Strange Fellows

January 8, 2010

I haven’t told you about my fellow passengers, have I?

Most of you are familiar with the first one. I had him neatly chopped in 12 slices and shrink-wrapped into 4 DVDs.

Dexter is IMHO the best TV-series ever made, at least the only one which has maintained superb screen-writing (great characters, clever dialogue and and nail-biting plot-lines) for four consecutive seasons. I thought I might need some distraction on slow days so I decided to bring season 1 with me.

Now, if you have missed out completely: Dexter is a forensics expert with the Miami police department. His professional specialty is blood. His main hobby is: killing people. He is mass murderer with a twist: he only kills really bad guys who have managed to escape justice. He is clearly a deeply disturbed person (due to a childhood trauma), but he follows a very strict morale, or “code” as he calls it himself. So if you haven’t yet, I warmly recommend you to check Dexter out. Buy it, borrow it, download it, steal it, whatever.

And then…

The other guy in my bags is Böddi. Now, “who the hell is Böddi?” you might ask. Well, I had him evenly spread-out over 427 hilarious pages.

Stormland (Swedish details, and an English translation of another novel) is a highly entertaining book by Hallgrímur Helgason. Just like Dexter, Böddi has failed (or refused) to adapt to the norms of society. He lives in a tiny town, in the outbacks of northern Iceland. And I can tell you, he is one angry dude. He does things his own way, and loses every job he gets. On his blog he spews his sarcasms over everything he detests about Iceland and the people in his hometown. He then experiences an unbelievable string of unfortunate events, and slowly he starts to lose his grip on reality. But his anger remains unbroken. It then escalates to a Gargantuan confrontation with society. He decides to take them all on, single-handedly, from a horse-back. Epic stuff.

The book was written in 2005, well before the global economic crisis and the total collapse of Iceland’s financial system. So it can be seen as a quite strong and prophetic story on the dark side of the heedless greed that was prevailing in Iceland (actually, not only Iceland (and actually not only was)) before the crash. If you have a soft spot for dark humour, I recommend it warmly.

* * *

It has struck me that we have a few things in common, Dexter, Böddi and me; Dexter loves the Atlantic ocean and often goes out to sea. Böddi often stares at the ocean and contemplates. And the Atlantic is just what made me come here! Even though I do not particularly mind traveling on my own, here I am constantly surrounded by happy couples, which reminds me of my status, and makes me feel a tiny bit like Dex or Böddi. And then, all three of us are travelers of different kinds. Dexter along with what he calls “his dark passenger”, Böddi with his horse, and me with my little rented Fiat Punto!

Welcome to Tenerife

January 3, 2010

Most of you know that I love independent travel and despite the fact that I usually scoff at people who plan every little detail ahead, I did book my apartment for the first week. I really wanted an ocean view and I started searching online and saw some fantastic places, but when I realized that almost every place I checked was already booked, I had to forget my principles.

So before I left home, I knew I would stay *somewhere* in Las Palmas for two nights, before taking the ferry to Santa Cruz, Tenerife. There I would take a cab to Los Gigantes, where my apartment was waiting for me. Turned out that there is quite some distance between the two and the ride would have cost me quite a lot maybe €100, but Jason, my apartment-host was kind enough to offer me a free pick-up and ride in his car. All I had to do was to hop off the ferry and find him in his “red Ferrari T-shirt”. Piece of cake, right?

By now, you may have guessed that the answer to that question is no…

Just after getting off the ferry, I saw this guy waiting in a red T, ok it wasn’t Ferrari but I had to check. Turned out he wasn’t my man waiting for me. So I had to keep looking. So I was walking back and forth, with my rather heavy bags, in the outdoors arrival area, looking for this guy. Nobody. Went outside to check the parking. Nothing. Went back in. Maybe he was there somewhere after all, perhaps in the cafeteria?

A man suddenly grabs my arm, gently but still decidedly:
“Policia. Documentos por favor.”
“Typical.” I think to myself. Here I am just looking for a dude I have never seen, and the cops think I have something fishy going on. “Not to worry. They will release me in a sec.” Right?

So this guy has got a woman and another guy in his company. All three in plainclothes, and suddenly I am surrounded. Like I would make a run for it, sure, but quite intimidating, nonetheless. Anyway, they make me show my passport, ferry tickets and whatnot. They hold on to all this stuff while I try to explain that I have a pick-up waiting for me. But they are not too keen to understand English, nor my (attempts at) Spanish.

And then they ask me, (still holding on to my papers), to grab my bags and follow them inside. The joke starts to wear thin as they usher me into a tiny wooden booth. And when the officer in charge pulls out a pair of rubber gloves, and puts them on I think to myself: “This is not happening. This is NOT happening.”

They start looking through all my stuff and the search is not finished when my phone rings, it is my rental guy. They refuse to let me answer it. Then I beg them to pick it up just to let the guy know, but they refuse that too. And those gloves have me quite spooked. Perhaps I have seen too many hard-boiled movies. Who knows? The guy in charge uses the gloves to go through my bags very thoroughly, but he never touches me. I can tell you one thing: when they are done and hand me back my papers, I make a huge inaudible and invisible “Phew!”

Back outside, I find my guy. The Ferrari T is black not red, and he had been a few minutes late, so that is why I didn’t find him, and that presumably, what had attracted the cop’s attention. No problemo, after a few minutes I can laugh about the whole thing, and we have nice long drive around the half of Tenerife, from Santa Cruz to my apartment in Los Gigantes.

Deus ex machina

August 17, 2007

I recently read this story about a big guy, Thomas Martel, 28, of Bonnie Brae, Colorado, who chose to have surgery in order to alter his thumbs, in order to be able to use his iPhone more efficiently.

So he has a hard time using the features on ever-shrinking user interfaces on devices like his new iPhone. At least, he did, until he had his thumbs surgically altered in a revolutionary new surgical technique known as “whittling.”

Read details on zDnet or the North Denver News.

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