Sunday, November 30, 2008

Like dancing up all night

It seems I drank quite a lot of lead last night. The symptoms are there. My brain feels a lot heavier today than it did yesterday. There can be on other explanation.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Runaway bus

The definition of "moron". Someone that looks up bus times from Borås to Göteborg for Saturday but looks at Friday. Moron *points to self*

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm trying to feel more well adjusted than I really am, which is, I guess, the human condition.

The definition of "geek".

I'm at some friends' place in Borås. Why, you may ask. Not getting into that now. Not vital to the definition.

They pull out three different movies from a well-stocked DVD shelf (vital to the definition of another kind of geek: they have a better version of Jaws than I do. Must...upgrade...), and ask, "Which movie should we watch?".

We can't decide. One friend says, "Let's roll the dice to decide". Excellent, geek-friendly idea. Applause all around.

One problem. No dice.

Hence: online dice.

Ladies and gentlemen, "geek" is hereby defined *points to self*

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Runaway Train

Right. I have been known, on occasion, to vent my frustration at the inadequateness (it's a word) of SL, the company that runs the busses, subways and commuter trains of Stockholm. Every year they seem to express surprise at the snow, and they are completely worthless at letting their passengers know what's going on. One would think they are the worst at what they do. And I tend to live under that illusion. Today I am reminded that they still have a lot to learn when it comes to being inept. SJ, I salute you. Today's relatively simple journey from A to B has turned into a farce of near Basil Fawltian proportions. Fuck you. Fuck you very much.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will

Back in the real world after three days of writing exercises, workshopping and hanging around intensely creative people. In the real world, I'm battling a cold that sent me home early today, and trying to wrap my head around a lot of stuff going on at work. The next 12 months are going to be extremely interesting, work-wise. In a very positive, and positively exhausting, way.

Physically, I sure wasn't energized by the weekend, but my mind is in overdrive. All that creativity rubs off on me.

Here's some stuff I wrote this weekend.
- Three, four, sometimes five times a month, I spend the afternoon on top of the water tower, watching people through my telescopic sight.
(the above was the result of a writing exercise. And on some level inspired by a Strong Like Bear song)
- Dreams are the fragments of other worlds, trying to push through the veil of reality, to be born.
- For some reason, I always fantasized about dismantling that refrigerator.

I bring a lot of fragments and disjointed sentences back from Västerberg. Ideas, embryos, just words. The best stolen idea this time around was of a memory morgue (Livia's term), as in an actual morgue of memories, where they are dissected and autopsied. For what reason, I don't know. I might find out later. The other one was of a man that makes himself different people depending on who he meets (sort of Katti's idea). Both of them sound promising, at least to me.

Oh. I also learned that a crutch can look like it's been constructed by Heckler & Koch. Who knew?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment

We're a much depleted Creative Writing class at Västerberg Folkhögskola (check out the beard pic here!) this year. Yesterday we were 14 students and our teacher/mentor, as well as a guest lecturer. Some more people are expected in tomorrow. Two years back we were 30+, and considered splitting the class into two groups for workshopping. So maybe less than 20 is a good number.

As always, the atmosphere here inspires and energizes me, and I get lots of ideas for new stories, or parts of stories. We didn't workshop that much yesterday, so today and Sunday will probably bring more story seeds or at least the opportunity to steal more words and sentences.

Yes, I steal words and sentences. And ideas. See, if someone reads their text I might get caught on a single word or a turn of phrase, and all of a sudden an outline for a story or a character or a place or whatever springs to life in my mind. So I write it down. I always ask before using them though.

I find it interesting that such a wide variety of people are involved with the class. We have writing in common, but apart from that, we're quite a motley crew. The age of participants spans from twenties to I would guess eighties or at least seventies, and there is a scattering of Americans and Germans amongst us Swedes. Occupations vary wildly.

We come together around the act of worship that is writing. Because there is something near-religious about the way many of us approach the written word. For me, it's sometimes a very spiritual experience, when the words seem to have a life of their own, just pouring onto the page. I can't really describe it, that state of near-disconnect, when it's not so much me writing something as just being an outlet, a conduit, for words and worlds.

This approach to writing, the uncontrolled way, is something I can only give in to if I already have something written. I tend to be very structured about writing. If I get an idea I might jot down a phrase or a few words in my phone or on my laptop, and then I usually construct something, an embryo of a story or a short scene, in my head, over days. When I sit down to write, I have at least an idea of where I'm going. Later, once this is down on paper (or in most cases, hard drive), I can do “writing frenzies”, as they are termed within our class, which basically is all about just writing, no matter what comes out. My frenzies, however, are an extension of what I've already written.

So maybe it's not so much about totally relinquishing control as it is about writing uncontrollably but with direction. Sort of. Again, hard to describe.

In many ways I'm still immature as a writer. I think I know what works for me, but I still have a lot to learn. Too bad I didn't start writing seriously sooner...

Friday, November 21, 2008

An important question

I could survive for 57 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Created by Bunk

In Memoriam

(something like this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I'm a dumbass and didn't bring my mobile broadband stuff with me on the trip, so it had to wait until I was once again in wireless range)

Yesterday it was two years ago Henrik killed himself. Mah Girl and I hooked up with Mikaela, Henrik's ex, and went to the cemetery where his ashes are scattered. We lit candles, stood in silence for a while and then talked a bit about Henrik and life. Considering what Mikaela has been going through (lots of info on that on her blog, in Swedish), it was good to see her and to see her smiling.

The visit was better than I expected. I have been dreading it for quite some time now, but it turned out to be a calm and spiritual experience. I still miss Henrik, but I know now that time will allow me to come to terms with his death, even though I'll always wonder why.

Henrik. Happy. Hairy. Hilarious.

The text below was written early 2007, two or three months after he died. I was unable to write anything during that winter, and realized that the only way to get around that was to write about him. About all the things I was feeling. The text is completely unedited since I wrote it, and I probably won't touch a word of it. It isn't about guilt or anything really, just something I had to get out to move on.

I was considering bringing a copy of the text to the cemetery yesterday, to leave it there, but I didn't, since I didn't want anyone to read it. Last night, on my back in a bed I've never slept in before, I realized that internalizing this again will only bring about writer's block or other problems. So I'm posting it. And next week I'm leaving a copy at the cemetery.

For Henrik. Rest in peace. Vaffanculo!


It felt like falling. Down into some dark abyss, where you know a rock hard floor is waiting, but you can’t see it. That whole day, after I found out, felt like falling. I’m not sure I have landed since. I’m not sure I want to.

Death is never easy to deal with, though sometimes it seems like a good thing. My grandmother passed away after spending several years in a care facility, slowly shrinking and forgetting the beginnings of conversations at the end of them. Who she really was only became visible during brief moments, like glimpses into someone else’s life, a life clouded behind dementia and the smell of disinfectant. For some of us, her death felt like a release. An end to suffering, for her and us. I loved my grandmother, but I didn’t cry at her funeral. I was 20. Her death had been processed earlier, I think. A death of the soul, not the body.

During the ten plus years since, I’ve only had to deal with one single death, until November. I keep wondering if that’s normal. Maybe the cliché has it right, that the number of deaths around us multiply as we grow older. At least those that really matter.

He wasn’t a close friend, really. We met in college, those first days when the class is trying to establish some sort of social hierarchy, rearranging and bonding according to opinions, shared interests and plain dumb luck. We didn’t like each other at first. In fact, we each thought the other was an obnoxious, arrogant loud-mouth. That lasted about a week. Over time, he became the only one in the class I really got close to. We spent hours at a rundown café, talking music and other things, when we should have been studying, and did a radio show for a few months with a bespectacled madman named Victor.

We drifted apart after that year, as you do when you end up in different places, with different people. New social circles were created, old ones revisited or resurrected. Too busy with life to really keep in touch, we still tried to. When we both ended up in Stockholm we re-established contact, and managed to work around our respective schedules to hook up for coffee, beer or music at least occasionally.

Looking back at the whole thing, at him, I think maybe he was the one friend that was most like me. Or at least most like me a few years ago. I’ve slowed down, figured out that it’s OK to take some time to myself, with myself, and maybe become a better person through that. I’m not saying I was better than him, I just like the now me better than the then me. Evolution through introspection, and a good deal of psychotherapy.

It never seemed like he slowed down. Always talking quickly, walking quickly, drinking quickly. Always going somewhere. Of course that was part of what endeared him to people. Like me, he knew people everywhere, and I suspect that like me, he had very few really close friends. Somehow that tempo, the constant running through life, stops you from forging deeper bonds with those you pass. You meet too briefly. I know it was that way for me as I went rushing off to whatever was waiting around the next corner, before I had to slow down. Knowing what I know now, I wished we had seen each other more. I wish we had taken the time, both of us, to stop and talk, at length, about the things that matter. Maybe things would have been different then.

He killed himself in November.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The truth. It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution

To quote Dr Cox:

"Relationships? Well, Sigmund. Relationships are so... fragile. It just takes one thing, one... tiny little offense, and it can snowball on ya. And if that snowball starts to pick up speed, God forbid, you'd better tuck and go, my friend."

I'm not saying it's tiny. I'm just saying.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fuck you, you fuckin' fuck

Fuck. F U C K.

It's really the only word that fits. My headache is acting up. Tiny, tiny men run around inside my head, between my right temple and my right eye, and play with teeny tiny jackhammers.

Go here for more info on the headache of headaches.

This week is one of contrasts. On Thursday I go north for three days of creative writing with my class, which is always inspiring and fills me with energy. The same day it's two years ago my friend Henrik took his own life. Again...fuck.

I've only had to deal with a handful of deaths in my life, so I don't really have a frame of reference, but I do know that his death affected me harder than others have, and probably will. The main reason why is probably that he was like me, in a lot of ways, and if I can see myself in him, then chances are I could probably recognise at least some of the reasons why he decided to end his life.

Now, I've never contemplated suicide, but as far as anyone could tell, friends, family, everyone, neither had Henrik. Then again, they do say that people that do commit suicide never talk about it, but that might be a cliché. Put together with the fact that no one knows why Henrik killed himself, I find myself faced with the possibility that things may surface in my life that sends my thoughts in that very dark direction.

I know this is unreasonable. But feelings often are.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Technology... the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it

It's time for yet another Like/Don't Like. Though it's Sunday. Deal with it.

beardonaut likes:
Wired Magazine. I've been aware of Wired for quite a while, though I had only read an issue here and there until last year, when I started buying it every month.

Like Empire, Wired seems written directly to me. I'm right in the middle of their demographic. I'm a geek, I like tech, and I like reading articles that aren't written like a scientific paper. Wired caters to all that, and does it with a twinkle in their eye.

I picked up the November issue the other day, and haven't gotten around to reading it, so:

The October issue contained, among other things:
- A short text on the merits and drawbacks on working from home instead of the office.
- How To on throwing a football.
- How To on bluffing a music geek (being a music geek, I can say it would have bluffed me)
- A short text on the Atlas Power Ascender, vital for those Mission Impossible situations where you need to scale a rope quickly.
- An article about recreating a Pleistocene eco-system by relocating bison and other animals to a preserve in Latvia.
- A list of 15 people the next President of the US should listen to, with opinions on climate change, space, global health, etc.

On the whole Wired is a wonderful treasure trove of ideas and things you don't even know exists. Go read it. Now.

beardonaut doesn't like:
Subscriptions that don't work. I started subscribing to Wired this summer. The deal was great compared to buying it off the shelf, even though it's an American magazine. However, it's not working. Of the five issues I was supposed to get, one has arrived on time, and two haven't arrived at all.

So I'm probably canceling my subscription, since I go by the magazine place anyway to see if another issue has come out and I haven't received it. I might as well buy it when I'm there.

Friday, November 14, 2008

There are two types of people that go around beardless; boys and women, and I am neither

I thought I might try to write something clever and profound (or at least something I would find so), but I'm too tired, so I'll leave you with this.

Quite shocking that I like that site, right?

Thanks, Eva, for the link.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The greatest argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter

ege wrote a killer post the day before the US election, which touched on a lot of thoughts and opinions I've gone through over the years. Consider me inspired.

I don't know a lot about the political process in the US, but I do know that I was hoping Obama would win. Why? For me it was simple. He's at least talking about moving troops out of Iraq (even though some people seem to think he'll just shift the troops around to Afghanistan, keeping up the same level of US military presence in the Middle East), and he didn't have a total nutcase as his Vice President candidate.

Comedian on the left. Psychopathic hockey mom on the right.

The main thing that caught my attention in the post has nothing to do with Obama or the US election in general though. It was one sentence:
“There are stupid people everywhere. Most people, in fact, are pretty fucking dumb.”

Yes. Yes, exactly. Most people, not some people, are fucking dumb. I stand by that. Sometimes I am “most people”. But usually, at least, I know what I don't know.

Like the Euro referendum in 2003. I left a blank vote. Why? Because I didn't consider myself fit to make that decision. I couldn't even make an educated guess as to where a yes or a no would take us, cause I don't know squat about national or international economy. So I voted blank.

Then came the confirmation that most people are stupid. I asked four people about why they voted as they did in the referendum. Only one could tell me why. One! Three out of four could not tell me. The lesson here is that people vote with their gut and hearts, not their brains. This is a mistake.

I believe that in order to vote, on anything, you need information. You need to take the time, and make the effort, to know what the issue at stake is, otherwise you shouldn't vote. Stay at home. Your gut has shit for brains (to quote Rob Gordon from High Fidelity), and should not be allowed near any decision-making process other than when and what your next meal should be. On the same note, your heart should also stay away from political decisions. Way away.

Here's something that usually gets people going: I believe there should be a minimum knowledge level required to vote. You should be able to answer ten, fifteen, maybe twenty questions about the issues at stake in whatever election you're about to vote in, to be allowed to vote.

I know some people think this would not be democracy. I don't care. If the majority don't have the time or the inclination to get some info on the issues they vote for, the majority shouldn't be able to decide. Very simple.

And by the way. The headline of today's post is a quote from Winston Churchill.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

There is a mask of theory over the whole face of nature

I spent three hours in a meeting this morning with a bunch of people from our billing and IT department.

The meeting in and of itself wasn't bad, but not spectacular, either. For me it was the beginning, other than the collection of basic requirements, of a project that I consider The Holy Grail right now. In a very non-Monty Pythonesque way. If we pull it off, it's going to solve a lot of problems and open up a lot of new opportunities.

What was fascinating was watching the people there, a selection of requirement analysts, solution architects and project managers, go about their business. “Their business” being the theoretical deconstruction of every single step in the processes we're looking at. It was...frightening.

Now, I'm a fairly theoretical guy, in the sense that I like disassembling a problem in it's component parts. The best meetings are when I get to draw on a whiteboard, trying to figure out how to solve something, especially if I get to do it with input from other people, discussing, toying with ideas. But this...this was on a whole different level.

That level was theoretical beyond belief. My job requires me to keep a very firm grip on reality, since I work a lot with the operative side of our products. Today I felt that reality slipping from my fingers, down into a morass of process flow charts, definitions of terms, and discussions about where one logical part of the solution we're looking at ends and another one begins. We're very far from practical applications and integration at this stage.

I don't ever want to be a requirement analyst. But I'm happy someone does.

I wonder if someone dreamed about that as a child? Your friends wanted to be fire fighters and astronauts, but all you wanted to be was a requirement analyst. Probably not.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And they hummed of mystery

I finished Cormac McCarthy's The Road today. Possible spoilers below.

It's the first McCarthy novel I've read. I have to say I was skeptical, since suffering through the end of No Country For Old Men, which is based on a McCarthy novel, and frankly disappointed me like no other movie has for a very long time, especially considering how strong the start of the movie is.

So, on to The Road. The story centers around a man and a boy, walking down a road through a devastated America, post some unspecified apocalypse. The landscape is all ashes, forests and cities and everything burned. Destroyed. It's a very bleak picture McCarthy paints, and a post-apocalyptic setting quite unlike anything I've read.

The prose is at times exactly how I write, which probably has a big part in me liking it. The dialogue is condensed, and several key phrases repeat over and over, which gives the impression that the two characters know each other intimately.

My mind is winding down, going “Sleep now, oh bearded host animal”, so I must come to a conclusion.

I really, really liked The Road. I read it in two days, I will re-read it at some point, and the end almost made me cry. On the train. That almost never happens, on or off the train. Bookwise, only Man and Boy has affected me in that way, and I'm guessing Extremly Loud and Incredibly Close will too.

I highly recommend The Road for any fan of quality writing, or post-apocalyptic fiction for that matter. Now I have to listen to my mind and go night night.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self

Jesper gave me some grief about not writing enough, over drinks on Friday night. Fair enough. See, I'm more of an editor than a writer, really, in the sense that I'm very bad at writing sprees and can't put anything to paper or hard drive without thinking it through over and over.

First thing's first. Writing spree? I'm not sure where the term originated, but it's used within the context of my creative writing class, where it signifies the act of putting pen to paper and just writing, writing, writing. The point of a writing spree isn't to write anything good or worthwhile, the point is writing. Anything. Any words that come to mind, even if it's just “I can't write for shit. I can't write for shit. I can't write for shit”.

Now, as I said, I'm not a writing spree person. Why? Because I can't live with writing something that I don't like. Everything I put down must be worth something to me.

In some ways, I can find the essence of this in a quote from Stephen King's “On Writing”:

You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair--the sense that you can never completely put on the page what's in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.

I don't come lightly to the blank page. I need an idea, or a character, or something, ready in my head, to be able to sit down and write. Usually I turn this one thing, maybe a paragraph or a plot or something, over and over in my head for days before I commit anything to actual words. I over-analyze everything.

I have maybe two or three dozen embryos of stories sloshing about on my laptop. I'm going to let you people decide which one of the following I'm going to finish and polish and try to get published. Yes, published. Not here, on my blog, but for a literary website of some sort.

The stories are:
- Love at Stake. A man believes his new-found girlfriend is a vampire.
- Aquarium. A guy buys an aquarium that includes a miniature Bermuda triangle.
- The Weird and Wonderful Hair of Mrs. Atkins. A woman, with bizarre hair, finds magic in her attic.
- Roof Top. Two strange men meet on a rooftop on New Year's Eve of 1999.
- The Word Thief. A man kills another man, because he believes he is stealing letters and words from the world.

Right. Which one then? Or rank them. Or whatever. Let me know.

This machine will not communicate these thoughts

I stood on the platform last night waiting for a train home. Thick fog shrouded the world, again, and Radiohead's “The Bends” played in my headphones.

I've found that the greatest heights and depths of emotion rarely happen in what should be an emotionally charged situation, but instead when the mind wanders and I'm more or less shielded from any interaction with other people. Like last night.

There was no particular reason and really no particular emotion either. It was just...powerful. Dreamlike in it's intensity.

Then this morning, when the clock radio started (yeah, I set the alarm on a Sunday – places to go, people to see, things to do), it played Radiohead's “No Surprises”. It felt like the universe aligned, and is trying to tell me something. But what?

Best. Video. Ever.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's too bad she won't live... but then again, who does?

We came to the conclusion today that Mah Girl is a replicant. A skin-job. A biorobot.

Why? Because she can only remember her childhood in snapshots, like actual photographies, and she can make kick-ass origami unicorns.

The glory that is Blade Runner.

OK. So I lied about the origami. But still. I might need to unpack my Voight-Kampff test.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Without music, life would be a mistake

I'm still reading Klosterman, after a slight hiatus trying to catch up with Empire and Wired. A quote caught my eye today:

Do you know people who insist they like “all kinds of music”? That actually means they like no kinds of music.

This is, in fact, truth. At least from my point of view. Since my discovery of music that seemed to speak to me, on a very primal level, I have had a very emotional relationship with music, and I can't really understand people that don't approach it in the same way. I know this is elitist of me, but I don't care. Passion about music, is in some ways the yardstick by which I measure people. That and if they like TOOL or not.

The mighty TOOL, live. The closest to a religious experience I've ever had.

Music matters. It's that simple. And I'm going to say that again: Music matters. Not bands, not artists. Music. I don't put bands up on pedestals because of image or adherence to a particular genre of music. If they have captivating tunes, that's enough. But I still put them on pedestals, and I consider myself passionate about music.

I get goose bumps from some songs. I feel like I'm about to rise into the sky on the voices of some singers. There are some songs I can't listen to on bad days, since they would make me cry, some of them because there are specific events tied to them and some simply because they are powerful. There are songs that make me want to scream, songs that make me want to laugh, songs that make me want to curl up under a blanket and just stare vacantly at the ceiling.

Personally, I believe I have a fairly broad taste in music, in some ways, but that's probably not true. Most of the stuff I listen to is connected to the other stuff I listen to, but more on an emotional level then on a “this sounds just like all the other bands you listen to”. There is a core of American bands with big guitars and big melodies in my CD collection, but lots of other things as well.

Now, two lists. This is a challenge to y'all. Meet it by commenting, or face my wrath.

Top three CDs (I realize many see this as an impossibility to list, but at least you have three favorites right now):
- TOOL, “Aenima”. Always number one. Scarily powerful, scarily good. I can't fathom how anything can ever top this.
- The Tea Party, “Transmission”. Led Zeppelin meets Nine Inch Nails, with sitars. Exceptional.
- The Dillinger Escape Plan, “Ire Works”. This is a “right now”, but their fascination with Faith No More-ish melodies, electronics and musical insanity in general creates a combination unlike anything else I've heard.

Three most unexpected CDs in collection (and these must be CDs you listen to, not stuff that sloshes about at the bottom of some crate in your storage room, and they can't be more than one from the same artist):
- Wannadies, “Skellefteå”. Swedish guitar pop sensation of the 90's.
- Photek, “Modus Operandi”. Drum'n'bass.

And the fact I could only come up with two, proves how homogeneous my taste in music must be. I'm soo alternative...

I hardly think a few birds are going to bring about the end of the world

I woke with a persistent headache this morning, like someone had fixed a metal ring to the inner circumference of my skull and kept turning screws making it expand ever so slowly.

Thick fog shrouded the world outside, and I couldn't even see the school below our apartment building from our kitchen window.

Stevie Wayne: Well, my gauges must be wrong. I've got a wind blowing due east. Now what kind of a fog blows against the wind?
Dan O'Bannon: You got me.
Stevie Wayne: I'm not so sure I want you.

Walking outside felt like a dream. Sounds were muted, colors bleached of intensity. Whoever was inside my skull kept turning those screws, slowly, gleefully.

At the train station, hundreds if not thousands of jackdaws perched everywhere. On pylons, on power lines, along the outlines of the station house. Their eyes seemed to follow me. Some of them moved from pylon to pylon in sync with my steps. Music by Bernard Herrmann should have been playing in the background. I looked for masses of seagulls, but saw none. Exhaled.

No birds awaited me as I got off the train. Exhaled again.

Over the course of the day, I've managed to if not destroy, then at least distract the bastards playing with the screws. Ibuprofen, a big club sandwich and solitary confinement in a conference room so I can actually get some stuff done has helped.

Believe me when I say I will be on the lookout for flocks of birds on the way home...

Monday, November 3, 2008

I jump from every rooftop

This just makes me happy. Happy happy joy joy!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I am the silencing machine and I control you

I was introduced to Nine Inch Nails in 1990 or 91 by Andreas, who I went to school with. I was immersed in hair metal like Def Leppard then, but it didn't really move me. Nothing had managed to, then. Andreas on the other hand was serious about music. Depeche Mode, Front 242, New Model Army and The Cure populated his musical universe, and he had the black clothes, Doc Martens and haircut to match.

He played me Pretty Hate Machine, which at the time was some of the harshest music I had been exposed to. There was something there that spoke to me, but at the same time I was not ready to embrace it yet.

What you need to know is that I was a geek then. And not in a good way. My life basically consisted of school, homework and games of various kinds. Nothing else. Music didn't really matter then.

(I'm going to stop here and say, yes, it was probably in a good way, since it is the basis for who I am today, and I kinda like who I am today.)

That changed in 1992. Music videos on TV was a Big Deal then, with both MTV, ZTV and Swedish “standard” television filling the afternoons with music while I sat down with homework. One afternoon Alice In Chains' song “Would?” came on, and I was mesmerized. It grabbed hold of me, and opened up something inside me that I so far hadn't felt.

Alice In Chains at the height of their popularity. Layne Staley, second from the left, passed away in 2002 due to an overdose.

I can pinpoint the starting point of my interest in music to that afternoon. Sure, I grew up around music and still listen to some stuff my father played (Johnny Cash, The Beatles, etc), but the door to what has become a near obsession with music remained closed until 1992.

Not long after that, I went back to Pretty Hate Machine. And my oh my, how it spoke to me now.

Nine Inch Nails has remained one of the few constants in my own musical universe since then. Other bands that I listened to back then still get time on my iPod (which will be the subject of a whole 'nother post), but only NIN are still releasing new material and breaking new ground.

Nine Inch Nails, maybe post mud-slinging at Woodstock 1994.

The reason for this post is that I listened to The Downward Spiral today, for the first time since...I don't know how long. Of the full-length releases, it remains my favorite, though it's still topped by the EP Broken.

On the subject of “new ground”:
In 2007, NIN utilized the services of 42 Entertainment to create an elaborate ARG to promote their release Year Zero. It is the best promotional campaign I have ever seen, mostly because of the level of interactivity with fans and participants. It all began with USB sticks “left behind” in toilet stalls at NIN gigs, that contained fragments of new songs and references to websites, where the game itself began. Some demented fan even ran static found at the end of one of the songs through an oscilloscope and found more clues. Mindblowing.

For everything NIN, go here. And for a complete rundown of the Year Zero ARG, go here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Building better worlds

The highlight of today's Geekorama...I mean science fiction convention wasn't the members of the 501st Legion, and it wasn't the fact that I don't feel like such a geek when faced with people wearing Star Trek uniforms their mother has sown.

No, the highlight was my colleague Björn, who showed up to have his picture taken with Carl Weathers, in full Ivan Drago outfit, red satin robe and shorts with “Drago” on them and all. He even cut his already blond, square head of hair to match Drago's heli pad closer. He's mad, I tell you, mad! Though Weathers got a real laugh out of it. Pictures will be posted if I can score them from Björn.

Oh. And Lance Henriksen was there. I like Lance. To mark this occasion (and my geekiness), I wore my Weyland-Yutani tee. Had I thought about it, I would have brought a knife and asked him to repeat Bishop's trick from the mess hall onboard the Sulaco. Then again...maybe not.