Sunday, September 16, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jukebox Friday: Arbeid Adelt! - De Dag Dat Het Zonlicht Niet Meer Scheen

It's hard to explain this mad video without feeling the urge to simply shrug and say: It was the eighties.

Arbeid Adelt! (lit. "work ennobles") was founded in 1981 by Marcel Vanthilt (AKA Max Alexander) and Jan Van Roelen (AKA David Salamon).

"De Dag Dat Het Zonlicht Niet Meer Scheen" (1982) was Arbeid Adelt!'s breakthrough hit. The title of the song led to a conflict with the schlager singer John Terra, who had previously released a song with the same title. Considering the stylistic gap between the two acts, it's easy to imagine why Terra wasn't happy.

The song doesn't exactly reinvent the new wave movement, but the video is simply unignorable. Marcel Vanthilt steals the show completely with his quirky intensity and painfully precise articulation. On top of that, he's made up to look like a cross between the Frankstein monster and the Corpse Bride.

Vanthilt has since become one of the most recognizable people on Flemish television, hosting shows like the summer hit Villa Vanthilt and Ook getest op mensen ("also tested on humans"), an interactive talk show providing insights and opinions on health, fitness and nutrition. This gem is from his Wikipedia page:
From 1996 to 1998, Vanthilt moved to the United States, in pursuit of his wife.

Original lyrics:

De dag, de dag, de dag dat het zonlicht niet meer scheen
Was de dag, de dag, dat John met mijn vriend verdween
"Vreemde, vreemde!" riep hij in die bar
Maar Johnnie, Johnnie had een grote kar
Hij was wel geen filatelist maar was benauwd als ik me van pil had vergist

De dag, de dag, de dag dat het zonlicht niet meer scheen
Was de dag, de dag, dat John met mijn vriend verdween

Nu stolt het bloed in deze hersens
Nicotine kraakt mijn zeven wervens
Wat moet er met me? Ik raak niet op dreef
Oh oh, als hij me maar eens schreef

Dank U dank U John, vooral voor wat je deed
Zo vergeet ik nooit de dag dat het zonlicht niet meer scheen

Warme wijn, warme melk, warme thee citroen.
Vitamine C.
Vitamine B. 1-6-12
Vitamine B. 1-6-12

Niets helpt, het overstelpt.
De cholestorol slaat weer op hol.
Dat was de dag, de dag, de dag.
Dat was de dag, de dag, de dag.
Dat was de dag, de dag, de dag.
Dat was de dag.

O schat kom in mijn armen
dat ik je dag en nacht kan verwarmen.
Wat weet John daar toch van,
hij is toch maar een prismaman.

De dag. De dag. De dag dat het zonlicht niet meer scheen
was de dag. de dag dat John met mijn vriend verdween.

Dat was de dag, de dag, de dag.
Dat was de dag, de dag, de dag.
Dat was de dag, de dag, de dag.

English translation:

The day, the day, the day that the sunlight shone no more
Was the day, the day, that John took my friend away

"Stranger! Stranger!", he shouted in that bar
But Johnnie had a huge car
He was not a collector of stamps
but was frightened when I took the wrong pills

The day, the day, the day that the sunlight shone no more
Was the day, the day, that John took my friend away

Now the blood is clotting in these brains
Nicotine cracks my 7 vertebrae
What can I do? I have no energy to do anything
Oh if only he would write me...

Thank you, thank you, John, for all you did
That way I will never forget the day the sunlight shone no more
Warm milk, warm milk, lemon, vitamine C
Vitamine B. 1-6-12
Vitamine B. 1-6-12

Nothing helps, it overwhelms
The cholesterol is beyond control

That was the day, the day, the day...

Oh darling, come into my arms
so I can warm you day after day
What does John know of that?
He is only a prisma guy

That was the day, the day, the day...
that the sunlight shone no more...

Thanks to Gerrit for sharing the song and providing the lyrics and background info.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Saturday Brew: Westvleteren Blond

Exactly how I acquired a bottle of the most exclusive monk beer in Belgium must remain a secret. Suffice to say that some people's kindness and generosity extends far beyond the norm.

The Westvleteren Brewery was founded by the monks at the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus in Westvleteren in 1838. It was the third Belgian Trappist brewery to commence production, after Rochefort (1595) and Westmalle (1836). Today there are seven breweries currently brewing and selling beer with the logo of the International Trappist Association, and all but one are located in Belgium. Out of all these, folks say, Westvleteren is the best.

Even though the beer has grown in popularity, production has remained at around 4 500 hectoliters a year since 1945. In comparison, the Trappist Breweries Westmalle and Chimay each have an annual output of over 120 000 hl. The reason for the small production at Westvleteren is that the beer is brewed with the single purpose of financing the day-to-day costs of running the abbey. All extra profits go to charity.

Because of the recent rise in popularity, the abbey has had to place some restrictions on the sale of its beer to ensure that as many people as possible are given the chance to enjoy the product. The beer can only be bought at the abbey itself, and you have to call to a special "beerphone" to make an advance reservation, specifying the type and amount you will buy. You can only buy one or two 24-bottle crates at a time, depending on the type of beer. The Westvleteren 12, the priciest and most highly treasured brew, can only be bought one crate at a time. Resale to third parties is highly discouraged. Customers have their phone number and license plate number registered, to ensure that they don't violate the obligatory 60-day waiting time between reservations. It's easy to understand why a man who brings home a crate of Westvleteren beer must feel like Jim Hawkins bringing home a sackful of gold at the end of Treasure Island.

The three Westvleteren brews. From left to right: 12, 8,
and Blond, with Westvleteren 12 in the glass. (Source)

I could go on and on about the monastery, the brewery, the history, the countless times Westvleteren has been hailed as the best beer in the world... But let's get down to business. Let's get down to Westvleteren Blond.

I don't have a Westvleteren glass, but Wikimedia does.

As mentioned in my introduction to this column, I don't have the talent to write an interesting beer review. So instead, here's this week's crowdsourced review, from Goblinmunkey7 at Beer Advocate.

Appearance: Pale gold. Hazy. Head is tiny, bright-white and bubbly.

Smell: Heavy Belgian yeast. Clove an banana layered over a faint pepper note. Lemon and grass. Hay and bright melon. Yeast dominates and gives moderate ground to sweet pale malts. Esters. Apple.

Taste: Aggressive yeast from the start. Clove, banana and slight bubblegum. So much spice. Faint hints of lemon and pale malt, but it's all about the yeast. Aggressively Belgian. Slight hay and tons of fresh cut grass. Earthy. It's like a handful of spiced sand.

Mouthfeel: Light and dry. Moderate to high carbonation. Lingering yeast.

Overall: This is single-handedly the most Belgian beer I've ever tasted. Unrelenting and intense. Even though I'm not a fan of the style, this really shows how you craft it. Crazy flavor but nice and drinkable.

Read more reviews of Westvleteren Blond at

All I can say of my own experience is, I hope this wasn't my last bottle of Westvleteren Blond. I'm also looking forward to trying out the other two Westvleteren beers, if luck be a lady. After all, this is what makes Belgium Belgium.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Douglas Adams on Belgium

From "Fit the Ninth", an episode of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series, comes a description of the rudest word in existence. Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 22 January 1980.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

News and links, week 35

In 2011, 57% of Belgium's power came from its two
nuclear power stations in Doel (pictured) and Tihange.