Archive for the 'gramschap' Category

Let’s do some shots, you know I can’t turn ’em down.

People use water here for everything. The canal system serves as a water park, a great place for a restaurant on a barge, and, for an unfortunate many, an impromptu bike lot. I’ve seen the canal cleaning boat twice since I’ve been here, (without my camera, alas) and both times it’s been piled high with blackened bicycles scraped from the bottom of the grachts.

They probably landed there because some bicycle thieves rode them for a victory lap, then shoved the evidence in the drink when they got bored. Speaking of drink, here’s another theory: inebriated miscalculation. I’ve never been drunk on a bike, but I’m clumsy enough to have trouble parking it sober. Some people probably tried to chain their bikes to a bridge or some other railing, and the bikes went overboard. Or, even better, they cycled right into the canal. I’m not sure how deep the canals are but I think they are easy to escape if you fall in. They’re definitely nasty enough to motivate an escape. I mean, houseboats use them a sewers. Hell, drunken pedestrians use them as sewers! It’s gross.

Anyway, here’s the song of the day: Nosebleed by Illinois. You might know it from an episode of Weeds or from me yacking on about what a good song this is. Enjoy!

Download Nosebleed by Illinois.

Oh, darn.

I just realized that I won’t be around for the American election in November. As exciting as it’ll be, I am relieved that I will be spared of the overkill coverage. I’ve been avoiding CNN, but I still wake up to NPR, which is always “Clinton-this” or “Obama-that.” After a while, it became nerve-wracking. I’ve also grown tired of defending my choices and hearing other people defend theirs, whatever they may be. I have no problem with debate or intellectual discourse, but this has gone on for too long. We need something new to talk about. I either end up talking about the election, or the horrible gas prices. And I don’t even drive a car!

Being in a different country will, hopefully, allow me to ration out the news that I receive. I can turn the computer on, look at the news sites, and then turn it right off. No bombardment. I’d rather enjoy the glow of the fireplace rather than the flames. Hopefully, things will work out the way I want.

Ze other punishment

Despite it’s place in the name of this blog I rarely write about “Amherst College”, where I’ve spent the last four years of my life and where I am graduating from in a matter of weeks. I wrote about Amsterdam while I was there and I write about the outside world now, but Amherst’s interest for me mostly lies in interpersonal relations. Besides, if I did make blanket statements about the college, I’d be dumping four years of mixed feelings and frustrations out onto you.

As I told one of my professors earlier this week, I didn’t choose Amherst with much enthusiasm. Conversely, Amherst didn’t really choose me: my name just happened to be pulled from the wait list. Had that not happened, this blog would have been called Wesleyandam. (Well, at least the name worked out.) Since I’ve gotten in, I’ve toyed with the idea of transferring out way more than I should have. If you know me, you probably know why. I love the academics, but I’m not crazy about a lot of the people. Another reason to leave comes to mind when I see articles like this.

Now, Amherst will probably hate me for saying this, but I’m going to say it anyway: the food at Amherst College is a nightmare when compared to other similarly ranked colleges. What we have at Valentine Dining Hall is not fresh, it alternates between overcooked and undercooked, and they have no concept of seasoning. No concept whatsoever. Yes, high school senior who happened to Google “Amherst College”, “dining hall” etc. while doing some post-acceptance research and found this page. It’s true: this food’s really nasty. You will be sick, very sick at least until the end of orientation. I lost eight pounds in my freshman year, and I won’t get all of them back until I leave. Unless, of course, I start drinking as heavily as too many people here do. Please take this into consideration when you choose. I wish I had.

So pretentious I could cry–

I’ve been obsessed with Stuff White People Like lately. It’s very funny and describes a certain modern incarnation of that ever present class of people (not always white) who mean the earth well, try hard, and fail miserably. Much of this failure is caused by watery commitment to real causes and an addiction to hipness.

PS: If one more smug Luddite tells me: “I don’t have a TV. It rots your brain,” they will get hurt.

Tangentally: If I see anyone wearing a pair of “Blackspot Sneakers”, I will instantly lose respect for them.

These will never cut Nike’s market share. They are $90 self righteous trophies. Ugly ones, at that. It’s much smarter if you put the money towards a (thoroughly researched) cause instead of this over- priced, smug self congratulatory piece of crap. “I don’t have Nikes. They rot your soul.”

The epitome of the worst SWPL. May these never get popular.

Fashion Week, Dutch Style

This is an older story, but I’ll tell it anyway:

As of January 21 of this year, the city of Amsterdam commandeered 16 windows and turned them into high fashion display windows. The Red Thread is probably pissed. Fashionistas are thrilled.

I’m personally with the RT on this one. If it was a few places here and there, I’d understand. But sixteen windows? That’s excessive. Target. The. Crime. Not the tax paying women. It’s sort of like the age lowering thing; I know it’s meant to fight pimps and drug dealers, but they should really target the pimps and drug dealers.

Natalee Holloway meets Hercule Poirot

This is what’s in the news:

Dutch tv crime journalist Peter R. de Vries claims to have solved the mystery surrounding the disappearance of US teenager Natalee Holloway on the island of Aruba. The Aruban authories say they have re-opened the case.

De Vries said he used a hidden camera to answer most of the questions surrounding the girl’s disappearance. Holloway vanished while on holiday on the former Dutch colony of Aruba in May 2005.

Holloway’s mother Beth Twitty was in the Netherlands on Thursday to discuss the case with De Vries. ‘It was very emotional,’ the reporter told tv programme Hart van Nederland.

In a press release published on De Vries’ website, the Aruban justice ministry says the fresh information ‘may shed new light on the way Natalee Holloway died and the method by which her body disappeared.’ It says it is currently investigating the ‘reliability and value’ of the information.

De Vries has refused to go into further details. The full results of his investigation will be broadcast during his Sunday night tv show on SBS.

Here’s what I think/know: Continue reading ‘Natalee Holloway meets Hercule Poirot’

Verworpen Mooi

Dutch Word of the Day
verworpen:
rejected
Waaroom was zij verwopen?

Why was she rejected?

OK, so Ms. Anneliese Marie Frank is a very obvious choice for any Monday or in this case, a Sunday Mooi Vrouw; widely published Dutch writer (yup, the original book was in Dutch, NOT German) and all around thoughtful person living at a terrible time. I also had the distinct privilege of living down the street from her house for four months. I miss that.

But here’s another reason to love her: big time publishers, with the exception of Doubleday, freakin’ hated her. Apparently, the book was “a dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions.” It took about 16 rejections until someone figured it out. And the rest is canon.

That’s the funny thing about rejection. Most of the time, the critic is seeing something problematic in there that needs some sorting out. Sometimes, that something is utter crap. In this case, the adolescent tone was caused is because the author was 12. C’mon buddy.

Then there are erroneous critiques stemming from weird misunderstandings about the U.S. book market and just flat out racism. (Although for The Good Earth example: I hated that book. So many Asian stereotypes it made my skin crawl.)

Usually it is up to the author to locate what generated the critique, objectively evaluate the validity, and act. The danger of this New York Times article is that potential authors can be lulled into a sense of not having to change and revise. “But I’ve been working on this for 12 years! How could it possibly be called trite? Oh, well. Anne Frank wasn’t published in a day!”

This is dangerous ammunition in the hands of people who get so “emotionally connected” to their work that they can barely seek any outside help, especially when they need the most help. I’ve been around people like this. It hurts.

They’ll talk on and on about the process and finally, after a long period of drama, insist on showing you their work. Then, after you’ve been subjected to their little Crapsody in Blue, you try to say something nice, but you can’t. Then you take a deep breath and try the constructive track, carefully starting with the “It’d be cool to see more of this” comments before you get to the “Maybe you should cut this” comments. But by then, it’s too late. You’ve questioned their opus and the friendship is over.

See, this is why I love Anne Frank. She’s one of the very few writers who can pull off a “I got rejected a million times and it didn’t mean a thing.” It leads to a great story behind a great story. Here’s to her.

Infrastructure

Dutch Word of the Day
zwak:
weak
Onze infrastructuur is zwak.

Our infrastructure is weak.

As much as I enjoyed accidentally stumbling upon the Broken Angel House while I was lost during the subway flooding, I’m really getting concerned about all of these instances of weak infrastructure that we’re having. When you think of the Minneapolis Bridge collapse, the Lexington pipe explosion and levies breaking because of Hurricane Katrina together as a group you realize that these are all failures of infrastructure that should have been prevented long before these things broke and lives were lost.

But since repairs provide more drama and sound bites than preemptive construction, I have a feeling that we’ll just let things rot away. Safeguards need to be put in place.

But you know what gets built instead? Stupid crap like this friggin “Cube of Temptation” from Showtime. I’m not kidding. One of the walls said “Cube of Temptation.” It was in Union Square Park for a day or two, and meant to promote the shows Weeds and Californication. As much as I like what I’ve seen of Weeds and, well, the X-Files, this structure irritated me. For one thing, it wasn’t a cube. A cube is equidistant on all sides. This was more of a rectangular prism. It’s also lasted for four minutes. I only got there to witness it being taken apart. What was in it? Were they giving out weed and porn to promote the respective shows? I’d like to think it was a mini “gedogen zone.” Maybe that’s why they closed up so soon. Too much Amsterdam for one small, rectangular New York space.

Vijf honderd een worden voor sneeuw

Dutch Word of the Day
spinnen: to spin around
Je spint me recht ronde.
You spin me right round.

I found an overpriced DJ equipment/ vinyl store on the Bowery while wandering away from the Bechdel reading. I don’t know who made this record, but I approve of the cover.

You might be familiar with the “501______Verbs” language book series from Barrons. There’s a Spanish, Italian, French etc. The upside: Barrons makes one for Dutch. The downside: there’s only 201 words. It’s like they just gave up when they weren’t even mid-way. The same series does this to Portuguese, Turkish, and Swedish. Polish gets a generous 301 verbs. Latin, totally dead, gets 501. I wish they’d explain why.

It’s terribly maddening to me. Dutch is as hard to learn as English. It has a million verbs, they just don’t take it seriously enough. The explanations in the intro are very good, I just wish it was as comprehensive as I expected.

Haardy har

Dutch Word of the Day
haar: hair, but also means “her”
Haar haar!
Her hair!

Well, mine is a mess as usual. Between just jumping between the job and LSAT practice, I haven’t had the time do get it done. New York has stolen Holland’s weather, windy and rain-ish. That doesn’t make it much better.

I’m watching Party Monster, which is a good-bad movie, and shows the New York 90s madness that I was too young to witness or appreciate. I’ve been walking around a lot lately. It doesn’t look as rough as it used to, but there’s still a comforting layer of grime.

Why does Wilson Cruz star in everything gay related?

Where dem kids? Where? Dem? Kids???

Dutch Word of the Day
droevig: tragic
Er is gewoon droevig.
That is just tragic.

Not to pick on Peek and Cloppenburg mannequins again, but this is ridiculous. These kiddy dummies are just wrong. I guess for the summer it had to look trashier. Why are their pants open? Why do they have the just been fucked look? Why are they ages 8- 12? Who put this together? At least before they looked presentable.

Children’s fashion is just going down the drain. It’s not just a Europe or Amsterdam thing, it’s a general problem at home, too. I feel like complaining to the store manager to at least zip up their pants and adjust their clothing, but I don’t want to come off as some kind of “sheltered American.” Besides, I’ve never shopped there. But really, this isn’t be OK. The littlest mannequin is particularly disturbing. I would say something…if I was able to say it in Dutch.

Finals

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.

Scaffolding

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.

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.

Nothing to do With Amsterdam II: Macy Gray

Dude looks like a lady looks like a dude. She’s never looked great, but WOW. This takes looking rough to a new level.

I tried to be nice, but I choked…


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