30 April 2009

10 Great Things about going to Rome

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Famiglia: We'll be seeing the whole Italian side of the family. I like them.

Pizza:
How about some real thin crust pizza alla Romana? With Bufala mozzarella? And fried stuff beforehand? And a beer? OK.

Espresso: Come on cafe, macchiato corretto cappucino and a cornetto! Done dark and delicious. In the absence of a fry-up for breakfast, you can do much worse than Italian-style.

Sustained sunshine: Nice weather? Why yes, I do remember you.

Friends: There's still some people there we like, we can go hang out with them. At a wedding no less.

Office: For the duration of our visit I will not once be going to the office. Not once.

Assisi: not technically in Rome, but it is the location of the wedding. And you know what, if it was good enough for St. Francis, friend of all the animals, then it's good enough for me.

Gelato:
It's gonna be hot. We'll be on holiday. We will be eating lots of gelato. Che buono!

Roma: Fucking guys. This season has gone from bad to better, then back to really bad. First the derby loss, then a hammering by Fiorentina... so depressing. But at least in Roma my misery will have company.

And lastly: The X factor. The romance. The intangibles. The memories.

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29 April 2009

Roman week next week

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Starting Saturday, Chiara and I will be back to Rome for the first time since our wedding. We'll have 7 straight nights in the Eternal City of her Birth. While there we'll get to be part of a communion and a wedding.

Except while being a tour guide I managed, in the 18 or so months we lived there, to more or less avoid going to the church and doing church things. Yet in one week, I'll be right up in the Catholic church not once but twice. It was bound to happen.

The good news is that these occasions will be parties. The kind with good food, good people and good times. And alot of Italian language speaking going on. I can dig it.

It also represents a week off of work and off of Brussels. Nice!

So I call it a win. The only down side really, is that Roma (the football club, not the city) has broken my heart in two of the last three weekends (2-4 in the derby against Lazio, and 1-4 in the battle for Champions League qualification against Fiorentina. Ugh).

But enough about the depressing state of AS Roma fandom; we will be in the city to soak up friendship, family, wine, and history. Both history past, and history in the making. And we are both looking forward to it, as we return to prepare to re-launch.

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27 April 2009

Tales of the mundane: Coming home


Today: the first installment of what I hope to be an occasional series: 'Tales of the Mundane'. In which, in true personal weblog fashion, I describe some aspect of my day.

Let me know if you enjoy. Or submit requests for a next chapter.

Coming home, Part I: Keys, doors and mail

Arriving at the front door of our building from a day of work I immediately dug into my back left pocket for the house keys. Sometimes, if I'm planning ahead, I will already have the keys in my hand upon arrival at our bright blue front door. Today was not one of those days.

Fortunately, after just seconds of searching, I found the keys to my kingdom, and extricated them from the back pocket of my blue jeans. There's only about four keys on the ring, so in no time at all, I had deftly inserted the correct one into the lock.

Closing the door behind me, I looked at the mailbox. It had been without an inner door for over a week. I almost remarked mentally on the need, as the ranking male in the household, to repair the hinges that had caused the door to fall off, but swiftly decided against thinking that particular thought. Why put off until tomorrow something you put off even considering until tomorrow?

And anyway, no mail had come in through the slot this particular Monday. Thus the floor was free from postal detritus.

The feeling this engendered was not so much relief as a cultivated indifference: no mail meant no person, agency, or organization trying to contact me. Huh. This was not a big deal.

Nor was it unusual. In fact many days are no-mail days in my household. I tried not to let the lack of mailing interest bother me, and succeeded. Besides, often mail is in French or Dutch, and thus extremely challenging, irrelevant, incomprehensible, or some combination of the three.

Springing up the steps one at a time I bounded to our interior apartment door at the pinnacle of our maison de maitre, and was able to unlock it even faster than I had unlocked the downstairs building door. This was because I had kept my keys in my hand for the whole trip up the stairs. I complimented myself for this clever time-saving piece of foresight, and blushed shyly in response.

Throwing the door wide I crossed the threshold and put my bag down. I realize now that I forgot to mention I had taken my jacket off and hung it on the peg outside the front door, just after I had unlocked the door, yet before I stepped inside. However, this - I assure you - did in fact happen. It must have happened - because when I stepped inside I was no longer wearing a jacket, yet when I unlocked the door, I most certainly was.


Coming home, Part II - Inside, at long last

I strode purposefully the six short feet to the desk on which my laptop frequently rests. I switched it on. The laptop, I mean.

I did this because I like to listen to music when I'm at home. When my wife is home, we listen to music that both of us like. That means it must be heavily melodic with a minimum of rapping. So today, as most days, I seized the opportunity to rock out to some loud tuneless rap music.

Or rather I would, once my computer had booted up.

In the meantime, I crossed the floor to the kitchen zone, and opened the fridge. By the way, I had also taken my shoes off, though I'm not exactly sure when. But I definitely wasn't wearing them by this point.

Coming home, Part III - A thrilling conclusion

The fridge was stocked full of food. We eat pretty healthy, and frequently at home, thus we keep alot of food in our fridge. Perishables and stuff. Alot of vegetables, and also alot of jars of condiments. There are at least three different jars of jam in our fridge right now. Raspberry. And of course, some cheese.

A few bottles of delicious Belgian beer were strategically positioned throughout the fridge, affording me the opportunity to play a 'Where's Waldo'-esque game of Beerspotter. Mmmm, Duvel. Oh look, it's a Maredsous!...

My eyes glanced over a bottle of store-brand lemon soda in the door. Thus, I was presented with a quandary: is it time for a beer? Or not? Perhaps a glass of store-brand lemon soda would slake my mild thirst just as ably as a beer? Although, beer is so delicious...

I looked up over the fridge door and spotted our stainless steel sink: maybe a glass of water: calorie free, and straight from the tap, is what this situation calls for. Yes! That would do, that would do just fine. I could always have a beer later, I reminded myself.

And I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I would.

Taking my cool glass of cool water, I walked the short distance back to my computer and sat down. In the chair. My computer was on, the beverage (glass of tapwater) was in my hand, I wasn't wearing shoes or a jacket, and iTunes was loading.

I was home.

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23 April 2009

The ongoing making of a film: Flunky

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Last night something beautiful happened: I saw the rough cut of Flunky. If you don't know what I'm talking about, may I suggest checking out the Flunky blog.

Even in it's unfinished form the film looks really really good. Bernardo has done a great job with the editing, enriching the darkly comic absurdist tone. It promises to be an enjoyable and certainly lovingly crafted film.

There are of course, some not-so-professional looking aspects, which I imagine is natural for a budgetless short film made by aspiring auteurs.

But minor flaws aside - or even including them - the film is looking good. We are hoping for an avant-premiere in Brussels sometime in June. We still have metric tonnes of work to do before then.

We're now onto next phase, which for Bernardo is finalizing the image editing, contacting the sound guys, and presenting me with this working copy. Next I have to convince some people to do some Flunky branding. Plus I'd like a little Overboard music contribution.

For the hardcopies (to submit to festivals, etc.) there's more work. A DVD menu would be great, as I'd like to stock the final copy with some extras: photo gallery, outtakes, other stuff, and of course, the real reason I've gone through all this trouble so far: the chance to make a commentary track.

And the silverscreening event itself: we need to find a place, with projector and all associated tech, we need to pick a date, promote the event, get booze, get Overboard there to perform, and some dj's for the post-screening dance party, and so on and so on... we gotta kick this off right.

That is my next project.

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21 April 2009

Synewave synthesizer


This is the only way I will ever make beautiful music - by internet technomagic. Laboratory Andre Michelle has developed a simple and delightful sinewave synthesizer.

Channel your inner Eno or Richard James, and go to town. Click the grid and make music.

I did, and now I can't stop.

Via VSL

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20 April 2009

Canucks playoff hype - video

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The Vancouver Canucks are playing hungry, hard-hitting hockey, and growing big playoff beards. I'm excited and I believe.

Otherwise, I would never ever get up before 6 in the morning. Particularly not on a weekend, unless I was going fishing.

However, time zones being what they are, my playoff fever has been waking me up at ridiculous hours, to watch some streaming on the internet.
No jokes. I don't even use a conventional alarm, I use my internal hockeyclock.

I don't love watching streaming live sports on the internet. But I do love the Canucks, and the way they're playing.

Therefore, I need to sacrifice a little sleep to keep my head in - and eyes on - the game. These Stanley Cup playoffs are a big deal.

If you feel the same, or are preparing for a leap onto the booster bus, watch this piece of playoff fever-inducing towel-waving awesomeness.



BTW: The Canucks won that game, and the next one, to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Does that mean I have to get up at a very weird time tomorrow night/Wednesday morning?

Yes.

Will I have to set my alarm?

No.

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15 April 2009

Being Awesome Takes Practice

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This real book is all about getting your God on.

Too bad.

Because this book title could be put to much better uses. Being cool is all fine and good. But being awesome is waaaaaay much better. It's like a spin kick that sets off fireworks that trigger a time machine into a future of pure classiness.

A content starter for a book on getting awesome could be here. Or here. Of course, the Periodic Table of Awesomements (featured here) is definitely crucial reference material.

Sadly, the book in its current incarnation suggests that teens "Be strong to stand up to the constant lies from Satan regarding inferiority, lack of self-acceptance and peer pressure."

Um, what?

I agree that inferiority and lack of self-acceptance won't help anyone get awesome. But the tone of the description on Amazon leads me to believe that author Lorraine Peterson doesn't suggest guitar solos, wizards, bodysurfing, sunglasses, gentlemanly dating, bacon or anything even vaguely Awesome to her readers.

Of course, one need not even traverse as far as Amazon to understand that this book, despite its title, isn't a recipe for awesome. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, I'll make an exception.

NOTE: Actually, the reviews of this book are awesome.

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NHL Playoff Predictions: Team Names

Predicting the playoffs inevitably involves carefully weighing a number of factors including point production, past head-to-head matchups, key injuries, coaching style, and all sorts of other criteria.

What is rarely (if ever) taken into account is team names. Let's break down the NHL Western Conference first round playoff matchups using that as our sole criteria.


(1) San Jose Sharks vs. (8) Anaheim Ducks

Nature, this is your cruelest match-up since ice vs. dinosaurs. Sharks can smell one part of blood in a million parts water. They have three rows of teeth. They are pure stone-cold killers.

Ducks paddle around in shallow ponds and eat bread crumbs. The feathers of their babies are used for extra-soft pillows.

Prediction: Sharks in one short snack. Oh wait they have to play four games? Sucks for you, ducks.

Sharks in four feeding-frenzy-filled free-for-alls.

The rest of this article is over on the Bleacher Report. Read it, rank it, vote for it.

Eastern Conference? Oh yeah...



(1) Boston Bruins vs. (8) Montreal Canadiens

Bruins are bears. Bears are fierce wild mammals with formidable jaws and fierce claws. Canadiens are the French-Canadian inhabitants of Quebec, well known for its freezing cold climate and delicious poutine.

While Canadiens are clearly a hearty and resilient breed of human, not even the warmest winter-weather gear can protect them from a hungry Bruin. They could try feeding it poutine, but that would only delay the inevitable.

Human vs. bear: always, but always, bet on the bear.

Prediction: Bruins in six.

Rest of the Eastern Conference here.

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14 April 2009

Oostende: photos and reviews


Oostend was great.

Excellent seafood, laughs, a casino win, a movie night, beach walks, poolswims, a nature show on bears, afternoon cocktails...it had just about everything a romantic holiday needs.

But it wasn't perfect. First of all, our hotel the Royal Astrid sucked. Especially bad were the four single beds and zero double beds in our romantic room overlooking the pool roof. But this was surpassed by the douchebaggery of the desk clerk.

Hey fuckface; your sportgoofy tie is stupid, and you're an asshole.
In case you were wondering: I don't recommend it.

The high note was De Mangerie. An excellent seafood restaurant with great service, great prices (get the entree, main, and dessert combination) and a romantic atmosphere.

The should've been a high note but was a low note was watching the Roma-Lazio Derby. I missed the first 20 minutes, in which Lazio scored two goals during successive Roman blackouts, and Mexes' goal to bring them back within one.

Anyway between all the red cards, near-misses and bitter, crushing defeat it should've been a nicer 'me' moment while Chiara was taking a nap.

But in the end the getaway was rather effortless, nice weathered, and we enjoyed each other's company and had a happy, healthy time. Thanks Oostend.

A couple more pics below:






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10 April 2009

The Roman Derby

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There's a derby going on this weekend. I'm going to miss it.
You know who's not going to miss it? Francesco Totti.

That guy would play on crutches, if need be. Daje Roma!

If you're interested in learning more, I wrote a post on the Bleacher Report, to try and explain a little bit about what's on the line. You can read it here.

An excerpt:

The Roma-Lazio derby match fits perfectly into the history of the city that gave us gladiatorial bloodsport. There is nothing else like it that doesn't involve weapons.

Two teams call the Italian capital home, and they share the stadium Stadio Olimpico, where they play their home games. Twice a year they meet to do battle in their shared arena.

One team, Lazio, is a despicable gang of douchebags, worthy only of your hatred. The biancoceleste are not just bad at football, they are unlovable human beings.

Well, enough about them.

The other squad, AS Roma, is powered by a literally born-and-bred Romanista, Francesco Totti, one of football’s great fantastistas, and the heart-and-soul of this team. He has only ever played for one team—the giallorossi. He is il Capitano.

Roma also has another born-and-bred Romanista, their midfield monster Daniele de Rossi. He is Capitano Futuro. And one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe.

Expect them to play to the limits of their formidable abilities.

Expect lots of intensity, screaming, flares, hard tackles, and flag-waving — on and off the pitch.

This is football with a purpose.

Continue to the article.

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Good Friday in Oostende

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    This particular Good Friday will followed up by a Great Saturday, and then a Pleasant Sunday.

    It's a long weekend and the wife and I are scooting off to the celebrated Belgian coast for a little romantic getaway. That's a lie. The Belgian coast isn't really 'celebrated'.

    We have both been far more excited about this impending getaway than perhaps it warrants. But when health and circumstance have conspired to keep us housebound for so long, a little mini-cation has us both wickedpumped.

    Especially when you consider that this two night excursion will likely include:

    Seafood dinners - shrimps, flatfish, whitefish, garnaalen
    Seafood lunches - shrimps, flatfish, whitefish, garnaalen
    Swimming in the North Sea
    Swimming in the hotel pool
    Channel-surfing
    Ryan very nearly embarrassing himself at the breakfast buffet -eggs, shrimp, flatfish, whitefish, garnaalen
    A walk on the beach in the wind and driving rain
    A search for wifi
    A search for Easter eggs
    Ryan acting moody on Sunday because he's not watching the Roma-Lazio derby, but trying not to spoil the weekend, which he scheduled without consulting the Serie A fixtures so it's his own fault
    A stomacheache

    It's got all the hallmarks of a memorable, convenient, and inexpensive little trip-let, so I'm cutting out of work early to have a passionate embrace at South Station and hop the fast-train for getaway happiness. Just me and my wife and a suitcase full of Easter eggs.

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09 April 2009

The Incredible Luongo

"Luongo not smiling, Luongo angry."

If you're wondering whether I'm following the Canucks this season, the answer is "Wooooooooooooooo!!"

A couple of days ago I wrote this article for Bleacher Report. And indeeed they went on to win that game against Calgary, largely on the strength of The Incredible Roberto Luongo.

I used to think Luongo was some sort of Messianic savior. But now it's clear that he's another type of creature altogether: he's the Incredible Hulk of hockey.

He took a lot of criticism in the week leading up to the showdown against Calgary for his sloppy (read: average). But that tune has changed. After getting heaped with criticism during the Canucks recent 3-game winless spell, Calgary Herald writer Bruce Dowbiggin basically said Luongo was an overpaid sack of useless.

On the day of the game he suggested that "followers of the Canucks are coming to the uncomfortable conclusion that Vancouver may have to win in spite of their highly paid goalie."

Don't. Make. Him. Angry. You won't like him when he's angry.

In the 4-1 win against Calgary Luongo stopped 46 of 47 shots, was named first star and basically singlehandedly dragged a so-so Canucks team to the win, drawing them even with Calgary.

Lu flash glove.
Lu stop pucks.
Lu play awesome.
Lu ma-a-a-ad.

And for Canucks fans, that's exactly what we need heading into the last two games of the season: our best player (and goalie, and captain) performing heroics.

It may have been monosyllabic, but statement made. Loud and clear.

Lu wants win.

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07 April 2009

Odoms - Keeping up with the Jetsons

"I brought a space heater cuz space is fucking cold."

I know you might be thinking that after Deltron 3030, "Intergalactic," and lest we forget, Dr. Octagon, rapping about space was played out.

Wrong.

You just know a track with the refrain "Riding in a spaceship, cuz I'm all in space bitch," is gonna be awesome.

And it is. Bitch.
Enjoy the dope video for 'Keeping up with the Jetsons', from Odoms, directed by Mike Kennedy. It's the best rap song/video combination about building a spaceship ever made. Period.


Keeping Up With the Jetsons from Odoms on Vimeo.

The album, Let me Atom, drops June 6th.

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03 April 2009

G20 success for world leaders and violent cops

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I'll just point out a couple of important things right here:

First, a video of "London cops beating the shit out of peaceful G20 demonstrators."
Thanks to Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing for that succinctly accurate synopsis.

If that doesn't fire up your sense of outrage, then you're a lost cause.

Secondly, here's a little BBC round-up of the reactions of world media, post-summit.

Global financial forecast: Unwarranted optimism with continued obfuscation and confusion. 100% chance of fiscal stimulus with a 10% chance of scattered global banking regulation.

Speaking of; what the fuck is going on with the toxic assets and reformation of the global banking system and capitalism in general? Who are the experts, and if they're so expert, why are we so fucked? What did they really accomplish in London?
Nobody knows.

The brilliant Matt Taibbi has an excellent article in Rolling Stone that I can't recommend strongly enough.

It will make you piss your pants with impotent rage, and help you understand why this impotent rage is the only logical reaction to the ongoing financial turmoil.

Have a nice weekend.


UPDATE: Footage of a man who was attacked from behind by a cop, while he was walking home. He died of a heart attack. Via Boing Boing.

UPDATE UPDATE: That particular officer has been suspended, and the investigation into Tomlinson's death is a criminal proceeding.
Because, he was just a bad apple, and there's no systemic issue here.

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