Did the World need a new musical Version of The War of the Worlds By Jeff Wayne?

When I was ten years old, I received a few self recorded tapes from Nana with a musical version of The War of the Worlds by Jeff Wayne. She had recorded it from her Vinyl’s for me. She knew I loved to snuggle into my bulk-bed at night and dream of space, the stars and the universe. Travelling through worlds of thoughts and music, colours and emotions in my mind. Different times and spaces, all at once. Where the answer becomes a question and then an answer again…

I listened to it on this old cassette player with one little earplug, and after hearing Richard Burton’s voice I was captivated, gobsmacked, shocked. It was as if someone had put a melody to my dreams and nightmares. How could he know? It crawled under my skin and it was there to stay forever. Unchanged an idolised.

Forever Autumn/Thunder Child (to me one song with a pause) became my Anthem after Danny’s death and to this day musically symbolises who I am. How I think and feel. The soundtrack to my life.  These two songs have so many layers, different tunes, rhythms and sounds, melodies, story lines, narrative sequences all happening at the same time, in the same place. At first they seem to interfere with each other disturbing the harmony, stepping on each others toes, (to many notes, Mozart) but when You listen to it with an open mind, and let yourself be swept away by that rising stomping driving background rhythm uniting them, it starts making sense, they become ONE beautifully versatile and challenging entity. That’s me! Including my ADHD/OCD, in music. You need not know more to understand me, methinks… Nothing less. Nothing more.

I then successively bought the vinyl albums, the CDs, the iTunes download and even a German version with Curt Jürgens on vinyl. Always searching for the better sound. But the scratches and back noises of those, now lost, tapes where never to be outdone. 

It all seemed so typically 1970s, how could You possibly transfer those rhythms, harmonies, voices to the 21.Century without sounding terribly outdated? Like a seventy year old woman squeezing herself into her teenage years pants, will not be looking sexy, but desperately sad.

Then I heard they were indeed going to be doing it again… the War of the Worlds, the next Generation (!) Really? NCC WOTW-A? Will Weaton as Nathaniel? The boldly go where no bacteria has gone before? Hm… Not really! And stepping in Richard Burton’s shoes, Liam Neeson? WOW braver than I thought! But surely even to big for that fabulous artist. So I thought…

It is only after seeing what Gary Barlow did out of the Queen’s Jubilee 2012 (Ace!) I knew I had to give this another shot and give the guy a fair chance. So, I bought the download on iTunes. And have listened to it 3 times since.

And You know what? It works! It really works!

Liam Neeson is respectful to the part but makes it his own! His voice is genuine, warm, clear and not as overly dramatic as Burton’s was. Barlow as his singing voice is excellent, never trying to push himself to the fore. Maverick Sabre is splendid! 1+!

The overall feel is still as deep as the 70 version. But with a 21.Century touch. The slightly dusty arrangements sound fresh and hip. The synthesiser sequences are more ELO than Bontempi Organ and that makes it so smooth to listen to…

But my biggest surprise was Joss Stone. She is a revelation in this one! Guys, honestly the “Spirit of man” has not ever been intoned with that utmost perfection and gut-wrenching feeling before.

To all those who know the old Version, I can honestly recommend it as a respectful and entertaining update. Of course it will never “dock” to the same receptors as the old one, You’ve heard 30 years ago, but we all know nothing ever will anyway. Right?! So, give it a burl.

To those new to it? GO GRAB IT!!!!!!!

So, my conclusion is: Yes, the world needed new version of war of the worlds! Thanks guys.

http://www.thewaroftheworlds.com/

Living with ADHD and OCD. Or my restless brain syndrome, with an inbuilt brakechute

I was sent to the school shrink at the age of nine. Official reason: She’s just too much! (too helpful, too cheerful, too inattentive, too much antsy feety…)

After an afternoon of tests, the shrink summoned my mother and the teacher and told them: she is the smartest, happiest and sweetest girl I have seen in a long time and if you don’t take that as a gift from God, you’re the ones who need psychiatric help.

And to me she said: be whatever you want, dream of whatever you want, but know this, some people will always find you different, because they are jealous of you. Being able to see everything at once, thinking different thoughts at once, is your chance to become someone really special, but it might leave others envying you. You are very, very smart, you just think in a different time zone. There’s nothing bad about that. Accept that and take it as an opportunity. Because that is who you are and no medication will ever change that.

WOW, sucker punch! Not really what a nine-year old needs right?! All I wanted back then was to fit in. It’s only after a couple of days of thinking in my „spaceship“ (my cabin-bed, the safe heaven), that my Grandpapa took me aside and explained why he had always be so headstrong. And that we where two of a kind.

I realised that this was why my mom looked a me that way. “It” had skipped one generation, and she could not understand us. She also could never forgive us for taking away her fathers love from her and giving it to me. I was then raised by my Grandparents. And what a wonderful childhood that became. The extensive travelling, endless hiking tours, the reading, discussions going on for days, the love, acceptance and human warmth, made me whole and accepting the fact that, we might be getting the cards to play, but we choose the game and how we play it, made me take charge of my destiny.

Growing up in my family and its polyglotism did certainly not help me fit in and rest my mind a bit.

Grandpapa was French, and he only spoke and responded in French to me. His wife, my Grandmother Mimi, had German family and she only spoke and responded in German to me. My other grandmother was British/Canadian and her hubby, my paternal Nonno was Italian. (WWII and its strange ways) After his death Nana emigrated to the lucky country (OZ, to all nonaussies) with my two uncles, leaving my dad to move to Switzerland…. see me coming? Switzerland being the only country truly living its four nationalities heritage is why I never claimed any of my other possible nationalities and Passports. I learned “Swiss” at the age of 7. And some other languages quite easily afterwards. This might have been cool in the “broaden you mind” way. But not for someone with a restless mind anyway. Made me even stranger. Because no one would, now literally, understand me. OK, a 10-year-old correcting its french teacher on the Latin etymology of a word, is rather creepy I reckon.

As for us, we have never been on a family reunion, where we actually finished a sentence in the same language we started it in. Nor an idea. Leaves our guests and other outsiders alienated and/or gobsmacked.

Strangely ADHD with a squirt of OCD runs in all our family tree’s branches, and has been diagnosed in all of them except in the Italian one. Maybe because Italians always talk with their hands and tend to be a bit too loud overbearing fast and excessive in what they do. Its regarded normal there. My Aussie branch, besides the Swissies (yes that’s a word-mix of Swiss and Sissies) take it with most humour I think. Our motto is: “Pick me, and never get bored again. And You’ll always know how many spoons are left in the drawer”.

Not quite as serious as the Canadian part who wants a pill for every ill!

My OZ Friends and Family are the fastest think-lane-shifters. We start discussing the question whether NOT believing in God and still feeling spiritual is contradictory or not and end up categorising TV hunks by their amount of Tattoos in five-0 seconds. (Just trying to find out who might be reading this) Included in our chat is a short side trip over to the life changing question about Deep Purples best song ever. Needless to say, we often end up just spending “family-time” without spouses… before any of us get “the look”. And because we’ve “self medicated” by living high paced lives, using adrenaline like others Ritalin to help us focus, and “sporting” to excess, our joints and knees are all kind of week points. My Doctor diagnosed mine as the ones of a 70 years old farmer! Cheers mate.

But how can I explain to the rest of the world, (not that I expect the world to actually read ANY of this) what it feels like to be a fish talking to a bird, while I’m a cat? Get my drift?

I’m not the typical ADHD combined type (Inattention and Hyperactivity-Impulsiveness) mine was diagnosed as ADHD with occasional OCD. Or as I like to call it a “restless mind in a restless brain syndrome, with an inbuilt brakechute”

But is an occasional OCD an oxymoron or a contradiction in adiecto? On the other hand so is a perfectionistic impulsive… (if you get this, you’re one of us)

Anyway, its like I see something that really catches my attention. Like that great scene with Halle Berry in Catwoman, at the restaurant with the fish in the Aquarium, remember? It’s not just the usual constant surrounding sounds and images bombarding me. Its something worth concentrating on, obsessing about for a while. So my brain goes “Oh, look at that over there (insert any interchangeable item) that’s interesting, you want to do that. Now. Right now. Go for it. You know it. You need it. NOW!!!” And I’m “laser-pointing” all my energy in to this one exclusive thingy. That’s when I drift into this YABA (yes, another bloody acronym) mode. I feel the physical NEED to move. To act. Or to react. The world around seems to slow down. I’m in hyper drive, one thought become crystal clear. Everything else goes blur.

But then the brakechute opens “OYE! OYE! Hold the horses, what are you doing? Do you know what you’re about to do? What if you do it wrong, you’re probably not good enough to master this, you’re gonna screw it up. You’re gonna hurt someone… you better count to three first and breathe deep… one… two… oh, that’s better… much better… three.” And its like a reversed explosion of my energy. Like in those movies where you rewind the blast of the bomb. I “channel” myself back inside. “that felt so good, let’s do it again breathe and count to three. One… oh yes… calming… warming up… two… now a little sequenced finger game… and three… there it is, the cosy worn out coat, put it on… now you’re safe, it’s all ok. And they’re safe because you didn’t screw up” And I/my thoughts/brain/mind slow down, while the world fastens up again…

And occasionally I kind of snap out of it, realising I just said something to someone, or answered a question, without noticing. And I get that look again! The “I don’t get her, but she’s kind of funny” look. And luckily enough its usually the right answer too…

But it feels like one side of me is outside me, the other one inside.

Yet ironically enough, its exactly what helped me become a decent fire-fighter. Because I do not “laser-point” my attention to the hose. When I’m in there with the “boys” I sense what happens around me. Change of wind, water pressure, my boys focus, getting tired, a manometer or “firefly” going off etc. Then I go through procedures (yes I LOVE procedures) in my mind, analysing possible outcomes and react. Hitting some of them by surprise, even now after 24 years.

I just have to continue learning new things. Keep my mind busy and interested. Like making my major as Safety Engineer and HAZMAT specialist, besides the combat medic, which came in very handy, when they started firing people. I did 4 jobs at once.

Ok, I did end up getting sacked after my cancer treatment. But now I’m back as Care-team member and official expert on inquiries. So Carpe Diem and to my sackers I quote Götz von Berlichingen by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe!

What I’m trying to say is: It doesn’t always need medication, sometimes a grandparent backing you, a recruiting Officer looking beyond your sex and other differences is all it takes… And yes military training helped a wee bit too. The tidy beds, rules and rituals there are pure and unadulterated OCD (And that’s my concentration going walkabout again…)

So parents, please: LOVE YOUR KIDS BECAUSE OF THEIR ADHD/OCD and whatever name we’ll find for humanity’s diversity, and not just “even though”… got it???

There are some great books from Thom Hartmann, for those of you who want to read about it from someone smart. Those books changed my perception on this matter, seeing it as the chance it was and not an infirmity. And remembering my shrink as the visionary she was.

But the real reason why I’m coming out tonight is an Australian actor named Alex O’Loughlin, whom I admire deeply not just for being fit as a Mallee bull and one true spunk, but who inspires me to come straight with it. Because hey, if he can do it and still be amazing without folks giving him “the look”, so can I!

Whether his confessions are public relation induced furphy or genuine, I don’t know. But anything’s possible in Hollywood. Even that the truth is being told once in a while. And, I don’t know why, but that guy seems fair dinkum to me…

Oh my constant checking if you really get me? That’s it as well… Wanting to be understood, but doubting I ever will.

Somebody’s Tryin’ To Kill Me. Or, How Russel Crowe Saved My Butt!

A couple of years ago, when I was still working as a smoke-diver, my pager alarmed me a little after midnight.

“Oh cool,” I thought, “It’s winter and I’m going to be freezing my butt off in an exercise in the middle of the night, way to go Chief!” (Boy was I wrong)

Half way to the fire engine (which was a train BTW, with three hermetically separated coaches called LRZ. 1.) ER/infirmary, 2.) the fire-engine with a 44’000 Liter tank, and 3.) the mobile machine room.) With the infirmary being airlocked and sealed from the exterior, these units could be detached and pulled out of burning tunnels, etc (which we got to do a couple of times, but that’s another story). I realized that the red glaze above my town was not an exercise and that I would probably NOT be freezing that night.

What was burning, was an abandoned tyre storage facility, three stories high, on the edge of an industrial zone. On its left, there were two huge raw oil tanks with 5 Million Liters in each one. On the right stood two skyscrapers with condos full of sleeping people. We were on the middle of the train tracks and above us stood the main freeway connecting the eastern from the western part of my country on stilts.

The storage was due to be cleared a few days later, and the owner thought a “warm demolition” might be cheaper, so he set fire to the darn thing in a few different corners and stories of the building.
 By blowing out the water from both ends of the fire engine through the monitor, our tanks would be empty within 12 minutes. It took three (!) normal size fire trucks, two external pumps in a nearby little stream and a pond to fill us up in time. But the water in the hoses still turned warm. After about two hours we were standing ankle deep in a pitch-black gooey melted rubber sauce leaving me very happy to be wearing my full gear. But it still went through the clothing and the boots. It took me a couple of days to get rid of the tar in my leg pores and I looked like a grossly tattooed chicken, sweating out licorice.

Anyway…

There I was, tightly wrapped in my cozy equipment, wearing my self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) with my cute little B pressure hose and I started feeling like a 75-year old man with prostate problems trying to piss out a bush-fire! Rather inadequate so I’m told…

All of a sudden a muffled “boom” pushed me forwards, not like Hollywood, more like someone heavily pushing you in the back. We stumbled, turned around and found that the car that had been parked not 5 meters from me and my backupbro’ was gone. It had caught fire, and the secondary unit had not been able to restrain the fire, so the car just “jumped” into the little slope underneath the tracks. Bummer!

I looked back up at the flames in front of me, which by now had reached the lower edge of the freeway, and I asked myself, “What the hell are you doing here?! Are you one fry short of a happy meal?
” And for the second time in my life, I thought I was gonna die. And I froze! I felt the blood pulsating in my temples, my hands got wet, my mouth was drying up, my whole body was getting really hard…

When suddenly my “inner-music/brain-soundtrack” started giving me that guitar riff…

… and I hear Russell Crowe’s voice singing to me: “Somebody’s trying to kill me, It could be myself, I have it on the highest authority, I’m just no good, For my own health. Indifference under my skin, Gets my veins a rippling, Oh concentrate you stupid man, It becomes your best friend.” YEAH…

And TOFOG magic happened: I snapped right out of it. From laughter. At myself. I must have sounded like a psychotic Darth Vader having an asthma attack, snorting with laughter in my SCBA. When I turned to apologize to my Backupbro’ all I could see were his saucer sized eyes staring at me through his mask. The poor thing, I knew exactly what he was thinking: not only am I stuck with the only firefighter without a biologically integrated fire hose in this country, but now she’s rowing with only one paddle…

But we went on, and after more than 12 hours on scene, I knew that this was the job for me, and that I LOVED it!

My backupbro’ BTW, always demanded to be teamed up with me afterwards. He said I was the coolest FF he’d ever met and fought the beast with. Because while he was scared senseless, I obviously laughed at danger and went on doing my job.

Yeah! Right! Little did he know.

It was all Russel Crowe’s merit.
So, cheers mate, you made me look GOOD!

My Danny

Forgive my poor English. I never took lessons. Iw rite from my heart.

Sometimes I am thankful for things I hated at first… like for having had the chance to meet 2 men in my live I adored…

The first one (yep, here’s the odd biblical sense quote) stepped in my life at the american embassy in Berne, next to where we used to go swimming in summer as teens (called the KWD)… He was stationed in Europe. I was helping give swimming lessons to kids 3 evenings a week. And there was this very mysterious, quiet and handsome blond young man, lying on his belly… reading. (!) A brain wrapped in a body that took my breath away. Literally!

While his friends were flirting, joking with the “Barbie’s aka pretty ones” and swimming, showing off – he was reading. At least that’s what he wanted me to think (he admitted to me much later, he kept reading the same lines over and over, when he saw me from behind his glasses, what he liked about it, I never knew). It took him 3 weeks to address me with a short “good evening miss” How polite! I was little over 16 and very frustrated… “good evening miss” was definitively not what I wanted to hear from him. But I was used to be overlooked by men, since I always were more interested in fixing stuff, rollerscating, hiking and playing ice hockey, or reading the thicker the book the better, than boys and pretty dresses *shudders*. But I digress again. (Yes I do that a lot. If you want to know why, just read my post on my ADHD with a touvh of OCD) Anyway, that good evening miss, is all I got for the next 2 weeks. It was Joe, his older friend, a funny redhead covered in freckles, who actually asked me out in his name. Thanks Freckles. All I could think was: 5 weeks for a coffee, he better be worth it!

And he was!

I used to call him Danny because he resembled an actor from his favorite TV show Tour of Duty, Tony Becker’s Danny Percell. I also very much “find” him in Larry Wilcox’s Jon Baker (even though Jon is kept from spiralling down and eventually hitting the wall by eternal goofball Ponch, IMHO) or even a bit in Mark Valley’s Chance from Human Target, who took another apporach for dealing with “it”. All the same kind of men, blond, not to tall, striking pale blue eyes, with this remarkable and at first maybe a wee bit naive but ultimatly happy idealistical sparkle, of a boy going out into the world to serve his country and fight for freedom and prosperity, simply doing the right thing – what was expected of him. I don’t think anyone ever asked these boys if it was really what they wanted to do with their lives, it was what was expected of them: to man up! Chin up, and keep marching! And they did. But that’s just my opinion. I so thouroughly admire their integrity and sence of duty and responsibility. These beautiful young men, headstrong and quick to take offence, independent, stubborn, bossy, but as cute as a button. And actually shy to the bone, getting red ears if you looked at them for too long, or got too close. These men, after their tour, you feel this touch of a broken soul in them, a hint of too many things seen that sometimes shines through those marvellous smiles. A sadness, quickly coverd up. As if they knew, and had seen too much, too much to tell anyone… some of it I later learned myself being a smokediving firefighter and EMT myself for 25 years at the Swiss Federal Railway battalion, always being the first to be called in after suicides, and “accidents”, and then having to tell the families why a closed coffin was preferable, and not quite telling them the truth of why we needed DNA samples of their lost family members, some I’ll never know. But it was what he didn’t tell me, that told me all I needed to know, when is eyes looked right through me, into the void. A glare. When he just lay there, breathing differently (no sexual innuendo intended for once).

I showed Danny my Switzerland, the lakes, the mountains, the rivers on his days/weeks off… we spend days just walking and talking and more. My first overnight hiking, trough the Wallis and Engadin were with him. And yes, the first naughty too. He taught me too surf and dive with scuba-gear. I taught him how to snowboard like a real Swissboy and how to properly eat a Cheese Fondue.

Anyway, when he talked about his home in Watertown NY, that island state park (don’t remember the name) he went camping with his dad, I was there with him.

I loved to watch him, and those sparkles in his eyes, while he talked about his family, his friends in High School, his pranks… The little dimples that formed on his cheeks when he smiled…
I used to read in German to him, so he would learn how certain things were pronounced… He then would read his two favorite books to me in English. Zen & the art of motorcycle maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig, and on the road by Jack Kerouac. Still my favorite books. He wanted to show me so much, of his country, his life…

To cheesy? Well… stop reading then.. And BTW.. I am Swiss, that’s what we are, cheesy people.

Later, I even discovered that he had asked my dad to be allowed to ask me to marry him… My dad didn’t like american’s, he was a little boy in WWII in Italy and saw things he never shared with us, which must have been “unpleasant”. But he was impressed by this guys guts and determination, and agreed.

Danny died before that. On a sunny, warm Sunday in may, the 15. it was the warmest day measured until then (Funny the things we remember) We were on Holiday with two of his friends. It was a diving accident. He drowned. Or maybe he had stopped breathing before the air went out. I don’t know. And I don’t want to know… The cave collapsed and all I remember is that pink cloud out of his mask and his thumb sign to me and Freckles. UP! Freckles turned me around and we started the emergency resurfacing procedure. He held my arms so hard I bruised. No one ever looked at me that way before and ever again. He held my buoyancy-compensator with such a firm grip, that I gave in. I just gave in…

I’l never forget Danny’s eyes… they could change from that ice clear pale grayish-blue of a frozen lake in the alps, looking calm and peacefull at the surface, but so imfinite, I knew I could lose myself in them, if I dove in to deep – to the bright blue skye on a crispy cold and cloudless winter day… On February 23. 2011 he would have been 60 years old… (which is why I wrote this) When I think hard, I can still remember how his kisses felt and his skin tasted.

Today I am thankful for the love I was allowed to share, and for the strength I found, where I didn’t expect it. And for my friends who kept me going after that…

And I am thankful for that one night, 19 years ago, I took a cab, after a hard night-shift at work… I never took a cab from this company before… That night I looked into the most peaceful and loving grey eyes I had ever seen, and I knew I was finally home… We got married on February 25. 1994.

And you know what? He still looks at me with the same amazement and love in his eyes…

So if I got to go today, I’ll go overwhelmed to have had that luck, not once but twice!

Yes, I can say I am happy now!

A hui hou kakou Danny…