The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Monday, October 25, 2004

Ulrich Haarbürste: A Great Storyteller

First of all, I must give credit where it is due. I never would have stumbled across Haarbürste's stories if it had not been for Rita's blog, Diary-a. That being said, this is the greatest fucking site I've ever visited.

Rita seemed disturbed by Haarbürste's work. In her post where she shares the link, she writes, "It has to be one of the most fucked up things I have ever read." True, perhaps. But it's also brilliant.

Ulrich Haarbürste writes about one topic and one topic alone: Roy Orbison being completely wrapped in clingfilm (saran wrap). As if that topic is not enough, I have compiled the top six things I love about these very strange stories.

  1. The cast of characters. There's always Roy Orbison, of course. Not surprising. Then there's Ulli, the author. Again, not surprising. But then there's Jetta the terrapin. Okay, this is bizarre and genius. A man with a pet turtle is one thing. But then to name the turtle Jetta. I frickin' love that.

  2. After Roy Orbison is completely wrapped in clingfilm, Ulli always makes the announcement, "Roy Orbison is completely wrapped in clingfilm." The act of wrapping Roy Orbison in clingfilm is not enough. No, it is not complete until Ulli says it out loud. That is great.

  3. The ease with which Ulli convinces whomever is in control of the situation that Roy Orbison must be wrapped in clingfilm. In Roy in Clingfilm Story 1, Roy himself agrees to be wrapped in clingfilm to settle a bet. In Roy in Clingfilm Story 2, Ulli instantly convinces Roy's tour manager to let Ulli wrap up Roy's unconscious body as a way to save Roy's life. In Roy in Clingflim Story 3, Ulli and Roy are held at gunpoint, and Ulli convinces the gunmen to allow him to wrap up Roy in clingfilm. (I won't mention the other scenarios--I don't want to wreck the stories for you.) The beauty of all of this is that Ulli need only to make the suggestion, and the course of action--wrapping Roy in clingfilm--is instantly agreed upon. It should also be noted that Roy Orbison is never wrapped against his will. He always agrees to the wrapping.

  4. The preface to Roy in Clingfilm in Space: "This tale was specially commissioned by the 'Zoo Nation' science-fiction fanzine. Hitherto I have kept my tales of Roy in clingfilm strictly within the realms of plausibility but this scenario may be more fantastic than usual. Then again - who can say? - Ulli" Do you understand the many implications in this statement? First of all, someone commissioned Ulli to write a "Roy in Clingfilm" story. OH. MY. GOD. Secondly, Ulli considers the other stories to be plausible. I'm giggling right now.

  5. The presense of clingfilm everywhere. In Story 2, Ulli has clingfilm in the trunk of his car. In Story 3, while in a pet store, Ulli "happens" to have clingfilm with him. In Space, there is a "Clingfilm Stowage Compartment where several hundred of the translucent rolls of joy glint softly in the cabin lights" on the spaceship. And best of all, in Roy in Clingfilm at Christmas, Ulli reveals the true extent of his clingfilm capacities. We have gotten to the point where Roy agrees to be wrapped in clingfilm. I will now allow Ulli's words to speak for themselves: "I bow my assent and make to the kitchen. But when I open the cupboard I turn ashen and begin to quiver. For the cupboard is bare. The cling-film has been used, all the rolls of it. In alarm, I return to the living-room and open the other clingfilm cupboards but it is the same story. I check the cache in my bedroom wardrobe and again there is none. I ransack the entire house from top to bottom. I look for the emergency rolls I keep hidden in the toilet cistern and inside lampshades. Everywhere there is the same horrible dearth of cling-film. My palms sweat. I wish to die." Do you see the beauty of this passage? Ulli goes to the kitchen to get clingfilm. Of course. That's where anyone would keep clingfilm. But then he goes to the "other clingfilm cupboards." That's some fucking good shit.

  6. These stories stay relentlessly in the moment. However, we get one glimpse of Ulli's past in Story 2: "I studied at a catering college for some years but was forced to leave for reasons I prefer not to disclose." The implications here are staggering.

As a writer myself, I am humbled by Haarbürste's storytelling ability. I feel that I have much to learn from him. His mixture of the truly bizarre with the completely mundane is wonderful. I also appreciate his ability to keep his stories focused on the topic at hand. He does not concern himself with explaining every little thing. For instance, why would Roy Orbison be walking around residential Dusseldorf, Germany? Who cares? If the story is going to happen, he needs to be doing just that, and that's enough for Haarbürste.

I have some lessons to learn from this genius. I will do my best to absorb them.


  • Man, oh, man, oh, man... who can live up to that? I'm going to have to take this Ulli guy out!

    By Blogger Dan, at 7:21 PM, October 25, 2004  

  • "For sundry reasons I happen to have several rolls of Cling-film on my person."

    Who can deny the brilliance of that sentence? This man is a genius, and utterly insane. That's a pretty potent combination.

    By Blogger Fyse, at 7:49 PM, October 25, 2004  

  • Oh, and did you hear the song?! Truly mind-blowing...

    By Blogger Fyse, at 7:53 PM, October 25, 2004  

  • I'm afraid... very afraid...

    By Blogger Newell, at 1:30 AM, October 26, 2004  

  • I love things like his stories that are so simple, yet filled with interesting details and complexity. Like a Count Basie solo.

    By Blogger Wheelson, at 1:59 PM, October 26, 2004  

  • I don't want my little Danny boy getting himself into trouble. Ulli seems very creepy. You should stick with your harmless funny instead of trying to out-do Ulli's creepy...strangeness.

    Fyse, There are so many great sentences. How about this one: "So as not to make the ordeal unpleasant for him we make small talk on topical subjects, Roy somewhat muffled." Oh my, that's wonderful. At your prompting, I did listen to the song. That was something, alright.

    Newell, Don't be scared. He's far, far away, and you're not Roy Orbison...are you?

    Wheelson, Yes, exactly! His sentence structure is so clear it's almost childlike, but the bizarre tidbits dropped around nonchalantly... brilliant!

    By Blogger Oz, at 6:36 PM, October 26, 2004  

  • I love this next bit too...

    "Some soothing unguent has been applied to his face and slices of cucumber have been placed over his trademark dark glasses."

    I love the repeated use of 'his trademark dark glasses' and the way he uses it here is genius. A simple detail, but conjuring such a vivid image. It's the ability to pick on that crucial detail that marks him as a genuinely talented writer.

    There really is a lot to learn in these few simple stories. I could wax lyrical about almost every sentence.

    Do you know anything else about him?

    By Blogger Fyse, at 7:45 PM, October 26, 2004  

  • No, last time I checked, I was not Roy Orbison. Thank goodness that I am not. The last thing I need is an obsessive German fan who fantasizes about wrapping me in plastic. I can only fathom what that would do to my trade mark loud shirts.

    By Blogger Newell, at 8:47 PM, October 26, 2004  

  • How about this one: "'I would rather die than wrap you in brown parcel paper.' I am broken and pitiful."

    I don't know anything else about him. I did a google search, but I didn't come up with anything except bunches of links to his website. I think I might collect his stories together and put them in some sort of binding so that I can give the collection as Christmas presents.

    By Blogger Oz, at 8:50 PM, October 26, 2004  

  • I agree. I love the way Ulli writes. It's very formal. And his use of "also" I like. I took German in college and high school, and they pronounce it "all zo" (rhymes with toe). The simplicity belies the genius. Re-reading the stories, I felt compelled to try write a Roy Orbison in cling-film one myself. I also enjoy the use of "Capital!" and "Ach!"

    Awesome writing.

    (Posted by Flaming Cheeto)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:32 PM, October 26, 2004  

  • Newell, I'm sure your shirts would look wonderful once wrapped in clingfilm.

    Cheeto, I love the "Ach!" too!

    By Blogger Oz, at 9:39 PM, October 26, 2004  

  • Hi Oz - I have to clarify that the writings are even more clever than I initially indicated. Ulli and his fantastic cling-film fantasies are actually the brainchild of Michael Kelley - if you scroll backward on the URL for the cling-film stories, you can access a multitude of other writings by this wonderful, hilarious guy:


    By Blogger Rita, at 9:51 AM, October 27, 2004  

  • Hi Oz - I have to clarify that the writings are even more clever than I initially indicated. Ulli and his fantastic cling-film fantasies are actually the brainchild of Michael Kelley - if you scroll backward on the URL for the cling-film stories, you can access a multitude of other writings by this wonderful, hilarious guy:


    By Blogger Rita, at 10:21 AM, October 27, 2004  

  • I had a quick look at the rest of his site as well, but didn't find anything to compare the cling-film sagas. Maybe I was too quick to judge. I'll have another look.

    By Blogger Fyse, at 11:54 AM, October 27, 2004  

  • Rita, I noticed that the root of his url was michaelkelly, and I wondered if they were one and the same. I haven't gone back to the root to look at any other stories, though. I'm not sure I want to. "Ulli"'s are so perfect! Thanks again for bringing them to my attention.

    Fyse, Your comment makes me even less inclined to check out his other stuff. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

    By Blogger Oz, at 4:26 PM, October 27, 2004  

  • See, I didn’t think it was creepy. But I did think it was frightfully creative and fun. I decided not to look for hidden messages but to just enjoy it for what it was (at least what I think it was)…creative and fun. I didn’t discern any meanness anywhere and that, I thought, was pretty cool too. Oz, you did a nice job of advocating for Ulli… I’ve gotta get me some ‘a that clingfilm. It did so much for Roy Orbison I’d like to see what it can do for me… ~;^)

    By Blogger foxymama, at 5:27 PM, October 29, 2004  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:01 AM, November 22, 2009  

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