Thursday, 16 December 2010

Literary Section XVI - Stonetell

Well, I have not written here in months (since June in fact) and I am finding it difficult to delegate subjects and most importantly, find time to write in any of my three blogs. I do update them from time to time but the fact of the matter is that I am not writing nowhere near half of what I want.

At any rate, rummaging through my files I found a piece of poetry written during a more depressing time but still, halfway decent, so I decided to post it here and see what happens. If, at some point, I manage to organize my time and ideas in a more effective fashion, there is plenty to write about. Until then, enjoy (I hope). 


Always there,
going nowhere
There I lie
as hours, days and years go by

Down the path that's crooked
down the path that's just
down the path that's marked
or down the path you're lost

Always there,
going nowhere
There I lie
as hours, days and years go by

Stay a moment and upon me gaze
or in haste pass me by,
in happiness's rosy haze
or in sadness as you cry

Always there,
going nowhere
There I lie
as hours, days and years go by

Rest upon me smiling
or wash me in your tears
let me hear your laughter ring
or have me share in your fears.

Always there,
going nowhere
There I lie
as hours, days and years go by

  Remember or forget me,
here I lie unmoved
unless by another's hand removed
Roll as thunder or strike like lightning,
to silence I return
to wait at another road's turn
Love or hate me,
here I remain
to be well met or never again

Praise or scorn
little difference does it make
with each passing season's morn,
waiting for Death your life to take

Always there,
going nowhere
There I lie
as hours, days and years go by
for I am but a stone
that stands alone
as travelers come and go by
waiting for my own time to die.



Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A Life Carved in Music

I now I have not written for some time now and actually this is a poor excuse for a post but it's the best I have time for right now. Actually it was stolen from Ellie-imouto who something/somehow/somewhere also found it froma  different source, if I understood correctly.  

Choose only song names from ONE ARTIST to cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a song title. It's a lot harder than you think!

Pick your Artist: Nightwish

Are you a male or female?: 10th Man Down
Describe yourself: Nemo
How do you feel?: Dead to the World
Describe where you currently live: Over the Hills and Far Away
If you could go anywhere, where would you go?: Away
What is your job?: The Escapist
Your favorite form of transportation: Walking in the Air
Your best friend was/is: Wishmaster
You and your friends are: Stargazers
What's the weather like?: Planet Hell 
Favorite time of day: Sleeping Sun
If your life was a TV show, what would it be called?: Sleepwalker 
What is life to you?: FantasMic
Your relationship: Ever Dream
Your Fear: End of All Hope 
What is the best advice you have to give?: While Your Lips Are Still Red 
Thought for the Day: I Wish I Had An Angel 
How I would like to die: Dead Gardens 
My soul's present condition: Dark Chest of Wonders 
My motto: Bless the Child

Favorite song by this artist: Ghost Love Score

If nothing else, at least I had an excuse to listen to all my old favorite songs and even check the far and few between of the new Nightwish that are worth it.



Sunday, 21 March 2010

Timelines and Lifelines

This post was written on the 2nd of February, 2010, but after I had written it, it all suddenly seemed too real, too personal to share. It has now become a small tale and I feel comfortable relating it.

So... I DID go to "Makari" on Sunday and well I did, it seems... It's very peculiar, when the things you believe in and have somehow shoved to the very back of your head, seem to assert their presence, their reality and words seem to fail you - or if not, you stumble over them trying to say what you think and ending up sounding weird, at the very least...

I got there very early, at 20:00, when our three hostesses for the night would not be coming until 20:30 and the event scheduled to start at 21:00. I went inside to check anyway. I must confess, I had not gotten around to writing the story I was (at the time, only probably) going to tell in full. Sure, I had the outline, some specific phrases, characters and all that but still, I was nervous and not very focused on my surroundings. So I saw this - well, I am not sure "girl" is appropriate anymore - young woman who seemed somehow familiar and my twitching brain decided I must have seen here working there last time. So naturally I asked whether any of the Daughters had come by yet, to which she replied all naturally "no", so I thought my assumption was right. Then she begun to ask, I interrupted and the following dialog ensued:

"Do you have anything to do with..."

"The Daughters? Well, I watched their show here last time and Vassilia--"

"No, no. I was going to ask, did we go to school together?"

I am now convinced my mind is hard-wired like a file-storage (which is kind of scary, if you think about it carefully), since her face was placed in a completely different context within moments, breaths. I hadn't seen her in... 10 years? No, wait... we bumped into each other once 8 years ago, somewhere around my neighborhood, but that was it. Her name popped into my head. I uttered it; tentatively. She reciprocated. We were both dumbstruck. She asked if I was staying for the show, I said I was, but I would return when the Daughters arrived and then promptly rushed out.

Only much later did I realize in how much shock I had been. I am not sure why. Sure, we shared a bit of history but just a bit: mostly common friends with whom I was in the school Acting Club, common anecdotes, a few events that became anecdotes over the years or were completely forgotten by most and swept away like so much dust by the winds of time. Truth be told, at times, when I sift through my old papers, letters, memorabilia, photos, I bring to mind the people I have known, sometimes connected with - or not - and I always get this image of lifelines, threads of each person's history, forming a mess of patterns, a network which, more often than not, leaves me watching at the lives diverge, extend into the distance, presumably, maybe, never to intersect again. I remember thinking, once, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, that I would probably never see many of these people, who I still remembered as children - barely teenagers though they may have been 18 the last time I saw them - and they, over time, would probably forget we had ever met. She was among them.

But somehow, one of those threads I had watched disappear into the distance, as well as my own, intersected with so many others, took so many turns, twisted in so many different shapes, that in a roundabout, unexpected, unforeseeable way, they intersected again in the most unlikely (from a pragmatic standpoint) and yet most fitting manner: in a place where tales are told... And she had not forgotten we had ever met; and for no reason at all - none that I know how to put into words, certainly - I was deeply moved by that meeting, moved into a state of shock, so much that I simply had to get out of there, collect my thoughts, try to put them in order between having to tell a decent tale and... and... making sense of that strange feeling that time and happenstance are things we really understand so very little about.

As to the gathering itself, nothing I say will do justice to the good mood of the congregation, the beautiful tales of the Daughters, the warm reception of my own, strangely (given the events I just described) a tale having to do with time and how it treats us like we treat it, the amazing tale and storytelling of Mr. George, who took us from Kypseli to Harun Al-Rashid'd Baghdad and back again in one fell swoop, as well as my old friend from school and one of her band-mates singing at the very end.

It was a night to remember and for all the reasons I don't seem to be able to put it into words, a night to be grateful for.

Perchance to dream,


Thursday, 28 January 2010

The Daughters Strike Again

Hey there people: long time no see again, in either blog and sadly this is not about to change soon, since I have finally swamped myself beyond all (forthcoming) hope. However, I am popping in to inform you about a couple of things, before retreating back to my cave.

First-off, though it might be not anything sensational, my short story - titled "The Gift of Mordor" - for the Greek Tolkien Society contest, came in second (and that was almost 3 weeks ago but I thought I' d show off anyway).

Secondly and more importantly, remember The Daughters of Fable storytelling group? Well, they are back with another show, at the same location (Makari Music Scene - 125, Zoodohou Pigis St., Exarheia, Athens - easier access from Alexandras Ave.), this Sunday the 31st of January. Furthermore, they will suffer me to join in the storytelling, which makes me a little nervous but I hope I will be able to provide some small measure of entertainment.

Yours truly,


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Cat's Predilection [#2]

Since the last post was a bit grim and possibly disheartening for many, I am posting the second gastronomical entry, after a very long time (5 months in fact). This concerns a series of beverages which I have seen called 6th Sense or Sappe. It's a large variety of transparent liquids, artificially flavored with all sorts of ersatz fruit, like apple, green apple, grapes, coconut and cranberry (or black currant). The main feature of this drink is its containing little cubes of aloe vera plant, which you consume as you imbibe it (note: no, the cubes do not show inside the bottle as on the site's page).

I first came across this drink with Ergo Proxy (remember, once co-author of this blog?) and our mutual friend Cavu, while gathering a few supplies for an excursion to Katsimidi (an area near Mt. Parnitha) on My 23rd 2009. That first time, it was apple and grapes, with the apple tasting great and the grapes being a little too sweet for my tastes.

It would seem that the original two tastes were put out by Sappanan General Food and the 6th Sense ones (all the others) by A-1 Produce. Although the bottles are almost identical, the labels differ and as both companies are Thai in origin, I suspect product infringement. As further testimony to this, although the 6th Sense ones have the company's name in miniscule letters on the label, the site actually makes no mention of them. Best to stay away from those: they taste horribly anyway. However, if you do come across the original apple one, pictured here, give it a try.

As a final note, no, I do not know what the Hell they were thinking when they decided on the bottle shape...

Sunday, 3 January 2010

On New Year Resolutions

Hello dear readers, assuming you are out there somewhere and not having some decent fun before the working days strike back. I have been... away, on many levels, both from the internet (well, except for the occasional announcement here and there) and my usual haunts in real life and there are many, complex and rather murky reasons for this, so I will refrain from busting your chops with them.

I see that most, if not all of the blogs I read have pitched some wishes, a Christmas post and so on and so forth. I did not, not only because of my recent mood, but because I have experienced quite a bit of death during Christmas vacation over the last 15 years (yes, my memory from when I was 12 is still sharp - mixed blessings I guess), so this celebration is not as magic as it used to be for me. Don't take me wrong, I do wish for my friends and loved ones (well, myself too but I know it will take more than wishful thinking) to have a good year and certainly a better one that 2009 was (it was rather good for me in fact but I know it wasn't for many, much less so for our poor - and currently almost officially - backwater country), but I don't really get into the festive mood as such.

It was a rather good Christmas for me, as far as the last decade goes, which translates into nothing more than having my family mostly healthy, getting together with some good friends more often than usual and playing board games late into the night and early into the morning: believe me, it's richer than it sounds, much richer but impossible to understand until you have felt it as I have.

One of the things I find extremely amusing and terribly ridiculous, at the same time, are "New Year's Resolutions". Before I go on, let me tell you that my own resolution, as such, was to get a new bookcase before January 1st, which I did on the 31st of December and had half-built by the time we went out for our New Year's dinner. The second step was to rearrange everything in my room to get more space, which I also finished today. Therefore, I have achieved what I resolved to do for 2010! I sense impending mix of sneer, disbelief and "oh, come on, don't be like that!". Well, let me tell you something: statistically speaking (for there will always be exceptions, totally insignificant in the larger picture), those fabled resolutions are nothing more than ritual, in both senses. Culturally, they are part of the Christmas "ceremony", which includes caroling, each country's Christmas sweets, adorning the tree and eating pudding (over here it's "Vassilopita"), among others. Psychologically, it's something people do to reassure themselves that they will have goals, improve their lives and "make everything better" (much like people suffering from OCD).

Truth of the matter is, those resolutions are almost 100% bollocks or, if you like, simply wishful thinking. Resolving to get thinner, get a girlfriend, find true love, get laid, married or reach the top of the [insert cultural reference here, or don't] world, almost invariably has nothing to do with the events in your life for the following year, except perhaps until Valentine's day, when one of the more popular resolutions crumbles down (see here and here). So stop "resolving" and making bold statements, to yourself or others. Dreaming and hoping is all good, but once every while you should just get your head down from the clouds, take a long, hard look at your world as it truly is and not as you wish it to be, and then keep moving until you get to a better place. That's all there is to it.

Here's to having a good year, to all of you,


Saturday, 12 December 2009

"Humanity's Silence": The Third Prometheus Installment

Prometheus returns in my third detective story, "Humanity's Silence", the second to be dramatized for radio (the first, if you recall, was "Bloody Carnival"). With narration by Dimitris Poulikakos and direction/production by Adelle Mermiga, the story will air on the Greek 902 FM station (you can also listen online, if you visit the site) on Monday, December 14th 2009, at 21:00 (you may have to allow for some delay), as part of "Cops & Robbers"'s Season 3.

This time, death comes a' calling at a private school and a new character from the standard roster of the investigator's universe is introduced to the public for the very first time.

As always, I hope you can listen and give me your feedback. Also, the standard readers of this blog may notice something familiar inside the story.



Friday, 11 December 2009

Celluloid Vampires and Then Some - Part 2

Ah... It HAS been a while, has it not? The first part of this post was waaaaay back here and even now I am skipping much-needed work hours to complete this but it was about bleedin' time!

Last time, we had left off with an introduction - well, rather a simple mention - to the TV series, "True Blood". In the interim, I have learned a few interesting things about the source material and have had time to digest my initial thoughts. But I digress...

"True Blood"'s first season premiered on September 7th, 2008 in the U.S. and the second on June 14th, 2009 . A third season has been scheduled and shooting is due to begin in early December 2009. The series kicks off by canceling a basic premise of most, if not all Vampire fiction: the element of secrecy. Our story takes place in a world where Vampires have made their presence officially known to humanity, on which they no longer need feed thanks to an artificial blood product created by Japanese scientists. Expectedly, some Vampires have embraced this change, others not, the textbook Catholic Right-Wingers have created the Church of Light in order to oppose acceptance of the Vampire existence, while the Vampires have created their own political party. Meanwhile, the first mixed marriages take place and homosexual weddings rapidly seem so "yesterday".

Interestingly enough, the series obviously takes place some time AFTER the initial global shock, so Vampires are semi-integrated into society, no more outcasts than other fringe minorities (are they one?) were in the 90s or still are today. Ergo, useless drama avoided. However, all that is just background.

Our story actually begins in Bon Temps ("Good Weather" or "Good Times" depending on how you translate), a small fictional Louisiana town, bearing all the distinctive marks of the "beautiful South" of novels of yore: those who stand for segregation, those who are well past concepts of the Civil War, Cajun, creole language, humidity, the bayous, time passing by in slow motion and drawn-out vowels. Incidentally, this most telling linguistic characteristic is one of the cultural strengths and marketing flaws (well, outside the U.S. as far as I know, but still) of the series. Many people have told me how much they hate the Southern American pronunciation and accent, as well as that, English not being their native language, they have to make use of subtitles to understand the characters at all, at times.

Truth be told, it's not really that bad, although even I had to go a bit back at times and replay a dialog scene. However, it doesn't annoy me: although both inside and outside the U.S. it's habitually called "the hillbilly accent", I believe it adds excellent color to the feel of the setting. Of course, that opinion may be biased, seeing as Poppy Z. Brite's "Lost Souls" is one of my favorite Vampire books and the American South one of my favorite settings for horror and/or detective stories ("Call of Cthulhu: Guide to New Orleans" is one of my priceless books).

At any rate, at the beginning and for most of the first season the story revolves around Sookie Stackhouse, played by Anna Paquin (who also portrayed southern belle Rogue, of the X-Men), who is a waitress at Sam Merlotte's (pronounced "mur-low" and played by Sam Trammel) diner and is different from everyone else in only one significant way : she is telepathic and can hear everyone's thoughts in the vicinity, unless she closes her mind with great effort. Things are about to get a lot weirder for her when she falls for Vampire newcomer William Compton (played by Stephen Moyer), whose family had roots in Bon Temps since before the Civil War. As soon as Sookie decides that Bill is the one for her (firstly, because she cannot hear his thoughts, since he has no biological brain activity), she is dragged in a world of supernatural horror, intrigue, romance and lots and lots of sex.

Tara, both naive...

...and sexy!

I do not want to dwell on the story that much, since it is very well plotted and it would be a shame to spoil it, even by accident: season one is centered around a series of murders in and around Bon Temps, as well as Sookie's and the town's relationship with Bill Compton, while the second focuses much more on Tara, Sookie's best friend and one of the most gorgeous black women I have ever seen (portrayed excellently by Rutina Weasley), as well as the intrigues and politics between Vampires themselves and between them and the Church of Light. However, the people who steal the show in the second season are the mysterious Mary-Ann, Godrick who is a Vampire from before the time of Christ, as well as a the whole of Bon Temps having gone a bit wild.

Vampire Sherriff Eric Northman.


Now, there are a number of things that place this series very near the top of my list of Vampire interpretations ever: first off, the Vampire mythos is preserved - silver harms a Vampire and may immobilize them, a stake through the heart and sunlight can kill them, although what exactly happens to their bodies depends on age. Interestingly enough and to my delight, they have also kept the restriction whereby a Vampire has to be welcomed into a domicile before entering, something almost always forgotten in modern portrayals. Many other Vampire legends are shown as being misdirection for the humans.

An element often mentioned in discussions about "True Blood", is the sex: make no mistake, anyone who has seen even 2-3 episodes of the series can testify that there is a lot of sex in it. Not particularly explicit, mind you but still, quite a bit of it, especially for an American series. However, the thing considered peculiarly prevalent only goes to show how audiences have come to perceive the "reality" of series they watch: people have sex. Lovers, even more so. Lovers famished for sexual activity, well, you can guess. The series is being realistic about that, contrary to stupid bubblegum sitcoms that only hint at it, or present it under a comedic light.

Furthermore, it has been a staple of Vampire legendry that the Children of the Night are more animalistic than humans, in every aspect, hence blurring the line between blood prey and sexual prey, as well as that a mortal tasting of the Vampire's blood develops a strong attraction and eventual sexual desire for the "donor". All that, coupled with the fact that sexual activity is - well, duh! - something natural, accounts for the multiple such portrayals in the series.

One other thing very carefully planned and played in "True Blood" is not just the portrayal, but the reference to and existence of the supernatural in general. Vampires aren't the only ones around: there' s also Shifters (people able to assume any form they can study thoroughly), frequent mention (although not appearance, as of yet) of Werewolves, Spirits, Voodoon and of course, the small matter of what exactly makes Sookie telepathic. However, all that is not just shoved into the viewer's face, like some bad RPG crossover: instead there' s hints and nuances and things you can second-guess, until appropriate build-up leads to the climax and revelation. Things DO go bump in the night but that does not mean they are too keen to enter the spotlight: they are mysterious and scary and love their privacy... mostly. Coupled with the whole southern atmosphere, that makes for an enticing, shadowy and extremely interesting setting.


Finally, there's the matter of the source material, "The Southern Vampire Mysteries" by Charlaine Harris. I am sorry to say, those are actually pretty bad: apart form the cast of characters (which has also been tinkered as to some characteristics and back-story), it's safe to say that if Alan Ball (of "American Beauty" and "Six Feet Under" fame) had not helmed the production, this series would have sunk like so much junk. Although Charlaine Harris is at the origin of an interesting take on the interaction between Vampires and mortal society, her original character and story development are rather shallow and her writing not up to the ambitious task of all I have described in the previous paragraphs. I do not want to get into detail, because it may have an adverse effect on your watching the series, but if you are indeed that curious, you can always pick the first two novels (on which the last two seasons were based) and make the comparison. I believe you will find the novels lacking appalingly.

Godrick's First Appearance.

That said, "True Blood" as a TV series is the most refreshing experience of the Vampire legend in a loooong time and I believe that there is not much (if anything) that can hold a candle to it in the past 10 years. Possible exceptions include "Let the Right One In" and I am holding my breath for "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant".

Enjoy the bayous,


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Literary Section XV - Odd and the Frost Giants

It's time for another book review, since I finally managed to get yet another off the ever-growing pile and man, was it a much needed distraction during the current phase of my life! This book, Neil Gaiman' s "Odd and the Frost Giants" (Bloomsburry) was not part of my oft-described book raids, nor the prize of some literary quest: sometimes, good things just lie in front of you and I noticed the single copy of it on a shelf at the Solaris book store, where I often buy comics.

To begin with, the book is nothing fancy, nor does it need to be: it is a small, almost pocket-size hardbound, the way libraries tend to do old (but not very old) books, when their original paperback covers breathe their last due to wear and tear. The cover and back-cover are essentially stickers. There is however, one major bonus: Brett Helquists's illustrations (of "A Series of Unfortunate Events" fame), which are really top grade and give a great feel to the reading.

The story is rather simple: Odd, a boy who accidentally crushed his leg and remained lame, has to contend both with the fact that his constant smiling face irritates his countrymen, as well as the heavy winter which doesn't seem eager to give way to Spring. The days at the Great Hall draw long, the men get restless and aggressive and Odd has had enough of being a burden to his mother after she remarried when her husband died, enough of being invisible in a village where nothing changes.

Therefore, he takes to the woods and stays at his father's old wood cabin, until a strange fox comes calling: the fox will initially lead him to an eagle and a bear, which meeting will in turn take him to Asgard, home of the Gods, in order to lift the Frost Giant occupation and end the long winter of Midgard. His only weapons: an irritating, unflinching smile, an unfinished wood carving his father left behind and the icy waters of a strange lake...

The book is written much like a traditional fable, where things happen because they are bound to, with a sense of inevitability towards resolution, but also with the unmistakable Gaiman-touch.

It is light reading, pleasant and comforting to the eye, a thing that smells of fireplace and old carpets, where children squat to listen to grandfather's near-hypnotic voice.

Jouni Koponen's first page of
Chapter 2.

On some other interesting notes, Gaiman wrote it for UK's World Comic Book Day (you can read Gaiman's explanation about all that here) and it seems to have sparked a number of artistic interpretations all over the net, such as Hethe Srodawa's designs and Finnish illustrator Jouni Koponen's gradual transfer to comic book form (you MUST check it out: it begins here and she posts updates every now and then, so keep clicking that "Uudempi teksti").