Archive for May, 2007

Damn, it feels good to be Wil Graanstra

Dutch Word of the Day
frites: the Dutch take on french fries
Mag ik de kliene frites met mayonaisse hebben, alstublief?
May I have the small fries with mayo, please?

That’s one sentence I’ll miss saying. The mayo they have here is not like the one we have in the states, and it tastes amazing on fries. The best frites I’ve had so far have been from Wil Graanstra’s stand near the Westermarkt. They aren’t too think, like some of the Moaz one’s can be, and the sauce is alright, unlike the kind Dutch McDonalds sells. That and the dude who sells them is hilarious. The stand closes at 6:00. I guess got there at 6:05, cause:

Me: Could I have the small frites with mayo please?
WG: Nope.
Me: Why not???
WG: The day’s over. I’m going home. Goodbye!
Me: (looking sad)
WG: Sorry. (shrugs) Or you could preorder them, pay now, and I’ll have them for you tomorrow if you want.
Me: It’s OK. I’ll be back.
WG (“Arh-nold” Schwarzenegger voice):I’ll be back!

See what I put up with? Dutch people can be sarcastic in two languages. It’s kind of scary. But of course, I did come back.

He’s in a great location, right by the Anne Frank Huis and the Westermarkt. The guy’s probably making bank everyday. (Or just sick of giving confused tourists directions to the Anne Frank Huis. “It’s right around the corner. You’re not far at all.”) If I was here for a year rather than a semester, my frites purchases alone could send his kids to college. Not even affordable euro- college. I’m talking over priced American college.

If I need to be rolled back to America, blame him.

More like "Heineken BOO-ery!"

Dutch Word of the Day
druk: busy, crowded
De Heineken Brouwerij was veel druk.
The Heineken Brewery was very busy.

Sorry it took me so long to back to this. I don’t know why, cause I’ve been meaning to hate on this place all week.

So my brother Martin (aka Martlock, cause he’s a lawyer now) came to visit me this past weekend. It was Pentecost and everything was closed so it made it difficult to get around, but we managed. We went to to Pancake Bakery first, which was amazing as usual despite some sloooooow service. Then we decided to go to Heineken Brewery.

I thought the Anne Frank line was serious. Nope, the Brewery was even more special. But with the 11 euro entry you get three beers and a free gift (which you, thankfully, won’t get at the Anne Frank Huis). So we waited and eventually got in. It’s a very Disney looking place, all things considered. There were brightly colored displays and exhibits, and something that looked like a scene from the Haunted Castle, except involving the scientist who helped develop some kind of yeast. Basically, it’s for beer nerds.

Things were going great until we got sucked into this inexplicably long line. It was supposed to be a quick five room walk through showing the different elements that go into beer, but it was packed. We stood on it for what felt like a half hour. Turns out that there were two lines: One for the rest of the exhibit, and the other for a “ride.” Since we stayed on the line for long enough, someone (Martin) suggested that we might as well go on the ride.

OK. So this ride was supposed to mimic what it feels like to be a bottle of beer in the factory. We had to stand in a small movie theater looking room, hold some bars for safety and watch a screen, while the thing we were standing on rocked, simulating the movement of a bottle on the conveyor belts.

I was angry within seconds of getting on this “ride.” This was embarrassingly bad. This terrible music was playing in the background and none of the shots were even trying to be continuous. My brother and I just laughed the entire time. It ends with you, the “bottle”, getting put into a box and shipped somewhere. That box is then opened in a bar, and the tune “Celebrate Good Times” by Kool and the Gang plays. That’s when we really lost it.

At least we got beers at the end. But honestly, if they wanted to make us feel like bottles of beer, they should have filled us with alcohol first.

Empire of Light

Dutch Word of the Day

ontdekking: discovery
Ik heb nieuwe ontdekkingen gemaakt.
I have made new discoveries.

1. Biking in a skirt is a mess.

It’s not a total nightmare, it just makes me feel very self conscious. I could see it taking a while to get used to.

2. I will never get over how bright it is here at night.

This picture is from 10:30 PM at Dam Square.

3. Dutch people love baile funk. And religious holidays.

I knew this from Koninginnedag, but I didn’t know how intense it was. We went to Dansen last night and the DJ was going completely nuts. It was more, “Look what I can do!” rather than, “Wanna dance?” At one point he started to throw in some baile funk for no reason. Like, no reason what so ever. I loved it, but the whole set took a really long time to get good.

If you listen to Diplo’s Favela Strikes back, it sounds a lot like Track 4. I don’t know what song it is, but it sounds exactly like a song I heard on Queensday while I was trying to get through the crowds of orange drunk people. And they were all dancing to this.

As for religious holidays, “Pinksterdag”, which is Pentecost, means a day or two of inconvenience for me. Some of the buildings I need (with nice shiny computer labs) are going to be closed. For a country with so many atheists, they have no problem sleeping in for Jesus.

I’ll have a special guest star edition coming up because the best legal mind in America (no, not Matlock, but my baby brother) is coming by for a visit.

Somebody call 112!

No, you don’t have to. I’ll be back tomorrowish? Hopefully? Yeah…

Furniture Hooks

Dutch Word of the Day
Ik kan zonlicht opnieuw zien!
I can see sunlight again!

It’s really getting nice here in Amsterdam. It’s supposed to be 72 degrees tomorrow (which they call 22). Too bad I still have some papers to wrap up now. Sometimes tt’s either too rainy to compel oneself out of bed, or to nice to want to stay inside cranking out a paper.

This is Amsterdam at around 8 PM. These are furniture hooks at the top of the homes along the canal. Since the doors are too narrow to move furniture through, they move in through the windows. I’ve seen a piano get moved into a window with a conveyor belt. The hooks are there for decoration only now, but they’re still quite fun to look at.

PS This week’s episode of This American Life is amazing. Worth the download.

Law & Order: Leidseplein

Dutch Word of the Day
rechter: justice
Nederlandse rechter is altijd bloedig.
Dutch justice is always bloody.*

My room is on the sunnier side of the building, so it turns into a greenhouse during the day. I took a nap this evening and left the window open. Even then, it was still hot when I woke up and I didn’t have anything in the fridge to drink. And Albert Heijn was closed. So I biked to Leidseplein to see if anything was open there, and lo and behold, I found Big Bananas Nightshop.

Now, BBN is kind of like a Manhattan bodega, but with a ritzy euro feel. And a huge security guard.

Some fool tried to shoplift some Amstel Lights and totally got roughed up. I mean, seriously roughed up. Like, grabbed by the neck, pulled backwards till he screamed and dragged out of the store by his ear. Then punched a couple of times. Made Stabler look like pattycake. There was a lot of yelling in Dutch from both sides. Then the cops rolled by to sort things out.

I mean, all of this over Amstel Light? It’s Amsterdam, buddy! You can get Amstel Light anywhere for a euro or two. It’s just not worth the risk.

Apparently Dutch jails (with the exceptions of the ones for asylum seekers) are very cushy. Maybe that’s why security guards go the extra mile with the beatings. It helps even things out.

*Unless you’re really into Law & Order: SVU or you are Martin, you can’t appreciate this sentence.

Speaking of Hilversum:

Remember the freaky nightmare place I went for my field trip? Well, apparently it’s very eco friendly! Read about it this week’s Architecture section of the New York Times.

The More You Know: New York Edition

Here’s a list of places in New York with Anglicized Dutch Names:

Boerum Hill
Lefferts Manor
Coney Island
Gerritsen Beach
New Utrecht (duh)
Red Hook

Bed- Stuy, Boerum, Lefferts, and Gerritsen are all family names, but the rest are from words.
I haven’t even begun to look at Manhattan.

Why are only Google related sites working?

Dutch Word of the Day
samenwerzing: conspiracy

Wat is met dit Google samenwerzing?
What is with this Google conspiracy?

I love the Google Empire as much as the next man, but I love the rest of the internet as well. How come the only sites I have able to acess for the past half hour have been Blogger, Flickr, YouTube, G-Mail and Google itself? and very quickly, too.

Although Flickr’s directly Yahoo related, it has Blogger friendly features. These are the only things I can get to. New York Times, Wikipedia, Facebook, everything else is of limits. Maybe they have the strongest server, but this still very strange.

I can’t access to check my email. (I tried just for kicks, but I can’t reach them either so I guess it’s not their fault…this time.)

Still working on finals. Knocked out a huge paper today with two more to go. Yum.


What’s Left. Papers on:
Male Prostitution
Morrocan Rap

Reality Television

So they took down the scaffolding. At 7:30 AM this morning. Heifers! Word of the Day will return when I regain dictionary opening strength. Maybe I’ll even take a two Ascension Day for no reason, like everyone else is.


Dutch Word of the Day
het venstra:
the window

Er staat een Nederlander in mijn venstra.
There is a Dutchman in my window.

I woke up to the sound of loud Dutch and clanging metal coming from the Prinsegrancht back yard. At first, I thought they were dismantling the old bike racks in the basement. Turns out they’re building a scaffold. Right in front of my window.

Hopefully they’ll work faster than their New York counterparts. This might be a while.

Ghost Sculpture

Dutch Word of the Day
mystery, secret

Het is een geheim…
It is a mystery…

There’s this strange sculpture by the Oude Kerk in de Wallen. It’s right in the ground and I have no idea what it is. Does anyone?

I can only imagine that is has something to do with the proximity to the red windows, but the real momument to sex workers was just unveiled a few months ago and its a few feet from this.I saw a tour group pass by it, and the guide mentioned it, but said that no one knows where it came from.

The following will not be of any interest unless you’ve watched Ghostwriter on PBS:

It just showed up one night. [WORD! Ghost Sculpture] What is it? We think it be a sculpture. Be serious! That means it wants you on the team.


Dutch Word of the Day
er: there, them, it
Ik ben er nooit geweest.
I have never been there.

And by there, I mean a country with a language that doesn’t care to distinguish between the different forms of “it”, but will stress whether something is sitting, lying or standing.

Nothing “is” just “there” here. “Ik ben in Amsterdam” does not exist, but “Ik staat in Amsterdam” does. We made this realization in class very late in the game, and it’s frustrated me ever since. Oh, well.

Exams coming up soon. I’ll be up for air every now and then to post. Tot ziens.

Regen en Licht

Dutch Word of the Day
regen: rain
Schuld aan de regen geven …
Blame it on the rain…

It’s been raining here since Monday. Considering that we had two solid weeks of sunlight, I suppose it’s time for Holland to be Holland. But even with the rain, it’s been insanely bright out very late. Nine at night here looks like 6 PM at home, it’s crazy. I love it, though. And apparently it can only get brighter from here.

It’ll gradually get brighter and brighter until the sun’s still out at ten at night, possibly even eleven. I’m glad they aren’t as extreme as Finland with the weather, but I don’t mind bright nights at all.

It was the trip that never ends

Dutch Word of the Day

reis: travel
Goede reis!
Have a good trip!

I had two, nonstop back to back field trips today for two different classes. The first as 7 AM to the Deltaworks in Zeeland, the second to Hilversum for an interactive TV studio “experience.” Yeah, I don’t know how I’m alive either. I got back home at 10 PM on the dot.

The Deltaworks are on the southern coast of the Netherlands near Belgium. They are constructed to keep the North Sea from flooding the southern part of the country through a system of dikes and dams. Dikes are dams on the land and are usually constructed from the land. They enclose whatever area they are meant to protect. Dams are manmade structures that are built in a body of water to keep the water back. We got a tour of the inside of a dam.

It was very nice except our tour guide was a royal jerk who tried to get into an agrument with me over the predominence of the English language instead of Dutch. (Um…wasn’t my idea, that’s for sure.) Then he gave a somewhat sloppy presentation of how things worked and then got annoying about President Bush. (Yes, we’ve heard it all before. Not much we can do at the moment, can we?) At first we thought he just hated Americans until our professor reassured us that the guy hated on him in Dutch, too. He just hates people, so being a tour guide was a wonderful career choice. Someone’s gonna talk to his supervisor.

After that we came back to Amsterdam and into another field trip to Hilversum, home of the Dutch television networks and such. There was an interactive television experience called Beeld and Geluid (Sight and Sound) which brings me to the weird picture above. The entire building was fascinating, but this really caught my eye. I took this from the ground floor. We didn’t go into this part, but I feel like I’ve had an elaborate nightmare in this place. The kind where someone’s chasing you and you can’t get out. Who would want to work in those red basement offices? Click for a large image, it will freak you out.

Anyway, the rest of the building was nice. It would’ve been nicer if I spoke more Dutch. None of the interactive activities were in English. I think that was the last of the field trips for now.

May 2007
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