Run for Cover

A lot of people look down on covers as being little more than rehashes of much better original material. That is, when they're aware they're listening to a cover at all: I am convinced the majority of teens who loved Limp Biskit's "Behind Blue Eyes" had no idea it was not an original. Not to mention, a little further back, Boyzone.

I am divided on the issue. There are just too many bad, or, even worse, pointless covers out there. But every once in a while someone gets it right. In my opinion, the great covers do more than just, well, either singing the song in a slightly different arrangement of increasing the beat. They reinterpret the songs. They give them new meaning. They make you appreciate the originals better. And they stand on their own as true works of art.

The reason this topic came up because there's a podcast I listen to called "Coverville", and today one of the covers in the latest show was so beautiful it gave me the shivers. Covers being so varied, in genre as well as in quality, listening to coverville is always a gamble: there will be some songs I won't like, some I think are ok, and every once in a while there will be a gem.

So then, my top 5 covers. Counting back, first the name of the song, then the original artist, then the cover artist.

Honorable mention: more an alternate version than a real cover, but it's great nonetheless: Anouk's Reggae version of her own Nobody's Wife

5. El Tango de Roxanne - Sting & The Police - the version from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack

4. Such Great Heights - Death Cab for Cutie - Iron & Wine

3. The Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel - Grayson and Wonfor (this is the song that gave me the shivers. A spare, slightly slower, acoustic guitar only version that is just amazing)

2. Smells like Teen Spirit - Nirvana - Tori Amos

1. Wonderwall - Oasis - Ryan Adams

And I left out so many... Rufus Wainwright's version of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah because it's a little too similar to the original, Tori Amos' Angie because I already had a cover by her, All of Seu Jorge's covers of David Bowie because they're a translation as well...

Know any covers I should know about? Please tell!



The Princess Bride

I think there's something about the Princess Bride that you either get or don't get. I watched the first half of it tonight with two of my unitmates, and while I had a shit-faced grin on my face the entire time, they didn't really see the joke, one of them even calling it annoying.


They don't see the mixture of adoration and gentle mockery towards all the old, filmed-on-set, swashbuckling adventure movies. They cringe at the costumes, music, backdrops, and while they understand it is intentional they just, well, don't get it.

Movies which inspire such a radical division usually also give rise to rabid fandom, and this movie is no exception. The Flick Filosopher (herself so much a fan she's writing a book about this movie) recently linked to a retelling of LOTR entirely in Princess Bride quotes, something perectly possible since every single line of this film is quotable.

Describing the charm of the Princess Bride is almost impossible. Suffice to say that it always maes me giddy, makes me want to be a kid again and experience the power of stories for the first time. It is ironic, but without feeling superior to the material, and that's something that's hard to find. Maybe that is ultimately what explains the 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Or maybe it's just the simple fact that this movie is as perfect as they get.

---You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." But, only slightly less well known is this: "Never go in against a Sicilian, when death is on the line!"---

Some administrative notes

As you might have noticed, my Sinterklaas Wish List has disappeared from the sidebar. It is now hidden in a post I've backdated to October 5th, two months before Sinterklaas. It has been replaced in the sidebar by a list of link to what I believe are some of my more interesting posts, or those at least that I think should be easily accessible from the main page, among them the Sinterklaas list.

Looking back through those posts I realise I've neglected one point of my declaration of principles, namely the point that I would included images. I'll try to be more consistent from now on, after all, it is definitely true that images lighten up the page and make the whole wall of words less inpenetrable (or so I hope). Incidentally, today's picture is approximately what I see when I hang back over my chair, seeing the back of my room upside down, something I do quite often.

One last point, you might have noticed that I have caved in and corrected the spelling of the name of my blog, my initiative being futile anyhow. Also, googling "As cool as a fruitstand" yields dozens of reminders of past blogs and cringe-worthy traces I left on the Internet. Googling "As cool as a fruit stand" does not yield anything as of yet, but hopefully my blog will show up there soon. If you like my blog, please link to it under the new name, and hopefully Google will pick up on it soon.

I promise a real post later today, now that I've gotten the practical notices out of the way.


Once you fucked it, it's yours

Before I start on the topic, a short note. Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature today. The press statement lauded him for "uncover[ing] the precipice under everyday prattle and forc[ing] entry into oppression's closed rooms,". The precipice under everyday prattle...gotta love it. I have actually never read or seen anything by Mr. Pinter, but I'm sure he'll be impossible to avoid in the next month or so.


Lani invited me along to a "Salon de mots" tonight. We had no clue as to what it was exactly, imagines slam poetry and whatnot, but after Spongebob Mac 'n Cheese and soesjes we biked towards the small café "De Leugen" (the Lie).

It was small, cramped, but the atmosphere was interesting, with people ranging in age from twenty to sixty. We met up with Anita, a friend of Lani's who apparently liked my blog (which means she múst be a fantastic person, dontcha think?) and the show began with a bang, or rather, with a guy playing some weird kind of, well, I believe the term is "mouth harp". Cute, too. And more importantly, he could sing. Very well even. It turns out he's the singer of the band Dial Prisko, a name I'll definitely remember. Even more so because apart from the mouth harp, he also played...the tea pot.

I won't give a list of all the poets and what I thought of them, because I find that on poetry nights all the words blend together anyhow, no matter how different the styles and the subject matter. Unfortunately, most of it was in Dutch, and for some reason, Dutch poetry doesn't get to me like English poetry can. The main poem went on for too long, getting interesting only near the end, and there was only one Dutch poem with rythm to it, with metre and flow.

The lone English poem was by an Australian woman, Prue Duggan. It was interesting, especially her vision of Anna Karenina, but I wasn't entirely convinced. Maybe it's because someone once told me that in truly great poetry, every word should feel irreplacable, like it's the one and only possible word in that particular place, and I did not get that idea from her poems. However, her poems were the most interesting to me of the entire night, and the title of this post is the closing line to one of her poems.

Far be it from me to say that writing poetry is easy. I had a poetry period in my first year at UC, and I got very frustrated with it because my poetry simply wasn't good. Poetry, good poetry? It's freaking hard.

I've been getting back into poetry, as you've maybe noticed from me mentioning Dylan Thomas records and leaving the text of an entire Kings of Convenience song here, but this (together with the poetry committee meeting yesterday) really kicked me back into. Biking back, words came rushing over me like they haven't in years, not enough yet to start letting them out, but enough to raise the hope that I might actually produce something again.

I looked through my old poems again tonight. Some made me cringe, most did, to be honest. But some...Oh, they're not good poems, but some that I forgot I wrote surprised me by not being as bad as I remembered my writing being.

In a way, reading back is like digging into my own past, worming myself into the mind of who I was two years ago. Scary, maybe even more so than reading old blogs. It's strange. It's me, I can remember me then, remember feeling and thinking the same but then, it's not really me any more. I can pinpoint exactly between which poems I got together with Joren, in between which poems we broke up...And yet, I don't remember it feeling very intense or important at all.
If I do start writing poetry again, I'll probably create a special blog for it, but until then, I just thought I'd leave you with this poem, written a year and a half ago...I don't think it's particularly good, even for me, but I think it gived a good impression of what I used to write.

Ticking Away

A bomb warning at the station:
in the train I think of ominous
ticking under my seat, imagine
a small round black warmth pulsing.

In my last split second
I’d wonder at how
when the sun shines
the world seems to unfold.

It will freeze tonight,
as the cold fragments
which once were me
will be sniffed at by
lonely patched dogs

Maybe I’d reincarnate
a tall elegant tower with three white wings.
And then another girl with morbid fantasies
would see me through the wagon window,
and smile, because not everything is rotten,
while her life slowly ticked away.

Over and Out.



Other people's words today, apparently

Kings of Convenience - Homesick

I lose some sales and my boss won't be happy
But I can't stop listening to the sound
Of two soft voices blended in perfection
From the reels of this record that I found

Everyday there's a boy in the mirror
Asking me what are you doing here
Finding all my previous motives
Growing increasingly unclear

I’ve travelled far and I’ve burned all the bridges
I believed as soon as I hit land
All the other options held before me
Will wither in the light of my plan

So I lose some sales and my boss won't be happy
But there’s only one thing on my mind
Searching boxes underneath the counter
On a chance that on a tape I’d find

A song for
Someone who needs somewhere
To long for

Cause I no longer know
What home is

This song started playing, and I was reminded of why I love the Kings of Convenience. They're music is gorgeously melodic and soothing, but aside from that their lyrics can be unexpectedly moving. I could go on and on about them, about the spare, quiet melancholy that exudes from their songs, about how no two voices have sounded so right together since Simon & Garfunkel, about how outrageous it is that in Europe all you can find by them are 30-euro imports... Instead, I thought the lyrics would speak for themselves.

A few lines

Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said, Let Newton be! and all was light

It did not last: the Devil howling "Ho!
Let Einstein be" restored the status quo

The first two lines are by Alexander Pope (I wanted to type Pope Alexander, but was afraid people wouldn't get the joke and just think I was stupid), the latter two by J.C.Squire.

I'd already seen them before, in one my dad's quote books, I think, but I found them again while studying for my Astrophysics mid-term (who says Physics can't be fun?) and thought I'd post them here


Ah, interesting people

First, it looks like the decision about the new Bond has finally (finally!) been made. I would have preferred Clive Owen or Sen Bean (who, after all, already played 006), but Daniel Craig is not a bad choice. I'm curious to see what he'll do with the part.

Now onto the real interesting people

First, Tilda Swinton, one of the most fascinating actresses around. She was the only good thing about Constantine as far as I'm concerned.

Second, Kurt Vonnegut. Still alive, not too happy about it. Still writing, which is the most amazing thing.

Last, definitely not least, Hans Bethe, no longer with us, unfortunately. Luckily, we can still listen to him explain quantum mechanics.


Alan Rickman

Ok, Sense and Sensibility was on TV tonight, and I basically just had it on in the background, turning my attention towards it (and the sound up) only when one particular character was on screen.

I think it's time to reveal my crush on Alan Rickman.

Now, a lot of people are going to think, Alan Rickwho? That's because this brilliant, charismatic, irresistible actor has mostly been stuck in supporting roles, more often than not in the role of the villain. Remember the British fiend who stole Die Hard from right under Bruce Willis' muscles? The Sheriff of Nottingham you loved to hate in Robin Hood? And last but not least, I-still-don't-believe-he's-truly-evil-damn-you Severus Snape (don't click on the link if you don't want Harry Potter 6 spoiled)?

He also plays good guys sometimes. He was hilarious in Galaxy Quest, heartbreaking in Sense and Sensibility, and he was well served by his masterful dry wit in Dogma, getting brilliant lines and delivering them, dare I say, better than any other in the cast of that great movie. And well, he didn't manage to make Rasputin bearable, but let's face it, that was nigh impossible.

It's mostly the voice, I think. I could listen to it, entranced, for hours. But then again, my post on Dylan Thomas probably already exposed my sensitivity to men's voices. I just...Alan Rickman's voice is so low and purry and dangerous and did I mention it's sexy?

The kinda disturbing this is he's almost three times as old as I am. The thing is, I don't think the age difference should mean that I can't find him handsome or attractive, even if it is a little weird that my mom feels the same (although we both like Siska -the Peter Kremer one- too, and that never felt odd). It does however mean that I don't spend a lot of time thinking about his butt, which I have been known to do with younger crushes.

Oh well. As I talked about with Laneshka yesterday, daydreams are fine, as long as you don't except or want them to become reality. One exception: the daydreams in which Alan Rickman gets leading parts in movies where he's not just a villain and I get to look at him on screen without having to tune out the other parts? That one I won't mind becoming real.


On a sidenote

For the first time since I first started writing seriously on this blog, three weeks ago now, I don't really know what to write about. Also because I've done too many link posts lately, and I'd like to come up with something, tell you something valuable myself. But I don't really have much to talk about.

Writer's block? A little. Probably also in part because the first of November is drawing close, and I don't have a story for my NaNoWriMo novel yet. Oh, I have three main characters, plus a couple of secondary ones. A fantastic idea for a sex scene came to me, which is a curse rather than a blessing because it makes me even more reluctant not to use these characters and the relationships between them, despite the fact that these characters don't have a destiny yet, nothing compelling I can do with them (except hopefully afore-mentioned sex scene), nothing new, nothing that doesn't feel too gimmicky, too shallow, too short.

I got a small flash of inspiration today. There was a documentary on Belgian TV about fanatics in the US and how they were trying to re-popularise the faith by using popular culture, movies, conventions (sorry, Laneshka, if I seemed a bit absent at times, but my eyes kept being drawn back to the TV and the crazy people on it), and since one of the three characters comes from a religious background, I think I could use it. The how and the why are still fuzzy though.

I promise tomorrow I'll bring you something more exciting and about actual artists, hopefully, not wannabes like myself. But this is what's been on my mind...




When you think about it, links are really the essential feature of the internet, what sets it apart, and what makes it fabulous. Rarely are nice pages found by entering a random URL: we always need someone to link us to the discovery, whether it is in an ad or on a blog or other page. If the link is on another web page or blog -especially on a blog- odds are the person who put it there wouldn't have "discovered" that page without a link to it.

As such, giving credit where credit is even harder than with academic papers, because it's not just ideas that travel, it's URL's. I can mention where I found the link, but most of the time it is impossible to trace back who we should really mention for finding the thing in the first place. This is especially true with items such as the Shining trailer I linked to in an earlier post: at least three sites I regularly visit linked to it, and if you search for "Shining trailer" through the Google blogsearch, you see just how incestuous the blogosphere can be.

The only thing people can do, really, is to make a selection from among the hundreds, thousands of links they discover, a selection that then adds to the hundreds another has seen, and so on, until the genealogy of a certain reference is impossible to trace.

Despite all these arguments, I would like here to give a list of the sites I find most of my links, of the websites and blogs I visit very often to see what they've discovered for me.

Arts & Letters Daily
Movie City News
Geek Philosophy

There are more, of course, and many links are found by clicking through several pages...but I'd say these five form the core.