Archive for February, 2006

The Alexandria Quartet

The Alexandia QuartetLast night I started to read the book The Alexandria Quartet by the British author Lawrence Durrell. I have heard a great deal of positive comments for these 4 novels (Justine (1957), Balthazar (1958), Mountolive (1958), and Clea (1960)) and look forward to reading them.

Having seen that the entry for The Alexandia Quartet in Wikipedia is only a “stub”, I have gotten motivated to provide my first Wikipedia contribution. Yes, why not? I like the idea of Wikipedia and use it a lot for my daily work. I find the entries of very high quality (usually) and in a recent test Wikipedia showed to be as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica. Btw, here is an interesting Washington Post article on how Capitol Hill is playing WikiPolitics.

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Allers-Retours

Allers-RetoursThe play we are setting up in the Aula of Collège de Voltaire on May 31 and June 1, Citoyen de nulle part, is based on von Horváth‘s Allers-Retours. The poster on the left is from La Comédie‘s setup of the piece last year (and which also inspired our teacher Denise to pick this play for her students).

Von Horváth was born in Hungary in 1917, and went to Germany to study in his late teens and stayed there until the rise of Nazism pushed him to move to Vienna in 1933. The annexation of Austria (“die Invasion auf der Rote Teppe” as I learned to know it at school) in 1938 prompted him to seek exile in Paris, where he died only a few weeks after his arrival. He was struck by a falling branch from a tree in the Champs-Elysées as he stepped out of a cinema into a thunderstorm.

Bon. At the heart of our play, as for the original, is the following situation (thanks to A Flickering Light for this summary) :

A middle-aged man (Ferdinand Havlicek), born in country A, but having lived in country B since he was 15 days’ old, is expelled by country B following the collapse of his business and his resulting bankruptcy. He is escorted to the border and told to return to A, the country of his birth. He walks across the bridge that connects the two countries, but on arriving at the border control to country A is told (by Constantin) that a law was passed 20 years ago where all nationals who have been living abroad for more than five years and have not returned to register themselves are considered to have renounced their citizenship. Both country A and country B thus consider him a foreigner and he is a citizen of nowhere (citoyen de nulle part). He is destined to wander back and forth across the bridge either until one of the countries relents – or until he dies of hunger.

There are several ideas running in the play: ideas about exile, about bureaucracy, about love. I hope we will be able to develop them enough through our acting.

Citoyen de Nulle Part

The theatre group I belong to, directed by Mme Denise Chollet at Université Populaire here in Geneva, is setting up the play Allers-Retours by Ödön von Horváth on May 31 and June 1, 2006. We have changed the name of the play to Citoyen de Nulle Part as our version is radically altered from the original. All actors have French as a foreign language, so at the same time as learning acting we learn French.

The roles have been distributed since a few weeks, and I get to play Constantin – le douanier à la rive droite.

Moving to Vernet…

Varembe.jpgFrom yesterday and two weeks on, the Varembé swimming pool (which is situated  very conveniently just around the corner from our office) is closed for annual maintenance work. To go swimming they refer the visitors to the Vernets piscine, down by Plainpalais. I went over there this afternoon, the weather was good for once so the bike ride there was quite pleasant.

The Vernets pool being 50 meters long (Varembé's only 33 meters) gave another feeling about the swimming. I started to breathe only every second cycle, which lets you be more attentive about your technique. At the same time, it requires much more lung capacity (which I evidently have to work on…).

By the way, I have set a goal for 2006 of swimming 50 kilometers and now 8 weeks down the road I've reached 10,000 meters. Each time I'm able to swim longer and longer (I started swiming only late last year) so by summer the 50 km should be gone.

I like business…

I like business because it is competitive, because it rewards deeds rather than words.

I like business because it compels earnestness and does not permit me to neglect today’s task while thinking about tomorrow.

I like business because it undertakes to please, not reform; because it is honestly selfish, thereby avoiding hypocrisy and sentimentality.

I like business because it promptly penalizes mistakes, shiftlessness and inefficiency, while rewarding well those who give it the best they have in them.

Lastly, I like business because each day is a fresh adventure.

R.H Cabell

As an entrepreneur myself, I am very interested in the motivation behind the people who build companies. That is something I will write more about.

Drumming

We  are practising a song by the French group Téléphone, Un Autre Monde, and I have taken the drummer's role.

What an experience that is. Being the heart of the band really, there's not a lot of room for mistakes. On vocals or as a bassist, the other instruments quietly continue to play their accords when you forget yours. But as a drummer, everyone gets lost if you happen to get the rhythm inverse/messed up.

I like the challenge in getting 3 rhythms synchonized; it's like having 3 dimensions to work with.

The rhytm for Un Autre Monde is 8 beats with the High-Hat (Fr: Charleston), 4 with the Snare (Fr: Caisse claire), and then with the Bass Drum (Fr: Grosse caisse) 4 as well but with displacement. I am in the process of trying to understand this myself and this is what I have come up with this far.

Transcription for Un Autre Monde (simplified)

The difficulty with this rhythm is to keep the tempo right; it is easy to let the tempo slip away as the beat isn't regular. I believe that by focussing on the tempo of the high-hat (and not on the bass drum as usually) it's possible to keep the tempo to 132 beats per minute, comme il faut. 

Orangino in English

The Swedish board game Orangino is being translated into English, its creator Ulla Osterman told me a couple of weeks ago.

It was released on the Swedish market in 2003, and has made a success. It is a board game that can be used just for fun or as a personal training tool.

Orangino

In his book “Flow – The Optimal Experience”, the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes games as a good tool for creating flow in groups. In games all important factors for flow creation could materialize: a clear goal, channels for feedback, good structure, and tasks that are neither too advanced nor too simple.

So situations that normally are not “open” enough, be it due to the climate or the personalities of the people, can actually see discussions that are quite amazingly frank and personal. And this thanks to the game structure. I find this amazing, and look forward to playing Orangino with my friends here in Geneva.