Tuesday, December 31, 2013

From The Inside

Few years back I usually got into a business of reviewing my year before beginning of the next in kind of attempt to appraise efficiency and progress through arbitrary parameters.

It gave me a sense of closure which sorely lacked in my daily endeavors as I regarded myself as a ginormous failure having failed in my authenticity (since I got formally married even though I had no desire to do so), in relationship maintenance (since I maintained relationships that should have been discarded long before and have failed to maintain relationships that would bear fruit at a later time) and in my career (since I attended college and successfully finished all classes but have not graduated).

Now, all this has changed - after years of procrastination I just got up and did things that needed to be done and closure is attained - so this year, instead of filing the edges to make things more fitting, I can roughen them up and greet the new Year with questions just opened.

Things I learned this year I wish to pursue more in the Future:

1. There’s always someone offering to buy you a drink 

It is very easy to stay alone. You just keep your guard up, don’t let anybody close enough to make you feel, politely say no to opportunities, go home when you notice yourself loosening up. So easy - and yet, people do cry over spilt milk without ever noticing that they are spilling it themselves.

2. It is not true that when you leave school there are no opportunities to make new friends

Friendship is a commodity you find in strangest places and the best thing is that you find it precisely because you are lurking around those strangest places yourself. It is a two-way game that brings pleasure of unity sniper and spotter have - joining different strengths and proclivities into common, differently unattainable goal.

3. Sex is something you bring to the party, not something the world creates for you

Most difficult thing for me to understand is that people have sex as a chore. They do not enjoy doing a good job (1), personalizing it for the other person (2), they do not enjoy sculpting it for own pleasure (3) through either verbal or nonverbal communication, nor enjoy the fact of sharing an intimate moment (4). If things are as described, it is easy to understand that there is not much excitement there to fuel ongoing passion. I think this is silly since just imagining an erect cock or tit glistening with sweat is enough to get my juices flowing, and an actual participation of another person makes me pleased as a kid unwrapping best birthday present ever.

4. Authenticity takes more than being unyielding

To be true to one’s self takes more than sticking behind one’s choices. It sometimes takes changing your mind, switching choices and advocating different positions. It sometimes even takes accepting inevitability and making it work for you. Authenticity takes not standing behind what you think is right but moving toward and making happen what you think is right.

And, for the end - my absolutely favorite thing of this whole year:

A photo, taken without my knowledge by a professional photographer who also happens to be my dear friend (Again: Thank you, Saša! You really are a master!), of ME, during a concert.

This is what my pleasure looks like from the outside.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In a Place Where Madmen Meet - Mika Male at MMC 07Dec2013

There are stories that just won’t conform to not being retold.

There are stories that somehow find a way to shine right out of your eyes onto the world that consequently grows hungry and adamant to listen, to make talk.

I have already retold this story, the story of how it was to see Mika Male promote their new album “Tamo gdje se sastaju luđaci” (“In a place where madmen meet”), 28 times from Saturday night to few moments ago here at work. The first time that I TOLD this story, before re-telling it, the story was one sentence long. It went:

This was,
by far,
the most beautiful auditory experience I have ever had.

Of course, there were many other parts of the experience beside auditory but as far as auditory experiences go, and the plethora of components that they may utilize, this was brilliant.

Before coming to MMC I met a friend for a drink and some catching up and we were eager to see the show and we entered MMC right before the appointed time. The band was there, and some audience and the stage, set so beautiful and warm like the sweetest promise that’s been made.

We mingled a bit.

There were some welcome drinks and a small table with merch and the band was still preparing for the show. Some ate foil-bundled sandwiches and some hid in the powder room. All were wide-eyed and visibly excited, so beautifully human in their nervousness. At one moment someone asked Orlan when are they going to start and he said, absentmindedly and bewildered, as if talking about some exotic ritual: ”I think the girls are putting on makeup” and we exchanged glances and smiled as he wandered off.

I chose to sit in front, close to the stage. Christmas lights wrapped around coat hangers and  handrails glowed.

Tomislav Zorić from Olovni ples a.k.a. Nevjerni Tomo (Doubting Thomas) opened with a few words about the occasion and few beautiful songs among which was my personal favorite Noćas je moja duša. 

You can hear that song, as well as many others here, on his bandcamp page. Try as I might I cannot explain wonderful, velvety timbre and fullness of musical picture while Tomo played; it’s hard to believe that there’s just one guy with a guitar and a voice as it sounds so complete and well balanced. He also spoke a bit in between songs and he told us most of the songs he’ll play for us are his compositions around Đuro Sudeta's poems and that one (Siva) is an original work of his bandmate from Olovni Ples. That bandmate is Stipe Periša who was also in the audience, and Tomo tried to call him to stage but Periša held firmly his ground even though we clapped and cheered him on. We could almost see Stipe blush in the semidark of the third row.

After a tiniest bit of rearranging Mika Male started to play.

The girls were absolutely beautiful, with makeup and all.

When the performance is extraordinarily great my mind grows blank and even though I am completely present in the moment and I know all the lyrics and I silently mouth them and I move and dance, even sitting down, I cannot remember nor repeat the set list. I know that there was Sve je novo somewhere in the beginning as Orlan said that before the song started. 

I know they said at one point that they’re playing whole new album by track listing, and that I glanced the listing at one time and said: “My favorite is next” (before Već smo bili ovdje). I heard my friend Zvonka, sitting next to me, say: “Sound rehearsal must have taken 100 years” at one point and by that I was made aware that there is insane quantity of instruments on stage, including a small glockenspiel.

And in the middle of the very last song of the album I had to leave because I had tickets for one more concert that evening and I left in the very last minute to manage to get to Močvara and with a heavy heart because I had to leave such a magnifficent performance.

In Močvara, as I entered, a friend was waving to me just as the band was starting to play and he asked: "How was it?"
And I said:

This was,
by far,
the most beautiful auditory experience I have ever had.

Thursday, November 21, 2013



 Some 19 months ago I decided to turn off all chat functions of gmail.

I don’t get to see who is “on” and people from my address book don’t get to see the dot advertising my availability.

Why did I do that?

Well, I did not like the feeling that people were contacting me by pure opportunity. That we are conversing because of pure chance of my dot being green and that my time is being used as a filler because of someone else’s boredom. As this was something that bothered me I first took out a trial period in which I only made myself “invisible” and when that confirmed my hypothesis that “out of sight is out of mind” since no whatayodoin’ e-mails came during that period I took the leap and turned the availability banner off.

I like to think of my communication habits as one stemming from interest. When I wish to speak (correspond/converse/interact) with someone I wish to do so with particular person and about particular topic or field at which I consider that particular person to be an expert or valuable opinion holder. Some people give good money advice, some are well versed in music issues, with some I share skill or proclivity and some are exquisite “devil’s advocates” that find downsides even to most glorious deals. Some of them are wonderful people that emote and share in a way that one feels honored to spend time in their presence.

I find their expertise precious and their willingness to share it a gift. To waste anybody’s time by demeaning their worth using them as a prop to pass the time feels plain wrong.

So what did I get by going through with this change?

Well, I got the realization just how much of people that surround me will not be contacting me anymore. That is profoundly awakening fact. I learned that even the idea of “choice” in this issue - of consciously removing oneself out of the white noise of undirected traffic - is unheard of, strange and repulsing to some people. That some people fear that they will be forgotten (what basically  does that say about their relationships if being available around the clock is prerequisite for interaction?).

I also learned who will contact me and how kind and caring people can be, in addition to their fields of expertise. I learned that it is much easier to be attentive to own and other people’s states and needs if you’re not drowning in a flood of dopamine.

It is not strange now to see several e-mails from friends or people still unknown a week and for that e-mails to be full of substance and emotion so I have to think a day or two of what do I write back. It gives me the feeling of conversing in “snail mail” and waiting for a mailman that I still remember brought great joy. People sometimes contact me to tell me they loved my post or that they would like an advice on knitting or clinical trials or movie or want to discuss divorce or some other thing I made public here in this blog and I never ever feel like we’re wasting each other’s time.

It just brings great joy.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Man Zero and Russian Circles @ Mocvara 16Nov2013

Nothing ever changes, nothing stays the same.

I woke up yesterday, on the morning of the concert I've been waiting for over two years and ticket to which I've been proudly owning from the day they were released, with fever and sore throat, pounding headache and stressful news in my inbox.

Life as usual.

I prioritized; sickness today, stress tomorrow.

So I made some caramel milk and some good food and kept myself busy and warm. Night came. I expected terrible crowd so I parked even before the overpass and walked to Mocvara watching fog rise up from the river. Went in. Met friends old and new and smiled and conversed.

Soon, Man Zero were up...

... and the sound was so impeccable and beautiful - loud and clear and particular and warm - I was standing there in the front moved and in rapture. I have listened to them half a dozen times already and I know they are excellent but there is always something new or something more and their music always feels so fresh and so familiar at the same time.

There is often a gimmick at the end of their performance when they use effects, pound on guitars and extract the sounds from their instruments while leaving the stage and even though it wasn't my first time to see this I find it completely great and a perfect ending to the show.

... and I love how there are always people to show genuine surprise with this:

After a short break and some stage rearranging it was time for Russian Circles to go up. In the meantime the audience changed and Mocvara was now jam-packed with people. Many of that people were clearly not there because of Russian Circles music but to socialize and that would later prove to be exceptionally annoying because they couldn't keep their mouth shut during quieter passages so they successfully mangled the experience of a flow of the performance into isolated islands of noise in a yapping stream of stupidity.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First Russian Circles got out and they played.

... and in my opinion there were two things miscalculated from their side. First was the fog. Fog makes for lousy visibility so it is lousy for taking pictures, but it also distracts audience from performers into their own world of having fun. Slightly tipsy and half drunk people find easier to forget they are on a live show when they are not able to see it so they talk and, what's even worse, they take out their cigs and smoke - what fucks it up for that other half who would like to participate in a live gig.

Second thing is the sound itself. It took me shortest possible amount of time to see that this is not going to be crystalline sound of a gig dedicated to skill. This was more of a grinding gig, showing their metallic side, power over skill, and that brought too much bass into the equation. 

All things considered; the audience, the fog and the bass - not much of their exquisite music shone through.

I love them to bits so I've already forgiven them, then and there, while sounds of Mladek were filling up the room as a billowing fire of magnificence.

On a nights like this, when I surge from the venue with last notes played still ringing in my ears I so wish it was always a summer night, vibrant and close to the skin, and that it would last forever. 


I could then just keep on walking, with the wonder of that sound in my ears, overjoyed and empty, like a crystal glass holding on to its tone.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Times They Are a-Changin'

Lately, I am pressed for time.
Early evenings make me too tired to write when I come home after all daily responsibilities,
But I listen to new music
And I watch new movies
And I go cycling on weekends (and even sometimes on weekdays!)
And I smell the change in the wind.

Love is IN. Emptiness is OUT.

Graffiti on highway overpass by Podsused bridge in Zagreb. Sentence below reads:"I love you forever"

I feel the tide
and it is changing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Make Your Own Om Nom

My daughter started playing “Cut the Rope” game a while back and she immediately fell in love with that cute Om Nom character. Of course she also wished for a “real one” and came to me with request to make her a knitted companion.

She said: “I KNOW you can do it.” so matter-of-factly and with a wide genuine smile that I could not refuse this request even if I weren’t enjoying the challenges she puts before me.

This toy is a small knitted plushie, filled with polyester fiber (pillow filling) and with details made from felt cloth, cotton thread and buttons. Mine is about 12cm in diameter, size of a larger apple. It is worked on a small set of dpns 2mm or smaller. Choose needle size to produce firm fabric with your chosen yarn. As it is often said to “take time to save time” try your hand/needles/yarn on a small swatch so that toy making doesn’t end in tears when you will be trying to fill too loose package.

So, to make one of your own prepare:
-          One skein of yarn (Om Nom is green in the game but it could be beautiful in any other color also. Depending on a yarn you chose you could have plenty left over as it only takes about 20 g to make one)
-          Set of 5 double pointed needless appropriate for your chosen yarn (mine were 2 mm for yarn Jelka - fingering 4ply, 200 m in 50 g)
-          2-3 handfuls of polyester pillow filling
-          2 small black shank buttons for pupils of the eyes
-          White and black felt cloth (I ran out of white so we used light blue)
          Darning needle
-          Small sewing needle

-          Cotton thread in felt cloth colors

Shaping of the ball that makes the body is like shaping the top of top-down hat like beret/tam that has 8 “slices” at sides of which you do all of your increasing and decreasing.
Using method of disappearing loop cast on 9 stitches (as the method does not allow for even number of stitches).

Preparatory row: divide stitches to 4 needles (2+2+2+3), mark beginning of round if you want (yarn tail will be hanging out of disappearing loop so maybe you can orient by this alone). You will now be working in the round, always with right side work facing you. Try to pull the tail to make sure it can be tightened.

1st row:  knit 2+knit 2+ knit2 and knit 3
2nd row: kfb all but the last 2 stitches, just knit them (there should be 4 stitches on each of 4 dpns)
3rd row: knit
4th row: kfb all stitches (doubling the stitches, there should be 8 stitches on each needle which equals 2 “slices” of 4 stitches each - from this point onward if you think in terms of “slices” it will be easier for you to visualize where to increase and decrease)
5th row: knit
6th row: *kfb, knit 2, kfb* two times per needle (2 slices of 6 stitches each or 12 stitches total per needle)
7th  row: knit
8th row: knit
9th row: *kfb, knit 4, kfb* two times per needle (2 slices of 8 stitches each or 16 stitches total per needle)
10th row: knit
11th row: knit
12th row: widening for “chest” and “back” of the toy will make Om Nom more balanced when sewing on feet so counting from the beginning of the round on 1st and 3rd needle kfb seventh and ninth stitch (total 18 stitches), knit all stitches on 2nd and 4th needle (stays 16 stitches)
13th row: knit
14th row: counting from the beginning of the round on 1st and 3rd needle kfb seventh and eleventh stitch (total 20 stitches), knit all stitches on 2nd and 4th needle (stays 16 stitches)
17th to 34th row: knit
35th row: counting from the beginning of the round on 1st and 3rd needle decrease ssk 7th and 8th stitch and k2tog stitch 12 and 13 (total 18 stitches), knit all stitches on 2nd and 4th needle (stays 16 stitches)
36th row: knit
37th row: knit
38th row: counting from the beginning of the round on 1st and 3rd needle decrease ssk  7th and 8th stitch and k2tog stitch 10 and 11 (total 16 stitches), knit all stitches on 2nd and 4th needle (stays 16 stitches)
39th row: knit
40th row: knit
41st row: decrease at the ends of “slices” so *ssk, knit 4, k2tog* 2 times per needle (slices of 6 stitches or total 12 per needle)
42th row: knit
43th row: *ssk, knit 2, k2tog* 2 times per needle (slices of 4 stitches or total of 8 per needle)
44th row: knit - here is when you fill the body with pillow filling. Fill quite packed as you will work few more rows afterward to close out the body so there will be enough filling for whole body.
45th row: *ssk, k2tog* 2 times per needle (total 4 stitches per needle)
46th row: *ssk, k2tog* once per needle (as there are no more stitches left and with this decrease it leaves 2 stitches on each of four needles)
47th row: k2tog each needle stitches, collecting them to one needle only (4 stitches total)
48th to 52nd row: knit 5 rows of i-cord with remaining 4 stitches
53rd row: kfb all stitches, dividing them to 4 needles (2 stitches on each needle)
54th row: knit
55th row: kfb all stitches (4 stitches on each needle)
56th to 60th row: knit
61st row: *ssk, k2tog* all around (2 stitches on each needle)
62nd row: knit
Fill the small tentacle on Om Nom’s head and cut approx. 20 cm tail of yarn. Darn needle with the end of yarn and pull it through all remaining stitches, closing it like the disappearing ring in the beginning (cast on). Weave the end firmly and invisibly into the tentacle.

LEGS (make 4)
Cast on 8 stitches using Judy’s Magic Cast On - 4 stitches on each needle, like you are casting on for a sock.
Knit one row.
In second row increase kfb on beginning and end of each needle (6 stitches per needle, 12 total)
Knit one row.
Increase kfb on beginning and end of each needle (8 stitches per needle, 16 total).
Knit around dividing stitches on 4 needles, 4 stitches each, mark beginning of round if needed.
Knit 4 more rounds.
Cast off not too loosely, cut approx. 20 cm tail. 

Cut out eye whites and 4 teeth from light felt.
Cut out thin line for the mouth from black felt.

So, now you have all your parts for making Om Nom...

... and when you arrange them like this you can almost see how he will look like.

Make sure to position body correctly in regards with supposed “chest” and “back” (increases and decreases on 1st and 3rd needle) before you begin attaching feet. Using the tail from cast off attach feet to the body, filling it with polyester fiber when you come to last 3-4 stitches and close all holes and weave in ends neatly.  

Using black cotton thread sew shank buttons to the light felt making the pupils for the eyes.
Using light cotton thread sew eyes to the body.
With black thread sew mouth to make Om Nom smile.
With light thread sew teeth below the black line of mouth spacing them evenly apart so he looks cute and hungry.

Weave any remaining ends and go fetch him some candy. All done. 
You can even take him to work with you to show off :)