Sam’s spitting image

25 12 2009

Used to have a dog just like this. Sam was his name, scaring the shit out of cows his game. He was a kind but nervous lil’ bugger. And not the sharpest tool in the shed. Couldn’t stand being home alone nor sharing the spotlight with the kids.

Wordplay in the country for Amelie

17 10 2009

Most parents develop a time-for-bed-kids routine built around stories, jokes, games and the like. I take my laptop upstairs and play some music for my very musical four year old daughter, Amelie. Last night for instance, I learned that she doesn’t care for Jonathan Jeremiah’s Happiness but sings along to good ol’ Dolly Parton’s Jolene. She’s too young to understand the concept of wordplay, but one day I’ll try to tell her about it, fail miserably and suggest she reads this.

Pop singers like the Beatles and Elvis Costello may have visited wordplay from time to time, but country music lives there. A lot of it involves outright puns, like the Bellamy Brothers’ “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me?” or Lee Ann Womack’s “Am I the Only Thing That You’ve Done Wrong?” There’s Gary Nicholson’s “Behind Bars,” which is about saloons, and Randy Travis’s “On The Other Hand,” which is about wedding rings. And then there are all those titles that involve wordplay of one sort or another, like Dolly Parton’s “It’s All Wrong, but It’s All Right,” and Johnny Paycheck’s “I’m the Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised.”

When I think of songs like these, the singer who comes first to mind is George Jones. I don’t know of he’s done more of them than anybody else — the honors there probably go to Roger Miller or Johnny Paycheck. And a lot of the punning titles that Jones uses are just routine joke songs, like the recent “I Had More Silver Bullets Last Night Than the Lone Ranger” or “She Took My Keys Away, and Now She Won’t Drive me To Drink.” But Jones has also made a specialty of using puns and wordplay in the plaintive ballads that he sings like no one else — “A man can be a drunk sometimes but a drunk can’t be a man,” “At least I’ve learned to stand on my own two knees,” or “With these hundred proof memories, you can’t think and drive.”

For some people of course, this sort of punning just confirms a sense of country music as a linguistic trailer park. Since Tennyson’s time, punning has been deprecated as the basest form of humor, to the point where it’s often regarded as a kind of veiled aggressiveness (…) It’s a fitting device for these ballads, particularly when they’re tackling their favorite theme — the fragility of happiness, love, and family. There’s a joke that sums up the genre very nicely: “What do you get if you play a country song backwards?” — “You get your wife back, you get your dog back, you get your truck back…”

Taken from ‘The way we talk now’ by Geoffrey Nunberg (Houghton Mifflin, 2001)

Amelie riding the train

Nic, the computer & media literate quick

24 05 2009

My son Nicolas (aged 5) knows his way around an iPhone

My son Nicolas (aged 5) knows his way around an iPhone

’tis the season to be hopeful. And proud.

9 02 2009

What makes my weekend? Let’s see: on Friday, my son Nicolas, aka Nic the quick, more than lived up to his nickname by acing his first swim training session, having fun throughout and making yours truly proud. Nic was promptly promoted from the beginner ‘zeepaardjes A’ group to the advanced ‘zeepaardjes B’ group.

My missus and I then enjoyed a fine meal in the lovely company of our neighbors and four of their out-stan-ding wines: a 1992 Les Vaillons Chablis Premier Cru, a 1995 Château Peymartin Saint-Julien, a 1990 Château Notton Margaux and to top it all off, a 2002 Château Limbourg Pessac-Léognan.

On Saturday, a very instructive technique session in the pool (narrow leg kicks! body balance! head position!) woke me up, some quality blog posts and more bad news for print journalism in Belgium gave me food for thought during a spirited 5x1000m interval run and Aretha Franklin set the mood for a relaxing evening, followed by some midnight PhD brainstorming and writing.

Lane Lines by Jean-François Lanzarone (

"Lane Lines" by Jean-François Lanzarone (

On Sunday I played with my kids, had a meeting with my fellow triathlon organizers (expect more news shortly), edited a position paper and struggled some more with the theoretical orientation section of my budding PhD. Discourse analysis is a theoretical minefield.

Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay

26 12 2008

My family and I had the good fortune of spending Christmas eve at my folks’ place, wining, dining and dancing. Setting the festive mood was a superb  South African Chardonnay, a 2006 Rustenberg Stellenbosch. According to the Wine Spectator, it is a

typical South African Chardonnay because of its beautiful mineral notes and wonderful oak integration. The aromas have Burgundian characters of flint, peaches, lime and some nuttiness while the palate is elegant with loads of finesse that gives it length and freshness.


Going, going, back, back to Mallorca

22 10 2008

I’m hyped. Just made the first down payment for a 10 day trip at the end of April to Mallorca. This Balearic island is a triathlete’s dream. Smooth roads, soft climes and sweet company: my family. I’ll turn this holiday into a training camp/spoil your kids rotten week at Club Pollentia. In 2007, I spent a week training in Mallorca. Good times were had.

Megavinos for Nic & Amy

17 10 2008

I am a proud father to two wonderful children: Nicolas (5, going on 15) and Amelie (3). I have another great fortune: they were born in the critically acclaimed (Bordeaux) vintages of 2003 and 2005 respectively. And so, I have a timely excuse to invest in fine wines. Paid a quick visit to the annual Megavino wine convention earlier tonight and tasted some 20 wines. Highlights:

Those last two reds were well worth the price of admission. Unfortunately, they were not on sale at Megavino or in Belgium for that matter. “We are currently looking for Belgian distributors, sir.” Lame.

Le Clos de Monsieur Noly

11 09 2008

This wine has it all: style, finesse and class. 100% Chardonnay smoothness. Dry, crisp, clean. Refreshing like a breeze in the West Indies. Granted, the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation has a snooty reputation – this goes for most Burgundy wines –  but oh my, it is good. Available at Colruyt for €14.85 a pop. Pricey, but worth every cent.

Cool down, daddy

18 08 2008

My daughter Amelie, age 3, loves music. Here she is singing her favorite song; Lady Linn’s Cool down. As you can see, Amelie loves the camera. By the way, my previous Lady Linn post has received 425 visitors to date. And I keep getting emails from people asking me if I have Lady Linn lyrics. I don’t.

Duinbergen delights

7 08 2008

Sun, sea and sand. And thunderstorms. LSD running in Het Zwin, people (and car) watching in the poshest of seaside resort towns, savoring an exquisite Saint-Véran and taking in the sights and sounds at Belgium Pier (sic). Life is sweet, just like my kids.