“You just got Holtzman’d, baby!”
I took a long ride tonight. I’ve been wanting to take the bike out for a ride for a very long time. I never have any real reason for riding it and never have the money to indulge in any real travel. But today I hit a wall and I needed to get out.
I first rode to Chinook. Why? Because it gave me a single, simple goal and allowed me to use a couple of “fast” roads to take the bike up to speed. I parked at the very top of the parking cluster and stopped in at the food court. Treating myself to a cheap meal I relaxed and finished a book I’d been reading. “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline. It’s a fascinating little book juxtaposing the life of an orphan in the 1930s with the life of an orphan in the aughts. Vivian was orphaned in New York in 1929 and bounced between a few homes of increasing misery before lucking out with a couple who owned a general goods store. Molly is orphaned in the 2000s and bounces from foster home to foster home before encountering Vivian.
It says something about me that, in the last few pages of the book, as the storyline becomes more and more positive, I kept waiting for the Bad News Hammer to fall. But everything ended up okay, families were reunited, and everything was a super duper happy ending.
Which kind of disappointed me, and cheapened the struggles. Everything up until that point had been painfully realistic, with loss and achievement fairly evenly matched. When things went truly horrid I had the sense that the characters would seize on a chance that would turn their fortunes around, and they did. And when things were going smooth and easy I expected the characters to hit some other terrible snag, someone might die or a home would be lost, and they would have to persevere. And they did.
But the super happy fun time ending kind of… fizzled the whole experience. It was just the kind of thing where I expect some producer was sitting off to one side and said “can we guarantee a happy ending?” lest the funding run out.
Other than the ending the book is very well written and thoroughly researched. I strongly recommend it, particularly if you’re looking for something with a Disney ending.
Having finished my book I returned to my bike and suited up for a full speed run. I quickly decided to make a long trip home. The sun was down and the twilight was just perfect. I took Glenmore to Deerfoot to Stoney to Crowchild. The whole ride home took me about 45 minutes and made me realize that, were I to suddenly be rich, I would need to ease myself back into long distance riding. My ass was decidedly sore by the end of it and my thigh muscles were shaky.
Still, if I were to be suddenly rich I could also afford some riding pegs and a better seat. Both problems solved.
The ride was good for my soul. The wind howling past my helmet and the thrum of the engine between my legs. The smell of the wild grass beside the road, and the firm grip of the tires through each turn. All of it was exactly what I needed.
And now, having had very poor sleep for the past two or three days (I’m honestly not sure how long it’s been) I feel I might actually be able to sleep by midnight tonight. I’m tempted to go to bed now, but I fear that would turn into just an hour nap and I’d be wide awake at midnight.
I’m going to put a few minutes into playing Halo instead. The original game is so familiar it’s practically like playing solitaire. In the meantime I’ve found Venus Hum’s last album and have been absorbing it as I write. So pretty.
I find myself unable to sleep again tonight, consumed by fear and doubt, convinced of my imminent demise. Far too upset to sleep I got dressed (in yesterday’s clothes, no point in dirtying another set) and turned to the internet and Radio Paradise.
Radio Paradise is, more often than not, an excellent choice when I’m upset. It seems to know just exactly when I’m at my worst and hits me with a surprise favorite that perks me up. This morning it was Blue Man Group’s “I Feel Love” featuring Venus Hum. The song has many detractors in the Radio Paradise community. You can rate the tunes and comment on them, and they have a graph displaying the distribution of all the ratings from one to ten. “I Feel Love” (featuring Venus Hum) is rated at a 6.7 despite my sincere “9” rating. The distribution shows a lot of ones and twos and threes. There are people out there who clearly dislike the tune.
But I love it. Headphones are best, as with all my favorite tunes. And with all my favorite tunes the music takes me to a place of daydreams.
Tonight I had the urge to share the tune, even though I knew there’d be a lot of my own friends who simply wouldn’t “get it”. That’s the way it is with all my favorite tunes. They’re my favorites for reasons that don’t work for other people.
Digging through Youtube I found a recording of their live performance. I also found an official video, but for once the live version was better. I posted it and then proceeded to trip down the rabbit hole. I had no idea that “Venus Hum” was a band name, I’d always assumed it was the singer’s name. Youtube had a couple of suggestions for Venus Hum and I checked them out. Good music, and I wanted more.
I was cautious in my search, however. I know the “Feel Love” tune is old, I’ve had it for many years myself, and the video date was some time back in 2006. Doing a search on the band I found they’d formed in 1999. Typical. So much of my favorite stuff comes from the nineties and aughts. The wikipedia entry didn’t mention anything about the band, but it did say their last album release was in 2009. That depressed me a bit. Any band that hasn’t published something in over five years is generally defunct by default.
Then I let myself explore a bit of obsession with their singer, Anette Strean. In the BMG video she did not look anything like my imagination, but watching her on stage, and in Venus Hum’s other videos, I found her face incredibly familiar, and very appealing.
I cannot for the life of me figure out where I’ve seen her face before, but I swear I have. Not Anette Strean’s actual face, because I’ve never met her, but someone. My brain kept skipping on a loop of “she looks almost exactly like…” with that aching lack of conclusion. There was a strong connection somewhere up in my synapses but they refused to resolve in any one person.
Perhaps it’s connecting to some dream amalgam. My dreams, the good ones at least, present me with favorable people who, upon waking dissection, turn out to be an amalgam of multiple people. The women in my dreams especially, combining all the best qualities of my past friends, family, and lovers. Any adversaries in my dreams rarely need more than one person to create a suitable villain, but the nice ones are always very complex.
The face Annette presents has a feel like that, along with an old “high school crush” kind of attachment. So it’s quite possible the person she reminds me of is just someone I’ve forgotten, but it feels like it’s someone I would never forget.
With the obsession of a newborn stalker I did some searches on her. The Venus Hum website looks like it hasn’t updated since the release of their last album in 2009. I was briefly excited to discover she had a twitter account but was then crushed that she hadn’t posted since 2010. I regained the excitement when I found her facebook page. The latest update was from May but at least it was from this year. Reading her last post I find that she’s talking about how May is Mental Awareness Month and she talks a bit about her struggles with Bipolar disorder. She talks about how the diagnosis was both freeing and crushing. Crushing because it labeled her as broken (my paraphrasing) and freeing because at least she now had a point from which she could work and move forward.
I read of her struggles and looked at the photos she has of her family, her husband, and her daughter. I confess to feeling a bit uncomfortable seeing so much of her life without actually knowing her, but I reassured myself a bit with the knowledge that her facebook account was a personal one and what I was seeing was the few bits she made public. Which made me feel good because a surprisingly big part of me wanted to believe she was still posting tons of updates to her friends and family. I wanted to know she was still … existing.
And I’d really like to remember whom it is she reminds me so strongly of. Because it feels like that person might be important. Really important.
But that could just be my imagination building up a connection that isn’t even there. I’m feeling crazy enough as it is these days.
Be well, Annette Strean. I sincerely hope you’re going to make more music and I would love to hear it some day. Please continue to exist out there in the real world.
I’m angry at everyone and surrounded by nothing.
I woke up last night after only two hours of sleep because I was dreaming of an ex ripping up my environment with no regard for my comfort or safety. Upon waking my mind rode the theme into a tirade of arguments both pointless and frustrating. I was left to lie awake, drifting fitfully in and out of increasingly negative daydream scenarios, until the persistent sunlight out my window convinced me I should just get out of bed and try to start my day.
I was tired enough that I had to consciously dictate terse commands to my conscious mind to get the most mundane things done. Undress. Shower. Shave head. Scrub Feet. Pick Socks. Pick Underwear. Choose a shirt. For fuck sake get dressed. No, put water in the pot WITH the eggs before you turn on the burner.
It’s exactly the kind of day I’d dread going to work, taking mental bets on just how many stupid mistakes I would make.
Luckily (sarcasm) I’m unemployed so I was able to take a much needed nap in the afternoon. That didn’t stop my brain from dredging up yet more nightmare scenarios.
Late in the afternoon I convinced myself I needed some chicken in order to give myself an excuse to get out of the house. I stopped off at a coffee shop for an hour to do some reading then continued on to the grocery store. I picked up my chicken and then noticed they had my favorite orange juice on sale. Loading my backpack with a couple of heavy jugs of juice I began carrying my bags home. I took a slightly wide route home to pick up some Pokestops on the way, grabbing the inevitable Zubats and Drowsies on the way. I guess I’m going to have to be hunting much further afield if I want to find anything else. Maybe some night when I can’t sleep I’ll take a trip to Prince’s Island Park.
As I stopped at one of the popular corners, the one with four Pokestops within a dozen steps of each other, I noticed an ex’s boyfriend sitting nearby playing too. Although he was probably playing Ingress. He loves that game so much.
I resisted a very real urge to walk up and punch him and, instead, walked along pretending to not see him. I was extremely disappointed see him there. I had thought he had moved away from they neighborhood to move closer to her and I was grateful to see him go. I was just walking past his building yesterday and sought out his balcony to reassure myself he was really gone. Then he goes and shows up on my virtual doorstep, as it were.
I did comment to her, many, many months ago, that he’d be miserable out in the middle of nowhere without his precious game to play. But he moved out there anyway. I guess he’s found an excuse to come back into town.
I really just want him … all of them… to stay away. I really prefer being lonely to facing these people again.
I attempted to vent my anger at a Pokemon gym on the way home, trashing it twice, when the game decided my frustration was high enough to cause it to lock up. I frequently do this with complicated electronics. If I’m stressed or frustrated beyond a certain point there’s a good chance whatever app I need to use will freeze up and need to be restarted.
Arriving home I put my groceries away, changed out of my sweat soaked shirt, and crashed for another nap. No more bad dreams, this time, just rest. And now I’m drinking water and doing my best to keep my laptop from locking up.
Maybe I’ll go back out tonight when I’ve cooled off.
Just watched X-men: Apocalypse.
I know others have enjoyed this film, and I can see why. It’s pretty, it’s flashy, and it has some sexy women in it. Also some dramatic poses and primal screams.
Not much else, though.
There were so very many times I wound up looking away from the screen thinking to myself: “Why the hell don’t they just…” and getting increasingly frustrated as none of them do what is glaringly obvious.
The helicopter: While the field clearly prevented Jean and Nightcrawler from using their powers to affect things outside of it, there was absolutely no indication that the field would dampen power effects within itself. To wit: why didn’t Scott even try blasting out the side of the helicopter, thus freeing them from both the “field” and the helicopter at the same time. True, he might not have trusted his power to be contained enough to not injure and/or kill his partners, but they didn’t even consider it as an option.
And, man, I understand he’s supposed to be young, but is it written somewhere in the Marvel bible of Scott/Cyclops that he must always be whiny wimp despite wielding earth shattering power? There were SO. MANY. TIMES. He could have just opened his eyes and wiped the floor with everyone.
On the other end of the spectrum we have Apocalypse himself. To be fair this is the problem with any and all over-powered characters: There were so many times the fight should have been over before it even started. The other problem with him is that he doesn’t have a well defined set of powers. This leads to lazy writers giving up on any kind of rational progression and writing “Super over power dude just waves his hand and X happens.”
Like building his new temple with a wave of his hand. In the opening scenes of the far distant past it was clear that the pyramids had been built by mere mortal slaves. How do we know this? Because they were able to build a hideously over-complicated Rube Goldberg trap into it. Now, if he can build his temple with a wave of his hand in our time, why couldn’t he do that in the past? And before anyone argues that he was clearly aging and weak, might I remind you that building the actual temples by hand would have taken decades. He may have been old and weak when they finished, but he wouldn’t have been nearly so old when they began. He still could have done it himself.
And if his mind is so much stronger than Xavier’s, why does he need Xavier’s power? We’d already established that he was able to magnify Xavier’s power to let him reach everyone in the world. His mental giant fight with Xavier not only proved himself a stronger telepath, but one already able to amplify a telepath’s power.
And … and … and… so. Many. Things.
Beast is useless except as a handy pogo stick for those who can’t fly. Jean’s power release at the end (sorry, spoiler… no, not really, it was telegraphed in the trailer) was a vast departure from the comic book. Not just the trigger, but the level of power. Jean’s true power as the Pheonix is capable of roasting an entire planet, not just one wannabe god. If she truly let go then the middle east wouldn’t be damaged, it would be absent.
Angel has always been the weakest character in the X-men line. His ability to fly is nearly redundant on the team. Half the team can fly IN ADDITION to their powers. I’ve always shaken my head at how far the writers have had to reach to make him relevant. Having him chosen as one of the horsemen just kills the whole intent of the horsemen. Literally any other mutant would have been a better choice. Hell, Jubilee jacked up to super ability would be devastating.
And, gosh, jacked up Magneto sure is impressive… for some reason that eludes me. “Go magnetize the world and make some pretty fractal patterns around the planet” doesn’t seem like much of a tactical move. It’s just a blatant excuse to use up your special effects budget.
“We’ve still got $20 Million for special effects. Should we include other characters?”
“Nah, just have Magneto throw a bunch of stuff around for no reason. That’ll use it up pretty quick and we won’t have to bother trying to write creatively.”
It all sucked. All of it. I’m sure it has a lot to do with my decades being a gamer but the “tactics” of the characters in this movie were worse than short sighted, they were deliberately blind. As you could see in the exploding building, Quicksilver was fast enough to have finished the movie in the first five minutes. Nightcrawler could have defeated the four “horsemen” within sixty seconds. And unless Apocalypse didn’t have any iron in his blood Magneto should have been able to defeat him in less time than it takes to write this sentence.
“Reach deep into the ground, find all the trace elements that you can throw around to destroy the earth… but don’t look at any of us and our blood. No, don’t do that. That would be pointless.”
I didn’t hate the movie, but by god there were a dozen or so moments where I was so embarrassed to be a fan that I was incredibly grateful I was watching it alone. I give it two very disappointed back issues out of five trade paperbacks.
I’ve been re-reading American Gods because I’m looking forward to the TV show next year. I’m encountering some very interesting quotes. I’m thinking of making a collection.
“Back in my day, we had it all set up. You lined up when you died, and you’d answer for your evil deeds and for your good deeds, and if your evil deeds outweighed a feather, we’d feed your soul and your heart to Ammet, the Eater of Souls.”
“He must have eaten a lot of people. ”
“Not as many as you’d think. It was a really heavy feather. We had it made special. You had to be pretty damn evil to tip the scales on that baby.”
I went for a very long walk tonight. It started with a walk to Eau Claire. I wasn’t there to play Pokeman Go, but to finally see the new Ghostbusters. I chose a late night showing because I wanted a less crowded showing and because I haven’t been able to get motivated enough to leave my condo in time for a matinee. The 10pm showing at Eau Claire was perfect.
I enjoyed the movie, pretty much as I expected to. In fact I enjoyed it more than I expected. I particularly loved Holtzmann.
Erin Gilbert: What year is it?
Jillian Holtzmann: It’s 2040. Our president is a plant!
I also loved the new gadgets, particularly the power fist variant. I wholeheartedly agreed with Abby’s reaction to that one.
There were only six or seven other people in the entire theater which allowed me to choose a position with lots of personal space. Oddly, it was almost too roomy. Quiet moments between advertisements had me self conscious of how loudly I was chewing my popcorn.
Every criticism I’ve read of the movie was reasonably accurate. Chris Helmsworth’s “Kevin” was a little over the top. While I understand the message, and the humor was there, it became a tired joke with overuse. The villain was as forgettable as the character complained himself to be. They played his dysfunction a little too realistically. The joyride with Slimer and his girlfriend was gratuitous and… meh.
But in general it was good, and I’ll see it again.
After the movie I did walk to the park and mingled with hundreds of people playing Pokeman Go. Everyone there appeared to be in their very late teens or early twenties. It was amusing to watch the herd occasionally stamped when someone shouted the name of what I assume was a rare Pokeman. I didn’t bother following the heard, though. I just did a few laps around the park, checking in at the various pokestops (of which there are many, of course) and picking up what Pokeman I encountered. I saw a few new variations, but then they’re all new to me. I have no idea if I picked up anything rare or not, although if the cost of evolving them is anything to go by then I imagine that floppy fish thing is fairly valuable.
Okay, I did my research and the flopping fish thing is called a Magikarp and it’s pretty much useless. Looks like it’s an inside joke.
When my phone battery hit 25% I started home, tagging the occasional pokestop on the way. When my phone warned me of low battery power I put it away and concentrated on walking.
I definitely walked more tonight that I have in the past couple of weeks. My feet are killing me and every joint from the hips down aches to some degree. All a consequence of my weight, of course. But it still felt good. Mostly.
Now that I’ve caught up on my internet and wolfed down a bowl of blackberries and vanilla greek yogurt, I think I’ll be heading to bed.
With this image keeping me company.
I went for a walk tonight after everything but the bars had closed. The streets were still wet with rain. The air was crisp and fresh. It was a fantastic walk through the city at night. I was listening to music as I walked and decided that tonight was the night I would finally make a play list on 8tracks.com. It took me longer than I expected, primarily because some of the music I was looking for was on my phone but not on my PC. Not sure how that happened. I never download directly to my phone, I always download to my PC first. So I had to grab a couple of files off the interwebs before I could make the list itself.
I’m disappointed that the service doesn’t seem to have any method of leveling out the volume, so some of the tracks are louder than others. But I guess that’s something I should be able to do on my end. I’ll try better next time.
I went out for a walk at 2:30 am last night… well, my last night, everybody else’s “this morning.” I finally hit a point of cabin fever where I just had to get out of the house. I decided to walk to Tim Horton’s, buy a tea and do some writing.
As I walked down the nearly empty street I noticed a bearded fellow walking toward me. He presented the body language of someone who was about to talk to me so I took my ear buds out.
Yes, I walk the dark streets at 2:30 in the morning with my ear buds in. I’m 6’ tall, 350 lbs, with a shaved head and a beard. The only people likely to approach me would be either friendly or in need of help. I’m not usually afraid of being mugged. Not in Canada, anyway.
The guy approaches and asks if I live in the Katriina. I recognize him as someone I saw entering my building the other day and realize he’s a fellow resident of the building.
He introduces himself as Jeremy and we get to chatting. Turns out he’s switching over from night shift to day shift and having a bit of trouble getting to sleep. I explain I’ve been unemployed for a number of months and have fallen into the bad habit of simply not going to bed until I’m too tired to stay awake.
We get to talking about the building. Apparently I’m “that guy with the bike.” Which is interesting because it’s the first time I’ve been identified by a group of strangers as something other than “that big guy with the beard.” I’m not surprised, though. I’ve been riding my bike to work (when I worked) every morning for the past couple of summers. Someone who fires up a bike like mine every weekday at 7:30am is going to be remembered by the residents. I’m sure at least a few of them are quite relieved I’m not working right now. They’d be even more relieved if they knew how often I’ve resisted the urge to go for a ride at 3 in the morning.
Jeremy went on to tell me his girlfriend is on the condo board and they’re pushing for “a garden” which explains why there’s some doomed flowers and bushes planted in the dry and biologically sterile dirt in front of my windows. A few are already dying. Jeremy admits that it’s about the worst dirt you can work with. He also commented that, since he’s the only one on the committee without expensive nails he’s well aware who’ll be doing most of the work. He added he plans on bringing in some sand to add to the soil. I hope that’s true. Maybe the combination of pants and a sand topping will keep small birds from using the spot in front of my windows as a dust bath. They kick tons of dirt into my windows.
We talked about jobs. He got some of my specifics and said he’d keep an eye out. He works for an engineering firm made up of an Australian parent company that bought out a whole bunch of smaller companies a few years ago. He didn’t get my hopes up, though, when he talked about his girlfriend’s company advertising for summer student positions and having people with MBAs apply.
My only hope is if students going back to school in September leave some openings for me.
We shared some stories of our cats… he and his girlfriend went to a rescue and picked up a couple of kittens. They were only going to adopt one but one of its siblings clung to him and tried to climb up him to be with its litter-mate, so they chose to adopt both. We talked about possible sleep remedies. We talked about the homeless people that make the area between our building and the neighboring house into a camp site.
Then we parted ways and I found out that the Tim Horton’s near to me isn’t open 24 hours like I’d thought. Still, it was nice to meet a building neighbor. At 3 in the morning.
I was born to a single mother of a large extended family. For 80 to 90% of my time it was either the two of us or just me. A lot of just me. When we spent time with the extended family I didn’t identify with anyone. Nobody was even a little bit like me. I was soft and emotional and even the women in my family were tougher than me. I cried at the littlest things and nobody knew what the hell to do with me. Things that were common conflicts between my cousins, daily struggles and fights that blew over like flash paper, left me burnt, hurting, and withdrawn.
It quickly became my most common tactic to avoid the family as much as possible. I didn’t hate them, and I never have. I’ve never even been angry with them. They just don’t get me, and I don’t get them. The worst that I can say is that I was constantly aware of what a disappointing puzzle I was. My aunts tried to be sympathetic to a point, and my uncles, near as I can tell, were either disgusted with me or inclined to just write me off.
I never felt I had any chance to prove them wrong. I was disappointing. That part was always clear.
To the best of my recollection I was only ever passionate about two things that I could DO. In my younger years it was programming, and I was good at it. Then I grew disillusioned of programming, burned out on the stress and pace of it, and just confirmed my tendency to disappoint.
The second was learning to ride my motorbike. It was the first thing I ever attempted that was considered universally cool, even by those who felt it was needlessly reckless.
I was working a very physically demanding job at the time, one that frequently had me working ten and eleven hours a day. I would start work at 7:30 and leave at 6:30, regularly. When I signed up for my riding classes I was fortunate that my manager agreed to let me leave work at 5:30 to get to class by 6. It was an incredibly trying and stressful week, working hard all day lifting and delivering, then spending four hours every night learning a terrifying new skill that I invested my entire will into. I pretty much got through it by being angry all day. It was the only energy that would persevere. Anything else was too soft, too ready to give up.
I learned to ride in the dark. I had signed up for the first class of the year, which took place in the second week of March. The sun was down by the time class started and we learned by the minimal light of a stadium parking lot. The temperature was often below freezing, except for one night where it rained. The next evening the puddles froze and we learned to handle, or avoid, ice. My first bike drop was due to an invisible patch of ice in the dark. One evening we had snow. Another we had fog. Short of hail and hard wind I learned to ride in all the worst weather there was.
It paid off. I passed the class and, more importantly, passed my riding test.
Programming came easy to me. It was an enjoyable mental exercise and I rarely had to fight with it to make it work. (programming tools, on the other hand…) I always knew that, if I couldn’t solve a problem today, I could get some rest and get back to it tomorrow. In all likelihood a potential answer would occur to me before I even went to bed and I approached the problem with confidence. Programming, while it was difficult and convoluted, was never a RISK for me. It was a nice safe thing to do to make money. The risk came later with the environment of pressure and stress of deadlines and overtime and changes in mid stride and just shit that I’ve come to term “managing an artistic process with a manufacturing attitude.” While I definitely burned out of the programming environment the actual act of programming itself was just a comfortable mental exercise that entertained and challenged me.
You can always crash a car, but unless you’re moving especially fast, and so long as you’re wearing your seatbelt, you’re more than likely to come out of it just fine. Maybe a sprained neck, perhaps some bruising from your knees hitting the steering wheel, but fine. Even so, learning to drive a car is incredibly stressful.
Learning to ride a motorbike was dangerous. It was dangerous and uncomfortable and tiring and freaking HARD. Your past experience with riding a bicycle actually worked against you and you had to force yourself to unlearn it. I was perched on a piece of machinery that could literally kill me if I didn’t handle it well. We spent one of our earliest hours just memorizing where the clutch and brake are. Given that the two are identical levers under each hand, it’s very easy to get them mixed up in a panic. We learned how to change gears in the middle of a turn. We learned how to make sudden changes in direction and, even though the direction of the change was random, we knew the change was coming and many of us still panicked and made mistakes.
I learned and trained on a little 50 cc engine. The machine could barely bring me up to 80km an hour, given my weight, and I still felt terrified of the power of the engine sitting raw between my legs.
I now ride a massive 1500 cc cruiser. The engine on my motorbike is literally more powerful than the engine of my car. I’m constantly aware of the amount of power I’m guiding down the road, and I’m comfortable with it. I ride it daily, when I can find a reason to. My bike is my summer vehicle. I ride it to work and back, to the grocery store and back (if I don’t need more than a backpack and two saddle bags can carry) and pretty much any where I need to go. Rain or shine. Even through hail.
And my ideal vacation is spending days and days on my bike guiding it down the road.
My question now is why can’t I be that dedicated to my writing? Why I can’t write in the dark, through snow, rain, and fog? Why I can’t accept dropping the pen on the ice and just get back up and start a new page? Why I don’t write the way I ride? My writing has the potential to take me to worlds beyond where my bike can go. So why do I find it so easy to distract myself with something else to do?