Sunday, 29 June 2008

Tomodachi no Video

I believe the blog has been painted bleak long enough: the mourning goes on and that is a personal issue but you, dear readers, are at no fault and I wish to sadden you no further. Hence, in sharp contrast to the last post, have a look at these two videos from the night out with our Japanese friends. Hopefully, things will resume their normal pace as of the beginning of this week.

Mata ne,


Friday, 27 June 2008

Obituary: R.I.P. Jimmy Bogeyman

I can tell you, with fair scientific certainty, that scent is the most powerful memory-evoking sense we have. You smell something and BAM, your neurons fire off at dizzying speeds, suddenly bringing to mind things long past, even long forgotten but always, there, buried from the edge of consciousness to the deepest recesses of your mind. However, there is - well, you do not call it a sense, else we would have all gone mad - one other thing that, in my opinion, triggers the recall of more memories than anything else: sudden death. It doesn't warn you with sickness, it is not announced in a courtroom, it simply strikes in an instant and makes its presence known through a series of seemingly unrelated and inevitable coincidences. It was just such a string of random events that led my mother to ask me:

"Do you know a Dimitris Mavrakis from Chios?"

Now, my mother is a professor of Psychology and she knows how to measure her words and make them seem innocent enough; but frankly, I've been watching her for 26 years now and I am a big fan of criminology and forensic science (CSI is to blame), hence, I know from voice inflection and the directionality of her eyes, when something is amiss.

"Why? Did something happen to him?"

"Well, he's had a motorcycle accident and he is in the hospital."

"...I see. Is it bad?"

"Quite; he took a pretty nasty hit."

"Well, how bad is it?"

She knows she cannot say anything less than the truth but she is not really sure how I will take it, how well I knew him, if more than passingly.



"He died. His inner thigh artery was severed in the accident and though they performed vascular surgery on him, he bled to death. How well did you know him?"

My mind kick-starts its defenses and I go emotionally blank. My voice is really impassive when I answer her.

"You knew him too; he was the guy we called 'Bogeyman'". She gasps in surprise. Dimitris, who I had started calling "Jimmy" around 10 years ago, was known all over the village where I had been going on summer holidays, as the "Bogeyman". It was not a moniker WE had given him; the younger kids of the village, with whom he used to play chase, affectionately called him that because of his amazing set of growls, roars and grimaces.

Earlier in the day, after the news had settled down in my stomach, somewhat, I went through my old photo albums: he is in the first page of the 1999 album, along with Billy, Michael and myself. Then, an odd memory poured forth... I remembered, on that year, we four used to get on our bikes, climb up and down a few kilometers of burning, summer asphalt and reach the beach called "Black Pebbles". The name is only half-right, since "Blackstone" or "Black Rocks" would have been more appropriate. It is a locale where, in ancient times, a volcano erupted, showering the place with black, volcanic stones of all sizes and shapes, for miles. As the centuries went by, the sea hewed these rocks into neatly curved shapes, creating a unique, stone-covered beach, where it was more likely to cut your foot on a soda bottle, than a rock. On especially hot summers, like the one back in '99, we would shower the beach with water, causing steam to erupt from the -well- black-hot stones.

"The Four Stinkin' Caballeros"
(Jimmy, Michael, Myself, Billy)

That year, Michael and I intended to find the highest point on the rocky cliff-side dividing the beach in two, and jump, between a triangle of sharp rocks, protruding from the water. It was a business that had started in the summer of 1998 and our personal bet. Jimmy and Billy had come along with us and considered us rather crazy. Well, we were frigging 17-year-olds - what did you expect? Now, the first thing I remembered, was how much we would sweat on our bikes, trying to reach the beach - to the point that Billy anointed us "The Four Stinkin' Caballeros" (not an exact translation but close enough). Secondly, I remember how we would goad and tease Billy and Jimmy, until they finally jumped, triggering a 4-hour repeat process of the dangerous dive. I remember Jimmy saying, in local vernacular:

"You 're two crazy sons o' bitches, but it's OK" and then he jumped into the water again. Today, I thought about these multiple dives, dives we repeated year after year, until life got in the way of us being as we had (seemingly always) been. We could have gotten ourselves killed, more than a 100 times and yet we didn't and it was all laughter and teaching the younger ones how to dive like we did and strawberry and orange sherbets and hot dogs on the beach ; and then, back in the village, at night, the (only) local arcade, bonfires on the beach and so on and so forth...

However, Jimmy got killed in a motorcycle accident in Athens, on the 26th of June, 2008. He was 23 years old. I had not seen or heard from Jimmy in almost 4 years (since I stopped going on vacation in Chios), except for the odd e-mail. However, I haven't forgotten. I never forget. Once upon a time, with an ancient camera that had belonged to my grandfather, I recorded our adventures and mishaps, with the sole purpose of reminiscing along with my childhood friends, year after year, while getting ready for each successive craziness. I am a person gifted with a long memory; and obsessed with it. I have been keeping the record of time for over 10 years in pictures (far longer in my mind) and not once did I imagine opening it for such a sad occasion. Life (and death), as always, defy imagination.

I have no answers for the Great Beyond, only theories, only beliefs. I did not know what yours were, my friend, as we only talked about such things when we had nearly fainted from the booze. If there is a distinction between Good and Evil where you are headed, I know the good guys are lucky.

Godspeed Bogeyman,


Saturday, 21 June 2008

Eeee...? Sugoooi!

Hello again dear readers. Right now, my head is still vibrating to the sound of J-tunes (and, well, alcohol for that matter) but, given that I finally installed some extra fans inside the PC (frigging HOT already - what am I going to do in August? Probably run around buck-naked, wearing only my natural fur - well, alternatively I could remain REALLY still with a fan targeted on me), I decided to blog anyway. Now, looking back at the past few months' posts, I realized that 95% of them concern Ordre de Ciel! Loads of pictures, reports from parties, birthdays, cosplays and what-have you. Now that, in and of itself, is not bad at all (whose party do you think I was at, last night?) but it harbors the danger of becoming repetitive (not specifically, since each party is different sort of chaos but in terms of subject category).

Hence, I thought to myself, I should lay off a little, stop running around like a crazed lemming with a camera, enjoy the parties more, instead of recording them for a change (yes, that is why - all you people who asked me - saw me without my usual technological extension). I thought, "I will blog about some other things that have taken a back seat, such as continuing the trip log to Japan, writing a review about the playtesting of the 4th Edition of D&D" and so on and so forth. However, it seems that fun and interesting stuff just tends to happen to this company comprised of Ordre de Ciel (room302, Raven Sweetwater, KrizD, Larva), Kyoshiro, Bunnydragon, Kame-chan, Darkside_Blues, Sweet Lady With a Tiger tail (nyarrr), Yu-kun, Countess Bathory, Evil Lolita, Skuld Skauksson, some other friends who do not have internet nicks and of course, myself...

Just the other day, we were out for an early afternoon coffee and a bit of j-party-craziness-free discussion. room302 and Raven had even brought one of their twins along (the other being on a visit to his uncles and quite happy with a water hose in hand, as I hear), Harry, affectionately called "their mini j-rocker". Well, can you blame them? I do not know that many 3-year-olds (none, in fact) who can sing Luna Sea by heart, do fan-hand-gestures related to Sugizo and X-Japan, or recognize Miyavi. Anyhow, being a lot of people, some were discussing, some were spacing out and many were preoccupied with Harry-kun. At some point, Kyoshito and Raven just kind of... vanished for a while and a little while later, came back with 4 Japanese travelers in tow, two guys and two girls.

I have come to understand that Kyoshiro, who has traveled extensively, has friends and acquaintances in every corner of the friggin' globe, so I naturally assumed that these four fell into either category... Well, I was dead wrong! They were among the passengers of a cruise ship, who had simply come to spend the day in Athens; Kyoshiro saw them with Raven, coming out of the metro and in her own, natural way, simply invited them over for coffee with us! Imagine being thousands upon thousands of miles away from home and stumbling onto the most Japanese-friendly company of people, one of whom was wearing a Silent Hill t-shirt (room302) and the other, one with Gon from Hunter x Hunter (that would be me). Furthermore, more than a few of us talked a smattering of Japanese and, well, if you haqve been keeping up with our crazey J-weekends, you get the idea. The two Yosuke's, Haruna and Ono, were delighted (probably as much as we were) and suddenly our tables became a chatter of mixed English, Japanese, Greek and some sort of sign language to fill in the communication gaps. Harry, of course, was the center of attention, and promptly gained a new volunteer mom in the face of Haruna.

Time wore on and as it did, more fellow travelers of these four poured out on the square, which inflated our company to 23 people! Time flew, as it always does when you are having fun and soon, it was nightfall, so we took Haruna, Ono, Yosuke and Yosuke to a nearby noodle bar, where we stayed until such time as they had to return to Peiraeus. That, of course, is just the gist of it and the rest is more appropriately illustrated by - what else? - photos.

Yosuke, Kyoshiro & Bunnydragon.

Harry, Haruna & Yosuke.

Ono, Yosuke, Haruna & Harry.

Aww, Harry and Haruna-chan.
Kawaii deshou neee?

Sweet Lady With a Tiger Tail, Yu-kun, Ono
& Yosuke.

Bunnydragon, Kame-chan & Kostas.

Proud parents (room302 & Raven Sweetwater).

Harry-tan and his mums: Raven & Haruna.

Sophia, sketching as always.

Countess Bathory & Larva.

Our Japanese friends all together! Haruna, Ono,
Yosuke, Shinichi, Yosuke, Kaori, Yuki &
Miki and of course, the day's star, Harry!
When I saw Shinichi for the first time, I thought
I had seen him somewhere before but could not
really put my finger on it... Then he told us he works
at Shinagawa Prince Hotel and I realized,
we had seen him in Japan!
Miki, on the other hand, is a Hunter x Hunter fan
and we hit it of talking about favorite characters!

The drummer and the guitarist. room302
& Yosuke.

All together! Of course, I have reverted to my
ghost photographer status and I am not in any of
the pics, kukukuku!

Hen kao!

Evil Lolita & Countess Bathory.

Kaori and our miniature j-rocker!



Yosuke & Evil Lolita.

Sweet (very sweet) Lady With a Tiger Tail.

Later, at the Noodle Bar...

...and this is the reason for this post's title,
Haruna saying "Eeee! Sugoooi!"

Sadly, our new friends had to get back to their ship by midnight (kinda like a fairy tale), so we saw them off, with much emotion and quite some tears. There are times when you realize just how important it is to feel accepted somewhere and, arriving in this country, meeting us, it was as if all of us had been friends our whole lives. Haruna has invited us to go to Osaka and hopefully, we will manage to do so in the future. Until then, genki ni nare otomodachi-tachi!

Mata ao ne