Friday, September 23, 2011

What is my life going to be?

Sorry for the lack of Jukebox Friday this week. I've been a little more preoccupied than usual, as my education started today.

On Monday, I'll be attempting to ease my way into a firm schedule at the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy at Ghent University. Eventually, I will obtain a B.A. in English and Italian language and literature.

Here's a picture of the beautiful faculty building at Blandijnberg:

...and here's the song that inspired my choice of education. No, not really. I just like the song.

Wish me luck! Or should I say... Spaghetti?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jukebox Friday: School is Cool - In Want Of Something

School is Cool is a baroque pop quintet formed in Antwerp in 2009. The members are Johannes Genard (vocals, guitar, bass drum), Andrew Van Ostade (floor tom, glockenspiel), Matthias Dillen (drums), Toon Van Baelen (bass guitar) and Nele Paelinck (keyboard, violin, glockenspiel).

School is cool. (Source:

The band shot to fame by winning Humo's Rock Rally, the country's biggest contest for unsigned artists, in 2010. Held bi-annually since 1978, the competition has provided a breakthrough platform for a multitude of bands such as dEUS, The Black Box Revelation, Milow, Arid, Das Pop, and Admiral Freebee.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A glint of government

The unthinkable has happened: after a record-breaking period of government negotiations, fries revolutions and general despair, Belgian politicians have actually agreed on something.

Since May 16th, Elio Di Rupo, leader of the francophone Socialist Party, has had the role of formateur, the person who leads the formation of a coalition government. With election results the way they were, it has not been an easy job.

Now, however, a meeting between the eight largest parties (excluding Bart De Wever's N-VA) has led to an agreement on a major issue.

BBC has the story:
The mediator trying to form a government in Belgium has announced a breakthrough after tense negotiations. 
Politician Elio Di Rupo said the eight parties in the talks had agreed on moves to resolve key sticking points.
They included the division of power between French- and Dutch-speaking communities, he said. 
The country has been without an elected government for 15 months. Disagreement centres on electoral boundaries in the linguistically divided Brussels region. 
"The eight parties have together succeeded in overcoming the obstacles which have created difficulties these last few days," Mr Di Rupo said in a statement.

The "electoral boundaries" mentioned refer specifically to the BHV issue, which I have mentioned before. It is now certain that the electoral district Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde will be divided, ending its unconstitutional existence.

Notably, Bart De Wever's Flemish nationalist party, N-VA, is excluded from the current negotiations and did not take part in last night's triumph.

What does all this mean to the future of the government negotiations? It's certainly a step in the right direction when the parties can actually agree on something, especially on such a difficult issue as BHV. Hope, however faint, lingers on.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spiders in Belgium

WARNING: This post contains pictures of spiders. If you have a spider fetish, consider it Not Safe For Work.

Belgium is home to about 700 different species of spider, and hatching season is just around the corner. To help me get used to the idea of eight-legged monsters crawling up my bed, I've done some research, effectively exposing myself to more facts and photos than I would normally have thought wise.

The result is a short, tasty selection of arachnids you might encounter in Belgium. Not every single species is covered here, but it should be sufficient to keep you awake at night.

This post was written with equal parts disgust, fear, and fascination.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Jukebox Friday: R.E.M. - Fall On Me (live at Rock Werchter 2008)

This one goes out to the one I love.

My first-ever conversation with my wife was about the American alternative rock band R.E.M. She was curious about some strange new song titles in my recently played list, and I was happy to tell her that R.E.M. - our favourite band - had just released a new album (Accelerate). It kind of snowballed from there.

By the time R.E.M. went on tour to promote the album, we had both decided to get tickets. Sadly not to the same concert, though. She went to see them at Rock Werchter (at the same stage where we would see Editors two years later), and I went to Koengen in Bergen, the capital of western Norway.

During one of our online chats, we had asked each other what our favourite R.E.M. songs were. We both replied "Fall On Me", from the 1986 album Lifes Rich Pageant.

A few months later, when we were fighting our way down a mountain on our very first day together, I would repeat those three words. I told her to "fall on me", because the last thing I wanted was for her misery to increase by getting a soaked bum from slipping and falling in the wet grass. R.E.M. nerds as we are, it lightened the mood a bit.

Three days later, she went back to Belgium, now much more than a friend.

Twelve days ago, I put a ring on her finger and made her my wife. I know this is a cliché, but I'll say it anyway:


There's a problem, feathers iron
Bargain buildings, weights and pullies
Feathers hit the ground before the weight can leave the air
Buy the sky and sell the sky and tell the sky and tell the sky

Don't fall on me (what is it up in the air for) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it's there for long) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (it's over it's over me) (it's gonna fall)

There's the progress we have found (when the rain)
A way to talk around the problem (when the children reign)
Building towered foresight (keep your conscience in the dark)
Isn't anything at all (melt the statues in the park)
Buy the sky and sell the sky and bleed the sky and tell the sky

Don't fall on me (what is it up in the air for) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it's there for long) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (it's over it's over me) (it's gonna fall)

Well I could keep it above
But then it wouldn't be sky anymore
So if I send it to you you've got to promise to keep it whole

Buy the sky and sell the sky and lift your arms up to the sky
And ask the sky and ask the sky

Don't fall on me (what is it up in the air for) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it's there for long) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (it's over it's over me) (it's gonna fall)

Don't fall on me (what is it up in the air for) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it's there for long) (it's gonna fall)
Fall on me (it's over it's over me) (it's gonna fall)

(Lyrics and music: Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Norwegian and a Belgian in Norway

My account of the past weeks begins with the beginning, among the deep fjords and bleating sheep of Balsfjord, the bread basket of Northern Norway and my childhood home.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Jukebox Friday: Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)

I'm still trying to get back on track after an intensive wedding week. Until then, here's another Jukebox Friday.

Wouter De Backer was born in Bruges in 1980 and moved to Australia as a child. He cut his teeth as a musician playing in bands such as Downstares, where he was the drummer and creative force, and The Basics.

After unexpectedly receiving a large LP collection from an elderly neighbour whose wife had passed away, De Backer began experimenting with sampling. This resulted in a solo project he eventually named Gotye (pronounced "gore-ti-yeah"). The name is an alternative spelling of Gaultier, the French form of Wouter.

De Backer's first solo album, Boardface, was released in 2003. It was followed in 2006 by his breakthrough album Like Drawing Blood. That album scored two hits on the Australian Triple J Hottest 100, in addition to receiving the number 11 spot on the 2011 Triple J Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time.