Archive for December, 2009

Grays

Snow is just nature’s way of saying… “Snow”.

You know it’s winter when you wake up to a white landscape. I walked my girlfriend (yes, girlfriend) to the bus stop and took the scenic route home, taking a break from my usual dislike of the stuff.
Back on my CS profile I open my personal description with the phrase, “I am a winter child.” It somehow just came up and I thought it a fitting idea. I’m not sure why, to be honest, I never agreed much with winter. And living my life more consciously since I quit computer games, my thoughts about the passing seasons have become more profound.

Snow is just nature’s way of making the world your notepad.

I miss the summer, badly. It’s a lot better now that I have someone to warm up against, but still. I now remember why I used to spend this time of year abroad, something my current funds won’t allow me. It’s little more than a psychological urge, though: Of all places, I seem to end up in Norway every single time. But Norway is cold by definition, I am willing to forgive that much. Nothing is more satisfying than accomplishing some climb or other if the weather is against you, and the view over a fjord is incomparable to when it’s coated in snow.
One of my fondest memories is one of a monotone sight of a line of trees, distinguishable only by the white silhouette of the snow covering the branches.

Snow is just nature’s idea of a facial.

I never go travelling without seeking change of some kind, in pursuit of rebirth after part of my environment or myself withered away. Perhaps that is why I’m so fond of it, and maybe that is why I link winter with my personality so much. Ironically, my escapist tendencies have resulted in a collection of my dearest memories in the coldest place/time possible.

Snow is just nature’s way of hiding dogshit from view.

This year, it turns out I have little to run away from and enough reason to stay. Luckily so, because my funds won’t allow me to go anywhere further than our neighboring countries, and it’s not like I’ve always been eager to go to Holland.
So I guess I’ll be staying pretty much the same, this year? Or maybe I lost track of myself and have done so already, which actually wouldn’t surprise me.
It’s starting to matter less and less, nowadays. I think it’s time to take a break from maniacally trying to get away and try and accept things as they are, for a change. Because in all honesty, they haven’t looked this good in years. I don’t need snow to see that.

(The above was written around the 15th of December.)

 

 

I was walking through the christmas market in Gent the other day, amazed by how much cynicism I have lost the past few years. It was fully intentional and welcomed, but the end result still surprised me. The market even managed to seem remotely atmospheric from time to time. Granted, I was alone and “All Nightmare Long” in my headphones easily rendered the christmas carols non-existing by comparison, but that happens to be my idea of romance thankyou.
Of course, it might just be the fact that I was looking for a gift for my girlfriend. It may have been projection from my part, smiling to myself when I finally found something I knew she would like. Whether you can afford something or not merely depends on how much you want it.

And right on queue, or perhaps slightly too late, she lost me like a bad habit. Something I would categorize as an “argument” was enough for her to declare the end of our relationship a-fucking-gain, without a single word walking out of my house -and life- first thing in the morning. Why? Because I didn’t apologize for being offended. Or something. Thing is, it no longer matters.

So happy fucking newyear, where Maarten will be paying €20 for catering that won’t get eaten. Or wait, I can take it home to eat it later. At home. By myself.
It hard to word just how much the whole world can go fuck itself right now. And in a sense, ironically, that’s exactly what it’s doing. The new calendar year will start in a few hours, and while it looked so bright only days ago, I can only envision a black emptiness when considering it now. Not in the emo way, but frustratingly similar. It’s an unknown.
Of course only one parameter has really changed, but it just so happens to be one, a lot of others are hinged from. Whatever would happen, at least I would have a relationship that I wrongly dreamed could handle a punch or two. A solid, loving relationship between two like-minded people who would at least both feel the fucking attraction that I was developing.

Nope. “Fuck that,” said christmas, and stripped me of love and lots of lust, passed me on to newyear’s eve, and sat me down on this very chair to grumble “spare me” at her wishes for 2010. On MSN, where else.
I’ve had enough. I’m done and over with picking up the pieces of a relationship that she shatters at the first sight of any kind of trouble. It’s her loss, possibly even more than mine since I happen to be somewhat more stable and emotionally mature.
Harsh? Try to be with someone who dumps you on a regular basis while living in a house with walls that crumble at the slightest punch. While you’re at it, eat shit and die.

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Marilyn Manson – $

Marilyn Manson is the musical equivalent of abortion on toast. It might be surprisingly good but it isn’t really my style, y’know?

I don’t seem to be alone in this. The promoter didn’t manage to fill more than a third of the Lotto Arena, which is far from Belgium’s largest venue, although Manson’s shameful performance at Graspop Metal Meeting this summer could be a major factor in the poor showup. The ones that did pitch, formed a crowd of surprising maturity and enthusiasm.

The support act, a low-key but quite charismatic British band called Esoterica (or esOtEriCA or whatever) that did a cover of Delerium’s “Silence” and made it sound even hotter than their female bass player. They single-handedly managed to restore much of my faith in the night, which is a deeply impressive feat for a cover band.

In all honesty, I can’t really tell whether I liked Marilyn Manson’s show, and just how much. It was definitely better than Graspop, but back then the crowd did not even cheer for an encore so that’s not saying much. The sound was decent, the gimmicks were entertaining, but there was something missing.
I can understand that they were trying to create a dark atmosphere but if the artist refuses to stand under the single working light, you may want to cut down on smoke a little so we can actually see him. Having to crane your neck to see if anything’s going on and where, is a mood killer.
Of course if you know the songs playing, there’s plenty to keep you awake. I was pleased to hear “Coma White” and “Coma Black” respectively, along with a whole string of oldies like “Beautiful People” and “Irresponsible Hate Anthem”; a safe but successful recipe. The shock effect was there but largely kept politically correct, which doesn’t do much for credibility.

While worth watching, the whole scene confirmed the fact that Manson has peaked some time ago, both in genre and personal inspiration. I think we were faced with one of the rare occasions in which the support act actually outstaged the main artist.
In his defense however, I heard Manson was in fact furious with his roadies during the gig, after hearing some of his props got stolen the night before as he asked for them.

Best out of five? I don’t think so.


Subs

There’s a new “thing” in town. It’s called Subway and supposedly it’s an originally American/English/Canadian/Australian/dontknowdontcare chain. I had been to one once before in Scotland, with a bunch of friends, but that proved to be such a confusing experience that I only remember a lot of talking and a tasty snack in the end. Earlier this week I had to get me something quick, so I hopped by to get me a sammich.

Now I realize, as with most American ideas, Subway is a concept I fail to get my head around. And in an equally American fashion, I can’t help but share my thoughts on capitalism’s latest pop-art feature.
Seriously, I don’t get it. The first thing I did upon walking in, was lose count when glancing at the crowd behind the bar. Four or five, I can’t quite recall, staring back at me with glazy eyes and acne smile.

I made my way to the other end of the shop, because apparently that’s where you order, stared at their list for ten seconds, and pointed. “That one.” It had bacon and cheese. Fuck all the rest.
What followed, was a 10 minute series of personal questions, varying from “Would you like veggies with that” to “How’s your colon today”. It started off with the dumbest of all:

“What kind of bread would you like with that?”

-“B…?”

-“Bread. What kind would you like?”

-“…The kind you can eat.”

-“We have normal bread, bread with cheese in it, bread with sesame seeds, bread made from breast milk, bread in the shape of Gizeh’s pyramid, bread with tooth-whitening otter semen, bre-“

-“Normal, please.”

Or how to make even the simplest concept, like a fucking sub sandwich, a needlessly complicated one. For your information, I’m a little self-conscious about my tastes. I don’t want to have to spell them out to a World of Warcraft Guild Leader twice my age- You never know what I’ll blurt out when asked “what else I would like”. What kind of cheese, how much, salad, onions, olives, tomato, carrodqafrglsh CHEESE AND BACON please. Oh and a muffin.

So what is this? A hybrid of DIY, service with a crooked smile, and mismanagement? One more thing to blow over from overseas and lower our standards permanently. If only they didn’t make such good sandwiches.

 

 

After about a year and a half, I finally got to sit down with my ex and have an actual conversation. And what’s even more shocking, is that I took the initiative. There were understandable objections, but I really felt like this is something I had to do. It was the logical next step in the whole process. Isn’t acceptance a part of the whole grief complex? I thought it was.

The bottom line was not to become friends, that’s the last thing I need in the given situation. The idea was to get friendly instead, and yes there is a big difference. I’ve had my fill of having to do an elaborate background check every time I want to meet our mutual friends, and after all this time they’ve become quite numerous. She’s a hell of a lot more social than I am, so most of the time I miss out on parties, trips and events simply because I actively avoid her.
I invite you to sit down and have a good hard think on what that means. My friends: the people I would die for, many times over. When they celebrate christmas, their birthday or whatever, I can’t attend. After this long, it had begun to seriously bug me.

So that’s why I felt it was time. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, the idea was to gauge our emotional involvement. In other words, the more we would want to see each other, the less we should. Such a conflict between emotion and sense is called a dilemma, and there’s a good reason why those are so difficult to solve. Luckily though, I’ve had a lot of training in the past, and I can’t remember a single instance where I failed to take the right decision. It’s a subject I am very familiar with.
Perhaps that is part of the reason why I was so surprised when she shook her head in response to this explanation. Unlike me, she bases her judgment on emotion, and I was worried I’d have to take the decision again. Against my expectations, she did it for me.

And that was that. “I’ll see you, maybe. The next decennium or so,” she said as she left for home and that boyfriend of hers, and I agreed. Granted, “the next decennium” is in 18 days, but we both got the point. Not now. Not soon. Possibly not ever. And though we each still have our issues with the whole thing, we both saw that is was the best thing to do.

So there. It went exceptionally easy, in a sense. Perhaps because we are simply getting more detached, which is, against all common misconceptions, a good thing. One more step to moving on.

Also, I learned that her boyfriend is struggling with his health. Lower back problems from keeping all that water inside his head upright, along with something called “micropenis” (NSFW) and borderline retardation.
Heh. Seriously though, he’s struggling and I’m not sorry for him. He better not take it out on her though, while he goes into vegetative state.


Rammstein – Liebe Ist Für Alle Da

Who the fuck is Rammstein, with their blatant sexual reference in their German lyrics and love for crude oil? Rammstein is industrial metal, or more accurately, industrial metal is Rammstein. They are not here to fix Germany’s image problem, but to bend and shape it into a suckerpunch and deliver it live, with a jaw-dropping set, if you are one of the privileged few who managed to obtain a ticket.

Singer Till Lindemann is a giant of a man, ugly as the night and gifted with a voice that makes Satan himself pucker up. You won’t even notice him missing a note, which admittedly, he occasionally does. Supporting him are two guitars on Norse god-like distortion, a triple bass drum and a keyboard player that challenges all written definitions of sanity.

This is Rammstein.

And what they deliver on stage, will blow you away –literally.
A blazing inferno, a war, a fireman’s nightmare that will leave the front rows sans eyebrows.

I really wanted to see the show, even turned down the showcrew job (4 extra hours pay) so I could set up camp in front of the stage rather than behind it. And I must say, my expectations were met. These men have a natural talent for the bombastic and grotesque, combined with a total disregard for their own safety- and yours.
But first things first: The support act was some band named Combichrist who play gothic electro. While certainly enjoyable, their act soon got repetitive (blame the genre). It never really comes over as very credible when the singer totally freaks out and dances his gonads off to his own music, but it was an entertaining sight when their drum tech had to fetch a tom that percussionist no.2 kicked from the stage for the seventh time.

Rammstein’s appearance was poetically appropriate. The two guitarists hammered themselves through a wall, while the lead singer had to blowtorch/kick his way through a metal sheet. And so it began.
I must admit, at first I was kind of worried about the mild enthusiasm of the band. No matter how big you are, you don’t fill a stage by standing there pounding away on your own leg. The great disappointment Muse dared to put down recently proved that.
But I was shown wrong: While Muse used fancy video gimmicks that failed to impress, Rammstein utilized a downright shocking arsenal of kerosene and metal. No one cares how excited you look if you’ve got a flamethrower strapped to your fucking face, as during the performance of “Feuer Frei”.

The sound quality was top notch and the lack of video wall allowed the fans to see the big picture rather than stare at a screen and miss the next explosion. Not that they exactly inconspicuous: the whole stage was rigged. Fire easily rose up to fifteen meters, in all directions. From the floor, from the props, from the performers’ limbs. Songs were accentuated with enough explosions to impress Fat Man, babies fell from the ceiling with green lasers strapped to their faces, fireworks were shot over the crowd across the venue,… who comes up with this.

In sharp contrast with artists such as Marilyn Manson (coming to Antwerp dec 18th), Rammstein has little concern for political correctness. Go reckon, their nationality would offend plenty of Americans, already. Pulling out sex toys, saddling and riding them during “Pussy” is peanuts for these men. My one regret is that they didn’t perform “Bück Dich”, in which the lead singer cockslaps the keyboard player a few times (with a fake, mind) and then proceeds to ejaculate for a minute and a half, all over stage, band members, audience, and himself. I swear I’m not making this up.

As you may have noticed, yes, I liked the show. I expected as much, but even I was deeply impressed. The fans are thrown from one “wow” moment into the next, several times each song. You could see their reactions, too, willingly showing their hands when politely asked, “Wir wollen eure Hände sehen” and roaring with the start of each act. Many others should take this lesson to heart: This is how it’s done. This is what defines your reputation, and in an age of digital piracy, this is your income. Embrace it.

Gig of the year, hands down. Danke.