that.

Igloofest is the name of this musical event that is basically like a huge poolparty. Instead of a pool next to the dancing crowd there is the frozen river tough, instead of bikinis hot girls wear fat winter jackets and woolen hats, instead of Coca Cola the nonalcoholics tend to drink hot chocolate, and instead of lampoons and garden torches huge ice sculptures and homeless-style barrels with raging fire coming out of them are placed inmidst the chillout-section.

For us mortal people, the time span for chillout is short – as soon as you take your gloves off, you are done, and as soon as you rest, you will get cold like the ice sculptures around you. I try cautiously to lick them and am now a bliever too that you will stick to it as if someone would have glued your tongue onto the frozen iglu-like objects.
The only way to keep yourself warm is by dancing fast, a lot, and in the tight wobbling of the crowd. Minus twenty-two degrees. I spit on one of the ice sculptures, the spit dangles down – and gets pretty stiff before it falls to the floor.

I am there with Chris, my colleague at the KFF, and Stefan, the Austrian who works at the Montreal Holocaust Museum. They buy beer, I get a  quite hot chocolate. After five minutes my little plastic cup is empty and I am as cold as I was before. Chris hints at me to drink from his beer. This time I don’t just feel bitter carbonated liquid rushing down my digestive tract – this time, solid pieces of frozen beer have joined.
Five minutes, and you beer freezes from within. Another time, I get a coke with ice cubes inside – and the coke gets so cold that instead of the icecubes melting, the coke around the ice cubes becomes cola ice – an extra bonus to lick off.

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At some point everybody is dancing like crazy, I guess around 300 people (150 more are in a warm hall which is about 30 seconds from the outside dancefloor, and people start to surf the crowd. There is a guy with a sombrero, a guy with a pink afro-wig, some girl with an Austrian alpine rescue outfit … and then there’s some guy in a grey jacket, brown-blue jeans with ripped off bottom seams and once-been beautiful brown leather shoes thrown over the heads of the dancing herd.
I have no idea where I am flying, under me the warm breath and the body heat rising up, on top of me the icy air sinking down on us, in the middle, where the temperatures fight for domination, I get pushed and thrown. Crowdsurfing is awesome.
“Get that guy down!”, someone shouts, and I feel two hands grabbing my shoulders, pulling me over the bending bodies of a couple of people, and more or less softly, I hit the ground. Such a good feeling to crowdsurf, even if its so cold your pee freezes on the house wall where you painted it.

For the fine occasion, I of course dressed to impress:

  1. My fine pair of socks
  2. Another pair of socks
  3. Third pair of socks to keep the other two from stinking
  4. Boxers
  5. Karate pants, stuffed inside my socks
  6. Jeans
  7. T-Shirt
  8. Sweater
  9. Second sweater with hoodie (for gangster look if required)
  10. Fat snowboard jacket
  11. Ridiculously thin gloves


Film poster: “When God Loses Hope”

Higher resolution poster

“When God Loses Hope” is a political satire and thriller, produced in 2008 by Greenviolence Films, directed by Al Gore, namesake of the famous politician and environmental guru. It is being released at the 19th of January 2009 in the Unites States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia.

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Plot

United States of America, 2012: Alaskan Governator Sierra “Maverick” Nalin (Lisa Lockheeed) becomes elected as U.S. president. Fanatic Catholic laws take over a once democratic country: Abortion is made illegal, premarital sex or adultery is punished with good ol’ stoning, and Sunday church becomes a patriotic requirement. Due to the fact that moose, and animal hunting in general, became highly popular, paramilitary rifle organizations have taken over the role of police officers. The oil lobby gains enormous power, and environmental organizations are forced to shut down in order to make place for new oil projects all over the country.
A third of new born babies are the result of unwanted pregnancies because abortions are now against the law. Orphanages and foster homes get so flooded with infants that they have to transfer children to Canada and Mexico.
A world at edge. God pissed. A hero needed.

Roger Grooms (George Ferris), a university student pothead who works part-time as a nurse in a sleepy retirement village named “Endingville” in Wisconsin, feels his world is untouched by the new political changes. It isn’t until chubby Heather (Michaela Moore), his friend with benefits for times when he gets no other girls, showed him a positive pregnancy test.
The next day an environmentalist demonstration marshes through Rogers workplace and unknowingly crashes into a rifle association squadron which is there for the same reason: Winning over the elderly people for their cause. A brutal fight starts amidst the elderly Endingville retirees, the environmentalists and the rifle association. Roger meets one of the environmentalist leaders, Jack Person (Billy Bob Thompson).

Jack introduces him to the underground atheist anti-Nalin-policy organization “MILF Hunters”.
Deeply involved in the MILF hunting mission, Roger becomes dedicated to change the new legislation by altering its religious foundation – and there is only one place on Earth where he can do that: The Vatican.
Unfortunately, President Nalin happens to be there too…

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“An extraordinary political thriller” -Rob Royston, London Film Journal

“Literally scared the crap out of me” -Marc Tanners, New York Freedom News

“Depressing utopia meets hilarious nonsense slapstick” -Paul Stark, Melbourne Cinemascope

“Dim-witted humor, scandalous ” –Harry Herbert, Republican Society of Voters for Presidents

“Revolting, to be stored in a trashcan” –Berry White, Alaskan Republican Journa

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Info

Actors: George Ferris, Michaela Moore, Billy Bob Thompson
Director:
Al Gore
Production: Greenviolence Films
Studio: Chill Bros. Pictures
Release Date: 19 January (US, CA, GB, AU)
Run Time: 114min.
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We have two KFF-presentations at the same school this day, and are scheduled to meet at 10:45 in front of the school. I look on the temperature indicator on my laptop, and it says “Montreal:-25C”. I put on all my thick winter clothing and step outside. Not that bad, actually. Minus 25 degrees are okay.

I walk to the subway (a 30 second walk) and before I enter it, I feel a little cold.
When I get out of the decently heated subway system at Peel station and walk for five minutes, the coldness shock kicks in. There is some secret physical law that makes saved body warmth at a certain outside temperature completely vanish after five minutes.
I wear gloves, but the cold eats easily through them. I breathe on them with warm air – too bad that air coming from my mouth also carries little water particles, which turn in a few more minutes into a layer of ice. My gloves are full of ice particles (although I didn’t touch any snow) by reaching McGill university. I find out I walked too far, take a quick picture of a crazily big abyss right next to the university building. This huge hole is definitely part of the Canadian government program Operation Mapletreasure:

During the next twenty years, the Canadian government will collect maple syrup from all over the country (as taxation for maple farmers, 10% of their yearly production volume) and store it in giantic bunkers, located within the city borders of Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec, Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax and secret reservoirs far in the North. Through unknown sources it has been sickering through that the reason for these efforts, funded by taxpayers, is that Canada will stage a coup to sabotage the gold currency and make maple syrup the world’s new money measurement good. With Canada having the largest stored maple syrup ressources, it will become the world’s hippest country.

For making a call on my cell phone, I take shelter in a nursing home so that I don’t have to expose my blank hands to the extremely cold air. Finally, I arrive at the high school building nearly on time, and we walk up a concrete staircase, surrounded by tinted glass, to the fourth floor. The classroom features tables which not only have a different shape, but directly imply a different learning culture than in Austria: They are round, with about 1.8 meters in diameter. The kids are somewhat around fifteen, and even if we cannot complete the presentation, the teacher suggests we should come back in one week to finish our PowerPoint slideshow.

(I will describe the current content of our presentation in a later post)

She even takes us out for lunch in a nearby university restaurant and we indulge some pizza.

Back at the school, same classroom, same teacher, different students:

In the beginning we ask what the kids associate with Austria, where upon one little girl replies: “Well, Australia is far away!”
Everybody starts laughing, and I hope they heard my addition “Yes, especially the German Kangaroo is well known, and the Italian Koala bear is the total tourist attraction!”
I am far more fascinated by the fact that they are 9th-graders (15 and 16 years old) and have the knowledge that the point in history that started the first world war was when Franz Ferdinand was murdered in Serbia. That’s a usual indicator that they have a rich knowledge about the two big wars – and it turns out that they not just have a rich knowledge but also are really interested in the matter. We again get interrupted by the end of the lesson and all I can do to round things up is to give them the last minute motivational speech “You can make a difference”

As we pack our equipment, four of the kids come back and tell us, their next class teacher allowed them to talk to us a little longer. I am amazed by their interest; one of them is reading Mein Kampf and has a sophisticated understanding of Hitler’s writing style, the other one tells us about discrimination in Canada, another one relates to the movie Valkyrie … and I feel like a teacher in a school that achieved to really cause interest in student’s minds. Being a history teacher must be great fun, actually.

One of the guys looks at me and asks out of the blue “Do you do graffitti?”
I object but explain that I do photography. “Ah”, he says, “because there is spray paint on your shoes.”
What a clever little fellow…