Saturday, December 31, 2011

THE Operation

On 19th of December I went under the knife. I had been waiting for this for a year or so. Ever since I broke my arm two years ago, it's been stated that the titanium plate they inserted to support the fracture, has to come out. After 12 months, preferably. But since the people at Universität Spital Basel are lame-asses, it never seemed happen, until I realized that probably I should ask the surgeon, who put the plate in in the first place.

So I called the Spital Schwyz and everything started to roll immediately. They actually asked me when I would like to schedule the operation. Cool. Asap.

So there I was, at 7:15 in the morning of the 19th. In a hospital surrounded by snowy hills. Landscape pretty. Me jittery.

The anesthesiologist  was cool. He said to me that I have two options. They can knock me out completely for the operation or I could choose the local anesthesia. This would mean, that they squeeze the blood supply to my arm shut with a cuff and then inject the stuff that makes the arm go numb only to my arm. I would be awake for the duration of the surgery. "Can I get some music, so that I don't have to listen to the surgery?" Yeah, sure, music was available. So I chose the local anesthesia. Thought I might be at least more interesting of an experience.

In the OR, the nurse who was taking care of me asked what I'd prefer for music. Choices being classical, classical, classical, classical, classical, Bruce Springsteen, classical, classical... "Hey, what'd ya said about Bruce?" So Bruce it was, to accompany me to the surgery.

The operation itself was a strange experience. I somehow was aware of my arm, but couldn't feel anything real. Some nipping and tugging, but no pain at all. Could hear the surgeon cursing about lousy screwdriver =) And they had fancy lamps there in the OR,  a cluster of bulbs in warm white, cold white, green and blue. Sad thing that you cannot take a camera to OR, so therefore no pic. I could use that kind of clusters in some performance, they would look great. -Well, this is what you get if you roll a light designer to a OR, I guess.

The whole thing was over in little bit over half an hour and thy rolled me back to my room. Around 13:30 in the afternoon they said that I could leave. Cool. Over in a whim. Not so bad at all. Now I have to keep a bandage over the stitches for two weeks and then I'm good to roll again. The stitches will dissolve on their own, so no post-op procedures necessary.

Was it real? A tag on my bed post...

It'll take a while before my arm is as good as it was before the whole ordeal, but nonetheless, I'm ever so happy that the stupid metal is finally out of my body.

2011 Recap part 4: Braunschweig

In the beginning on December we went with "Turn the Page" to perform in Braunschweig, which is located some 200kms west from Berlin. I had really stressed with all the paperwork during the previous week, but managed to finish everything in time. My work really paid off, since there was again an accident on the German Autobahn, so we greatly delayed on our arrival to the Lot Theater.

The technicians of the house had started setting our show up even before I got there, which is always bit of a gamble, because one needs to see the space and make some adaptations, even in the best case situation. This time it all turned out perfect, because my papers were pretty exact and the stage somewhat similar to Berlin. So everything went like song and dance. It was absolutely fabulous!!! Its good to have this kind of experiences once in a while and it's definitely a perfect way to end the touring year. A big thanks to Matze and all his colleagues on Lot!!

My team mates told me that they suspect that Braunschweig is bit of a dull town with not much going on there. So I was greatly and positively surprised as the town presented itself to be very pretty and cozy looking place. It reminded me much of Oslo, as strange it might sound... The architecture is beautiful and distances are easy to handle even on foot. I enjoyed our short visit to this town!

Christmas Market downtown Braunschweig

Another view to Christmas market

Cartoon clad building near Altstadt

We were booked at the Hotel Meyer, little bit outside the immediate downtown. A very cute place, seemingly owned by a an old couple. All the furnishings and interior is somehow a mish-mash of variety of styles, but the general feeling it emits is very homey. Shower and toilets on the corridor, but no biggie issue.

The thing that amused the most me and Alice, who I shared the room with, was the remote control of the TV. First of all, we weren't supposed to have a TV, because it would have cost extra, but who cares. There it was anyway, sitting on the corner of the desk, boasting generous 14 inches or so and very blurry picture. And the darned remote was as bit as the TV itself. So no chance of slipping it into your pocket by accident =)


Alice and THE remote

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Recap part 3: Turn the Page

My biggest design job of this past autumn was "Turn the Page" for bigNOTWENDIGKEIT. We were working on a theme of self-narration and the documents and momories people leave behind them. 

"Turn the page" brings five performers on stage to explore diaries, letters and pictures and the documentary traces left behind by five other lives. Out of these they try to create "ideal biography". Through the stories, they explore the strategies and mechanisms of self-narration and thus throw questions of self-construction, self-presentation and the ingredients for a successful thing perceived as life.

One of the early sketches

The first explorative phase took place in Zürich in October and from there we moved to Berlin in November.

All photos © Gerhard F. Ludwig /


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Recap part 2: Schnecke renn

Aka "snail races". This was the most peculiar experience of the latter part of 2011. I witnessed snails running for trophy. Some people had brought their own snails, but should you lack one, no worries, your can rent your racer =).

The consumption of beer and other beverages was wayyyys faster than the proceeding speed of the animals. They were well taken care of though, there was a designated vet to check each contestant before each round. Highly professional and proper.

The deal is that you put your racer to the center of the table and then you're not allowed to touch it anymore before one of them has crossed the finishing line. To better steer your racer, spraying teeny weeny amount of water is allowed.

2011 Recap part 1: Tallinn

So, the year has almost run it's course and so many things have been left unmentioned. Bad girl, bad girl...

I try to make up for it and do a little recap on what's been going on since July this year.

In the end of July I went to Tallinn, Estonia, with Sebastian Nübling production called "Mutter, Väter, Kinder". It was a very nice co-incidence timewise, since I was northbound anyway at that time and hadn't visited Tallinn in many years. And as it happened, it was also lucky on the weather scale. In the morning when leaving Basel the thermometer showed generous +8*C and when landing to Tallinn the same afternoon +29*C. So apparently it was true what people said about the hottest summer in ages in Northern Europe. We in Basel were definitely not so lucky.


The Nübling production had two shows in Põhuteater, which was a temporary festival project located on Toompea hill. Põhu in Estonian means "straw" and as it turned out; the theater was really constructed out of straw. Luckily the Big Bad Wolf was nowhere in sights, since the theater was still standing by the time I got there =)

Detail of the wall of the theater, it really is straw.

This was for me the second set of touring performances of the "Mutter, Väter, Kinder". Earlier I was with them In Gessnerallee in Zürich. That time I was trying so really hard to figure out the ropes of this particular show and get it all right, that I didn't honestly have any chance to get to know the other members of the team. In Tallinn the schedule was little bit easier for me and I realized that these are really quite lovely people. The performance is about two families on stage and their relations, which makes it all bit different. People are literally bound to each other and it gives a whole another dimension of openness and warmth to over all interaction, both on and off stage. I'm really looking forward to see if there is any future shows of this piece, now that I finally got to know little bit about these people =)

Mutter, Väter, Kinder

We were staying at the legendary (and notorius?) Hotel Viru. From outside it still looks much the same as always; the weird soviet-style concrete block on the edge of a park. I had never been inside before, and now when I finally got there, I couldn't somehow believe it. It didn't feel like Hotel Viru and it didn't feel like being in Estonia, in any way, anymore. -Mainly because this hotel is nowadays a part of the Finnish Sokos Hotel-chain and you can get bonus points by swinging your green Sokos-bonuscard when paying for your beer. And having breakfast with mere 800 vacationers with their screaming children... it's a jungle and survival of the fittest to score some scrambled eggs. Far out... but the pillows were brilliant and the view over the harbor from 14th floor not that bad. But long gone are the days, and even the memories, of the Soviet espionage and bugged rooms.

Hotel Viru, Tallinn

Food and architecture
Again, as touring often is, I was only few days in Tallinn and the time was mostly filled with loads of work. But I did have same freetime too.

Olde Hansa

One of the things I ABSOLUTELY wanted to do was to go eat at Olde Hansa, which is a very popular medieval restaurant at the heart of the old town, just around the corner from the Rathaus. I've been there many times before and it has never let me down. This time neither. I went there for lunch on one of the afternoons and had the most delicious "No longer a dish of the poor, with smoked meats" - a salad platter with all kinds of smokey thingies, yummy.

No longer a dish of the poor, with smoked meats

All the people at Olde Hansa are very friendly and talkative and the interior is also very charming. I mostly appreciate the the fact that they have managed to hide all the electric light sources somewhere out of sight. Therefore the atmosphere is somewhat genuinely believable medieval.

Olde Hansa interior

Tallinn is a very nice town to go leisurely strolling around. Distances are not so long and there is many characteristic details in architecture. One should also pay a visit to the oldest pharmacy still in business "Raeapoteek", founded in early 15th century and located on the corner of the rathaus square.

All kinds of poisons on display at Raeapoteek.

Old architecture

vs. new architecture
One of the new experiences for me in Tallinn was this place called F-Hoone at Telliskivi 60 A. This is place to go if all the buzz of the downtown starts to get to you. The restaurant and hang-out is located bit outside the common path and can be quite tricky to find, since it's on the inner yard of a factory complex. But it's worth looking up. Atmosphere is somewhat artsy and bohemian and they serve quite tasty meals on shortish list, but food is well prepared and cheap.

For the last chapter; the language. It's always hilarious to visit Estonia as a Finn. Language is very close to Finnish, but not quite. One can say "same same, but different". So therefore it brings quite often involuntary smile on one's face. It just looks so funny at time. -With all my love to Estonia and Estonians.

All in all, I was happy to have this chance to go to Tallinn with this production. We had good times and the high summer was on it's richest bloom. This gave me lots of good vibrations to go to Finland on SS Superstar with, to face another production that never sailed under such sunny skies. But that's another story, which I'm still not sure if I want to share. We'll see. Later...!

Ps. Tom, if you read this... I bet you didn't think I'd ever manage to write it anymore?! =D

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Best ice cream in town

Now it's the heart of winter and ice cream is probably not the first thing that comes to anyone's mind. But nonetheless, this one is by far the best in town.

The cafe is called "Acero" and it's located on Rheingasse 13, in downtown Basel. They sell yummy homemade ice cream in variety of flavors and there is always some vegan choices available. Vegan ice cream is brilliant for people like me, who have problems with dairy products but love ice cream. Highly recommended and tasty!

If ice cream is not your cup of tea, Acero is still worth a visit, since they also offer all kinds of ordinary cafe goodies; pastries, paninis, quiches, Italian coffee and most likely also some light lunch options. All homemade.

Chocolate and almond, all vegan =P

Instagrams 1

It's been a looooooong silence. I've been somehow too busy to take up on updating this thing here. But now I try to recap the recent past and behave better in the future =).

I absolutely love this app on  my IPhone. One can add some vintage filters on photos with it.

I'm gonna share some snapshots with you guys.

Boy on a bike
Solarized leaves
By the Rhein
Flowers in sunset
Raeapteek, Tallinn
Screw it!
Autumn blaze
High tops

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Open air - open mind?

Liestal Air is an annual one day open air music festival which brings on stage half a dozen Swiss artists.  It took place in the beginning of July and I was working on the team of light technicians there.

All pretty down-to-earth and simple. The weather was nice and everything rolled according to the plan. So no big need for posting in this sense.

Liestal Air

But something funny and quite unusual did happen. This I wanna share with you guys. Maybe I get some good laughs out of you.

It was some time later in the evening and the second last act was on stage. He was an artist called Baschi, who sings in Swiss-German and is supposedly relatively popular. Although I wouldn't know because I don't listen to that kind of music. Anyway, at least the teenage girls in the audience were screaming and kept on asking for more. "Zugabe, Zugabe...!"

I guess that you can say this bloke is sort of a looker, but I didn't have any idea of this at the time. No idea whatsoever to begin with who he is?? Realised that only now, when I looked up that link to his site here. He seems to be the one who wets the teenie pants with his sweet melodies about loving you for ever. And anyhow, he is some 15 years too young for me. Well, beside my point. Or maybe, not quite. Story continues...

So Baschi was doing overtime on stage and I was waiting beside the stage with a fellow technician (also girl) for him to finish so that we can go do the swap for the next act. But Baschi's gig goes on and on and on... so there we are blabbering about something and suddenly a shortish guy comes to speak to us.
- "Are you waiting?", asks the guy.
-"???" (like what's it to you anyway?)
-"Are you waiting for Baschi?", he rephrases.
- "Well, yes... actually we're waiting for him to finish", I say.
The guy looks at us in a very odd and insulted way.... Then I explain that we are the technicians working there and this guy finally sees our belts stuffed with multi-tools, working gloves, tape rolls and screw drivers.
- "Sorry, I thought that you were groupies.", he says in an apologetical way explaining that usually the groupies somehow always sneak through the security. Then he goes back to the stage. At this point I see that on the back of his T-shirt is written "Baschi" on big letters, so supposedly he was his tour manager or something. Oooops. I didn't know that he was part of this artist's crew, or othervise I could have been bit more polite.

The one in white shirt is Baschi

I'm not quite sure to whom this discussion was more embarrassing in the end, but it made me think that I have to really take a good look to my outfit. If somebody thinks that I look like a groupie, even with no make-up and dressed all black. Go figure. Maybe I'm too narrow minded? But to be mistaken as smitten teenie drooling over her Idol?

Maybe I should have asked for an autograph (preferably somewhere on my skin)? Whaddya think?

Checking out Czech language

Czech language is funny. First of all it's somehow strange to go into a country where you don't understand crap what's written everywhere. Mostly when traveling I have the benefit of other languages that may give at least hint of the real meanings of the words. But with Czech I'm mostly out in the woods. - Like I mentioned in my earlier food-related posting, the restaurant menus are a good example; if no English then I've already pretty much lost the game.

There are some exceptions to the rule, though. I was joking about the possibility of creating Czech words just by adding an "Y" to the end. To some extend this seems to actually work. At least to make plurals.
Some examples;
- autobusy
- mapy
- koncerty
And I think I even saw Sherlocky Holmesy somewhere....

Spotted on a tram.

Well, this is only for fun and entertainment only. Czech is unboubtedly fine language and it makes me humble that within a week I didn't even satisfactorily master the art of saying "Hello".

And one can always bounce this argument back to me by saying that the same method works with Finnish also, if you use "I" instead of "Y".

Ceská Kuchyné

I put on some notable weight during my week in Prague. Pheeew! Seriously! From the previous trip, I remember the food having been sort of greasy and short on vegetables. This still exists, but nowadays Prague is blooming with all kinds of international kitchens. Czechs themselves even still don't seem to be so keen on fresh and green stuff.

Ceská Kuchyné - the traditional
I wanted to reminiscence the traditional way of dining the local way. My friends Johanna and Anar took me on my first day to very very local place. The name of the restaurant is Ceská Kychyné aka. Czech Kitchen. It is reallt reasonably priced funny place in downtown Prague. In this place you can find full menu including drinks for the price of main course in any other neighboring restaurant. But you need a local to accompany you if you don't speak the language.

When you enter the restaurant through a little swing gate, you are given this small piece of paper. This you have to give to the personnel on each service point and they'll mark down code for your choices. All the menus are written on the wall in czech only, so at that point a native will prove handy. Othervise your choice is to point at one of various brown sauces and take your chances with it. Depends totally on your taste, if you think you won with some internal organ sauce or not. And anyhow, one shouldn't be too judgmental, it might turn out to be delicious, no matter what it's made out of, right?

Meat sauce and potatoes and THE first beer lurking on the background.

So basically, you go through all this stations and select your stuff and finally settle down to savour it. When done, you should head back to the entrance and hand out your piece of paper with all those codes to the cashier.

In my opinion this was a nice place to eat. The space seems airy and light and definitely not too posh. Nice local touch that gives an impression of history. And food is okay, even if missing the fresh touches. My choices were not very adventurous and I went along with the recommendations of my friends. No complaints, belly full and girl happy.

Hermelin - the traditional
This is something everybody that visits the area has to taste, if maybe only once, but nonetheless. It's a strange phenomenon. A very greasy cheese which lies tastevise somewhere near "Camembert meeting goat cheese". Quite all right in small portions. The marinated one is THE traditional version of it, but you get it also grilled and breadcrusted variations of it.

Marinated Hermelin cheese

In general the Czechs seem to just love their cheeses. In every restaurant you find multiple different variouations and combinations. But rest assured, you will need a wheelcart to roll your belly out of the joint no matter which one you choose. Cheese really stocks you up. No need to consider eating for the rest of the day =)

El Centro and Cantina in Mala Strana - international
After some explorations on the local kitchen I set my sights to the international side. Had couple of real nice experiences!

First of them was this seemingly small Spanish place on Maltézské Námesti. El Centro. I was drawn to it just by the very cheery and colorful exterior of it. Bright red, blue and yellow invited me in and I found out that the place is ways bigger than I first thought, and that they also had this beautiful and peaceful garden on the backyard. 

My firend Nina in the garden.

Food is very good in El Centro. I really have to boast about this garlic&Serrano ham soup that they serve. I swallowed my tongue with it, really. So badly, that I went back on another day and ordered it again. Delicious and rich with some brilliantly fresh bread to go with it. Yummy!

Garlic and Serrano ham soup.
Another dining experience that I can warmly recommend to everybody is restaurant Cantina at Ujezd 38. It is a very popular place. We walked past it on one afternoon and I thought that dishes looked fresh and good. So we decided to dine there and went back on a hidious rainy evening in the middle of week and got the last seats available. Lots of people came after us and were turned away, because it was just full. So a reservation would be a sure bet.

Cantina serves enormous portions of very straightforward Mexican food. Enchiladas, burritos, tortillas, you name it. Simple and at the same time rich. And simply huge, too huge, but you cannot stop eating because it's just so good.

Czech kitchen is interesting, but nowadays Prague has really turned out to be a melting pot of various international kitchens. So one can really eat well and versatile there. And even outside the immediate turist traps you can find menus in English. So go there and plunge in! Recommended ***

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cross Club

On my first trip to Prague in 2007, I landed into this coolest ever club called "Cross Club". It was an eerie and maze-like experience.

Then, some years later we were driving a truck with Mitch from Vienna to Berlin and decided to make a little detour through Prague. Without a map. This didn't turn out so good and we ended up in Holesovicé, on a gas station near the train station. We didn't have any local currency and Mitch didn't feel like going hovering in a city he doesn't know when we don't know where to go. So we just drove on...

Cross Club - entrance

But I had told him about this great club and I was ever so anxious to go there again. Didn't happen on that trip. Now when I went back, I realized that we actually were some 200 meters away from this club with the truck. Only thing we should have done, would have been to go through one tunnel and we would have made it. Had I known that!!!

Anyhow, this club is great! I guess that the people who set it up had inherited loads of old industrial gear. Like a junk yard or something. They decided to use that material as decor for the club and the result is this three-storey labyrith of all kinds of mechanical gadgets and sculptures amongst which there is disco, bars, fast food grill and restaurant. They also have lovely garden in same design.

Some interior

Their program is pretty wide. There is lots of concerts and happenings. During the weekdays the entry is free, on the weekends you need to cough up some korunas if you want to go clubbing downstairs. For the upper floor restaurant there is no fee. The club is open daily from 18:00 onwards until at least 02:00, on weekends open end.

More interior

In my opinion the club is really nicely designed. they use a whole lotta little LED-diodes intergated to the objects so that they are not very prominent. It's very colorful, but not in a distasteful way. Most of the installed "sculptures" are somehow slowly spinning and moving.

If you ever go to Prague, this place is definately worth visiting. And their pizzas are not half that bad either. You'll find it pretty easily just next to the Holesovicé metro station. On the south exit, just take left and walk about hundred meters, you cannot miss it!

The Cross Club Strawberry Daiquiri is also worth tasting!