Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Wake after dreaming

Wow. Resonance. That's what it's called, when something moves and in doing so moves others in its grasp to their deepest depths. There is an ephemeral quality to that kind of tugging-on-your-heartstrings emotion. Doesn't last. Not in all its breathtaking strength. The aftermath lasts somewhat longer...

I'm finally done with all ten volumes of The Sandman. All good things end, and in doing so, they leave behind a sense of emptiness. All of you who say 'comic book' with such derision, implying an inherent lack of depth, of character, of the capacity to be transcendent, read this. That will be all.

Currently: blown away!
Listening to: George Ezra - Song 6

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The peaceful sound of gunfire in the valley

There are summer days and there are summer days. I know, I know what I sound like, but what can I say? It had been a bit depressing till about the middle of last week, and then things got pretty good. But yesterday was in a completely different league :).

It was just a little bit cooler than the few days before, which was perfect for a nice long bike ride. The fact that we were mostly on trails running along a river or around lakes probably helped too. The sun was out, with just enough clouds to keep things interesting.

After hours of semi-aimless wandering in an area none of us had ever cycled to before, (stopping often to eat wild strawberries and raspberries that seemed to be growing just everywhere) we found ourselves high above a wooded valley with the fjord in the distance. You could see Oslo and some of its eastern suburbs, but not hear it :).

What you could hear was the staccato gunfire from the shooting range hidden amongst the trees echoing off the hills. Couldn't see any flying or shattering clay pigeons though. But then we weren't looking too closely either :).

One thing I did discover on the way back was an awesome hidden path running quite a long way. I knew the area, roughly, all residential bits and schools and things. But this seemed like a different world, like we'd gone through a portal in Bekkestua and come out the other end, miraculously transported to Sandvika without actually going through any of the places in between :).

And to top it all off we decided the best way to cool off would be a swim in the lake once we got back. Not my first time in a lake here, believe it or not, but I'm pretty sure it's a mighty short window here, right at the peak of summer where the water gets anywhere close to not freezing, so I'm making the most of it.

It was easier to float around with pretty much no effort out in the fjord on Friday, but the sudden bits of ice cold water getting kicked about by one passing boat or another wasn't fun. So all in all, the lake was a pretty nice way to wrap up the picture perfect summer day :).

Currently: slightly fidgety
Listening to: George Ezra - Budapest

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Deep breaths

There are moments of surprising clarity that come to me occasionally during extended periods of physical activity. While cycling for instance. With the weather finally beginning to clear up a little bit, I decided to revisit some trails I hadn't in a while. Cycling, unlike hiking, is something I find easy enough to do by myself.

Speaking of said moments of clarity, at some point yesterday, while huffing and puffing my way up a particularly annoying uphill stretch, I realized that I'd somehow almost forgotten about it! One of the best evenings I've had in a long time! Pearl Jam played live in Olso a couple of weekends ago, and guess what? I was there!

Since then many things have happened, and somehow the memories of that evening got sort of buried. (Of course the consumption of an injudicious amount of alcohol might also have had something to do with that, but moving on.) So! Pearl Jam! I'd seen them live before, way back in '06 in Perth for the first time and I suppose in some ways this was never going to top that. But what a show. I have to say I haven't paid particular attention to their last album, but despite that, it was thoroughly entertaining. There was enough of the good old stuff to make it all rather magical, despite the venue.

That's one thing with music I suppose, and I might have mentioned this before, it's got this ability of transporting one back in time. And every time I think that, I think of that story about an entire book that takes place within the space of one song. People who've seen Before Sunset would know what I'm talking about.

One film I saw recently and was rather intrigued by was Only Lovers Left Alive. My initial curiosity was mostly because it stars Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. Despite being rather ponderous in its pace, I must say I did like it quite a lot. Something to do with the pros and cons of permanence amidst an unending ocean of turbulent change.

Right, so on to the main thing that has occupied the better part of my attention recently, the World Cup. It so happens that I am an Argentina fan. Always have been. Something to do with the first (completely unremembered) World Cup I ever saw in '86 (or so I am told, I wasn't yet at an age where long term memories begin to impede one's happy existence). By the time the '90 final rolled around though, most of my football related world had been based upon borrowed memories of Maradona's genius and an impregnable belief that this time around I would have my own memories of his heroics once Argentina won again.

Most people know how that went. Did anyone see Robben consoling that little kid in the stands after the penalties last night? Well, I suppose I can sympathise. While I wasn't in Rome in person, learning the hard lesson that the terrible things you cannot imagine do happen wasn't any easier when seen from the other side of a flickering little CRT screen, awake way past my bed time. I remember being told then, there would be the next final for Argentina to win. An adult's way of consolation I suppose, as my world seemed to have momentarily fallen apart. And every four years since (with the exception of the '02 World Cup, which passed me by completely for one very good reason) I have waited.

Should I accept that there is a one in two chance that Argentina might lose again? Might make it easier to take the loss if that eventuality were to transpire. Or should I live dangerously? Give in completely to belief as I once did?

Feeling: dangerously confident
Listening to: Moby - A long time

Monday, 7 July 2014

I hope they didn't get your mind...

We need to fetch back the time

They have stolen from us

So I figured a blow by blow review (Well, I don't really do reviews, it's more a general emotional response thing, no?) as I read each volume of The Sandman was going to be rather unsustainable. Especially the rate at which I've been devouring them :). So this seems like a good time to sort of pause a little. At the end of Brief Lives (aka The Sandman volume 7).

I shall borrow shamelessly from Tim Callahan over at Tor, the bit where he proposes the cycle of "quest, aid, pot-pourri" to summarise what the first six volumes seem to do, in turn. The point being, the first is where our dear Dream of the Endless (best character name, ever by the way) goes on a quest, the second where he helps someone else, and the third where, well, it's just a general messy bunch of stories clumped together.

I must admit I didn't particularly love volumes 3 and 6, the pot-pourri ones. There are undoubtedly some nice stories in there, but it's all just a bit too all over the place. So from volume 3 to 7, my absolute favourite is Brief Lives. And not just because of Delirium :). (That's just such a totally awesome character though! I mean, she can turn her eyes back to the same colour. But only if she tries oh so very hard. And it hurts. Jeez! Awesome!! Well, I suppose you'd have to read it for that to make any sense.) Anyhoo, more than Delirium, or even the prodigal Destruction, I like how everything just sort of makes sense! Even when it probably shouldn't. There is a random scattered logic to it all.
All labyrinths are one labyrinth, all mazes meet at the centre.
I mean come on! That's just brilliant :). A not that close second would be A Game of You. I should really stop reading the re-read thing till I'm done with it all though. Dude's really not all that careful about sideways spoilers about future volumes. I mean I get it, it's a re-read thing, but still!

So I went swimming again today, after close to a month I think. A couple of hundred metres in I got the feeling I've been reading a little too much Sandman a little too quickly. See, someone's been asking me recently what I see when I close my eyes. The first few times there seriously was just nothing. I mean, there's too many things, which is sort of the same thing. But I suppose that's the sort of thing where the more you think about it the more you keep thinking about it. Whatever.

Anyway, there I was, head properly and happily underwater after a long time, floating along, and I kept thinking, if I just close my eyes, I'll have no trouble finding my way right into the in-between places, the space between the realms. No real sounds, the occasional passing shadow, the even less frequent pressure of displacement as someone (or something?) passes by in a hurry. Hmm. I really need to finish off with this stuff before things get properly out of hand :P.

Also, new and entertaining music has landed on the radar.

Currently: hmm
Listening to: Milky Chance - Stolen dance

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The sand of dreams

After what has to have been one the most relaxed vacations ever, it's a bit hard to get into the whole work thing. Not surprising, that. In between grumbling about alarms and digging my way from under two weeks of stuff not done, complaining about the weather, being generally surprised by the Wimbledon upsets and the frequency of matches going to extra time in the World Cup, I have managed to finish up with The Sandman 2.

Now, to be perfectly honest, the whole Sandman mythos for me had been a bit vague. As in, it's this thing I'd been hearing about for ages. But no details appeared to be particularly forthcoming. So when I did get around to reading Preludes and Nocturnes, I had no particular expectations, or benchmarks for that matter, except Gaiman's writing. And let's be honest, graphic novels are an entirely different beast compared to the  kind with more words and less graphics.

What I did decide to do though, was go back to this Sandman re-read I'd seen on Tor. All of a sudden things made a lot more sense. Why The Sound of her Wings had seemed so different from the others in that collection, among other things. So it was with renewed curiosity that I started with The Doll's House. And what a story that is.

Each issue is at the same time completely isolated yet part of a whole. As barely-there characters from Preludes and Nocturnes suddenly make appearances and the narrative strings start getting collected towards a conclusion it begins to appear, the notion that here is another story beneath the pages, hiding, that you can only catch glimpses of, that is waiting for you to work it out for yourself from the hints that are everywhere.

This is everything that I have come to expect from the darkly ominous Gaiman. Now I am really hooked. And I really like Morpheus :).

Currently: being not particularly productive :(
Listening to: Ramin Djawadi - 2500 toms of awesome