Day of German Unity Linkdump

October 3 is the Day of German Unity, which commemorates the German reunification on October 3, 1990.

This year’s celebrations seem strangely subdued. Sure, there is the official celebration in the former capital of Bonn and there are the requisite speeches by all important politicians about how East and West have grown together/need to grow together. But usually, the TV schedules are full of East Germany and unification themed films and documentaries around October 3. Goodbye Lenin is always on somewhere, as is Das Leben der Anderen. This year, however, I haven’t seen either film in the TV listings, though a private channel is broadcasting Go Trabi Go in a late night slot. Well, it is East Germany/reunification themed, even if it is a slapstick comedy.

It almost seems as if last year’s 20th anniversary celebrations have dampened the mood for this year’s celebrations. Perhaps German unity is so established by now that we will only commemorate it in depth every five or ten years now. Which is probably a good thing, because it means normality.

On the other hand, October 3 is not really that meaningful a date for most Germans. Yes, it’s a public holiday and that’s nice. But the day that everybody remembers and that everybody has stories about is November 9, 1989, the day the wall fell. By comparison, I remember very little of October 3, 1990, except that I was angry, because a TV show I liked had been pushed back into a long past midnight slot, because they had to broadcast all sorts of official unification ceremonies first. And that I spent midnight on October 3, 1990, sitting on the toilet following the call of nature, because I used to tell people later on that I shat upon German unity. Yes, I was a very angry anti-patriot at the time.

Anyway, if you want to celebrate the Day of German Unity and don’t have a DVD of Goodbye Lenin or The Lives of Others or even Go Trabi Go handy, you could always read The Other Side of the Curtain, a spy story set in East Germany in 1965.

That was the ad break. And now on to today’s links:

The Lingua Franca blog at the Chronicle of Higher Education offers an amusing post on the specifically American irrational fear of the passive voice. I think we have decades of college classes regurgitating the questionable advice of Mssrs Strunk and White to thank for the anti-passive fanaticism.

I particularly liked this bit:

Am I seriously supposed to say “But an unexpected eventuality disrupted all plans”? And “when an oncologist named Price diagnosed her … “?

More generally, do the writing tutors of the world really think we should not report that a politician has been shot until we can specify the gunman? Do they honestly think it’s wrong to say that the lights are left on all night in an office building without supplying a list of the individuals who controlled the switches?

These examples are similar to the ones I use with my students to explain when the passive is appropriate. Except that instead of the doctor diagnosing a fatal illness I always used Lady Jane Grey being executed as an example for a case where the object of the action, i.e. the person to whom something is done, is more important than the actor. Though this year I updated my example sentence to “Osama Bin Laden was shot by Navy SEALs” to explain the principle.

The Lingua Franca blog looks very enjoyable in general. Here’s another amusing post about thriller writer Lee Child or rather his character Jack Reacher getting his phonetics mixed up.

The Los Angeles Times has a fascinating photo gallery of the home of designers Charles and Ray Eames in Pacific Palisades. What I find particularly interesting is that the house is not the austere and ascetic abode you would expect from a pair of famous midcentury interior designers. Instead, it looks warm and alive. I wouldn’t mind spending an afternoon there.

Finally, I also have a new post with several e-publishing related links up at Pegasus Pulp.

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12 Responses to Day of German Unity Linkdump

  1. And if you want to know WHY 3 October became the national holiday, instead of the day when the Berlin Wall fell: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/why-is-german-reunification-celebrated-on-3-october/

  2. Sherwood says:

    As usual I can’t find Go Trabi Go anywhere, but I now own a copy of The Lives of Others. What a terrific movie!

    • Cora says:

      Go Trabi Go is a slapstick comedy and comedy translates not very well to other cultures. Though it does a nice job of showing the hunger of East Germans to see the world past 1990, setting off for Italy or Spain in their beat-up old cars, which often broke down at around Hannover. And Wolfgang Stumpf is always worth watching.

      You have seen Goodbye Lenin, right? Other good East German and/or unification themed movies are Sonnenallee, Helden Wie Wir (comedies), Wir können auch anders (wonderful road movie set in the wilds of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern directly after the unification) and Schultze Gets the Blues (Unemployed East German miner travels to Louisiana, because he loves Cajun music). The latter is available in the US, because an American friend loves it. No idea about the others.

      Another one that well worth watching, but very difficult to find these days is Schulz und Schulz, a made for TV, East-West twin swap story starring Götz George at the height of his fame. It was made a few month before the fall of the Wall.

  3. Estara says:

    I totally agree about the Eames house pictures. My brother and his wife managed to find a somewhat beat up Eames chair and it’s an incredibly comfortable lounge about chair to sit in.

    • Cora says:

      Hey, good to see you around. Hope you’re having a nice Day of German Unity and enjoying the sun. I have a sort of holiday this week, because my school is celebrating its tenth anniversary as a Kooperative Gesamtschule and so we have no regular classes next week.

      I managed to sit down on someone else’s Eames lounge chair and they are indeed wonderfully comfortable. And one of the companies I translate for has Eames office chairs in their conference room, which are very nice as well. Oddly enough no one there knows that their chairs are famous designs – the conference room furniture was already there when they bought the building.

      • Estara says:

        Hah! Re the unknowing Eames office chair owners.

        I do read you religiously on my LJ list, but I often don’t have anything intelligent to comment ^^.

        • Cora says:

          Quite a lot of people own design classics and don’t know it, e.g. a lot of people own Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s kitchen- and tableware or one of his lamp designs and are completely unaware of it. And the Eames are less well known in Germany than most of the Bauhaus people.

          And thanks for reading me religiously. You’re welcome to comment anytime.

          • Estara says:

            ^^

            I can always post smileys!

          • Estara says:

            Also – my parents have always owned and used the Wagenfeld Pepper and Salt shakers, but I didn’t realise they were by him until you linked to that WMF page of his designs.

            • Cora says:

              Visiting the permanent collection of the Wilhelm Wagenfeld design museum is like meeting plenty of old friends. “Oh, my parents have that. Hey, my grandma had that one” and so on.

              I think my favourite moment was spotting a Wagenfeld lamp in a SF TV show (I think Doctor Who). “Wow, they’ll still be using Wagenfeld designs in half a million years. Now that’s longevity.”

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