Sock Gnomes

I’m not particularly superstitious, but these little bastards, as well as their less greedy, underwear-pilfering brethren, exist.

Published in: on June 29, 2008 at 6:38 pm  Comments (4)  

Out of Context

How does one vent without giving anything away? How does one express while remaining discreet? I could simply hammer out a blog post solely consisting of expletives. I could also smash my mouse into the nearest wall, and then drive my fist thereinto. Is that even a word? At this point I don’t really give a fuck.

Well to be honest I do a little.. Google says the word exists. I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive. Especially when it comes to words. Which sort of explains why I hardly manage to write. If I spent as much time expressing as I did obsessing, whether over how to best articulate a certain thought in writing, or over how I missed the chance to express a thought appropriately in speech, I would eventually have less reason to obsess. But I don’t, so I find myself indulging in the latter in a big bad way.

But I digress..

So I can’t talk to the person in question, not due to the person being inaccessible, but simply because there simply is no chemistry there to facilitate a useful conversation. Is it an inherent lack of chemistry? That’s what I have come to believe, at least to an extent. In any case none is allowed to foster for various reasons. I can name some of them but the others elude me.

My use of the word ‘elude’ suggests that I would appreciate a wider understanding of the problem. My use of the word ‘problem’ suggests that I am unhappy with the situation.

I would be better off not resorting to such words in such contexts, not consciously, but sub-consciously, in turn rendering the above suggestions baseless. Then again I would be even better off if I would cease to find myself in any context in which any such distinctions were to matter.

Published in: on June 3, 2008 at 3:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Late Night Hallucination Within a Hallucination

You realise you might be in need of a somewhat healthier sleeping habit when you look at a bush and see a man kneeling down instead and then – after dismissing the man as a figment of your imagination and reverting to the bush – realise that there is no bush to begin with.

Published in: on July 9, 2007 at 2:57 am  Comments (2)  

Late Night Pipe Dream #1

Life would be so much easier if one could google real objects.

Published in: on May 4, 2007 at 1:37 am  Comments (1)  

When One Part of Your Brain Envies Another..

It’s funny the things one remembers sometimes, e.g. occurences from one’s childhood that are either trite or inconsequential or both even, yet periodically return to the forefront of one’s thoughts in certain, somewhat related situations, or even entirely at random.

If you ignore the pressing question as to why any amount of grey matter would be reserved for such useless memories at all, this, coupled with the ability to vividly reconstruct said memories as well as others of a greater significance, would perhaps indicate a rather strong long-term memory. That can only be a good thing, right? 

Well, you see the thing is, it starts to become aggravating in a way, when you let’s say, get up from the dining table to get a tissue from the kitchen, and then forget why you’re in the kitchen once you get there – a mere ten seconds later. Or for instance when you go to the bathroom with the sole intent of shaving, and then end up brushing your teeth instead and forgetting to shave altogether.

That’s to name but a couple of the less severe incidents that indicate a short-term memory that is as useful as a turd at best.  At worst, well, let’s not go there. Let’s just say that I should look into curbing my tendency to completely space out within fractions of a second, and thus instantly purging my short-term memory of its contents, in the interests of self-preservation if not for anything else.

Published in: on May 2, 2007 at 4:12 pm  Comments (3)  

2006 in Music

I actually started writing this post a few months back, but I abandoned it along with blogging at the time. But as they say, better late that never.. Anyway as far as I’m concerned, 2006 was a great year in terms of music and these I consider to be the highlights out of those I’ve neither forgotten nor overlooked:

Tool – 10’000 Days: Album of the year. Period. Then again, I’m not entirely impartial to these guys. Not as colourful as their previous album but what it lacks in colour, it more than makes up for in superb depth and quality.

Isis – In The Absence Of Truth: A criminally overlooked band. They deserve more success than any of their peers, but by the looks of it won’t be raking in the platinum records any time soon. They make music that takes you places and easily prove that rock/metal can be intelligent without being pretentious. (Other recommended albums: Panopticon, Oceanic.)

The Mars Volta – Amputechture: This band has to be one of the most self-indulgent I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. Composed of equal parts rock and insanity along with some strong jazz and latin influences on the side, this is both very fresh and invigorating music. (Recommended tracks: Viscera Eyes, Vicarious Atonement.)

Amplifier – Insider: Don’t judge this book by its cover. While the cover art is bland at best, the music contained within is anything but. Really nice British rock music with hints of psychedelia.
(Recommended tracks: Insider, Procedures / Recommended tracks off other albums: Neon, Motorhead, On/Off, For Marcia)

Mastodon – Blood Mountain: It took me a few listens to fully appreciate this and now it completely and entirely rocks my socks off. I still think that the previous record (Leviathan) is superior but that’s not to say that this one is anything short of spectacular. Oh and their drummer is one of the most creative in the business. (case in point*)
Recommended tracks: Sleeping Giant, Crystal Skull, Capillarian CrestRecommended tracks off other albums: Blood & Thunder, Hearts Alive, Seabeast, *March Of The Fire Ants

Norma Jean – Redeemer: These people have serious issues, but they’re the kind of issues that allow a person/band to concoct a highly aggressive, highly abrasive, yet highly amazing aural brew that isn’t very easy on the ears. Powerful, powerful stuff.

Sunn0))) & Boris – Altar: Forget what anyone tells you about Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne or Slayer epitomizing the evil side of heavy metal. Musically, they are nowhere near deserving of such a description, cliched images and run-of-the-mill satanic lyrical themes aside.
Listening to Etna, the first track off this album, as silly as this may sound, is probably the closest you will ever get to having evil seep out of your speakers in sonic form. It is not so much a song as it is a slow-moving, ominous wall of sound that is stretched over the course of ten minutes. This collaboration between Sunn0))) (U.S.) and Boris (Japan) is more of a hit-and-miss affair, but I’m including it here mainly based on the strength of the first and last two tracks, namely the ones where the influence of the former is far more pronounced.

Jesu – Silver [EP]: I don’t quite know how best to describe this music, but these are adjectives/phrases that come to mind when I put my mind to it: melancholic, blissful, heavy, guitars drenched in distortion, slow & moving.(Recommended tracks: Silver / Recommended tracks off other albums: We All Faulter, Friends Are Evil)

Incubus – Light Grenades: Generally I don’t pay attention to lyrics and usually focus on the music. Incubus is one exception to that rule, they’re one of the few bands whom I think manage to fuse eloquent prose with beautiful & colourful music.

Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not: These guys’ rapid ascent to fame is most definitely not undeserved. This here is one bloody good rock album and above all it’s loads of fun. Not much else to say really, it speaks for itself.(Recommended Tracks: The View From The Afternoon, Still Take You Home, When The Sun Goes Down)

Honourable Mentions:

Alice In Chains – Greatest Hits: Technically, nothing new, but since this was released in 2006 and since this is Alice in Chains, it had to go on the list. Undoubtedly one of the greatest and most influential bands of the 90’s .
Lamb Of God – Sacrament: No-nonsense, balls-to-the-wall metal. Along with Mastodon, these guys are currently at the forefront of the genre. Slightly inferior to 2004’s Ashes Of The Wake though.
The Haunted – The Dead Eye: I’m beginning to think that these Swedes simply cannot disappoint, a very strong offering.
The Acacia Strain – The Dead Walk: Listening to this is like being repeatedly punched in the face and thrown around the room. In a good way.
Clipse – Hell Hath No Fury: I don’t consider myself to be a fan of rap, but I am not above appreciating good music no matter what the genre is. Minimalistic and dark. Me like.
Converge – No Heroes, Napalm Death – Smear Campaign, Slayer – Christ Illusion, Textures – Drawing Circles, The Melvins – (A) Senile Animal, Cult Of Luna – Somewhere Along The Highway

Published in: on April 27, 2007 at 4:56 am  Comments (3)  

Without Further Ado..

… I hereby announce – to whom it may concern – that this blog is no longer defunct. I know, I know, the last time I said that, things didn’t quite work out as intended.

Anyway, I will spare you the boring bullshit as to why it didn’t quite work out and get round to committing whatever comes to mind to this here space, albeit in a slightly different manner than before.

Published in: on April 21, 2007 at 5:35 pm  Comments (4)  

The Neverending Flyover

(Have neither been able to clear my head, nor free up some time for some serious blogging action. For the moment though, here’s another older article of mine slightly retouched.)

The 6th of October flyover (SOF) is practically one of Cairo’s coronary arteries: It gets clogged up, and the city suffers from a heart attack. Spanning almost the entire diameter of inner city Cairo and a combined length of almost 15km and growing, it serves as the road beneath the wheels of thousands and thousands of cars day in, day out. In short: without it we’d be screwed. Unfortunately taking it generally involves a considerable amount of being-screwed-ness, so there’s no escaping the pain.

The following may have an adverse effect on your SOF Driving Experience and will further serve to boost the general Cairo Experience™ to unprecedented levels of enjoyment:

– Rush hour: The Cairene rush hour is not really an hour but actually about 12 hours but there are moments where the car concentration reaches its peak and SOF is not the place to be when that happens. There are a few things that can heighten your mood after a hot and tiring day at school, work or whatever like a slow motion tour of Cairo’s rooftops and exhaust pipes; a tour which you have to endure until the bitter end, until you reach the desired exit that is. Till then, you’re left to entertain yourself with the wide array of interesting billboards our skyline has to offer, advertising the nation’s best music artists and films *cough, cough, splutter!!* amongst other things. Did I mention the radio?

– Proficient drivers: Quite a few people drive here as though they were pedestrians. There aren’t lanes on the pavement one has to stick to, while walking you can overtake people or go from one side of the sidewalk to the other without having to indicate such a manoeuvre, there’s no such thing as ‘walking in the wrong direction’, you can stop without warning, etc. Translating these to driving is bad enough but on the SOF it’s just criminal. They only make the restriction of driving on a flyover worse and add to the danger. I also appreciate the thoughtful people who manage to block two lanes while driving at 30 km/h. And you also have these wannabe Schumachers on steroids who drive as if they were trying to break some kind of record or something. Nothing like weaving in and out of moving cars at breakneck speeds for an adrenaline rush, eh? I applaud you for your coolness. Asshats. 

Curiosity: My sympathy and prayers go out to anyone who has a car accident and especially on the SOF. How an ambulance is supposed to easily get to the site of a crash during the better part of the day remains a mystery to me. This is made even harder by people who not only can’t help but slow everyone else down because they need to satisfy their curiosity. Call an ambulance, or if you have any First Aid skills and can help, then by all means do, otherwise get the fudge off SOF and make way for anyone who can help, as said like an ambulance. One doesn’t need to watch to express sympathy… I was on my way home once and the flyover was practically blocked but I could not see why. About 15 minutes later I reached the source of the problem and it turned out that there had been an accident.. and get this.. on the other side!!  Everyone was slowing down to watch and as a result no one could get by. AAARRGHH!! Ok, I admit that one naturally slows down a bit when there is a smashed car ahead, but not to the point where it takes a quarter of an hour to drive a distance that would normally take one minute. It’s simple: Phone? First Aid? Get tha fudge off SOF!

Published in: on December 8, 2006 at 9:19 pm  Comments (5)  

Mo’s Tip of the Day #1

If you absolutely, positively have to get lost in thought for more than ten minutes, then avoid doing so while staring at a lava lamp.

I think I’ve partly lost the ability to see in colour.

Published in: on October 17, 2006 at 3:50 am  Comments (8)  

Sharing the Happiness

(Annoying Things That Can Happen on the Streets of Cairo, Pt. II)

You’re driving around and you notice an unnatural congestion of cars and hear the rhythmic honking of car horns ahead of you. Normally you wouldn’t mind but these cars happen to be blocking the street and moving. Really. Slowly.

It’s either one of two. Some stupid football team has won some inconsequential football match or two people have just been pronounced man and wife and are announcing it to the world/unsuspecting drivers. 

You look a little closer and see the following: The cars all appear to be carrying at least 10 passengers each and one of them has flowers stuck on the hood. The source of the blinding white light you see emerging from the window of the very same car turns out to be the ‘tastefully’ applied make-up of a woman in a white dress.

Aha: It can only be the latter.

A ritual that involves expressing happiness that a couple has been wed and the manifestation of the desire to share said happiness with the unsuspecting general populace by doing the above. A strange and, depending on your mood and situation, an either highly obnoxious or somewhat smile-inducing phenomenon. Anyway, you’re in a hurry and you need to get past so naturally you start honking your horn as well.

Those taking part in the wedding procession think you’re sharing the happiness and it would never occur to them that you would like to get past, because it’s all about the newly-wed couple. So they, to return the favour, start honking their horns even louder and you are left with no choice but to share the happiness until your paths split.

Published in: on October 11, 2006 at 8:53 pm  Comments (6)  

All Hail Downtown Cairo

I went with a friend the other day to Downtown Cairo. We wanted to take a look around and take a few pictures purely out of personal interest. Wust El Balad is a district I am barely familiar with, I’ve only been there a few times and only to run quick errands, never for the purpose of sight-seeing, so this visit was a first in a way.

I have to say that it made waking up at 5:45 AM on a Friday morning totally worthwhile. I cannot overstate this.

Anyways, we had figured that it would be the best time for such an undertaking, since there would be close to nobody on the streets and nobody on the streets => hardly any ear-/air-pollution to put up with and we could go about our business in peace.

Talaat Harb Square - our final stop

Would you just look at all that asphalt!

The pleasantries started with the drive across Cairo, which was nothing short of exhiliarating. Barely any cars in the way, no random hold-ups, no nothing! So far I’ve discovered that Cairo is best appreciated either at ungodly hours, or from above or from a felucca at night. Other than that, y’know.. agh.

Our blood we would sacrifice for thee, O prophet.

Oh, shut the fuck up already and buy a television.

We started out somewhere near Ramses Square – I’m not very good at remembering street names – and ended up back where we started four hours, 130 photos and a few blisters later. We didn’t have any maps or guidebooks of any kind at our disposal so we pretty much randomly wandered the streets going in whichever direction our intuition told us to. I hardly think we covered the whole area but we left pretty satisfied. I still intend to pay another visit after Ramadan though and enhance the experience with some good old traditional Egyptian food. I was watering at the mouth on at least three different occasions. Plus, it’s never a good idea to consume smog on an empty stomach. Trust me.

The infamous Yacoubian Building

So this is what all the fuss was about, eh?

As said, we walked about aimlessly admiring the abundance of old buildings. To put it mildly, we saw some impressive shit. These architechts man, their attention to detail is simply amazing and they make modern apartment blocks seem all the more lifeless and plain. Unfortunately some of their creations were tainted due to the somewhat lacking sense of aesthetics some people have. We witnessed a few colour crimes here and there in the form of crappy repaints of what otherwise were really nice looking houses. No surprises there though.

Amazing stuff..

“Dude, I would kill for a gas mask right now.” “Fucking tell me about it..”

We were asked a couple of times by policemen to not take photos of certain buildings (banks, religious establishments). They were always too late though, we managed to nab at least a couple before moving on each time. Speaking of which, the area had some really beautiful temples. We saw at least two churches, three mosques and a synagogue, all of them very pleasing to the eye, especially the church and mosque located right next to each other. A very very serene sight. I’d hate to imagine sectarian strife tearing this particular district apart. By the looks of it though, it’s going to happen sooner or later. I can’t say that precautions aren’t being taken though.

My inner hippie

The security presence in front of the synagogue for instance was insane, it’s a wonder we managed to take pictures without any complications. Probably had something to do with the fact that we happened to be there while they were changing shifts, so noone was really alert. Wasn’t long before we were told that taking photos was forbidden. Blah blah blah, we had gotten what we wanted anyway. Well almost. Upon leaving I tried to inconspiciously take some pics of the policemen. Let’s just say I have yet to master the art of covert photography. Got a couple of nice pics of my wrist instead.

For the unitiated, that's Husny Mubarak's name on the plaque amongst others..

Guess who’s on the dark side

I’m going to set up a Flickr account in the near future and upload most of the remaining photos. All in all it was a very fruitful morning and I definitely recommend such a visit to anyone who would like to witness one of Cairo’s more beautiful sides.

Published in: on October 9, 2006 at 12:36 am  Comments (17)  

Mubarak-Induced Constipation

(Annoying Things that Can Happen on the Streets of Cairo, Pt. I)

 (taken from an older, now defunct website/blog of mine, albeit with a hefty overhaul)

We all know the drill: You’re driving around minding your own business and in an instant you see a huge traffic jam up in front of you. You’d continue to mind your own business if it weren’t for the fact that the street ahead is as empty as the hollow slogans of the NDP.

That and/or the fact that a couple of hundred policemen in uniform happen to be standing along the empty street along with others in mufti trying to inconspiciously pass on as civilians who prefer walkie-talkies over cell phones and have nothing better to do than to stand around idly under the baking hot Egyptian sun.

Only one possible scenario comes to mind..

Suddenly an orchestra of car horns erupts, playing a symphony of profanities. Beep-beep-beep-beeeeeeeep-beeeeeeep! Beep-beeep-beeeeep! You watch as some people start to leave their vehicles to see what the matter is. As if it would really surprise anyone.

 Sooner or later (usually more later than sooner) a convoy of cars, mostly black with tinted glass, makes a quick entrance onto the scene. The orchestra takes its cue and ends its symphony with a thundering crescendo of expletives, while those who had left their cars run back and get ready to leave. The convoy disappears into the distance just as quickly as it had appeared and the orchestra of car horns makes way for an angry choir of motors being revved up. All is back to normal.  

This is by far THE most annoying thing that can happen on the streets of Cairo. One of those bloody sonofabitches  is gracing the streets with his/her presence and any possible threats need to be kept in check to ensure his/her majesty’s safety. In other words: Cripple the city until said asshole gets to required destination. What nobody realizes is that in the process of eliminating threats thousands of new ones are being created. This is one of those situations where a sniper rifle suddenly materialising on my dashboard would be highly appreciated, and I’m sure these are sentiments I share with countless others.

Why the fuck is this necessary?  Honestly, noone respectable would allow themselves to be the cause so much pointless discomfort. It’s hard to tolerate because they’re just a bunch of no-good motherfucking parasites that feed off an entire nation and misuse their power for their own welfare while everyone else can go to hell. 

And it’s all the more sickening if you start to consider the people who have appointments, the poor policemen who have to wait for hours to watch some fat inconsiderate asshole pass by with an entourage of 534 cars and motorcycles, people dying in ambulances… Anyone!

Published in: on September 25, 2006 at 10:48 pm  Comments (8)  

Meeting a Mistake with Great Idiocy

Is it ok to feel like stabbing the motherfucking IDIOTS who firebombed those churches, shot an elderly nun dead and hence seem to have been busy listening to their favourite cleric while the concept of irony was being explained elsewhere?

Or should I rather feel like engaging in peaceful dialogue with them to illustrate why they weren’t exactly doing anyone any favours?

Published in: on September 20, 2006 at 12:48 pm  Comments (7)  

What I Carry Around

I was tagged by Twosret last week to provide insight into the contents of my pockets/laptop case/bag. Et voila:


– Laptop: Can’t find the bloody charger again.
– Black binder, nondescript: Also serves as a convenient writing surface.
– ‘Compression for Great Digital Video’
– ‘Love All The People – Bill Hicks’: This man is not a hippie, as the title may mislead you to believe, but an amazing comedian with a very dark sense of humour. One of the few who actually had something to say. I’ll dedicate a post to the guy later.
– ‘A Very Short Introduction to Ethics’:  A very interesting read belonging to a very interesting series of books.
– Coverless black ballpoint pen: Always be losin’ them damn covers.
– Copybook: Should I need to jot something down, this comes in very handy.
– Digital Camera
– Mobile phone & charger
– Keychain: I don’t remember how I managed to break it.
– Wallet
– USB stick: Borrowed from a friend.
– Pack of tissues
– Two Halawa Energy bars: Pretty good pick-me-ups especially when I don’t wake up on time and decide to skip breakfast.
– Halls, Peppermint: I’m an addict. Have to have at least one of those in the vicinity.
– Empty Halls wrapper: Keep your city clean, although in our case..
– Paperclip: Don’t remember where that came from.

I don’t know whom to tag, so not unlike DNA, I’m going to have to let this tag hit yet another dead end.

Published in: on September 19, 2006 at 1:17 am  Comments (6)  

What’s in a Handshake?

The other day I bumped into an acquaintance and a friend of hers, both of them veiled girls. As usual I shook hands with the first, which is what I normally do when I see someone I know.

Now I’m aware of the unwritten law, which states that a man is supposed to wait for the woman to extend her hand first and all of that – when it’s someone you _don’t_ know -, especially here, but we kiiiinda knew each other and I was in a hurry so I stuck out my hand to the other girl without really thinking about it. Her hand was conveniently outstretched, albeit held closely to her waist, almost like a cowboy who was firing a shot from the hip. That minor detail barely registered and as said I was in a hurry.

So I quickly grabbed her hand, was about to fire off a quick handshake and in that split-second she said: “Ana Mabasalemsh.” – “I don’t shake hands (with guys).”

“Oh… Err.. ”
Fucking A.
“Sorry! I’m so sorry! I thought..!”
Talk about a shot from the hip, bloody hell…

I muttered a couple of short apologies, then briefly talked to the other girl, excused myself and left. Ok, we barely knew each other. In that case, fine, it’s her call, I understand. I really do. I have to admit that I even felt a bit bad for her afterwards and was soothing the palm of my hand with my thumb, almost felt like I had been burnt.

BUT when you always greet everyone from afar, even those you’ve known for a long time and are perhaps even friends with, you’re asking for too much understanding in my book. If the point is to prevent anyone from getting impure thoughts, then I believe that refusing to shake someone’s hand for that reason alone can create an awkward atmosphere that will serve as an effective breeding ground for such thoughts. Besides a number of people who do this either do other ‘impure’ things that are far worse or miss the mark completely. A friend of mine once told me about her cousin, who fell prey to the current wave of (fashionable?) fundamentalism. He would refuse to shake hands with his aunt. His friggin’ aunt for fuck’s sake! My aunt would most likely punch me in the face if I ever even considered pulling that shit on her. I’d probably do the same if it were me. The political correctness has to stop somewhere.

Maybe a handshake is considered third base in fundamentalist circles – looking each other in the eyes being first base and talking to each other second. That would make intercourse what? 15th base?

“Dude, I reached sixth base with my cousin today!”
“Wooah! – Wait, which one’s that?”
“We were alone!”
“Ohhh, you evil sinner you, hehe. *whispers* Repent just in case.”

Oh well, I just hope the girl didn’t feel defiled or anything and that she’ll have remedied any impurities I handed her with a thorough Wudu’.

(Couldn’t help it.)

Published in: on September 11, 2006 at 4:55 pm  Comments (10)  

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