Sunday, August 30, 2009

A void of indifference

Possible spoiler below, if you haven't seen Heroes.

We watch a lot of TV, Mah Girl and I. Preferably in the DVD box form, and we have a bunch of them on our shelves. Today we finished Generation Kill, which we started yesterday. A miniseries of seven episodes about a unit of recon Marines during the second US invasion of Iraq, in 2003.

I like the miniseries format. I like knowing that the writer and producer and director have a set ending in mind while they're working, and that they know the path to that end from day one. I tire quickly of TV shows that go nowhere and seem to have no goal in sight (can you spell Lost?), though shows that just fade before a proper end comes along pisses me off even more. Carnivale is one example of that (though I haven't watched it yet, its on our shelf), Millennium another.

If I'd had my way, Heroes would have been a miniseries too, at least at this point when we've seen season one and two. If the show had ended at Kirby Plaza, with the explosion, I would have been a very happy camper. Few shows, especially American shows, have the guts to end in that way.

Back to Generation Kill. Excellent script, brilliant characters and good actors, including Alexander Skarsgård in top form. The show doesn't make a political statement about the US presence in Iraq, but instead highlights the futility of the actions of American soldiers as well as show the horrors of war. The indifference of most of the recon Marines in the face of death and suffering is horrendous to watch.

I myself actually see the point of war. I'm not saying I condone the invasion of Iraq, but there are times when armed conflict is unavoidable and indeed necessary. History are full of such examples. We might have all been speaking German today if someone hadn't decided to meet violence with violence.

Yes, there are crimes committed and innocents killed in war. That is horrible, and something none of us should accept. However, this should not make us blind to the fact that war is necessary. There are greater wrongs in this world that can only be corrected through the use of force. That is sad, but an undeniable fact.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The sway of alcohol strikes back

Continued from Saturday, or rather, brought back on track to “good party nights” from “good nights, period”.

My 25th birthday (the music one, not the one where my “friends” got me horribly drunk). This was when I still lived in Karlskoga. I went to an acquaintance of mine who had a restaurant/night club, and asked if we could rent that place. He said if I could get fifty people there, and paid for the bands myself (cause you gotta have bands on your 25th) we could have the place. With fifty guests he would make enough money at the bar to make it a worthwhile night for him.

So we sold 98 tickets, including the 25 or so friends who sat down at six o'clock in the restaurant before the party and ate. Then we went upstairs to the club, and hit the beer and drinks. The first band went on, my friend Posti's stoner band Dog Will Hunt. Then a friend of mine came up to me and said “There's a line outside...” And there was. All in all, over 200 people showed up that night. People I'd never met came up to me, all smiles and hugs, and wished me a happy birthday. It was like some weird dream, where everything just seems warm and fuzzy and pleasant.

Two more bands played that night. Local act Ed Myer, who began something of a tradition at my birthdays by giving me a present in the form of a cover, that time Deftones' “Korea”. Then my friend B-Jet's band H.A.L. played, fronted by another friend, Det Finns Bara En Av Oss, who was part of that band very briefly. Tito Beltran (pre-rape conviction) came up and stood watching in the doorway to the club, surrounded by various hangers-on, gaping as Det Finns belted out scream after scream. It was surreal.

After drinking literally every bottle of beer the place had, we all left at two, a bunch of us retiring to Posti's home for an afterparty of epic proportions. We left at 0700, riding the crest of a wave created by music, a perfect blood alcohol level and excellent, excellent friends.

Easily the best birthday party I've ever had, though my 30th comes extremely close.

I had three 30th birthday parties, because why settle for one? The first was with colleagues at work. Food and then a bar where we were the only patrons, and got the full attention of bar staff more than happy to help celebrate me. A good start. Then I had a party back in Karlskoga, this after having moved to Stockholm, with all my closest friends from back home. We started at the local Stadshotell (which is a very Swedish small town thing, where the often only hotel in town has a night club), with food and a set from friends Lingua, where they first played some of their own songs and then a set of covers. That was their gift to me, a cover set that I got to choose all on my own.

We fled the hotel quickly after that, cause the owner is an asshole and we didn't want to be tormented by what they normally play there. We went to Looks Like Jöback's place, which was right behind the hotel. Problem was, his supply of alcohol was very limited. So Mistlur and I got our asses into a taxi and went to the all-night gas station and bought a couple of crates of beer, and Makes Kick-ass Chili walked home to see what supplies he could find there.

On our way back we passed Makes Kick-ass Chili on his way back, with a big bag slung over one shoulder. Turns out he emptied his liquor cabinet. Again, this was a night of good friends, laughter and music.

The third 30th party was in Stockholm, at Tanto-gården. An acquaintance had a club there, and we made a deal where I could have my party on her club night if I could book a band, Fingerspitzengefühl (best band name ever), she had been trying to book for a while. They're friends of friends, so I did, and three bands played that night too. The band then known as Smut, now known as A Swarm of the Sun started, then Lingua did a set of their own songs, and then Fingerspitzen. Then Lingua finished with yet another cover set, with lots of guests. The highlight was Deftones' “Passenger”, with a guest vocalist doing Chino's parts and Lingua's vocalist handling the Maynard parts. Not as mind-blowing as the real thing, but close.

As an added bonus. For my 30th, Mah Girl made a cake with the bearded smiley that I sign with on top in chocolate, and got me this:

Somebody stuck his blades in all his
major organs in alphabetical order
T-Bird, "The Crow"

There have been other great birthday moments too, such as when Det Finns Bara En Av Oss's then band Headplate opened for Machine Head in Stockholm and got the 800 people or so there to chant “Hurra hurra hurra!” for me since the gig was on my 26th birthday. Too bad I was just pulling into the parking lot since we had gotten ourselves thoroughly lost on the way there...

So much for birthday parties. Another time, other parties.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature

I'm not really a party guy, in the sense that I go out partying a lot. I like home. I like my couch. I like hanging out with Mah Girl. Without any alcohol involved. When I do want to party I prefer someone's home to going out, unless there are very specific circumstances. I'm picky. An entire evening out can be ruined by the wrong music. Yes, that's how shallow I am.

What really matters is what you like, not what you ARE like. Books, records, films, these things matter. Call me shallow, it’s the fucking truth.
John Cusack, “High Fidelity”

I don't go dancing. I don't like music that is typically danced to. Techno, trance, house, ebm, etc. I do like drum n bass, on occasion, but again. Picky. And not for dancing. For headphones, on rainy days.

Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit

So when I do go out, it's either to a place that plays specific music, usually live, or with a group of friends. And while there are some places I really like to hang out (Lilla Hotellbaren, ftw!), the best parties tend to be at someone's apartment, house, hovel, hole in the ground and other words that begin with h.

The best revels I've been to start out sort of mellow and then build towards a crescendo, fueled by excellent people, the right amount of alcohol, good music and something intangible, a quality that can't really be defined, which permeates the party from the beginning or is simply created at some critical mass of partyness.

Over the years, there are a few parties, a few nights of excellence, that really stand out.

April 3rd, 1999. Started out at Quick Like A Snake's place, together with Erik XIV and Looks Like Jöback, with drinks and music. Quick's apartment was one of the focal points of my life from maybe 19 until 25 or so. A place of friends, laughter, music and endless games.

After a few drinks, Erik (whose name isn't really Erik, but he looks like Erik XIV according to some people) decided he and I should go out, for a reason that wasn't apparent then but became so later. We walked up to the horror that is Wickan. If you live in my old hometown, you know this horror. If you don't, count yourself lucky.

We went in, walked around a bit, he played some blackjack and lost, then moved on. I was confused at this point. Then we walked to Gabbe's, one of the sunkigaste sunkhak in Karlskoga at any given time. There we hooked up with his then girlfriend, Idaho, and her redhead friend.

The friend wore a Slayer tee and a TOOL long-sleeve, had a killer smile and only frowned a little at the fact that I was drinking an alcopop. We ended up kissing that night, and I skip-jumped home with Erik and Idaho when she had to take the bus. Almost ten and a half years later, I'm watching her type away at her own laptop across the room now. She still has a killer smile and wears TOOL tees on occasion.

And with this I realize that anything I write about other nights of significance would pretty much pale and fade to nothing. More on that some other time. I have to go hug Mah Girl now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest

Today is my brother's 32nd birthday. He's on the other side of the world since October, and won't be back until the end of this year, though I will get to see him in September on my trip. Happy happy joy joy.

So congrats, bro. One year closer to a mid-life crisis.

Like peas in a pod. Or is that carrots?
I know, I know, hard to tell who's who.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reminiscences make one feel so deliciously aged and sad

I got an email from an acquaintance today, saying that this was the best post I had written. I remember a few posts over the course of this blog vividly, but this, strangely enough was not one of them. So I read it, smiled at the beginning and then almost started crying when I read through it.

I'm still upset about the fact that my grandfather is not getting the dignified passing I always envisioned for him, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Of course, Mah Girl was able to turn me around with a few simple words. “Remember good things about him, and not this. And rejoice in the fact that he will always be remembered, through your words.”

So I did. And I do. And I will. And I will remember him through the mechanical calendar, that my father set aside for me as he and other members of our extended family cleaned out The Old Man's apartment. In Swedish The Old Man is Den Gamle, abbreviated DG. He has gone by this name since before I was born. He will continue to go by this name after he is gone, and we'll all remember him with smiles on our faces.

And by all, I do mean all. One of my cousins has calculated that there are over 40 people descended from DG. Five generations. My grandfather's daughter, my father's sister, has a daughter who has a daughter who has a daughter. We are legion, for we are many.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any

Oh. I forgot. I talked about good manners, and forgot all about the bad. That's very much out of character for me. So here goes.

On Saturday I spent time with very good and very nerdy friends. Having finished the game we were playing, we went to the local pizza/pasta place to grab some food. As we sat there, outside, Triangles, Ribbed For Her Pleasure and I, waiting for our food, Triangles said: “That kid is peeing in the street”.

And he was. Peeing. In the street. While his father stood beside him, watching. For all I know urging him on. The thing is, this is a residential street with an assortment of stores and restaurants, and slopes down towards a bigger road. Sloping down = pee running down.

We ignored this. Tore into our food. Ten minutes passed. Then Triangles says: “That kid is peeing in the street, too”.

I turned around. Again, he was. Peeing. In the street. Another kid. Father by his side. What. The. Hell. Seems like the street in question was a urinal. Very nice.

Is there something I'm missing here? Is it something that parents do, allow their kids to pee in the street? Please tell me. If yes, then I have yet another reason to never have children. That would be reason 138, I think. If no, then I might need to go all The Locker on that street and figure out if it's something that happens there a lot, and investigate further. Then again, we're talking about children peeing in the street, so maybe I should just let it go...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A salesman minus enthusiasm is just a clerk

So like I said yesterday, I spent Friday in one of our two newly opened stores. Unlike our competitors here in Sweden we've never had our own stores, and have reiterated our standpoint on having stores many times over the years. Not for us. A waste of money. Etc. But finally we did a 180 and got ourselves two stores, one in our own neighborhood, in the shopping mall within a stone's throw of our office, and the other in a big shopping mall in the southern part of Stockholm.

See, we're the cheap telecom operator. Oops, sorry, not cheap. Inexpensive. Big difference. Whatever. We're always aiming to have the lowest prices of the four operators in Sweden, and throughout the years we haven't really been associated with supplying quality services. So it's a stretch for us to launch concept stores, but that's what we've done.

And the orders from Up On High was that everyone in mobile product management should work two days in a store, to gain understanding of the business and our customers. We have a similar policy regarding customer service, in that all employees of the company should visit customer service once each year to listen to and preferably take calls from our subscribers.

I was really nervous about going to the store. I don't consider myself a sales person in any way, shape or form, and felt that perhaps potential customers might be a bit apprehensive about the whole “big bearded guy in huge pants” thing. So I dressed in jeans, all be it big ones and in a very dark blue, and combed the beard. Hell, I comb it at least twice every day, but it sounded like something you should do before going to work in a retail store.

Like the employees at the store I got to wear a tee sporting the company logo across the back and the symbol for one of our subscriptions across the chest. I almost felt like I belonged.

I acted customer service, I acted expert on the sales tool (which I am in fact somewhat of an expert on), I got to talk about subscriptions and phones and even had to answer some questions about SAR values (that's Specific Absorption Rate, go Google it). I even facilitated four or five sells that I handed over to the store employees. Commission for them, personal satisfaction for me. Oh well.

In all, a weird but rewarding experience. I'm going back on Sunday for four or five hours. The weekends are more chaotic, so I may not be so positive after that. We'll see.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy

I believe my parents did a good job raising me, if we talk about manners. Not sure they agree when it comes to cultural preferences...

So I consider myself a fairly well-mannered guy, in some respects. I know how to be out among people without screaming and cursing or licking people's backpacks. I hold the door at the train station if you're right behind me. I offer my seat on the bus or train to the elderly.

Sure, I've been known to scare a child or two to tears, but that was never intentional, and I tend to run people over in conversations from time to time, but that's not intentional either. I know I can come off as arrogant until you get to know me, but then you find out that I'm nice and lovable and all that jazz. And well-mannered, in most situations.

When someone returns the favor, I smile inwardly. Like when someone holds a door for me or says thank you when I do the same. However, sometime acts of courtesy take me completely by surprise, and I find myself smiling openly. Often it's when something happens that feels completely inappropriate for the situation, in the best possible way.

On Friday I sat waiting for a bus to go work in our newly opened store (that day in the store is a whole other post just waiting to be written), reading, headphones on. It was around nine in the morning. A girl sat down a meter or so away on the bench. 16-ish, wearing those awful gray sweatpants that have no business being worn outside, under any circumstances unless you're going home from the gym and barely then. Suddenly she tapped me on the shoulder.

I removed my headphones, and she said: “I just wanted to tell you that the label is still on your jacket”. Lo and behold, it was. I thanked her, and she continued. “And do you mind if I smoke?” I just stared at her, completely flabbergasted that she would even ask. My experience is that a lot of people that smoke will just light up without even bothering to check if someone is downwind of them. And teenage girls aren't exactly in that group that is likely to ask.

Finally I shook my head and said “No problem”. She nodded, sat back and lit up. I pulled my headphones back on and went back to my book. Pattern Recognition. By William Gibson. Again. Stared at the page for a while, not reading, just trying to comprehend what had just happened. Then smiled. Read.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Every city has secrets. But none as terrible as this

With emphasis on terrible.

When I was fifteen-ish I read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. A very small number of those books made enough of an impression that I can still remember them, and most of them were King's. Of Koontz's stuff it's only Twilight Eyes, which was the first of his that I read, and The Bad Place that I really remember.

Recently I discovered that Mr. Koontz had come up with his own twist on the Frankenstein mythos, mad scientists and monsters and all, and I decided to order the first part of the trilogy, Prodigal Son.

The reason I stopped reading Koontz was that I wanted more. Not more plot or more suspense or more monsters, no, I wanted better writing. The reason that Koontz has sold millions and millions of copies of his novels is that he writes page-turners, and not because you have to know what happens on the next page, but because you sit down and read and all of a sudden you've read 130 pages and it feels like you've just been flipping through them without reading them. The text requires only the slightest processing involving higher brain functions, and it moves through the reader like sterile water. Tasteless, transparent, forgettable.

And I also wanted less. Less clichés. Less formulaic plots and characters. After a couple of books it was very easy to pick out who would die when and who would hook up with who.

So my expectations concerning Prodigal Son were very low. I went into this novel suspecting I would be disappointed. And I was, and am.

I'm sorry to say that Prodigal Son is a POS. Piece of shit. While the idea of a modern twist on the Frankenstein myth appeals to me, it's poorly executed both in terms of story and writing, and I find myself annoyed whenever I read it. And cliché upon cliché upon cliché. Tiresome.

I will finish it, because I rarely put down a book. The exceptions being Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close that I had to put down because I started crying, and Gravity's Rainbow because I just couldn't handle it. I've read Extremely since then, and enjoyed it immensely, and while I intend to read Rainbow some time, I need to make my way through some earlier Pynchon before I tackle it again.

After Prodigal Son, I will probably reread The Road or Pattern Recognition to purge my system of this literary travesty. Again, with emphasis on terrible.

I just took a "Which crazy writer are you" quiz, and the result is here!

What are the odds?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Critics? How do they happen?

It was a fluke that got me into writing about music. Back in 1995, a friend and I walked into the local paper in Karlskoga and said “we want to review movies”. They looked at us, these journalists that had slaved away at a minor paper for twenty years, and said “ can't. The culture section does that”.

We did however get an offer to write for the youth section. It is a true sign of a great newspaper that they let just anyone walk in and start writing.

So we wrote reviews of ice cream and board games and books and the occasional text on pretty much whatever. Then, in what alcoholics refer to as “a moment of clarity”, I emailed a record company and asked for CDs for reviews. And they sent them! So I started reviewing CDs. I still have some of those first reviews, in my clippings folder, and they're horrible. Unspeakably horrible.

Then I moved to Sundsvall to go to college. I went to a Peace, Love and Pitbulls gig with some friends, and being music geeks, we stood there and had opinions on pretty much everything. A woman behind me asked if I knew the titles of the last few songs and I told her, in that condescending “my taste in music is better than you” way that I had back then (and still have, to some degree). That condescension gave me a job reviewing CDs for Sundsvall Tidning, which is a considerably bigger newspaper than Karlskoga's local rag.

After that I wrote for a couple of fanzines (this was back in the day when fanzines were still paper, made using a Xerox machine) and yet another paper in a city I went to college in. Then along came Supersatan, in maybe 1998 or 1999.

Yet another treasure from the depths of my closet

And here's a question for Hans. How did I come to write for Supersatan? I can't remember.

Supersatan was a metal site, where I wrote reviews and did interviews and such. I think I interviewed earthtone9 there, as well as P3 Rocks Håkan Persson. Writing there was a lot of fun, and we got a lot of attention and readers. Then one of Sweden's premier rock journalists wrote a column in Close-Up Magazine praising our site as Sweden's best metal site in Swedish, and specifically mentioned me as a writer with pretty much the same taste in music as he has.

About a month later I got an email from the editor of Close-Up asking if I wanted to write there. Which is an offer you don't refuse if you write about metal in Sweden. Mostly I did reviews of CDs, but I also wrote a couple of columns and did some interviews. I got to fly to London to see the first European gig Linkin Park ever did, where they played for a bunch of journalists, some record company bigwigs and a handful of fans. Business class there and back and one night in a fancy London hotel on the record company's dime, and all they got was half a page where the band answered The Basic Questions. Hardly a fair trade, but I didn't complain.

In 2002 I stopped writing for Close-Up because I had sort of a nervous breakdown (more on that some other time), and once I was back on my feet I started writing for Slavestate, which back then was an actual magazine. All of a sudden I could pretty much pick and choose which bands I wanted to do interviews with, and I got a lot more printed than in Close-Up. I've done interviews with Slipknot, Machine Head, Isis, Ministry, Cult of Luna, Type O Negative, Prong, Devin Townsend, 36 Crazyfists, Poison the Well, Burst, Pelican, etc (yes, namedropping galore, but that's what you should expect from me).

I'm still writing for Slavestate, though not as often as I did back in the day and not as often as I would like. Time is something that has been in shorter and shorter supply over the last couple of years. But I'm happy I'm still writing, because expressing my opinions about music is one of my favorite pastimes.

Monday, August 10, 2009

We used to build civilizations. Now we build shopping malls

In September I will be flying to New Zeeland to visit my brother, who's spending twelve months there, thanks to an exchange program his company has. The most exotic traveling I've done through my job was when I went to Vilnius to educate a bunch of tech geeks who could barely speak English about the inner workings of SMSCs and MMSCs. Oh, unless you count the trip to Istanbul. But that was all pleasure, no business.

So two weeks in New Zeeland. I'm really looking forward to it. Not only because I haven't seen my brother since October of last year, but also since NZ is supposedly a spectacular country, and we'll be doing some spectacular things, like this:

It's called cave tubing, or black water rafting. This is where you get into the water, hold on to an inflated tube and then float through caves to look at rock formations and glowworms. Yes, pictures of me in a wetsuit may be taken. Prepare to gouge your eyes out.

On the way home I will stop in Kuala Lumpur for six days. My plan is to look at some building and go on a massive shopping spree. That city seems to be adapted to my shopping needs. Massive malls, with hundreds and hundreds of stores. One dedicated entirely to electronics and home entertainment. One with seven streetwear stores within spitting distance of each other.

The main objective is a laptop, to reply my current LG which is getting old and tired. I will also look for some sort of portable video device, something with a meatier screen than my iPod classic, to view TV shows on, on the train. Clothes will also be a focus. I will bring my favorite shirt with me and have a tailor make copies, as well as Mah Girl's favorite pants, and will try to find some other stuff as well.

I may also buy some toys. As in “actual toys”. To crowd our bookshelves further. You must please your inner child as often as you can. Otherwise he withers and dies. And you don't want to be a child killer, now do you?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?

The heat really only got to me a couple of days here and there in June and July. During one week we had to run the AC in the living room a few times, so we didn't melt. Here in the Land Of No Air Conditioning I had to buy a portable one, that we move from room to room whenever the heat gets to us.

Which it does now. The devil we call the sun is casting it's baleful gaze down upon us unsuspecting mortals yet again, and while others may smile at the thought of such a thing and then frolic about in parks and on beaches and anywhere really, I just want to close the blind, crank up the AC to ten and watch TV/play games/read/write/hug the girl.

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

Oh yeah. And listen to music. At eleven.

Now I'm going to go out on the balcony, which you can't even open the door to between two and eight without succumbing to spontaneous combustion, and give the sun the finger. And maybe find me a spider I can kill.

Cuz I'm praying for rain and I'm praying for tidal waves
I wanna see the ground give way
I wanna watch it all go down
Mom please flush it all away
I wanna watch it go right in and down
I wanna watch it go right in
Watch you flush it all away
Time to bring it down again
Don't just call me pessimist
Try and read between the lines
I can't imagine why you wouldn't Welcome any change, my friend
I wanna see it all come down
Suck it down
Flush it down

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I love the smell of urine in the morning

The apartment hasn't been invaded by the smoke from next door's in a while, knock on wood. Sometimes we get smoke from an apartment below us, when we have the balcony windows open, but there's nothing to do about that.

However, Smoking Woman remains, an unseen presence in the apartment next to ours. Not unsmelled, though. The landing outside our apartment reeks from cat urine. Horribly. I can only imagine how it must smell in there, considering the stench outside.

And the smell isn't the big issue. Why the hell keep cats if you can't take care of them properly? And should I call animal control or something? She's an old woman, but that's no excuse, really. There may be animals suffering in there, and while I do prefer my animals on the barbecue, that ain't a good thing.

So what to do, what to do? Any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The first draft of anything is always shit

So I've decided on two texts to work on (thanks Mr Urban Army) for the workshop in San Diego I'm aiming for in the summer of 2010. I know I probably won't get in, since over 200 people apply and there's only room for 18 or 20 students, but I have to try.

The texts are “Security” and “And then there was the word”. The opening paragraphs of both texts are posted below. Please tell me what you think. And if anyone's interested in reading and giving feedback on the whole thing, let me know and I can send it once it's done.


The alarm by her door woke Reuben up. The motion sensors hidden in the apple trees along the garden path, roosting like white plastic birds. He would have to find another way to position them in two months, when the leaves started falling.
Yawning so hard his jaw creaked, he sat up on his folding cot and rubbed his face. Sometimes, staring at the monitors, he wondered if he ever really slept anymore, or if he existed in some no man’s land, where sleep was no longer a physical thing, but a state of mind.
He walked over to his desk. The monitors, waiting, the images there better known to him than even his own apartment. He sat down in his Steelcase Leap, and focused on the top left monitor. A carefully smoothed down piece of packing tape across the bottom. “Front door” stenciled in precise black letters.
She stood there, digging around in her black imitation alligator purse, looking for keys. Reuben carefully noted the date and time in his log, under Arrivals, without taking his eyes from the monitor. She was later than usual, but not enough to be worth further comment. With time, he had learned what mattered and what didn’t.
After a few moments she found her keys and opened the front door. As she walked into the hallway and shut the door behind her, Reuben’s gaze slid over to the next monitor. “Hallway”. High ceiling, black and white photographs of kite surfers at Mui Ne on the walls. A coat rack in one corner, the brainchild of a team of black-clad Swedish designers. Sweeping lines of birch wood, reminiscent of birds’ wings.
Reuben watched as she took her coat off and walked into the open area that was both living room and kitchen. The hallway camera covered some of that area as well. Kitchen appliances gleamed there, unused, untouched. In three weeks, he had never seen her cook. Nine restaurants on speed dial.
Reaching under the desk, Reuben pulled a bottle of water from the fridge and took a long pull. She only drank Perrier, and wine, occasionally. Now she walked over towards her fridge, a squat cream Smeg, depositing her purse on the kitchen table. His eyes moving to the monitor one row down. “Kitchen”.


Ishmael finds himself on his knees, face down on a hard, cold surface. Gravel bites into his shins and cheeks. He is naked. A sense of otherness envelops him. The hairs on his arms stand on end, and there's a roaring in his ears. He slowly pushes himself up from the ground, and lifts his face up to see.
Words hang in the air in front of his face, on all sides of him, above him. A cage of words woven around him. A barrier that seems as impenetrable as stone. Stunned, he reaches out and lets his fingertips brush them. And howls in pain as their power tears into him, into his fingers, down his arm, into his body, into his soul. Falling back to the ground, his face strikes the ground hard.
Someone speaks on the other side of the barrier of words. A staccato chatter of sounds that are completely meaningless to him. He looks up again, slowly, cradling his aching arm. The words spoken tumble around him, like broken pieces of some arcane puzzle. Instinctively, he pulls pieces out of the air, assembles them and tastes the result, amazed that it's touch does not burn him as the others did. It tastes like a derivative of things he already knows, of things he has read about in ancient tomes. Of myth and of dust.

Monday, August 3, 2009

MCMXCIV part II - Spotify Strikes Back

As Magnus pointed out, 1994 deserves to be celebrated with a playlist too.

So, for those of you with Spotify, here's a homage to 1994 containing most, if not all, of the releases mentioned in the previous post.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


There are several years that I can wax nostalgic about when it comes to music (is that correct, Americans? “wax nostalgic”? My good friend the Internet seems to think so). 1992, when I discovered Good Music. 1995, when the Best Album Ever was released. But when it comes to Best Music Year Ever, there's only one contender, really.

1994. Seriously. What the hell happened that year? There are so many outstanding records that came that year. Some I still listen to. Some I listened to a lot back then. Some I discovered on the way from then to now, and then left on the side of the road, others are still on my CD shelf. Whatever the case, it was a spectacular year in music.

How spectacular, you ask? Here's a list of good stuff that came out that year, interspersed with some videos.

Alice In Chains - Jar of Flies
Tori Amos - Under the Pink
Beastie Boys - Ill Communication

Biohazard - State of the World Adress
Jeff Buckley - Grace
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Let Love In
Dinosaur Jr - Without a Sound
Drown - Hold on to the Hollow
Failure - Magnified
Front Line Assembly - Millennium
Helmet - Betty
House of Pain - Same As It Ever Was
Korn - S/t

Kyuss - Welcome to Sky Valley
Killing Joke - Pandemonium
Live - Throwing Copper
Machine Head - Burn My Eyes

Marilyn Manson - Portrait of an American Family
Mary Beats Jane - S/t
Massive Attack - Protection
Misery Loves Co – S/t
Nailbomb - Point Blank
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

Pantera - Far Beyond Driven
Peace, Love and Pitbulls - Red Sonic Underwear

Pop Will Eat Itself - Dos Dedos Mis Amigos
Portishead - Dummy

The Prodigy - Music for the Jilted Generation
Prong - Cleaning
Soundgarden - Superunknown

Stone Temple Pilots - Purple
Therapy? - Troublegum

Then again, 1994 gave us “The Sign” by Ace of Base and Cradle of Filth released their debut album...

What do you think? Any other records released in 94 that should be on this list? Or some other year that tops this? And oh yeah. Thåström should always, always sound like that.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vestis facit virum

The last week or so we, as in Mah Girl and I, have been tearing through closets and cabinets and drawers, sorting clothes, inspecting clothes, trying out clothes and other activities involving clothes. The end result is a couple of big paper bags filled with stuff we'll give to charity, and that I did a thorough inventory of my clothes.

And my oh my do I have clothes. Here's a list of what's left:
- 60 plus tees. I lost count after 60. Mostly band tees, but quite a few geek tees as well. My favorite is this one for the Ludovico Technique.
- Seven shirts. Yes, I have seven shirts. Who knew? Most of them are short-sleeved though, so maybe they don't count.
- Nine hoodies. Again, mostly band stuff.
- Two zip hoodies. These are more like jackets, but not really. One Rocawear, one Eckö Unlimited. That's how hip hop I am.
- 19 pairs of pants. 19!! What the hell? I'm not buying another pair, ever. Except maybe those tobacco Carhartt cargo pants...
- Eight pairs of shorts. My favorite pair is in tatters. If I ever find them in a store again, I'm buying as many as they have.
- Two pairs of sweat pants, in various stages of disintegration.
- Track jacket. Looking for another one, but all those I've found have too much print or bling on them.
- Two jackets, one camo, one rain.
- Winter coat.
- Dr. Martens overcoat.
- Seven pairs of sneakers. You can never have too many sneakers.
- One pair of Dr. Martens low boots. I need another pair to act as dress shoes.
- Velour pajamas. Don't ask. I don't wear it, unless I'm going for a Love Boat look. Which never happens.

I don't really know how this happened. How I came to own so much clothes, because to me this is a lot. I have friends (work colleague Pink Shoes, among others) who own far more, but come on. This is me we're talking about. Mr wears a tee and cargo pants. Whatever. Cleaning out the closet was liberating. And I didn't find a single skeleton.

What's your favorite piece of clothing? Mine is the Dr. Martens overcoat. It's sort of military in style, and has been with me for fifteen years. Not only is it really comfortable, but it's also kind of unique, since it's from a test batch of coats they made and then never manufactured in numbers. I'm special!