30 Oct

Halloween is upon us once more and the undead walk the earth looking for candy. As a horror movie fan I always enjoyed this time of year and the basic special effects make-up techniques I was taught at college come in handy when creating costumes for Halloween parties. However, they also resulted in a few awkward moments as I traveled to my first Halloween party in Holland.

I had decided to go to the party as a zombie and spent an hour in front of the mirror molding morticians wax and latex into mutilated burnt flesh on the right side of my face (a little extreme I know). With the addition of fake blood and a dirty boiler suit I almost looked like a bootleg version of Freddy Kruger. Close enough in appearance to be mistaken for the well known movie villain but different enough to avoid copy right infringement. I could have been Fred Crewger, the killer from A Nightmare on Elton Street.

Since I knew it would take a while to get ready I decided to prepare at home and travel on the train to the party. It was not until later that I found out how much of a mistake this was. I thought people in their costumes traveling to parties would be a common sight but it turned out I was wrong. Halloween is not a very well known holiday in Holland (until recently). This is especially true amongst the older generation who must have been more then a little surprised to see a zombie buying alcohol at the local super market for a party. I probably looked like an off duty horror movie killer taking a break from murdering lost teenagers in the woods.

As I browsed the shelves for booze I heard a small scream and turned to see one of the regular checkout girls running towards me with a look of horror and concern on her face. She franticly asked me what had happened as I tried to calm her down and explain it was not real. I could have used the opportunity to ask for compensation money for extreme freezer burn from the frozen foods section.

The look on her face was similar to what I saw later on the faces of my fellow train passengers during the two hour journey to Rotterdam. However, they expressed a lot more horror and a lot less concern (unless you count concern for their own safety). As each of them boarded the train they would look at my face with worry before looking at my hands, going wide eyed and moving very quickly to another part of the train. In retrospect covering my hands with fake blood might have been a bad idea as well.

I wanted to explain to all of them that I was going to a party but at the same time I did not want them to run off screaming before I had time to elaborate that I meant a Halloween party and not some kind of serial killer reunion party. I decided to sit quietly and avoid eye contact which probably made me look like a very shy serial killer.

Eventually I arrived at the party and was no longer out of place amongst the vampires, zombies, witches and other party goers. Everyone was very surprised that I had traveled so far in my costume. It made an amusing story during the consumption of alcohol.

The next morning I discovered that pulling latex off the face is even less pleasant with a hang over and fake blood dyes skin orange. I only got a few strange looks on my return journey due to the orange rash like marks covering my hands and face. Luckily there was nothing in the newspapers about a shy serial killer timidly stalking people on the train to Rotterdam.

Next time I think I’ll go as a ghost under a sheet.

28 Oct

Post Drunk Check List:

Hangover: Unfortunately
Bones: Intact
Location: Home, thank god
Dignity: Warning! Major damage to the load bearing structures!

I’ve been less accident prone lately. In general this is a good thing for me but it also means I have less silly accident prone stories to write about. I was probably tempting fate when I stated this to a co-worker on Friday night during a company outing to a local pub. We were all quite drunk and I’d already been asked to re-tell the broken ankle story again twice. I should have realized that was another sign that something would happen.

However, everything was fine while I was at the pub (even though I drank more then I intended to). There were no problems during my stumble to the station and the train departed with out incident. Unfortunately I was not on it because I was on a different train bound for another destination. This only dawned on my drunk brain when I realized the train journey was taking longer then normal. My suspicion was confirmed when I slurred out a question to a fellow passenger.

At the time I thought I must have been on the fast train to Hilversum. I know people in Hilversum so (although it would have been embarrassing) I could have gone over to their place if there were no more trains running. Unfortunately Hilversum came and went with out a stop. My train station of salvation passed by in a blur of speed and I realized I had no idea where I was going. Another slurred question and I was informed that the train was going to Utrecht. Utrecht is quite far from where I live which is why I then proceeded to pace up and down and look quite worried.

When I arrived at Utrecht it was obvious that I would not be getting home via a train. There were no more until five in the morning. The station was deserted apart from another worried looking individual who seemed to be in the same situation. The only place that was open was the nearby Burger King.

For a little while I stumbled around the station wondering what to do next. Given my past track record I did not want to temped fate any more by trying to find an alternative method of getting home and sleeping in a 24 hour fast food restaurant was not an experience I wanted to repeat. So I did the only other thing I could do. I phoned my flat mate and asked him to pick me up in his car. I felt like an drunk idiot teenager who had just been forced to call his dad to bail him out of a tricky situation. Luckily he did not mind helping me out. The only damage done was to my dignity but it did make me wonder what might have happened if my flat mate did not have a car.

In the future I’ll be paying much more attention to train signs.

24 Oct

I am not a morning person. I never have been and I probably never will be. I usually stumble out of bed looking like an extra from a zombie movie as I search for the shower (instead of brains). This would not be so much of a problem if it was not for the other thing I have never been; a coffee person. Because of this my main method of communication during the first few hours of the day is a mix of grunting and yawning, usually in reply to conversations that I am not awake enough to understand in the first place.

I have not helped matters recently by ignoring the suggested cure for tiredness, sleep. Over the last few nights (few meaning weeks) I’ve tried to maximize my waking hours (waking meaning computer gaming) by staying awake longer into the early hours of the morning. However, this has backfired on me and it is now harder to stay awake during the traditional time for being conscious, the day. Even as I type this I am finding it hard to control my yawning and resist the pillow like invitingness of my keyboard. In fact, am I typing this or only dreaming of typing?

I have diagnosed the symptom of my stubbiness when it comes to bed time as Bachelor-itus or (as it is better known by its more common name) Single-male-itus. Insomnia fueled computer game playing is not the only side effect of this condition.

Other known symptoms include:

  • A growing cultivation of beer in the fridge
  • An increase in the kitchen curry paste count
  • An out brake of the interior design method known as ‘guy’s place’
  • The inability to be in a room with out a computer or games console without feeling weak
  • (At this point in typing I had to stop and take a nap)

    For a long time a girl-friend or wife was believed to be the cure for this condition but recent research has uncovered that this only treats some of the symptoms and not the course. This condition can still be controlled but if it goes un-checked it can develop into the rather more serous Mid-life-crises-itus. If this should occur the surgeon general strongly advises against the use of so called ‘alternative treatment’ such as buying a sports car or motorbike.

    I have a long way to go before I reach this stage but I still need to sort out my slumber pattern before the sleep deprivation hallucinations start to set in or my blog entries become a collection of random letters as I pass out on the keyboard. If only I could use the computer while sleeping.

    Anyone want to read me a bed time story?

    19 Oct

    Dutch Reality Game Shows

    Holland could be considered the birth place of the reality game show (despite being one itself). Many of the reality shows now airing on TVs around the world originated from the country. Big Brother, Fear Factor, and that show about that woman’s search for a sperm donor all came from the land of windmills and tulips.Calling them reality shows seems like a bit of a stretch since neither the producers nor contestants appear to have a grip on the shows genre, reality.

    The following are actual shows on TV in Holland. I promise I have not made them up:

    The Golden Cage:
    It might sound like a strip club in the red light district but it is in fact the new incarnation of Big Brother. Contestants spend a minimum of a year in a Villa worth 2 million Euros (which is also the prize) but there is no voting off. The show goes on indefinitely until all but one person has left voluntarily. All participants can do is wait for opponents to get home sick or annoy them until they leave. The show is probably only a few seasons away from the ‘beat your opponents to death to win the prize’ rule with product placement weapon sponsorship.

    Undercover Love:
    One member of a couple has to pose as singles as they take part in different challenges designed to test how far they are will go to keep their (soon to be over) relationship secret. All this is done while their partner watches via TV. The person who manages to keep their relationship secret wins the prize money which will probably come in handy for any divorce settlements or re-pair costs when their former partner slashes their car tires (or worse).

    Weet Wat Je Date:
    A group of four singles stand behind a glass barrier in their underwear while a contestant picks out which one they would like to date before they know anything about them. All the producers need to do is put a red filter over the studio lighting and they have a televised version of Amsterdam’s famous red light district.

    Fear Factor:
    I’m just waiting for the season that makes The Running Man seem less fictional as contestants are hunted down by a fat man on a motorcycle waving a chainsaw about.

    10 Oct

    I have a confession to make. I have not been honest about who I am. I have hidden my true identity in a web of lies and secrets. The Stuart you might think you know is a work of fiction. I am really Sneed, mighty troll shaman, defender of Azeroth and champion of the Hord.

    I have faced mighty foes such as Darkmaster Gandling, Hakah the Blood God and the bunny that decimated my vegetable patch last week. I am skilled in the arts of the sacred totems, the wielding of a staff weapon and touching my nose with the tip of my tongue. I fear nothing (accept the dark, the sight of blood, the alliance, thunder and the bunny that decimated my vegetable patch last week).

    Not really but the rainy weekend gave me the perfect excuse to start playing World of Warcraft again, something that I had not done for a few months. When I logged on it was also raining in the virtual world of the game which seemed ironic and maybe defeated the purpose of staying indoors to avoid rain. However, where in Amsterdam would I be able to go questing before I found myself confined to a tiny jail cell and charged for running around the city with a big stick and screaming, “For the Hord”, as I ambushed tourists. It would not be long before I was then transferred to a mental asylum for claiming, “The goblin told me to do it,” as my defence. There are some activities which are best confined to the boundaries of a fantasy virtual world.

    Playing a massively multiplayer online game can be a strange experience. Sometimes it is easy to forget that a player’s character is not an accurate representation of the player them self (they are not really Elves or Orcs). The reason some players might seem to have the maturity of a 12 year old is because they actually are 12 years old and most of the female characters in the game are probably male players who either go along with the flirting as a way to get free in-game items or because they are a little bit creepy.

    During the summer I managed to go with out playing the game for a while but like most addictions I only thought I was over the habit. After just a few hours of playing I found myself hooked again, happily hunting through the land of Azeroth for quest items and evil monsters to slay (or run away from). I even managed to get one of my old characters up to level 60 (the highest level in the game).

    I’ll probably be addicted to the game for a few more months (before I’m arrested in Amsterdam for confusing fantasy and reality) so if you see a cowardly troll named Sneed or a clumsy tauren called Oakhammer running around on the European Scarshield Legion server fell free to say hello. If I’m not running for my life from some scary angry creature I’ll stop to reply.