30 September 2006

Random ponderings

Uselessness sucks. Fortunately, not much in life is completely useless. People are never useless. Some small ornamental items might be useless, but oh so much fun anyway. Actually, the only really useless thing I can think of right now is infantry units in video games. Those are useless. It doesn't matter which game you're playing, infantry units always suck. They are the units you throw at your opponent out of sheer spite after he has killed off everything else you had. They are pretty much always about as effective as an ant spitting on a cow.

Fish are good. They're tasty, they're interesting and they can be used as weapons. If there was a nuclear holocaust, I believe that we could build up an entirely new civilization based on fish. Think about it. You can eat them. You can take their skin and make clothes, you can use their bones as needles, you can whap people over the head with them, and in a post-nuclear freezing cold climate, you can stack frozen fish and build fish igloos. Or even cabins! Just imagine living in your very own cod cabin! And if you like small and cosy abodes, why not find a large tuna fish and hollow it out? Perfect one room apartment!
I'm pretty sure you could kill someone with a frozen trout. Those fuckers are solid! You could use barracudas for spears, eels as swords, and if you need a dagger, just find a minnow and start stabbing people. If you need a table, just find yourself a decent sized manta and yoink it up on land until it freezes. Then use three salmons for table legs to put it on top of, et voila! A stylish manta table! You could probably make a fire with fish too. I'm sure you could start a fire by rubbing two fish together if you tried hard enough.
And then a couple of millennia later, historians would look upon their sophisticated fish-based civilization and reminisce about how it all started with a frozen fish.

26 September 2006

Tiredness again

Hello again, dear readers. I'm not updating this blog as often as I would like to, but I'm working 12-hour shifts right now, and something needs to be postponed for later. Right now I'm just making sure to take care of the more important stuff, like sleeping and eating.
I got a cold on top of it all. Everyone at work seems to have it right now, it sucks ass. It makes me feel even more tired than I otherwise would be... I'm in a pretty cranky mood right now. I wish my head would stop feeling like it's full of cotton, and that my sinuses would stop hurting. And I wish this week would pass quickly so that I can go back to somewhat more regular working hours. 12 hours a day gets me lots of money, but it's pretty tiring. I can't imagine how the people who work 15 hour days must feel. Or my brother, who is doing his PhD in technical physics. He works 16 hour days and will have no vacations whatsoever for the next three and a half years. Sucks to be him...

But now I must sleep. More work tomorrow.
Overandoutro. Moo.

20 September 2006

Long days

I'm working on a new project this week, and we're doing 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week. Not quite as bad as I thought it would be (yet, anyway), but still pretty exhausting. I get home, do something else for two hours, then go to bed. Then up again for more work. I feel like I'm doing nothing but sleep and work. I really hope that it won't be like this for more than this week and the next. If I have no free time for myself, I'm going to go nuts. Call me crazy, but these two hours after I get home are not enough.

It seems I should stop caring about people and trying to help them. All it seems to accomplish is to piss them off and alienate them. This is seriously bothering me. Fuck!!

18 September 2006

What to do...

You know the way you want to help a friend feel better if she calls you and is sad or upset? You listen, you talk to her, you care, you pay attention and do your best to cheer her up, right? So what do you do when two people do that at the exact same time? That happened to me today.
I was talking to Manda on skype, when Liza popped up on msn. Manda was all sad, so naturally I wanted to talk to her and help in any way I could. But Liza was also all sad, so of course I wanted to cheer her up too. But you don't want to give either one the impression that you're not paying attention to them, because that would be disrespectful and they might think that you don't care. And I really do care. But you also don't want to tell one of them that you can't talk to them right now since you're talking to someone else, because you like them both a lot, and they're sad and you don't want to just turn your back on either one of them, right? So what do you do?
I talked to both of them. Typing to one and speaking to one, and let me tell you, that was quite the exercise in concentration and focus. Holy crap... Two different people with completely different problems and both want to talk to you about them, and you have to keep your brain sharp as a razor to get everything they write and say, and to not answer the wrong thing to the wrong person, and... Fuck. This must be one of those situations that the universe puts you in just to fuck with you. What do you do in a situation like that?

I made a traditional norse meal called "kolbullar" for dinner today. The name translates into "coal cakes", more or less. It's a meal that was very common among lumberjacks, coal workers, railway workers and others that had to do strenuous manual labour away from home for several weeks at the time. The men usually had little or no knowledge about cooking, but they needed food that was very easy to make, and would make them full and give lots of energy. Coal cakes contain lots of fat and carbohydrates, so they brought sacks of flour and pork when they left for work. The kind I made today is a slightly fancier version with eggs in them, and with milk instead of water. Here's how to make the traditional kind:

1. Cut the pork into tiny pieces and fry them crispy in a frying pan over an open fire.
2. Mix water and flour and pour the mixture over the pork in the frying pan.
3. Fry the whole thing until it solidifies, then flip it over so that it gets cooked on both sides.
Serve and enjoy!

16 September 2006

Weekend at last!

It's friday! W00t!

Work was long and mostly boring. Thank god I'm done with that game. If I hadn't played it through a million times already, it would be a pretty entertaining game, but alas, I have. I'm soo sick of those stupid creatures... I mean, if I have to test it, I will of course test it even if I don't like it. That's what work is all about. But given the choice, I would rather never see that game again. After work I had a nice, long chat with my Swedish friend Liza on skype. She's one of those über-smart people who can do double full time studies and hold down a job at the same time. And she speaks russian, french and latin. Pretty cool.

I went to a party tonight at Eric and Virginia's place. Not bad, it was a fairly small party with people sitting around a fire having beer and throwing pretzels at eachother. Y' know, as one does in Canada... I did a small fire show to try out my new, short firesticks. They work pretty nicely to twirl around but they heat up quite a lot, so it's hard to use them for very long times at once.

After the party, I got back to my room and found a daddy longlegs spider, Pholcus phalangioides, crawling around in my room. I caught it in a small plastic container. These spiders are not venomous enough to harm a person at all, and they are actually not so effective against insects either. They have large nets that they bob around it, waiting for bugs to drop by. I managed to catch a fly in the same container, so I was hoping to get to see some spider vs. fly mortal combat here. But they don't really seem to care about eachother. They just ignore eachother and crawl around in the container. How disappointing.
Oh, now something is happening! The spider and the fly stumbled across eachother and it seems the spider somehow managed to bite the fly! The fly seems all woozy and is laying on it's back all dead-like now. Cool! Spider vs. Fly, 1 - 0. I'll go let them out outside soon.

14 September 2006

Midweek the gray

Today was cold, gray and rainy. I didn't sleep much last night, so I was dead tired all day too. I dragged myself to the office and went to work at the project I'm working on. At about 10.15 I looked at the clock and thought to myself: "Oh, for fuck's sake... Not even eleven yet?" Yeah. For some reason this seemed like the day that would never end. But it picked up a bit after I got home and talked to my Swedish friend on skype for a while. It's always as nice to see her online when I start the computer. Tomorrow is her birthday. I wish I could be there to congratulate her in person. Grrr... fuckin' Atlantic...

And now, just for fun, a poem I scribbled down yesterday. I originally wrote it in Swedish, so this is a translation of it.

Twilight falls over amber hills
and flaming forests go out
The earth releases the mists once more
to watch over grass and stones

Stars come alive on the heavenly sea
and the moon picks up it's journey
on the well-known path over humans' nest
that she wandered for countless nights

She looks down upon me, and eyes meet anew
as so many nights before
when I sat down to think, and envied her
that she nothing misses or needs

How majestic and fair, how unmoved she is,
in her dress of timeless silver
So unearthily beautiful, so wonderfully cool
this queen of heaven is

She touches my cheek with cold, warm hands
and bathes my body in her light,
until my breath is relaxed and I fall asleep,
to wake to another dawn

12 September 2006

Movies n stuff

I went to the movies with Stephan and Antoine today. They saw Little Miss Sunshine. Apparently a really good movie, but it didn't look all that interesting to me so I saw Hollywoodland instead. It's about this private investigator (Adrien Brody) who is trying to figure out how George Reeves, the actor who played Superman in the old TV-series (Ben Affleck) died. Did he kill himself? Was he murdered? Not a very fast-paced movie, more of a drama. But the tale is told in a very interesting way. The movie got off to a pretty slow start, but then it picked up and the ending was actually really good. And Ben Affleck actually did a really good job with this part. Adrien Brody is excellent as the PI, and both Bob Hoskins and Diane Lane are great! Hoskins does not play a very big role in this movie, but he has always been one of my favourite actors. He's usually pretty intense and very convincing in the parts he plays. Much like Armin Mueller-Stahl, who is almost scary in how genuinely he portrays the characters he plays, perhaps most notably in the movie Shine, where he portrays Peter Helfgott, the father of piano genius David Helfgott. The piano genius himself if played by an absolutely amazing Geoffrey Rush. In the scenes where Helfgott is playing the piano, it's actually Rush's own hands you see. Pretty cool...

Another very good movie on the theme of musicians, is Hilary and Jackie, a movie about the life of British classical cellist Jacqueline Du Pré, played by Emily Watson. The film is based on the book A genius in the family, written by Jacqueline's sister and brother-in-law. The movie adapts the hell out of the book, portraying Jacqueline as quite the nutcase and a not very likeable person. But putting realism and historical accuracy aside, it is an incredible movie, both tragic and gripping, about the cello prodigy's decline into a devastating and ultimately terminal disease. Bring tissues if you decide to see it, as chances are you'll be crying a lot.

There are a lot of good movies and loads of good actors. Jet Li is a good actor. Now, I realize that that sentence will quickly remove any credibility I might have as a film critic in the eyes of some people, but keep reading, and I will tell you what I mean.
Jet Li is not likely to win any oscars for best male actor anytime soon. He's no Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep. But look at what he does. So far he has mostly done martial arts movies, straightforward things with relatively simple plots where the main idea is to display breathtaking fight choreographies and stunning martial arts skills. And with that in mind, Jet Li is incredibly good and successful at what he does! Anybody who knows anything about martial arts knows who Jet Li is. So in his own way, Jet Li is a great actor! Much the same way Arnold Schwartzenegger is. Arnie might not be the most expressive and flexible actor on the screen, but as the stereotypical action hero, who blows things up and kills people while spouting more or less lame one-liners, he's about as good as they get. In fact, he's one of the most successful action heroes on screen ever. So yup, he's a great actor too. As long as you remember that a great actor is not necessarily the same thing as an actor who can play any part given to him or her perfectly, and move the audience to tears with incredible skill and sincerity.

10 September 2006

Work and toil

I worked a lot this week. Nothing excessive, but more than I usually do. The last three days have been pretty intense. I went to Montreal for some testing on thursday and didn't get home again until 01.20 am. Then to sleep, then up again for more work on friday. And today I went back to Montreal again for some more work. It was nice to work somewhere else for a change, the variation is always welcome. I must say that it was a bit tough to get up at 6.30 this morning... But I should get a relatively fat paycheck next week. One can always do with a wee bit more money, especially with the not-quite-opulent salary that I have. I've found that the money is enough to live a decent life, but it seems nearly impossible to save any money. I'm not even spending that much money. All I spend it on is food, rent and bills, but still I have no money left at the end of the month. Hmm...

I played some more flute today. I only played for about half an hour, which is far from enough if I want to regain the level I had four months ago, let alone improve, but it's a start. Before I graduated, I was practising for about three to four hours per day on average. If you're curious about what I sounded like four months ago, you can check out my website. There are a few sound clips from my graduation concert there.
But now I'm enjoying playing again. Now I can play stuff I like because I want to and because I like to play, not because I have to. Though it kind of pisses me off how much I've lost during these four months. I sound like shit and feel like a beginner. Oh, well...

I've also gotten started with writing music again. So far I've only written a couple of songs in Swedish, but I'm working on some more electronic instrumental stuff too. I'll try to figure out a way to put it up online after I finish something more.

07 September 2006

Music music music...

I played the flute today for the first time in quite a while. I played for maybe half an hour, so not so long, but still. It was pretty nice, I haven't felt like practising since before I graduated. And I didn't really practise today either, I mostly just played. But holy crap have I've gotten out of shape... You really lose it fast when you stop practising. I'd need to play for a couple of hours every day for at least a few weeks before I would be anywhere near where I was before I stopped playing. Anybody know a good pianist I could play with?

My Swedish friend sent me some Swedish candy, I got it in the mail yesterday. Whee! Plopp... So good... And she said she was going to take one of those stiff cardboard tubes that you send posters in, and jam it full of lingonberry jam and send it to me. I have no idea if she was being serious or if she was joking, I really couldn't tell. I guess I'll find out...

I'm going to work in Montréal tomorrow and on Saturday. We're going to work on a game consol that we don't have here at the office in Sainte-Adele, so we need to go to the game developers' office and test the game there. I hear it's a pretty big place with lots of people. Should be fun!

05 September 2006

Songs and stuff

I talked to my Swedish friend again today. I finished writing a song to her, so I sang it to her on skype. She was typing something, and I was just playing around with my guitar while talking to her, and then I started singing without telling her anything about the song. When she realized what I was singing, she abruptly stopped typing and went dead quiet. She was completely stunned and didn't know what to say for several minutes. It was hilarious! I haven't seen her speechless like that before. She liked the song though, so good deal. :)

I feel like I'm starting to want to play music more seriously again. I haven't really felt that since well before my graduation concert in May. It might be time to dig out the flute and the sheet music and start practising again soon. I'm also going to start practising and singing more seriously with the guitar. Sucks ass that my work permit only allows me to work at Enzyme while I'm here. Otherwise I might start looking for gigs to get some extra cash.

I don't get that whole work permit thing. I'm already here, I already have a job. Why would it be a problem if I was working with something else on the side?

Tomorrow we're going to Montreal to listen to a concert with Matt Ward. I haven't heard any of his music before, but Stephan tells me it's good stuff.

04 September 2006

Ow...

I fell while climbing a little more than a week ago now and hurt my leg and my shoulder, so I've been taking it pretty easy lately. It seems now that I might have hurt myself a bit more than I thought. A couple of days ago I noticed that the scratches on my leg were almost healed, but that I had a big bruise below the scratches that wasn't there the days after I fell. I seems to have showed up several days after the initial injury. And my ankle is kind of swollen. I put some ice on it, and holy fuck did that hurt... Is it supposed to start aching like hell when you put ice on it?
My shoulder is also in not so great shape, it seems I might have gotten some kind of inflammation in it. It has been aching since I went climbing on tuesday, thinking it was ok. Now it aches even when I'm not doing anything. Annoying... I'm going to take it as easy as I can for a week and take ibuprofen to relieve the inflammation and aching. If it hasn't gotten better within a week, I'll have to get a doctor take a look at it.

Today was a pretty lazy day. My housemates went to the Osheaga festival in Montreal, so I was home alone. I cleaned up my room, talked to some people on skype and tried to write some music. I got some ideas for songs that might turn out to be useable, but I didn't finish anything yet.
I bought a new pillow yesterday. It's so much better than the one I had! Now I can wake up without pain in my neck every morning.

01 September 2006

Poetry? What's that?

There are huge amounts of poets in the world. Some are good, some are bad, and some are just plain weird. Some write songs, some write rhyming poems, some write prose...
I like Tankas. A Tanka is a short, originally Japanese form of poetry. It has five lines, usually with the syllable division of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7. They are often very interesting to read because of their brevity. They can contain an entire world of ideas, condensed into 31 syllables. A mood, an idea, an atmosphere... Kind of like the essence of a novel in five short lines.

Above the ocean
a feeling of loneliness
carried by the wind
Lost by someone long ago
Does it feel unloved and sad?

The Tanka has been around for about 1300 years, and is considered the most important of Japanese poetry forms. Every man and woman of class was expected to know how to compose a good Tanka to conclude special occasions with. It wasn't actually called a Tanka until after the Meiji era, or 19th century, when it was given that name to distinguish it from Waka poetry.

Poetry is a peculiar thing. What is it? I dare you to give me a good answer to that. Why is poetry poetic? What is the purpose of poetry? What makes good poetry good?
I'm sure everybody has heard the famous 18th sonnet by Shakespeare:

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And oft' is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd:
But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

This poem is written in the form of a sonnet. A rather complex form, not so easy to write. Is this a good poem? I'm pretty sure most people would agree that it is. But why? Because it's beautiful? Well written? Thought provoking? Because it rhymes? Because it has some kind of emotional impact on the reader?
How about this one:

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

This is an excerpt from Dylan Thomas's And death shall have no dominion, a classic in it's own right. Now compare these two with this one:

My love, do you recall the object which we saw,
That fair, sweet, summer morn!
At a turn in the path a foul carcass
On a gravel strewn bed,

Its legs raised in the air, like a lustful woman,
Burning and dripping with poisons,
Displayed in a shameless, nonchalant way
Its belly, swollen with gases.

The sun shone down upon that putrescence,
As if to roast it to a turn,
And to give back a hundredfold to great Nature
The elements she had combined;

And the sky was watching that superb cadaver
Blossom like a flower.
So frightful was the stench that you believed
You'd faint away upon the grass.


Life, love, sorrow, death... Universal themes of life, from quite different angles, don't you think? This last text is an excerpt from Charles Baudelaire's Une Charogne, A Carcass, translated to English by William Aggeler. So what do these three poems have in common? What makes them good? Are they any good, really? I say three, the first tanka doesn't count since it's written by me. I wouldn't presume to compare myself with Shakespeare, Dylan and Baudelaire. Ha! What a joke... Anyways, think about it. I'm not here to give you any answers, only to provoke thoughts in you. Figure it out for yourselves!

Only thinking what others tell you to think is just as bad as not thinking at all. So start thinking! Have fun! ;)