Writer’s Block Happenings – To Christmas and Beyond!

The weather outside is frightful, but that doesn’t mean there are not awesome things to do out there! This is your final dose of WB-approved activities happening in and around Amsterdam for the year, but we hope these will tide you over to 2015. Enjoy, and we’ll see you next year!

December 8, 4-6 pm – Boston Tea Party @ Leeuwenkuil P.C. Hoofthuis In light of the upcoming 241st anniversary of the renowned Boston Tea Party event, the Amsterdam Americanist Society (AAS) and Etcetera have joined forces to organize a High tea. The High Tea will consist of a couple of teachers that will give a small talk about the event itself. There will also be a multitude of cakes and tea. E-mail Etcetera if you want to attend!

December 9, 8 pm – Geesteswetenschappen onder vuur (SLAA) @ Perdu
Engage in a discussion about the humanities, organised by SLAA (Stichting Literaire Activiteiten Amsterdam). More info and tickets: http://www.slaa.nl/events/geesteswetenschappen-onder-vuur.

From December 10 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (3D) Ah, it’s Christmas time again! This means a new Hobbit film is hitting the cinemas and again causing disputes amongst fans and haters. A thrilling adventure or a soulless film that’s merely exploiting Tolkien’s legacy? It’s for you to decide! In selected cinemas all over Amsterdam.

December 11 – Etcetera’s Drinks! @ Molly Malone’s from 20.00 It’s time for another edition of our infamous drinks.

December 11 – Evening with James Wood (De Gids) @ De Rode Hoed
Titled ‘Serious Noticing: Life, Death, Detail’, this evening’s theme centers around James Wood’s book How Fiction Works. Wood is a British literary critic, one of the most prominent ones in English literature. Tickets €11,50 for students.

From December 14Frozen Sing-a-Long Did you think that the Frozen hype finally ended? Think again! It’s back and now your fellow cinemagoers can even yodel “Let It Go” along with you! Don’t forget to bring popcorn and earplugs. In selected cinemas all over Amsterdam.

December 14, 4 pm – Emily Dickinson (SLAA) @ De Nieuwe Liefde
Poetry Sunday with the fantastic works of Emily Dickinson. Tickets are €10,- for students.

From December 18 – What We Do in the Shadows A hilarious mockumentary from the creators of Flight of the Conchords and Eagles vs. Shark that follows four vampires from very different centuries. Promises to be the best horror comedy since Shaun of the Dead. We hope you like fake blood. In selected cinemas all over Amsterdam.

December 19 FGW Gala 2014 @ Odeon 22.00-04.00 Are you into prom dresses and suits? Come join your fellow humanities’ students at our annual prom. Tickets are €10, you can bring non-UvA related dates and friends.

December 19 (20:15) and 20 (16:00, 20:15) – Kiss Me Kate the Musical @ Universiteitstheater The Windmill Theatre Group associated with our English department have joined up their creative spirits to create their version of this entertaining Cole Porter musical. Come to support them and have a great time!

December 19, 8.30 pm – Hoe overleef ik ironie? (Dutch) @ De Balie
Explore the thin line between sincerity and irony. Discussion with amongst others Joost de Vries, writer of the essaybook Vechtmemoires. Tickets (€7,50 for students) and info:


Don’t forget there’s a whole slew of events from the last few weeks that might still be going on! The complete list of events is always featured on the right of the page, so use the search function if you’re looking for info on a specific event that’s not on the above list. Do you happen to have a really good suggestion for the next edition of WB Happenings? Let us know through writerssblock@gmail.com, and we might include your suggestion in the next edition! Happy holidays from the WB Happenings team!


Job Vacancy – General Editor – CLOSED

Writer’s Block is looking for someone cool to join our editorial board! From February on, you’ll be editing poetry, prose, essays and other stuff with the aim of making each issue of Writer’s Block one worth reading.

Have we gotten you interested? These is who we’re looking for:

  • You are a student;
  • You have mastered the English language;
  • You have a passion for language and literature;
  • You’d like to learn how to edit texts, or already know how;
  • You’d like to write columns/reviews/essays for our website on a regular basis;
  • You’re available until the end of the school year (or longer);
  • You can attend the weekly meetings;
  • You preferably have knowledge of social media, e-mail protocol, promo/marketing and/or making posters, although this is not mandatory;
  • You’re basically overall amazing.

If you feel that this is perfect for you, please send your CV and a motivation letter to writerssblock@gmail.com on December 31st at the latest and we’ll get back to you! We’d love to have you join our team.


Header image courtesy of Burokoos.

UPDATE: As per Januari 1st, this vacancy has been filled! If you would have liked an opportunity to be part of the Writer’s Block team, there’s still no need to despair: the board is fully comprised of students, so the members typically rotate every year. Keep your eyes peeled, and who knows: you might still get to be part of our team next year!


Lunatics Unite


It’s nine o’clock on a Friday morning and I’m standing in the kitchen waiting for the water to boil, although it has already boiled twice. I push the on-button for the third time, the way I looked at the clock three times last night in the time span of no more than one minute, unable to fall asleep. My mind is restless like my body has been for the past three days. It’s a full moon. Yes. I am one of those people who Googles “full moon superstitions”, finding comfort in the first hit’s title being: “Why Do People Go Crazy During A Full Moon?”, because I do, somewhat, lose my head. There’s this unease to all that goes wrong, everything – from me forgetting my keys for the umptieth time to my best friend cancelling on me because she’s ill – feels unfair. Of course, I am a woman, and my closest surroundings don’t hesitate to attribute my behavior during full moon days to my “feminine vulnerability”, which really makes it all the more unfair.

For years people have theorized that the full moon has a negative impact on us. How is it that you fail your driving exam, are left at the altar; or that your dog gets run over exactly in those full moon days? Believers – or might I aptly call them lunatics ? – suggest that the craziness that ensues with a full moon sprouts from our experiencing of its tidal, affecting our internal organ liquids (hm…); or that we’re evolving mindlessly, in unison, with the lunar cycle; or perhaps the light coming from the moon affects our visual cortex in a such a way that it stimulates the animalistic parts of the brain? Crazy as this may all sound, certainly for me, there is legitimacy in these beliefs. Their consequences so often ring true to me.

But sadly, the first hit on Google tells me it’s all a myth. Behavioral changes due to tidal effects are a complete scam. We experience two high and low tides every day, which has nothing to do with the phase of the moon. No…wait a minute, whenever a full moon strikes, there is too much unease and lack of sleep that can be attributed to this to ignore. I feel down. Like the world is a little bit darker when there’s actually more light. This whole extra hour of time that was given to us some fortnights ago doesn’t really help either.

Then again, we don’t notice all the mishaps when there isn’t a full moon. We don’t categorize them as superior because they happen with lack of superstitious excuse. There’s nothing “more” to your bike being stolen or losing your sock in a room you never left when there’s nothing to blame it on, or is there? We’ll simply forget these instances. After I’ve finally had my cup of coffee that took so long to create, I start off my day outside by going back inside again into the nearest-by bakery. I’m eating my croissant, looking out of the window whilst two female friends, one with a pushchair, are sitting on the bench out front. The door is open so I can hear their talk about not being able to sleep well last night. I smile, feeling energized by this merging of three lunatics. In a couple of days, it will all be over, and I can go back to the unsuperstitious darkness.


Header image courtesy of The Telegraph.


Nordic Noir


After Stieg Larsson’s well-loved Millennium trilogy, the popularity of Scandinavian television shows has risen drastically. And for good reason. Scandinavian crime shows, or ‘Nordic Noir’, as the popular term is, are dark and gritty, and have plots that twist and turn until you forget where they even began. The best thing, in my opinion, is that these shows don’t leave any room for clichés or dream-like scenarios, as I have so often found in their American counterparts. Its impeccable resemblance to reality is probably what is the most thrilling, and admirable, about these shows. Or perhaps this just has to do with the fact that the settings are very distinctly European and so similar to the Netherlands that I can just imagine one of their serial killers showing up on my doorstep. Continue reading “Nordic Noir”

A Disappointed Verdict

I don’t go to the cinema as much as I would like. Even though I am a big fan of everything that has to do with the silver screen, I don’t find myself in front of one very often. However, at the end of October I happened to go to the pictures twice in one week, and both times I felt satisfied, enthralled, but also disappointed. My cinematic experiences of choice were Fury and The Judge. Now, let me explain why they were disappointing, using some spoilers here and there. Continue reading “A Disappointed Verdict”

Writer’s Block Happenings: Weeks 47 & 48

It’s time for another edition of Writer’s Block Happenings! Let’s see what’s happing in Amsterdam in the upcoming weeks:

  • London Jazz Festival Bimhuis, 19 November 8.30 pm

During Bimhuis’s 40 Years of City Links programme, the London Jazz Festival has been invited to do an exchange. Make sure to be here for the best London jazz: http://bimhuis.nl/concerten/london-jazz-festival—bimhuis.

  • IDFA 19 – 30 November

Amsterdam’s documentary film festival. Student tickets €7,50: www.idfa.nl

  • Film Screening: Inside Llewyn Davis P.C. Hoofthuis, 20 November: 19.30

Etcetera’s Book Club is hosting a film screening of the Coen brothers’ latest film about a struggling folk musician in Greenwich Village in 1961.

  • Simone de Beauvoir (SLAA) Tolhuistuin, 25 November 8 pm

SLAA (Stichting Literaire Activiteiten Amsterdam) presents a night of discussions and lectures about Simone de Beauvoir. Feminism, Sartre, and literature are key elements. Don’t miss out, student tickets €5,-: http://www.tolhuistuin.nl/agenda/slaa-alles-welbeschouwd-het-leven-en-werk-van-simone-de-beauvoir

  • Kunst, kapitaal en avant-garde De Balie, 29 November 10.30 am

In light of the Amsterdam Art Weekend, De Balie’s hosting a discussion about the financial value of art that is nowadays auctioned for millions and millions of euros. A morning about the art market that has undergone radical changes with quite an impressive panel: Beatrix Ruf (Director Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam), Olav Velthuis (Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam), Matthew Slotover (Co-founder Frieze) and artist Zachary Formwalt. Student tickets €7,50: http://www.debalie.nl/agenda/programma/kunst-kapitaal–avant+garde/e_9491548/p_11647645

  • RIJKSAKADEMIEOPEN 2014 Rijksakademie, 29 and 30 November 11 am – 7 pm

The weekend every artist and art lover has been waiting for! All of Rijksakademie’s artists invite you for a sneak peek in their studios. There will be live radio, tours, performances, film, and presentations: http://www.rijksakademie.nl/NL/rijksakademieopen.

Don’t forget there’s a whole slew of events from the last few weeks that might still be going on! The complete list of events is always featured on the right of the page, so use the search function if you’re looking for info on a specific event that’s not on the above list. Do you happen to have a really good suggestion for the next edition of WB Happenings? Let us know through writerssblock@gmail.com, and we might include your suggestion in the next edition!

Philosophical Reveries and Tantalizing Guitars: A Review of 20,000 Days on Earth (Forsyth and Pollard, 2014)


While 20,000 Days on Earth starts off like any regular music documentary, the film, which gives us a peek into the daily life of Australian multi-talent Nick Cave, soon starts to blur the line between fiction and reality. In directors Forsyth and Pollard’s first feature-length film, Cave, who is mostly known as a musician but who also is a literary talent and occasional actor, is tracked on his (fictitious) 20.000th day on this planet. Grown out of what was first solely meant to be promotional footage for Cave’s latest record Push the Sky Away (2013), 20,000 Days on Earth promises to convey, in the words of Cave himself, a day that is “both more real and less real, more true and less true, more interesting and less interesting than my actual day, depending on how you look at it”.

As a person who is riveted by the hauntingly charismatic persona of Cave, I was looking forward to watching this film very much and I must say I was not disappointed at all. Although I sort of hoped the film would consist of shots of Cave having eggs for breakfast, brushing his teeth and doing other regular human-being things, 20,000 Days on Earth actually digs much deeper. The film, paradoxically, not only brought me closer to the personality behind the legend that is Nick Cave, but also succeeded in leaving me more in awe of him than ever before. As the film shows, Cave indeed is someone who writes, eats, and watches TV just like us and is not constantly as dark and destructive as his live performances make him seem to be. Through cleverly edited scenes of Cave’s meetings with a psychologist and his conversations with close friends such as actor Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue, and musicians Warren Ellis and Blixa Bargeld, directors Forsyth and Pollard manage to slightly crumble the carefully structured barricade that is Cave’s stage persona. When Cave, however, starts to philosophize about the transformative nature of performing and the art of creating, it becomes quite obvious we are dealing with someone who is artistically very gifted and this is where Cave’s more enigmatic side emerges again. In his contemplations, Cave stresses how important memory is to him, not only in his creative processes, but also in his daily life as he sees it, not merely as a collection of recollections, but a personality-shaping factor. To him, life is about recreating that one perfect childhood memory and being the curator of one’s own museum of reminisces. The film’s title highlights this idea: one’s life is not merely the sum of a few years, but a total of significant days.

Nick Cave’s 20.000th day on earth isn’t just like any other day. It’s a day filled with philosophical reveries and tantalizing guitar chords that is filmed in a very aesthetically-pleasing way. With 20,000 Days on Earth, Forsyth and Pollard created a ‘docufictional’ must-see for all fans of Nick Cave and those interested in the process of creating and (song)writing. It’s a haunting film with a fantastically ominous soundtrack that both honours Cave’s imposing oeuvre and philosophizes about “the simmering space where dream and reality intersect”.

Currently playing at Melkweg Cinema, De Filmhallen, EYE. Watch the trailer here.



Header picture courtesy of the www.intothegreatwideopen.nl