Tuesday, November 3, 2009

jana's birthday...

... is today. next post, i'll write about when i found out about it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

first time (iii)

june 16, 1990. a day to remember.

summertime in germany; me, my brothers, and maybe a few other people were in the backyard, a good two weeks after the harpstedt weekend. it was a saturday afternoon. on sunday, the pathfinders would meet at home. at my place. with jana.

it had been exactly eleven weeks since i had left a little note in her jacket, saying “ich hab dich gern” (i “like you” like you), and signed by “irgendwer” (someone). i was in the best of moods. my mother calls. “telephone, raphael”. yes, the raphael from an earlier series. i went inside and picked up the phone downstairs, when i hear something quite unexpected on the other side of the line. “hello, here is jana.” silence. and even before i could think of the magnitude of the fact that jana was calling me, again, she had hung up – after a quick “ich hab dich auch gern”.

it almost made me feel dizzy. my wildest hopes, dreams, interpretations, observations. they were confirmed by one simple and direct sentence. for the first time in my life, someone i liked had openly declared that they liked me. it was kind of understood with michaela in 1986, but confirmation only came decades later. here it seemed quite clear. it was to be understood that what i felt for her, she had started to feel for me. she used the exact same words. there was no doubt about the interpretation.

i was so excited that i didn’t even stop to think about why she might have called me to say that, or why my mother was under the impression that raphael was on the phone. i just ceased the moment and the day. june 16 became a historical date for me.

june 17, next post.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

first time (ii)

i couldn’t think or react. i just said “yes”, and then she asked me: “did you put a note in my jacket yesterday?”. i didn’t deny it. she then responded: “ok, just wanted to confirm.” and hung up.

i think this was my first time in what i perceived to be the “real world”. for years and years, i had loved my imaginary world, kept secret from anyone else. my music, my thoughts and feelings, and my personal queen. for the first time ever, it seemed that a “queen” had taken notice not only of my existence, but also of my interest. and this queen was reigning for exactly one day. what now?

nothing. it would be a few weeks until i would see her again. i went to a different church, so we would see each other only at the “pathfinders”, equivalent to scouts.

that day was coming, and i was very curious and a little nervous about how it would be. as always at the time, i chose the passive approach; see, how she dealt with the idea, now that i assumed she knew i liked her. and when the day came, i did had a very uneasy feeling in my stomach. there was quite a bit of unspoken tension in the air, not negative at all. it was a rainy spring day, she was using that same (and now “famous”) pink and blue jacket. our eyes locked a few times, for spilt seconds – but sometimes it seemed like a long time. i went home later with a quiet grin on my face. she didn’t seem to be uncomfortable with the idea, she didn’t seem to reject me – this was a major victory for me. there seemed a chance that, with time, we could even get to know each other. i still had no idea about what was going on in her mind, but it seemed quite clear that there were no negative feelings towards me.

it went like that for another month. jana and me wouldn’t talk at all, but she was always the lone center of my attention whenever we were in the same space. i was becoming more and more friends with a few other people of the pathfinders. bärchen, which is how we called the very cute christiane boettge, was known to me for quite some time, and we were becoming better friends that year; on the other hand, she was jana’s best friend at the time, and i had even thought that she might have informed jana about the note i’d left in her jacket. it seemed to be that bärchen might be an ally in the whole jana story, but this is not why we became friends. i really do think that we enjoyed each other’s presence and friendship. marco and stefan zücker, two brothers who had also recently arrived from east germany, were entering my life, too.

finally, it was time for our group to go to a long weekend in tents, in harpstedt. this was a yearly event, quite anticipated by me and most pathfinders, where more than 150 pre-teens and teens (up to 15 years) where together for some social and spiritual quality time. it was my fourth time there, so i was kind of a veteran, compared mostly to the trio marco, stefan and jana, who were going for the first time. this was the most time we were to spend in the same place, so far. and i was excited.

the weekend was a little strange. i was feeling really good, confident. i was seeing many friends again, and it seemed to be the bst harpstedt long weekend ever. friday evening, jana and me set almost exactly opposite to each other in quite a big room. with this bigger distance than normally as kind of a protection shield, our eyes locked more often than ever before. and i felt really secure, because it seemed as if there was some kind of a secret bond between us, almost as if my secret world had begun being extended to the girl i was falling more in love with by the minute.

on saturday, the good feeling went away. i had a little bit of a allergic reaction with my eyes and had to abandon the afternoon activity, going back to camp. sitting on some stairs, i kept my eyes closed, and for some it might have seemed that i was crying. i only noticed that when jana’s younger sister, andrea, passed by and said: “thinking of my sister?”. wow, that was a real blow, for so many reasons. first of all, it seemed that it wasn’t such a secret at all. secondly, why did she say that, even with this kind of diminishing tone? was i totally mistaken after all, was i a joke, after all? and now that she thought i was crying, what would she tell her older sister? that whole confident and peaceful feeling from less than 24 hours before, that was totally gone.

nothing new on sunday, but i was worried, more than ever, about what was going on in jana’s mind. what was she thinking of me? what was she maybe even expecting? these questions were bothering me.

i think it was the last day, the monday. beginning of june, another great summer day. an activity in the gym, a game of survival. jana was out quite soon and sat in a private place. i stayed in the game for quite a long time, and everytime i passed by where she was, we looked at each other. the shyness that we both seemed to have, the looking without the other noticing, it had seemingly gone away for these minutes. so much so, that i can swear i saw tears in her eyes; yes, tears, it seemed quite clear. i didn’t even have time to think about why she could have been so sad that day, but i was deeply moved by it – and forgot all about my sorrows and insecurities about her. at that time, i felt even more than being in love – a felt actual love, empathy. and the will to do something, help, i don’t know. what could i do?

everytime i passed by her that end of morning, i felt a stronger bond than ever before. and be it my imagination or not, i really believed that she felt it, too. at one point, there was even a smile. i’d never seen a girl smile at me, with tears in her eyes. it’s truly heartbreaking.

if i think of memorable weekends in my life, this is still one of them.

to be continued.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

first time

a couple of weeks ago, i received a message in the german “facebook” called “studivz”. a woman called jana left a rather common scrap on my page, asking me (and all her other friends, i imagine) to leave a memory i have about her on her page. that’s when i decided that this next post was going to be dedicated to her, and my recollections of her. after all, as you will see, it is a major memory in my life.

it was the beginning of 1990. a new era for the world, with the fall of communism and the berlin wall, only a few months ago. and it was a new era for me, too. at age 12, i had been in love a few times already. sarah dumber, still in england, then five years earlier. in germany, first michaela (summer love), then the golden three: yvonne dobert, birte brettschneider and, currently (at the time), isabel willkommen. the latter had been on the “throne” for the longest amount of time. since september 1988. and march 1990 was coming to an end.

our church had organized a bible week for kids, starting march 24. i was starting to get fed up with being in love with isabel. i think i was getting fed up with always falling in love with these girls i didn’t even knew. i mean, if i exchanged more than a sentence with any of the three “golden girls” who dominated my “love life” since 1986, it would have been a miracle. i didn’t know who plato was yet, but his “love-style” seemed to be fitting for me. but i had enough. i made a conscious decision to try to find someone knew, someone who i could actually come closer to, maybe even someone with whom i could slowly build up some sort of relationship. and this week could be a good opportunity to see what’s around, since i was also looking for someone who had a similar faith as i did.

i noticed her right away, almost in midst of these thoughts. this very white girl, seemingly vivid, new in town, very blond. she quickly made friends with someone i knew (bärchen), but i’d never seen her before. soon i was made aware that she and her family were coming from eastern germany, as many people were at the time. and she came to stay. this all started to sound very interesting. and she herself seemed to be quite unique. it didn’t take long to chase isabel away from my dreams, where the brunette had been present for not far from 2 years. jana deutsch was officially the number one on march 31, a saturday. and even more, i leaped into action, obsessed by the idea of make my intentions clear. or at least my admiration –in secret. i decided to write her a little anonymous note and put it into a pocket of her already very legendary blue and pink jacket.

the very next day (yes, april fool’s day), the phone rang during our family worship time. we never pick up at that time, but for some reason, i did. i don’t know, i was just feeling so good about myself, finally doing something. still figuring out what my next step would be before i, one day, would eventually reveal my secret identity. i still had my own private world that no one knew about, and i felt really good about it. and i picked up that phone with no second thoughts. “marcio bei witzig”, i said, as usual. “jana deutsch here”, i hear. and time seemed to stop.

to be continued.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

soul of gold

it was the beginning of 1993. i was 15 years old, in love with a girl called eva, living my last semester in germany, going to 10th grade. at that time, i was quite into radio and mtv, but i had some fixed musical acts i would listen to, as diverse as vangelis, williams costa jr, michael jackson, mussoursky, besides some current hits like dire straits, lisa stansfield, genesis, sinead o’connor and even some guns’n’roses. but my fixed repertoire of music hearing was divided into three main bands: a-ha, herbert grönemeyer, and most of all, simply red.

then came that last semester in germany. and with it, two musical discoveries; they would both change the way i listened to music, and until today, they are both in my top five favorite music acts. one of them is peter gabriel, and the other is today’s special person, gordon sumner. he is known to most as the band leader of legendary rock-punk-raggae band the police, nicknamed sting since his teen years as a bass player, when he once showed up to play with a horizontally striped, yellow and black sweater. “if i ever lose my faith in you” was my first conscious contact with sting’s music, and it is through mtv (where i would watch the clip with great enthusiasm) that i came to by the max-single, and later, the album it was taken from: ten summoner’s tales. by the beginning of 1994, already living in brazil, i’d bought his earlier work (the dream of the blue turtles, …nothing like the sun, the soul cages), including various specials, like a vhs of the recording sessions in his house in england (ten summoner’s tales). after that, sting had three other studio albums: mercury falling, brand new day, and his last effort, sacred love, from 2003. this last album was the only one i didn’t like so far, but i’m looking forward to his new release, which will be next month (if on a winter’s night). he’ll be 58 at the time of the album release, and hopefully back to top form.

the following songs made it to the top twenty: 20º when we dance, 19º everybody laughed but you, 18º a thousand years, 17º the soul cages, 16º tea in the sahara, 15º seven days, 14º when the angles fall, 13º after the rain has fallen, 12º they dance alone, 11º ghost story

here the list of my top ten favorite sting tunes.

10º shape of my heart – from the ten summoner’s tales album, this beautiful song reminds me of “duetting” it with my younger brother. the beautiful guitar melody, deep lyrics and wonderful melody make it a typical songwriting art work by sting.

9º why should i cry for you? – written after his father’s passing, sting puts lots of emotion into this rhythmic anthem. the “dark angles follow me” is one of my favorite sing-along passages in any song.

8º something the boy said – the last of the ten tales, this song describes a dream. i like the lyrics, and love to sing this one along, too. the “food for a crow” sections at the end are one of the best moments in any sting song.

7º if i ever lose my faith in you – the prologue to the ten summoner’s tales is my official favorite song of all time. the chorus, bridge and last verse are real highlights. my intro to sting’s musical world.

6º the wild wild sea – another dream, again as a reaction to his father’s death in the album “the soul cages”. dark, with a great climax in the album version, and a better end in the unplugged version.

5º i was brought to my senses – one of three top songs from the mercury falling album; great opening and intro to main body, great lyrics, great 7/8 rhythm, great sound. typical song that only sting could compose.

4º the hounds of winter – another one from the mercury falling album. one of my favorite sentences ever in any song: “i still see her face, as beautiful as day”. exceptional lyrics, love the guitar and the mood.

3º i’m so happy i can’t stop crying – the third mercury falling tune. just exceptional songwriting, in country-style. sing-a-long at a high level.

2º fields of gold – simply beautiful, perfect sync between lyrics, music and arrangement. sad and emotional, yet hopeful. reminds me of the summer of 93.

1º island of souls – probably sting’s most complete composition. musically first class, great lyrics, totally unorthodox album opener, interesting and 100% emotional.

the best album is ten summoner’s tales, followed by the soul cages.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

big screen specials

i've been a big fan of movies since my early teen years. and since then, i've been fascinated by some of the female performers. over the years, there have certainly been a few of them who have caught my attention for one reason or another, and i'd like to write about five of them quickly, and the movies that made me become a fan.

people who know me know that i used to be a big jodie foster fan. since i saw her in "catchfire", a b-movie directed by dennis hopper, who is great in that movie, i've followed her career quite closley. yes, i loved her hair, smile and wits, but i really thought she was a great actress; one of the rare cases that made the transition form child star to adult star. i think it is not exaggerated to say that she has been great in most of her movies, mostly these: alice doesn't live here anymore (74, at age 11), taxi driver (76, nominated for oscar), stealing home (88), the accused (88, oscar winner), the silence of the lambs (91, oscar winner), little man tate (91), shadows and fog (91), sommersby (93), maverick (94), nell (94), contact (97), the dangerous lives of the alter boys (2002), panic room (02), inside man (06), the brave one (07). my personal favorites are taxi driver, catchfire, little man tate, sommersby, maverick, nell, and contact. quite a few movies to really put into the top, all with the same female lead. i'm still fond of jodie, but her status as favorite actress has been elsewhere since the year 2000.

this is where natalie portman took over. a typical case of younger and more beautiful, one might think. i actually "fell" for her in 99, drinking soda out of a star wars cup, with her perfect face on it. me and my younger brother were asking ourselves who that was; actually, that day, we went to see star wars episode one - disappointing movie, but what a beautiful princess! later, i rented her older movies and was particularly impressed with her performance in "beautiful girls" (96), which she had shot, also as a child actor, two years after her impressive debut in "leon" (known as "the professional" in the us, shot at age 12). she had quite good performances in "mars attacks!" (96) and "anywhere but here" (99), and also got good reviews for "where the heart is" (2000). i really loved the scene she had in "cold mountain" (03), and loved the movie "garden state" (04), directed by her co-star zac braff, from scrubs. the short movie "true" (04), also featured in "paris je t'aime", is another of my favorite nat performances, and she was really strong in "closer" (04), where the whole cast was very strong. "v for vendetta" (05) is another very good movie with another great performance from the straight-a harvard graduate (psychology), born in israel and living in new york. she was again strong in "goya's ghost" (06) and charming in "mr magorium's wonder emporium" (07), and although the movie was so-so, i liked her in "the other boleyn girl" (08), too. i'm already looking forward to her upcoming work. i've seen pictures from her next movie, "love and other impossible pursuits", she's looking gorgeous. my favorite movie from her still is "beautiful girls", though - followed closley by "garden state".

the other three i want to write about and consider to be quite special are kirsten dunst, jena malone and lately kate winslet.
kirsten i just think is incredibly charming and beautiful, and she has been in quite a few good movies, like "little women" (94, ate the age of 12), "the virgin suicides" (99, beautiful at seventeen), "crazy/beautiful" (01, very charming), the "spider man" movies (a fourth and fifth one coming up), "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" (04, famous dance on the bed), wimbledon (04, movie is so-so, but i love the sport, the tournament and the female lead) and "how to lose friend and alienate people" (08, quite fun).
jena is not as good looking, seemingly, but i find her characters in films very attractive, somehow. not as the younger jodie foster on "contact"(once again at age 12) or in "stepmom" (98), both movies i very much enjoy, by the way. but she was attractive (not only physical, as a character, too) as gretchen ross in "donnie darko" (01), as alyssa beck in "life as a house" (01), and as lydia bennet in "pride & prejudice" (05). i went to see "into the wild" (07) for the first time because she was in the credits, and ended up really loving that movie.
last, but not least, the reigning queen of actresses, academy award winning kate winslet. i remember being excited to see "titanic" (97) long before it became a hit, seeing that it would have leo di caprio (which i had really liked in "what's eating gilbert grape") and kate winslet leading in a movie about a ship and story that had always fascinated me. at the end, the movie was better than its actors, and mostly kate disappointed me a little. she had been really impressive in "heavenly creatures" (94) and "sense and sensibility" a year later. after titanic, i only watched her again in "eternal sunshine", where she went back to becoming one of my favorite actresses - incredible in that role! and what a string of strong movies and performances came after that: "finding neverland" (04), "little children" (06) and even "the holiday" (06). this year, i've seen both her oscar and golden globe movies multiple times. i really loved "the reader" and "revolutionary road", and they are both part of my new blu-ray collection.

just a quick mention of former and current actresses who i consider to be amongst my favorite, during these two decades of movie in my life. in parenthesis, my favorite movie with these actresses. juliette lewis (what's eating gilbert grape, 93), winona ryder (reality bites, 94), evan rachel wood (tv series "once and again", 99-02), katie holmes (pieces of april, 03), jenna fischer (tv series "the office", 05-09), emily vancamp (tv series "everwood", 02-06), demi moore (indececent proposal, 93), tea leoni ("the family man", 2000), and bridget fonda ("singles", 92).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

yada yada yada

The question “What is your favorite TV-sitcom of all time?” is a valid one. I’ll give anyone that. But the question “What is the best TV-sitcom of all time?” only has one possible answers, for many reasons. The answer is Seinfeld.

By the way, it is my favorite, too. Seinfeld ran for nine seasons and was unusual in every sense: type of humor, type of sitcom, even the numbers – it started off anything but a hit, for three long seasons, and went out with a bang, as the number one show in the US. Created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David (a.k.a. George Costanza), you just have to see it to love it. I think there is no other more famous small ensemble in the history of TV: Jerry Seinfeld, Elaine Marie Benes, George Costanza and Cosmo Kramer. A total of 180 episodes were produced, and almost all of them were not only funny, but extremely creative, sometimes even innovative – and always with a catchfrase or two of what can be called “Seinlanguage”. By the way, a little known fact: Jerry is the only one to appear in all episodes. Kramer wasn’t in Florida at “The Pen” or at “The Chinese Restaurant”, George was left out of “The Pen”, and Elaine didn’t go to California to visit Kramer on “The Trip”.

My favorite character is a tough one. It’s really difficult, she show wouldn’t work if anyone was missing. But if I had to chose, I guess I would go with Jerry himself (normally the fan dispute is between George and Kramer). But have you ever noticed the secondary characters? Give me another sitcom with this list of non-main characters: Newman, Frank & Estelle Costanza, Uncle Leo, Susan Ross, J Peterman, Kenny Bania, David Puddy, Jackie Chiles – I mean, come on! And these are the recurrent ones. What about some name-dropping on the one-time appearances (ok, they were back in the finale) like “Mulva” (Dolores), the Soup Nazi, Donald Sanger (a.k.a. the Bubble Boy), Llyod Braun, Babu Bhatt, Poppie, The Drake, Sue Ellen Mischke… and we could go on and on.

I did a quick research on the net, looking at 39 top 10 lists of favorite episodes of the “show about nothing”. Not that surprisingly, more than half of the episodes (94 to be exact) were found in someone’s top ten list. I will share the Top 20 with one quote from each episode for Seinfeld fans to recognize… then I will share my own favorite episodes! Just to show you how great the show was, first the name of some classic episodes that didn’t make the cut: “The Chinese Restaurant”, “The Limo”, “The Abstinence”, “The Pen”, “The Chicken Roaster”, “The Sponge”, “The Pick”, and “The Close Talker”, just to name a few. Here we go:

20 – THE PILOT: “Again with the sweatpants?” – “What? I’m comfortable!” – “You know the message you’re sending to the world with these sweatpants? You’re telling the world, ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.”

19 – THE CIGAR STORE INDIAN: “Hey, you know what would make a great coffee table book? A coffee table book about coffee tables!”

18 – THE BIZARRO JERRY: “She had man-hands!” – “Would you prefer she had no hands at all?” – “Would she have hooks?” – “Do hooks make it more attractive, Jerry?” – “Kinda cool looking.”

17 – THE PUFFY SHIRT: [talking about George’s hands] “Oh, those are nice. Ya know, I never noticed this before. They’re smooth, creamy, delicate, yet masculine.”

16 – THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW: “Jerry, now what you do with your personal life is your business. But when you’re on my set, you clean it up mister!”

15 – THE IMPLANT: "Did you just double-dip that chip?" - "Excuse me?" - "You double-dipped the chip." - "Double-dipped? What are you talking about?" - "You dipped the chip, you took a bite, and you dipped again." - "So?" - "That's like putting your whole mouth right in the dip. Look, from now on when you take a chip, just take one dip and end it." - "Well, I'm sorry Timmy, but I don't dip that way." - "Oh, you don't, huh?" - "No. You dip the way you want to dip, I'll dip the way I want to dip."

14 – THE SERENITY NOW: "George, letting my emotions out was the best thing I've ever done. Sure, I'm not funny anymore, but there's more to life than making shallow, fairly obvious observations."

13 – THE RYE: "One never knows how the gastrointestinal workings of the equine are going to function."

12 – THE JUNIOR MINT: "I have no medical evidence to back me up, but something happened during the operation that staved off that infection. Something beyond science. Something perhaps from above..." - "Mint?" - "Those can be very refreshing."

11 – THE BETRAYEL: “You're not gonna believe what I got in the mail: invitation to Sue Ellen Mischke's wedding.” – “Well, at least the wedding gown will give her some support.” – “Not the point. The wedding is in one week; I got this today.” – “So you think it's a non-vite.” – “It's an un-vitation.”

10 – THE LIBRARY: "She needs a little tenderness. She needs a little understanding. She needs a little Kramer."

9 – THE PARKING GARAGE: "There's too much urinary freedom in this society. I'm proud to hold it in. It builds character."

8 – THE BOYFRIEND: This one deserves two, since it was a double episode: "I snuck a peak." and: "What kind of a shake does he have?" - "Good shake. Perfect shake. Single pump, not too hard. You know, doesn't have to prove anything, but, you know, firm enough to know he was there."

7 – THE OUTING: "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"

6 – THE BUBBLE BOY: "That's pie country. They do a lot of baking up there." - "They sell them by the side of the road. Blueberry blackberry." - "Blackberry boysenberry." - "Boysenberry huckleberry." - "Huckleberry raspberry." - "Raspberry strawberry." - "Strawberry cranberry." - "Peach."

5 – THE OPPOSITE: "Who are you, George Costanza?" - "I'm the opposite of every guy you've ever met."

4 – THE HAMPTONS: "Do women know about shrinkage?" - "What do you mean, like laundry?" - "No..." - "Like when a man goes swimming... Afterwards..." - "It shrinks?" - "Like a frightened turtle." - "Why does it shrink?" - "It just does." - "I don't know how you guys walk around with those things."

3 – THE MARINE BIOLOGIST: "The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli."

2 – THE SOUP NAZI: "Has anyone ever told you you look exactly like Al Pacino? You know, Scent Of A Woman? Hoo-wah! Hoo-wah!" - "Very good. Very good." - "Well, I ..." - "You know something?" - "Hmmm?" - "No soup for you!" - "What?" - "Come back one year. Next!"

1 – THE CONTEST: "Are you Master of your Domain?" - "I am King of the County. You?" - "Lord of the Manor." - "I'm Queen of the castle!"

My personal Top Ten include The Contest, The Opposite, The Outing, The Boyfriend, The Library, The Merv Griffin Show and for more episodes outside of the Top 20:

THE PEN: "Why do you need more friends? You've got plenty of friends." - "He's an idealist."

THE DEAL: "You ask me to have lunch, tell me you slept with Elaine, and then say you're not in the mood for details. Now you listen to me. I want details and I want them right now. I don't have a job, I have no place to go. You're not in the mood? Well you get in the mood!" – this is my favorite episode!

THE VOICE: "Breaking up is like knocking over a Coke machine. You can't do it in one push. You gotta rock it back and forth a few times, and then it goes over."

THE STAKEOUT: "C'mon, there will be people to mock."

There we go. If you have any favorite characters, episodes, secondary characters or quotes on Seinfeld, please do share!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

happy birthday

today is an important day. and it is every year. you’ve guessed it, it’s someone’s birthday. someone quite vital to me celebrates another year in their life. someone i’m lucky to be able to call my mother.
you have to know that my mother is quite the hero. she’s been through a lot in her life; many countries; many experiences, good and bad; many turns in life; many hopes, disappointments, fulfilling, realizations, frustrations – and still a good deal of dreams.
mãezinha is and will always be very important to me. she is one of those people that, no matter what she says or does, will always be a big influence in my life, more than she might imagine. the years we (my brothers, she and me) spent together between 81 and 85 will always be very decisive for the way i view things, like life, even love, and all the other mysteries.
i’ve seen her grow in wisdom, knowledge, patience, love – and i know that his will continue to happen. but some things never change – she will always miss her kids. hope we see each other again soon, before your next birthday!
happy birthday mãezinha!

Friday, June 26, 2009

this is it!

the first time a remember really listening to a michael jackson tune was probably in 1987. our neighbor jörg völker was listening to “i just can’t stop loving you”, and i guess some not so conscious memories came back. i’d known michael’s music since my year in the us, but it was only then that i became a fan. a fan of a musical genius, unique in any way, even musically speaking. with the help of his “big brother” quincy jones, he set new standards in pop music, with incredible grooves, great singing and dancing quality, and a creativity almost unlimited; this is hard to understand today, because so much in the music and entertainment industry has used michael jackson’s legacy as a draft – but when he came up with the stuff, there was no one doing it before.

to me, his death is kind of strange, as was his life. strange in the sense that it was tragic, just as his life – he was about to do shows called “this is it” to end his career, maybe even on a high note. just the way he started it, back in the jackson 5 days, literally with high notes and a beautiful voice. his solo efforts at the time, like “ben”, “music and me” and “got to be there” were even more successful than the gig with his brothers, so nothing more natural than going solo all the way, with the career starting “off the wall”, at the age of 19. i discovered this album for real only in the early nineties, more than a decade after its release. the first track, “don’t stop ‘til you get enough”, is already a show cast of his talent to make danceable music – and always so well sung, with lots of energy. his romantic side is displayed in the ballad “she’s out of my life”, where he started his tradition of crying in at least one track of each album. my personal favorite of this album is “i can’t help it”, really well sung and groovy as only he can be.

and then came thriller. near to 60 million copies sold, making this the most selling album of all times. and never was it more deserving: starting out with another long dance track, “wanna be startin’ somethin’ ” – no one could do that, make it groove the way it does. mamassê mamassa mamacussa, bmfd! then, after two tracks i’m not too fond of, comes maybe the best sequence ever in a recorded album: “thriller”, best and most groundbreaking video of all time. “beat it”, where the still black king of pop puts in new elements that are so no motown, like eddie van halen’s guitar solo. “billie jean”, which besides being a great tune was also the basis for the first moonwalk in history (1983), followed by “human nature”, great song and always superb interpretation. it closes with “lady in my life”, a song which reminds me of my summer crush priscila reis, new year’s eve 1992.

when i started listening to michael, “bad” had been out only a few months. “liberian girl” ironically will always be connected to a girl i really liked in 1990, jana deutsch. ironic because she looks as german as it can get, and even has “german” in her surname. “the way you make me feel” with the famous line “you knock me off my feet now baby, hiiiii” is a classic, just like michael’s high pitch voice, heavy breathing, “hick-ups” and “hi-his” – and let’s not forget the “hooooos”. “another part of me” and “dirty diana” (another rocky song), in which he sings really well (imagine him singing that in the studio) will always remind me of my good friend raphael sanz; my favorite song of the album and his whole work is track seven: “man in the mirror” with it’s incredible ending. “anna are you okay” has one of the greatest videos ever.

i watched the live premiere of “black or white” on mtv, and wasn’t too impressed by the track, after so many years of waiting for my first new michael jackson album. but “dangerous” proved to be the album i’ve most listened to, to date. thanks to tracks like “jam” and “dangerous”, on the dancy side, “remember the time” and sometimes even “heal the world”… and i even got used to “black and white”. but my favorite part of this album is the latter part, starting right after the hit song about races: “who is it”, just michael jackson at his best, and unique to him; “give in to me”, great guitars (slash) and singing; “will you be there”, the first of two gospel-like songs, and my favorite track on this album. “keep the faith”, with an incredible ending part; and the beautiful ballad “gone too soon”.

i don’t want to go into the controversy so much. just want to put on record that he is solely responsible for all the gossip and scandals, because of his always more than peculiar behavior and clear strangeness – in short, the genius was and has always been a perfect nut job. he did not take advantage of any kids, that’s for sure, at least to me… he’s just crazy enough to think that everything is and was totally innocent. it is also a shame that musically, he didn’t produce much good, although i know my brothers will disagree with me here. his next cd, “history” (i mean, come on, what a name!), very well produced as all of his work always was, always the highest quality possible and mostly defining what that was for musicians to come. i like “stranger in moscow” and “little susie”, basically. and i haven’t even listened to “invincible”, didn’t give it a chance.

but he is still the greatest, not because of his impressive 750 millions of albums sold, but because of his unique style, bold creativity – just for being michael jackson.

his death to me is different than some other famous deaths (senna, diana, etc.), because michael, the human, was never very real to me anyway. it is michael, the musician and entertainer that is a legend of his own, and that michael will never die. so, even finishing up with the biggest possible cliché at this point: the king is dead, long live the king!

Friday, June 12, 2009

class of 2009 - last, but certainly not least!

tabea höfig and shreya chauhan are the last individuals i will talk about in this series. a german who lived in china, and an indian who lived in germany. this is only a small part of the internationalism that these two represent so well. hindu religion, catholic religion. different viewpoints, high intelligence, and respect for humanity is what unites these two.

shreya has been here only half a year, and still was able to make a lasting impression and leave her mark, culminating with her deserved induction to nhs a few days ago. tabea has been here only a year longer, and she too will be missed because of her many versatile qualities – the most important one is to be able to think by herself, really think – and act! tabea and her family are a little bit of germany nostalgy for me, and it has been a pleasure to be in contact with them.

so, shreya, all the best to you! and tabea, you’ll be missed! it has been a pleasure, now go and conquer california for germany! ;)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

class of 2009 - excellent!

excellent students. yes, i guess at least at chapel, the school i work for, there is no doubt about it: victor chen(ster) and fabio ussher(man) belong into that character. but it is no secret that they are much more than that.

fabio is very determined. he always knows what he wants, and he does his very best to achieve it. but his actual strength is his character. always respecting of others, he always does what he believes to be right, and his principals make him trustworthy in a world where trusting is becoming more and more difficult.

while fabio is a strong tennis player (as many of “my math hl boys”), victor, who also plays some tennis, is the more musical one. he plays quite a nice guitar (so does rodrigo, i hear); but he is more notable not only as a hard worker, but as a fine person, helpful and polite, strong in character. he has a positive ambition about him, and i just hope he finds true fulfillment and happiness.

victor and fabio – friends for quite a while now. and excellent people. i’m sure i’ll hear nice things about them in the future. not positions, power or money, but testimonials like this one: about two good human beings!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

class of 2009 - physics & math

the word is sweet. even talking about these two representatives of the male gender, using the word sweet doesn’t need to have any other connotation than the obvious one: two people who show high respect towards others, are always trying to be at good spirits, are polite and would never do anything to offend anyone on purpose.

this is where the similarities between roberto sfeir, my physics student, and bruno chung, my math student, ends. roberto has many qualities, some of them quite rare: he is very perseverant, sets himself high goals and always tries to do everything in his power to achieve them. ambitious is the adjective for that, i suppose. he is warm and cares about others, likes to be helpful and is a very grateful soul.

bruninho is more the lazy genius type. he has great reasoning, and inidivual way of approaching problems, and is generally very independent in his thinking and values. enthusiastic when his interest is sparked (and only then, ;), he is certainly capeable of great thoughts and things. i hope that he finds something in life that will interest him so much that it just sucks out oll of his potential – in a positive way, of course!

so roberto, be happy! life is not always easy, but it is good and has its rewards, as you know; continue to be physics - the practical, applied type! and bruno, don’t forget to look for your happiness; the positive attitude that you have inside will help you with that! stay true to being math - the thinker, rational yet emotional. i’m rooting for both of you, that’s for sure.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

class of 2009 - passion & corinthians

passion for a club. i think that’s the first thing that comes to mind when i think of gerry mendoza. this mexican’s heart doesn’t root for cruz azul, chivas or america… it totally belongs to sc corinthians paulista, which i’m sure he’ll never abandon. other things he’ll likely be in 20 years from now: determined, polite, social, leading something somewhere, trustworthy, charismatic, a little shy in the beginnings and a man with true relationships in his life. and, be sure, he will be admired.

another corintiano has been my physics student for two years now. lucas parolin (oh parolina) is a very happy fan, and so passionate about sports that his career dream is to write about it, travel after it and live from it. by the way, little commercial break: www.blogdosmanos.com, a blog with amateur sport journalism. back to lucas… he won’t be needing physics and math in his life, so he claims, but he will need that wit of his. and i’m sure he’ll find ways to reach his full potential in things that are important to him. and i hope to read from him, someday!

one comment to both of you: copa do brasil has a name written on it, this year: internacional!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

class of 2009 - all smiles!

have you ever met one of those people who are basically always smiling – for no reason whatsoever, or for all the possible reasons? thomas maia and souza is one of those, for sure. a competition lover, thomas never seems too upset about anything – not even when his beloved palmeiras fails to win titles, time and time again. thomas loves to be kind and charming, as his good friend chelsea schmitt knows quite well.

she is quite different from him, though. although she also loves fun, she is very responsible, dedicated, ambicious and hard working; not that thomas isn’t… J! chelsea likes to read in class, is never shy to take leadership roles and is committed to everything she does – which can sometimes be a special truth. what unites these two are mainly two things: their high sense for justice and well being of others, and their positive anxiousness about things to come in their respective future colleges. i just hope they’re as happy as they are today. but you just know that both will be fine – in their own special way!

class of 2009 - the pirate & the wizard

it’s someone’s birthday today. for me, he will be remembered as the giant pirate, seemingly loyal to a fall, wise, yet not exactly the extrovert type. a fan of his home team, santa fé (colombia), santiago osorio is one of the many tennis players and fans in the math hl class. andre and leo, if you’re reading this, he reminds me of kiki. always in a good mood, sharp sense of humor, intelligent. someone you just really just have the best wishes for. so, happy birthday to him, and happy college life! and don't stop using that pirate outfit...

another tennis fan and player is rodriguinho ribeiro. a good enough reason to like him is that he is constantly using a germany sweatshirt… but rodrigo has other qualities that make him distinctive: very smart and witty, fast with his mouth and his mind; funny and fun to make fun of, seemingly… . he has grown up with some of his classmates, and they seem to stick together even in boston – good luck with that, i say! i know that rodrigo will be successful at anything he really puts his mind and heart to, and i hope he does! still want to play you in a tennis match before you go… . ah, i should mention – he is a math wiz! and a person with a gigantic heart.

Monday, May 18, 2009

class of 2009 - marathon men

respect. from the fourteen seniors i’m teaching this year, there are two who deserve respect, for a very special reason: mr gonçalves overdosis. naoya urita and marcelo jacob were my physics students in a day 2, c period class last school year; and then i started subbing and later took over the math hl year 1 class – also on a day 2, d period.

for those who are reading and don’t know what this means: naoya and marcelo had me as a teacher every other day, from 8:00-11:40, with only a twenty minute break. almost four hours, and not once, but actually half of all school days! this year, i see them every day in the afternoon, and every other day in the morning. adding everything up, they will have experienced my presence for almost 600 hours in these two years – that’s just too much for any student to stand!

i myself have appreciated their presence quite a lot. i’ve gotten to know naoya to be a very bright, sensitive, polite person, just a good person to talk to, exchange ideas with. he’ll be remembered by me for many reasons – the most annoying one is a connection i made between his name and the “happy birthday” song (naoya-êê), but it will make him totally unforgettable in the future. which i’m glad about, since he has those personal qualities cited above, and is a warm person, always ready to offer a smile.

i was moved by marcelo’s warm side over a year ago, when he organized the class to buy me the fifa manager 2008 pc game. his opinions on sports, mostly good contributions in physic class, good sense of humor and athletic ability is what i will remember of him. i hope he continues to develop into this good-hearted, thinking and leading human he seems to be transforming into, as a student. and that he one day may come to understand that são paulo f.c. is quite a fine organization, that maybe will get near to what bayern munich already is... one day!

class of 2009 - year 1

i’ve been a teacher for a few years now. since 1994 i've taught in some form, since 2000 I’ve been in high school classrooms. only for two years, i was out of the classroom, in my position as guidance counselor. but being in class is what i really love, even more so if i appreciate the students.

my second full year at chapel (chapelschool.com) is ending, and once again, students will be leaving school. last year, i only taught two seniors, both very special to me: henrique turra, simply a good person, talented and musical, and very smart; and silvia carvalho, a very sweet and charming person, hard working and intelligent.

this year, things are different. fourteen of my current students are leaving school, and i will post a series on the class of 2009, two by two; for those good with numbers, yes, it will be an eight-part series, with this initial post.

intitial post, because i did teach two other students that will graduate this year, but are not currently in any of my classes. it was a very pleasant year with nicole assad and daniela haidar, last year, physics. i really appreciated them trying to get into the subject and get something out of it, and i hope they did. but I will remember both for their kindness and authentic style, thinkers rather than repeaters. and they have one of those nice friendships that go back quite a long time, and hopefully surviving the certainty of future physical distance. good luck and happiness to both of you!

last year, i also had the pleasure to teach two totally different characters, who are united in the fact that neither of them still goes to chapel, but both of them are surely a part of this class of 09. ethan safford, always the philosopher, questioner, thinker, and sometimes sleeper. the first class i ever taught at chapel, in august of 2007, was marked by his very interesting comments and points of view. although he considered a "d" to be a good enough grade, i will always respect him for his ideas and independent thinking, and like him for his honesty and truthfulness. to him, also all the best!

the other student i don’t have the pleasure to teach any more is gabriela melo, a very smart and organized girl. she seemed to enjoy not being the center of attentions, and really valued her friends – and i guess this hasn’t changed back in chile. and she is certainly one of those people who have a great depth not always apparent to the eye – but you just know that she has the capacity of thinking about things in a way that, when you can get the information out of her, the surprise is always pleasant. she is missed, and brings back good memories.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

unglaubliche unbekannte

there are all kinds of special people. the ones you know really well (i’ve talked about a few of them), the ones you don’t know at all, at least personally (some of them have been mentioned here, too) – and there are the ones you know almost nothing about, but you’d be curious to get to know them.

the reasons here vary. the most obvious reason would be if it is someone from the opposite sex that, for some reason, catches your attention – and you get hungry to know that person better. but many other situations can make you feel that you would really get to know this or that person better, to be friends with that person.

i still remember it very clearly. summer 1994. on a ferry going to england. i looked up, and there she was; it's incredible how the image is still clear in my head. this girl. dark hair, not too long, not too short, very "wusch". white skin, black and white pullover, striped. the canal behind her, the hair in her wind. i know this sounds a little on the over-romantic side, and it isn't supposed to be. but i remember the strong feeling of wanting to know that person - know who she is, how she thinks, how she views the world. this desire to know someone you've just seen for the first time. i repeat, i wasn't in love with her (love at first sight... hmmmm, i don't know about that, generally speaking), but if we had met and i had fallen in love with her later on, i could've said that i knew from the first moment. she wasn't that beautiful or anything, she just seemed to be so breathtakingley interesting. but, what are you gonna do? i didn't want to flirt, i wanted to get to know. there is a difference, a big one. and it makes it kind of tough to do anything about it, as probably an approaching would be interpreted as exactly what it isn't supposed to be....

sometimes it’s a tough position to be in. you want to know the person, but does the person want anything to do with you? often enough, they do. you should try it.

i guess i’ve done this a few times in my life, and the results were different. i remember wanting to get to know alessandra moreira in 1994. my second semester in boarding school, she was known to all my friends, because she had been at the school two years earlier, and now was returning to graduate with the friends she made that year. i met her for the first time in one of the first friday evenings (always special at IASP, the school) of the year – and i immediately wanted to get to know her. in this case, there was no romantic interest, i just thought her to be specially positive, nice charisma. i sought to get to know her, and we actually became pretty good years for quite a few years. i guess we still like each other today, but i haven’t heard from her for years.

edson nunes was a person like that to me, too. i got to know him a little when we played in a brass quartet (3 saxophones and 1 tuba) for a few months, and he really was a person i admired and looked up to. a person i really wanted to know more, chat off ideas with, sometimes just hang. that year, 1999, ended up being a special one, that i will always remember as a quartet of people hanging out quite a lot: edson, didio, leo and me. i’m glad to say that we are still good friends and that my appreciation of him has only grown.

two years earlier, i met a girl in a bus. actually, she attended that boarding school i had left in 1995, and the bus was full of tom de vida (vocal group) people i knew – but i didn’t know her. we talked nonstop for a good 90 minutes. and from then on, i wanted to know her more and more. it’s really not that i fell in love with her, but she fascinated me, and talking to her made me feel alive. a few months after that first talk, i toured with tom de vida for a few weeks, with the bus to the north east of brazil. this girl… she was something; complicated, i might say! we would talk every day (my initiative, but she didn’t seem to mind…), but the next day it was like we’d never met. but things did get better and progress over those weeks, and at the end i was asking myself if this minor obsession with this girl might be more than just a friendship. audrey ended up being my first official girlfriend, and there will be articles about her posted in here; because more than that, she is, until today, one of my greatest friends and most special people i know.

the person that best  fits the discription, though, is a very special and small lady. i had devolped a curiosity towards getting to know her for over a year, and i was kind of giving up on the idea, until an opportunity presented itself. i took advantage of the opportunity, and marla and me became very familiar to each other in very little time. i must say that this might have been the most intense relationship i've had with a person (not romantic, people, just relationship) in my whole life. and it was all the more special because i had wanted to know her for such a long time, and she turned out to be much more than i had imagined. although later on, the boy-girl stuff  did get in the middle of it, i wouldn't trade those months for anything.

right now, there is a person that i’m very curious about. i would love to get to know her better, you know, just know her better? admiring from a distance has been my specialty since i was a little kid, but since i came to brazil, i have learned to admire from near. who knows, maybe i’ll admire this new person from nearer, soon.

that british girl from the ferry (somehow i felt she was british), i called her "unglaubliche unbekannte" in my head, that day. the name stuck. but nowadays i wouldn't mind getting rid of the "unbekannte" part.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

bayern's heart - and where it comes from!

half a year after i was born, he opened his eyes and cried.  born in brasilia, still only completing its 18 years, this fine human being has been in my life for 10 years now. when i first moved down to rio grande do sul, south brazil, this then 21 year old young guy had been in porto alegre since he was 17. he came to my attention when a change was announced – a change in life for him. he was about to get a better job, better paid, more competitive, and it would bring him forward in the pursuit of a good career. lucio decided to leave his club, internacional, to continue to play football professionally in germany. lucio went to bayer leverkusen, the most brazilian club in the german bundesliga. he went to learn, but even at young age, he was a natural leader. and he was a special player.

lucio: “it was here [at an evangelical church in brasilia] that I realized my need of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and committed my life to following him. being a christian has helped my football career and given me more discipline and success.

becoming a christian brought about a total change in my life. before i knew Jesus i did not have a disciplined life. i had low self-esteem. i did not have confidence in the things that i did day by day. today i don’t only want to walk with the Lord, but also, be more disciplined and persevere towards my objectives.

when things don’t work out, i don’t understand it but after it is over, i regard it as a work of the Lord in my life guarding me, protecting me and keeping me for the big future blessings. anyone who thinks that he has everything and doesn’t have Jesus has nothing. the one who has Jesus has happiness and peace. with Jesus in your heart you need have no fear. that is the person who has everything in life. i think that is most important.”

lucio is quite a good example of the influence that Christ can have in one’s life. he is one of the rare footballers who actually practice their faith on the field. and his success, which he gladly passes on, has proved him right. it is the success of someone who lets himself be humbly guided by the Superior Being. and what a success!

at age 24, at the end of two full seasons with bayer leverkusen, lucio reached a high point of his life. playing with the likes of ballack, zé roberto, and neuville, lucio reached the final of the champions league with his team, after scoring a spectacular goal against manchester united in the semifinal. although his team lost to real madrid in the final (their last european title with a memorable goal by zinedine zidane), lucio scored in that final. that summer, he went on to be one of only three brazilian players to be on the field every single minute for the world cup title in south korea / japan 2002. he then moved on to bayern münchen, my favorite team, and has played a vital role. he is now captain of the brazilian national team, vice-captain of the bayern munich team, and when he isn’t on the field, something is missing. not only his great abilities as a defender (almost no fouls in his games, great tackling), but he is strong offensively and he is the heart of the team, always pushing the team forward through words and deeds. last week, at the shameful 0x4 defeat at nou camp, against the local team fc barcelona, lucio missed the game due to injury. yesterday evening, though, he had a great game, and helped bayern to a respect worthy 1x1 draw against the currently best team in the world.

i’ll let lucio close with his favorite bible text and his personal comment:

there is a passage in psalm 1 that says: "blessed is the man who refuses evil advice and will not follow sinners or join in sneering at God. he is like a tree growing beside a stream which produces fruit in season." i think this verse reflects my life because everything happened at the right moment. i also had that discernment of the Lord and His guidance in keeping me from sneering at God. i think that it is important in the life of the professional football player to know that there is only one road that is secure. that road is Jesus.

lucio, you are appreciated.