Thursday, October 04, 2007

To answer a tag

So I got tagged by Vallyp and now have to tell you all the following (yes, here come the rules, apparently I have to post them or I'm a bad tagger and will go to Tagger Limbo where the only thing you do all day is play word association games)

"The rules? Write eight random facts about yourself, then tag eight people and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they've been tagged...ooh yes, and post the rules before you post the facts."

1. I have an obscene addiction to cheese. I believe it is either hereditary or infectious as I know I caught it off my mum. I will have to wait until I possibly produce a sproglet to know which one it is although because of fact number two and the fact that VallyP is petrified of being a Granny this may end up as an unsolved mystery.

2. I dont particularly want to have children but my body keeps trying to convince me that I do. I swear emotions are the bane of being female. My rational sense knows that we have no room and no time for a child and we dont really have any desire to really want children. My hormones, on the other hand, are convinced this is the only thing I really want in life. I grow misty eyed at commercials of cute kids doing naughty kid stuff. I see a beautiful child in the supermarket and the hormones rage to the fore with wonderful visuals of how beautiful our children would be.... thankfully the little blighters then blessedly start screaming and throwing tantrums and my hormones are beaten back down into their little dark corner again.

3. I'm a frustrated starlet. I love a little drama and love creating a little drama even more. I'm probably also the worst exaggerator of events I know. This is what comes of being a writer. The daily world on its own is just a tad too boring so I love to embellish on the facts to make my anecdotes of daily life just that little bit more interesting. Unfortunaly I am so used to exaggerating that I start believing its true... this can lead to very confused looks at the family christmas dinner when I start recounting youthful tales of mischief only to be told it didn't happen like that at all.

4. I am allergic to laundry. I am only glad I married a man who is exceptionally good at things like laundry and dishwashing or we'd be rotating clothes based on length of time since last wash and washing plates only when they're needed. Luckily I make up for it by being fairly good at other cleaning chores so it all balances out in the end.

5. I have a fear of needles bordering on phobic. I am also petrified of the dentist. Perversely, I love watching horror movies where its really gory and appendages come flying off bodies left right and center, especially zombie movies and films involving werewolves and vampires.

6. I am a walking fountain of completely useless information but this comes in very handy with Trivial Pursuit. I also have an uncanny memory when it comes to which actor played a character in a film, what the film was called and very often I know who directed it too.

7. I love Mathematics and mourn the fact that I don't get to use it in my daily life any more. Algebra was one of my favourite subjects at school.

8. Last but not least, I have a theory that 95% of the world are idiots and will do anything anyone else tells them to. It s a wonderfully flexible theory too because it can be applied to almost every situation involving people... oh and the fact that I'm a little misanthropic has nothing to do with it at all :)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sowy Jo aka Needle

A new one hasn't been sighted in a long time and for minute there I thought no more of them would ever surface to a top of mind status. So I was somewhat taken aback by the sudden violent emerging of the new 'guest'. What am I talking about? My sweet Jo's latest alter ego Sowy Jo aka Needle.
This brand new alter ego is driven by the need to create anything that can be sown and preferably at any time during the day. It looks up creative websites, makes trips to the market for the best pieces of cotton or velvet, endlessly talks to anyone showing but a hint of the same passion AND will not allow any form of failure to finish it's business less than perfect.

My experience with this alter ego so far is that it definately belongs to the group of Class A alter ego's. It's mighty presence manages to shine through any other topic and it doesn't flinch to cut a good evening of watching films on the couch to ribbons. As you see I have now said the word 'ribbons', even seemingly insignificant words such as these bring on Needle and thus the sowing machine, Sowy Jo's magical apparatus that makes sure no calling friend or future husband can reach the real Jo, is called upon to start or continue a creative process. So should you ever encounter a 'Sowy', keep this in mind.

Getting Jo back from Needle is a tough job, but as you can see in the pictures Needle makes my Jo very happy. So I'm happy for it's existence despite it's sometimes annoying Class A status :-)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Pearl Jam and Incubus - Concert in the Park (Nijmegen 28-6-2007)

It was a bright sunny afternoon when I arrived in Rotterdam to collect Barry, my mum and her friend in my intrepid steel friend, Lolita. We were all giddy as school children and merrily set off on our way. All was going well, we were making good time, the sun was shining and despite a few typically fluffy clouds it looked as though it was going to be a great day out in the Park.

..then we got to Nijmegen. Nijmegen has a rather nasty joke that it likes to play on all tourists and learner drivers. It is the Roundabout From Hell! A three lane roundabout with no lanes and no right of way to the vehicles already on the roundabout. There are also no lights warning one when a particlar offshot is now allowed on. Needless to say, I came close to wanting to expunge Nijmegen from my mental map. I have already done this to Lisse and Haarlem because their traffic systems had me going in circles and this was starting to prove the case here, literally.

Luckily I finally managed to get off the roundabout long enough to allow Barry to get perfect directions from some poor unsuspecting female walking along the pavement or we would still be there going round and round and round and round...

That was the only glitch of the day I am happy to say. After parking the car we made our way to the festival grounds and grabbed a beer before making our way over to the stage. Due to our traffic adventures we'd already missed the first two bands but none of us were particularly fussed about that. They were bands we dont know and had never heard of so we were just happy to be in time for the two bands we'd come to see.

Shortly after finding a spot to stand Incubus hit the stage. I have to admit they were not as on form as they were two years ago when I saw them at the Lowlands festival but they still put on a good show and played a lot of songs from the new album "Light Grenades". Mr Boyd was spot on with his singing and Baz and I had a good time singing along with old favourites as well as new ones.

They left the stage after an hour and we decided to go in search of something to eat. Of course at these kind of festivals you dont really expect to find anything terribly healthy but the food was surprisingly good and not the usual dripping-in-fat fare I have had at most of these events. After filling the gap it was time to go grab a spot for PJ.

The stage went dark and the screens lit up with shots of artwork from the new album and then there they were. The crowd went nuts as the band took to the stage and launched into Release, quickly followed by Go, Hail Hail and Worldwide Suicide.
The rest of the set list included Do the Evolution, Given To Fly, Not For You, Wishlist, Even Flow, Insignificance, Unemployable, Jeremy, Nothingman, Betterman/Save it for Later, Corduroy and Why Go with Eddie Vedder engaging the audience time and again throughout the set making it feel like we were all at some big private party and the band were just thrilled to be playing for us!!

Then they left the stage abruptly and familiar call of "we want more" rang through the grounds. We only had to wait a short while before the band came out for the first of two encores to play , a medley of Daughter, Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall and the familiar War, What is it Good For (Absolutely Nothing!), Leash and Rearviewmirror. By now I was losing my voice but I didn't care. The atmosphere was just electric!

For the second encore Mr Vedder started off on his own playing an accoustic guitar and singing a song he wrote for a soldier he met who is now a paraplegic since his tour in Iraq. It is well known that Pearl Jam are fervently against the war in Iraq and the Bush Administration and Eddie made his feelings very plain on the matter. Some may feel that politics has no place in music but given the general apathy of people these days I personally think its great to see an artist using his position to not only entertain but also get people at least thinking about whats going on their world.

But the highlight of the second encore was undoubtably hearing Alive. OK, so it wasn't Black as I had really hoped for but hearing the opening strains of Alive sent the whole crowd wild and for the duration of the number and the number after that, a cover of Neil Young's Rockin' in the Free World, everyone was part of one big fantastic musical moment.

They finished with Yellow Ledbetter, just as they did in Arnhem last year and once the music had ended the entire band threw momentos to the crowd in front (Next time I'm at the barricade, no matter what!) and we were given a heartfelt goodbye from Eddie and the gang.

All in all it was a show not to be missed and I am giddy that I've now seen my favourite band twice in as many years. I only hope they come back next year and the year after that and the year after that...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bad Bunnies!

Bunnies also go through puberty. Nobody told us this to begin with. All we'd ever heard about bunnies is that they were lovely as pets and very quiet. We have now come to realise that the reason people say this is because it is the children who always have the rabbits and generally the rabbit is kept outside and generally doesn't get to do much except hop around a cage.

Being very pro-active bunny owners, Barry and I decided we would do our homework and discovered that rabbits are actually very social animals who love attention, indeed they crave it. They also need a goodly amount of exercise every day or they get fat and slow.

With these things in mind we began a routine of letting the two of them out at least for a couple of hours a day and if we were at home the whole day we did not put them in the cage at all. The bunnies live indoors as we have no garden but this does not stop them from racing around our house with great abandon.

Barry and I are both big lovers of fantasy and so the rabbits are named Lolth (named for the demon goddes of spiders and dark elves) and Bane (a god who's portfolios include strife and pandemonium). We should have realised that naming an animal goes partly towards determining its personality which is why no child should ever be called Chucky, nor should any Jack Russel for that matter.

It was around about the 5 month mark when we started noticing that bunnies can go bad. Up until then they had been the sweet, cute, fluffy little friends we'd always dreamed of. Our friends and family were charmed, we were charmed, we thought we'd found the perfect pets... and then the little cretins discovered what teeth are for.

Both of them had been to the vet to have the chop, something that is necessary for both sexes in rabbits, so there were no more worries about little bunnies suddenly appearing but we now have the problem that our rabbits are stuck as eternal teenagers. This means that anything we find annoying or naughty is something they feel the need to do a lot.

Lolth is very reminiscent of a 15 yr old girl. She swishes about the place looking ultra-cute and wrapping Barry around her spotless white paw as she swindles all manner of goodies out of him. True to form, she does not like me at all because I am very strict about their diet and only give them as much as they are allowed, which includes yummy treats but only when they have been good. She also has a fascination with ripping wallpaper off walls and chewing plaster. All manner of mineral stones and chewing aids and disciplinary action have done nothing to help this and though she will stop it for a time, as soon as I do something to displease the little princess, she heads straight for the nearest wall.

Bane, on the other hand, is very focused on only two things. One is how fast he can run up and down the stairs of our maisonnette: a great game that he engages in constantly. The other is a covert operation to get behind the couch.
He will wait in absolute stillness in a corner of the living room just waiting for that moment when your back is turned or you urgently need to visit the loo and then hey presto! In a shot he is behind the couch. This then involves me searching every nook and cranny to track him down again as he wiggles his away under the table and behind the dressoir and then sits ever so quietly in a dark spot until I find him. Its his version of hide and seek and he loves it. I, on the other hand, do not love it because he always pulls this stunt at the most inconvenient of moments, such as five minutes before I have to go off somewhere.

Of course, being the social animals that they are they also love attention. If they don't get what they believe is enough attention they will show you their displeasure by parading through the living room and thumping their disproportionately large hind legs against the laminated wood floor (to begin with we thought the laminated floor would put them off doing a lot of running as it is very smooth... what can I tell you, apparently evolution works faster in rabbits).

They also make use of this thumping trick on Saturday mornings. As soon as they realise that we are awake the thumping starts and will not cease until one of us has got out of bed to go down and give them a pet on the head and some more hay. If Barry goes down, Lolth also manages to swindle some extra yummy food out of him which make her so proud of herself that she will then follow it up by chewing on the cables of my sewing machine pedal later in the day just so I know who's the real lady of the manor. That rabbit has an abnormally long memory!

But annoying little peccadilloes aside, I do love our floppy eared children. I can forgive all their wrongdoing the second they jump up on the couch and cuddle up with us to watch a movie (ok, yes, Lolth is only it for the possible snacks, but I try to ignore that.)

A Tale of Two Bunnies

Life in the burb's is always quiet and peaceful and with the abundance of greenery and chirping birds people like us inevitably feel the urge to go with the procreational flow and expand the family.

Of course the idea of actual children is too scary a thought for my man and I to even contemplate at this point in our lives so we skipped even thinking about that one and went straight on to pets.

At first we thought: lets get a dog! That quickly went out the window though. Between the two of us and our hectic work/play schedules, the poor pup would become a breathing hearthrug far to early on in his life as he somberley awaited the return of his negligent masters so that he could get a bit of a walkies before his meal of dried bread and water. In short, living with us would be a prison sentence and neither of us could live with ourselves if we did that to the poor creature.

The next suggestion was a cat. We both love cats but as Barry is extremely allergic to the little furry felines we couldn't entertain that one either.

At a loss we let the matter lie for a while. Somone suggested birds but I must admit, part of the enjoyment of having pets is the ability to cuddle them and give them love, something I couldn't really see myself doing with a parakeet... plus birds make screeching noises that are far too reminiscent of nails over blackboards for my liking.

It was a few weeks later in the summer of 2006 when the answer to our family desires came hopping along in the form of a rather distinguished gentleman of a rabbit named Sylvester. He is the houseguest (pet is far too beneath his regal nature) of some friends of ours who enjoys lounging about in his cage or in the living room, terrorising the two cats he share the house with and generally just being a lovable cuddly bunny (he also has a rather intimate relationships with six or seven pieces of fluffy plush fruit but we wont go into that as he finds it terribly embarrassing). Sylvester made us think that perhaps a rabbit would be a good addition to the family. They are fairly placid as pets go, they only require a little food once a day and lots of hay and water. Plus they love being in a cage, its their safe haven, so we could safely put him/her in there when we left the house safe in the knowledge that nothing would get destroyed in our absence (yes, we've had a few puppies and kittens in the family).

Feeling very chuffed with ourselves for finally making a decision we headed off to the nearest pet store to seek our new long eared companion.
At the petstore we were presented with two or three bunny litters but it was one cage in particular that immediately drew our interest.
There were only two bunnies in this one, both had floppy ears and had lovely colouring. The female also had a bit of fox-rabbit in her with her cute little mohawk of black hair, whilst the other was a perfect example of a french lop with light brown and white markings.
It was love at first sight with both of them and after giving Barry the doe eyes he smiled and said what I hoped he would: "So I guess we're going home with two kids then?"

Ah what Bliss it was. Two cute little furry balls of joy and all the stuff any bunny needs to feel all happy and contented.

How foolish we were to think it would last...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

2nd Place!

It was an amazing Finale in the Saturnus last Saturday. All three bands gave their all and Apparition played what is probably their best show to date.
The reaction from the audience was fantastic and each and every song was greeted with cheers of appreciation and a lot of heads banging in time to the music.
Unfortunately, the jury did not agree with the audience (Apparition won the audience appreciation award of the evening by getting the most votes) and to many peoples suprise, including the winners themselves, Apparition were placed second. Of course, this is in itself quite an achievement for a metal band in a competition for pop and rock bands and so the disappointment at not being placed first is tempered with the realisation that they didn't even think they'd make it through the first round, objectivity being something that juries are not known for here.
At the end of the day we had a great time and the boys put on the kind of show we will talk about for months to come. They dont go away completely empty-handed either as they have won 3 days in Holland Spoor studios where they will lay down a couple of tracks to use as a promotion demo for the upcoming album at the end of the year.

A big thank you must also be said to the fans and family and friends who turned out to cheer the guys on. It is their unending support that got the band through every round and into the Final and the band are very grateful to have such an encouraging force on their side.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Get ready to rock!! Apparition is off to the Final!

Well ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow is the day when Apparition will write metal history in the sleepy music metropolis that is The Hague! Tomorrow night they will be battling it out against two other bands from The Hague in the final competition of the Beach Battle 2007 in Scheveningen, a place well known to fat sausage eating tourists and topless Dutch babes.

The groupies are all squealing with anticipation (some have even made special outfits for the occasion) and the parents, friends, aquaintances, heck pretty much anyone we could convince to turn up, are all waiting with baited breath to see what will unfold.
The visual effects are ready, the guitars are tuned and the drummer has an extra stick or two just in case he loses one again. Photographers from far and wide are dusting off lenses and the jury are sharpening pencils and making sure they have enough sheets of blank white paper on which to write their many comments.
All this activity can only mean one thing: tomorrow nights is gonna rock!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

All’s well that ends well

April 21st Apparition played the quarter finals of Beachbattle, a band contest in Scheveningen. We were one of three bands, all of which coincidentally from the metal genre.

We were the second band of the evening. Bitter Harvest kicked-off and Dawn of Time played last. Saturnus (the venue) filled up nicely from the start of the evening so all three bands could have a good go at pleasing a sizable crowd.

Bitter Harvest played their doomy and quite depressing music very well, but missed some vital ingredients to really get the audience in the mood. Their haunting notes did little to persuade the onlookers to vote for Bitter Harvest.

Up next was my own band Apparition. Ever since playing live at ‘t Paard we’ve been very driven to give it our best shot at every gig and apparently it showed! We played 6 songs, 5 of which will probably make it to our next CD. With every song we tried to get the crowd more involved and they responded loud applause and clapping to the rhythm of the drumbeat. It was a great experience for us and the adrenaline level was definitely high. We left the stage with cries of ‘we want more’ forcing smiles on all our faces.

Last but not least was Dawn of Time. These guys are veterans of the underground rock scene and like a steam engine they had to get started, but after the first two songs they were on a roll. Their easy to listen to rock and solid performance showed their experience. The crowd however clapped, but seemed to have been blown away by Apparition’s earlier performance. Dawn of Time finished and that’s when the tension started rising. The jury would be responsible for 80% of the verdict and the audience for 20%. Who would go to the semi finals?

An hour or so later we knew. Dawn of Time and not Apparition or Bitter Harvest would advance to the semi finals. A great disappointment for Apparition and many in the crowd. The performance had been so intense and the response from the audience so overwhelming that we truly believed that we would win. A fantastic battle appeared to end in an anti-climax. That is until the jury announced that Apparition had received the most votes from the audience of all bands playing in the quarter finals! That with only one more quarter final to go, gave us a big chance at making it through to the semi finals via the wildcard.

And the best news is. We are through to the next round. None of the bands in the final round managed to earn more votes. So May 19th we’ll be competing with Karma’s Kitchen and No Regrets.