First of all, Germany won the 2014 World Cup tonight, making it Germany’s fourth win after 1954, 1974 and 1990.
I watched the match with my Mom (my Dad has caught a cold and went to bed after the regular matchtime was over), a bit annoyed that the match went into overtime, especially since I still had two pages of a very boring and complicated contract to translate (The customer needs it urgently – of course they do). However, the result was more than worth it and the match itself was very good as well, though not as stunning as the semi-finale against Brazil.
One thing that marred the event was that a man was stabbed to death during a fan gathering to watch the match in a cinema here in Bremen.
Switzerland may have gotten kicked out of the World Cup in the round of the last sixteen, by Argentina of all teams (don’t worry, neighbours, you have been avenged), and Swiss authors were given a hard time by the Bachmann Prize jury this year, but Switzerland has one reason to celebrate, namely that George R.R. Martin has graced our multilingual neighbour country with his presence, since he is guest of honour at the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival.
Now the German language cultural scene likes to pretend that Game of Thrones doesn’t exist, because it’s “just” fantasy and doesn’t have anything to say about the way we live, unlike those other US quality TV shows The Sopranos or Breaking Bad (because the lives of mafia clans in New Jersey or a cancer-struck highschool teacher turned drug kingpin in New Mexico has so much to do with the life of the average German). Honestly, I’ve seen/read interviews with Turkish German actress Sibel Kekilli, who plays Shae, which seemed to consider her role in the German crime drama Tatort the pinnacle of her career and didn’t mention Game of Thrones at all. While you just know that if Ms. Kekilli had been casted to play a terrorist on Homeland or a drug dealer’s mistress on Breaking Bad, the German language cultural press would be all over it.
However, when George R.R. Martin is the guest of honour at a renown SFF film festival, at least our Swiss friends no longer have any excuse to ignore him. And so the Swiss public TV channel SRF offers this profile of the man and the series, while the Zurich based paper Der Tagesanzeiger has interviewed Martin. Der Tagesanzeiger has run background articles and reviews about Game of Thrones, both the TV show and the books, before. Apparently, the deputy head of the culture department is a fan.
Finally, one of the last bastions of masculinity here in Bremen has finally fallen: For the so-called Schaffermahlzeit, a black tie gala dinner for Bremen’s sea captains, merchants and political guests held annually since 1545, has announced that they will finally allow women to take part in the official dinner. Because up to now, female guests – mostly wives and daughters of sea captains or merchants – had to eat in a separate room from the male guests, though they were allowed to take part in the ball afterwards, probably because a ball involving only men would have been a bit strange. An old classmate of mine actually attended the women’s dinner at the Schaffermahlzeit once, accompanying her Dad, and quite enjoyed the experience.
Now there have been female guests at the main Schaffermahlzeit before. A female sea captain has been a regular guest since 2004 (by now, there are two female captains) and Angela Merkel was the first female guest of honour in 2007. But those ladies were exceptions, while the wives and daughters were still stuck in their separate room. But apparently not any longer. Hey, it only took 470 years.
If you’re wondering about the actual meal, it’s chicken soup, followed by stockfish with mustard sauce and potatoes, kale with Pinkel sausage and smoked meat, roast veal with celeriac salad, apples and plums and Riga style turbot with anchovies, sausage, fruit and cheese, most of which sounds rather weird even if you’re from North Germany. There’s also wine and a special sailor’s beer. Oh yes, and smoking is not just allowed but expected, though you have to use a claypipe.