Friday, October 31, 2014

Stressed days

I work in clinical trials field for just a month less than seven years now. It is a high stress job but also very challenging and educational, so I am pleased with it because it feeds into my highest values.
And yet sometimes, like this week, stress is quite overwhelming and if I weren’t focusing all my mental efforts into dealing with work-related issues I would try to multitask and would end up spreading myself too thin.

I do not wait to crack, I inform close ones in advance that I’ll be less readily available and it works well, cutting on misunderstandings and additionally getting a heaping portion of social support.
I like this modus operandi, one that is product of years of trial and error.

In the evening I cook dinner and listen to offspringess drone on about school issues and Minecraft and youtube tutorials and I have myself some high-fiber date sweetened oatmeal carob cookies and I roll myself in blanket and kittens come and sleep on top of me while I read a book.

Life feels sweet and well-portioned and I thoroughly enjoy it, even with the stress and all.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pičke Vrište at Klub 24Oct2014

Last week Pičke Vrište (name would be something between vaginas/chicks scream, since in Croatian we colloquialy use same term for vaginas and atractive females, thank you for asking) released new album Nedovršena Priča (i.e. Unfinished Story that you can hear and download here from bandcamp) and I immediately loved it so on Friday night I went to see Picke Vriste promote their new album at Klub. club.

I drove circles through downtown for half an hour searching for a parking spot. Good thing I am such a zen driver ‘cause if I was any less calm feathers would fly and there would be some extremely plucked chickens roaming through Zagreb.

I expected more of a  crowd (even with several gigs I knew were going on in close venues) but when I arrived Bezbeli Apstraklije were playing to an almost empty room. I loved the styling but sadly, apart from that, I have nothing nice to say about their act. They sounded dissapointed, bitter and slow, even the jokes frontman made about that sounded stretched and insincere. Maybe it just wasn't their day.

Soon after, Street Eaters went onstage to arrange their set. I didn’t listen to them before but was intrigued with bare drum (Megan March) /bass (Johnny Geek) setup. They both sing and their genre seems to be truewave punk, term they assigned to selves and which probably serves to point out their sincerity and flatter their bare form. I liked their performance; they are very energetic and they quickly draw attention to themselves. Also, songs are quite melodic, albeit not decorated much. I liked the crazy sound effect their music makes that feels and sounds like it is going backwards for a time (I’d say Doppler effect by impression it creates but that is not it). I liked how Megan was aptly communicating with the audience when Johnny’s string broke and he had to change it - this was truly amazing to watch and I can only applaud for that as it was a wonderful mixture of apologetic yet bright “thinking on your feet” that was perfect for not very kind and half-drunk audience we sported at that time.  Oftentimes at this punk gigs I’m quite ashamed with manners we the audience present ourselves with and am also quite humbled when performer shows mad skillz in appeasing the half-witted. 

To return back to the music impressions I especially loved Dead Parts, song from their current album, that you can also listen to (or download) here from their bandcamp page.

And finally, room filled up and Pičke Vrište climbed on stage.

By this time there was a nice crowd gathered in Klub. I noticed many musicians in the audience, gathered to support their colleagues; Ivana from Auguste, Vito from Kurve, guys from Vlasta Popić,… lot of familiar faces. Pičke Vrište played hard right from the start and songs sounded really powerful. I have to give credit also to Klub sound guy who worked a large miracle there to polish the sound as it was excellent by the time they played third song even if it was wonky at the beginning. To my experience Klub is more of acoustic and DJ kinda place as that kind of things sound well there, but for rock/punk things venue setting is pretty unfortunate - and yet this Friday I was proven wrong as this sounded really nice. 

The only resentment I have is that it just flew by too quickly and I was hoping for at least an hour of performance.

Album sounds great and I’m already looking forward to the next gig: 04Dec2014 at Attack! 
There may even be some freshly silk-screened T-shirts there ;)

On a completely different note, one other interesting thing happened there.

I think I had "a moment" with a guy there. That kind of moment when you feel weak in the knees and you carry on carrying it around with you for days. This kind of moment:

I really liked that moment. I hope I'll be seeing more of that moment again. 
Soon. :D

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.

* Book review also on my Goodreads page here.

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.