I’m just taking the liberty to write a bit of a personal thing here now and then. Though I’m super excited about this blog, I’m also very aware that my busy schedule will not be to its advantage.
Today I went back to school again. Yes, again, after four years I’m back to studying to get my masters in teaching Dutch. It really is quite a big step to take and I have to admit it feels rather scary too. The worst part of it is that you think everyone looks at you.
Most students are young and in the days where you live on a can of energy drink and a bun with ham and cheese and rage on for hours. I feel insecure being older, do they think I failed at life? Do people look at me as some weirdo? All that you have to put aside, but it’s weird not to have that bonding experience and excitement, but I’m here for me now. I’m not here to taste life and enjoy, I’m here to study hard and get ahead with my life.
The upside is that I’m spending quite some time studying by myself, so today I had a good listen to some excellent records. Listener has done a great job on ‘Wooden Heart’. I never tire of hearing that one. ‘To Ride, Shoot straight and Speak the Truth’ by Entombed is a super motivational record in a way, it really helps you getting through a boring text. That ‘Magma’ record by Gojira was especially helpful in getting through the train ride there and The Hellacopters ‘By The Grace of God’ is an absolute masterpiece!
I did something new today, that I haven’t done since my first week at uni, about 10 years ago. I went to sit on the grass in the sun with my book and just enjoyed the day. I know I’m on the right path and I’ve already got a wealth of life experience. It’ll all be fine.
There was a little riot in extreme metal land the other day, which probably seems futile and minor to anyone who isn’t into it, but is also, like every confrontation saying a bit more than you’d think.
Even the whole #kimexposedtaylorparty concerning Taylor Swift and Kanye West (and Kim Kardashian, but whatever), is a debate that tries to create something bigger or maybe is. People choose sides on things, its the way it works. I have passionate Taylor Swift fans among my friends, hence me knowing about this… and I have a twitter account so yeah…
So what gives?
Since pretty much everyone I’ve seen debating this issue has retracted their statements and removed facebook posts, I’ll just get to some vague picture of what happened.
A band behaved badly and that was picked up by a metal zine. It then levelled some accusations at the band this pissed of the band, lets call them… SatanGoat. Something with goats, you see… Now, the journalist in question, might have made up some shit about the band or had drawn some conclusions that the band disagreed with. In response, they posted their rant.
But that wasn’t enough for the evil men in SatanGoat, who ofcourse all have pseudonyms and are very secretive. The band needed to doxx the writer (for what doxxing is, check wiki). Meaning, they posted a picture and all personal data of this person.
uncool bra, uncool…. But if you mention that, you’re told to go back to your hipster metal cave.
I’ve never written under a pseudonym, I’ve had bands say they were sad to read I didn’t dig their stuff and had bands say thanks for the nice words. Now, on this blog I cover stuff I like mostly. I don’t see the point in writing about a album I didn’t dig, sorry. Life is short and I have many things to do. But what if I would be doxxed? What if I’d written that SatanGoat was unoriginal (I think I did) and not really doing anything innovative, but was in the end a fun listen… What if I suggested that some lyrics are a bit edgy. I’m talking about a mostly anonymous band… should I be doxxed?
I hope not. I read two responses, one from another blogger who took offense and one from a black metal musician who considered it taking a stand. I have to say, I agreed with both. Branding someone as anything and writing cheap headlines to get clicks is just the sort of stuff that put #brexit in motion and might put Trump in the White House. Two things we will, I don’t doubt it, regret. Journalism needs to be honest, checking their stuff and getting that info others cant get.
Does that make it ok to ostracize these people and put them at the mercy of the audience? Not really, no. Specially from the comfort of anonymity. But this stuff goes both ways. Respect your topic, they are people too and respect people taking the time to write about stuff. I don’t know how it works for the big sites, but I, like many others, do this in my spare time for the love of the music.
I could and should write toaster manuals instead, it would make me some money.
Respect is the absolute key, but it’s only something you can give, not something you can demand.
This year I went to Roadburn for the second time. Only the second? Yes, goddammit, only the second time. I also reviewed the festival for the second time, but this time as press. There’s a lot you can say about a festival in your review, but I need some space for something more personal.
For me it feels like home, feels like sitting down in a warm bath. There is a calm coming over me when I walk into the weirdo canyon, the small street on which 013’s entrance is. I let go of all my other concerns, because the next four days I will be immersing myself in music. Only music. I look around to see who else is here, but I don’t know that many people to be honest. Still, I’m home and everyone here is a potential friend.
I take a moment before jumping into the fray by watching my first band. Taking a moment to take it all in, to embrace my environment and bask in it for a moment. I know that when I enter a venue to see a band, I’ll be on a roll for the rest of the day. I check out some art in the hall ways, make mental notes on coin machines and food trucks, so I’m ready for my stampede.
Then I find myself checking band after band after band. I take short breaks to talk to friends and fellow music writers. There’s a gleam in their eyes as well, in which I see reflected my own. If music is a drug, we’re all high as kites these days. We’ve all come home to a place were music reigns.
Open minds, open hearts
It’s a strange thing, that Roadburn experience. In a normal situation I’m a critical listener. I can see a band and judge the book by its cover, like most people who’ve seen and heard a lot of music. We’re judgemental and we need to be convinced that your band is going to be an experiental addition to our lives. It sound sour, but for people who review around 200 albums a year it makes sense. Some music is just not very good…
You wouldn’t eat shitty junkfood by choice for days in a row either, would you? It’s slightly different on Roadburn. I feel my mind completely open up to any band on the bill. Why? Because you sort of know that whatever is playing, was picked with great care. It was picked for its uniqueness, for its quality or simply because you need to see it. As a visitor of Roadburn, you completely surrender your pre-judgement to the organisers, you submit to them and just accept what they throw at you. It’s strangely liberating and with an open mind, you let the music into your heart.
Magic on stage
This effect works both ways, it seems like bands realize the kind of crowd they are getting and the way the crowd is experiencing them. No band plays a bad show at Roadburn, because they all try that little bit harder. It might also be the pink glasses that everyone is wearing during the festival. That open mind and hunger for more music, does make everything sound a bit sweeter, doesn’t it.
To me it feels that way though, that every band is just giving it their all. You see bands doing things, they’ve not done live before ever. See the Úlfsmessa this year, by some Icelandic black metal bands or the great Skúggsja performance by Wardruna and Enslaved. Or that haunting Blood Moon session by Converge? Bands reunite for the festival, old arguments are buried for Roadburn and creative fires rekindles. It has to be something else than something weird in the water, no?
More than anything, Roadburn feels like a tribe. Going there makes you a member, pretty much automatically it seems. We gather once a year, to feel happy for a few days. To immerse ourselves in that which we love and cherish. It’s like a bond, that runs deeper than you’d think. Through out the year, we nod to the people wearing the shirts or caps they could only have gotten at the festival. A knowing smile is all it takes.
For a few days I feel less lonely than I normally do. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. That’s my Roadburn experience.
David Bowie passed away, it brought back a lot of memories when I watched that headline appear on google this morning. I’m not an expert, but I would like to offer some words.
If you’d ask me to name the 10 best artists of the last 50 years or so, I’d probably name a bunch that worked with Bowie, but I wouldn’t mention Bowie. For some reason he’s out there, all on his own, on a different level in the music universe. A place now vacant and I believe it’ll remain vacant for a long, long time. There is no artist like Bowie, no person who does music, art, films and making yourself such an immersed, integral part of your work.
My First Bowie I’ve found that I hadn’t listened to Bowie for ages. I don’t know why, perhaps it just wasn’t time for that. I have been listening to and I suppose have been influenced by David Bowie for most of my life. It goes a little something like this…
When the CD was on the rise, my parents ditched their vinyl. Like many people they believed that time was over. What they kept was Bowie and Pink Floyd (and some miscalleanious stuff, like chart singles with Black Sabbath, but that was something I found much later). I enjoyed hearing the vinyls as a kid, so my mom probably told me Bowie was good and I believed her. I still bellieve most of the stuff my mom tells me. My dad never told me Pink Floyd was good, but years later I told him. He agreed.
Home So my mom would spin them old Bowie records, like ‘Low’, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’, ‘Hunky Dory’, ‘Diamond Dogs’ and ‘Station To Station’. I still get the chills from that opening riff of ‘Ziggy Stardust’. This music stuck with me throughout my life. I think the music also stuck with my brothers and my mom still buys the Bowie albums now and then.
While we listened to those records we invented worlds with Lego’s, and rewrote history in board games. We passed our time together playing, thinking or reading.
I’m sad that Bowie is gone, but it also did make me think of those autumn holidays with my mom and my brothers, with Bowie singing in the background. I miss those terribly sometimes.
I’ve been writing a lot about working on myself, about books I read and theories I tried to embrace. It’s a thing that seemed to be very effective and eye-opening at first, but it’s become a bane a year and a half onwards. A bit of self evaluation.
First off, why am I writing this? I’m not writing this to tell everyone how great it is and how easy it is with the right book. I thought that was it, but it wasn’t. I’m also not aiming to thank people, I did that before and I’m not sure I should’ve. It’s really an attempt to be open, atleast on paper.
I’ve found out two things that are holding me back in growing and developing myself in life. The first is a cripplingly low self esteem, which really makes me feel unappreciated, worthless and unwanted very often. The result of that is behaving as such and acting as such, which is not doing anyone a favor.
The second is an inability to embrace change on certain levels. This is particularly on a communicative level, which in turn is strongly related to that self esteem. I keep my relationships in stasis, because I’m afraid that speaking frankly and openly will influence then negatively. The trade-off? They’re not getting better either. It leads to a feeling of loneliness that I can hardly explain, it makes it excruciatingly difficult to strike up a conversation and make friends. If I start chatting with you, however forced it sounds, know that in my head I’m climbing a mountain. It’s not you, it’s me really, really wanting to and trying to connect.
I can’t stress that enough, I love the connection I’ve felt, however briefly, with a few people over the last 1,5 year. The process has been very difficult and there’s many nights I lie awake faced with my own failure on many fronts, trying to clutch at something to make me feel better about my life. It’s not a matter of changing perspective, it’s trying to change an almost 20 year old self-defense mechanism that I’ve only recently started to understand.
When I figured out after a year of trying to change this with books and good advice, I broke down one night. I felt so utterly miserable and lost. I was not making progress, I was not connecting to my brothers, my family and friends. My colleagues probably didn’t like me or atleast must have thought I was odd and I just couldn’t bear it anymore. To boot, my PhD application fell through in like the last round and that vat of energy was completely depleted.
So in 2015 I turned 30 years old and found out I was completely lost, floating aimlesly, not knowing what I wanted to do with life. I had to crawl up and get my hands on stuff to change. I went to see a specialist, got some coaching going again and started doing some new things. What helped is my girlfriend (now fiancée, ergo new things), listening an talking to me, telling me to face the values I claimed to love. The hardcore thing, keep a positive mental attitude and do things with full conviction. I’m trying to do that really, really hard.
It’s been a tough year and today I got the wind knocked out of me again, but I refuse to give in and give up. And if I learned one thing in all that time, its that if I do feel like that, there’s always someone willing to help. You just need to ask. That’s the self evaluation, tomorrow it’s time to take steps again.
Today I did something I’ve been wanting to do for years: use my day off to go to a cinema. I went to see Er ist wieder da in the arthouse cinema next to my building. Why did it take me forever to undertake this?
I’ve been realizing all the neurotic, social anxieties that I’ve dealt with during my life recently. From the weird fear of bringing books back too late to the library van to simply not talking to people at the bar or worrying about what others may think of your shoes. Seriously, the depths to which these insecurities run are astounding even to me.
The same was with going to concerts. I’m usually alone at those and I’m worried people may think I’m some sort of sad person without friends or whatever else they may think. I think I might actually behave that way. The cinema seemed like an even sadder place to go visit all by yourself. Guys going to the cinema alone, that’s only in crusty sex cinema’s right? Apparently not.
Today I decided to do it. Not only because I really wanted to see the film, but also because my girlfriend would not get much of this film. I felt like I was taking myself on a date and first went to get some snacks and put on my nice, but comfy clothes and walked to the cinema. The womand did not ask, what I expected her to do, if someone else was coming, but just sold me the ticket. I was not the only solo visitor. Apparently it’s not that odd to go alone on a thursday afternoon.
It’s a strange pleasure, to treat yourself and not feel conscious of anything else in the dark. It’s a good thing to finally do this. Another threshold crossed. Nothing good ever comes from the comfort zone.
Happiness, it’s a tricky concept and the title of a very depressing film. Happiness can be achieved in many ways and I’ve found that there is more happiness in my life, since I let it in. But what is it that creates happiness?
Google ‘happiness’ and you’ll learn that it involves jumping in the air and stretching out your arms. You’ll also be entertained by the horrible cliché quotes that are representing the mental state of happiness.
Yoda I listened to the Smodcast by Kevin Smith today, where Smith and Scott Mosier (allegedly) get stoned and discuss stuff. They discussed a little video of George Lucas, talking about happiness. Happiness, he says, can be achieved through either joy or pleasure. Pleasure is an intense rush, like a drug infusion to your system, that gives momentary happiness… and eventually sadness when it wears of. It’s self centred as well, it’s all about you. That makes sense. I used to be satisfied with one Kinder Bueno, now I need five and then I feel depressed due to my stomach ache. It’s a silly metaphor, but you always want more of the things that give you pleasure.
Joy however, is a persuit that last forever. It’s something you can recall, it’s giving something to another from yourself, its compassion. It’s much smaller and a choice. I chose to persue happiness in the happiness of persuit. So where do I take my joy from these days? He was being true to his creation of Yoda there, very much so. Giving a shard of wisdom in a humble and traight forward way.
The world looks very nice I had a strong tendency to look at the world as a grimy, grim place full of people that were evil. Seriously, that is a hard way to go through life if you aren’t playing Skyrim (even there compassion only sometimes bites you in the ass). Something changed though, I can see things differently now. Today I was feeling joy at things I saw around me. I was cycling and listening to this podcast, passing by the bus station. I saw a bus driver with his son. He had dreads, that looked very good, like he really took care of them. He greeted his colleague and walked through the bus. It sounds sad, but the fact that two people with different skin colours actually say hi makes me happy and hopeful these days. He proceeded, while smoking a cigarette, while instructing his kid to open the bus and get in. That was nice, a dad showing his kid the ropes. I enjoyed that. A little later I cycled over a small bridge. A man in dress shirt, carrying a brief case walked over it too. He stopped and turned towards the water, his face relaxed and he stood there enjoying the water. It was nice to see. This is the beauty I see around me now.
People My greatest joy comes from interacting with people. It’s still a conscious thing sometimes to show empathy and ask those helpful questions, but more and more it goes automatically. It feels natural and I enjoy giving these small amounts of good to others. I love nothing better than cheering someone up, helping them out or succesfully arguing about some point. Not in the manner I used to, where I’d be aggressive, impatiant and defensive, but calmly and openly.
All in all I enjoy the world around me a lot more and I feel much calmer and more patient. Still, that’s all on a good day. I have more good days then I ever had before I think. Still, there are days when there’s all this noise, this distortion in my head and I can’t get to those good parts, where pleasure is my happiness.
Let me try to explain what that noise is. I have a lot of anxiety, so much that I have decided to try and really work on that. Now, everyone feels anxious sometimes, but why does it become noise? Well, simple. Imagine that anxious moment, where you worried everything would go wrong and the worst possible outcome was waiting for you. Everyone has such moments. Got it? Now imagine having that pretty much about anything, worrying and preparing for the worst all the time. It creates a lot of buzzing noise in ones head. Sometimes enough to not see the beauty around you anymore and the good side of people.
So what is the point? Well, Karma. So what am I really saying there about happiness? Well, even though I still struggle in my persuit of joy, I am finding it and through it happiness. George Lucas is spot on, unlike with Jar Jar Binks, with his statement. This persuit is well worth it and has improved my life a lot this far. It’s all about Karma, what you give you get. If you invest in your happiness by giving, you’ll receive. I can tell you that much. I’m not there yet and I certainly had to ask for help many times along the way.
Surely, I don’t have the final answers. Just an uphill struggle and my experiences with that. I’m trying to give that little bit to anyone who is willing to appreciate it. That’s enough for me.
Dynamo Open Air is a festival that touched many, many lives, but also those of the kids who didnt make it. I was quite late coming to the metal world, but Dynamo has been a landmark, an iconic thing that put me on my musical path. I loved it.
Some kids are blessed with parents that hate their music. It’s glorious, because you know exactly what it is your opposing or rebelling against. I was not so fortunate. My mom would watch the big festivals on TV throughout the nineties and pointing out the cool stuff to me. So there was this Brazilian band I had to see, they were really special. There I was, gaping at Sepultura. I’ve always thought it was at Dynamo that year, but it was old footage from 1990 or somehing. Then there was this other funny band called the Heideroosjes, that I had to see. Suffice to say, my parents got me in touch with most of the music I listen to nowadays.
Looking back, it seems like a planned thing. There was a nudge here, an Iggy Pop album for that birthday, concert for the next… I would watch all the footage of these big festivals on TV and enjoy it, be amazed by the extreme music, the long haired people and the energy. I saw Sepultura again on Pinkpop and I always had a special place in my heart for that band. Truth be told, I didn’t get the music back then, I just knew it was cool. I guess you need that one band to hit you at some point to get into it. The prequel for me was Sepultura. It was much later that I got into metal seriously, through punkrock in fact. I read all I could and watched videos whenever there was something on TV. Dynamo was always there. Later, when I missed those last few editions, the old posters were my guide to what stuff was good and should be listened to. I will always regret not visiting it when I had a chance. Still, it was my guiding light into the world of metal.
So thats what I’m thinking today, when I’m riding my bike towards the Ice Sport Centre in Eindhoven. Lots of memories of that place, but I’m not thinking of any of them. I’m thinking back to what got me here, on my bike, going to my very first Dynamo Metal Fest (which feels like Dynamo Open Air). I’m thinking of how my mom stole my Finntroll CD and how my parents went to see Rammstein on Pinkpop. I’ve been enabled to explore and discuss music freely from childhood onwards and now I’m full of energy and excitement. I’ve left my meds at home and I am hoping my back is going to hold out today, but I’m going to be at my first Dynamo. This is awesome. It doesn’t even matter that I’ve seen pretty much all the bands on the bill play live a bunch of times.
The crowd at any metal festival is one big bunch of weirdos, strangers and mad men. It’s that strange bunch that makes me feel so much at home. I’ve tried the other stuff, the dance music, the indie crowd and even the scifi conventions, but this is my home. I’m anxious almost anywhere and big groups of people are a bit intense for me, but not here. Even though I have little friends in the metal scene as yet, I feel like I can relate to everyone here. In reality, sure, that is not true, but I like the feeling that it is. I’m just enjoying the atmosphere. Old friends meeting up, telling stories of the past. One guy is telling me how everyone had their hair cut or got grey and he cant recognize his old friends. Another tells me that they all got fat and bald (to which I go over my own head with one hand). It doesn’t matter though, the bands hardly matter (though I love the old thrashers from Nuclear Assault and Death Angel). It’s all about the community, the atmosphere and the guitars playing loudly somewhere. This is not just your next run of the mill festival, this is a festival with a whole lot of love for music and this city of Eindhoven.
Ok, I guess I’m being a bit too softy on this article. It would be so much more borin to put on those rational goggles and complain about the stuff that was not great. That would spoil my whole experience, though. I had an excellent time on this festival, because it felt like everything was done with love. The whole thing, it’s not about making money, it’s about this crazy music and everything attached to it. I got to enjoy this festival with my girlfriend and some real good friends, some I have not spoken to for too long. I heard stories, which were about Dynamo, metal and why it means so much to people. I’ve been in this thing for years now, mostly as a writer, but first and foremost as a fan. It’s all love, you know. I think that is the best review any festival can get.
Facelifter, Bodyfarm, Orange Goblin, Alestorm, Biohazard, Nuclear Assault, Death Angel, Arch Enemy (without Angela Gossow, it wasn’t the same for me*)
*Not that I think Gossow is hot, she just looked powerful and had a certain aura that this new girl doesnt have.
So I started blogging about a year ago, I thought it would be a good way to start expressing myself and put some feelings and words on paper. Looking back, there’s a lot of personal posts I’ve deleted. I felt that it was just too much open wound sadness and sorrow.
About a year ago I started a series of conversations, which were supposed to help me overcome certain personal problems and I saw a lot of value in trying to share that. It created a lot of tension and clashes in my life, that did not make me very happy. I’m still not sure if those were good things or bad, I know where I am now and I’m quite ok with myself.
So recently I switched that blogging around and Im more getting into stuff I find cool and writing down rants and thoughts. Sorry for the many Skyrim references, I hope to start playing another game soon but my time is a bit limited when it comes to that. Or… Skyrim takes up too much time. I had given up on gaming to be honest, becuase I thought it was not mature and stuff. Thanks to following people like Wil Wheaton (again, my blog is named after that dude) and other geeky heroes, I’m ok with it. Why would I not do the things that make me happy?
I feel like I’m hitting the form of my original posts and that I’m trying to say relateable things that are interesting and perhaps a bit funny. I feel good about that. Recently there were quite some positive responses to my blogposts on facebook, even if those were just likes, they were much appreciated.
The ones that seem to attract less attention are the ones about the books I read, but then again I received nice words about those to my face. All in all, it’s been enough inspiration to keep on blogging. Hopefully putting out some stuff that is appreciated. I strive for a strong personal element and hope to touch upon my favorite topics, which are nerdism, thoughts, travel and lifestyle (mine I guess) with some music mixed in. Hopefully you’lll keep reading and enjoying it. Thanks for all the thumbs up.
I guess you’ve noticed the strange cover picture? That’s where the magic happens. Yes! It doesn’t look as pleasant as this:
So yeah, that’s not my set up, I do not own a Mac and my notebook is a random collection or whatever crap I need to write down. It does not look appealing. I wouldn’t mind if it was though. You know what, next time I’ll make a picture of my setup at the kitchen table, with my chromebook.
Gotta go now, my cat Frankie is lost somewhere behind the bathroom unit and making the saddest sounds (which also occur when hungry).
Last saturday night I left one of our windows open. It was not the brightest thing to do, so around one o’clock I checked the place and found Lenny the cat was gone. Lenny left through the window.
That was a scary moment, I mean, you have no clue where the cat is and he’s not in any of his normal weird places. So I woke up my girlfriend and we started the hunt. There’s a whole range of emotions going through your head at that moment, making this a rollercoaster experience.
Why the hell did he jump? Where did he go? Do you think he stopped anywhere, is he still around? What about Frankie (our other, very dependent cat, who cant be alone). THe idea of not finding this little cat, that we took in when no one seemed to want him, was terrible and haunting. The loneliness of Frankie, our pain of loss… Things you start considering.
After two hours of searching, wee both cried like babies. It’s a sense of despair and failure, I havent felt in a long time. We put out some adverts in the middle of the night and holding on to our other cat we fell asleep. A troubled sleep, full of worries and fear. Half asleep…
Then the door bell rang and our neighbour was in front of it, she was letting some guests out of the building and found a crying kitty in front of the door. Tough Lenny, the escapist, braving the world had returned bawling, stressed and dirty and was now back home, like the prodigal son. The surge of relief in my half sleeping state was intense, like a cloud disappearing in front of the sun. I could only stammer thank you a bunch of times and wished her a goodnight.
I slept like a baby after that. So did Lenny I think… And Frankie too. It made me think, we started caring so much about a little cat in the last years. It made me feel the full weight of the responsibility of taking care for another living being, which is quite frankly something new. This thing called adulthood, it weighs heavy on me now and then. The idea that you need to get married, get kids and all… It’s heavy. But in a way, this made me feel more confident about it.
I may always be a bit of a kid myself, but atleast I feel responsible for what I take on in a serious way. Cats are not kids, but I might even be ready for that. I guess adulthood might start to appeal to me after all and I feel ready for those scary future things.