Levels of Hell

Some people don’t really like “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. In fact, this is an actual statement I came across today: I hate that song, and believe there is a special layer of Hell that plays nothing but Jim Steinman songs. Of course, that would be paradise.

So I started to wonder what other levels of hell might be there. Doing what any sane person would do, I asked Google. Discounting Dante’s nine levels, apparently there are levels in hell

  • where disgustingly horrible film directors are sent when they die;
  • where programmers are forced to use textual Version Control systems;
  • where souls must suffer through selling and buying a house in the State of California;
  • where Barry Manilow sings to you naked, and you have front row seats, and he’s become a rapper;
  • where miserable pissants torment slightly-more miserable pissants;
  • where HR people reign;
  • where every boob you try to cop-a-feel explodes in cacophony of silicone;
  • where you are force fed by Ben and Jerry for all eternity and all is right with the world. Well, unless you consider that Santa only delivered presents to the good little children of Mexico City and completely forgot the rest of the world — D’OH;
  • where taxi drivers go;
  • where pony-tailed junior demons are developing major script options while they wait tables in Japanese-Ecuadorian restaurants;
  • where Elton John’s “Your Song” is on loop;
  • where el diablo forces you to don an animal costume and dance dance dance…;
  • where fat men … have their own body chub melted from inside the skin;
  • where hapless customers are sent to wait for their laptops to arrive from China;
  • where the angry beavers go;
  • where it never snows;
  • where people who drive their family members insane go;
  • where Satan will demand that you sit completely motionless in a dark room for a thousand years while listening to John Travolta lecture on the proper role of homosexual bush pilots in developing countries. Should you successfully complete that trial, you will ultimately be forced to marry and spawn children with Tom Cruise, the ultimate form of eternal punishment. Only one has ever reached this plane.
  • where they’re forced to watch Temptation Island, Paradise Hotel and Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? 24 hours a day;
  • where half of hip hop is now;
  • where the air conditioning is always broken;
  • where the authors of cheap detective novels have to read their own books forever and pay for their sin;
  • where you are playing Jeopardy and all the categories are “Things you don’t know”.

Have I missed any?

Seen live: Wende

Tonight, in the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, I got knocked over the head. Again. It was the fourth time I saw a show by Wende Snijders, and just like the previous three times, it was totally beyond awesome. She has the voice and the power to convince me, even when I don’t have the remotest clue what she’s singing about. Tonight, she sang of course in French and Dutch, but also in English, Spanish and South-African.

Instead of a combo including cellos, violins, etc., she was backed by a jazzy combo of piano, bass and drums this time, which led to some different arrangements. I especially liked what Arthur Lijten did on drums.

Once again, I would strongly urge everyone to go and check her out. I might be slightly biased, but then it would seem I’m not the only one: the whole audience was ‘demanded’ a second encore. But she’s just that good. She’s touring this show until April, and here are two songs you might enjoy:

  • Je Suis Comme Je Suis (from Quand tu dors)
  • De dame vloert de blues (from La fille noyée)

Friday night at Lost&Found

First things first: There is no photographic evidence, and there won’t be any (what the hell) the slides are up now.

The Lost&Found evening went down like this: the doors opened, I was playing some obscure Meat Loaf songs, including a lot from his Motown soul era [download .mp3], and some related musical goodness (like Ellen Foley, Karla de Vito, et al.).

The event started with a ten minute, one shot movie about a car crash frozen in time (Simone Bennett‘s Truth machine), followed by a presentation by Michiel Roskam about how Rembrandt painted lions and elephants before he’d ever seen one. This led into in interview with Caspar van Gemund, a painter who has nearly lost all his vision, and how this affected his painting. Next up was Astrid Bussink’s I shot the mayor, another short movie about some village in Spain, and then it was my turn.

I was asked to tell something about the myth surrounding the ‘that’ which Meat Loaf sings about in “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” [download .ogg *]. Although my train of thought derailed near the end, I was told it was great, and the crowd seemed to like the presentation. In the following break in the schedule, I was supposed to play more obscure Loaf, but hardware failure made it impossible to do so. Bummer.

Following the break, there was a reenacted dialog with an Japanese photographer of people (watching people) having sex, Night School (a film by Erkka Nissinen — excerpt), a presentation on elfriendo.com (a MySpace related service) and finally an old public service announcement by Peter R. de Vries, warning you that anyone can break in anywhere (Iedereen kan overal naar binnen, again by Simone Bennett).

All in all, I had a great time. I’m not quite sure if I agree with all people telling me I did great, but hey, if they say so, who am I to argue? De allerhartelijkste to the organization.

Finally, I should say that I loved the location, De Waag in Amsterdam. It is the oldest monument of the city, and the room the evening was held in was gorgeous. It was the “Theatrum Anatomicum”, for which Rembrandt’s “Anatomische les van dr. Nicolaes Tulp” was commissioned. The masonry guild-hall wasn’t bad either.

* Ogg Vorbis should play out of the box in any halfway decent audio-player like WinAmp. Since almost all music on my harddrive is in this format, you can expect more of this in the future. If you hit any unovercomeable problems, let me know. [back]

Update 25/2: added some links and names.

Tonight at Lost&Found

At this moment, I’m in Amsterdam, where I am to hold a presentation about the mythical thing Meat Loaf won’t do for love.

Check back on Sunday for my thoughts on the whole thing, the slides, photographic evidence, etc.

The prime-minister needs to STFU

While I should be doing constructive — like working on that presentation for Friday, or planning what to cook for nine people on Saturday — my mind can’t stop going over something our prime-minister said. Yesterday, in an interview for ‘Hour of Power’ (the interview starts about 33 minutes in), he said

Omdat je zonder het geloof ook niet kunt functioneren.

Without faith, you can’t function. According to the prime-minster, roughly half (if not more) of The Netherlands cannot function. Given the context, there is no room for discussion that he might have meant it in a broader sense: he says that you can’t function if you don’t have faith (in the same things he has faith in).

Lately, I’ve become increasingly annoyed by the way the religious politicians want to impose their beliefs on the rest of the country. If the prime-minister does not go down on his bare knees and begs the whole country for forgiveness for this fine example of how not to behave in a nation-wide discussion about morals and values, as far as I’m concerned, he can just resign.