Just got back from a five-day trip to The Hague (on a magazine assignment, yes I know, it was hardship duty) and I am here to report a few observations:
1. Dutch TV is every bit as inane as American TV. A big part of the reason is that much of it IS American TV. For the rest, I will name only two shows I happened to encounter while channel surfing: "Beauty and the Nerd" (title in English, show in Dutch, do not ask me why) and "Dancing Queen," a "Dancing With the Stars" knock-off (or inspiration, who knows) set to (steady yourselves) the music of ABBA. And only ABBA.
This is my idea of hell.
2. Of all the contributions America has made to the world, pop music may be second only to the Bill of Rights. I say this after five days of listening to Europop in various elevators. Their idea of pop music is a female voice crooning into a microphone some phrase ("I gave you my love" comes in mind) over and over and over and OVER, against a background of synthesized music made by machines that I do not think were even programmed by human beings. Same phrase. Again and again. The next song involves another phrase, set against a slightly differenet synthesized sound. Only heroin addicts would enjoy this stuff.
I have gotten old and crotchety, and I have been irritated lately at the style of many modern American singers, who either do aerobics while lip synching (if they cannot carry a tune) or, if they do have a voice, slide up and down the melodic scale as if it were a greased pole, searching for a note to land on. But I take it all back. That is ever so much better than robo-music. One more day of listening to Europop and I would have had to stick my head in an oven, if I could have found one. Ovens, it seems, are not standard equipment in Dutch kitchens. Yeah, I know. WEIRD. But they have their reasons.
3. The Dutch have bathroom plumbing DOWN. My shower consisted of a knob on the left, which controlled flow, and a knob on the right, which was marked with Celsius degrees markings, so I could program exactly how hot I wanted it. Simple. Elegant. Only took me two days to figure out.
4. These little Euro cars--Tuk-Tuks, they are called in Holland--are so cute that I wanted to steal one and stick it in my suitcase. It almost would have fit. It makes SO much sense for short trips, schlepping kids, grocery store, etc. that I want to drive my minivan off a cliff. This is the future, people. When it comes to cars, Americans are stone stupid.