The Dead Flag Blues

The car is on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
And a dark wind blows
The government is corrupt
And we’re on so many drugs
With the radio on and the curtains drawn
We’re trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
And the machine is bleeding to death

– Godspeed You! Black Emperor ‘the Dead Flag Blues’

Source: 4cculminating.blogspot.nl

Sometimes I write things in one go, sometimes I write them in a few different states of mind. I wrote this bit when I was angry, scared and deeply touched and sad. I’m writing to make sense for myself. Please don’t take anything to harshly. What I wrote was inspired by some thoughts following the crash of MH17 and some older thoughts about why we fight. Not why you and I could have a fight, but how masses of people fight and kill for lofty goals that are nothing but hollow ideals. 

Sometimes I get really scared. I don’t think anyone really notices, but I do. I am scared of some things that I have no control of at all. Mobs, groups, populations scare me and the way governments or opinion leaders can easily influence them. It seems like just an easy game to whip up anger, to place the blame and victimize another. The first thing that scared me was the mob mentality of social justice or whatever you call it when people take justice in our own hand. Our justice system might not be perfect, but what crime makes it right to mutilate another, to hound people, to tarnish their names forever and destroy their lives. Just and unjust victims of this mentality have been driven to suicide. Suicide, lets give that word a moment to sink in. Do you value your life? I do, I had times when I thought I didn’t, but I never contemplated suicide.

A man was burned alive because people were sure he was a pedophile. Another was hounded and threatened, because his name was the same as some guy suspected of animal abuse, a young boy of 15 can never live out his full potential, because he kicked a girl. Who in the name of Christ are we to judge others? He who is free of sin, cast the first stone, is it not? I have the fortune of misfortune of having gained inside in the private lives of many people and I have found little to none with a clean slate. We are all sinners. Some sins we think of as horrible and perhaps rightly so. It doesn’t give us right to be judge and excecutioner at the same time. Mob rules, another word is ochlocracy… the result is usually the tyranny of the majority.

Tyranny of one or all, it always has one thing in common: those who are different will suffer. I understand the wish for justice and also the idea that our system is not strict enough. Then the system should be changed to the current world, not just doing whatever you feel is right. There will be blood. Flight MH17 was that blood, it was blood of the innocent, but who’s innocent anyways? I sometimes think we just want to see the world bleed. Even the dead are part of this game of rallying the masses. Many Dutch people are ready to take up arms, we cry for justice, justice for that black hole that was shot into our society.

Blood

The way things look now, there will be blood. The insanity of the masses is the most murderous when it is placed under a banner, a flag, an ideal or a name like Russia, USA, Peace, Freedom or Liberty. As long as these still have to be pronounced there are no beacons of hope to speak of, they are the flags of the dead. Flags that represent allt he senseles killing that flows from the human race not being able to function as one, mainly because of an invented entity called money.

We all play the dead flag blues, all of us together. We are cavorting with hatred and flirting with genocide when we raise our banners, which we do because we think they are right, they represent the final resolution, the justice and solution to all our problems.  I’m scared of that sense of righteousness found under these banners, scared of the exctasy of power of both Putin and the other leaders of the world. Putin scares me the most, because I cannot grasp the ‘why’.  I sleep less easy when I see people are so easy to judge, to call for blood. Blood of the other, that enemy, that invisible alien that we must fight in the name of our dead flag.

Why do we fight for those ideals and do we let the media prod and push us like sheep to the slaughter. We refuse to think for ourselves, the Russian media is propaganda, so ours must be right isnt’t it? Our flag is that of truth and justice, the other a disease to weed out. I’ve quoted Lévy to often on this point, let it suffice to say that this is the road to ruin and bloodshed. There is no wrong and right, what matters is the solution. It doesn’t even matter anymore who shot the damn rocket. The issue at hand is that it was shot, innocent people died in a conflict that should never have escalated this far anyways. There is no evil to root out, the only goal that we should find is on a path to peace. We are all humans, the blood of us and that of the Russians and Ukranians runs the same red. We do not need to wade through rivers of that to find our holy grail.

Hope

I said, “Kiss me, you’re beautiful –
These are truly the last days”

– Same

A glimmer of hope was there today. I will share the video of the minister of foreign affairs speakin about the disaster in Ukraine. I would like to express my admiration for the man, who I’ve always thought of as one of the few actual passionate politicians in the Netherlands. When we are open to see the core of the issue at hand, we might find common ground. We might find another way.

He spoke about the people crashing down to the earth, looking eachother in the eye and giving comfort and support in those last moments. It takes all that to bring out that great good in people, that resignation in death. Only then we seem to see eachother for what we are. When I get in an airplane again in a month, I’ll be sitting next to a complete stranger. I’m going to say hi and see if we can get some chat going. We might as well be the ones that hold hands when we crash down. I pray I never have to face what the people on MH17 had to face, but even more so I pray I never forget what it means to be human and how you want to treat others as you are treated.

Sad & Proud

source: cage8.com

Today we had a day of national mourning. I’ve never experience this, most of the people I know haven’t. The 15 minutes, the time before and just after the minute of silence that followed at 16.00, the office seemed more quiet than it ever dit before. Even more than the times I worked the night shift. The bodies arrived in Eindhoven by airplane and were loaded into cars to be taken to a central point.

It’s funny how you can say that a number is ‘a lot’. When you see the coffins leaving the airplane in an endless stream, it becomes real. Every one of those was a person. Every man might be a father, a brother, a lover, husband and  a son. Every woman a sister, girlfriend, wife, mother, daughter and a friend. They are not nameless numbers, they are human beings. It could have been anyone of us in a way.

The cars started rolling out, a long the road through the country. The sides of the road were packed with people. Thousands must have come out to pay their respects. I feel a bit annoyed by the stream of cameras, but we all do what we do in our own way. We try to understand and accept the sadness in front of us. Give it a place in our understanding, find reasons and peace with the endless cars filled with the dead passing by. It made me proud of this country and its people. Time stopped, everything stopped today. We all felt it, it was different.

A glimmer of hope can be found in that, in people supporting eachother, paying respects. No blame game, no hatred, just sympathy and love. A sad kind of love, but a form of love. At the end of everything it’s all that remains, all that matters. This was one of those days when the flag wasn’t something dead, it brought people together. That power it has as well.

The bitter reality

I feel it’s only proper to go into the grim reality of things now and then. In the sky above Ukraine, an airplane was shot down by the separatists. In Israel, the Israeli army is bombing civilians in Gaza and the whole world knows what is wrong and right.

A friend from the Baltics said the me about the airplane disaster that it was finally an eye opener for Western-Europe about Russia, just that is was horrible that it took so much, so many… For months the eastern states have been on red alert, due to Russian expansion politics. No one took them serious and Russia was laughed at as a silly country. The worried people where laughed at too, as if Russia was going to do anything to us. They’re not though, Russia is a country full of people who only get to see and hear what the media allows and they only allow what Putins government wants. Russia may seem funny but it’s a cruel regime, where a human life is not the same in worth as we consider it over here.

That friend concluded that this was the eye opener for the west. The veil has fallen, but my friend mourned that it took so much. That this took so many lives of innocents to be clear. It’s a black page in the history books, with an introduction of the Ukrainian problem in grey. “Never again”, we said after WWII. Where the hell is this going then?

Then again, we know that the Russian media is propaganda, but never doubt the one you get from the west. Politics, interests and preference prevail in what you get to see on TV. Which brings me to Gaza in Israel. Remember how for years the Palestinians where the bad guys? Bombing civilians, killing children and women in the streets of the Israelian cities? That was what we saw, Isreal was the victim of Arab agression. It’s not like we didn’t know about the history of Israel back then, the media just didn’t mention it. Now the tables have turned once again, the media likes the sad Palestinians now.

So now Israel is the imperial state, bombing children and women in Gaza. Suddenly the Palestinians are victims again, while the death count rises on both sides. Why do we fall for this? Why do we simply float along with the opinions media shove down our throats? I see the elaborate facebook shares on how Israel is mean and cheering when people die. Do we instantly forget the cheers on the streets on 9/11? Do we forget the joy after the murder of Osama Bin Laden?  As long as people kill and rejoice in it, we continue this cycle. If Palestinians cheer again for some DIY bomb killing school kids in Israel, will we switch sides again? Or is it going to be a good thing if its Israelian soldiers instead?

Soldiers who are drafted, just young guys who should be out having a drink with mates, listening to metal music and being their obnoxious, young selves. But we cheer when they die, we cheer when anyone dies that we happen to think of as the bad guy for the moment. The news has been Hollywoodized. We forget the corpses are human beings, with lives and interests that might be exactly like ours. Every death is a sin and a loss. Not a single gun fired or rocket launched is serving peace in any way. Enlightenment never seemed so far away.

The reading of books. Part I

“He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music.”
― James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

I love reading and I love books. I don’t seem to find enough time to read though, so often these days I listen to books. That might sound weird, but it really isn’t . In this ‘section’ I hope to say something about what I read, because  pretty much always a book has values, lessons and thoughts to convey that you carry with you. Many great people say that you have to write, but more so they say that you should read. I try to read the books, but there’s nothing wrong with an audiobook. I will probably say more about that in another blogpost sometime later.

Wil Wheaton – ‘Just A Geek’
Wil Wheaton – ‘Dancing Barefoot’

So I listened to both these audiobooks. Why audiobooks? Well, in this particular case because the writer is also the narrator that does the audiobooks. How about some word from the horse’s mouth. Will tells the stories of his post-Star Trek carreer in ‘Just A Geek’. It’s not the tale of succes, but the story of self acceptance, finding your passions and loving your family. Chosing what comes first. It’s a great story based on his blog, which I think inspired me to start this particular blog.  I put up this little thing here so you can listen to it. Wil is a talented writer, with plenty of humor and self deflating honesty. I won’t say too much about ‘Dancing Barefoot’, because its a bit more of the same, just less coherent. It’s more upbeat, highlighting episodes of his life. I really recommend these to every geek, learn about life, and what the idea behind Wheatons Law really is. I think it’s at the heart of who Wil Wheaton is.

Gaius Suetonius – ‘The Twelve Ceasars’

source: Wikipedia (english)

I’ve always had a keen interest for ancient history. Though in the past I used to skip over books that dealt with the Romans, this time I figured to give it a go. Suetonius wrote his works on the emperors a long time ago. He clearly didn’t like the first few much. We already know Caligula and Nero as monstors and madmen, but I never knew that Tiberius (my favorite emperor for the simple reason that he was in Age of Empires I), was such a depraved man. Unfortunately, it’s fair to doubt a lot of the information Suetonius gives us, since he is basically using a lot of gossip and word of mouth in his writing. Still the portraits he draws are of high value for our understanding of these times and put a lot of perspective on Roman History. On the later emperors he’s a bit more sparing with his information, which might have more to do with the time he was living in (70 AD – 140 AD).  A great work for those interest in a genuine feel of the times.

Source: Wikipedia

Nicolai Gogol – ‘Dead Souls’

I don’t think of literature as something that is per se elitist. I do think you need to know what you get yourself into, when you start reading the Russian literature. People tend to think of it as heavy and dense, which is absolutely true. The Russian cultural history, of which many writers like Dostojevsky, Turgenev and others write, is full of protocol and ancien regime behaviour. Characters are dramatic and full of emotions, landscapes are dreary and forlorn. Though Gogol’s twisted romanticism with hints of early surrealism may seem a bit more modern, the general style is exactly what you expect. Sometimes going on for pages, it’s hard to keep track of the story at all. Still there is much amusement in this work, wit and drama. I do believe this book depends strongly on its time period and temporary culture. To get a feeling of that, this is also a worthy read.

I’m currently checking out some other stuff:

James Joyce – The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man
Noam Chomsky – Class War: The Attack On Working People
Cicero – Selected Writings
Francis Fukuyama – The Origins of Political Order

More on that later.

Iron

Blazing fire under the moon
Burning taste of lead
We’ll ride forever
Cause’ the Iron is stronger than death

– Ensiferum ‘Iron’

Not the best opening quote, but traditions are sometimes not that convenient. Well, what is a tradition anyways. I’ve written a bit about my personal feelings about the gym and how I keep it up and what and why I go there. I have not spoken about ‘The Iron’ yet. That almost meditative bit of writing of Henry Rollins about the significance of going to the gym. I want to go into this for a bit, because physical excersise has both physical as well as mental effects on you as a person. I value them both, but the mental is why I’m so stubbornly going there.

Source: see picture

Yes, I would almost start writing about fit chicks. At some point your whole aesthetic starts to change and physical aspects you find appealing are those that are honed by workouts. True fact, but that’s not what this post is about.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back. – Henry Rollins, ‘The Iron’ (source)

When you work mostly with your head, like I tend to do, there is nothing better than to have everything go away for a while. To listen to music or a book, while lifting weights, doing cardio and all sorts of excersise. Your body takes over and does it’s thing, anger, frustration and the daily troubles slide of your back. There is only you and the iron. Every bit of frustration you have, you can put into that excersise in a guided, controlled way. It will tell you what you can and cannot do and make you want to try harder. It’s one of the most honest things you’ll ever do.

When I started out I was always sceptical towards the  so called ‘jocks’ with their ‘Gold’s Gym’ tank tops, tanned look and greased hair. I thought that this was fake and taking it too far. There must be some that use steroids instead of good food and that live on the supplement powders, but most are just really dedicated. It takes discipline and dedication to hang out in that gym 3, 4 or 5 times a week. It’s not for the week, because you have to give up other things. Sleep, downtime, going out, eating crap and just chillaxing have no part to play for those who take this path. Nowadays I get these gruding nods of recognition and approval of those guys, that’s cool. We’re all here for the iron and for our daily check. Whatever crap we get thrown at us during the day, these two hours are just us versus the steel weights and machines.

What is so nice about torturing yourself in the gym? I can’t tell you, there’s first drive to go and later the desire to go. You start going because you really want to. If you persevere, you start feeling a craving for it. Your body will start loving it, specially if you watch your food too. It will feel most satisfied when its beaten to pulp by excersise. When you crash down on your couch, with just enough time to watch one tv-show and read a few pages, you’ve done what most people can’t make themselves do. That in itself is a reward, the feeling your body gives only makes it better.

Lyrical Lucidity

I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie
to the hip hip hop, a you dont stop
the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie
to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat

– Sugar Hill Gang ‘Rappers Delight’

Not many people know that I have a great love for hip hop music. It sounds strange to most, because they know me for loving hardcore and black metal. For some reason hip hop always spoke to me, from the first time I saw the videos on MTV as a child with the checkered shirts and fell in love with that early stuff of Snoop Dogg (that video where he changed into a dog, awesome), Notorious BIG and all that stuff. When I got one of those oversized, woolen black/white checkered shirts I was over the moon. I was sure I looked bad ass.

So later came the Dutch stuff with Extince’s ‘Viervoeters’ and ‘Zoete Inval’ or Osdorp Posse’s ‘Origineel Amsterdams’. I was loving it. I started listening to a lot of harder stuff, but one can hardly deny the hard hip hop influences in the likes of Limp Bizkit, Deftones, Rage Against The Machine and various others. The whole nu-metal scene was full of rhymes. I started being a DJ myself in a bar later and slowly got into the resurging wave of Dutch hiphop, or Nederhop as they call it again. I started checking out all sorts of stuff over the years.

I loved the clear sound of words and literary qualities of the genre. I still dig smart lyrics and listenability. I guess I got into it again and again over the years, checking out oddities and other languages. From the Baltic groups like Metsakutsu. Gacho and G&G Sindikatas to German, Swedish, Russian and whatever kind of stuff. I listened to anything.

Another point of interest has always been the lifestyle. Having listened, identified and dressed like a hardcore and punk afficionado for most of my life, there was a close connection between the two cultures. This is ofcourse emphasized by a lot of hip hop groups I came across in later life, like the Beasty Boys (I knew them, but didnt really get it until later) and the stuff Danny Diablo and those other NYHC guys did.

Now we come to a more fun part though. Did you ever hear about this subgenre called Nerdcore? I did. I’ve always been a geek and if there’s any music (apart from power metal and W40k metal (yes…)) that helped me accept that, it’s Nerdcore. Nerdcore deals with the same beats, sounds and lyrical skills, but just doesnt talk about beef, bitches and bling. I’m not a cool dude who had tons of bitches in my life, I don’t care that much about golden chains and big cars and I try to avoid beef by not being a dick (I’ll get to that link later). So what do they rhyme about? Daily life, porn addication, self acceptance and just dorky, funny, silly and highly amusing songs. Two MC’s I’d like to mention that are really great, are MC Frontalot and MC Lars. The second is actually an English major, who did this whole TEDx talk on hip hop and Shakespeare (watch it, its so cool). I’m still hoping ‘the Front’ will let me interview him.  Look for the documentary ‘Nerdcore Rising’ as well, to get more of an idea what the whole thing is about.

That does not mean I limit myself to anything in that sense. From Devlin and Giggs to Ice Cube, NWA and Public Enemy, my iPod is filled with it and more new things I get to hear every day. Words have always been important to me, good lyrics, catchy beats and the right hooks to get you hooked on a song. Hip hop is all about self expression and whatever you do in your life, there’s something to be found in this music for you.

In the mean time I continue looking for that perfect beat and the sharpest words. I love music and hip hop has a special place in my heart.

Later!
G.

Review roundup #2

I love shows, but I really need better shoes for them. My legs hurt so much when I just wear my Vans shoes. Leather boots all the time are not going to work either, one loves to look fancy now and then. For the first show I went to this week that is very important, the second… mwoah.

Ignite + Colors Dead Bleed + Said And Done @ Dynamo, Eindhoven

I missed one support act but did get to see Said And Done, band of Some Will Never Know Zine chief editor Pim. I’ve been writing for SWNK for 2 years now I believe, so I’m quite excited to finally see his band. The guys look tired and struggle with some of the sound, but still play a heavy and grungy set. Very different to what I would expect. Definitely enjoyed that. Colors Dead Bleed plays some nice melo-hardcore, but lacks a distinguishing quality. The singer does pull of a great Nathan Gray look though. I might not find them that special, the crowd loves them and who am I to doubt that judgement.

I’ve seen Ignite play live a bunch of times now, all after the ‘Darker Days’ album of 2006 except for once in Hungary in 2005. That was impressive. Today the band looks tired and enthousiast at the same time. The songs are still the same after 8 years of touring and the passion Zoli Teglas shows with his men is more about the fans than the music. Some new songs are played too and the band livens up a little there. Zoli also is strong and convincing in his rants and speeches in between the songs. I think this band loves playing, it loves its audience, but the songs remain the same so the plans to go into the studio are a great next move for these guys.

Songs like ‘Let It Burn’, ‘A Place Called Home’ and so on, they still give me chills. I love how the background of Zoli has shaped up so many of his songs and how he transferred it to something global and understandable.  No Sea Sheperd this time though, just a sweater from a Pelican saving organization. I can’t say I’m sad about that, I’ve always found them a bit too hard edged to receive main stream sympathy (particularly about the Faroe Islands tradition: they might have a point, but sometimes it’s the way you carry it that matters).

All in all a satisfying experience again, good show from Ignite although I think the sound made them sound a bit weak now and then.

Slayer + Gojira @ 013, Tilburg

I’m actually more excited about Gojira for this gig than I am about seeing Slayer again. Slayer is not really itself anymore, I got to see them 4 times after tonight. That excludes 3 cancelled shows in this very venue, one after the support act actually playing. So tonight I’m a bit nervous about that.

Gojira plays a smashing set. Their technical death metal makes it hard to stand still and look onwards stoically like many Slayer fans apparently tend to do in such situations. Though that might be a harsh verdict. Funny is the fact that many Slayer fans have brought their spawn with them, so a second Slayer Nation Generation is being raised. The kiddos seem to enjoy the support act more though.

All in all, the band themselves play a great set. Slayer might not be the original fourpiece, they rock as hard as they always did. The crowd chants along with ‘Disciple’, ‘Suicide’, ‘Reigning Blood’ and ‘Angel Of Death’. A new song is also being played. I’ve never been a huge Slayer fan, but they are something unique in the metal scene. Respected and eternal in their own peculiar way. Loud, fast and raw, finding controversy, whatever they may do. I must admit that they sound a bit sloppy and tired here and there, but all in all they play just as tight as ever. There’s very little to no interaction with the crowd, but that’s fine. The crowd is happy, whatever the band will do.

Long live Slayer!

Source: Metal-Archives.com

The Hockey Song

yeah, it's me in glorious hockey look.
yeah, it’s me in glorious hockey look.

OH! The good ol’ Hockey game, is the best game you can name.
And the best game you can name, is the good ol’ Hockey game.

– Stompin’ Tom Connors – The Hockey Song

I’ve walked around with this feeling long enough, time to write it down and let go of it. As some may know of the readers who know me, I’ve been involved with the Eindhoven icehockey team for about five years now. I’m not playing, but first I started up the fansite together with a friend (who later took a much bigger role in that, to his merit making it the thing it became), and later I worked as a PR guy for the team. I’ve used my skills in Social Media and learned through playing with posting times, stats, virality with the facebook and twitter accounts, both having more than 1k natural followers now. My girlfriend made photo’s and my friends were also involved. We had a great time around the ice.

Maybe many people never noticed us or noticed who wrote stuff and all, I don’t know. I’m not out to redeem some glory. This season another club asked for a permit to play this season. This caused a lot of problems, since it’s a team from the same town and it’s kind of a problem for a minor sport to be supported on that scale. You’ll have to much fishing in the same pond going on, specially when there’s barely enough fish to substain one of the parties. The take-over didn’t have much to do with having heart for the game and promoting it, it’s been a clash of ego’s, one group just more blunter, short term thinking and selfish than the other. I’ve worked with that old group for a long time, definitely there’s some ego’s and some self esteem involved there, but also a lot of passion and at the bottom line of those characters was always the importance of the game. They quickly withdrew and gave way to this other group, just to let the things continue. Expertise and help was offered, in an indirect way also mine, but it was discared as useless. That hurt, I know my value nowadays and I know how much I can mean for an organization when they get me on their side. I’ve conquered a lot of fears there and also in my professional field this year. I’m worth something for sure, I don’t doubt myself on that front anymore.

Months of silence followed, strange communications and a lot of negativity from fans and also people involved with the club. The old gang remained respectfully silent, which I would not have been able to. Many times I wanted to post blunt facebook posts, expressing how hurt I was and that they took something from me I cared for deeply. What particularly hurt was being discarded on qualities I also displayed for the other group in trying to make them the website they wanted (which is frigging hard if the person giving the assignment wants you to telepatically find out what it is they want, regardles of all my prying and asking for examples so we could discuss it). Suddenly I was asked for the website login by some other guy for another, I felt that this kind of business was beneath me. I’ve been pissed of and stressed a lot about this.

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I want to let it go, but I see the texts written on facebook and on the sparse other sources and it hurts my eyes as a writer. It hurts my eyes to see the way of using the media and the ways of expressing things, because I know better and they for some reason never saw that. Obviously, I’ve been analysing my feelings thoroughly. I feel hurt in my self value and appreciation by a bunch of people who probably don’t even know me. Who don’t see how much I have given up over the last years to work for that beautiful game of hockey.

But it’s ok now, I’m expressing myself here. There’s a lot of details I feel I would like to share about the case. At some point you get frustrated by any detail of the people involved, though bigotry will always anger me to great extents. That only fuels the flames of hate. Anyways, why do I bother… This will go the way it goes, no matter what I think about it. Aparently I’ve been discarded, like my friends, but that’s something I have to accept. I’m beyond the point where I wish to know why, I just need to accept this.

Kemphanenfan Crew
Kemphanenfan Crew

I’m ok in accepting that me and others needed to suffer these blows to give some people what they want. Maybe all the tactical and careful work of the last years needed to make way for a group with no morals and scrupules and who knows it might bring the game to that other level you always hope for. I sincerely hope so, ’cause though my heart for the game has been bled dry, I love the passion I’ve seen in the players and fans. I wish them all that and more. I really hope this club will learn to treat people they way the always shouted people should be treated and never do their business like this again.

Spock said it right: “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few”.

And I’ll just take this one from Gordie and let it go.

Source: rugusavay.com

Many thanks to all the people who made hockey awesome for me.
I’d flip my finger to the others if I weren’t above that, I’ll try to cherish my good memories and the people that were worth it.

Holding on to anger is giving the people you’re angry with way more attention then they apparently ever had for you.

Romulus: Romans, Metal and Game of Thrones

Standing at the hill cliff
A flock of birds crown me
I am fathered by the god of war, I am the king of Rome

– Ex Deo ‘Romulus’

My title is random in mentioning GoT but really, where do you think that whole show gets it from? Right, from the Romans. Now, I’ve listened to a lot of epic metal in my day. From the blazing battle sounds of Amon Amarth to the proggy Nordic mayhem of Moonsorrow. The Celtic originals from Skyclad to the atmospheric and instrumentally superb Eluveitie. Now and then you come across bands that do something differently, like the whole German Mittelalter scene or ofcourse the wonderful Orphaned Land, bringing harmony in metal to the middle east. I also got to interview Melechesh once, a band playing Assyrian themed metal. So amazing… I almost forget my friends in Skyforger, with their Baltic pagan metal. I talked to their singer over a bottle of Jacknells.

What always has surprised me though, is how none of these bands take up the most epic, sensational culture the world has seen: The Romans. I got to see one band using them as a theme. I’ve just finished reading Suetonius’ history of the Roman emperors. The incestuous, murderous bunch in Westeros look like amateurs, compared to the Romans. Apart from that, they were a brutal warmachine that conquered most of the known world and managed to keep it together for ages. The sound of Ex Deo expresses that in majestic, bombastic and powerful death metal.

I can see the appeal of the likes of Vikings or national cultures, but why can no one be arsed to do something with Romans? Most of the series and films we have are totally metal, why no metal that’s totally Roman. Yes, there are some bands that are listed as playing with the same themes as Ex Deo, but those are the confused Fangs Of Molossus from Italy and Neron Kaiser from Russia. Both confused sounding bands and hardly doing justice to what they wish to tell. Maybe Sabaton will get around to it, but I will hardly like their version…

Rome at its peak, like Britney Spears in 2000 according to source: curtblack.com

For me, Metal has always been much about storytelling and painting visions. Listen to some black metal from the likes of Emperor and Burzum and you’ll probably get that. Think of the fabulous concept albums bands like Turisas released once upon a time. The Roman emperor has all the material for that. Heck, you only need to pick to of the sauciest years of Caligula’s reign to fill a 3-LP record!

I’m going to see if I can talk to bands who do this sort of interesting stuff, like Ex Deo. So this is a tribute to the Canadians (for fucks sake Italy, Canadians are the only ones doing something metal with your heritage!), who only started doing this, because Maurizio Iacono got interested in it. The vocalist of Kataclysm is half Italian and that was all it took.

So what is a good new audiobook about them Romans? And bands, get in touch!

Nervous Breakdown

“I’m about to have a nervous breakdown
My head really hurts
If I don’t find a way out of here
I’m gonna go berserk”

– Black Flag ‘Nervous Breakdown

I always thought stress was something for other people. Weak and feeble minded people who didn’t realise in time that they were worrying too much about too many things. I think I’m learning what the reality is the hard way. I’ve been having pain in my neck and shoulders for days, I wake up tired and with a headache that sticks with me throughout the day.  Accepting that is a good way to put a whole lot of things in perspective lately.

I’ve been extremely snappy and easily annoyed by things at home. I sit around staring at the walls a lot. I try to relax but can’t find a way to do so. It explains my total rattled experience a week ago, that I blogged about. It explains the bottled up frustration inside of me.

I talked with my girlfriend for a long time yesterday. There was so much rage inside me about everything and everyone… I’m taking vitamins now, though I don’t really believe in those. I hope to find a way to deal with it, because it feels really weird to not have peace in your own body and mind.

Not the result of stress according to me, it is according to the source.

Music really helps according to Josephine Bila’s blog. I believe that. I felt totally locked in stasis this morning, until I listened to the song that this post is named after. I felt something tingle in my fingers and toes. I wanted to smash shit up. I think I’ll listen to some more punkrock this afternoon and schedule some stuff for myself to do now. First a meeting I’ve been dreading. I’ll let you know if I punch anyone.

Black Coffee Blues

“Got up on the wrong side of life this morning.
Nothin’ today is gonna go my way.
Horoscope told me lies this morning.
I don’t think anything’s gonna be okay.

Today!
Everything sucks today!”

– Descendents ‘Everything Sucks’

It’s always good to realise that days will always suck now and then. Stuff will suc, people will suck and coffee won’t taste as brilliant as it is supposed to taste. At my work we have not got the right coffee, its either too bitter or too watery. It always comes from a machine as well and that is in general no good start for your days. A good cup of coffee is vital, specially when you can get a good breakfast with it like pancakes, eggs and bacon. After that you can take on the whole world.

Coffee in Vilnius (by J. Lukosiute)

There’s one coffee machine with filters and grinded coffee in the office of the manager, there’s only a limited amount of users for that. Oh, the sheer glory of being one of the inner circle and getting a cup of actual coffee from there… The joy is so enormous. That can really make my day. I used to have one of those machines that grind the beans themselves, but for some reason it never tasted as good. It had some issues as well , that’s true, but it mainly didn’t feel like coffee as I know it.

This inevitably is going to lead to the best cup of coffee story. That’s pretty hard, the best ones are on the day after a long night, with the great breakfast and preferably with the sun in your face. I am fairly sure that some of those great cups were had in hostels around Europe. On Sardinia I got to taste the coffee culture of the Italians, that was an eye opener for sure. The best though is coffee made Lithuanian style, with dark bread, butter and sausage. Guaranteed to feel stuffed and ready to fight a fucking mammoth with a chainsaw wielding orc on it’s back.

One day I was derived of coffee on the location I was working. A colleague kindly posted various pictures of coffee on my facebook page. That was rather frustrating and hilarious at the same time. All in all, there is nothing that says sobering comfort like a cup o’ Joe. Nothing better to have a chat over than the black stuff and nothing that allows you more to just play that internal black coffee blues , while staring out of a window. All you need is a cup and some time…

 

source: Zazzle.nl