Thursday, October 23, 2014

Under The Skin

Recently I read Michael Faber’s novel Under the skin and I loved it.

Original book cover in Croatian (Publisher: Celeber)

As I have precious little time that I can invest in quality reading between full time job and full time single parenting I read it at night, when house grew silent. Usually I am too tired to read at this time but not while reading this book; from the first page it captured my whole attention and I was coming home looking forward to picking it up when possible.

I loved it.

I loved the atmosphere of practicality, of natural state of things. I loved how Faber showed us the world through Isserley that is very true to reality; between small islands of doing “stuff” there are vast oceans of nothingness. Idling. He successfully avoided the need to over-explain and to fill natural gaps with babbling.

I loved the clever details, thrown around the book like Easter eggs, indicating this and that, left hanging for us to put into perspective. I loved thinking how similar her experience is to ours, or better, mine; if I was a person in similar circumstances how would I behave? Would TV give ME enough to work on? Where does my morality draw its arbitrary lines at the table? How much could necessity mold me and how pliable do I believe I should be?

I loved scarcity of details that gave the imagination wings to fill the blank spots describing her life before, her comrades here, differences that were bridged to make everything possible.

I loved the blurring of borders between “us” and “them” and how writer discuses some of human practices openly hiding them in plain sight.

One of the things I loved most, thing that is maybe (in my opinion at least) most difficult to imagine or to replicate is game changer (rape) scene and it is extremely well envisioned and described. It feels eerily real and it is difficult to imagine that anyone not already familiar with the situation could describe it so … real. We see a lot of them in the movies and vast majority of that scenes are plain stupid, staged and over pronounced but this one is … is correct. Cold and fright and survival instinct being brought forward from below. Shudder.

And about the end I loved that there was duty before survival. No bargaining and no negotiation, no vanity and no empty hopes. No pathos, just life - back to basics: us versus them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wings For Life

I like using social media as a tool, a ledge of a sort, for diving into the unexplored and different, diverse.

Last night I was searching for something on Facebook when status by Danny MacAskill caught my attention. As day was already marked by cycling and love for bikes I went in and watched the video he shared. Do take 6 minutes and let yourself be amazed:

Road bike party 2 

First I started to watch this alone and after a few seconds I called my daughter from another room to come and join me. We watched it without words, jaws hanging open and amazed, silence broken only by our cries of joy and amazement. 

Then we watched it again. And then again, commenting on stunts.

Fireworks of joy with the experience. Sharing that pleasure. Pure awesome.

Watching RBP 2 behind the scenes was just a logical step. And there, a surprise. I’m not as well versed in cycling lore to recognize Martyn Ashton’s name or to know what happened to him, so when he started talking in Behind the scenes feature I recognized only the harness and just froze in place. I watched the clip intently. And it was endearing as much as educational.

When he says; “…my day job…” it is hard not to flinch, and, word by word, I learned that this is a guy, a cycling legend, that fell and broke his spine while in the middle of Road Bike Party 2 project. After he got his bearings he picked up the phone and got Danny MacAskill and ChrisAkrigg to ride out the rest of the project.

Watching him talk, so positive and down-to-earth is completely disarming. “And I remember when I landed I was relieved. As bad as it was I thought; whoa, that was close, I nearly died…” he says and if there was ever such a complete personification of everything I hold valuable and exquisite in personal conduct this is it.

At the end of the clip he talks a bit about Wings for life and it sounds like something I would like to know more about. And I go online and google it and it is a Spinal Cord Research Foundation. I spend few hours poking and probing about and reading references and articles. I go over and through their excellent webpage that even has company boards overview! They even have grant application info on their page! As I work in clinical research for 7 years now I know a bullshit when I see it and this is not it. This is real stuff. This is a process that will one day give us the means to walk after spinal cord injury.

Go and donate, support the process. Go here:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sunday Ride

I went for a ride on my bike on Sunday morning.

It was sunny outside my window so I got out my pump and checked the tires, poured some water into bidon and off I went. Half a mile down the street I drove into fog, but day was beautiful and warm and I just cycled on.

I love that bike. I got my Kona Splice with 29 inch tires last year after the season ended, somewhere in November, so it was a bit more bank-account friendly, after eyeing him for more than a year. I love his large tires and the feeling of speed while riding him. I love the muffled tone of shifting gears and the notion that he helps and hinders the ride in accordance with rider’s skill. I love how tall I am when I swoosh by slower riders.

Sava was dark and strong under Podsused bridge. It flowed under it quickly and with just a slightest gurgle, rushing into foggy distance. Birds chirped drowsily.

I snapped a few pictures and turned back towards home. Half a mile from the bridge there was sun and blue skies and rustle of yellowing leaves.

I love that bike. I love that libido boost it surrenders as I finish my ride.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Just Drive, She Said

Photo source:

I have been thinking lately about narratives of love stories.
Feelings and realizations,
Verbalizations and silent acceptances.
Enjoying each other’s company.

Men write better stories, ones I appreciate more.
Ones I feel I have lived or, sometimes, yearn to be living.
Full-blooded stories.

All in a  few words and commitment made simple. Somebody always drives and it feels so pleasurable to feel participants enjoying their place in the car.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Future Islands 11Oct2014 @ Mochvara

"Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity, but with it you can accomplish miracles."

I went to see Future Islands perform at Mochvara last night.

It was a bittersweet experience, full-blooded, thigh-twitching affair. Magnificent.

I have watched them before, on their now cult performance at Kset in 2010. I remember writing to Zach afterwards, saying that people wept in the audience when Sam announced Tin Man. And I remember Mr. Herring's surprise and happiness with the reception by that audience. I remember how I was then just lukewarm fan, only getting to know their art, and how my being their fan grew from that tepid interest into rapturous devotion - and in the heart of that devotion, one thing stands true right from the beginning; you cannot improve on perfection.

That most perfect thing, one that caught my attention then and is also flawlessly present now is Mr. Herring's dramatic delivery of lyrics, just as one would present lines in a play. What makes this presentation especially engaging is the notion that it is propelled by enthusiasm and candor, rather then building a theatrical on-stage persona. Lines he delivers are his own, flowing from his life and his experiences, and them being enveloped in music only makes them more potent.

So, ...if this was such a great experience, why bitter-sweetness?

Well, I feel that venue was too small for number of tickets sold as it was truly, not only unpleasant, but disgustingly overcrowded. Mochvara has been my favorite venue for quite some time now, partly because of excellent, relaxed staff and also because of extraordinary jump in a quality of sound during live performances - both of which was clearly present yesterday - but the place was so packed it was sickening.

Other thing adding to bitter-sweetness is this unfortunate internet fame Mr. Herring has been in the center of recently. This is a thing that both upsets and angers me, because it once again shows the world populated by clueless buffoons. Short description of happening is that Future Islands were brought to center of "more mainstream" attention by being on now several shows that ended up featuring not really their music but even more so presenting Mr. Herring's performance as "unparallelled" by theatrics in the music business, which in turn ended up widening their audience. What angers me most is that I feel his dramatic performance is misunderstood since it is commented as histrionics, not giving him credit for what he really deserves; unparalleled enthusiasm and candor. Why this is important? Because it brought portion of the audience that wasn't there for the music and I feel that they were detrimental to the complete experience.  Example of such crap is this silly bitch snapping a selfie right on the stage during an encore.

Even in this less than perfect conditions Future Islands performance was impeccable and it was both honor and pleasure being there to witness it.

I hope I will be seeing them again.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Return of The Running Mojo

Last week I started to run again after my pneumonia break.

When I was ill I was just too sick and exhausted to move and later on I decided to slowly pick up the pace, first by taking long walks and working out at home (strength and cardio, mostly 15-minute HIIT trainings) and last week I felt strong enough to go on a “real run”.
I have also changed eating habits some, by trying to eat with a bit more thought invested in diversity and nutritional values, not only presentation and taste - and I think this was a excellent decision as I feel really good, not to mention how regular digestion can make person very happy indeed :D

I think I have just now begun to actually enjoy running.

I’ve been running off-and-on for couple of years now, running regularly for a few months at a time and then skipping or pausing altogether, not really letting it become a habit and treating it as a constant competition more than something intimate and inherently enjoyable. Until now I have made a lot of small changes in how I run; starting to use Endomondo to track my runs, changing shoes from classic shoes into more barefoot version, changing accessories to feel more comfortable while running, trying out different surfaces and different time of day, varying routes where to run to include inclines, steps, people or solitude. I also read a few books including excellent Murakami’s What I talk about when I talk about running and lastly Jogging by Ivo Belan.

In things of approach to running and technique I especially liked Belan’s book. It gives great advice on host of questions and things you usually don’t remember to ask before you have to resolve them while running. Most importantly I loved his descriptions of running as an activity that is intertwined with other life activities. I love how he includes details about other people, about family members and agreements, about participating - even in a slow pace. In his words you can see how participation alone can truly mean victory.

So I reviewed my running from a different perspective; less aggressive and with more anticipation of enjoyment in process, rather than in result.

And  my runner’s mojo returned, eager to go where it was unable to go before.