After all this time

-After all this time, still…?
-Yes… Yes.
-But how?
-There are enough ways to keep it alive.
-When did you last see him then?
-You could say about a year and a half ago for the last time… Though I also saw him again in the summer. But that was too short…
-I didn’t know… I didn’t know that was even possible…
-Apparently, it is.
-So what are you going to do now?
-I don’t know. I don’t have the money to buy all the seasons…

Yes, my dears, I still like The Tudors a whole lot. So I’ve got two clips here for you, a video and a piece of music, to see or listen as you prefer. I just like them both a whole lot. For the video, skip to 4:33. This is the moment when Anne returns in Henry’s dream or illusion. It’s so heartbreaking to see her realize he thinks she’s guilty. And then she starts making him feel bad. Look at that little smile when she turns away again… She’s so good. It doesn’t take long, so go ahead and skip to 4:33.
The piece of music is called ‘Mary told of Chapuy’s death’. Very sad piece, but very, very beautiful. I can appreciate a good soundtrack for sure.

Enjoy!

 

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Treasure Hunting # 6: To the Batcave

There was a time I often call my ‘Batcave period’. I started getting interested in 80s music, above all the darker part. This side has many names: postpunk, new wave, batcave, blah blah. I suck at genres, I find it hard (and unnecessary) to strictly divide music. Therefore I often refer to that music and my liking of it as the Batcave period, or post punk. Gothic is a term I don’t like using, because most people have a very different view on what that is then the people who listen to ‘real’ gothic music. If you’re not sure what it is, then you’re probably wrong. I could write posts and posts about that, but not today.

If you wonder why it’s also called Batcave: that was a club in London, often considered the birthplace of the goth subculture. Via this genre I came across some very interesting and cool music. For some you have to be open-minded, other music is sometimes quite well-known (The Cure, The Smiths) and some music is just unknown and underrated. You wouldn’t even call it gothic if you heard it – I’m not sure if it’s even called gothic. It doesn’t matter. I’ve found interesting music thanks to my Batcave period and that’s what matters.

The song I would like to share is Avatar by Dead Can Dance. Their band name refers to instruments, ‘dead wood’, that can still dance when they’re being played. Just so you don’t think of zombies and dead bodies. ‘Avatar’ has nothing to do with the song. I don’t know why that’s the title. Are the lyrics even sung in a real language?

It doesn’t matter. This song doesn’t need explanation. For some reason it’s very emotional and powerful and special. I like it a lot. Also: the beat somehow makes me want to dance. Music that makes me wants to move is good music to me.

Please be open-minded and listen, perhaps twice. It’s not what you’d call gothic. It’s special and great – I hope you can agree.

Sochi, And The Sport You Might Not Know

I don’t know how, I don’t know why. A sports fanatic I’m surely not, you all know I’m obsessed by anything dance, above all ballet.

But.

There’s a but.

Because when the Olympic Games are happening, I am for sure following. I don’t know any name, I barely know anything about the discipline probably, but I’m following. On tv, or on live stream, which I’ve now discovered. Somehow, it’s impossible to turn it off. As soon as I’m home, I put on the live stream and see what’s going on. Though I know so little about all sports, it’s actually very interesting. Especially the Winter Games have a lot of sports I haven’t even heard of. Mogul skiing? Skeleton? Biathlon?

For your information – mogul skiing is skiing on a bumpy slope, including some jumps that could break your neck when your landing goes wrong. Skeleton is done on a luge, with face forward. Biathlon is cross-country skiing (I would call it ‘upwards skiing’) in combination with shooting. All of these sports throw interesting questions on how they actually became a sport, and how they became an official Olympics sport. I have to admit though, that the winter sports are a bit bonkers and unknown. But don’t get me wrong, I love it. I’m a skier myself and I adore it. Thanks to these Games I can still enjoy the skiing somehow – last week is having a sort of revival. Just like I’m still wearing my skiing jacket to get the feeling back. Because there’s nothing better than a good slope.

The downside of this all is that I’m hooked, the live stream is always on though I’m not even always watching. Maybe it’s the fear of missing out. It seems like I get nothing done because it’s the games and I have to watch, or at least, listen. I seem to be slightly obsessed while throughout the year I don’t care about these sports. How is it possible that I’m taped too my screen? I want to be where the people are; I guess I assume everyone’s following the Games and that’s why I can’t turn it off.

Another upside: it makes me a little expert in unknown sports. “He totally nailed that 360 in the half-pipe snowboarding!”

As you know, the Games have not always been like they are now. Sports have been added and deleted from the official list. Ice dancing is one of the oldest disciplines, free style skiing on of the youngest I believe. there is one sport though that you will probably not know. It used to be a Olympics sport though, as odd as it may seem. Can you guess what it is?

Try again!

No?

It’s ski ballet.

I kid you not. It seems like a joke, but there’s footage, very serious footage of this below! (Im’ sure I looked less impressive on the slope…)

Thanks to Pointe Magazine.

Team building with Igor

I started Slavic studies at university quite out of the blue. There was no clear reason, no Russian grandmother of Polish boyfriend, it just seemed nice to me. Actually it went like this: I was browsing through a brochure of one of the universities and eliminated negatively. Medicine? No. Law? No. Science? No. Engineering? NO. Communication sciences? Perhaps… But there are already so many people doing this. No. Art sciences? Perhaps… But as soon as I discovered this also included knowing what copper is exactly made of – no no no. Japanese studies? Naaah, I have nothing with Japan. Slavic studies? Yeah, why not?

Considering how hard it is for me to take decisions, this was fairly easy. After I had found that and did some research, I stopped looking for other things. Partially because I felt this was a good choice, but probably also because I was lazy and I didn’t want to end up in a giant dilemma. So after let’s say searching for two, three months, I had made up my mind.

I went to university unprepared, and ended up in a class where everyone seemed to be passionate about either Russian or Polish. There were people who had family there, others knew the Russian alphabet and some grammar, some knew the history. I knew nothing. It was a bit ridiculous. But I went to university to learn all these things – I assumed it had no use to learn them in advance if I’d be learning them there. Call it lazy, but it paid off. Never do too much effort.

“Russian language to the best” or something like that. Source.

I quickly fell in love with both languages. I enjoyed the worlds opening up for me since I now understood some words. Love at first sight. Never did I regret my decision – it was one of the best I ever made. But this year, things changed. After a billion trillion exercises I knew nothing of, I kinda broke down and started hating Russian. Let me put it this way: let’s say Polish is a guy named Jacek, and Russian is a guy named Igor.
Jacek and I would be sitting in our garden, reading poetry together while listening classical music and some ’80s music. We’d have calm conversations and make delicious pierogi in the evening.
But Igor and I… We would be throwing plates at each other, screaming and raging, ignoring each other a few days and then slowly make up with a bottle of vodka and a balalaika playing in the background. For me, Russian has alway been the language of passion and heavy feelings- both good and bad…

You see, Igor and I, we need team building to keep the bond strong so we can be buddies for the rest of our lives. Which might sound ridiculous, but really, team building with your language is very important in case you want to graduate in it.
So here are a few steps in order to keep the love burning.

1. Fall in love

If you don’t fall in love at least once, it will be very hard to maintain and keep on going. Fall in love once and you’ll always know what made you start this – even when you almost throw up after making all the exercises.

2. Find a music band that sings in your beloved language

You will hear the sounds of your languages, which is great, and you’ll want to know what the lyrics mean. You’ll get used to certain ways of saying things, certain phrases and so on. (Warning: it is possible that sometimes in classe, you will feel the need to sing out loud when someone uses a phrases from a certain song.) Music really helps me getting a grip on Russian. The band I’m at the moment crazy about is Louna.

I love their jackets in this picture! She’s totally badass and has a very, very good voice. A crush on the second from left is optional (but kinda inevitable).

3. Buy a good grammar book

In case your syllabus isn’t all too clear. And honestly, chances are high. But a good grammar book gives you a feeling of certainty. You can always rely on it and all the information is nicely put together. I myself was lucky enough to buy one in a group purchase. I’m very grateful to the older students for organizing that purchase. My grammar book is my best friend at the moment.

4. Find an idol who speaks your beloved language

I found one, and guess what she does for a living! If you guessed ‘ballerina’, you’re very right. Ekaterina Kondaurova is my current girl crush because she appears to be an amazing dancer and smart, kind woman. In fact she has many things in common with who I am and above all who I want to be. Though there are many good, great, astonishing dancers, she caught my eye with her maturity and attitude (not only the ballet attitude). It would be totally awesome to meet her in real life!
The best thing about this, is that I watch her talk in videos on YouTube. By that you get to hear the sounds of the language again. Understanding natives speakers is the aim, so listening to them is a good exercise. It will only get more fun to hear your idol talking when you understand him or her.

5. Use it

Talk. Try to find people who speak the same language. Write. Listen. Do something with it and you’ll feel how much fun it is – regardless of all the frustrations it caused you to have, it will feel good once you can use the language. Then it becomes worth it. That’s what you want!

So, in case you want to learn a new languages, keep this in mind, and you will succeed.
I hope.

Young blood

Dear people, I’ve been caught by a new obsession. A TV obsession. I’m not the best at following series, because of the simple fact that I don’t know how to download, and during the week I don’t have a tv. Therefore I don’t often follow anything at all.

The tides turned when The Tudors showed up. Man, what a show. The clothes! The actors! The music! It was haunting, charming, disturbing. It was great. But there’s an end to every nice song, as we say here. Fours seasons after the first episode I was hooked and left behind with nothing. It was over.
Until it returned to the screen. Unfortunately only the first two seasons, but still. I am very grateful for YouTube, because there isn’t much you cannot find there… And that’s how we keep an obsession alive.

But now, even better, a new obsession showed up! And apparently, correct me if I’m wrong, it’s from the same makers as The Tudors.

What could possibly go wrong?

King Henry seems to be born again as Dracula, and then again as the rich American Alexander Grayson. He wants to bring the Order down for killing his beloved wife way back in Rumania. Strangely enough he gets help from doctor Van Helsing, whose family was burned alive before his eyes – by the same Order.
Sounds like a great plan, no? Two broken men against a giant Order that’s ruling stuff ever since 1200 or something.
There’s only one small problem.
Dracula meets his wife again, only this time, she’s a Victorian woman, on the edge of marrying her (tall) boyfriend. She’s a very emancipated woman, studying to become a doctor, which at the time was unusual. Her boyfriend Jonathan Harker (Mina Harker, get it?) doesn’t always seem to approve of his future wife’s ‘hobby’, but they end up getting engaged anyway. He becomes Dracula’s informant, helping him to make him more powerful and ready to crush the Order. Meanwhile there is a female Huntsman trying to find the old vampire to get him killed. She falls for the charming rich American, the first man who played with her while she always used men as toys. She doesn’t realize he’s the vampire she should kill… But the Order gets mistrustful…

And that’s as far as I am now! My expectations were high after having seen the entire Tudors, and I already missed the first episode of Dracula, but still I’m pretty hooked after seeing one particular scene. I immediately fell for the music, the music is so special, and then I got carried away by the drama.
In this scene, Jonathan wants to thank Grayson for everything he did by ‘giving’ him the first dance with Mina. Both Mina and Dracula feel a bit uncomfortable; he knows who she really is, and she feels that he’s not just someone.

 

Oh, to love someone you can’t get. Oh, to see your love burn and then meet her again centuries later on…! Boohoo.
But seriously, while I’m mostly very rational and sceptical, I couldn’t help but falling in love with this series a bit. It might not be as convincing as The Tudors (yet), but I’m looking forward to the next episode, so I guess it means I have found a new source of inspiration to spam this blog with…

FAQ to the Slavic studies student

So, what are you studying?

Slavic studies. (Note: in Dutch it sounds more like ‘Slavistics’.)

Statistics? Really?

No, Slavic studies.

What is that? (with a confused voice)

Russian, Polish, the history, literature and so on.

Why have you chosen that? (with a ‘I don’t get it’ voice)

Because I thought it would be boring and nothing for me at all, that’s why.

What will you then, as a job? (with a ‘I don’t understand’ voice)

You guys always make it sound as if these are the most worthless studies one could do. There are many options, they told us, but they never really gave examples. But there is a future for us. Don’t look like you don’t believe it.

Say something in Russian!

Вы всегда хотите что мы говорим ‘что-то’ по русски…

***

A few weeks ago, I had a little crisis about my studies. I had been doing so many exercices I didn’t feel capable of, it was exhausting. And then it seemed as if something snapped. Last year I was so convinced that this was perfect for me, but now I wouldn’t understand that feeling anymore. It was tiring, boring, hard. Why was I doing this again? The point is that there is no real ultimate reason for me to do this. I don’t have a Polish granny nor am I born in Russia. It just sounded good. But is that enough? Plus: this year I’ve got some courses that aren’t really my cup of tea. IT for example. Drama. Just drama.
But by now I start to be proud of this again. It starts to be an important side of me again. Somehow, the snapped thing got together again. I’m not as convinced as I used to be, but at least I don’t tend to feel something closer to hate anymore. Which is good, I wouldn’t know what to do if not this… But it will be a hard, hard year. I seriously need to work a lot harder.
I’m too tired now though, because luckily I can still go out as well every now and then…

Evil is the new sexy (part 2)

I don’t feel the need to be evil as much anymore since it stopped raining and the sun every now and then shows up, but still, there are too many good examples of evilness to just let go of the subject. Don’t miss out and read this too!
First, I want to show you a short dance clip from So You Think You Can Dance – the Flemish-Dutch version. This clip is about a writer and his muse, with Mad World from Gary Jules. Look at the setting, the clothes, the light! It’s one of the best pieces in that show as far as I have seen. But more importantly: look at the evilness of the girl. She is really good, really playing with him, and obviously in control. I’m still impressed every time I watch it. Look at the way she uses the table, her movements are so… great!
But I’ll stop talking, here’s the clip. (For those of you fearing dance: it’s only a short clip!)

Slightly unrelated, but I find this song a bit funny. He sings ‘When people run in circles it’s a very, very mad world’, and at my high school, people actually walked around in circles during the break all the time…

Okay, breathe again, the next part is not a dance clip, but a scene from Inception. If you haven’t seen this movie, see it asap. Seriously. Mal is an evil character in it, but that’s because she only appears in a dream version of herself. Scary, but with that dress and that look pretty impressive as well. But very, very scary above all…

Oh dear, oh dear. I’d be running for my life… Even though this is only in a dream!

If you start to think this is only a fiction phenomenon, think again. Have you ever heard the name Lyudmila Pavlichenko? She’s considered one of the best female snipers in the world, with 309 kills. She was a Soviet sniper during World War 2. It seems that she’s quite respected by everyone, of course in the first place by the Soviet Union, but she also traveled a lot and was greeted enthusiastically. I mean, I do respect her talent for shooting, but on the other hand it’s a bit of a scary talent… (Though I would like to learn how to shoot a whole, whole lot. I just wouldn’t be able to kill people. But things are different during wars of course.)

Forgive me one more dance clip, but this one in particular has to be mentioned. Most people have heard of Swan Lake already, but if you believe it is only about white swans running on stage, you’re wrong. This is a story of intrigue and deception, betrayal, honour, love! Oh the drama. In fact the main roles are two swans: the good white one, and the evil black one. The black one tricks the prince, makes him believe she’s the good white swan, and by that she nearly kills the white one. She’s obviously the more sexy one, the stronger one, she’s evilness pretending to be good.
My favourite ballerina, especially in these kinds of role, is Ekaterina Kondaurova. I’m aware that most of you probably don’t really care about turn out or perfect lines, but look at her eyes instead, her expression, the way she tricks the prince- it’s not just dancing, but acting as well. She’s so good with her eyes. It’s very real. You can put it in HD so you really see her face. It is especially that face of her that will trick you as well! So sit back and let yourself be deceived by the evil but sexy black swan, and see you next time for more evilness!

 

Evil is the new sexy (part 1)

Question: what should a human being be like?
Good answer: good, kind, empathic, loving.
Fun answer: slightly evil!

Lately I’ve been noticing quite often that the slightly evil people in books or movies often turn out to be the most interesting and sexy characters. Do we really want kind and loving people, or do we in fact like it when someone is being a bit of a douchebag/bitch? Do we really want to be the good people everyone tells us to be?

No, we don’t. Because when you’re too good, you’re missing out, and you might let people run over you. Being a tad evil means you are strong enough to stand up for yourself. Being strong is nice, so yeah. When realizing this, I started looking around to see if I could find some good evil examples, so here we go…

Let’s start with a good old one: Dracula. The classic example of a man that’s dangerous and bad for your health, but o so irresistible. At least, that’s what he’s become lately, thanks to the media (the original Dracula is just a serial killer – nothing romantic about that). Now this series is running on the Belgian tv, and I so want to watch it! I mean, the hat, the moustaches, the clothes for god’s sake! I’m normally not very fond of moustaches, but hey, it’s No Shave November after all. And Joe just rocks it. (I shouldn’t call him Joe, should I?)

Let’s stay in this atmosphere a little bit with the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. While most people aren’t very fond of it, I actually kind of enjoyed it. Especially Mina Harker, the Mina of Dracula indeed, was so cool. She was this mature, dignified woman with dresses and a voice to kill for. And o yeah, she’s a vampire! But above all that whole attitude of her – she’s the kind of woman you are a bit scared of, because she knows more than you do, and she will be right, always.

Mina

Next to that, there’s this Dorian Gray in this movie. He’s a total bastard and looks like one too, but still, some people get away with that.

Now, let’s leave the vampire sector and move on to a pretty evil song from Indiana. If you think you hear ‘I want to hurt you just for fun’, you are very right. To quote the singer though: “I make music to tell stories, I don’t want to hurt people just for fun.”(approximately a quote) But believe me, when you’re a bit angry or in a bad mood, this is perfect to listen to.

A good example of evil, but also good, is Morgan La Fay. She’s a powerful sorceress and possible half sister of King Arthur. She tried to get that pretty amazing sword Excalibur while Arthur wants it as well. For this purpose she uses one of her lovers. One of them. Which means there were more. But next to her evil actions she’s also a good human being. When Arthur is fatally injured, she’s one of the women carrying him to Avalon.

By JR Spencer Stanhope

Those eyes! That look! She’s kinda a femme fatale.

The last one for now is I. Not I as in me, but I from Zamyatin’s novel ‘We’. It’s 1984 avant la lettre; the story takes place in the future, when society has become something very clear (literally a glass world). There is but one party everyone has to vote for. Actually, you don’t have to, but they’ll take you out if you don’t, because it means there’s something wrong with you. Everyone is happy that you’re protected this way. Now in this world lives D, a devoted and good human being who works really hard and is really convinced that this world is perfect. He starts writing a diary in which he writes about his work and his world. But slowly there’s this I showing up in his life more and more. She’s not the example of a good citizen of the One State, she drinks, she smokes, she breaks the rules. But D gets attracted to her, she almost makes him worship her. But then (spoiler alert!), of course, it turns out she was using him the entire time to get a revolution started. She used him and he believed she loved him… Tragic. And though you know it’s not very likely she truly loves him, you still kind of believe it might all be real…
Evil evil evil, but irresistible.

Stay tuned for more evilness!

And I’m back!

And we’re back! I hope you guys had a great time while I was gone, but I don’t doubt it. Did I have a great time? Oh yeah, totally! Thanks for asking. It was amazing. We did a lot of Belgian things together. She was a great tourist!

We drank some typical Belgian beer. Because unless you don’t drink at all, you should try them. Nothing represents us better than our fluid gold. You’re more of a wine person? Well, that just means you haven’t tried the real Belgian beer. It is pretty impossible you don’t like any of them. According to Wikipedia there were 1150 original beers counted in 2011. Let that sink in for a moment.

Wait for it.

Yes, that’s incredibly much indeed! But we reached the good amount of trying six different ones in a few days. Yay!

She ate vol-au-vent, the favourite dish of many people here. It contains chicken, so I’m not a fan, but well, it’s something you have to eat if you come to live as a student here for a few days. No way around!

She ate a warm waffle. As in, a waffle, warm, with a lot of sugar. It’s something you find on every corner of the street here, more or less. Because Belgians sell so much food on the street. I never realised how focused we are on food and drinking.

We even have these places where you can buy only French fries and meat to go with it. And some drinks perhaps, but that’s it. You go there, ask what you want and they’ll prepare it right in front of you. It’s awesome and cheap and tasty. And it’s food, again. We like eating.

I hhave come to realise I’m not a bad guide, so if these pictures make you hungry and thirsty, feel free to book me! 😉

FAQ to the Vegetarian

You don’t eat meat?

Nope, I don’t.

Really?

Yep.

But a bloody steak can be so good…

I disagree. De gustibus etc, you know.

Do you eat fish?

Considering the fact that they are also animals, no.

Then what do you eat?

Yeah, nothing you know. Vegetarians don’t eat. A sporadic thistle perhaps.

Are you kidding me?

Is it so hard to imagine vegetarian food? There’s plenty. You can easily eat pasta without meat. There’s tofu, and quorn, quinoa, rice, blé, nuts, beans, dates and so on.

Aren’t you a hypocrite? You’re wearing leather shoes.

Yes, I am. But there are reasons for this. Leather shoes are better for your feet and last longer than plastic ones. Plastic is ecologically not much better than breeding and killing animals. Next to that, I stopped eating meat because of ethic reasons, but by now I just dislike the taste of meat a whole hell lot. I’m not a raging vegetarian who tries to convert everyone. So in this context, please excuse me my leather shoes.

So you don’t think everyone should be a vegetarian?

No. It’s a choice you have to make. If you choose differently, good for you. The only thing I ask is that you stop talking about bloody steaks when I tell you I don’t eat meat, and that you consider not eating meat every now and then. It’s ecologically better to skip it for let’s say a day each week. Be open minded towards this. Thanks.

But, I mean, it’s silly anyways, because people are made to eat meat. Didn’t the cave-dwellers shoot bisons and eat them?

Yes, they did. But before that, people were herbivorous. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I don’t live in a cave anymore.

Don’t you miss it?

No. As I said, I started disliking the taste and even smell of meat. It just doesn’t appeal to me anymore, just like some people don’t like oranges or something.

When will you eat meat again?

If you let met the choice, never.

One day you will.

Shut the fuck up and get out.

In case you meet a vegetarian one day, please try to ask something more original, like ‘Do you prefer quorn over tofu?’ or something like that. Thanks a lot.