I will give a TEDx Talk on 12 September 2015

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” said Andy Warhol in 1968.

That premonition came true 20 years later with the TED conferences. Including the independently organized TEDx conferences, there are now several of these events every day, all over the world.

TEDxNow, it’s my turn. Finally. On 12 September 2015, I will be one of the speakers at the TEDx conference in Târgu Mureș, Romania.

The motto of the day is “Seeds of Change”, so I will obviously speak about the massive changes in my life that lead me from being a busy lawyer with my own company to the globetrotting, relaxed life of a hobo. In my speech, I will address the why and the how of change, and I hope to motivate some of you to try something new as well.

But don’t attend the event for me. You should mark that day in your calendar because of all the other speakers, each of them more famous and more interesting than the other. In the breaks between presentations, you will have a chance to talk to us in person.

All you need to do is register for a ticket. For a full day of information, entertainment, networking and free beer, it’s only 69 Lei (= 15 EUR). Flights or trains to Târgu Mureș are affordable and convenient as well, so there is nothing to stop you from this once-in-a-lifetime chance. Order your ticket now; there are fewer than 100 places left!

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Planes disturbing the sunset

The sky above Targu Mures in Romania is busy, probably because of all the extra flights coming into town for our TEDx conference.

planes sunset

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A polite coffee

At a café in Sibiu, Romania:

cafe 6 lei

One coffee – 6 lei

One coffee please – 3 lei

Good morning, one coffee please – 2 lei

Polite, as I always am, I get a really good deal here. 2 lei are 50 US-cents.

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Modern art exhibitions are so bad that even the “art” tries to run away

This happened in Toledo, Ohio, but the Red Ball will soon come to a city near you. You can’t escape it! But maybe someone could shoot it. After all, that’s the fate of animals who escape from the zoo.

Artists are so creative these days! A big piece of plastic, who would have thought of that?

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The last sliver of sunlight

A few minutes ago in Târgu Mureș, Romania:

27Aug2015

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Airport in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

The hangars at Cluj-Napoca airport in Romania look like this:airport ClujOk, there is also one of these modern blocks of concrete now, like you see them everywhere else. But I appreciated that the old hangar hadn’t been demolished. That way I could spend the waiting time by indulging myself in memories of old times with Junkers airplanes and zeppelins.

(Auf Deutsch.)

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Film Review: “Nebraska”

If only film studios would realize that with the budget for one science fiction or vampire film they could produce 10 road movies, I would go to the cinema more often. When I saw the trailer for Nebraska, I was excited. Finally a road movie again, and then about that northern part of the US where I haven’t yet been, but where I would so much love to travel myself.

Woody Grant is retired, drinks too much and shows signs of dementia. When he receives one of those sweepstakes letters from a publishing house in the mail, he thinks he has won a million dollars. To collect the prize in person, he sets out to walk from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska. He doesn’t get far, but his son David – who knows that there won’t be any prize – feels sorry for him and volunteers to drive his father to Nebraska. David seems to realize that anything that gives his father’s life some purpose, even if it’s only for a few days, is worth the effort.

And off they go on the typical road movie trip. Long drives on straight roads, motels, some talk in the car or in a bar, a quick stop at Mount Rushmore. Because the film is shot in black and white, the landscape and the little towns look even more barren and poor than they may be in reality. It definitely doesn’t look beautiful and that is one problem of the film. Road movies are also carried by landscape. Here, the landscape takes a back seat and the actors take over.

That’s not too bad because the actors are the strong side of Nebraska. Bruce Dern as Woody delivers a very convincing performance, as do most of his relatives. With some of the old folks that they meet on the way, I wonder where you can cast actors like these. My favourite one is John Reynolds as Bernie Bowen:

But the problem of the film is that even these actors don’t get to say or do much. If you watch the trailer and the clip above, you have already seen most of the film. In between there is a lot of silence, a lot of driving, a lot of nothing really. When Woody and David visit Woody’s brother and his family, whom they haven’t seen for 15 years, and they hardly exchange any words before they fall asleep on the couch or silently stare into the TV, this serves to illustrate how empty some people’s lives are and how family and hometown are not necessarily the best places for a good conversation.

But at other times in the film, the absence of action and dialogue just makes the time go by very slowly. There is just not enough happening for a film of 110 minutes. I don’t need to watch several angles of a Subaru cruising down a black and white highway. Great acting is wasted by making the film purposefully slow and depressing. And then there are no real surprises. When you first see Woody’s nephews hear of the supposed prize, you already know that they will try to rob him. It’s no surprise that many of his old acquaintances ask him for money. And of course father and son finally get to spend some time together. I wish somebody would have written a better script with at least a few twists and turns for these memorable actors who surely would have mastered more of a challenge.

If you want to watch a good road movie, I recommend Don’t Come Knocking (at least it is colourful) or Elizabethtown if you want to add the estranged family aspect. I also consider Flashback and Borat road movies. Or you go for the classics Grapes of Wrath, Duel, an early masterpiece of Steven Spielberg, or The Wages of Fear.

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