elhana

Hey guys!

One of my texts got featured on the elhana project website.

For those not in the know: elhana is a big brother project in the Berlin area, where you help out a kid with problems at school. I sat with Yussuf (not his real name) twice a week, from 2010 to the end of 2015, helped him with math and german and just the general facts of a elementary school kid’s life (Beyblades, Ninjago and divorce, mainly). And, because I’m me, I wrote a text about this experience.

You can read the text on their site or on mine, whatever floats your boat.

Working with Yussuf was a delight and an enrichment of my life. Ober the course of five years, I taught him how to play chess, and now I can’t even come close to beating him. I can wholeheartedly recommend this project. If you’re in the Berlin area and interested in doing something good on a small scale, give elhana a shout, tell them Bert sent you.

Manhattan

Charlie: You’re working on an atomic bomb.
Akley: We prefer to call it a gadget.

I’ve got a thing for 20th century history. In fact, I think my favourite works of fiction revolve around recent history: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Boardwalk Empire, Maus… Hey, my whole moving-to-Germany adventure? Started with Good Bye Lenin. Guess I’m kind of a nerd.

So it’s surprise to precisely no one that I instantly fell in love with Manhattan. A show set in Los Alamos, the top-secret base where the Manhattan Project unrolled, starring the physicists that developed the bomb? If there’s an itch that can never get enough scratching, that’s the one.

Manhattan revolves around Frank Winter, a brilliant physicist in charge of creating the atomic bomb. Surrounding him is a team of cracks – and their accompanying wives and children, who gave up their lives to follow their husbands to a top-secret city in the middle of the desert, not even knowing what their spouses were doing. The show’s a fantastic mix of personal stories and espionage, told against the backdrop of the biggest (and scariest) invention the 20th century has given us.

Unfortunately, the show completely flew under the radar, gathering a small following of rabid fans completely enthralled by the brilliantly plotted espionage and intrigue the show offers – so it surprised no one when it was canceled after two seasons (I think three were planned). And while I know how insanely frustrating it can be to watch a show knowing there’ll be no exclamation mark at the end of the sentence, know that the end-of-
season-two cliffhanger is one of the most cathartic TV moments of the year and one of my favourite scenes ever.

So if you’re in love with big dramas in small settings revolving around huge explosions but not actually featuring any – this is your show!

And if you’re not convinced – check out its Emmy-winning intro:

Overwatch

Me and gaming, we’ve fallen on hard times. Things used to be different: We would have fun together, play all sorts of stuff until the middle of the night… Nowadays, we just look at each other and shrug. It’s like we lost all our old love, like we don’t know how to push each other’s buttons or find our graphics undesirable. What has happened?

In all earnesty: I’ve been working a lot. Like, a lot a lot. So usually, when I come home from work, my brain is so mushy I can’t really focus on doing anything. I tried playing Final Fantasy XIV, found there to be too much reading. I tried DOOM, which was great, but there was too much looking at the map. Lord knows I’ve played The Last of Us – but even there, there was too much going on and I couldn’t take any of it in.

So I ended up playing Puzzle Quest and Tropico – and as far as the latter was concerned, just the first few missions over and over on a loop. I’ve gotten so good at that game, if you ever need a colonial-era dictator to run your banana republic, I’m in.

And then I bought Overwatch. On a whim, because the thought of an online competitive shooter was enough to make my eyes roll out the back of my head. I’m not competitive, and playing against other people for fun should have been the last thing I’d want to do. I like games because they’re a series of a meticulously designed challenges waiting to be conquered – not because I wanna be teabagged by a random stranger.

Overwatch, however, seems to scratch current my gaming itch perfectly. It’s easy to pick up – a handful of heroes, a few maps and three rotating game modes – but with enough tactical depth to keep me coming back. The maps are small enough that playing them a few times is enough to get a good read on them. And the game’s entire atmosphere is more about having fun than winning (you can be lose the game and still be the match’s MVP, for instance).

So if you’re on PS4 and looking for someone to play with – hit up Kuudelka! Together, we can conquer the world.

(Do people still do blogs nowadays?)