Wednesday, 25 February 2009

sweet mercy!

Hey MJ :) wonder if you could give me a hand with a little bit of dutch translation - tis from a 13th century monastic manuscript so some of the words might not be the same now, but they hopefully will be similar enough that you could give me the gist of what is said?

ic bid de genaden foeten lief ic fen defe ti brief onti at.

This is a comment my dear friend Gothy left on the previous post, which, although I have no training in Middle Dutch, I shall attempt to translate... First I'll try to break it down. (Actually, first I changed some of the f's into s's: ic bid de genaden soeten lief ic sen dese ti brief onti at.)

ic bid - I pray, I hope
de genaden foeten - the sweet mercies
lief - sweet, gladly, dear, although I'm wondering if it means "to grant" here
ic fen defe ti brief - I send you this letter
onti at - could be "to you" again, not quite sure about 'at'.

I am slightly guessing, but if I had to give an answer, it would be this:
I pray the sweet mercies to grant this letter I send reaches you.

I hope that's at least close enough to the context of Gothy's manuscript. Of course any help will be appreciated.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

the stork is coming

stork cartoon

Did I ever mention that I'm going to be an auntie in August?

stork in flight

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Bad joke warning

I don't know how or why these come to me late at night...

"Tired of the same old Stale Sorcery? Try new Persil Fresh Magic!"


Q: "What did Lavinia say when Chiron and Demetrius grabbed her?"

A: "Unhand me!"

I seem to have repressed the one that made P and M groan last Saturday, but I think it was much worse.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

shrimp tales

It's 5.30 PM on Sunday afternoon and I've just finished folding K's laundry. We're watching Deep Space Nine on the sofa.

This afternoon I had lunch at Saturnino, one of my favourite restaurants, with P and M. K joined us too and we all got completely stuffed. I had breaded veal, K had the linguine with crab and M had tagliatelle alfredo. Even K, notorious for eating less than he should (although he catches up in his sleep), practically cleaned his plate! P may be worse, but he had a very big portion of lasagne bolognese, so he's forgiven. If you're in Amsterdam, let me know, I'll take you there. Alternatively, go by yourself, they all speak excellent English (and it's very gay friendly, if that's a concern to you).


As I mentioned yesterday, last might we went to the theatre. The show was called Shrimp Tales (or Garnalen Verhalen) by Hotel Modern and it was incredibly funny. Using around 300 shrimp models, miniature sets and props set out on five or six tables, they portrayed lots of little scenes from human life. They kept moving around from one table to another, holding cameras so that their work would be shown on a screen at the back. Starting in a funeral parlour and ending with a hospital room full of baby shrimp in incubators, there didn't seem much of a plot otherwise, although in the end the all seemed to click together somehow.

Enlarge to find out what the shrimp are doing.

Everybody enjoyed the scene drawing heavily on The Excorcist (including vomit and spinning head) and I thought the nightclub was very funny, with the bouncing shrimp and then a guy looking at the pipes in the cellar with someone making the ceiling go up and down; for the boxing match they equipped the camera with gloves, so it looked like you were one of the protagonists; several scenes were tied together by a rather sad character who tried to sell roses without any luck; when a group of shrimps visited Madurodam, one of them fell ill; a couple of shrimp bounced across the screen, low-gravity style, in front of a moon lander; there was a gory depiction of brain surgery and too much else to mention here.

In short, it was humanity portrayed by shrimp and I watched it with a Jew and someone who's allergic to shellfish. So when we went out for Thai food afterwards, I couldn't resist the sweet 'n' sour prawns, despite M's clever attempt at putting me off by recalling the surgery.

Enlarge to find out what was wrong with this shrimp.

All pictures by Leo van Velzen. Go here for more. I'm using the angelic shrimp as a wallpaper right now.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Happy Valentine' s Day

Yeah, yeah, it's a pathetic excuse to flog roses, cards and chocolates, I know. But this song Joe posted is nice anyway.

In fact I'm downloading the songs from Tom Goss' website right now. 21 Songs for 16 euros is not bad, is it? Where I don't have much of a problem illegally downloading stuff from major artists that I sort of like but wouldn't have bought the physical album if that were the only option, I feel I must support the lesser-known ones

What else? O yes, go for Willym's blog for a good Valentine's laugh.

Other than that... I had a fantastic dinner with my Australian friends last night, for starters P had a terrine of confit duck with smoked chicken, port syrup and a compôte of apple and raisins. I had the salad of smoked trout, apple and marinated fennel with a fishegg mayonaise and white wine dressing. Just when we were ready for the main M joined us. He and I both had the guinea fowl with a green peppercorn and cognac sauce and steamed onion compôte, whilst P had the grilled pork with pancetta and sage sauce and saurkraut mash. For dessert I chose the naughty option of cheesecake with red fruit and a blueberry sauce and M had the dessert of the day, which I managed to read out loud from the blackboard across the room last night, but of which I can only remember it was accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream now.

The wine wasn't half bad either, I made a note of it, not least because P may very well call me from the shop asking what it was. It was a 2007 prestige Alsatian pinot gris from Ribeauvillé, demi-sec, yet with a delicious honey aftertaste. Even P, who is a smoker, was enthusiastic about it.

It was getting quite late, but we decided to have a cocktail before moving on to the station. P, as usual, was steaming ahead, whilst M and I were following a few feet behind. They had just told me during dinner that P sometimes teases M when he repeats himself by calling him by his mother's name, so when P was telling me about something for about the fourth time that night, I turned to M and asked "What was your mother's name again?" That earned me a hearty "Fuck you!" from P, who was just walking through a group of north african-looking kids. One of the boys went after him because he thought it was directed at his (girl)friend. I jumped in. Sometimes P is just so oblivious of his surroundings. The girl caught up and she and I got involved in a shouting match of sorts, but at least the situation was suitably deflated for us to move on.

At the bar P completely ignored M and I - we entertained ourselves with Latitude and Google maps on my phone - as he chatted to a woman. As she left (her boyfriend feeling thoroughly ignored), she gave him her card and it turns out she works at the same company I do.

Tonight we're going to see Hotel Modern's shrimp tales. I'm curious.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Take up the White Man's burden

Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.
-- Rudyard Kipling

Interestingly enough (I think it's interesting enough), Kipling wrote this poem 110 years ago in 1899, after the USA took control of the Philippines as a result of the Spanish-American war. This week, the New York Times reviews a book called Great Powers: America and the World After Bush by Thomas Barnett.

Barnett tells Americans that "We are modern globalization's source code — its DNA," and they should "take everything we've learned along the way and sell it across the planet at suitably discounted prices." Patience is needed with those countries who resist America's benevolence, because "we're playing against 'younger' versions of ourselves in many instances." See how easily that fits with Kipling's "half devil and half child"?

I tried reading some of the excerpts (there are links to his blog with the article), but the writing style made it very difficult for me to take him seriously. This is essentially my problem, not any author's, I know that, but in this case I do believe style is an indicator of content. I hadn't read the entire review when I read the selected paragraphs, which meant a pleasant surprise when the reviewer called the book "talky, glib, overly long and piled high with filibustering verbiage".

Leaving you (and hurrying to work), here's one more thought from the book. One I actually agree with: We shouldn't blame other countries for not reaching a certain level of sophistication. "If a mature, multiparty democracy was so darn easy, everybody would have one."

Sunday, 8 February 2009

secret agent 00

somewhere in GoudaWhen I arrived at K's Saturday around 5PM, he told me how Sunshine had dragged him to the Albert Cuyp street market. "I know," I said, "I saw you there."

Yet I had only arrived in Amsterdam five minutes before. "I saw you coming," K said, "You were just outside the station, so I knew you'd be here soon."

On Friday he had emailed me at work. "Get Google Latitude on your phone," or something similar, it said. I had a little look at what it was first, but then I decided to go for it.

It works amazingly well, Now I can track their movements and save on those "Where are you?" phonecalls or text messages every time I get to Amsterdam. I will know when K is at home, or at Prik or anywhere else. And they can see how far along the journey I am, as it moves my picture along the tracks. I watched it as I was going and although it's always trying to catch up the train, it is pretty accurate. Especially when you get three or more satellites, it gets more accurate the more you can connect to. In the picture at the top there's only one and you can see the circle around my picture has a 1200 meter (three quarters of a mile) radius. I could be anywhere in there... When I stood outside my house on Friday, it had me practically pinned down where I was, using six satellites.

Yes, K's still in Amsterdam

Life is like a new hat

Life is like a new hat. You don't know if it suits you if you keep trying it on in front of your own mirror.
Shirley McLaine.

We just know inside that we're queens. And these are the crowns we wear.
Felecia McMillan

I myself have 12 hats, and each one represents a different personality. Why just be yourself?
Margaret Atwood

brim downYesterday I went to this shop just down the road and bought a hat. I felt a bit out of place, like nouveau riche in an establishment where most customers' grandmothers did business. The hat was quite expensive, even at half the price, but I believe it is worth it. I had the girl snip off the tags so I could wear it straightaway, which also served the purpose of getting rid of the "evidence" to my splurge, but mostly because I was so on love with it.

As I walked around with my new hat on, I felt exposed, stared at, but at the same time comforted, shielded and quite pretty and stylish. Of course I understand my readership will probably try to disabuse me of the latter as soon as possible.

It can also be worn with the brim up - in fact I believe that's the way it was intended to be worn, but it kept the sun out of my eyes and I just think it looks better turned down.
brim up

PS. I'm wearing it right now, indoors, wearing nothing else but pajamas and socks...

Tuesday, 3 February 2009



Not too long ago, I posted about Christoph Niemann's illustrated blog post on coffee. His latest installment is called I LEGO NY, which will resonate not just with New Yorkers. It's like a manual of how to survive New York City and I'm sure the rest of us slobs, of the non-New York variety, may get a chuckle out of it too.

I picked out one of my favourites to accompany this post. The choice may not be too smart, because it's a reminder of all the cabs I've tried to hail unsuccesfully (I'm an oblivious hailer, as soon as I see a taxi sign or a blue license plate, my instinct is to throw my arm up in the air, whether it's busy or not).

Of course all rights belong to the New York Times and Christoph Niemann.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

more meth and man ass

Has anyone seen the Ted Haggard documentary? Has it been shown yet? If not, are you going to watch? I'm listening to (not so much watching) Ted and his wife on Oprah right now and if that's the way it's going to be, I'd rather have my bikini line waxed.

Since all this is in the news again, I think it's time for a re-run of one of my favourite topical songs of all time: Meth and Man Ass by Paul Hipp (will start playing directly on opening the page).