First Lines: Christine

Last month, I spend quite a lot of time in bed with Christine. The book, that is. I know, bad joke. Sorry.

One would suspect that Christine is one of King’s more well known works . A quick, non-representative poll (name tree books and/or movies by Stephen King) didn’t support that theory. It, Carrie, The Green Mile, and, inexplicably, Children of the Corn got mentioned most.

Before I get to the book, there’s one thing you should know. I don’t give a damn about cars, or any motorized vehicle for that matter. Whenever a conversation drifts into car-territory, I’ll throw in my Later, when I’m a big boy, I want a Mini, one-liner, and I’ll zone out. I just can’t be bothered. To me, a car is a box with four wheels and a steering wheel. If it works and gets you where you need to go, fine, if it doesn’t, it’s just a crapdamned piece of junk. That.

Having said that, for a book that’s basically about an evilly possessed car, Christine is a pretty damned good read. If you’d ask me, I don’t think this book is about that car at all. It helps the story move along, but to me, it’s mostly about friendship. The first time that thought crossed my mind, was on page 35, when I read the narrator’s definition of friendship:

As he said, we were friends, and that meant keeping the bullshit to a bare minimum.

I like that. If you boil the story down to a what if situation, you’d probably end up with something like What if a boy buys a car that’s after his soul? Well, he’d probably end up losing a lot. So while the book indulges in the possessed car business and killings and all that, I got a healthy dose of what I really like about King’s work: observations of people and their stories.

Book read
Stephen King — Christine
First line
This is the story of a lover’s triangle, I suppose you’d say — Arnie Cunningham, Leigh Cabot, and, of course, Christine.


While watching the new Heaven and Hell DVD Live at Radio City Music Hall, it came to me. Listening to “The Mule” on Deep Purple’s Made in Japan just confirmed it: solo spots are overrated.

While I’m perfectly fine with a guitarist shredding away during an extended solo in a song, I can’t stand it when the same guitarist gets five minutes alone on stage to wank on his guitar. The same goes for the keyboard player and the drummer. Hell, even a bass solo would suck if it wasn’t integrated in a song.

On the Heaven and Hell DVD, Vinny Appice gets five minutes to show off his chops. It is by far the dullest moment of the show. In fact, while he was beating up his kit, I just occurred to me that I had to do something for myself. While Vinny is a more than decent drummer, I just can’t see the point of a drum solo. Can you?

But when a solo is helping a song along, I’m all for it. The album version of Within Temptation’s “Enter” starts with a brief drum intro. And when they still played their old stuff live, the drummer was occasionally allowed to tear it up a bit. Like so.

So, while I’m all for solos, solo spots should die a horrible and painful death. Anyone care to disagree?

I’m a published photographer

Today I got a notice that for the second time, one of my creative commons licensed photo’s was included in an online travel guide.

The Old Royal Naval College The first picture was taken in Greenwich, London, England in September 2005 and depicts the Old Royal Naval College. It was taken the day before I left: I spent the morning walking around in Camden and Nothing Hill, and the afternoon lazing in the meadow in front of the Royal Observatory and the prime meridian. On my way back to the tube, I shot this picture. (Full disclosure: there was a crane to the right of the buildings in the background. I ‘shopped it out.)

The Rape of PolyxenaThe second picture was taken on the Piazza della Signoria, in Florence, Italy in November 2006. On the photo you can see a statue called “The Rape of Polyxena” by Pio Fedi (1816–1892). It stand inside the Loggia dei Lanzi, and this might just be my favorite place in Florence. In Greek mythology, Achilles fell in love with Polyxena, who in the end betrayed him, by revealing his only weakness. So now you know why women are mens’ Achilles’ heel. (Full disclosure: I cropped the picture a bit to get the “composition” right.)

You can find both pictures on a Schmap. One is in the museum section of the Schmap London Guide and the other in the The Political Centre section of the Schmap Florence Guide.

First Lines: Verzamelde Mannen

Diederik van Vleuten & Erk van Muiswinkel — Verzamelde Mannen
Zaallicht gaat uit. Doek open.

All right, not the first lines exactly, but close enough. It sets the stage for the rest of the book, which is a compilation of the texts of Van Vleuten and Van Muiswinkel’s first three theater programs: Mannen van de Wereld, Mannen op de Maan and Mannen met Vaste Lasten (Men of the World, ~ on the Moon and ~ with Overhead Costs respectively).

As this book is mostly concerned with humor, I won’t even try to explain it. Just download their award winning song from Mannen op de Maan, Tibet (link expired). I’ve considered it for several 700MB CDs, but I never got round to it. And since I don’t see Part V happening anytime soon, what the hell.

On a related final note: I’ll be seeing their fifth show Prediker en Hooglied in March.

The Sound of Muzak

After the release of Bat out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose, it became very clear to me: Diane Warren is the devil incarnate. Or at least, she has sold her eternal soul to Lucifer in exchange for the opportunity to write the most craptacular and dull song to ever disgrace any album with the word Hell in the title.

Ever since 1995’s Welcome to the Neighborhood Warren has contributed songs to Meat Loaf’s albums. And I must say, I’ve never been impressed by the lot of them. While “Not a Dry Eye in the House” is a great song, and “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth)” is decent enough, be it a bit unremarkable and not really a duet, that’s the cream of the crop. Two of the other three songs that made the actual album (“You’re Right, I Was Wrong” and “Cry Over Me“) are contending for being both the worst song on the album, as well as being the worst Meat Loaf song in the History of crappy songs by Meat Loaf. The other two (“If This Is the Last Kiss (Let’s Make It Last All Night)” and “Unsaid”) are both pretty dull, bland and weak.

But then again, Warren has a history of (co-)writing dull, bland, weak or just plain bad songs: Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now“, Aerosmith’s most un-Aerosmithy ballad snoozefest called “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing“, Rhythm of the Night, Un-break My Heart, so I shouldn’t be all that surprised either.

That said, she’s written some songs I quite like, like “Not a Dry Eye in the House”, Cher’s “Just Like Jesse James” [download] (co-written by Desmond Child) and in a guilty-pleasure sort of way I dig “Can’t Fight the Moonlight“, but my favorite song by her, is Dusty Springfield’s version of “Wherever Would I Be?” [download]. Or maybe that’s just because I’m having an enormous Dusty-kick lately.

As a bonus, “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth)” from The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays the Muzak of Meat Loaf [download]. Hold that elevator for me, will you?