Archive for October, 2006

Forgive me. I hadn’t recognised you.

There is an annual film festival in Gent, displaying old classics and new to-be classics. My girlfriend, studying to be a translator, does her internship there, translating and dubbing a movie called "Wristcutters: A Love Story". Black comedy, great movie. Go see it.
Thanks to that, she was given a number of free tickets, to pass around to anyone who wants to see "her" movie. She got quite a few and since not every friend can make the time to see it, we can use them to see other movies shown. So, since it had such good reviews and interesting trailer, we went to see "The Fountain".
 
If you haven’t seen The Fountain yet, you are committing a deadly sin. This movie is without a single doubt the best A movie I’ve seen in my life. Anyone who has lost someone dear to him, anyone who is losing someone dear to him, and anyone who will lose someone dear to him, will find answers and even comfort in this film. That means you, bitch. Don’t sit around here while you could be watching it.
The Fountain is about a couple, a biology professor and his wife. She is sick and he is on the brink of finding the cure, discovering the most amazing things, but not the serum he is looking for. It frustrates him, and he must make choices between standing by her and searching for her cure.
The movie actually consists of 3 entwined stories, the previously mentioned one being the central axis around which the other two take shape. The sick woman is writing a story, about a war in Spain that drives a "conquistador" to central America, looking for the second tree of Eden. Those who did their homework will know there were 2 trees in Eden: the tree of wisdom, of which Adam and Eve ate and was destroyed by God’s "flaming sword", and the tree of life, which should still be standing around in the garden of Eden. It is this tree that the spaniard is looking for, to wield its power and win the war.
The third story is about the same professor as before (actually all 3 male characters are one and the same), shooting through space in a soap bubble-like spaceship with a tree in the middle, headed for a nebula believed by the Mayans to be the underworld, in an attempt to make past things right again.
 
The fountain is a tribute to life, death and rebirth, western and eastern filosophy, and mental and emotional enlightenment. The main character is played by the same guy who plays Wolverine in the X-Men trilogy, who puts down some acting that will make your jaw drop, although perhaps I don’t really know all that much about good acting. The three stories aren’t incoherent as I feared, but flow into eachother like water, leaving you with very little annoying unanswered questions like many films that want to give you this "You didn’t see that one coming, did ya"-effect.
 
Some time ago I was musing to a friend, that with all the stunning graphics available these days, no one ever took the task on himself to create something beyond displaying material things. Even the most shocking CGI (computer generated… stuff) only show a series of known things, that hardly give you the feeling you’ve never seen it before. With modern day graphics, it is possible to go far beyond that, and try to grasp emotions and concepts in a visual interface, generating amazement without actually using known elements that stir an impression.
If The Fountain failed to reach that standard (I haven’t quite gotten my head around it yet), it came the closest I’ve seen thus far. The way the spaceship and surrounding nebula are put down, will make you wipe a tear away. It would be an absolute disgrace not to see this movie in theaters, high definition, all that fancy stuff.
 
In short, simply a breathtaking movie. Anyone should see it, I was simply amazed.
 
 
There is a certain friend I have that has a remarkable talent for photography and photoshop editing. She is modest enough to deny everything, but in a generous mood (I am full of compliments today) she is now giving out things she worked on to the first few that ask for it.

I tried, now you!

Tue, Oct. 17th (2006) | 23:51 pm
mood: giggly giggly

*The first 5 to comment will receive "some kind of art". It can be a small painting, poem, picture ect.. I can’t guarantee the quality, so you will not be allowed to go "hey, this suck!" afterwards! The only catch is that you have to post the same in your journal. So go for it.*
So there. Shameless promotion of personal connections. Also, I won’t get mine until I mention her here. It’s against my principles (It’s sacrilige, I tell you!) but I guess that just shows how much I want it.
 
 
This week my girlfriend and myself went to see Lacuna Coil. Think Evanescence with an anatomically even-more correct singer with a stunning voice, and a much more mature audience and you’re close enough. Supporting acts were Goth Minister and Poisonblack.
In the goth scene, in my humble opinion, there is always a gigantic difference between "trying" and "being". Many feel chosen, few are. I’ve seen countless people, in black and with studs and make-up all over, talking about shopping and boy/girlfriends. If you’re going to act superior and enlightened, please, be exactly that. Claiming to be so while being no different from others makes you hypocrit, sorry to burst your bubble.
I had the same impression with Goth Minister. The band name alone made me raise an eyebrow, and the show was little more than posing with mechanical bats and climbing up and down a step ladder with black cloth wrapped around it. Black leather, white crosses, seen it all.
Now, Poisonblack, however! Fuck that black shit, this guy was wearing a bright red shirt with a black celtic cross on it, rocking it up in true Axl Rose style. These guys just fucking ruled. Except for the drummer. He didn’t seem to know what he was doing, no power in him. But oh my god, was the music yummy. Buy this album. "Poisonblack – Lust, Stained, Despair."
 
Lacuna Coil itself, rocked about just as hard. Both singers – Christina Scabbia, a hauntingly beautiful woman (contralto) and Andrea Ferro, a okay but strange looking guy (tenor) – were wearing casual jeans and a white button shirt, in Christina’s case hardly buttoned up, unlike 99% of the fanbase who were all in black top to bottom.
One of the things that struck me most, is just how hard pretty little Christina kicked our asses. I’m betting she had a bigger dick than most of us under there. She was all over the stage, bullying us like a kid beating us up for lunch money.
 
 
One of the people that was affected by the "inexplicable wave of monthly deaths that passed by me" earlier this year, who lost his newborn child, is now blessed with a son. The daughter who didn’t make it was named Rune, and on the birthcard of young Jasper, it said
 
Somewhere on a small cloud
Our little Rune is floating
Watching our happiness with a smile.
 
I was very moved by this card, I’m not sure why that is. But if there is anyone I want to see happy, it is these two young parents.
Congratulations, you guys who will never read this.
And rest in peace.

Pain and Pleasure

I finally, after promising all around, subscribed to capoeira lessons.  Every thursday for two hours, which is exceptionally long. I don’t mind, though, it cost me enough and I intend to really work on this.
Capoeira, for the illiterate, is a mixture of dance and martial art, that originates from Brazil, where it was practiced by African slaves instead of a "real" martial art, which was forbidden by their owners. That’s about it, in a nutshell and one sentence.
Our "Capoedo" (he calls himself that but I doubt it’s an actual term) is a huge black guy from around Brazil, and only speaks french. It’s quite confusing, all this french with portugese terms mixed together. But, he’s a great teacher.
Before this, I’ve been to two "try-outs" to see how I liked it. Even though one of them was with this teacher, neither came remotely close to the real thing. This guy is a slave driver, all he needs is a whip. Not that he doesn’t know how to hurt us. I don’t mind, though. Pain is good. "You haven’t made an effort until yout taste blood." I was worried I’d end up on the same boat as many karate and other martial art students, in a "black belt factory" dojo, where all you need to do is kick right to get a shiny new color belt. I’d find it a real shame to waste my money on becoming the laughing stock of those who actually make an effort to learn their moves right.
But luckily, that’s not the case. Our teacher is thorough, and doesn’t stop hurting you until you got it down to perfection. As a result, you’re so stiff the next few days you can hardly walk upright.
I get the feeling I’m doing well. Let’s hope that trend continues, because some of the moves we’re supposed to learn in the future, I’m not too sure about.
 
 
Ring of Power is a bdsm themed MUD. Now, before anyone starts: This does not mean that you plunge into a cyber orgy the moment you log in. There are players who cyber on the MUD, but those who are not interested, are not dragged into it.
That said, let me note I’m not looking for masturbation material. I just so happen to be rather open-minded and very interested in the subject.
I play a character named James. Friendly, polite and probably a bit formal at times. The two things he does are exploring the area, and sitting at Lucky’s bar, the main hang-out for both masters and slaves.
RoP is a MUD based purely and entirely on role playing. Out-Of-Character chatting, even with the proper command, is not very welcome. Also, you will immediately see that RoP is poor quality compared to DartMUD. Items in a room description can’t be examined individually, or even manipulated. There are few items in the game, and 99% of those are sm toys that only the owner can pick up.
Instead, RoP is focused on role playing. You can have items created for you, you can alter your description at will (with 5 states of clothing, hee hee), and after a while you get a house that you design and describe, sadly with all the same characteristics mentioned before.
Still, I like to play it. Unlike DartMUD, where emotes can only be 80 characters long and only used for practical purposes, people make a real effort to write full, colorful sentences. I need my translating program regularly, but the MUD still reads like a book. But mostly, I play because I’m very interested in the kind of relationship. Of course, plenty of couples do some dominance role playing in their bedroom, but not much take it out of the bedroom, and this far. There is nothing sexual about the things the "slaves" have to do. Fetch a beer, amuse us, shut the hell up. Some slaves will intentionally start a scene to get punished.
Even though the slave-master relationship theoretically originates from sex, neither the slave or the master are constantly on a sexual high when role playing (on the MUD as well as in real life) this way. Especially for the slave, it’s often just a kind of relationship they feel comfortable in. There’s of course always a sexual undertone, but occasionaly even that is forgotten.
 
My girlfriend finds these people (especially the slaves) "sad and despicable, and without self respect". She surprises me, I thought she was more open to that. Not that I intended to go and take off my belt for her any time, but still.
I don’t. Not only am I intrigued by the concept, I enjoy discussing it with the players/characters. Of course there’s things I don’t agree with and certainly stuff that I wouldn’t want any fucking where near me, but I far from despise the people that do.

irony of sympathy

Local council elections are coming soon, the hysteria has already started. Will the "Vlaams Blok", those extreme right-wing fuckwads, have gained more votes? Those idiots seem to multiply like rabbits. Not too surprising, since they’re the only party bothering to spread pamphlets and propaganda filled with lies.
 
Back in July, at Rock Werchter, Tom Barman, the lead singer of dEUS, announced something unseen in Belgium. On October first, shortly before elections, he would organise a concert "Against the ‘Vlaams Blok’. Against intolerance. Because some things have to come to an end." He made a big mistake there: he included his political opinion. He later took those words back, as this concert, with the help of other artists, became a festival with stages in Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Charleroi. It became a festival for tolerance.
 
At first, I was very sceptic. Let’s be honest, will dancing and singing about tolerance actually change anything? It reminded me of Bono’s spewings and the Live Aid concerts. God were these a waste of time and money, they didn’t change Jack Shit. If a president has Bono over for tea, it’s not because he’s willing to let Bono pursuade him, but because he wants to make it look that way to gain popularity. Why the fuck am I even telling this? It’s so obvious, it makes my ass itch.
But there’s a big difference. It’s not a matter of trying to change the opinion of anyone. We’re not trying to get the government to realize "oh no! There’s aggression between our citizens! We must act!" like Bono hurled at us. Both initiatives were for charity, but that doesn’t mean they have the same purpose.
 
01/10 is, as its name would lead you to think, about tolerance. Now tell me, what better way to encourage tolerance, is to bring people together and do stuff? Since this is an anti-racism event, you could find all colors skin there. All four concerts were entirely free, and the turn-up was beyond any expectations, even of the organizers.
I remember very clearly why I love music festivals. You have a large, peaceful-anarchistic group of people together, like-minded, there for the same purpose. You join conversations you have no business with, you help others out, you’are all bonded by the same love, in this case music. Personally, I don’t think any other event could have been so successful as this.
 
 
With no ticket price, and astronomic costs (those stages don’t pay for themselves, mind you), organizers had to cut down on expenses as much as possible. One of the most drastic decisions was to work with volunteers as stagehands only. But it’s still a big-ass stage, so they needed for them to have Some experience at all. You can see this coming half the States away: "Hello Maarten, mind working for free this weekend?" After some concideration, I agreed to it, despite some colleagues of mine declaring me crazy. I didn’t care, the thought of being able to contribute to the cause with something I’m good at, made up my mind.
There were a surprisingly lot of co-workers present. I think there was about 8 of us in total, not counting other companies. That is quite a few. The concert was sponsored by Holiday Inn, so even though it was in Ghent, a 20 minute drive away by bike, we all crashed at a 4-star hotel, inviting our girlfriends over. Yay for "raped by a stranger in a hotel room" fantasies. Don’t say you wouldn’t.
 
We could have used more sleep though, because the next day we had change-overs all day long (good side is, you get to watch all bands up close) with the load-out taking until 3 in the morning. After everyone left, both paid crew and volunteers, the only ones left were the RoadRunners, stacking Hexatiles and heavy ass crash barriers. Once in a while, I’m damn proud to be one of them. Not at the time, of course. I just wanted to fucking go home.