Tattoos #1

This ones for the mighty sea
Mischief, gold and piracy
This ones for the man that raised me
Taught me sacrifice and bravery
This ones for our favorite game
Black and gold, we wave the flag
This ones for my family name
With pride I wear it to the grave

– Dropkick Murphy’s ‘Rose Tattoo’

I like tattoos. I think I always have, from tribals when they became popular to extravagant Japanese stuff, videogame tats or oldschool ink. I like all of it. Ok, that’s not entirely true, but the point is that I like tattoos. It took me forever to get one, I didn’t get a sleeve when I was 18 or something. I got the first one when I was 26, so I took my sweet time to get to it. In this post (maybe I’ll split it up into two) I would like to tell you about the tattoo’s I got and what made me decide to get them. Not because I believe I know best, but because some of you might be thinking about getting some.

Perhaps my story might help you, or simply entertain you. Either is fine by me. I’m not a specialist, I don’t know everything about tattoos. Well, maybe just a little bit, so please don’t take me for one.  I’m just sharing my stories.


The first one I got, you can see on the picture here. Yes, it’s a symbol from Doctor Who, my beloved scifi series. I wanted to get one for a few years but then you have to decide. I came up with tons of ideas before coming to this one. When I did, I was sure instantly about the design. So why this one?


I was always fascinated by time. It mattered to me a lot. My grandpa was a clockmaker and after he passed away we were left with a room full of clocks. My dad took those tools and fidgeted with it for a bit too I think. The concept of time was the first thing I ever wrote a poem about. Yes, I’ve written some poetry in my day. Doctor Who tapped into those memories and passions and this symbol united various ancient ones in one. I didn’t want anything from an established religion so that was also covered.

I took my nervous body, that was going to be submitted to these needly cruelties of tattoo artists, to Dragon Tattoo in Eindhoven. The renowned shop was for me the only entrance point of a shop that delivered quality. I guess I was prepaired to pay the full price for whatever I would get. I made an appointment and went back on this particular date. I remember it pretty well, because I also had an intake for Air Traffic conductor in Amsterdam that morning. I didn’t become an Air Traffic conductor, as most people probably know. I was too creative? I still  have the ink though.

One hour it took and very little pain and there I was, I got my first tattoo. I could still walk, my skin wasn’t coming of or anything. The artist doing the work was Jimmy Orie, who is very experienced with tribal shapes, which I guess this fits in with. Though Dragon Tattoo is a very busy place, he managed to make it feel calm and nice. I didn’t feel rushed or crowded in any way. There was plenty of explanation to make me feel at ease with it. I’m happy with the choice for this shop, specially considering it was the first.


Many people get one tattoo, they’re content with that and they are not too keen on more suffering. They simply don’t consider it worth it. I felt slightly different, I wanted more immediately. It took me a year though, in which I went back to school, met a girl and so on and on.  It was time for ink. I chose a quote from Immanuel Kant that had always haunted me before and found a specific typing that I liked. It was as if a broken typewriter was it’s source.548708_4165702354542_18990776_n

To me the text mattered most, because it represents fundamental ideas I hold dear concerning ones own moral grounds. “The starry heaven above me and the moral law within me.”  The awe and wonder they fill us with, they are something we must preserve. Our moral grounds and our amazement at the world, filling us with the need to explore and discover.

For this one I drove to Schijndel, twice since the first time they had a holiday, to the Old Sailor Tattoo shop. The friendly owner put this on me in less than an hour. Though I heard this is a painful spot, it wasn’t as hefty to me. It varies per person obviously. It felt safe and alright in their quiet shop, so I did make a second appointment. I’ll save that for a next time.

The thought behind this tattoo was again quite personal, though I believe the words speak to everyone. The idea for me is to stand behind what I believe is right and what I should do in my life. Also to look at the world as an amazing place, wether that is dark or light, it’s full of beauty and adventure.  Do you need such thoughts before you get something tattoo’d? I don’t think so. It’s good to think things through obviously. You don’t want to be a guy ending up dating girls with the same name all the time because you were stupid once.  Tattoo removal does exist, but is an expensive and time consuming thing. Make sure you feel right about getting it and where you are getting it. There’s always another shop.

Updating the site

I guess google picked up on ‘Wheaton’s Law’, because the spam was hitting the proverbial fan since today. Perphaps this was due to the Google Authorship (which I can’t seem to get working this far, but we’ll get there I hope). Anyways, due to that it may be a bit more work to post a comment. Please don’t let that stop you, since I value those immensly.

So there’s going to be some CAPTCHA thing going on in the commens, which I’m not receiving that much this far. Also I’m trying to implement authorship and such.  I hope it makes it all more accesible and easy to use. I’m open for other suggestions on how to improve my blog.

Thanks for reading it.

Sounds of the Underground #2

I listen to music, so you don’t have to. You can decide if you want to check out what I’ve been checking out by reading what I thought about them. I’m usually pretty honest. I do tend to listen to what I like though.


Incantation – Dirges of Elysium

58558_1479431999462_148176_nI’m not a fan of death metal usually, though I appreciate a well structured bit now and then. Incantation has been a presence in my musical environment for years. The name kept popping up and I never bothered to listen to them. Best reference for me is the shirt my friend Andis seems to always wear when I meet him with the band logo sprawled on it. So that’s from the 2010 Skyforger gig in Little Devil, Tilburg. But to music now. For me, Bolt Thrower is the standard by which I measure death metal. It’s crooked and lame, but everyone needs their gateway band. Henceforth the clean and intense sound of Incantation resonates with me. The brutal vocals are like an instrument in the mixture to my ears and the lyrics are profane and very clearly anti-religious. The sound is dense and atmospheric, which is something I enjoy. I’m most impressed by the track ‘Elysium (eternity is nigh)’, which is the final song on the album. It takes the listener through the underworld and the rivers that flow through it (Greek mythology) in an epic 16 minute adventure.  Pretty impressive indeed.


Devin Townsend – Casualties of Cool

Normally, when an artist makes a record so far of their normal path, it’s like a novelty. Nothing to worry too much about or spend too much attention on. It’s different when that person is Devin Townsend, who did a lovely americana album with a lady on vocals. The music is very rootsy and natural, no bells or effects but songs.

Now and then it has a dark side, a southern soul feeling with a bit of voodoo vibe going on. The gentle voice of (I assume) Townsend gives  mystic aura to the sound here. In general there are a lot of enchanting moments on this bewildering, but oh so beautifull release.

A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Sea When Absent

As rare as that sunny day in Glasgee (Irvine Welsch style) is the intriguing sound of this release. Think Explosions In The Sky drinking tea with The Postal Service, while MGMT dropped the right drugs in the tea pot? Yeah, something like that. Oh, it has to be sunny.
Well, they call it Dream Pop and the group hails from the other side of the ocean, Philadelphia and Brooklyn to be precise. The music feels upbeat an cheery, light as the sun breaking through the clouds at such a location as the grey Scottish capital. I think the sun actually started shining a bit brighter here. Weeee! I don’t really have much to say about this record.

Layered waves of sound, synths and sometimes fuzzy effects make it a full sound barrage of sunrays in minor. Well worth for those sudden rainy summer days.


Wild Throne – Blood Maker

I’m not yet sure what it is I’m hearing here. I know it’s awesome. This band was recommended to me by a friend and they combine the vibe of cheesy pop music, mathy riffs, Mastodon like intensity and stadium like grandeur like… let’s say Iron Maiden and The Mars Volta’s bastard child. The artwork has that wonderful neo-romantic appearance of pagan flirtations. It’s epic.

I suppose I made it clear I like this record. It’s only four tracks, but blows the listener away with its unique sound. There’s a harmony between the elements you would not immediately expect. with the combination of things described. The combination of intense music with the clean, poppy sound reminds me a bit of The Protomen. If you don’t know those, check them out, specially if you like Megaman/Rockman video games.

I think we can expect big things from these guys, I really do. If Mastodon and Red Fang (perennial support band in my opinion) can fill up venues, why not these guys.

What are you missing, what is needed?

Now you’re so ashamed, now I’m so ashamed of you.
We believe the same things. You stand to the side.
– Gorilla Biscuits ‘New Direction’

Today I want to write about a skill or visual representation that spurs action instead of opinion. I’ve always had an issue with judgements and I tended to actually have a lot of judgements. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Having a judgement of another person, since that’s what I’m talking about, helps you to anticipate and premeditate your actions and attitutde towards that person. That helps you in a way if you are only being reactive. If you want to be pro-active, it becomes a whole different ball games.

When we judge others, we do it by right and wrong. We do it so strongly that we might end up polarizing people into right and wrong. In a conflict I had I started doing that with a person. This person had somehow touched those triggers that are opposed to my values and ideas, perhaps inherently my personality. That person for a brief period became a demon for me, pure evil, because I judged by wrong and right.


Now, we can never really escape the right wrong axis, but letting go of it and moving on to the active stage is the trick. We can move there by asking ourselves: What is missing? When we have the answer to that, we can ask: What is needed? And this way pro-actively solve issues, problems and conflicts in a way that actually helps. This is a brilliant theroy and well set axis. The problem is  the letting go of the judgement you have in your head.  Now, the measure in which we do this varies between people. I’ve had it very strongly for a long time. I’ve started developing some small techniques to help me deal with it lately that I would like to share.

1. Depersonalise your oponent

it sounds really cliché, but try to see the person you are having the confrontation with as an empty form, a tabular rasa that you have to work with to get something done. Let go of the person you feel you’re facing and your judgements about that person, because they inhibit you in having an open mind towards this other. You are making all sorts of assumptions about this conversation that will in the end only hamper finding the solution.

2. Put first things first: your goal

Straight out of the 7 Habits, I know, but so crucial to what you want to do. Rethink the purpose that was behind this conflict, what was your actual goal and focus on that. The person or group of persons (let us not forge that option) is only a tool in reaching that goal, utilize it instead of beating your head against it.  Do you not have a goal? Go on to step 7.

3. Think Win-Win

Another one from the same source, but also very true.  Approach your problem in a win-win way, look for a common win and that way make it so much more easy to solve it by suggesting another way that serves both. It’s the easiest way to convince someone else. Is there no win-win situation imaginable? In that case, really continue to step 7.

4. Put your emotions aside

Try to find that switch in your head that allows you to stop being all emotional about the topic, try to find your cold, business reason and you will get to the core of the thing. This simple act may, when you manage to pull it off, tell you if you need to take action or not. Is it really not such a big deal? Then continue to step 7.

5. Figure out if it actually has anything to do with you

Some people, like myself, have this natural feeling that they should defend others and stand up for the voiceless. That may be right in some occasions, but hardly in all of them. Decide if you are really taking on this fight. Think hard if you really are touched by this in any way and if there’s any reason why you should get involved. If the answer is no, which is pretty often is if it doesn’t actually have anything to do with you or your job, then just go to step .

6. Take the other perspective.

Some things are really two sided, you might be stuck in your side of things. Try to take another perspective, willingly look for that other side of things. It’s really hard at first, but it opens a door to tolerance and open mindedness.

7. Just drop it, let it go, breathe in and out and go on with your life

Some things are just not yours to be angry about. You shouldn’t worry about everything. That means letting go, dropping it and just stepping outside to get some fresh air. This is the ultimate step and very hard to take. If you need some help, go past the last 6 again. I think you’ll get here anyways,

I hope someone will find this useful, I do, though I still remain in my cycle sometimes, trapped in frustration. It gets better though, but it requires a lot of practise. Don’t forget that usually people want the same things and strive for the same goals. Frustration, secrecy, shame and strife will always block your efforts. You can not control what others do, but you can control how you deal with it.

Sounds of the Underground #1

I listen to music, so you don’t have to. You can decide if you want to check out what I’ve been checking out by reading what I thought about them. I’m usually pretty honest. I do tend to listen to what I like myself though.

Regarde Les Hommes Tomber – S/T

Gritty post-black metal/sludge from the city of Nantes in France by what I’ve perceived to be quite a young band still. The omnious sound takes up the topic of ‘The Fall’. Not in the way that you fall and hurt your knee, no it’s much bigger. The fall of humanity, the biblical image of the fall, atleast that’s what I get from the whole imagery of their sound and artwork which refers to the tower of Babel and such. They make it sounds great. Long, dreary guitar wails, heavy hitting drums that sound like giants dragging their feet, vocals that bark the inevitable despair of loss. A great record for a sunny sunday in it’s twisted way.

Godflesh – Decline And Fall

I’ve developed a love for the raw sound of urban decay of Godflesh. Their iconic imagery and typical sound of Justin K. Broadrick’s crew has maintained it’s relevance throughout their almost 20 year existence. A new EP in that case is always good news. There’s the industrial beats and the rasping riffs. The vocals express either the weary feeling of being in a daily rut, or the frustration that comes with urban life. The constant tension, boredom and restlesness. Four songs that express this current state of affairs. Blending industrial with metal has always been a tricky thing, but no one knows or defines how it works as much as these guys. I’m not sure yet what is the best time to listen to this record though. It’s not comfortable listening music, that’s for sure.

Default decline ruled by dead fires
Don’t wait, think last, act now, destroy

Enslaved – RIITIIR

The album ‘RIITIIR’ is by now two years old but still filled with brimming and biting energy of a whole new level than the first records of the band from Norway. Part of the black metal wave, the band quickly turned it around and became a genre on their own, pushing the boundaries and possibilities. I got to see them live on their ‘Vertebrae’ tour in 2008 or 2009 and their majestic sound was nothing like I anticipated. The rasping vocals of Grutle Kjellson are the last bit that betrays the roots of what can now be called a black/death blend with avant-garde pretense and prog fuelled riffing. The sound is clean and well produced, the artwork is beautiful. Truly captivating sounding music is produced by these guys by now and I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out, even when you are scared of extreme metal. Not without reason where they named as a band pushing the genre forwards by Sam Dunn in that final episode of Metal Evolution.

Lantlôs – Melting Sun

Though formerly known as a black metal outfit, the Germans from Lantlôs have exchanged that grim sound for a more shoegaze/postrock feeling on their new EP, which lasts about as long as a regular album. Soft, colourfull soundscapes are produced by the three bandmembers, It’s music for dreamers, slowly floating through the air in unity. The name of the band means ‘without homeland’ and it truly feels like the music takes you away from such earthly things as nationality. Peacefull sunrays fall on your face as you float away, this could be the soundtrack of ‘de Droomvlucht’ in nearby theme park ‘The Efteling’.

I’m well impressed with the sound of these Germans, who give beauty to a style so often described as gloomy and dark, this is music of light.

Choose Life?

The Fire in the Sky is Extinguished
Blue Waters no Longer Cry
The Dancing of Trees Has Stopped
The Stream of Freshness from Cold Winds
Exists no Longer

– Burzum ‘A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit’

I’ve always found suicide a very difficult topic to discuss. For many people it seems te be very clear cut and life is the path you should take, always. It all becomes a bit muddled when we bring up euthanasia, people are not sure what to think about this topic. It feels wrong, but seems right and the other way around. I think its beautifull and noble, it’s the choice of saying that you’ve had enough of the cake that is life. Whatever follows is the decay, the ruin and the path towards the inevitable end. I think suicide is every man (and woman’s) right.

Now, two things I would like to say before I continue and people start asking me if I’m alright. I am, I’m fine and enjoying the fruits and challenges life offers me. There have been times when I didn’t like life that much, but I’m a ‘lifer’. Where there’s hope, there’s life for me and vice versa. This term has everything to do with my second point. I don’t think suicidal people are a homogenous group and I’m really talking about a specific form of motivation to find death instead of life. I’m talking about people who are born to live and born to die. It wasn’t a pleasant road to figure and accept that this exists, but I’ve come to accept some people will look for death. Those are not the suicides that look for a resolution, they are already resolved, at peace.

How did I get to discuss this topic? Well, I’ve been listening to black metal. I’ve always been fascinated by this genre and the extreme ideas that cling to it. When studying the genre intensely a year or two ago, I stumbled upon the works of The Shining with vocalist Niklas Kvarforth. Kvarforth used to cut himself open, to maim himself on stage. They were one of the main exponents of the genre Depressed Suicidal Black Metal. I can write you a whole explanation about it here, but this short interview explains a lot. I believe Kvarforth has now changed his ways, he is embracing life again, even doing some sort of stand-up comedy at Devilstone Fest in Lithuania last year.

Now, this genre was one bridge too far for me. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t make sense because why would you do that? Why dwell on that line of suicide, of self harm and mutilation? There’s a fascination to it, a catharsis if you like, in listening to these bands. Sonically it’s usually dense,  like a grim and dark forest. It confronts you with that darkness and you can embrace it for a moment, flirt with it. Not everyone just flirts with it though, there are people who embrace death like vocalist Dead of Mayhem. The guy was obsessed with the idea of being an actual corpse, so one day he shot his brain out and left a note: “Sorry for all the blood”. For me the click came when Selim Lemouchi ended his life. I believe that his suicide was a conscious choice, but addled by problems. So it’s not the actual act, but an older interview where he said, with total calm and resolve that he would take his life when he was done, when the creative process was over. It wasn’t taking a pose or bragging, it felt and sounded as real and regular as saying you’re going to have a drink or what you had for breakfast.

People told me to reread the interview I did, that it was already announced in that. I don’t believe that, I believe the man would eventually have killed himself, but after the creative process. When he had said the things he wanted to say. That calm made me realise that not everyone is made to live a life as most do. Some are born to die. They don’t feel sad or angry about it, they are already there in a way. We are not all made to live. History shows us suicide as a way out or an honorable way to deal with situations. Suicide is not a bad thing, it’s a choice for some that is made fully concsious and aware, without regret. That should be any persons right.

That being said, it’s not always this way. There are many causes for suicide that have little to do with a choice. Depression, substance abuse, mental imbalances or trauma are not choices, those are things that happen to you and that you might need a hand with. Those are the ones you can help, those are the ones who stand on bridges and next to railroads hoping for a resolution. They find it in death, but it’s not the resolution they wanted. They are the ones that could have been helped, most people are inevitably: Lifers. People that want to live and enjoy life.

There are others for whom suicide is not an impulse, nor caused by any of these things. There are those who just look forward to the day they die. Learning to accept that might make our lives a lot easier.