donderdag 25 december 2008


Been feeling unusually Christmas-y this year...maybe it's due to being outside America - in the States, you're bombarded with consumerism, and the newspapers and newscasts seem to think it's *important* to report how retailers are doing - as if Walmart's profit margin is the determining factor as to whether this is a good Christmas or not!! I watched Fox News last week and a "reporter" actually said something like "we'll know next week whether Walmart's Christmas wishes will come true or not" - it's Christmas wish of selling crap to people who are in a recession so it's top execs can take home billion dollar bonuses????? Anyhow, while there is of course consumerism in the Netherlands, it's much more mellow - and I've been surprised (and relieved) how unusually friendly and upbeat people in shops are. Someone actually said "Sorry!" when almost ramming their shopping cart into me at Albert Heijn - this is unheard of!!!! Normally when I've been in the US, I come back to NL after Christmas and am immediately disgusted by the rude and impolite behaviour of people, but it seems different this year - maybe the coming recession is in fact humbling people?? For the first time, we got a Christmas tree and decided to make a turkey! There's only 2 of us (plus the animals), so we didn't need a big one, but there was a misunderstanding at the butcher. They asked me if I wanted to 2.5-3 pound turkey.....they said "pound" so I assumed they had heard my American accent and were kindly converting from metric for me, even though in truth, I have lived here so long I have completely forgotten non-metric measurements and don't have a clue how warm or cold 70 degrees fahrenheit is anymore. Anyway, I show up at the butcher and the turkey was in fact 3 KILOS! A big bird!! This will be the first attempt at cooking a turkey, so it will indeed be interesting - hope it works out. I imagine there will be quite a few turkey sandwiches in our future (which will taste great on maisbrood!). On the downside, my Dad has been quite ill lately and I just discovered my cousin, who was strangely born the exact same day and year I was, has breast cancer - all the bad things in my family seem to happen around Christmas time (among other things, another cousin died two days before Christmas back in the 80s), so I do get a bit nervous this time of year. anyhow, happy holidays - whatever it is you celebrate, be it Hannukah, Kwanza, Christmas, or just enjoying a few days off :-)

dinsdag 23 december 2008

Burger Quest

I guess I fulfill one of the American stereotypes, but I do love a good burger. And those are not easy to come by on this side of the Atlantic, but one place that does them well is Boom Chicago. With plans to attend the Monday night Pub Quiz, I also planned on partaking on a burger, so I starved myself all day so I'd be nice and hungry! The tram was delayed and I got there slightly after 8pm, only to discover that the kitchen had closed 1 minute ago! This wasn't good, as not only was I starving, but I didn't want to drink the inevitable beers on an empty stomach. My group told me to run over to Burger King really quick (a French person suggesting BK - there's a first!), so, though it's not my favourite place, I ran over to BK, which is strategically located next door to a "coffeeshop", thus catering greatly to stoned people with the munchies. People don't form queues here in The Netherlands, it's more like a herd of elephants, and if you are polite like me, it can make getting served next to impossible. At one point, the guy called to me, but discovered there was someone before me, and retracted his offer. It was taking too long, so I left (as I often do in The Netherlands if it looks like I'll never get served) and discovered my only super-quick food option was oliebolen (oily balls, kind of like donuts). So I took two and headed back. One of my quiz group was so disgusted as the concept that I had to eat oliebolen for dinner that he kindly offered me some of his burger, which he had luckily ordered 1 minute before 8pm. Unfortunately, as he tore off my piece, I discovered a minute later that he had in fact missed the burger completely and torn off a bunch of the bun. Again, my polite nature made it impossible for me to point this out, so I enjoyed a nice tasty bun and some oily balls. Now that burgers were on the brain, I decided to head back to Burger King after the quiz - I'm much more patient with queues when I've had a few nice beers :-) I waited a few minutes and then - voila! I was being served. I ordered my burger and the slightly embarrassed cashier responded that they had run out of buns (!), so they couldn't make any more burgers. I realized that it was just not meant to be, this day. Maybe God was intervening to keep my heart healthier (sure, with oily balls and beer!). Well, living in Holland over the years has taught me to live with disappointment, so I made my merry way home. Next time, I'll get there before 8 and all shall be well.

woensdag 17 september 2008

Dueling headline

Always fun to compare headlines.

Hmmm, my old hood in San Francisco, 5 blocks from "home"=
(09-17) 09:51 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A bicyclist was shot and killed early today in a normally quiet neighborhood in San Francisco's Richmond District, police said.

AMSTERDAM - Staand een biertje drinken op een terras? In Amsterdam mag dat volgens de regels niet.
Rough translation= Standing drinking a beer on a terrace?? In Amsterdam, according to the rules, that's not allowed.

dinsdag 12 augustus 2008


Yesterday, I awoke to the sound of gunshots and police sirens, though at the moment I didn't think they were shots, just a blown tire or something (must have been groggy - tires don't blow out 9 times, do they?) . But it turns out, just down the block.....MURDER!!....One of the very few positive things about living in Holland is I always felt rather safe. Even the one time someone attempted to mug me was laughable - he claimed to have a gun, I ignored him, pushed him aside and went on my way. However, even though I live in a "good" neighbourhood, I'm beginning to wonder what's going on. Last month, a plainclothes police agent was shot to death by a man who was driving erratically and was actually on the way to murder his girlfriend .... the NY Pizza place up the street was robbed at gunpoint .... a nightshop owner down the street was knifed to death during a robbery.... a boxer was shot dead and we heard the shots but didn't realize what it was until the papers came out the next day....and a year or so back, a family down the block was murdered in their flat (but the man had criminal ties, so I guess that's OK, right?)....all these things are happening within a kilometre of my home!! If this was happening in the US, I think I would be VERY nervous, but for some reason, even the close proximity of these events feels distant. This is a nice family neighbourhood, but for some reason, it seems much more violent and dangerous than the squalid centre of Amsterdam where we used to live. I'm still out every night walking the dog, tuned out of the world with my ipod playing old radio dramas from 70 years ago.

zondag 29 juni 2008

Smoking ban in Amsterdamned...

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- This city's famed marijuana bars have weathered many challenges over the years and are still smoking.

A man uses a vaporiser at an Amsterdam coffe shop.

But now they face an unwelcome blast of fresh air: On July 1, the Netherlands will be one of the last European countries to ban smoking in bars and restaurants in compliance with EU law.

The Health Ministry says the ban will apply to cafes that sell marijuana, known as coffee shops. But this being Holland, which for centuries has experimented with social liberalism, there's a loophole: The ban covers tobacco but not marijuana, which is technically illegal anyway.

But that still leaves coffee shops and their customers in a bind. Dutch and other European marijuana users traditionally smoke pot in fat, cone-shaped joints mixed with tobacco.

"It's the world upside down: In other countries they look for the marijuana in the cigarette. Here they look for the cigarette in the marijuana," said Jason den Enting, manager of coffee shop Dampkring.

Shops are scrambling to adapt. One alternative is "vaporizer" machines, which incinerate weed smokelessly. Another is to replace tobacco with herbs like coltsfoot, a common plant that looks like a dandelion and that smokers describe as tasting a bit like oregano.

But most shops are just planning to increase their sales of hash brownies and pure weed -- and are hoping the law isn't enforced.

Michael Veling, owner of the 4-20 Cafe and a board member of the Cannabis Retailers' Union, said he expected a small decline in sales as smokers are forced to separate their nicotine addiction from their marijuana habit.

But he expects the long-term effects to be minimal. "It's absurd to say that coffee shops will go bankrupt in the second week of July. Nonsense," he said.

Veling is instructing his staff to send tobacco smokers outside, but he doesn't expect all coffee shops to do the same. He said some owners will ignore the ban -- and will probably get away with it, at least for a while.

But "if obeying the smoking ban becomes a condition of renewing your business license, just watch how fast it will happen," he said. "That's the way things work."

Chris Krikken, spokesman for the Food and Wares Authority, charged with enforcing the ban, said his agency won't be targeting coffee shops in particular.

"For the first month we'll just be gathering information about compliance in a wide range of hospitality businesses. Depending on what we find, we may focus more squarely on a sector that's lagging," he said.

But he said individual businesses caught allowing customers to smoke will be warned and definitely checked again. "Repeat offenders will face escalating fines," he said.

Marijuana possession is illegal in the Netherlands, but smokers are not prosecuted for holding up to 5 grams. Around 750 cafes -- half of them in Amsterdam -- are licensed to have up to 500 grams in stock at any one time.

The Dutch "tolerance" policy recognizes that some people will smoke pot regardless of laws, so it might as well happen in an orderly way. Critics complain this encourages substance abuse.

But cannabis abuse in Holland ranks somewhere in the middle compared to other nations and is lower than in the U.S., France and England, according to statistics compiled by the United Nations' Office on Drugs and Crime.

At the same time, the levels of THC -- the main active chemical in marijuana -- have soared in the past decade and are now at 16 percent in Dutch weed.

The U.S. government sounded the alarm earlier this month because THC in American marijuana has doubled to 9.6 percent since 1983, and it warned of recent scientific findings linking the drug to mental problems.

The Dutch government, currently led by a conservative coalition with a religious bent, is slowly squeezing back the number of coffee shops by not renewing licenses when shops close.

Growers are arrested, leaving coffee shop owners struggling to obtain their main product.

"The rules are being set to pester us out of business one by one, slowly but surely," said Richard van Velthoven, manager at The Greenhouse, who said he feared being shut down for tobacco violations.

"I've taken the cigarette machines out, I'm putting Coltsfoot on the tables, I've bought extra vaporizers, the staff is watching out -- what more can I do?" he said.

German tourist Lars Schmit said lamented the possible end of an era.

Without coffee shops, he said, "a little bit of Amsterdam will die."

dinsdag 20 mei 2008

Food photography 101

There is a specialized type of photography known as "food photography" - these people are masters of making food look even more delicious than it is....a good (or scary, rather) place to look is HERE, where a site took the advertising photographs of various German foods and then photographed what the *actual* food looked like - some of these comparisons are really frightening!!!

In Holland, they don't even seem to bother making the food look appetizing to begin with, as can be evidenced by these pictures I came across in the supermarket ads -

maandag 19 mei 2008

Becoming what we despise...

Do we become what we despise?? I am beginning to think so. The other day after my martial arts class, I rode my bike over to the amazing French bakery, Le Fournil, that opened on Olympiaplein. First I stopped at the Dutch bakery on the corner as they have amazing walnut bread, and then I made my way a few shops down to Fournil (how fortunate 2 of the best baker's in Amsterdam are so close to each other!) Anyhow, I was a bit tired and spacey and at Le Fournil, the girl would ask me questions and I kept having to ask her to repeat herself. I'm not THAT deaf yet, but after 3 times, I suddenly realised my ipod was still playing and my headphones were still in my ears cranking My Bloody Valentine! Helpppppp!!! I've become one of them!!!! Soon I'll be SMSing on my bicycle and talking loudly on my mobile on the tram. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

zaterdag 17 mei 2008

Bill O'Reilly's meltdown...

Old news to some, but pretty amusing footage of Bill O'Reilly freaking out long ago, further evidence of his disgustingly angry, abusive and narcissistic character=

And a pretty funny pisstake of what the producer might have been saying=

And finally, Stephen Colbert's comments=

donderdag 24 april 2008


Gas prices from most expensive to least - hmmmm, look who's at top of the list, goddamit...maybe I should drive to Luxembourg to fill my tank :-D

Nation City Price in USD Regular/Gallon

Netherlands Amsterdam $6.48
Norway Oslo $6.27
Italy Milan $5.96
Denmark Copenhagen $5.93
Belgium Brussels $5.91
Sweden Stockholm $5.80
United Kingdom London $5.79
Germany Frankfurt $5.57
France Paris $5.54
Portugal Lisbon $5.35
Hungary Budapest $4.94
Luxembourg $4.82
Croatia Zagreb $4.81
Ireland Dublin $4.78
Switzerland Geneva $4.74
Spain Madrid $4.55
Japan Tokyo $4.24
Czech Republic Prague $4.19
Romania Bucharest $4.09
Andorra $4.08
Estonia Tallinn $3.62
Bulgaria Sofia $3.52
Brazil Brasilia $3.12
Cuba Havana $3.03
Taiwan Taipei $2.84
Lebanon Beirut $2.63
South Africa Johannesburg $2.62
Nicaragua Managua $2.61
Panama Panama City $2.19
Russia Moscow $2.10
Puerto Rico San Juan $1.74
Saudi Arabia Riyadh $0.91
Kuwait Kuwait City $0.78
Egypt Cairo $0.65
Nigeria Lagos $0.38
Venezuela Caracas $0.12

dinsdag 11 maart 2008

Home sweet home....

I'm not a great blogger - while some are out there digitally clicking fotos, uploading them immediately with their webphones to their blogs within moments because we live in superfast ADHD-times, here I am uploading some pix I took 3 months ago but couldn't be bothered downloading from my camera until now. I am really beginning to feel the generation gap close in - I don't care that a faster laptop has been released - I don't care that my mobile phone has internet capability (in fact, after 8 months, I only used it once) - I guess I'm truly on my way to becoming a grumpy old man :-) Anyhow, here are some pix of my old hometown.

Ah, the good ole days of the ratrace downtown. Actually, it's changed quite a bit - barely saw any homeless people - it's not that there are less - they just seem to have found a way to sweep them away somewhere else I guess

A view of San Francisco from Emeryville, which used to be a shithole, but now has turned into a bit of a yuppietown

Sutro Baths by the Cliff House, a favourite restaurant with a view of the Pacific Ocean. To think, I used to live right near here - you never appreciate what you have until its gone...

The Cliff House restaurant - best view from a restaurant in San Francisco! Very expensive but luckily the dollar is very weak at the moment so we went there twice ;-)

I think this place may have been shut down which isn't surprising given its name...

Obligatory tourist cable car photo

The Video Cafe on the corner of my old apartment - we very undiplomatically used to call it "We Hate Roundeye Video" because they were always incredibly rude to us, but it didn't matter because they were a 24-hour Food/Video Rental place 1 block from home! Ah, those 3am milkshakes!!

We decided to have lunch at a place called Moe's in North Beach, but never in my wildest dreams would I imagine the name was inspired by The Three Stooges!! Great burgers and Stooges memorabilia on the walls- the only bummer was no Stooges on the TV - I considered asking, but thought the guys watching "the game" would probably beat me to a pulp

zaterdag 1 maart 2008

Fascinating information no one cares about...

Barely a day goes by in the Netherlands where you will not come across an article publishing the findings of some ludicrous survey or opinion poll which informs us of some mundane crap that no one in their right mind could be interested in. A few weeks ago, I read the fascinating fact that the Dutch buy more fake-laminate flooring than other people in Europe! WOW!!!!!!! I'm so glad the precious little space in the newspaper devoted an ENTIRE COLUMN to mentioning this- just that morning, I had been wondering what country used the most laminate flooring and....well, luckily I didn't have to ponder it that long. Apparently, a reason so much of these nauseatingly banal facts are thrust upon us is that there are loads of braindead "researchers" living on subsidies who, in order to maintain their subsidies, must compile and release "research" like this, supposedly as some sort of sociological experiment?? The Dutch seem obsessed with statistics - they're everywhere! And of course we all know statistics are useless and can be manipulated by the phrasing of the questions, so what is the point???

What started me on this rant? A piece from today's "news" that the Dutch prefer bread and cheese for breakfast and continues to inform us what percentages buys their bread and where, and how many make their own sandwiches for lunch!!???! Well, anyone who's lived here for more than 2 weeks could tell this - this is generally what they eat for breakfast and lunch. In fact, in several situations I've encountered, the Dutch actually use the word "bread" for lunch, as in "Shall we go get some bread???" Now this is completely weird to most of us foreigners, but it's business as usual here. The thought of a rich, filling American breakfast or a greasy English fry-up is completely frightening to them (and sure, that's probably why they're much skinnier than us!). Anyhow, in case you are interested, the article is below.

AMSTERDAM – Despite the culinary variety in the Netherlands (WTF???-This is culinary variety???-dman) , a brown bread roll with cheese remains the most popular breakfast. Bread is essential to the Dutch diet, as evidenced by a survey of 500 people.

The survey was held in anticipation of the bakery trade fair to be held at the Amsterdam RAI from 2 to 4 March.

Healthy products are popular at the baker's as well: customers say their favourite breads are those with a healthy image, like multigrain, wholegrain and brown breads.

The survey also indicated that one in three Dutch prefer meat fillings for their sandwiches. Favourites were roast beef, ham and "worst" (a type of sliced sausage coldcut). Just one in ten prefers sweet fillings like chocolate sprinkles or jam.

"Almost four in ten Dutch usually buy bread at the baker's and six in ten usually at the supermarket. The Dutch are generally of the opinion that the bread from the baker's is tastier than supermarket bread. But those who buy it at the supermarket do so out of convenience. Men are of this opinion more often than women. Women are more likely to cite price as a reason to not buy at the baker's," the researchers concluded.

Four in ten Dutch take sandwiches from home to work each day. Most workers prepare these themselves, though one in five men does admit that his partner or mother prepares the sandwiches.

One in five workers visits the company canteen and 25% go home to eat at lunchtime.

maandag 25 februari 2008

Hillary & Mrs Miller...

Found this via Doktor Frank's blog (must give credit where it's due!) =

The similarities to Mrs Miller are amazing, so I can't help but wonder if it's intentional parody, or just another case of a piece of amateur-creativity inspired by world events. After 9/11, there were loads of atrocious 9/11 Tribute Songs on that, while pure in intention, were worse torture than waterboarding to listen to..... strangely enough, many of the comments on the youtube page are enthusiastic! Are those responses real or satirical??? I used to think satire was dead, as everything media-related had become so ludicrous that it was impossible to satirize any more.....however, I may have to think twice about that....the best satire was always that which you weren't quite sure was real or satire ;-)

vrijdag 8 februari 2008


Wow, I thought there was some scary packaged food in the US, but in Germany, this takes the cake=
Cheeseburger In A Can!

Gee, that almost makes

Jimmy Dean's Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Sausage On A Stick

look like gourmet food!

maandag 4 februari 2008

Joran van der Sloot

One disappointing aspect of learning Dutch is that it doesn't open up many doors in terms of new books or films that can be enjoyed, unlike French, German or Spanish. But I finally got a chance to experience something "worldly" with my adopted language when there was an exclusive 2-hour special on Dutch TV last night, where a hidden camera caught Joran van der Sloot, the suspect in the Natalee Holloway disappearance, openly admitting what he had done and generally showing the world what a complete cockroach of a human being he is. Whether he's guilty or not, he is truly such a miserable c*** that he deserves any and all misery that will follow. I won't go into what he said as that's to be read everywhere, especially after the US version of the show airs tonight (I wonder if they will subtitle or dub Joran?) - this must be the first time the Dutch language will be so prominent on American TV - Americans may think he's not confessing, but clearing his throat and spitting a lot (for those who never heard it, it's quite a gruff language!). Let's just say he passes every point of the Sociopathic Checklist with flying colours!

Anyway, I think Peter R DeVries, the Dutch criminologist who is a bit of a media whore but generally gets results, overstepped his bounds when he says he "solved the case". Yes, he rigged a car with hidden cameras and got an undercover guy to lure Joran into telling him what "really happened" that night (which of course Joran claims was a lie to just tell the guy what he wanted to hear). But he hasn't made any Sherlock Holmesian discoveries. He has obtained a confession that may not even be legally binding, especially considering Joran was stoned most, if not all, the time. Plus, it was obvious Joran looked up to this guy was trying to impress him, so maybe he was making the whole thing up - he is just a 20-year old narcissistic, habitual-lying punk after all. At first, I thought just that. But as he continued to rant about what happened that night, he really went into detail and looked like he really was letting something out that he had never admitted before. Of course, part of being a sociopath is being a very believable liar, so it COULD be a big lie as well. But what wasn't a lie was the disgusting manner in which he spoke of the police, of Natalee, the Aruban brothers, and almost everyone around him. Maybe it's not fair, but I don't even care now whether he really did or not - I hope he gets punished or becomes the victim of some American Southern lynchmob-type justice. The sad thing is that the Dutch legal system is so tame, that even murderers get just 10 years in jail. The guy who killed Pim Fortuyn got a small sentence, will probably get out earlier, has a nice private cell with cable TV and because he's a vegan, his own chef!!! I don't think they can ever prove Joran as a murderer, so he will most likely get 6 months for disposing of the body at worst.

For a small country, Holland is making big news lately. Soon we'll also have Geert Wilders anti-Muslim film released. The government is freaking out that there will be riots and problems after it is screened. There probably will.

donderdag 31 januari 2008

Death and dogs...

We have, or rather had, a strange neighbour. She was very small, almost a midget, about 4'2" or so. I saw her now and then walking her dog while I'm out walking Missy. There was a strange air about her- she looked quite lonely and unhappy, and probably had a tough life. At 5'10", even I am a midget in the Netherlands, where the average height is 6'2", so I imagine being that small wasn't easy. Her relatives also (I am told) were not very nice. I learned she died today. A few days ago, she fell down the narrow, spiraly stairs while walking her dog and wound up breaking her ankle and leg. She was taken to hospital but I was surprised to hear she would be there 6-8 weeks - I can barely get a Dutch doctor to write me a prescription or acknowledge I am sick, so I wonder how a broken ankle gets you 6 weeks in a hospital. There must be more to the story.

Anyhow, the doctors told her she needed some kind of surgery to insert a splint into her leg and she refused! Despite the possible risk of infection, she just didn't want to do it (and this isn't Sick-O land - it wouldn't cost her a penny, so it wasn't out financial worry). While this was going on, some of us dog-loving neighbours were discussing if one of us could take care of her poor dog while she was recovering, because it was home alone, and howling at night. I was about to take him in, but now the woman died and her dogwalker found a new permanent home for him. In a way, it's good I didn't take him in, as I learned he likes to eat money (and there must be a thousand euros worth of 5 or 10-cent coins strewn about the house on the floor, under the couch, etc.) He also likes to eat....well anything= mobile phones, ipods, cameras - what a materialistic appetite he must have. It seems very odd to me that this woman died from falling, but one of the neighbours thinks that she just gave up on life and let herself die. It all seemed to happen after she discovered that her dog was in good hands and would be cared for.

I wonder if we can just give up the will to live and die like that. Maybe the fall did some deeper damage that was undiscovered. It's all kind of creepy. Luckily some more Three Stooges DVDs arrived today, so I'll stick those on to alleviate the dark thoughts....

zaterdag 26 januari 2008


Pavarotti, one of the great tenors of the 20th century, duets with more "contemporary" musical artists sometimes - why, I dunno....the results are amazing. At first I thought these were sketches from SCTV - but not even SCTV (John Candy did a great Pavarotti impression) could have done this better. Here he is with Lou Reed doing "Perfect Day" and "Walk on the Wild Side"=

At first, I thought maybe it was a one-off thing, but the Pav shows up elsewhere with Queen=

And then AGAIN with James Brown!!

He also does one with Deep Purple....who's next?? The Sex Pistols???? Oh yeah, Luciano's dead....bummer......

woensdag 23 januari 2008

What I want for my birthday!

My birthday's coming up - I think I found what I want - my ipod's a bit old now, so I think it's time to upgrade with the I-TASER!!!!! - a combination taser gun and mp3 player! Awww, well, it's not really called that - and tasers aren't legal over here - probably a good thing too or I'd be in jail by now tasering all the assholes who bump into me at the supermarket or on the street! Time for anger management therapy??

maandag 21 januari 2008

Diver Dan & Superpup

Someone gave me a tape of DIVER DAN ages ago - it was just one episode and someone has uploaded it to youtube

I saw this episode numerous times on the tape, but had always been curious if any more existed. Last year in the States, I was happy to see a DVD for only $5, which contained almost 2 hours of episodes! Out of 104 episodes, apparently only 40 or so are known to exist. I've always loved the early days of TV, when there were no budgets and people had to be creative - in Diver Dan, they don't need CGI or expensive underwater photography, they just filmed it through a fishbowl!! Ernie Kovacs would have been proud (although he probably invented the technique himself).

Also on that old VHS tape was a show called SUPERPUP! No one seems to have uploaded that in its entirety yet (although it's in the public domain), but there's this small clip, which puzzled me because the tape I had was in black & white, and this is in colour! This show was not quite so charming as Diver Dan - in fact, it never made it past the pilot stage. And I don't get why Sgt Beagle was a Basset Hound???


I guess I just wasn't made for these times. Give me old movie serials, cheap kiddie shows, and lo-fi music over all this CGI-Pixar stuff any day!!!!

zaterdag 19 januari 2008


I've been interested in sound and audio recordings since I was very young. I loved old radios shows from a very early age which led to me to become interested in radio and recording - and El Cerrito High School had a radio station, KECG, which was my refuge - I obtained an FCC license at age 14 and played bad music and comedy sketches to 2 or 3 listeners who happened to live within a few blocks of the station ("rockin' the block"), while constantly having my life threatened by the "rap community" - you see, almost all the other DJs were thuggy rap DJs, and I annoyingly interrupted their Sugar Hill Gang marathons with my "white boy music" and unnecessarily long mike breaks - mind you, some of the crappy music I played probably did warrant the occasional death threat. While flipping the dial one day, I came across "Over the Edge" on KPFA, which was a weekly radio station done by the experimental group Negativland. They created "receptacle programming", which was like throwing loads of different sounds into a blender. I loved it and was hooked, and I suppose this lead me into having an interest in weird, obscure sounds and novelty records. Luckily, I survived High School and had much more fun on KALX, the local college/community radio station, which boasted a whopping 500 watts- strange to think that now, it can be listened to via itunes over the entire planet, whereas when I Dj-ed there, I was lucky to get clear reception at my own apartment. I also DJ'd at Imperial College Radio in London while on a semester abroad program (and receiving death threats from Brits who hated my Beastie Boys marathons when they wanted to hear things like T'Pau and Depeche Mode), but it was at KALX I discovered the amazing world of "alternative" music - not U2-type alternative, but obscure, forgotten or unknown bands or artists that the commercial world could never acknowledge. And of course, most college radio stations also love novelty records!

Fast forward a few centuries, and now I am a sound engineer. I spend a lot of time trying to make things "sound good" (sometimes more like polishing turds), but I think some clients would be surprised that I like listening to things that are usually of very bad quality! That studio manager who went on about the merits of Toto's album production probably would be shocked that quite a lot of CDs in my collection sound like they were recorded in a garage or bathroom.

Most people are familiar with Ed Wood, whose films are so bad that they're funny. The reason they are is that he was so passionate about making something great, but simply lacked the appropriate talent or perspective. He wanted PLAN 9 to be the next CITIZEN KANE. Well, for some of us, it was!

There are LOADS of Ed Wood's out there - ambitious people who passionately want to make music, films or literature. Recently, when constructing this blog, I came across WFMU's blog - they're the holy grail of community radio stations, originating in New Jersey. Not only do they play really good, diverse and interesting legitimate music, but they have quite a few guys and gals there who are, like me, fascinated by audio history and obscure recordings and novelty records. I was quite amazed and delighted to discover that some of these DJs and collectors have gone the extra mile and started mp3-ing and uploading, in their entirety, HUNDREDS of old novelty records! 8-year old preachers ranting about Satan, atrocious amateur songs about 9/11, Halloween kids records, terrible covers by wedding bands, children's sex education records - and even my beloved "Shemp Meditation Tape" (1 hour of the Three Stooges Shemp making silly noises) - there are literally thousands of files up there. And there are others, like The Audio Kitchen, who have mp3'd obscure cassette tapes of answering machine messages found at garage sales!

So, to help me combat winter depression in this cold, rainy, windy, impolite land in which I live, I loaded this stuff on my ipod and for some reason I can't fully comprehend, it helps me get through the day a little bit easier. How can I be annoyed by some rude, impolite, unbathed chucklehead bumping into me while the sound of Shemp laughing maniacally is going through my ears?? It's better than any anti-depressant....

As I uncover the odd gem, I'll probably link them here. I hope my blog doesn't wind up just being a series of links to WFMU's audio archives, but that's not out of the realm of possibility! Anyhow, thank God for's good to know I'm not the only oddball out there who would rather listen to Criswell predicting future events than to the latest pre-fab Top 10 garbage.

maandag 14 januari 2008

Fun with subtitling....

A rather amusing video where they take a Dutch (or maybe Belgian) kiddie show and phonetically subtitle what it sounds like they're saying in English=


vrijdag 11 januari 2008

Lost In Translation - Denmark

Beavis & Butthead would love Denmark - there are so many words there that are strange to English-speakers =

Need a shave?? Be sure to get some Barber Skum!!!

The coffee wasn't THAT bad....

Slut salad??

The slut salad can be followed by the tart of the month

God Hot Dogs! I suppose it helps to know that "God" means "Good" in Danish. Maybe that would solve some religious conflicts that have occured there...

DONG stands for Danish Oil & Natural Gas - in the US it means something very different

My cat runs an elevator service...

Fart means to travel in Danish - I imagine some strange translation problems can occur.....

Is it me or do these hot dogs look a bit...umm....never's just me...

donderdag 10 januari 2008

Things I did on my winter vacation.....

* euthanized the family cat while my parents wept

* sent away a young thug who wanted to come in and rob the house but didn't notify police til 1/2 hour later

* reconnected with old friends I hadn't seen in 10 years, all of whom now have kids....and was referred to as "Uncle D!" several times

* rediscovered my love of the "maple bar"!

* rediscovered my love of Amaretto Sours!

* rediscovered my love of the Three Stooges!

* had a BBQ in an ice storm!!!!

* barely touched the internet, especially since the only option was a dialup which took 10 minutes to open my email

* enjoyed the warm, friendly, courteous good nature of people and dreaded coming back to NL- and upon returning, first thing I saw at supermarket was a woman ramming her shopping cart into a 4-year old child without apologizing or even acknowledging she had done it- welcome back to Amsterdamned!!!! :-D

* bought a King Crimson CD...LOL!

* FINALLY after 10 years realized a potential second career!! (I'm not telling yet)

After that, I think I need a vacation :-D