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.