Thursday, August 19, 2010

REVIEW: Boom Chicago in Amsterdam

Last Wednesday, Schrobbenmaster and I went to watch Boom Chicago in Amsterdam. I had been feeling quite culturally barren since coming here, as musicals and stage shows are all in Dutch and I don't particularly feel like "working" to enjoy a show. So I asked Schrobbenmaster if there was anything at all that I could enjoy in English. He then described Boom Chicago as a show by Americans, basically taking the mickey out of the Dutch.

How could I pass up something like that?!

So we looked online (I love how you can get anything online here) and reserved a Burger Deal (Burger + show) for last Wednesday.

Boom Chicago has a permanent address at the historic Leidsepleintheater in the heart of Amsterdam. After the show, the bars around it were filled with people and lights and tourists, and everything looked really cool. Gotta go back there for some nightlife action soon.

We arrived right on the dot of our reservation at 18:30. Picked up our tickets at the box office and went into the performance/dining area.

All pictures were taken with the iPhone, and we all know it doesn't ever deliver when it's even slightly dark. My fault for not bringing a camera with me. They were also meant to be tweeted, which is why I didn't shoot horizontally.

Anyway, although we pre-ordered and paid for the Burger Deal, drinks are not included, as it always is in this country.

The room/hall is really nice, dark, old and woody. Like those old-time cabaret shows in America that they showed in Funny Girl and the film version of Chicago (never saw it onstage).

I was so friggin hungry, so was absolutely THRILLED to get an American-sized burger and fries (were more like chips but just as awesome). Not as thrilled to get an Amsterdam-sized drink though. Especially as it had to last 4 hours till the end of the show (I'm such a stingypuss, I know). But, seriously, check out the size difference of the plate and the drink!

The show we watched was The Best of Boom Chicago, but... I do have to say I was a little let down by that claim. Most of the show was improv with suggestions from the audience, a la Whose Line Is It Anyway, which is all fine and amusing and all, but whatever happened to the dissing of the Dutch? The few parts that I genuinely giggled and enjoyed myself, I have to admit, were the parts that they did things related to the Dutch. Not necessarily insulting them, but even acting like them, or mocking certain behaviour that outsiders find uniquely peculiar.

On the whole, it was okay to pay €29,95 for the show, it was still enjoyable... but it just wasn't as enjoyable as it should have been.

I think I would actually have enjoyed Upgrade or Die! more, as it would be something else I can relate to quite well, being a semi-nerd myself. Well, something cultural for next month!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What happens before sleep?

I have to write a hurried post because I'm trying to sleep before midnight tonight. The tradition for Schrobbenmaster and I is to watch a light British comedy (currently That Mitchell and Web Look) or awesome motoring show (Top Gear) or sometimes even a mild action show (Human Target or Flash Point). We try to keep to half hour shows (The Simpsons, IT Crowd), but even then, after all the face-washing, teeth-brushing, water-drinking and cat-feeding, we end up sleeping past midnight. Which, of course, makes it hellish to get up for work the next day.

It's been extremely busy at work since last week. As I'm the only designer in the office, everything falls on my shoulders. Sometimes it's nice, as I pretty much control every design that goes out, but at the worst times, I have to slave away at Photoshop, putting a necklace and a phone together into one picture. True story. Happened for one necklace with many phones, took up the entire day.

Some good news is that Schrobbenmaster and I have been talking about our business plan for Goodputty. Haven't got a solid plan, but things are sounding good. I've even started a Twitter account for Goodputty, to 'force' myself to keep updating its portfolio and keep the business active. Please follow :)

I have some cool stuff for a bit later on in this blog. I've been working on, among other things, a poster for our current client at the ad agency I work at. This poster began all the way back in... was it May? Definitely by June. And 2 months later, if not more, it's not finalised yet. There are many versions of it, usually just by a few tweaks, and I would really like to display them as a kind of exhibition on how "particular" *ahem* clients can be.

In the meantime, I've just got my nose to the grind and now it's time for bed yet again.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Just pitter pattering about... Starcraft II and spending money!

Since July 27th, I've been busy playing Starcraft II with Schrobbenmaster every weekend (and after dinner on weekdays if we have the time and energy). It's great! I played the original Starcraft while I was still in university - that would be kinda 10 years ago now - and I loved it. I'm so glad they spent the time and money to make the second part as great as it is. I really couldn't ask for more.

This weekend has been really cosy. It's just after payday, so we went out to do some errands on Friday night, which is koopavond (buying evening) in Rotterdam, meaning shops are open till 21:00 *shock horror wheeze*, instead of until 18:00.

I just checked my bank balance and I can't believe how little I have!! I thought I'd have more savings this month since I'm not travelling and don't have any guests, but what the... I have less than €1k now. I did buy two tickets to watch Boom Chicago, supposedly a hilarious American comedy show about life in NL. I got the Burger Deal, which sounds awesome... a show and a burger dinner :P Apart from that, another expensive buy was a layout design textbook (I'd better learn some useful stuff from it!!!) and a new ballet leotard (which I really did need, as my previous black leotard, bought some 5 years ago, is now greyish at sweaty areas).

At least I've set aside a few hundred in a newly created savings account, which should earn me interest in the next few months. That's money that will work for me!! If only I was more savvy in investing, I could do so much more.

Now, after seeing my bank balance, I'm not so sure if I want to take archery lessons next week. I was planning to because I've always loved the idea of being able to do it. I did some recreational archer-ing (?) many years ago and loved it. And when I came here and found out that people apparently only make friends in sporting and hobby clubs, I decided to look for an archery school/club. Found one where the trainers are willing to try their hand at teaching in English (which is really nice of them and makes me want to go even more), but I'm wondering if I should be saving that money instead (I can already hear Mumsy Bumsy telling me to do exactly that).

Anyway, it's late now and it's time to cook some dinner and hopefully some Starcraft II after? What say you, Schrobbenmaster? :D

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Thanks for coming to see me!

Okay, this is really long overdue but I finally have the time (and energy) to write about Mumsy Bumsy and Yelleh Belleh's wonderful visit here.

I may say "wonderful" but I think they would call it something else those first few days.

It was the height of the summer temperatures and gosh you cannot be prepared for that sort of heat and absence of wind, even coming from Malaysia. Every day for 3 days straight just drained us of our energy, and the goal of every outing was not to find the beautiful canal or church, but to find the shade.

Thankfully by mid-trip, the temperatures eased and we were getting the mid-twenties again.

The trip seemed all too short, because on one day, we're unloading the car with all their bags and I'm unpacking all my treats brought over from KL, and the very next, I'm a little Malaysian island again in Rotterdam.

I don't have any photos of their trip, they're all on Facebook under my sister's account. But I really cherish the time they spent here and their effort of making their way here, from across the world. I hope I made them feel welcome and comfortable enough. I know it was a pretty different experience from life in KL, though.

I asked Yelleh Belleh once in private: "Have I changed since I came here... do I seem any different to you?". And she answered: "No... but well, maybe you seem less... city-like.".

I totally understand that sentence. Life is so different here. You don't whiz around in a car, all socialite-like and get dressed in heels and glittery dresses. People here are more domesticated, they love their homes and they love their comfy Vans/All-Stars. I've grown to get used to this, but I really do miss the "city life" of KL. The glamour of living in a big apartment (and with 2 bathrooms... suck it, you miserable Dutch people who can't believe someone would want 2 bathrooms!), eating out every night, going for coffee and snacks till 3am every weekend and all our many areas with international awesome restaurants and bars.

Life in KL is awesome... but politics in Malaysia is dreadful. Talk about the Brain Drain? This is what I mean. I love living in KL and it was so good having a bit of KL with me here when Mumsy Bumsy and Yelleh Belleh came to visit. I would go back in a flash if it wasn't for knowing that I'm considered a "tolerated" citizen over there. I've only been in NL for 5 months, but I already genuinely feel "accepted" here.

Okay, I know this has been a real jumble of a post with all kinds of topics in it. Originally meant to be a sweet, appreciative post on my family taking the time and effort to come to visit me. Turned midway into a gushing "I miss KL" moment and ended up almost touching on the political side of the country and how disgusted I am by the petty religious matters being brought up.

I would really love to write more - am really in the mood to wax lyrical about living in KL, but my cup noodles are now overcooked, sitting in front of me and I really gotta eat it before it gets too late and I'm too full for my dinner.

Response to my post about living in NL

A few weeks ago, I published a post on the 10 things I like about living in NL and the 10 things I don't. I got a response from Schrobbenmaster on each point.

Here they are... with my own responses in bold.

Things I like about living in NL.

  1. I have a stable job and I'm still a designer --- But not as free as in MY
  2. I'm earning in euros --- But spending in Euros as well
  3. We have a car that we don't have to pay for --- But you have to travel longer to work
  4. Pretty flowers in summer on the balcony --- But in winter everything is dead
  5. I have the opportunity to learn a foreign language and culture --- Which takes too much time you don't have
  6. People are (mostly) friendly and speak English --- But they rather speak Dutch and be not friendly
  7. Cleaner air and water --- But more expensive to buy water in shops
  8. I can travel around Europe more easily --- But harder to travel in Asia
  9. Cleaner public toilets --- But you have to pay, and there are less public toilets
  10. Super fast internet --- Internet to Malaysian sites is still really slow
Then again, maybe I haven't complained enough...

Things I don't like about living in NL.
    1. It's too bloody cold to shower for half the year --- But its a nice feeling to warm up under the shower --- Me: The shower has to end some time.
    2. Things and places are older and less modern-equipped --- Which gives it a more cosy feeling --- Me: Really? REALLY?
    3. I feel so pressured to speak Dutch --- But you can speak English to almost anyone
    4. Can't see my family, friends or my dogs --- But you can see me!
    5. Food is only half as good and not cheap --- The Western brands in Malaysia are more expensive than here --- Me: I'd rather have more choice and variety. And flavour.
    6. Moviegoing and other Malaysian "necessities" are expensive --- But downloading films is fast and free
    7. The Dutch selfishness, masked as "individualism" --- At least no peer pressure for being in a group
    8. No good mix drinks in clubs --- But a wider selection for beers, quicker service and cheaper --- Me: Cheaper only for beers.
    9. I can't buy books or magazines in English - small selection + very expensive --- But a more free media environment in NL and much more in Dutch. --- Me: Because  I love reading in Dutch, right?
    10. Less variety of affordable boutiques (ie. no Telawi) --- But cheaper A-brand (especially when earning Euros) and better quality

    On the bright side, every day gets a little better.