Friday, May 22, 2015

The Solace Pill

"That day, slow and warm, a beam of sunlight caught in honey."

Sometimes I fall in love with a book so strongly I just don’t want the reading to end. Ever.

And yet it feels so sweet to thread through the pain of the last page and into the sea of appraising complete work afterwards, arranging opinions, weighing impressions, cataloging new entry in great library of my mind.

I really, really loved The Solace Pill Trilogy (omnibus edition containing Solace Inc, Solace End and Preparation 162) by Jason Werbeloff.

Original book cover taken from Smashwords book page.

I found my way to it through weekly NoiseTrade newsletter and I loved cover illustration so I downloaded the book. I started to read it on my iPhone (I find MegaReader app excellent for some reading on the go) and I instantly got enamored with the story so this mode of reading fast, short hits resisted transition to bigger screen for a long time and only when I entered Preparation 162 I decided to ingest the rest of the book in one final big gulp.

It is truly a wonderful idea, this choice of term solace pill. In a time already battling heightened stress conditions and dawn of #firstworldproblems concept this interplay of identity topics with sociological and psychological issues involved is both fascinating and food for the mind. Since science fiction is my favorite genre it is not that I did not encounter transportation/cloning identity issues before but the elegance with which the author Jason Werbeloff had resolved some of opened questions is absolutely endearing and gives this topic fresh look and feel of originality.

What I liked most?

I loved how the author gives us enough details about characters so we can remember their names and put their stories in context but not enough to make us distort the story so we can empathize.

I loved how relationships between characters are straightforward, showing genuine, visceral feel of human motivation. Not all behavior is rationally explainable when it happens and narratives are often chosen post festum, to justify rather than describe.

I enjoyed George and Kora storyline most, its dirty and unsophisticated veneer and rich and personal multitude of difficult questions beneath the surface. Being that personal relationships are always in center of my attention, both as a player of the game and as a psychologist specifically keen to research personal relationships I enjoyed gritty and down to earth process author decided to use for this particular dyad, making it a perfect small-scale example of every topic of the book; from identity to emotion, autonomy to dependence, from personal to social.

This is one wonderful story and I warmly recommend not only reading it but also reading it mindfully and thinking about happenings inside; inside the book and inside your own mind and inside the society present here and now - society already pregnant with solace pill seed.

* Book Review also on my Goodreads page here

Monday, May 18, 2015

Firefly Run

Neighbourhood stream by day. And also - some drakes.

I love this warmer part of the year
since I started running I love it even more.

Last night I ran by the stream in my ‘hood;
for the most part it is not lighted with streetlights
so I run into warm and pleasant darkness filled with trickle of water, rustle of leaves and cooing of lovers from benches set by the path.
Tall grass was cut last week and the hay smelled sweet and powdery.
Fireflies roamed through the air.

Couple of over-fragranced ladies with tiny dogs huddled over some rumor hogging the road
but my legs were light and I circled around them and through the meadow.

Dog barked out of a nearby yard, startled by me running by so close and then abruptly stopped, confused by his own barking ringing briskly through the night.
Far ahead poplar threads were carried by the breeze under streetlights.

My feet tapped rhythmically on the path and down the street
and another street
and another street. Wind rose and I took off my cap and shook my wet hair into the wind.
Head cooled pleasantly. Feeling of refreshment set in.
I smiled; wide and wide-eyed.
Felt my soul wiggle and relax.

Miles felt sweet and muscles pliable and alive. Road like a silver snake curved out of sight. Train rumbled by.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fjodor and Radar Men From The Moon @KSET 12May2015

On Tuesday evening I went to see Fjodor play at KSET.

I’ve already seen them perform and have already written about them here when I first heard them and here when I wanted to further express my admiration. I also did my homework before this gig and listened to that evening’s headliners Radar Men From The Moon to be informed of the program.

I got to Kset little bit before planned start of the program, as published on Facebook, so I managed to get a beer (they are selling Medvedgrad beers now, w00t!) and mingle a bit, even get introduced to some new people. Guys from Fjodor passed us on their way to the stage and some of us nodded to each other in recognition.

Gig was absolutely awesome.

Fjodor @KSET 12May2015  - Magic from the very start.

There are two things that got burned into my memory during that gig.

First: it was just like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. Tension is high, excitement translates to elation and before a minute you are already wrapped in exchange like no time has passed at all from the last episode you spent together. The joy of shared experience wipes out any and every other feeling that would slow this summit down or make the exchange non-seamless.

Second: there is this organic quality of their music I find completely wondrous. Strong pivotal position of rhythm like the one of a beating heart is complemented with huge array of additional sounds provided by all kinds of knickknacks/pedals and it is very hard, at times, to believe all this sound is created by just three guys, three instruments. Just like before, I was especially smitten with drummers mad skillz but could savor more of complete picture now. I loved how their performance was very relaxed and seemed effortless and yet they were very emotionally expressive; exchanging glances, speaking without words, smiling and frowning to the instruments and to each other. They played for a long time, we even got an encore, and their music was still fresh and rapturous, not at all tiring but like a tireless spring overflowing with auditory novelty. 

Fjodor @KSET - pedals! A place for everything and everything in its place :)

It makes me happy even to write about that. I warmly recommend checking out their music and supporting them by purchase of the album here from bandcamp.

I may be a bit biased but after that Radar Men From The Moon seemed like an anticlimax.

Radar Men From The Moon @KSET

They were not bad; they were technically well presented and their music had powerful feel but they were also bit flat and repetitive. At times I wondered if their songs were not actually envisioned to have a vocal over the music as couple of beginnings sounded just like something U2 or alike could play. I’m not exactly sure that is a good thing. That “feel” of cover band was so pervasive and it went so well with nonverbal cues of their performance I just cannot let go of that impression. You can check their music here to check if they rock your boat when they failed to rock mine.

Even though it was Tuesday that was one excellent night out and I don’t regret any effort I spent to be there. I hope there will be even more Fjodor gigs in time to come.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Jakob @Mochvara 04May2015

Jakob on stage @ Mocvara in Zagreb.
Somewhere in the midst of Invasion of Soul Society and main story progression
there is final battle between Kurosaki Ichigo and Aizen Sosuke
and as the story develops there is much talk of the power and of expectations
showing quite clearly how much of a discrepancy can arise between one’s abilities and external recognition of those abilities.

But facts are facts,
And acts, not words, bring down the final verdict of history.

I love this part of Bleach story and also I recognize this as a valid and common psychological fact in reality.

I speak of it right now because that is how it was on recent Jakob gig in Mochvara.

Jakob play quite nice, gentle and richly orchestrated post rock.
Their records are finely polished and show both knowledge and attention to detail.
Many, if not most post-rock bands have same general profile
And, by themselves, things spoken of above, are no guarantee of good live gig.

But this gig was good.
Really. Good.

I noticed it is this good when already stricken by its power, on my knees like Aizen Sosuke in front of Ichigo’s Mugetsu.
It was very tactful performance, streetwise and marked with modesty.
Maybe the best description (and surely most surprising for me) is that for part of that act I forgot I’m not home.
Sound was beautiful, delivery very unassuming and it felt so natural

That it felt like just perfect place to be at.

I cannot give bigger compliment than this, since venturing out of the comfort of my much beloved lair frequently borders on physical pain - and this felt so soothing I forgot I’m not home.

Friday, April 24, 2015

On My Run

Photo from Gratisography. Go there to see more beautiful pictures by Ryan McGuire.

Last night,
while on my evening run I was listening to San Fermin’s new album Jackrabbit
(which you can buy here from iTunes),
I was not thinking at all.

It was a glorious night for a run;
beautifully warm (but not too warm) and airy (and not windy).
New leaves on trees planted on my chosen route were delightfully trembling in the breeze
(and I would surely hear them rustle if I was not wearing headphones).

Few people I met on the way were busy going on about their business
and their dogs about theirs,
and we moved by each other in space and time not causing ripples in each other’s paths.

Garmin was gently vibrating at each kilometer… 6:08, … 6:06,.. drawing attention to itself,
trying to be more important than it is -
But I kotowari’d.

"This is a holy time: B'tanay, the time of awakening.” rang in my mind.
Emily rang in my ears.
Legs moved feet one in front of the other.
And again.
And again.
Church radiated electricity expenditure.

A bit of darkness then one lovely round girly butt, traffic light, train station, gust of warm wind, elegant streetlights
and I’m home.
Garmin vibrates again and I cross the driveway taking out my keys.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

San Fermin - Emily

For some time I have been ruminating on this here blog about men’s  stories, especially relationship narratives (not necessarily romantic in nature) and about self-perceived shortcomings that can be remodeled at will. Many posts are connected to song lyrics and all of them are things I think about when awake, and feel even when asleep. If you’re into this kind of tales go and see other posts with tag “On Relationships”.

And now, let’s continue.

Photo borrowed from San Fermin homepage

So he tells me:

“Considering you have experience as a bisexual let me ask you something; is it true that girls are more emotional and passionate?”

“It's not.” I say. “Men are more emotional but do a better job hiding it. Women are more practical but know how to present themselves well. You know, I also have Masters in Psychology and there is a shitload of research in this field.”

Perfect example always presents itself timely so new SanFermin album is almost out and is available for streaming on CBC music until April20th.

I am in love with San Fermin for some time now; it is a thing of passion and heart wrenching sadness. It is a thing stopping my heartbeat and laying low in my throat threatening to smother me. It is both sex and death, it is anything and everything you could ask from music act and some more. Love, both open-eyed and fierce - not blind and careless.

I have heard Parasites (on Noisetrade Best of What's Next sampler) and Jackrabbit (from their soundcloud page) before but album itself is awesomeness overload. Warm, rich, vibrating with passion, compassionate, artful, inviting - inviting! - everything tightly packed in one haunting package.

But perfect example to illustrate example mentioned before is Emily.

I chuckle* from the very first verse, my mind’s eye leafing through the examples from personal experience. They are all like that ambiguous pictures from visual perception experiments; at first you do not see anything, but, once seen, pictures never revert to ambiguous lines. Not even if you would like them to.

And sometimes that is exactly what you would like :D

I love this part most:

“Here in my blurry condition
I hide myself in the room and
Just tell them all that it's nothing
Alone with all of these humans
It'll be believing in the midnight
Young unbeliever in the dim light
Can't believe it all comes to nothing”

Alone with all these humans

… Humans…

My heart goes to the guy who felt it to write it down afterwards. His are not the shoes I’d like to fill.

*that is not smug or happy chuckle. It is very heavy, hurt chuckle, criss-crossed with understanding only spear through the hip can grant.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Photo borrowed from here.

In the morning, when taking my hot'n'cold shower
I think about how,
in that moment that hot stream is interrupted with breathtaking cold,
I do not realy think about anything nor do I fear the upcoming temperature change.

I just enjoy the stream of hot water rushing down my body
and then I enjoy being engulfed in chill -
my nipples erecting
my breath stopping in fully expanded chest cavity for a moment
my stomach flat and
my shoulder blades lifted.
There is only me in that stream
but also there is no ME at all.

Pure ego-lessness.

Only water and fountain of joy.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Svemir Tako Jako album promotion @ Klub. 30Jan2015

On Friday night 30Jan2015 I went to see my friend Zvonka and her band Svemir promote their latest album Tako jako at Klub. in downtown Zagreb.

I wrote about Zvonka before on this blog (several times) and in the meantime her story only got more awesome and her music more rounded and complex. The band also helped to polish the sound into something that is much, much more than the sum of its parts. They played a lot of gigs, wrote a lot of songs, had their promo pictures taken (and they are beautiful) and have talked with press and made playlists for music portals.

As I had theatre tickets for same date I came to Klub just as warmup act was wrapping up. Lots of familiar faces nodded in recognition while I was walking through the crowd. Turning corner to the stage I was intercepted by Zvonka's tight hug and words whispered into my ear:"I cannot speak!". We exchanged glances and her sparkling eyes spoke for her, of the excitement and happiness.

No words were necessary.

I went and bought myself dark blue Svemir T-shirt from the merch stand. Talked some with her offspringess. Found myself a nice spot in front of the stage.

Band was adjusting finally for the performance.

Matko, Ivana, San, Saša and Zvonka. How to draw the line between them being preforming musicians and them being dear friends?

No line can be drawn.

There was San's girlfriend few steps from me in the audience, gazing at him proudly. Shitload of "true fans" trembling with excitement. Group of professional photographers working their magic.

Music just started pouring out of Svemir and into us, filling up every nook and cranny. Klub. sound guy outdid himself, again. Music was warm and organic and it felt and sounded absolutely awesome. I can see that, as time goes by, I am growing more and more fond of their sound and their sound also drifts closer and closer to the style that I prefer.

I listened and I danced. My insides tingled with pleasure and my mind with feeling of pride with Zvonka and all her story means to me. In the audience I saw her partner, dressed very smartly and glowing with love and pride. We shake hands without words through the crowd and we nod and we know we share this admiration for Zvonka, there on the stage.

Zvonka talks a little in between songs and we hear that Hladne Ruke (Cold hands) carries a pro-social message and we're often swept away by energy of their performance. Songs feel alive, much more so then on the studio recordings as even the songs I heard many times before carry a kind of sound evolution in them, constantly changing and being re-arranged to fit into their evolving musical landscape.

They call guests to the stage and Nikola and later Žaki deliver hard and true. It is tough not to see both love and practical benefit of caring for other performers on current Zagreb scene. I'm always so smitten with Zvonka's street-smart networking ability.

My feet hurt and I realize I'm already too long in too high a heel to be bouncing in them in the front row so I go back and find myself a place to take the weight off my toes. Performance is slowly approaching the end and I hear two of my old favourites plasantly situated in the darkness of the den. I admire the sound guy, still bouncing up and down through the crowd, adjusting, smoothing, rounding the edges. Audience shifts to and fro carrying full drink cups and full bladders and the sound is staying beautiful and crisp.

They play Prašina and they play Ne sjećam se kiše and I mouth the words absentmindedly with eyes wet with tears. There is so much in this music; there is... years of living, of feeling, of fierce and unforgiving battles and so much licking the wounds healed.

So many victories.