Friday, August 31, 2012

Sigur Ros in Paradiso

Even though I work now since 1,5 year in Amsterdam, I do not have the feeling I know the city at all.   I try not to go more than needed and group all my meetings as much as possible so that 3 days is truly the max.  I arrive a bit late in the office on my arriving day, work a long day to make up for that,    go check in in the hotel around the corner and then eat dinner in one of the many little restaurants in the quarter with or without some expat colleagues.  Basically I know the tramway to the office, the office, the hotel and a few blocks full of restaurants.

This week an Austrian colleague wondered if I wanted to join him to a concert in Paradiso. Hell yeah. We often haven lengthy music discussions together and now he had an extra ticket for the sold-out concert of Sigur Rós. Much to my amasement the well-known concert hall Paradiso was even less than a km from the office/ hotel in a building I had already wondered once what that big nice building was :D.

To be honest...I didn't know Sigur Rós either and funny enough he didn't either. I knew the band came from Iceland and guessed it was a non-pop version of Björk. The only song that seems familiar is Inni Mer....

We found a nice spot and let the music flow over us.  That's what Sigur Rós does...songs and music effects   sometimes intimite and silent, then suddenly erupting roll by in big waves as if you're in some of the most amazing Icelandic landscapes at sunrise, during thunderstorms, on a sunny afternoon, when the nights settles, when a geiser erupts, ....I found it utterly entertaining to watch the band members switch back and forth between instruments: a little organ, piano's, drum, different guitars (which you can play as if they were a violin), clarinet, ... But honestly after an hour or so in the concert I did lose my concentration and it all merged in more of the same.  Sigur Rós is known not to be interacting with its audience but pieces just follow one after the other.  After 2 hours the set ended with a physically overwhelming outburst of sounds and lights at  Popplagio and that was it.

Ha, sure beats a night in the hotel room! I might keep a closer eye on the concert planning of Paradiso in the future.

The video's I find on youtube really don't do justice on the level of energy that does burst out now and then (and then bubbles completely away again)

  I Gear ( opening of the set-list)


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Made in Belgium: Blue Blot

In 1997 a great Belgian voice (of Luc Walter Jr) passed away after several years of disease.  A great loss since he was years the face of a blues band with international class: Blue Blot.  I think if they were still around, they'd turn me into a huge blues fan.  What a loss.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I've been following Luisa Perkins for quite a while...I don't recall exactly since when but I believe a mutual blogging friend introduced us to each other.  Once she asked me a question about a Dutch word which she needed for her novel.   NaNoWriMo was still hugely popular back then so half of the bloggers claimed to be writing novels, so I wasn't too impressed.   I enjoyed helping though and e-mailed her an invented word and its background & context in Dutch. But then I got curious and I googled her....ha, Luisa M Perkins really is a published author whose books you can buy.  Awesome!
[fast forward multiple years]
Luisa posted early this year enthousiastically that some publications were planned:  among others 'Dispirited'. When I complimented her on the stunning cover picture, I found out this was in fact the book I had once helped searching a word for. And a few weeks later I found it in my mail.  Aaaaaah isn't that cool!  She's such a sweetheart.

Even bigger surprise....Look inside...look! That's me.    Smiley indeed.

So , then I had to find out quickly what the book was about and hope that I'd like it.  Seriously, it'd be a bit awkward to be acknowledged in a book that I disliked.

"Dispirited" is categorized as dark young adult literature and deals with a little boy that has somehow found the skill to leave its body but can't return because his body has been invaded in the mean time. "Cute idea" , was my first opinion, that should keep me entertained .  I didn't really expect more than a nice entertaining story.

I was rather surprised about the thrilling plot full of dark fantasy elements that managed to drag me in.   As adult reading "young adult" literature, I felt nevertheless creeped out by the villain and was crossing my fingers for the characthers well-being.  Certainly the main characters are teenagers, experiencing school struggles, the difficulties of a newly composed family, first love, etc... These are things that are not part of my world (anymore) and some of their challenges (drugs & porn) were only pointed to implicitly as not to offend any reader. But this setting didn't stop me getting dragged into the fantasy story and find myself walking with Cathy through Kashkawan struggling to find a solution for the events.

Cathy, whose mother just got remaried and whose family moved, meets the little boy Blake and he takes her to a historic mansion in the village. But there's something strange about Blake and the house isn't what it seems to be either. Can she share this with her stepbrother who acts stranger each day or should she tell her new friend Rich?  Who can help when she's overwhelmed with all the events that she cannot grasp herself?

If you want to find out yourself and get dragged in a thrilling fantasy story , I'm happy to borrow the book, but even better: you can buy it here :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Happy Birthday

My nephew turned 7 so we thought it was time for his first make-over ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Made in Belgium: Tourist

A group named Tourist....I find that an orginal name and highly appropriate to post about in summer.
And he brings his songs in Antwerp dialect with a bit of nostalgia in the tone......Nice, I like it. It's different.

Liefde liefde

Mijn stad  (A song about "his city" , Antwerp)


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hot weekend with friends

It was hot this weekend....up to 36 degrees. Finally nice summer weather to balance off its awefull start. Even better: it came when we had a long weekend full of friends visiting to hang out together.  What more can you ask for?    Well , a cool beer, some shade and some water to splash in , I suppose. The lake beach was overcrowded, but the river in the woods turned into an unofficial beach until the nearby dam opened to allow some kayakteams to pass and our little pebble beach was taken by the swollen water.  Oh well, we could still cool off our feet on the side.

Swimmers in Robertville lake

the Warche river

Cooling off

It almost looks like a little beach here!

Our garden was transformed in a camping spot

Back to the unofficial beach

watching the kayaks come by in the swollen Warche

High tide in the Warche

Warning for sudden variations in water level....yep indeed

Friday, August 17, 2012

BBQ with the neighbours

It's hot summer weather in Belgium.   Yeaaaay!!
It's a long weekend in Belgium. Yeaaaay!!
We organised a BBQ with the neighbours. Yeaaaay!!
They brought excited kids, puppies,cats....we had iPads with games, inflated islands & bananas, a soccer ball, lots of food and terrace lamps. Yeaaay!!

It was a lovely evening out :)

What is cutest: puppy or toad.

The neighbour puppy's have all but one gone away to their new families and the last one , cuter than ever, stays another 2 weeks around.   Aaaah so adorable & playful right now! I am happy to help socialise it ;)

Luna, the last neighbour puppy

When clearing up some old rotton flower beds and take it away, we were surprised to find a big toad underneath. Not quite the winner of a beauty contest.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Made in belgium: Joshua

Both in Flanders as in Wallonia we had a TV show "The Voice" on tv (same franchise as in so many other countries).  In Wallonia the band members of "Joshua" were coaches. I didn't know them at all, so let's discover what they stand for....

 Outsiders - 2012

 Animals will save the world

 Alligator city

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sol Lewitt - Colours @ Museum M

During the M-idzomer festival, I had the opportunity to go and see the exposition of Sol Lewitt in the Museum M. I had read about it before here, but the pictures had not truly given the same impression it made when I was in front of the drawings. So awesome what you can achieve with lines in 4 directions and 3 colors! 
I had no idea that these paintings/drawings were recreated for each expostion and only live as long as there is the exposition. They are temporarily murals, created by a few dozen artists under supervision of the Sol Lewitt studio... and destroyed by overpaiting them after the exposition. This way they can 'travel' around the world, long after Sol Lewitt's death. They did this in fact right from the start, ...always had his paintings executed by others while he made very detailed designs and instructions how to execute.   In his vision he is the artist, creating the concept  and the others execute....if they do not stick to the plan, they become the creator and the artist rather but only creating a parody on the original work.   If they make a mistake, that is ok as all drawings are live and each piece of art contains mistakes.   Interesting huh. 

So here's a big square divided in 4 squares with each different directions of straigh lines & directions combined 

Combining simple lines & colors across the wall come together beautifully in a figure in the middle

These huge , conceptually very simple murals were really breathtaking

curving line across a roomsized mural, bottom part glimming.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

M-idzomer festival 2012

While last year our visit to the fairly new M-idzomer festival in Leuven was rather ad hoc planned, this time we had booked our tickets well in advance.  On Saturday we arrived rather late due to our diving trip, so we missed out on a lot of the performances but I made up for that on Sunday.

The fun part of M-idzomer in museum M is that it combines the music concerts from traditional festivals with stand-up comedy, dance performances , expositions in the museum, ... The concerts take place at the inner court yard of the museum and even when the festival is sold out (which was the case on Saturday for Intergalactic Lovers & Absynth Minded) you can still easily get around.  In contrast, it actually felt quite empty on Sunday when the festival wasn't sold out,  especially when it drizzled for a while.

Absynth Minded 


The dance performance of Cia Dansa was quite amusing about 3 girls that moved (and arrived in moving boxes) , then explored their new environment  and seemingly their own new territory where always one of the 3 friends seemed to stand apart and needed to regain her connection.

Poetically shuffling of moving boxes as part of a dance performance

At the exposition of Sol Lewitt, some students were describing a drawing to their friends at their back who had to try to sketch it based on the description. Quite amusing to watch.

The Dutch stand-up comedian Katinka Polderman was announced as  having the grace of a harbour worker and the character of a good beer.  Well, her elegance sure meets that of an elephant with rubber boots but her no nonsense down in your face songs/texts were quite funny.

Another Dutch artists on stage: Spinvis....Gosh that man's voice is the Dutch equivalant of Raymond van 't Groenewoud!!

the gorgeous building of Museum M in Leuven

 An installation

Made in Belgium: Intergalactic lovers

Due to our diving last Saturday we were late for the concert of Intergalactic lovers at the M-idzomer festival in Leuven. Bummer bummer, I had never seen them before while Jan had already been to one of their concerts.  Funny enough, that was just when I had started my job in Amsterdam and at that time I had no clue who he was going to see. Intergalactic Lovers only debuted in 2011 but their fame rose quite  a bit over the last year so this time I was pretty disappointed to have missed them. They won the Music Industry Award for break-through in 2011. Oh well...nothing i can do about it, besides dedicating a post to them.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Finally back in Zeeland!

Can you believe it had been 4 years since I dove in Zeeland? Neither did I, but I just looked it up. It even had been 2 years since I was hanging out there on the dry watching the other divers going in.

Needless to say that upon arrival at this view, I felt like I had been missing out.   Aaah , as soon as there's a little bit of sunshine there it feels like vacation!

Lots has changed there too: since last summer 3 wrecks have been sunk off closeby the dike, nicely marked with yellow buoys .   Nice spectacular images of the sinking of "The Serpent" can be seen here....a sinking which didn't go according to plan and the wreck ended up 10-15 m deeper than it had intended to be.  So afterwards two tiny boats got sunk shallower to allow inexperienced divers to access a wreck as well. Fortunately since my last dives in Zeeland, I gained sufficient experience to reach the Serpent.   Of course, compared to this sort of diving as at the Thislegorm, then the Serpent sucks. The low visibility + depth combined make it into a day-time nightdive and I was glad I could descend via the buoy line.  But it's still fun to "discover" all of a sudden the massive body of the sunk ship and explore it little by little with our lamps.
The ship's shape isn't too diverse and besides some tiny annemones & some crabs there isn't much live.

Later on the afternoon we stayed more shallow and tried to find the tiny "Zeehond" boat and the nearby reefballs which were full of annemones & seastars and fish. Much nicer to be honest.

Scharrendijke , Grevelingen lake

Scharrendijke, Grevelingen lake

De Kabbelaar