Archive for January, 2006

Depeche Who?

After almost 30 years of being around, Depeche Mode still manages to fucking rule. If punk isn’t dead, new wave is absolute mainstream, single-handedly supported by this band. The last time I’ve seen the whole sports paleis (hey that’s the official english name) on its feet like that was at the R.E.M. concert, which was without a doubt the best concert in many years to come. From Dave Gahan singing how "this is free love" to a completely silent crowd, or Everybody, from front to back (and A Lot of people go in the sports paleis), raising up their arms and shouting "Reach Out and Touch Faith!", it all just gave me goosebumps.

The set consisted mostly of metallic painted space-craft stuff, it reminded me more of Daft Punk than Depeche Mode. To the stage-right side of the stage (right hand side when facing crowd) there was a big orb-ball thing decorated with LEDs that could display text. Every piece of decoration, including the funkadelic standards for the keyboards, had clusters of LEDs with the brightness of a decent spotlight. These bundles each consisted of LEDs of every color so amazing effects were possible. The whole set gave sort of a 70’s electropop-look, but once the lights kicked in, they were pretty much all you saw.

Usually there is a gigantic LED screen behind the stage to provide background effects. These screens can do anything a white screen and a projector can, only far better. Because LEDs can glow at different brightness, smooth objects are no problem, and with the invention of equally bright colored LEDs, the sky is the limit. This is Belgian patented technology, by the way. At the Depeche Mode concerts, there were 4 screens, hanging at different height, and of different dimensions. They could be hung crooked, and one of them, a relatively narrow and high one, had a stretched image, so you had the illusion it was hanging with one side further to the back. All this made it seem the screens were hung up totally randomly, and a few times they let each screen display multiple images and letting them overlap, they could make you think there were far more screens hanging up. Who ever thinks of these things, is an absolute genius.

Concerning sound, the person responsible was just as outstanding in his work. The first magnificent move was boosting the drum. You have to admit, Depeche Mode is pretty calm music, so it’s hard to really get a crowd going with it. Turning up the bass and using it to sort of hang the music up on, makes it seem like you’re listening to old school minimalistic house, only with songs that you love so much that you were willing to pay for a concert. To me, the highlight of the concert was the song ‘personal jesus’, which, with the buffed bass and added guitar solo (yes, guitars), boomed right through your body and unified you with everyone in the room, without it mattering if they were Timberlake-obsessed schoolgirls or 3rd generation ex-"I lost my wallet, it’s on the floor here somewhere"-type dancing new wave freaks.

Down side on the concert, however, were the sometimes plainly lame songs on the tracklist, and the moodkilling silence in between. The woman with the guitar and mohawk-hat was a great artist, but letting her sing a few songs was a Bad idea. They were slow, they were tame, and she made a face like she actually took them seriously.

A couple days ago we had to build a party for Telenet, a local cable provider. After having to deal with a french crew chief and one problem after another I was asking my colleague, ‘Remind me why I do this job for 5 euro an hour, again?’ Well now I remember.

 

Concerning my 2nd source of income, unemployment funding, things are starting to get a little tight. The policy changed and instead of having to get a stamp 2 times a month, they will now check every 3 months or so if I have been trying to find work. That sucks really hard because if I try and find work, I actually risk Getting work. I did some math and on a full year, the state gets about as much from me as I get from the state. Provided that I keep up this average, of course. So in my eyes, there really is nothing wrong, aside from a set of new rules that wull put me and my colleagues in a big fat load of shit.

What I want to do, is rent a place in Ghent, so I don’t have to sleep over somewhere each time I’m being dropped off at 3 in the morning, after work. Then I could try and find some more companies with the same policy as RoadRunner and start doing this job more professionally.

Of course, this will have to wait until after I do all that other shit I still want to do.

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Million Miles Away

Yes! Work! Money! Sweet… precious… paper money. Hard cash. Wealth. Riches. Assassination. Treatery. World cleansing. No more fags, jews, or fascists. Away with both americans and russians.

No, seriously. It’s great to be back to work again. Oh how I missed the clattering of scaff pipes, the smell of motor oil, the aching of little wounds in your hands that don’t heal and the iching of those in your feet that are infecting. And most of all, it felt amazing to see that my colleagues were happy to see me again. I realize it sounds dumb but I really was pleasantly surprised. I was hardly any good at any job I had before (considering what jobs that were I don’t care too much), let alone appreciated by my co-workers. Besides, popularity of any kind is completely new to me. Does this make me a slut?

 

My friend got himself a kitten! He named it ‘Snuggles’ and it assaults me when I sleep over. He lives by himself in a small place so I bet it’s really nice for him to have someone or -thing to come home to. It really is a happy, playful little kitten. Completely pitch black, so it’s hard not to kick it in the dark.

If I ever get a cat/dog I’m either naming it Mormel (Vermin) or Gedrocht (Moster, Freak of Nature). Or any human or animal bodypart works just as well. I just think it’s amusing to call an animal any revolting name, with all the love in the world. If you curse your dog’s mother to hell with a sweet voice while petting him, he’ll be happy. The opposite works just as well, if you tell him what a good job he did, yelling and shouting, he’ll feel like he’s done something wrong. And of course, it’d be absolutely perfect if my pet actually Is a freak of nature. 2 mis-made animaloids under one roof. Somebody call Korn, I got the title for their next single.

 

Well I have to say I’m pretty much sick and tired of winter. It’ll be getting colder the coming days and already I’m cussing when I go out. (and I’m going like, all hypothermal ‘n shit, and almost die, and must crawl into a deer’s corpse to survive.) Fuck. Seriously. Everybody’s pissing about global warming and when we get winters like this, they go "see? our climate is fucked up." Jeez, make up your damn mind. Besides, I seem to be the only one that realizes that "mother nature" is well on its way of permanent death and it can’t be turned around. Not with the human population constantly growing and simply not caring about urang-utangs in some jungle. I’m the first to agree that is terrible, to the point of sickening, but that’s the way it is. But don’t feel bad, human technology, namely Jack Wolfskin and The North Face will keep you warm, so you don’t have to face the consequences of your lazyness, and neither will I. If we can wield ourselves the power to play god, as we have, we’re unstoppable, especially by details like deforestation and the extinction of silverback gorillas. Unless we get nuked either by ourselves or some metroid. Which would suck, because then we’re all dead. And despite what you say, you don’t want to die. You will scream and cry and run for your pitty lives mwu ha ha. And I will be right along your side, screaming and crying with you.

But That Doesn’t Have Anthing To Do with the fact that winter can pack its shit and take off already. Especially belgian winter, which isn’t that cold but fucking Wet. Grey, wet, cold,… Yuck.

 

"Women. Even when they have digital layouts, I still don’t understand them." –Piro, MegaTokyo.

The only rule of female behaviour is that common logic does not apply to it. More often than not you will have abolutely no clue why you’re talking to an angry face all of a sudden. Which is good! It’s great! because if she tells you, you will notice that her current emotional status is the end result of a long string of assumptions, based upon a single sentence of yours, the facial expression on your face 15 minutes after it, and the time of the goddamn month, completely ignored by the fact that you mean well and maybe, Just Maybe didn’t mean it like that. In that case I rather not know.

Okay, I’ll admit, I do manage to fuck up occasionally, and sometimes people really do have a reason to get mad at me. But assuming the worst whenever I do something they don’t get, doesn’t help them get anywhere but on the big, colorful pile of people who say I’m an ass because they never bothered to ask Why. And to be honest, I like that pile right where it is. If something really bothers me about them, I will let them know, and not give subtle hints showing I don’t "want to be seen with you anymore" or something the like. Honestly. I wish they wouldn’t assume so, because they only manage to confuse me.


professionalism has struck!

I just got a letter from my employer, saying there are going to be some significant changes in how RoadRunner works. Things are going to get a lot better organized, with efficient communication between the crew and the office. Security gear will be provided, and will have to be worn. The scaff course will now take a full week, and the opportunity to join other courses will be given.

I’ve been waiting almost a year for this letter. Communication between crew and office has always been disastrous and I always thought that it would eventually be the reason of me quitting. Let’s hope this actually changes things. Someone at the office had to get fired for it so I think they really do mean what they’re saying.

Furthermore, some of the "hard-core" crew members got a permanent raise, but I’m not one of them.

Hell no, I got Two! I will now make more per hour, and will get a small bonus every time I go to work. Fuck yah. In a way it’s only logic, considering how absolutely shitty the payment is, but on the other hand it is so great to get some appreciation for your work. If it were up to me I’d be working there for the rest of my days.

I got a message asking if I wanted to work on the Depeche Mode stage, which will be built in Antwerp this weekend. In my returning message (aside from the obvious ‘you betcha’) I asked if there was still room at the follow-spot (the Huge, heavy spots at the back of a theater to cast extra light on the performers) course, and they Actually Sent a Message Back, saying ‘We’ll let you know when and where.’ That almost doesn’t make any sense, usually these messages are plainly ignored. If this is an indication of how things will be in the future, count me in.

 

On a side note, since newyear I’m officially done with the army. Not that they realize, because I got a phonecall 2 days ago about some further training I was supposed to get. Well, I’m sorry, but they shouldn’t have fucked me over like they did. And I’m not talking about the "pick up your soap, boy"-scene in the showers (that was even mildly enjoyable), I’m talking about them not even having any record at all that I did my medical training. Someone fucked up, and now, officially, I never even took the training at all. Direct result: no procedure was triggered that would have subscribed me in further training, so I kinda sorta fell out of the boat. Adding to that, at basics training I was given exactly half of the material of the rest of the volunteers (1 pair of boots, 2 tee-shirts, 2 pairs of pants and so on) while I had to perform just as good as the rest of them.

I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed the time I spent in the army. But the political games, the days of cleaning tents, working out and doing nothing (which is the case at my unit), are just not my thing. Hell, the whole concept of the military is against just about everything I believed in. So basically, I got to play with their guns, got to camp in their tents, got a very nice medical training (although I can forget about any degree in that), and evantually did not show up for work a single day. All of this paid for, of course. Cha Ching.

So, they can keep their dogtags and beret Which They Have Still Not Given To Me, I’m out.


Johnny was a weirdo.

Still on my way back from the emotional peak on the trip, life has gone pretty much to the way it was. Work is very, very slow (not the season), and I have not much better to do than sit at home or hang around in Ghent all day. The shitty thing is, many of my friends, who are still in school, have examns right about now, so they are all excited and want to hear my Crocodile Dundee-flavored stories but right now they don’t have the time, they have to study. Girlfriend: same story. That sure sucks.

I greatly underestimated what a rush it is to go on a trip by yourself, and see and experience all those things. After 2 weeks I was pretty much burnt out. Sitting by myself may have had something to do with it, though. Nevertheless, going "wow" a dozen times a day is exhausting.

So now we’re back in Belgium, where absolutely nothing has changed and there is no news other than more strikes and scandals among our top politicians, which isn’t news at all. I have come to the conclusion that I like Ghent, though. When we drove through Antwerp and Brussels I kept thinking to myself what a horrible place to live Belgium really is. But Ghent, is okay. It’s charming, in a way.

 

A nice work has recently been added to the street art here in Ghent. It’s a stencil the size of a display window, saying "WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MAKE THINGS BETTER?" It’s detailed, finished nicely, critical and carries a message, yet still I don’t really like it. It reminds me of another stencil I saw,saying

I AM PART OF THE:

0  PROBLEM
0  SOLUTION

What bothers me most about these, is that this "problem" remains absolutely unidentified. They are just designed to work on your conscience, you can fill in whatever the problem is, yourself. Inflation? Globalization? No one knows. It’s easy being critical like that. No need to be informed, no one to disagree with you and start a discussion. It is just a sum of unfounded, unspecific accusations. But ey, it does look good, doesn’t it.

 

I realize very well I’m repeating myself, but it just doesn’t stop leaving an impression on me: again someone in my not-so-immediate surrounding has died. A familie that we’re friends with, their daughter had an accident. She survived, her boyfriend did not. They were together for about one year.

A friend of my sister’s had an accident with his bike; another friend of my stepsister’s, I don’t know the details;  a friend’s brother’s newborn child; a colleague of my father’s had a heart attack; my friend’s grandmother; the boyfriend of a friend-of-a-friend was found dead in his couch, probably suicide; the same family mentioned before lost a grandmother; now this.

It’s fucking with my head, seriously. All in about 7 months. There is only a few of these people that I have actually seen in real life. It affects me nonetheless because a lot of my close friends and relatives have to deal with it. And I feel so powerless, you can’t just tell these people it’s alright, because it’s not. Mostly they just want to tell about it, so I listen. If they don’t, I have no clue what to say that could make them feel any better. So I shut up.

 

I went to see ‘Jarhead’ with a friend the other day. I liked it very much, but if you’re not at all interested in the military, don’t bother watching it. It’s not that fantastic.

I think it displayed rather nicely what would happen if I would go to war. Supposing I make it through combat training in the first place, I would very likely go absolutely nuts there. That is also the reason why I chose to join the medical section: we’re just not all cut out to be killers. I’m rather proud to say that I’m not. Yes, I am a pussy.

Many people think they could kill a man. I’ve heard 20 year old girls say "I could easily shoot someone." Those people were obviously never in a situation where they actually Could. The simple knowledge of knowing that a twitch of your one finger can end someone’s live, his past, his future, his dreams and his happiness, makes your nads crawl up. You get used to it, of course, which makes it all the more dangerous.

 

To kill boredom, and to welcome the norwegian lady hostess I stayed with, who might be following me to Belgium, I’m busying myself with a small project. It’s not anything too impressive, but I’m pretty excited about it. I’ll write it down when I’m done, wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise. The friend that was originally coming offered his assistance, and with the two of us I think we can make this absolutely great.


Essay time!

Okay kids, I hope everyone had fun on our trip to Lapland, but now it’s time to write down, what we have learned! That’s right, let’s write an essay about the things that you liked most, or least, full of subjective generalizations and unfounded assumptions. Ask your daddy what that means if you want to know.


Our Trip To Norway

by maarten de pue

 

1. Transportation.

  • 24 hour bus rides are not as comfortable as they sound, and I realise very well they don’t sound comfortable at all. Counting down the hours has absolutely no use, at least not after 1/3 of the journey, where your ass is starting to get sore and you realise this is going to take forever no matter what part you’ve had already.

It is a good idea, if possible, to take a seat way back in the bus, so you can stretch your legs over the seats once in a while without bothering other travellers who need to pass. Busses are rarely full enough for the back seat to be occupied by more than 2 people.

 

Bring music, and perhaps something to cover your eyes with. It will make it easier for you to catch some sleep, and you can shut out crying children or hyper-active travellers.

 

The sign on the door of the toilet says ‘Sit down. Both men and women.’ Closer examination of the sanitary will make you break this rule without the slightest of remorse. So if you like your feet dry, and if you don’t want the person coming after you giving you the evil eye when he comes out, go while the bus is standing still. If possible, go somewhere else, but realise that the bus leaves with or without you, and probably With your luggage.

  • Train stations are full of automatic ticket distributers, but I prefer someone to talk to and ask questions. You won’t have to stare at the screens like an idiot, or have to ask information from somebody who is likely to only respond in grunts or who will stalk you for the rest of the trip.

Long distance trains in Norway have numbered seats. Knowing this will save you a lot of trouble and potential embarassment. Examine your ticket closely, anything that resembles a seat number must be taken into account.

  • Bulgy packs are an absolute bitch. Steel shovels on the outside don’t help, unless you like having all eyes on you trying to cram your stuff into the impossibly small compartment Over People’s Heads, your shovel leaving a nice deep scratch in the paintwork.

 

2. Local Money, Language and Habits

  • Whenever approaching someone, ask if they speak english. 99.9% of all norwegians do speak it, but they always get confused if you just start talking to them, making you have to repeat yourself.

It’s fun to see the language change as you travel. It does from belgian, over dutch to german, which is still a lot like belgian, on to scandinavian languages which are hands down incomprehensible. In a translating dictionary, norwegian and dutch are much alike, but when spoken they’re a world apart. If you concentrate you can recognize a word now and then, so you at least know what they’re talking about.

     

  • Exchanging some money to foreign currency – in this case norwegian money- before you leave is always good, but since Norway has distribution machines all over the place, like in shops or even the Mc Donald’s, there’s no need to bring a lot. All you need is a bank account with ‘Maestro’ service, easily checked on your card. If you’re european, anyway.
  •  

  • Whatever you’ve been told about norwegian drunks or not drinking before the host goes ‘skol’, don’t take it too seriously. Norwegians are Normal people, with Normal habits. I know, I was amazed, too. In my experience, the few that I’ve met and talked to were very kind and interesting people. They don’t care what you do for a living or how school’s going. They ask you what interests you in life, as if they want to get to Know you. They share their vision on things with you, making you feel like you learned more from a 15 minute conversation than years of mindless talking to people who don’t care and just want to tell you how their day was, or which lifestyle they think is wrong.

 

3. Clothes, Gear, Camping, Misc.

  • I took 3 sweaters, 3 pairs of pants, and a bunch of other stuff like tee shirts and socks. Looking back I think I packed too much, since there was a washing machine just about everywhere I went. In case of longer camping or lower quality youth hostels, this would have been about right I suppose. Lessons I’ve learned for the future are, change socks more often and bring warmer shoes.

The whole 3-layer theory (ventilation, water/windproof, isolation) didn’t make much sense. Probably because it wasn’t all that cold or windy. In the end I just walked outside with just a sweater (aside from the obvious clothing, duh) like I do at home, no matter how cold it is.

 

Making the outside layer of the shoes waterproof with a water-repellant chemical has proven to be a great move. The outside of my shoes used to get wet, cooling my feet down without actually letting any water through. Keeping the whole shoe dry, the stuff I put on has kept my feet warm and cosy.

  • "A roadie’s leatherman is the extent of his penis." Cinsidering how we often compare leathermans to see who has the biggest, this makes much sense. And on this trip, it has yet again made my life a whole bunch easier. From busting open coconuts to killing and skinning bears, my trusty leatherman will save the world one day. And I don’t care that someone there had a bigger one than me. No sir, I don’t. Not one bit.

The kindling that I gathered in advance and carried with me was a good idea. I remember some lessons about making things waterproof with wax and carrying moss around now, but it didn’t occur to me when I was packing, I just figured out on my own. Not that I was able to build a decent fire, though. The wood was all frozen and wet. The shovel is a nice tool but since I didn’t need to chop wood or dig much, it served mostly as additional weight and a fitting background for my ‘Studio Brussel’ stencil. If I won’t be going camping or if there will be no need for a fire next time, I’m leaving it at home.

 

As expected I had no need for the medkits I carried, but I’m glad I took them anyhow. You never know, better safe than sorry. It’d be dumb if I had to stop a bleeding and I would know how, but I just don’t have the equipment on me.

 

The biggest mistake I made during preparation was not asking for advice when buying a backpack. Folding up my sleeping bag, tent and isolation mat took about half the time I needed to stuff them into my pack or strap them to the sides. The way I’m treating it, it won’t last very long.

  • Next time, with a better backpack, I might try hitchiking for transportation. Also, the lack of an interrail pass turned out to be a pretty great miss.

 

So that kind of wraps it up. All in all it’s been an experience of a lifetime. The guy that started it all asked if I had caught the addiction when he saw me, and I just laughed and answered ‘Hell yah.’

The first period, before newyear, I was sorry that no one could have come with me. The second part, I was mostly thankful for that.

I’m not sure if I’m supposed to miss it all so much, I’m kinda hoping it’ll pass before I do some Really stupid shit. It’s never too late for me to fuck something up.

Either way, I’ll be back. Possibly sooner than expected. Possibly later, but I don’t want to think about that.


Mountains, Pizza and the Wardrobe.

Yeah yeah there’s always temperatures colder than the last and there’s always people who’ve had it worse. Duh. Even Belgium gets colder. However, I don’t see how walking 3 blocks to school can compare to spending 2 days in the wilderniss. Besides, this isn’t a forum.

In other words criticism is appreciated, fuck you very much.

 

I’ve been home for one afternoon and I want to go back already. It hit me when I got off the bus just how ugly Belgium really is. I feel guilty for advising people to come visit us. I think I just might go live in Norway in the future.

 

Newyear for me was absolutely great. If it wasn’t the best newyear I’ve had so far, it’s a close tie. I got hugged by people who I don’t know (blame alcohol), joined in conversations in a language I didn’t understand, and saw the whole town light fortunes worth of fireworks. From the balcony there you could just see the whole town being blanketed in fire and explosions ‘n stuff.

The whole time I’ve been here has been strange in a very comforable way. The people here don’t even speak my language yet I feel more related to them than to any belgian. Hell, even the-girl-that-I-was-staying-with’s parents turned out to be great. Can’t say that ever happened in Belgium before.

The girl (let’s respect some privacy) herself is not one bit less great. She’s just been fantastic for the whole time I’ve been here. I don’t think I thanked her nearly enough for letting me live with her. I only stayed for 1 week but it felt as if I’d been living there for a month. We just… clicked, as if we’d known eachother for years. Her place was the closest to a home that I’ve experienced in a very long time. I miss it already. Hell if it wasn’t for my girlfriend I probably would’ve tried to find me a roadie company to get a job and my own place. My girlfriend has stopped me from doing many stupid things in the past, however clever they seemed at the moment. I suppose I’ll learn in the future that this is no exception.

Either way, I want to do this more often! If it isn’t Norway, I can find another place to disturb. America is still a primary target.

 

So, looking back, I’m happy to say that this has been one of the most exciting experiences in my life. I can see myself actually live there one day. Norway is a beautiful coutry, the only crappy things about it are the qwerty keyboards and complete lack of competent engineers.

Yes, Engineers. The short time I was there, our bus broke, our train almost derailed (in fact it was the freight train just before us, its locomotive ending up in a pond), and a boat and a replacement bus respectively went dead in one and the same trip. You can’t help but wonder if all Norwegian engineers emigrated to Russia or something.

Also, Norway is damn expensive. But, to compensate, they have cool money, with holes in them. I stood and marvelled at every krone I spent, which helps ease the pain of realising I was getting ripped off. It looked so awesome, even, that I had to fight the urge to spend it on rubbish like fireworks or slots machines. Something many norwegians couldn’t resist, apparently, which is great for the IDF, or International Darts Federation, because they own two machines which fund the whole norwegian branch. The government is trying to make it legal now to steal that money away and keep it for themselves, something which dart players don’t appreciate too much.

 

I should probably go to bed now, I haven’t slept properly in 36 hours. My mirror image scares me and so does my body odor. I’m sure I’ll think of totally awesome amazing stuff that I just Have to write down, later on.