dancing_moon: Luffy with stars in his eyes (so-damn-cool)
So, after a week of utter bumming around and hardly lifting a finger except when in the pool (yes, I have started to swim a bit again) I decided that my break from the world was over and that I'd better start doing stuff again. Among those stuffs, alas, I count my two 12-page essays.

Still, as Sunday evening rolled around, I realized that I was not going to get any studying done in the remaining hours before next week. No disaster, I did allow myself seven days of leisure... but I also realized that I hadn't left my block during the entire week (and my room only about half the days) and that was a bit embarrassing. So I hauled ass off to Potsdamer Platz and plonked myself into a cinema seat. When in doubt, watch a movie - it's almost Doing Something With Your Life.

Saw 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' )

They also showed the trailer for MiB^3. It looks awesome!!!

Monday I finally got around to visit the Berlin Guggenheim. I've been thinking of going there ever since I learned that it was free on Mondays - because I am both a cheapass and utterly ignorant about modern art, so it's not like I expected to get that much out of a visit.

My fail at comprehending very modern art )

Tuesday was spent writing stuff for work (still no essay, but at least I'm writing something beyond blog posts!) and going on a language tandem with a girl who wants to freshen up her Swedish before she does a project for her Masters. By the by, if someone has a room/bed/sofa to let to a nice student who is going to Stockholm for about 3 weeks in April, do gimme a shout.

Still, I don't want to slack off now that I'm not busy as hell in school. It's my goal to experience as much as possible of Berlin outside of both the university halls and my room. So, step one! Buy a Tip magazine and see what's on offer for the coming two weeks.

It's already paid iteself off, too ^_^ Because tonight they held a open discussion about the human/machine interaction in advanced experimental implants entitled "Werden wir Cyborgs?" (Are we becoming cyborgs?) at the Max Planck Science Gallery.

Since the two debate guests were an engineer working in brain-research and a philosopher/biologist working in ethics and medicine history, I figured I would probably not grasp every detail but also not be utterly lost.

Really glad I went there, it was very interesting both in what was said and how they had built the discussion. The audience were allowed to pick themes, by choosing among three short movie clips that where shown on a screen (Choose with laser pointers!!1! Empirical evidence I just gathered shows that if you give a bunch of adults, several of whom appear to hold at least doctorates, a laser pointer each they will turn into gleeful kids for the first five minutes). We also decided who was to "get the word" though I think both guests got to talk every time they signaled that they wanted. further questions could be asked either normally or sent in by SMS, which I appreciated very much. Mostly due to the "omfg a bunch of professors so not opening my mouth to speak German in here!!!" factor.

I learned interesting tidbits about the frontline of medical research, that we shall (alas) probably never be able to download an entire foreign language into the brain and heard many other interesting things. Some of it tied back quite nicely into the Body/Machine seminar I've had.

Then I got to visit the showroom of the Max Planck Institute and OMFG! SO COOL! Touch screens that wouldn't look amiss in the latest Star Trek movie, some kind of curved screen thing where it looks as if a molecule is hovering, amazingly beatiful photographs of cells and molecules in a room that I could best describe as iArchitecture. I'm going back during daytime to have a closer look, felt a bit tired right now. But that was seriously a room from the future, looking even better since it was in a classical old building by the Gendarmenmarkt.

How I love this city!
dancing_moon: PANIC!!!! (Sinfest image) (Panic!)
So Berlin's got a cold snap. Fine, I'm Swedish, I should be used to it right? Apparantly nobody told my skin that. Despite careful usage of moisturiyer on face and hands, I've gotten weird "scaly" spots next to my eyes. Not very visible )yet *sob* but they are dry, itchy and just feel weirsd. I am not supposed to have scales, yo. And my skin, which is finicky in the best of weathers, is not supposed to go weird on my face dammit!!

If anyone has suggestions, do feel free to share...

That I spent yesterday taking a three hour walk through Berlin, to show B-san and T-san the city since they had come visit me (and see Beast, the korean pop-band), probably didn't improve things...

Due to freezing-our-noses-off yesterday - especially when we went to an Asian Restaurant in the evening, it was so bloody cold omg, we decided to give the touring Berlin thing a bit of a break. Thus, today was mostly spent indoors: first at a nice big Sunday breakfast. Then, stuffed full with bread, ham and fruit, we went to the Musikinstrumenten Musem. B-san is interested in classical music, T-san recently did a bit of studies in the area and I'm a curius-about-everything music!n00b, so it was quite a pleasant visit. I feel that they could have put up some more signs talking about the history and make of the instruments, but the collection looked nice and in the audio guide, we could hear many samples of the exhibition pieces. Very nice, the latter really lifted the visit to something else!

Since a student ticket is a measly 2 euro and the café was also cheap, I can absolutely recommend everyone with a bit of an interest in music, instruments and historical items a visit. The museum is right next to the Berliner Philharmonie at Potsdamer Platz, and the building in itself is worth a look too.
dancing_moon: Wao Youka as Dracula (Creepy)
Last week I was busy with university stuff, but today I went out to Karlshorst to visit the German-Russian museum which hosts exhibitons about the Eastern Front and relationships between the two countries during the Cold War era.

The house where WWII ended - today museum

Karlshorst, for those that don't know, would be a serious contender to Most Boring-Looking Suburb Ever except I've lived for a year in Erkner and know that this ain't nothing when it comes to potential mind-bendingly boringness of east-Berlinish suburbs. I mean, they have an actual town center even if it's tiny and (at least on the side of the tracks where I was) mostly consist of drugstores.

Anyway - the reason the museum is out here, beyond Ostkreuz (and when you get east of Ostkreuz you're basically leaving all civilization behind... it's like passing Skogås in Stockholm; Suddenly COUNTRYSIDE!) is because it's housed in the historical building where Germany signed the capitulation regarding the Eastern Front in 1945. This is also, apparantly, the only co-managed German-Russian museum or cultural institution in the world.

It's an old school, with some really typical examples of Soviet-era victory and memorial monuments inside, like the huge Worker With Child and Sword In Hand stained glass window (which I think was either made of plastic, plexiglas or just really weird glass, yo) above the staircase and some red marble relief of... someone.

The exhibits were mostly photos, posters, letters or facsimiles thereof, with lots of text (in German and Russian, non-speakers of those countries must buy a guide) on glass signs on the walls. That last, by the by, seems to be the latest high fashion in how to build a museum in Berlin. Mostly, it looks nice, but not when you have black text in front of a dark grey wall -_-
Otherwise there were some uniforms, weapons, a few documentary films and bits and bobs of soldier stuff. The propaganda posters were interesting, as well as some of the the transcribed letters. Photos not so much.

They had a really creepy recording too, of a speech Himmler had held to some upper-level military people of some kind. It was just - holy crap, what he was saying, the complete dehumanization of the non-combattant enemy and the very frank realization that, yep, people listened to guys like these and then went out and murdered millions.

I'd say that I'm pretty much normally informed about WWII for a Swede of my generation, with more knowledge in some areas and less in others - a lot due to the first-hand account from my grandmother of course, and otherwise through a load of informative YA books which my library had at some time invested a lot of shelspace in. As such, I learned a lot of new numbers and some new facts regarding the Eastern Front from this museum.

Well worth the roughly three hours it took to read my way through it, especially since it's free of charge.

They also had the most hideous communist memorial trophy ever =D It was in several types of marble and gold and - guh, the worst of bombastic eastern design. Horribly wonderful.
dancing_moon: Text: Resistance is ohm (resistance is ohm)
So I'm a geek. Nobody is surprised about that, right? Thus, now that professor Nosferatu has returned to America (this is not a joke, but it is a bit of a long story) my Tuesdays are free from twelve o'clock. Since I know myself and know that I'll just bum around if I go home that early, I have decided to dedicate the day to Culturally Improve Myself. Or, in other words, geek out at some of Berlin's many museums.

Berlin Charité University Hospital

Because I was extremely exhausted today, I thought I'd visit one of the smaller ones, and thus headed for the - as it turned out - very well-hidden Medizinhistorisches Museum. The reason the museum is so well-hidden is that it's located on the Charité grounds; the old university hospital of Berlin. That Google maps tells you to go to an entrance to the Charité area itself, which has less than no signs about a museum, doesn't exactly ease the navigation.
Since I'd already tried to find it once before (and then ended up at the museum for Natural History, so no big loss), I looked very carefully at the map this time. And still got lost once, but I could round back with no huge loss of time...

Anyway! I did find it, finally, and also got to look at the quite nice old buildings that form the old Charité (where they ttly have the best-looking university eatery, it could almost belong to a hotel from the outside. And we have a tent, bah).
These aren't the first buildings, but they've still got a good two hundred years on them. As I learned today, the entire thing was built in preparation for a non-occuring plague epidemic right at the beginning of the eighteenth century, after which it became an army hospital and a place where the army surgeons could hone their skills on poor people - who, in turn, got the dubious honor of receiving the best free healthcare of the time. Which, as anyone who knows anything about medical history knows, was a mixed blessing at best... At least the surgeons were truly among the very best when it came to operating, setting bones to right and other such more concretely "try and repair the broken bit" medicin.

There are so many lovely old buildings in Berlin. Cool new ones too, one of the things I truly love about the architecture here is how mixed it is!

Cut for discussion of medical exhibiton )

Only worth a visit for those with an interest in the theme and not too easily squicked by human remains, but I'd recommend a walk through the hospital area to anyone. It's not that big (unless you're trying to find the museum without a map), there are lots of nice brick buildings and once you've passed through it and reach the river, you get a very nice view of the main station. Following the river, I also got a good view of the parliament buildings, among those the Kansleramt. It was great weather for a walk, cool but sunny, with ~dramatic~ cloud formations and a fresh wind.

Hauptbahnhof, Berlin
Berlin Hauptbahnhof

This was a field of gravel, some half-finished tracks and a lot of cranes the first time I visited Berlin. Now it's a quite fancy central station, though they're still building all around it. One of the things I love about the city is how it changes every time I return.

After a spot of lunch in the train station, I decided to walk along the river. This walk turned out sliiighlty longer than planned; the first bridge I passed was right next to the station and I continued on, but the second bridge turned out not to be open to the public and the third one was all the way down by the Victory Column. Still, it was nice and I saw a lady playing with her dog, which was full of that special doggy enthusiasm that they get when you throw fake-bones (hot pink fake bones, even =) for them to fetch and it ran until the feet almost blurred. Aww

Walked back through a very gray Tiergarten and then pretty much stumbled home and into bed. Dinner was oranges, a yoghurt and a donut today.

Maybe next week I'll finally go to the Technical Museum, sooner or later I'll make it!
dancing_moon: Mana looks angsty (Mana)
Today we had a guest lecturer talking about the visibility of Muslim communities in Western Europe. Interesting, if a bit too much show-and-tell and too little theoretical focus.

Afterwards, I was planning to visit Berlin's LGBT museum, Schwules Museum, although I got somewhat delayed by a truly spiffing grilled tuna with teriyaki sauce. As I have come to realize, the building where the Marginalized Identities seminars take place, are located in a really swank area. Hugo Boss stores, small galleries and hip (?) Asian restaurants. Luckily, a Friday lunch isn't anywhere near my wallet-death level, and since I'd heard internetly rumours about one of Berlin's better ramen restaurants in the area, I decided to investigate. The ramen part, alas, is only open in the evenings, but judging from how tasty (and packed) their lunch room was, I will have to visit.

Anyway, after that it was off to Meringhdamm and the museum. I did not have all too grand expectations, having read a review (ten years ago, gawd how time flies) that stated that while the exhibited material was interesting, the presentation was somewhat lacking. Aaaand that's still true. It's a smallish museum - though with an entrance fee of 3€ for students, one definitely gets value for the money - with mostly paintings, photographs and copies of various documents hanging on the walls next to little informative signs. Unfortunately, in several cases, the "little" takes precedence over "informative". One of the current exhibitions is called Zuschauer und Akteure. Akteurinnen und Zuschauerinnen and shows portraits from four hundred years of gay* history. While that is nice, I was not quite certain what to take from many of the portraits, which often only contained the barest biographic dates (subject, year, geographic origin, artist when known) and did not make greater attemps to put in a context. That is not to say that there weren't thought-provoking or beautiful pieces. The ones I specially noticed were a daguerreotype of older gay men and soldiers in a park in Berlin, the landscape portrait of a man in a suit entitled "gay Nazi" (which was accompanied by informational text), a friendship painting of two handsome men and a pencil drawing of two naughtily smiling young women. But for many of the portraits, I don't quite feel as if I have any context and, unfortunately, I'm not really artistic enough to be able to pull that much from them on my own.

Oh well. The permanent exhibition, 200 years of LGBT history in Germany and Berlin, was more interesting to me, since I tend to prefer history over art.
Interesting if one can read German, that is; don't think I saw one single sign in English in the entire museum.

* it's not a coincidence that the German name translates to "Gay Museum". While there are exhibition pieces relating to lesbians and trans* persons, they are in minority
dancing_moon: Farin Urlaub is shot by Lara Croft. No, really (Farin U)
Where did last week go? o.0 I thought, what with language class ending, that I'd have a bit more free time, but a sudden realization that it was my cleaning weekend and I'd signed up for a "How to study in Germany" workshop which lasted all Saturday suddenly made the time seem very short indeed... This week, I'm technically free, but tomorrow will be completely dedicated to university stuff, since we have our introduction events for both the department and all international students. The other days are also a bit booked with various tours - of library, mediothek etc, which I think I will all need to visit because hot damn if the Humboldt university ain't a quagmire of rules!! Just getting into the library is approaching airport securty controls.

Some whining re school )

Leaving behind the woes of a student (for the moment), I do have some little free time this week and I intend to use it well!

Today I went with three classmates from the language group (I'll miss them soooo much! Even though we've got a Fb group, it won't be the same thing! And we we were such a nice, well-matched group, nevermind our obsession with whether the teacher waxed his chest or not... Ahem, moving on) to the museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie.
It's dedicated to the Berlin Wall; it's history, the victims, the escapes and the art it inspired. It also has a pretty substantial department which covers peaceful protests against human rights abuse and, more generally, the different protests in the Soviet area.

Text-intensive, quite "heavy" museum, but super interesting if you take the time to read it all.
That it's actually located right at (the rebuilt) Checkpoint Charlie and is quite agitatory about the themes covered, makes it even more of an experience. Since it's inside an old office building (bigger on the inside! but not by much!) and a first stop for many tourists, there are heavy crowds and not much oxygen.

Anyway, in we went and spent an informative couple of hours. I've visited once, but it was ten years ago and it was interesting to return. This time, I could also appreciate some of the art pieces a bit more, although most of my mental energy was expanded on reading the many signs.

You really, REALLY need to be willing to take your time with the (many) signs on the walls here. They, and the photos they accompany of course, are the meat of the museum - the actual exhibit pieces are mostly items used in escapes and some rather kitschy bits of clothing (uniforms and whatnot). Due to the somewhat erratic spelling/grammar in the English signs, it also helps to have a good grasp of German. I think this is (one of) the reason(s) for several negative reviews I found online.
The other is the somewhat mistaken impression one easily gets from the name of the museum. This ain't a pedagogic look at the "how and why" of the Iron Curtain, but more a grand collection of eye-witness accounts. And if you're not familiar with at least a bit background structure, you won't be able to understand much of what's happening.

Despite the crowds and weird layout, I would still recommend the Haus am Maur ten times more than the GDR museum (located near the Berlin Dome, by the water) which really is a kitschy tourist trap. That ones full of "everyday items from the GRD" and, uh yeah, while it is a kid-friendly museum it was a bit too much Ostalgie and not enough information for me.

Aaaanyway, back to Checkpoint Charlie. Since I'm the kind of geek that likes reading signs, I quite like the Wall House, even if I would have wished the company of slightly fewer visitors.

What did baffle me quite a bit were the two rooms dedicated to Ronald Reagan and Axel Springer. Not that they existed as such, considering how both of them said and did things that are quite relevant in a look at the political themes surrounding the wall, but that the informationed semed about 110% positive. While Reagan's timeline included the tax cuts and his firing of the air traffic controllers, it was mentioned in one line. I think even his cowboy stuff got a sign of it's own, but not this.

And Springer? Who is definitely a debated figure in German history, especially if you're a museum dedicated to human rights issues, protests and freedom... Now, admittedly, I didn't read everything in that room as we were all getting quite tired, but the overall tone seemed very pro Springer-company. Since this is a privately owned museum, they are of course free to exhibit whatever they want, but it made me quite curious about 1) who actually owns the place, these days and 2) what else are they leaving out?

Anyway - if you're in Berlin, you could do worse than come to this museum. Just get up earlier than we did, so you don't have to push through quite as many crowds.


dancing_moon: Jadeite / DM / Me (Default)
Dancing Moon


Style Credit

May 2012

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