27-30 July 2012
Prologue (or: how I became an Kickstarter backer of ‘I Am I’)
How to begin a blog about this crazy tour de force? Actually, everything started with the Big Bang (13.7 Billion years ago) and so tells us the theme song (by the Barenaked Ladies) of the outstanding comedy series ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (TBBT). It broke into my life about three years ago when – while walking along a corridor at my institute – I noticed colleagues laughing loudly. Curiousity-driven I investigated the source of their amusement and found them watching a comedy series. A comedy series about physicists(!) which I found somehow weird. For sure I knew that physicists are funny but would a broad TV audience share this amusement without being totally confused? But maybe, that’s the point. Another peculiarity of the series is the physics (though more a ‘background’ than essential part of the story). It is oh-so authentic with ‘real’ formulas on whiteboards and even up to date with current discussions in the scientific community – thanks (as I learned) to a scientific advisor, Prof. David Saltzberg, a physicist at UCLA. This first encounter with TBBT was brief. I watched no further episodes and just mentioned the series to friends as something remarkably funny. But a few weeks later, I celebrated my 40th birthday and received the first season on DVD as a gift from one of these friends. I got infected. I was continuously watching TBBT during my vacations 2009/2010 (it has advantages to be born ‘between the years’). And I could not stop laughing when I heard in episode 1 x 11 Sheldon’s story about getting sick abroad at a ‘Heidelberg Institute’ due the bad local cuisine. How did the writers know about our former canteen??? I had to find out and contacted David Saltzberg (whose research is close to the scope of our institute). This finally led to an interview with him for the Max Planck Journal during a travel to Kansas and California in May 2010.
That’s – in brief – the TBBT story. But what about ‘I Am I’? It was one year later, again between the years on my birthday 28 Dec 2010, when I came across that Jocelyn Towne (spouse of Simon Helberg who plays Howard Wolowitz on TBBT) was going to produce a film titled ‘I Am I’ and that she started a fundraising campaign via Kickstarter. Looking at the evolution of the backing procedure, I stated that they would need a ‘Bragg peak’ in order to reach the goal: to collect at least 100,000 $ until 8 Jaunuary 2011. I felt motivated to support this production and my motivation was twofold: first and more general, I liked the way how independent productions can become real via such kind of fundraising. Second and more peculiar, I was somehow moved by the story’s aspect about someone who loses his memory since my mother is suffering from dementia. So, I donated some amount and was going to become an associate producer with an invitation to the cast & crew screening.
The fundraising was finally successful but it was very exciting up to the last day and the donations indeed behaved like a Bragg peak (as I predicted) which added some geeky fun (at least for me). In summer 2011 the shooting was finished and post-production started. Jocelyn and her team held the backers informed via newsletters which were always a pleasure to read. The film btw. was not the only offspring – in May 2012 Jocelyn and Simon could welcome their daughter Adeline.
I never really took into account being able to attend the cast & crew screening on 28 July but when I received the invitation a couple of weeks ago I thought: “It would be a crazy jet-set tour over a weekend – but why not?” To add even more fun to this travel I decided to stop in New York on Friday 27 July in order to see Jim Parsons (the actor portraying Sheldon on TBBT) as Elwood P. Dowd in ‘Harvey’ on Broadway (Roundabout Theater Company) – one of my favourite comedies. [Footnote: I like the live performances at theatres since my high school days in Bochum when our German teacher got us cheap tickets for the Schauspielhaus on a regular basis. I remember well the plays by Brecht, v. Kleist, Molière, Schiller and others.]
Everything got squeezed between a song recital at MPIK given by students of my singing teacher (where I premiered with Brahms and Reger songs) and my duties in the following week – but finally it turned out to fit into the tight schedule as the following blogs will report (structured like a well-konwn Wagner opera): Continue with Day 1 – Rabbit, white, 6’ 3.5” tall