All posts by Guido

I'm just a geek.

God Hates Us All

Not once has anyone ever seen
Such a rise of pure hypocrisy
I’ll instigate I’ll free your mind
I’ll show you what I’ve known all this time

God Hates Us All, God Hates Us All
You know it’s true God hates this place
You know it’s true he hates this race

– Slayer ‘Disciple’

Yes, I think that this is, without a doubt, the case; God hates us all. But the funny thing is ofcourse, that when you state something like this it requires God to be a real or perceived to be real entity. Oh dear, what have I gotten myself into this time… Yes, I am writing something about religion now. And I think that whatever God you believe in, he hates us all.

Source: tiger4iq.deviantart.com

I’m not an atheist. Once upon a time, I did think I should strive to be one though. It’s about as easy to believe in a Godhead, God or Goat, as it is to say it doesn’t exist. Both are equally as dogmatic and stubborn. This leaves no way for any sort of consensus. I believe it’s more valid to teach evolution in schools, but that doesn’t make evolution wrong. Most of what we’ve figured out about the first turns out to be wrong and the second is impossible to disprove this far (though this museum doesn’t make creationists more likable). I can’t help but disliking dogmatism either way, it’s like a brick wall in your mind. It started when a friend kept coming up with the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion as a way of mocking Christianity. It is quite hilarious though. But think about it, humor is a great way of opening up the conversation between believers and non-believers.

Source (I guess): venganza.org

The most important thing for human beings is to keep their minds open. If they close up, they do so for good and I think that at the core of most wars and conflicts, there’s something like that involved. I don’t consider myself either, I think I’m an agnost with a drop of Buddhism where it suits me (the Buddha never was a God, mind). Mix that up with a keen interest in philosophy and something of a life philosophy that leaves the option of a deity filled in with a question mark. I’m not saying I’m right here and that I’ve found the golden road to enlightenment. It just seems the most sensible to me. I think believers have always got valid points and things to draw from their faith. Just like rationality of non-believers can really get us to go places. Still, Kierkegaard never stated that his ‘leap of faith’ was exclusively for Christians… Plenty of great scientists did just that: taking a leap. It’s also the only way to get out of that eternal circle… Yes, dogmatic atheists have one too.

source: iamchristianiamanatheist.blogspot.nl

I believe we all have some form of faith to us, something we cling on to when we have no other refuge. No one will stare into the abyss, without feeling it stare back into ourselves. Lovecraft already wrote about incomprehensible fear that made people go insane, mad and lost. We all have our breaking point where something we perceive or are face with becomes the Kantian sublime, the unimaginable that rocks our foundations, we will always grasp at whatever we have to hold on to.

As soon as we start realizing the existential needs that make both sides equal as human beings, maybe we can find a dialogue that doesn’t involve insults, hatemongering and intolerance. If we don’t, then you might be next.

 

Salad Days

But on I stay on where do I get off?
On to greener pastures
The core is getting soft

Do you remember the time (I don’t know)
We’ll call these our salad days
– Minor Threat ‘Salad Days’

For Minor Threat the ‘Salad Days’ EP marked their departure from the old fashioned punk sound. There’s a certain remorse to it. ‘The core is getting soft’, it was also the end for one of the most ground breaking bands. Onward to something new, to something more mature to keep the wits as sharp and powerful as before. The song is about age, experience and insights that come with it. In this blogpost I want to write about things I chose to change.

I eat salad every lunch break, that’s my choice. I consider these my Salad days and I think they might stick around. There’s no political or environmental reason to my diet. I have a diet, indeed. In so far as diet means your conscious eating pattern, I do. I try to eat Paleo as much as possible. To really explain what that is, I will let you read this here.  Simply said: no sugars, no grains, no dairy, no legumes… I eat meat, veggies, eggs and nuts. I drink tea, coffee and water most of the time, sometimes a glass of wine.

Now, you might say: “This is not true, I’ve seen you eat chips!” You are probably right. Possibly you also saw me having a beer or eat some kind of bakery. Why? Firstly, because I’m not ‘holier than thou’. I’ve eaten potatoes and bread my whole life and it’s no easy transition to just stop eating that. Really, it was not an easy switch and the first weeks I had a lot of headaches from the whole detox proces. I still love chips now and then, but more and more their after effect on my constitution makes me pass on them.

Secondly, I’m not eating this way to prove a point to anyone else. Ofcourse, I feel a certain appreciation towards the general concept behind this diet, but I have the same to most of those. I loved the Krishna thing and the straight edge movement, but I just couldn’t work with that. Neither was it really good for me. So since I’m doing this for myself, I don’t have to ‘Keep The Edge’ or so for anyone else. When I fail myself by eating a pack of cookies, the only one who has a right to be upset with myself is me. Simple as that, there’s no political side to my lifechoice. Ofcourse I totally feel sympathetic to movements that support cleaner food, but it really had no influence on my choice, it’s a thing outside of it.

Thirdly, I firmly believe that the body needs a kick against its proverbial backside now and then. If you have  a fever, a shower with real hot and then real cold water really shakes it off a bit. It can really help to get in the cold with a cold. I can continue with the value of shocking your body now and then. The same goes with a lot of detox programs or even when you go drinking for the night. You test your body, you shock it and it reacts. I notice that the shock of eating something like chips or pizza once a week, not only satisfies the craving you will inevitably face, it also kicks my body into the next week in a way. I’m not an expert, but it’s either something physical, or the mental inspiration and motivation to start your next week good. For me this really works well.

About that then…

Fourth, I’m not a wealthy man. I can not buy myself all the insane products that American supermarkets have in stock. I have to deal with a budget form of eating paleo and you can easily see how meat, fruit and vegetables are comparitively the most exensive products on the shelves. Also, go ahead and try to eat paleo in a restaurant; it’s not possible. In the USA they probably have those, but not here. There’s literally nothing to eat for the diet exept a salad. You wouldn’t want to hamper your social contacts in that way, so it’s up to me, as a follower of the diet, to make up my own choices on the topic.

Now, I have to be honest. I feel a bit prinicpal about it, which might come from listening to those hardcore bands all my life. I feel like I’ve created with my gym and food regimen a pretty strict lifestyle that really works for me. The big advantage of not eating so many sugars is mainly that you start feeling much more energetic. I was struggling with energy peaks and lows a lot before. I feel sharper, more awake, more aware and more on top of things. That might have to do with a general switch, but I think I’ve been building towards it for a long time by working out and now living healthy by eating healthy. The downside is that you really can’t handle alcohol anymore. That in turn is a good reason to enjoy your one special beer a lot more than having 15 lagers without any joy to them.

Much has been written on paleo and alcohol..

Now, I’ve not been great at holding my ground on that ever, so it was a good reason to really change my mentality towards alcohol in general. Did I mention that this diet really supports a schedule where you visit the gym a couple of times a week? By visiting I don’t mean guzzling sports drinks and watching the telly. I talk about working out on just water for 2 hours. Because you eat a lot of eggs in the diet, you basically already got your whey in your belly.

The bottom line is that it makes me feel good. I try my best to grow in it and develop my range of recipes so I can stop eating all those addictive other foods. If you feel you couldn’t do that, then you should probably not even start this. If you feel you could, but it would take time, I encourage you to try this for a while. Go for a month of rather strict following and you’ll feel if it does for you what you hoped. The only reason I do this, I can’t stress enough, is for myself. That’s the best motivation you can have I think.

I don’t see my choice as the best there is, I see it as what works best for me now and what I hope to grow in. If you have a similar path or are you interested in this one, let me know, get in touch.

Keep your own edge! It’s what Minor Threat did.

Guido

Trophy Scars

why did your golden hearts
effortlessly bruise?
how did that waning spark
fade to black and blue?

– Converge ‘Vicious Muse’

I love Converge, why don’t you?

So I have to retract yesterdays post (not that I will, but as a way of saying). I felt really good about my methods the last few days and felt optimistic enough to share them with you guys. Then this afternoon, for the first time in a while, I felt really upset. Not upset in an angry manner where I blame everything on the other person, but where I totally didn’t get what was happening.

I’ll be hopelesly vague, for privacy and personal meanings and reasons. I have reasons! So I did something for party A to make their thing easier. I do stuff that involves the leftfield in between party A and B at work and I try to be as pro-active about it as I can, suggesting developments and offering help when I can or when I wish someone realised I’m not a drone. I feel pretty good about doing that, because it always finds a bit of thanks and respect.

Now, I get the thing thrown in my face. I also get reasons after asking for them. For me reasons are not ‘feelings from the gut’, ‘nameless fears’ and other vague, shivery things. I actually just translate those to “This is my call and I’m calling it wether you like it or not.” That sucks, specially when you’re enthousiastic and energetic about your thing. For some reason the talk didn’t end there and for some reason it became personal, it felt isultive and it just really got to me. I started speaking hoarse and stammered when I spoke, confused I left and felt totally upset.

Why was I upset? I felt I had been pro-active on the whole thing. I tried to understand before I made myself understood and most importantly I thought in a win/win form. The win I got in the end was a minimal one and I keep thinking what I did wrong. I’m trying to not get stuck in it, but I really just have a hard time understanding what happened. When I got home I parked it, went to the gym, and tried to let go. I didn’t feel happy about it, but work is not my life. I put first things first and today that was my girlfriend. I’m trying to tank from the positive vibes I get, not the negative stuff from today. I think I did everything with the best intentions, but it takes two to tango and all that.

Well, I’ve managed to let that go now. I know I did a lot right, but maybe could have done some things better. Alas, I was the one rattled and confused. Learn and move on, right? I’m just someone on my own path to enlightenment. Sorry if I seemed arrogant. Advice is most welcome, but readers know this I hope.

Peggy Sang The Blues

It doesn’t matter where you come from
It matters where you go
No one gets remembered
For the things they didn’t do

– Frank Turner ‘Peggy Sang The Blues’

It’s definitely not easy to stay optimistic about the way my life is going. I’m 29 now and for some reason I finally got around to writing down what is happening to me. I’ve always been a pessimist, coming from a long line of pessimists (I guess, to be honest I don’t know). I’ve always thought little of myself and my capabilities. That’s part nurture, part nature I think. Hard to say how that happens. I think it’s a quality to not have a high opinion of yourself. It enables you to stay humble and sincere, but it also keeps you small and cripples you once you start getting ahead of your peers.

Where is the balance? It’s hard to say really, a reputation is something you need to build up, but tearing it down only takes seconds. If you focus on just that it is as much a limitation for you as focussing on your bad qualities.

As soppy as they may be, confronting yourself with these can really keep you on track.

I don’t have the answer, I can relate however what I think are some points on how to make your own life more positive and pleasant.

1. Fill your tank with the positive and dissect the negative.

We run on what we feed ourselves with. If you only have negative experiences or you only recognize those, you will start filling your tank wit those. It means you’re running on angst, fear and insecurity. You are what you eat, that’s as true for this as anything. I really believe that we should take that which inspires, feeds and lifts us up as fuel to go ahead. The opposite goes for negative experiences. Don’t dwell on it too long, dissect it, discard what hurts you on an emotional level and deduce the actual lesson from it. A lesson should always be taken as a positive thing. We are fallible and we’ll always make mistakes. That also means we can always grow, and growth is good.

2. Focus on where you are going, not where you are or where you come from.

Decisions are the one true freedom we have. When we set goals or targets for ourselves, when we start some development, choose what you want to get from it. Focus on where you want to be. That doesn’t have to be a high goal necessarily, for example when you start an excersise, your goal can be to just have fun doing it instead of getting good at whatever the excersise is. Sometimes a goal is given to you, for example in a work related situation. When you have a goal, focus on that, not on the starting point. Where there’s a wish, there’s a way.

3. Take time for all elements of your life.

It’s very easy to just focus on your work and then in your spare time on whatever you feel most like doing. Using your spare time for social connections can be really exhausting. Yet, planning time for that will reward you much more at times. Take half an hour to make a call to a relative, go have a beer with a friend or just hang out with your partner. It seems like such a small thing, but it means so much for your relationships. Life is to short to waste on things that don’t really matter to you.

4. Do things that scare you.

Growth and development is only easy when there is no actual growth happening. We learn from stumbling, falling, trying again and trying harder. Find challenges in your daily routine and go at them. That moment of self-doubt and fear is usually the sign that you’ve found it. Step out of your comfort bubble and talk to the people that make you nervous or are hard to talk to. You’ll probably find appreciation and gratitude for trying, either from the other person or from within yourself. Nothing good ever came from the comfor zone.

5. Hold on to your own values, but respect and accept those of others by standing in their shoes.

It’s very easy to judge others by your own views, probably everyone is guilty of failing those. The other problem is that it’s usually hard enough to live up to our own values. Values are always idealistic and bound to social norms, age, ideas and ideals. That means they’re fleeting and hard to live up to. Judging others is easy by them, but judging yourself by them is even more depressing. It’s better to focus on your qualities and express those. Qualities last and also stay closer to you. Be recognized by those that come from within, not a rigorous code that only shoes on the outside. Also try to step in another persons shoes, try to see that their qualities and values are differen than yours. Once you accept that, life will really become a lot easier and tolerance will grow into an external warmth towards others and new found respect.

6. Do what you think is right and accept that succes or failure came from your own decision.

I’m just speaking my mind here, which doesn’t mean I know anything really. As I wrote earlier, I think it already helps a lot if you try not to be a dick towards others.  These things I share in the hope they are of some use to you. If they are, let me know. If they aren’t, let me know as well. I hope to learn from that.
Whatever you choose to do, that is your decision and you should stick by it. If you ignore your own instinct and do what someone else tells you, it’s still your decision. Stumbling and falling will happen now and then, either way. Realise it’s all on your terms and admit that to yourself. Forgiving yourself is way easier than others, blaming yourself is much harder.

Whatever you do, don’t dwell on what you did, but on what you wan’t to be doing and how. Be critical and sceptical of yourself and never be afraid to ask for help. Good luck and thanks for reading.

It really doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you go.

Lenny

In this post I want to tell you guys about Lenny. Most people who know me personally, know Lenny too. Thats why I am going to dedicate a post to the little dude.

A year ago I had just moved in with my girlfriend. My almost neurotic urge to be in control of everything was really a problem and we had a lot of arguments. I will admit that most were caused by me. It wasn’t the best of times for our relationship and in general not the most cheery time. A lot of the issues came from me not being very happy with where I was in my life. Instead of grabbing the bull by its horns, I vented my frustration around others. I was an angry, stressed out dude at the time.

I think that has changed a lot, I’ve grown a lot over time, but that’s all much later. I was quite a dick towards people, who stuck with me anyways. I think that as long as your qualities outweigh your crap that will go on. I can’t change that, but I can learn from it, right?  I think I did when I started asking for help from others and got a lot of that from the people around me.  I can find a lot of  starting points for that story of how I got to where I am, which is a much happier place. If you can chose between the truth and the legend though, chose the legend. To quote from the film Big Fish:

– “Y’see, most men, they’ll tell a story straight through— it won’t be complicated, but it won’t be interesting either.”

This story starts in june 2013 when I met my new buddy and roomie: Lenny. Life started to become more full and mostly much more hilarious when he joined us. He just ran over the bed while I was typing this, and now he is sitting in the corner looking at me, sceptically… Weirdo.

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Lenny at arrival, Lenny a year later

Lenny was living with my colleague. She and her roommate had gotten the furry bundle from a lady that get’s abandoned cats from Russia and Belarus over to the Netherlands. Since these animals are easily dumped on the street over there and have a slim chance of finding a home, it’s a great oppertunity to get an awesome new cat-friend for your home. Lenny was born in Brest (Belarus) and spend some happy time with an owner. I imagine he was well taken care of, since he’s always been well mannered, leaving curtains and blankets alone. He did try to eat every plant we have, but after he got sick from one that stopped too.

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From there on Lenny ended up in a pet shelter. Bad food and conditions showed on the little fellow when he moved to the Netherlands before he was one year old. Having arrived here, he spend some time with Maja, the lady who gets them over to here. He left for a new family, but was quickly returned. The other cats were not  best friends with Lenny, hes super playful and doesn’t get it when others aren’t. His friend Orval the cat has often ended up exhausted from playing. Soon a new owner came around, which is how Lenny ended up at my colleague

An allergy was the reason she needed to find him a new home in turn, the cat didn’t spend long enough there to get a name. Me and my girlfriend discussed the animal and decided to go have a look. What harm is there to it?. Upon entering the appartment, the cat soon to be named Lenny marched out to greet us, specially my girlfriend. “We’ll take him.”, she said, immediately. This friendly fellow was going to be a new addition to our family. So Lenny, who was once called Taiger, moved across the street into our place and has been living there ever since, having all sorts of adventures.

Seriously, I can tell you about a hundred Lenny adventures, silly stuff he does that cracks me up all the time… You might not find it that funny to hear how he chases a record around, attacks my shoelaces or tries to get into my wardrobe. How he always runs into open appartments to say hi to people or how he time and time escapes me, forcing me to run after him five floors up… It is amazing how much fun I have with that cat.

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Lenny enjoying some Bongripper

Lenny gave us a reason to work on our relationship, we had a responsibility now. A furry, little guy who needed food, attention ,care and love. It’s funny how it worked out. How Lenny would position himself between us if we had a fight about nothing. How he comforts us and always takes the edge of stressful situations. In the morning he comes up the stairs to the greet us on our entresol, twice since we don’t get up at the same time. He sleeps here too, but obviously a lot shorter. His favorite toys are shoelaces and hair bands, he totally loves those and his energy in catching them is awesome.

He’s been here for a year now. We often go for walks, when he doesnt escape on his own. The open office space down the hall already knows him, like most cats in the hallway. Lenny has even won over my dad and many of my friends. There are still little lessons he teaches us. I don’t think he cares what I try to teach him. It’s great to have a cat to come home to, to hang out with and to laugh about. Soon he’ll have a buddy even and I hope he is as happy here as we are with him. We’re not crazy cat people, just crazy about our little dude who made our lives so much nicer.

Covey says that love is not just a thing that is there, it’s a verb. The feeling only comes once you ‘do’ that verb. What we needed was something to represent that, to become almost that relationship in the flesh. I guess in a way that’s what happened. Like a pet, a relationship develops, grows on you and gives you a great feeling once you nurture it and care for it. If you don’t, it becomes a burden, a strain and cause for stress. Working to take care of Lenny tought me to work for my relationship, a lot of relationships with friends and family too I think, all of that because of a silly little cat.

Lenny fell asleep, sorry if it was boring.

Pain and gain

I’ve been thinking about writing on this topic for a while. I probably will get into it more at a later point in time,  since it matters to me. It motivates me in many ways and I think it’s something people don’t know. I hang out in the gym.

Normally, I go to the gym 3 times a week. People might think that’s weird, since many of the people around me can’t even drag themselves there once a week… or ever. I respect that, some people feel good the way they feel normally and don’t need the accomplishment/rush I get from it. It’s not that I want to look like a pumped up Hulk or something, nor am I swallowing all sorts of supplements. It just makes me feel good to go there.

It’s a fairly easy way of challenging yourself both physically and mentally. Your mind often tells you to slow down, take it easy and get things over with quickly. I, for example, hate lunges. My knees hurt often and they don’t like lunges and squats. Making myself do them anyways gives me exactly that feeling of accomplishment I’m talking about, it gives you an oppertunity to turn your mental no in a yes. In fact at some point your body starts craving for the burning feeling of the iron. For the exhaustion following it, in which muscles feel relaxed and your frustrations have been worked through. I need to share that Henry Rollins bit here. I’ve talked about how I found Wil Wheaton inspiring. Henry Rollins has been that for me as well, an inspiration on many fronts. I may not always agree with him, but having your own vision is always a value and a lesson to learn, going against the grain is what I’ve learned from punk rock. This is similar in a way.

Please, read this when you need some motivation to go yourself.

You may find something there, maybe not. We’re all different in that respect. For me, the Iron became a place, my silent garden where I listen to books and lift weights. I have enough parts of my body that can’t do things like running anymore, jiu jitsu was also no longer an option, but this gives me piece and relaxation. Pain and gain don’t have to be a combination coming from unnatural muscle building. Protein shakes are not steroids, that’s a whole different ball game.

I haven’t been there since a week ago though, I had so many painful parts that I decided on a rest week, first time since I was on holiday. I let myself deserve this one, and after that we step it up again.

Another great site to get motivated is Nerd Fitness. I really want to share this with anyone who’s interested. I’ve not used their workouts much, but their information is very broad and intriguing. Also about food, it’s why I started eating paleo. So check them out.

I’m not a jock, I’m just a guy who found balance between the physical and the mental surrounded by iron. I recommend people to try it. I don’t go there to socialise, I go there for me. It makes me feel good and in control, it heps me train my body, demonstrate discipline and persistance and in the end relax. This is my meditation.

Oh, and squats don’t give you a big ass…. stop saying that you morons.

Star Trek vs Star Wars

Probably a perennial discussion Memoriam among Montville those gifted with the geek gen. Which is the best? Both must agree that the latter incarnations of both sucked. I mean, Jar Jar Binks and the later series… I’m still in doubt about those new films. Anyways, this comparison doesnt work.

So I’ve endeavoured to list a contest on my terms, where not everything is fair. If you really let it come to a fight, a lightsaber cuts you in two while the phasers are set to stun. Princess Leia would not put on that dress cheap nba jerseys if she wasnt forced to by Jabba and Jean-Luc Picard may not be such a swagger as Han Solo, he does get shit done. The force is like all powerful. Nothing is really balanced is it?

Who owns that shit?
While Star Trek is owned by CBS and Paramount, both respected companies for some things and less for other Milk productions, Star Wars has a big disadvantage here. Why? Because Disney owns their shit and has just discarded half of its awesome mythology (Exar-Kun for the win!). Now, with the new films I’m still sceptical about the future of Star Trek (atleast it has a future now). Still, this round goes to Starfleet.
ST 1 – SW 0

Cool Characters on screen?
Apart from Obi-Wan Kenobi (old and new), Qui’gon Jin (come on, Liam Neesson always rocks) and Han Solo, Star Wars has little to offer. Oh, there’s a massive score for Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Yoda, Mace Windu and ofcourse Admiral Ackbar. It has to contend with the likes of Kirk, Picard, Spock, Data, Sulu, Scott, Bones and ofcourse Wesley Crusher! Oh, they also have Khan ofcourse, both the new and old awesome. This round goes to Star Wars though, Darth Vader on his own would be hard to beat, but that with Yoda and so on… oh, Darth Maul too and Count Dooku. This must be clear enough by now, the empire strikes back!
ST 1 – SW 1

Cool Characters off screen?
William Fucking Shatner! Leonard Nimoy and George Takei! Patrick Steward, Brent Spiner and ofcourse Wil Wheaton (I don’t care what you think, his stuff is geektastic). There’s ofcourse some actors in the new films of Star Wars who are cool. Ewan McGregor, Liam Neesson, Samuel L. Jackson and Nathalie Portman are all great people. cheap nfl jerseys Yeah, Harrisson Ford is also quite cool. The new Star Trek films added Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg (yay!) and Benedict Cumberbatch to their line-up. Christopher Lee is not enough to tip the scales (though how cool is his metal stuff?).
ST 2 – SW 1

Technology/Civilization
You may think that this goes to Star Wars easily, but the civilization only has a certain amount of stability unter wholesale nfl jerseys the tyranny of the Empire. The empire is basically a military power like a Roman Empire or maybe something less positive (calling them nazi’s is a bit too strong though). On many fronts the whole Star Wars is in some pseudo-medieval status with some crusader dudes who wield close combat weapons where you can nuke planets. Star Trek is on that Galactic mission of peace and prosperity, their humanity is an enlightened humanity (well, you can have your doubts about Captain Kirk ofcourse). Spock even gets it to a higher level with his rationalism. For me Starfleet embodies ideals like that ahead of the European Union (regardless of its cheap mlb jerseys current failings). I like that, so I’m giving this one to them #1 too.
ST 3 – SW 1

Bad guys
So this is pretty predictable, isn’t it? Darth €3M Vader, The Emperor, Darth Maul, Count Dooku, Jar Jar Binks… Iconic badasses that everyone recognizes. Oh, and ofcourse Sand People, Jawa’s and big ass monsters. Star Trek has the Borg, Romulans and Klingons. Individuals like Khan don’t compete with that arsenal of the Star Wars universe. Jabba! I forgot Jabba! Well, obviously there’s tons of intriguing enemies in Star Trek, but none really stuck. That’s alright for the series itself, but it loses this battle.
ST 3 – SW 2

Ladies 
Are you into Twileks? I never really fancied Princes Leia to be honest, too much shouting, to covering dresses and just not that hawt. Yeah she had that slavegirl costume, but she wouldn’t wear it in private circumstances obviously… So that leaves Nathalie Portman, who is the kind of girl you’d sell bodyparts for to be with.

This is what Star Trek has to offer and I think this list makes up for Nathalie Portman. So this one is a tie… Just kidding, how could this rapping, badass chick not win this one?

ST 3 – SW 3

Geekiness
No matter how dumb those rattails and funky jedi haircuts look, nothing can live up to the trekkie costume. There is no World! contest on this front at all. Now, the question is ofcourse how to judge this cheap nba jerseys item. I’m just gonna let Star Trek win this one. I like Star Trek better. There.

ST 4 – SW 3

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Review Roundup #1

Since I write tons of reviews I thought it would be better if I write about them in one piece instead of dedicating a post to every gig I go to. I’m not sure if I’ll share album reviews since those vary in length. I’ve been doing this for years and it’s still something I do with much love and passion.

Also, I don’t get te review everything I see. I still enjoy writing about stuff I get to enjoy so I’ll try to do roundups of what I think you should have seen, my appreciated reader (is there anybody out there?).

Huntress & Battlecross @013, Tilburg (UP Magazine)

I was excited about this gig, mainly because of Huntress. Old fashioned sturdy metal with a tinge of the occult dropped in there. More so maybe for the extravagant vocalist Jill Janus (who was a playmate, which for men is a good reason). I was impressed afterwards, not just by her.
I can be brief about Battlecross. Though a  fine band in their specific style, which I think is typical NWAHM (New Wave of American Heavy Metal). Their energy and passion ignites the crowd. If you dig that sound of Lamb of God, Darkest Hour and such, check them out.

I want to focus my attention on Huntress. Their sound is more Sabbath and Pentagram then anything of these times. Add to that the occult vibe and Banshee shrieks of Jill Janus, wearing make up that makes her look like a witch, and you’ve really got something. True, it may not be as clean and well done all the time, its still entertaining and powerful. Janus really gets into the whole act, but keeps friendly and grateful.

Chuck Ragan + Northcote + Billy The Kid @013, Tilburg (UP Magazine)

I love the whole acoustic punkrock gig, its brilliant and brings the music I loved as a teen to me in an adult and more ‘musical’ form. Apart from Frank Turner, Chuck Ragan is one of the kings of the ‘genre’ and he brought a great gang with him for this.

Billy the Kid is a pretty lady from Vancouver, playing gentle singer songwriter songs with the right amount of balls. During her set Matt Goud (a.k.a. Northcote) helps out as well. That continues the whole show, musicians join eachother on stage, demonstrating passion and love for what they are doing. The polished songs of Billy the Kid contrast slightly with the raw diamond of jolly giant Northcote, but the sum is better than the parts. Specially if you consider what is left to come.

Chuck looks like a rugged cowboy from the States with his boots and jeans shirt. It doesnt take look for that to get soaked with sweat. He plays songs with his band The Camaraderie, many of those from latest record ‘Till Midnight’. His big heart shows in his appraisal of the venue and its staff, but also of the fans and other bands, who join him on stage too. After more than an hour an encore follows with, ofcourse, the haunting ‘For Broken Ears’.

Weekend Nachos + Primitive Man + Wake @Dynamo, Eindhoven (Sleeping Shaman)

So I got myself into a grindcore gig again and luckily I brought my earplugs. Wake is a Canadian band Martin playing powerful, in-your-face grindcore full of pace switches, going like a rocket and then like creeping death. I must say I always dig the grind, just not in too big portions (a day of Bloodshed Fest, who organise this gig, is enough for a year usually). They’re not the band that drew me here anyways, thats next in line Primitive Man.

Primitive Man is where doom, sludge and grindcore collide into the dark, dripping ball of hatred that is this band. The vocals of Elm are insane barks from depths unimaginable. Combine that with heavy hatchet guitar work and burning rage and you’ve got something that’ll chase the sun away. They are everything they clame to be with their misanthropic nihilism, very impressive.

Equally impressive is Weekend Nachos with their blend of powerviolence and hardcore.  I’ve seen them before and they do get that party going all the time. I must say that the combination is weird tonight, but it works out for the best. I can still not make out what they sing, but I was told long ago that this is no problem. Weekend Nachos makes it into a violent moshing mess in front of the stage in the basement of Dynamo. Great stuff, all the time.

 

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Selim Lemouchi: in Memoriam

Though my plan definitely is to write this whole blog in English, I’ve found that I had one thing lying around in Dutch that never got put up anywhere. For Dutch music zine 3VOOR12/Eindhoven I wrote about Selim Lemouchi and his new music. The former singer of The Devil’s Blood had started a new band, named Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies. The music was great and haunting, so I met up in his house. Yes the walls were covered in blood, yes there was an altar, but also a visionairy, a musician and beautiful person.

So when he died, suicide, a couple of months later, it wasn’t a cool thing for me. It made me sad and more so due to my interview. I’ll probably post that here after it’s up at Wyrd’s Flight. I was asked to write an In Memoriam, so I set to work. Unfortunately for me, rock’n’roll writer Henk van Straten beat me to it. That was fine, he’s much better at it and had much more of value to say. Trust me, I’m a fan. I’m a fan of many things, as you will see if you check back here often.

Still I had this text and I love nothing more than to be read. So, what else to do….

selim_lemouchi_&_his_enemies-12

” I had the dubious honor to be the last Dutch interviewer, that spoke with Selim Lemouchi. Dubious, because you never want to be the last guy that interviewed a guy that is now no more. Then you get the question: do you want to write something about it? Am I someone who knew him forever? Someone with endless anecdotes  about them man? No, I’m just a guy who had a short but intense meeting with Selim and I got a shred of his thoughts and ideas, because I wanted to write something about his music. A cup of black coffee, a big pile of words, but mainly a meeting with a special and inspiring person. I was priviledged to meet that person.

“I have to expres myself. I don’t always want to, but I cannot stop it. There’s a controlled side of order inside me, but also an untamed creative side. Those two clash and collide and I am still trying to find balance.” Those are the final words of that interview. It took place at his home, on the 24th of november 2013. I went there by bike, to the other side of Eindhoven. I was a bit nervous, that was different. I rarely have that when I do interviews nowadays.

I had met Selim before and we chatted for a brief moment after his show in café ‘Oude St. Joris’. I told him the show was great and I bought his record ‘Mens Animus Corpus‘. He told me and others that he was happy we showed up, he appreciated it that people liked his music. He sold a lot of records. It was a great show, he only had to get angry a few times when the crowd wouldn’t shut up or the sound guy didn’t do what he wanted. I had seen The Devil’s Blood live, which I loved, but this was something else. The musician was radiating that sense and special and welcomed the visitors who came for his music with total dedication.

He described my review of that gig as “… a well written article with journalisic insights.” An interview, conducted by me, was something he was open to because of that. When I came in he was very busy with a lot of things at the same time. Selim Lemouchi is not as big as I thought he was. The living room does look a lot like in that video interview a couple of years ago: altar in the corner, blood on the walls but also a huge cupboard filled with records and a table littered with ashtrays, mugs and so on. His huge dog is walking around between all those things. He told me he took long walks with the animal, while listening to his recordings over and over again. “Milk or sugar?”, he suddenlay asked me. He just sat down and calmed himself a little. The start of the most intriguing interview I’ve ever done.

Selim Lemouchi loved talking to someone who listened and not just about himself. He kept asking me questions, where I suddenly had to gather up my thoughts and come up with answers, keeping me sharp and to the point. Sometimes his line of thought races on so fast, I had to ask what he ment. He didn’t mind, at least I wasn’t comparing his music to ‘occult rock’. That was something that annoyed him to no end, people thinking in those strict genre categories: “Music is like a web, everything is connected and everyone can inspire another. Without the Beatles, no Pink Floyd, without the Floyd so many other bands wouldn’t be there and so on and on. Don’t ever limit yourself to one genre or style or they will become your prison.” We spoke about many topics, like his philosophy and his two sides. The animal on stage and the perfectionist, working on his music. He expressed how anxious the challenge of his new project made him and how hard it was at times.

 The album is beautiful, eclectic, border crossing and brilliant. Sometimes it sounds unfinished, but it never pretends to be. Live it was sensational, with my girlfriend I went to witness it in the Temporary Art Centre. I talked to some people who knew Selim personally and read my interview: “Hasn’t he put new wallpaper up yet?”, one of them joked. We talked briefly after the show, me and Selim, because many people wanted to say high and shake his hand.

A lot of words, new ideas but mainly a beaming Selim there in the TAC. What happened after that, between that show and his passing, I do not know, I regret it. A huge talent. far from finished, now lost to us. I met a good, warm and kind person in Selim Lemouchi, what many who do know him well confirm. It’s a geater loss though for those who are closest to him.”

So that’s what I wrote. I dreamed about that interview the other night. It’s not easy to let it all go. I hope he’s happy, as much as his music gave people happiness.

Pictures with kind permission by Paul Verhagen

 

Hello World!

So I started a blog. I wanted to forever but never really could be bothered to actually do so. Why? Because of inert laziness I suppose. Also because posting updates on facebook is easier, directer and much, much less meaningful. When I did so again in an euphoric mood  after the Netherlands kicked Spains’ ass in football (I’ll save you from any 80 year war comparisons people have insisted on making, because that’s like discussing WW2 when Germany looses = Totally irrelevant), I decided to delete it. Why? Because describing your feelings and emotions in a FB update doesn’t work. It’s never really complete and doesn’t do justice to what I actually want to say. Also a facebook like is saying about as much as ‘I skimmed this’. It has very little meaning.

So I started a blog.

It’s kinda like that, yeah. I decided that if I have this urge to share, I should do it properly, even if no one reads it, atleast it’ll be proper and thought through a bit more. Now, I’ve said a lot and I might dedicate a post later to the two games between the Netherlands and Spain. One I saw a life time ago in Riga, Latvia, where we lost and I cried and I was angry (all… the … time) and the one we won where I was happy, grateful and in my place. Maybe I won’t really go into that but hey, let’s see. I should explain the title though.

A colleague recommended me a book, it was during the coaching sessions where I got to do nice things like facing my own fears, facing my own judgemental nature and how I thought I was a principled, sincere guy, but I was really a dick most of the times. Yes, I was a dick. The book was titled 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Now, like most people I have an allergy for self-help books. They make me feel like I’m not good enough or something and the idea that a book can help you grow and learn…. weird. It’s also kind of strange to think I have that thought and over 50 books on philosophy next to me, but hey, we’re all hypocrites on some level. So I read this book. It honestly gave my whole thinking a kick in the groin.

There you have them, the seven habits. Yeah, it’s like a gospel, almost impossible to live up to constantly. It’s well worth trying though. So that’s what I do, that’s how I become more and more a Yes! person instead of a pessimist. I fail at them, every day, but I still keep trying.

Now, I was going to explain the title of my blog. I’ve become a Will Wheaton fan. You know, the guy from Star Trek who now does the Big Bang Theory and has an online show about gaming (table top). First he inspired me to an extent to start monthly game nights with my frients, where we spend quality time in our busy schedules, just playing games and doing what we love. His writings and videos let me see that it was ok to be a part-time geek (just don’t live in World of Warcraft) and most importantly he came up with Wheaton’s law.

So there I’m synergizing two ideas for you. From the Seven Habits with Wheaton’s Law for gaming. Wheaton’s law is very simple:

“Don’t Be A Dick”

The seven habits seem harsh, hard and difficult to live up to. It’s a high standard and failing to achieve it can really demotivate you, no matter how many times people tell you it’s ok. Wheaton’s Law offers a great alternative, because whatever transpires in gaming can be in one way or another transferred to life. Whether you’re playing PvP (player vs player = like worker vs customer, or you vs friend/partner) or PvE (player vs environment = worker + team vs project, you + parnter vs relationship), you have a social and interactive role with your environment. Maybe it’s hard to think win/win all the time or be proactive, but everything is easier when you’re not being a dick. If you are a dick, no one want’s to play with you. I decided I don’t want to be a dick.

So I started a blog, because I want to write about what I do and how I try not to be a dick and I might fail. I probably will also write about other stuff, like music, beer (though less and less), life style and stuff. And geekdom, oh yes, there will be geekdom. Writing is healthy, it’s one of those great excersises according to both Wil Wheaton as well as Stephen Covey. I’ve waited way to long to start doing it.

Thanks for bearing with me,
Guido

Remember, don’t be a dick.

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