Tuesday, 30 June 2009

get thee to a mummery

I don't. like. mimes.

Nothing personal, I just don't.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Wogan's wisdom

A nugget from a BBC trailer featuring radio and TV legend Terry Wogan:
Who said that time flies like an arrow?
Fruit flies like a banana.

He was the first person I saw on TV when I went to England. Having watched his talkshow for years before that, I felt right at home.

I have no idea what the trailer is for...

rain stopped play

Always stays the same, nothing ever changes.
English summer rain seems to last for ages.

-- Placebo, English Summer Rain

Is it showing that I'm getting fed up to lying on the couch all the time? - I did go to work today; my boss sounded a bit annoyed when I left only twenty-five minutes late - but I ended up on the sofa almost as soon as I got back.


...is de number of unique visitors this blog welcomes on an average day.

(calculated between March 2007 and now)


(after Emerson)

If the wild bowler thinks he bowls,
----Or if the batsman thinks he's bowled,
They know not, poor misguided souls,
----They too shall perish unconsoled.

I am the batsman and the bat,
----I am the bowler and the ball,
The umpire, the pavilion cat,
----The roller, pitch, and stumps, and all.

-- Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

I know this one by heart and almost any cricket match or reference to Brahma will make me recall (and sometimes recite) it. Still, just to make sure I didn't make any mistakes in transcribing it, I went looking for an online source and found this page, which also includes the wonderful observation that "cricket is an Indian game accidentally invented by the British". Actually it's the West Indies England are playing right now - or would be, if it weren't for the rain. I'd never watched anything on Eurosport 2 until the start of the Twenty20 World Cup...

And this is the Ralph Waldo Emerson poem of the same title, which, I admit, I had never read before, that inspired the above:


IF the red slayer think he slays,
----Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
----I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
----Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanish'd gods to me appear;
----And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
----When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
----And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
----And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
----Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82)

Saturday, 13 June 2009


Screaming Pope

OlympiaIn a documentary on the BBC about Édouard Manet a link was made between his painting Olympia and Olimpia Maidalchini, Pope Innocent X's sister-in-law. She was sometimes referred to as "la papessa" and certainly seems to have been the power behind the Pontifical Throne.
According to papal historian Ludwig von Pastor, "the misfortune of Pope Pamphilj was that the only person in his family who would have had the qualities necessary to fill such a position was a woman."

There doesn't seem to be any real (or even marginally credible) evidence that she was also his mistress, but the accusation was - rather obviously - levelled at her. Apparently this was what made Manet's painting so racy: the name and the connection with an infamous courtesan.

Pope Innocent XInnocent X was painted by Diego Velázquez, whose portrait was the inspiration for Francis Bacon's "Screaming Pope" above. I don't know why that painting fascinates me. It just does. And seeing the two of them together is quite interesting.

At least I think so.

e-mail from my mother (NSFW)

I never thought I'd write that title!

Last Thursday I received an e-mail at work from my mother. There wasn't much to it, no text and the .wmv attachment had been - rightly - blocked by my company's spamfilter. So I replied telling her I couldn't watch it, but I'd check it out if she sent it to my home address.

She then responded that it was a mistake, that it was meant for my father and it turned into a regular "How's it going over there? What have you been doing?" conversation. But she did send the link to my home e-mail and I've only just remembered to watch it. And this is what my mother was forwarding to my father:

Funny Videos

Don't click the above link if you don't want to get an eyefull of nipples and ovaries! (I thought about deleting it, but there might be a need for those among my readership too...)

For as long as I can remember it's been a toss-up whether my mother or myself would ask my father "Isn't that something for you?" whenever we saw a pretty young thing. And from the time I was sixteen or so, I remember watching several Emanuelle movies or other rather soft-core movies - whichever happened to be on TV - with them.

We'd just have coffee and conversation like any other movie, my mother can't concentrate on anything that long, so she'd always be doing something like ironing or folding, or falling asleep; Dad would have his feet up on the coffee table - apparently it was better for his bad back, now they've moved and have a glass coffee table (the old oak one is right here with me) he doesn't seem to need it anymore; and I'd have a book or a notebook and pen with me, either reading or writing all the time.

a musical how-to (very NSFW)

I hope this works, because I couldn't figure out a way to upload it (fuzzy brains) and I didn't like the "video" from YouTube (so you should just be seeing the controls). Although he doesn't seem to be credited, I believe it's Stephen Lynch.

Hmmm. This sucks. I can't figure out why I see the control bar in preview mode, but not when I post it.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Stood up

It was Sunday morning and I had serious trouble getting up. But I promised my friends I'd meet them for lunch at noon in Amsterdam. "I've got the bagels, you bring the cream cheese," I believe the exact wording was.

So I dragged myself out of bed a little after my alarm went off at nine AM, took a shower to feel a bit more human and managed to catch a train that would make me twenty minutes early. As opposed to the next one, which would make me ten minutes late - something that would just never do for my Dutch family.

Now it's Sunday afternoon and I'm cold and shivering, sitting outside the coffeeshop around the corner from K's. I called him when I first got off the train - no reply. Then I called P, both to check up on his progress and to warn him - no reply.

I had a cup of coffee across from the station and finished my book. Just before we were supposed to meet, I walked over to K's apartment and rang the doorbell several times. The problem is, that when no-one opens the door, you don't know why. Are they shagging, or simply asleep? I called K's phone - no reply. I called Sunshine's - no reply. I called P's - no reply.

Since there was the possibility of sex in progress, I decided to give them a bit more time, but after half an hour of freezing my ass off on a windy street corner*, I decided I was going in, no matter what. (In fact, this is the point when I realised I'd forgotten the cream cheese, but there's a cheese shop five steps away.) I have keys so I would have gotten in anyway, but gave them the annoying doorbell treatment first. It worked a treat.

When I reached upstairs the apartment door was still locked and they were both in bed again. K told me he'd get up in fifteen minutes. It sounds loke he's kept his word. Still no sign of P, though, perhaps he couldn't decide what to wear. If anyone deserves to be called a peacock it's him. In fact nothing would make him happier than to wear one!

* yes, I could have gone inside, but although I'm not averse to a joint once in a while - as long as there's no tobacco, in fact I bought one whilst I was there - I don't care for the smoke.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

my first HIV test

Yes, I know, I should probably have been tested before, but my lack of love-life has always seemed to make it a rather pointless excercise. And I can't remember if I ever received blood during surgery, but if I did it was over 23 years ago, so anything untoward would have shown up.

Perhaps they did test me two years ago when I had rather extensive bloodworks done, I'm not sure. Considering neither I nor my doctor were informed, if they did, it was negative.

But a couple of weeks ago I went in to be considered as a blood donor and had to sign a form that I realised the blood would be tested, amongst other things, for HIV and if that particular test found something, I would be told.

Yesterday I received my first call-up to donate. Since I did nothing since the test to get infected I can, just this once say, that I am 100% sure I'm negative. Which is especially good because now I can give blood and help others.

even more ass! - naked bike ride update

Nothing so, active, for me, thanks, I'm still at home. But I just received a text message from M: they're on their way and probably outnumbered by cameramen. TV's there too, so I may catch a glimpse later... ;-) They just made a stop for bodypainting.

Perhaps I shall stop calling him M and refer to him as "the exhibitionist" instead. Or "the nude cycler"? Votes and suggestions are welcome.

P was waiting along the route for them to ride by. I know because he called to invite me to a small dinner party tomorrow night and from the noise he must have been on the square as he said.


Realising that I shouldn't be judging other people's fashion sense, I must make an exception to the rule of me not commenting once in a while just to keep sane.

Shirts using the Coca Cola font to express funny remarks are not.

Friday, 5 June 2009

What I did last weekend

Yes, I know it's Friday by now, but if you look at the below, you'll see why I did little more than work, crash on the sofa and sleep since Tuesday. I'm sorry I didn't post a "Places I remember" story last Sunday, it was just too hectic. This was originally written on Monday:

Today is the final day of a three-day weekend and the weather has been absolutely glorious. So what did I do? Here's the short version:

  • slept in on Saturday
  • took a bath
  • ironed one t-shirt
  • packed my pajamas
  • walked more than halfway to the station
  • realized I left my phone at home
  • went back, grabbed the phone and walked all the way to the station
  • took an enormous detour because rail traffic was only going west; east was blocked due to scheduled maintenance
  • arrived at K's where it was decided we'd head over to D's
  • got the tour of D's apartment
  • helped K pick up six bottles of wine and ended up paying for them
  • "Everybody knows you live forever..."
  • discussed the placement of the John O'Carroll triptych D bought last week
  • measured the space between her sofas for an oval glass coffeetable
  • caught a tram towards Leidseplein with R, because I'd arranhed to spend the night with P and M
  • stayed up until 2.30 as M was showing off the software he sells using data I need to analyse for work
  • slept on their sofabed which still is more comfortable than K's

  • was wide awake at 9.30 AM for some strange reason
  • went to Chinatown with P, looking for pho amongst other things
  • found every toko and supermarket closed because of the holiday
  • had some wonderful crisp sea bass with three spicy sauces; P had larb kai, which was a little less spicy than he would have liked
  • spent the afternoon glazing several of P's sculptures, including one I picked out for myself; I call him "Death", there's even room for a scythe
  • death is a very, very dark grape colour
  • had drinks with some of P's friends from Dutch class
  • left with K, Sunshine and M for some peace and quiet
  • did not pay an extortionate - and I'm quite sure illegal - fare to the cab driver on the Leidseplein
  • watched Milk with the above minus the cabbie
  • watched Wolverine with K, Sunshine and TomTom
  • did something that is generally known by one letter
  • went home with TomTom so I could sleep in his roommate's bed rather than K's sofa
  • caught a cab that charged regular fares (TCA rocks)
  • chatted with the driver whilst TomTom got cigarettes at a gas station; he has a pass for Central Station, but he hasn't been there in six months because there and on the Leidseplein is where the cabbies are all crooked
  • on either side of TomTom's front door the working girls behind the windows greeted him
  • laughed at him trying not to disturb the couple downstairs, but continually dropping things (a full plastic half-liter bottle of Dr Pepper, a cigarette lighter, a glass full of Coke
  • helped mop up the glass and Coke
  • stepped in a shard of glass
  • bled
  • mopped up the blood
  • was introduced to a drug more addictive than crack cocaine or heroin (not that I've ever tried those or feel inclined to do so)
  • discovered a talent for MarioKart on wii
  • scored 116 and 112 bowling
  • beat TomTom in my first ever try at golf on the wii
  • fouled three times at the triple jump (I can't get that third jump timed correctly)
  • made a complete mess at the trampoline
  • went back to MarioKart, but by now it was 6AM so we took a sleeping pill and waited for it to take effect whilst still playing
  • felt a bit fuzzy round the edges, but not sleepy
  • my performance suffered only slightly
  • got warm and fuzzy again, this time from something else with only one initial
  • went to bed at 8.51 AM thinking I might need some time to relax first but fell asleep immediately

  • when I woke up at 2 PM, TomTom reported the same
  • we each took a shower
  • he went to the supermarket, I went into town
  • called K, didn't get a reply
  • headed for the station, figuring he was either asleep or having sex
  • decided to take the train towards Utrecht, figuring a short bus trip provided by the rail company was better than the long detour I took before
  • sat in the bus in a traffic jam for what felt like hours although it probably was thirty minutes
  • got a call from Sunshine confirming I was correct in my earlier assumption about K
  • walked home, arriving in a positively cool apartment
  • took off all my clothes and lay on the sofa
  • browsed the directory on the external hard-drive K said I should take with me and check out
  • clicked one of the movies in the "Adult Video" directory at random
  • laughed out loud when I realised I'd seen (at least part of) it before

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

it's a global market - isn't it?

Another e-mail I just received:
Hello everyone,

The single 'Did you see me coming?' is out this week. You can buy the digital bundles from iTunes and for this week only Did you see me coming? will be locked to a brand new remix B side for just 79p.

There are three bundles with different remixes and B sides, each costing 79 UK pence. Against my better judgement, I clicked one of the links and, oh joh!, it didn't just take me to iTunes, it asked if I wanted to go to the UK iTunes Store. Could it be true?

Of course not. I don't get it. If there was ever a reason for marketing different songs in different countries, that surely has gone out the window in today's 24-hour economy. If I weren't so pissed off that my enjoyment of the songs is ruined, I would just go and find them somewhere else - for free!

Perhaps they won't be available today, but soon they'll be out there and although I would have gladly paid 2,7 EUR (3,8 USD) for the six songs, by that time my anger may have receded...

less gas, more ass!

I just received an e-mail about the World Naked Bike Ride, Amsterdam edition, from M, who is set to take place this Saturday. The above is one of the slogans they suggest on their wiki. I also love the useful tip supplied by the organisers: "The best way to make sure your clothes stay dry if it rains: take them off and put them away somewhere dry."

But I wonder if M sent me this as a hint; they do seem to need clothed people to accompany the riders, to make things run more smoothly - presumably to act as a go-between, so that outsiders don't have to talk to a naked person - and I wouldn't be surprised if he thinks I would like to do it.