I wish I was a ship Captain

Image of boat

Image: © Gislain

Author: Gislain

I wish I was a ship Captain
To sail afar and leave at sea,
To run away and once be free;
To escape shores I’ve known too long
To realms I may feel to belong.
My crew will hear: raise the anchor!
Do not turn back, have no rancor!
Full speed ahead, to the unknown!
New lands out there have to be shown.

If just I was a ship Captain
I’d have all I dreamed of, for sure
I’d feel the wind of adventure
Swells up my sails and shakes my ship
And sends me on my one last trip.
To islands of the purest sand
Under sky made of artist’s hand.
New shores never by man explored
Of mysteries too long ignored.

I wish I was a great Captain
To seek far off and primal woods
Hiding magic misunderstood.
Remote jungles so exotic
Colors and scents are erotic;
Dazing taste of forbidden fruits
Bringing back to humankind’s roots.
All treasures I could bring back home
Once I would have finished to roam.

I wish I was my own Captain
So I could choose where I’d sail;
So I could write down my own tale.
With the night sky as only guide,
And my dearest friends by my side,
I’d stir my vessel off its path
And fight against every wave’s wrath.
I wished I was, but I am still
A shipless sailor that hopes will,
One day, be Captain by all means
Riding his raft made of dead dreams.

The Awaken One

Author: Gislain

A slight subtle move, barely noticed… at first. A small gentle pulse, slowly leaving the hidden side of the heart; less than a low murmuring rumble, but still… echoing throughout the whole chest and silently crawling its way along the shivering nerves.

It’s awake.

Emerging from its long lasting slumber, it raises its head and stretches its neck, its back and tail, twisting and rolling as the dreams fade away. It coils around a now constricted beating core, sneaking in-between the drunk liver, hissing lungs and the addicted spleen, bumping against the bars of its thoracic cage.

It’s locked still.

But yearns to free itself. So it grows, enlarges and soon fills every inches of space. It strikes in despair at the walls of its prison like a trapped animal; and beats, bangs and bashes, smites, slaps and punches… until one rib dislodges itself from the spin. One, two, three… and the beast is free. Gnawing its way up to the base of the skull, up to the inner ear, it whispers to the soul in a long cold sepulchral breath:

“Let… me… out.”

One, two, three more sips to drown the pest and wash any thoughts away; its existence has to be forgotten once more. Four or five in the early morning, the hour glass is flooded and time is mired in sand. There is no escape. And the end is creeping closer and closer. The pressure both from in and out compressing the brain in anguish, forcing it to kneel and cower on itself. Six or seven, less than ten… that’s how many seconds it has left. And the mind knows; the mind fighting still in agony, the mind losing the game and still, itself; the mind trying to hold onto its dying corps knows what lies at the end.

If it wins.

It scratches, tears and rips the flesh with its claws, eating its way out to burst out of its host. Wearing only bloody skin and shadows upon its bony unworldly body; hidden in the shade, hidden on the dark side of the heart; it awaits its time. And under its gloomy glowing eyes smiles but a grin of pure darkness and warped teeth, drooling of anger and rage.

It’s hungry still.

lonely siren’s song

Cliff of Moher

Image: “Cliff of Moher en profundidad” ©️ gpoo. SourceCC License.

Author: Mel A. Riverwood

Oh dear when I say that I’m ready to grow older
And when I trace kisses on the back of your shoulder,
Know that in my tongue it means ‘love, love, love’

To build a home from a word, one pain,
And so have a roof to keep out the rain
And stand in its ruins when the wrath of our joy will come from above.

			(If one day I could find that your hand fits in mine,
			On the isle of wonder, washed up by the tide,
			Then no deed nor sin shall have a meaning I know
			And there’s no way in hell that I will let you go.)

But still to this day I find my hands empty,
No crown on my head, and no “my fair lady”
My memories are one lonely memorabilia;
			(but no love comes from a pen,)

Oh I’m broken in lacheism,
Waiting in ellipsism,
I’m as mad as Ophelia.
			(so drown me then.)

The wind and the ocean speak in my tongue
And Death tries to lure me, to love her with song;
On this cliff I scream and if still no one comes I’m afraid I will fall.
			(and if we are to be phantoms, let our shrouds be paper-thin;)

And if no heart can find in mine a twin,
Let frost cover all of my loveless skin.
It seems that my fate was to be the loneliest monster of all.
			(but promise me one thing, dear.)

Let me haunt nightly shores
Where the dark water roars,
And may mariners cover their ears,
Let them grip their boat’s railing in fear

And whisper “don’t heed the call!
Let her cry in the squall,
She’s the loneliest siren of all.”
			
			(please tell me you 
						are the one 
								who shall 
										kill me.)

Ανικητη

Staircase

Image: Ⓒ Roxane Kokka

Author: Roxane Kokka

Ανίκητη

My aunt had always been a person of wonders. While growing up, I remember her running up and down the stairs in her huge old house, regardless of her age or the grey color of her hair. Not to mention, she had one of those wide staircases with tall steps, similar to the ones you see in old movies. She ran like that to answer her old greyish-beige whirred rotary dial phone. And she would have this old piano with all the white keys turned yellow that apparently survived a bombing (well, some of the keys actually broke but she never bothered to have them repaired). Nevertheless, that did not stop her from singing, and she had one of the most moving voices I ever heard. Without her needing to be in any sorrowful state of mind (especially around my siblings and me who she loved as if we were her grandchildren), whenever we asked her to sing, I was fascinated by how quickly she changed from laughing, gossiping and telling stories to singing songs with great nostalgia and melancholy, but nevertheless sublime tones in her voice. It was as though each sound that escaped from her lips managed to find a way deep down into your chest and fill you with awe.

As I said before, my aunt used to tell us all kinds of stories. Some were of pure invention, such as the fictional “naughty boy called Peter” who, according to her, was the one always ripping her sheets whenever my sister and I asked her about the holes in the bedsheets she lent us. There was also the story of that time she jumped out of a car window after the driver told her that the breaks were not working. I do not know if that story is true or not, but I would not be surprised if it were, especially after I found out a few years ago that she refused to go to the hospital when she broke her arm. That was a true story, along with the ones about her experiences of World War II and the Greek Civil War. There was, for instance, that time when a shooting took place in the street right outside her parents’ summer home she was staying in alone that summer, which was all on one floor and full of windows. She recalled hiding in the fireplace because it was the only part of the house that remained intact from the bullets shattering the windows, as they simply crossed right in front of it. My aunt also told me that if it were not for Hitler, she would not have been able to finish her education. As she was the eldest girl in the family, her mother did not want her to finish school in order to keep her at home to do all the hard work in the fields and chores around the house (this was, back then, the fate of most eldest daughters in Greek families living on islands or in the countryside). But her father, you see, was a headmaster and teacher, and during the war, when the island was under Italian rule and children were not allowed to go to school or work in the fields, her father, the only one allowed to enter the school, took her with him and gave her private lessons. My aunt also told me that, unlike most women of her time, if it were not for her marriage, she would have never earned her independence. At forty-five she broke free from her tyrannical mother thanks to her husband. At forty-five she was finally allowed to move out of her parents’ house and stop working in the fields like a slave or take care of her healthy parents as if she were a nurse. At forty-five she would never get beaten again by her parents for coming back home past midnight, even at the age of thirty.

My aunt died last year. The funniest thing was that I thought she never would. I knew she was mortal alright, but I always thought that she would die at a hundred and fourteen (like her grandfather) instead of ninety-four. She survived two wars while she was a teenager and young adult. She jumped out of a car running down a mountain out of control. At the age of ninety-two she broke her arm and refused to go to the hospital – my uncle had to drag her there. At ninety-three she was still running up and down the staircase in her husband’s big, old house. At ninety-four she had breast cancer and did not even feel concerned by it and apparently did not even need to – it did not put her life in danger. At ninety-four all of the doctors she saw were impressed with how much energy she had and how well her brain and speech worked for a woman of her age. She was quick and she was sharp. Even at ninety-four. I do not know what exactly killed her. All I know is that it was neither her cancer nor the current pandemic. And I do not want to know. I will always remember her as the strongest woman I have ever known. Invincible.

These Nuts

Sunny forest

Image: “Forest near Vřesina” by Jiri Brozovsky is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

Author: Katharina Schwarck

 

The fine morning was sunny when I woke up,

Discovered the craving of eating a nut.

I tried to remember what tree it was near

The place where I had hidden my nuts last year.

 

Was it an elm, a birch, or a tree that broke?

I found myself climbing the core of an oak.

After hours of climbing, seeking, and hurry,

I found myself clenching my cheeks in worry.

 

I touched my cheeks, and felt something round.

Little did I know, I had nuts in my mouth!

Time’s Prickly Thorns

Lamp

Image: Ⓒ Roxane Kokka

 

Author: Roxane Kokka

 

I cry out your name

In the ocean of silence

 

Never do I stop searching

In the bright sky of dark stars

 

I reach out my hand in the void of the unknown

Through Time’s prickly thorns that never cease

to creep in the empty spaces between us

 

in hope to catch yours

 

Time will take you away from my arms, eyes, ears, and mouth

But Time will fail to erase the memory of your lips and body against mine

El Diablo

Abandoned railway

Image: “Abandoned Storehouses” by Diego3336 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

Author: Katharina Schwarck

 

This piece of writing was born in a Creative Writing Club session, with the prompt “Mixing Worlds and Characters”.

 

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, lived a mean little creature, tall like three stacked apples, hair and cheeks the colour of a rotten cherry. No one had been able to defeat the little devil, for it had magic powers. One weakness, though, it had. It sang. It sang about its victories and sang about its plans. One day, as the goblin was strutting in the forest, it chanted

 

The miller’s daughter she was fair.

Found her crying in a prayer.

“I’ll give you anything”, she’d say,

“If you make to gold my hay”.

 

The miller’s daughter had married the king, and the goblin had been promised the princess’s first-born, which was expected in a year. This day, the creature was strolling through the grass, but little did it know, the fairies had set a trap. One safe step, a second, a third, and the little foot stumbled over a root. The creature fell and fell down the hill. It rolled and rolled, and cursed, and cursed. Underneath the hill, there was a pond. As it approached the bottom of the hill, it braced itself for the fall into the shallow water. The fall hurt much more. It slowly stretched its sore body and opened its eyes. It lengthened its arms and discovered two iron bars on both sides of its body. It lifted its head. The iron path had no visible end. The little devil turned onto its belly and found what had hurt its body were pieces of wood, which connected the iron bars, and black stones, that filled the gaps between the wood shafts. The creature pushed itself onto its knees. Its mouth tasted dust. There, it heard an ear-splitting noise, more powerful than it had ever heard. Lifting its head, it saw: the noise had come from an unknown being. A gigantic iron monster, that was spitting smoke from its head and which was speeding towards the creature like a flash. The goblin rolled itself over hectically, and saw the long, dark beast thundering by on its magic wheels. The creature scarcely admitted to fear, and it was only when someone lifted it up by its hood that it started screaming. It screamed and fought and bit and struck. It looked up and facing it was a tall man, fully clothed in black, with a black hat, and a black mask. His cape blew gently above the dust, and his right hand held a rapier. He smelled of dust, of sweat, and smoke. The man said calmly: “Entonces, eres tú el diablo”.

 

We do not know what happened after this, but people say the next day the goblin came to the princess’s door with a gift and promised to never show itself again. 

 

And sometimes, if you pay attention, you can walk along the forest, and still hear the creature sing

 

The big man said I did harm

I laughed and spat, he rose his arm

“You must be punished, you are foul”

Struck his blade across my jowl

“Quit your evil, you disgrace”

Struck a Z across my face

 

For life, I’m marked with shame

Three scars, from his first name

 

Anthropole Conspiracy Theories

Construction de l’Anthropole, mai 1986. (Henri Germond © BUD)

Image: Construction de l’Anthropole, mai 1986. (Henri Germond © BUD), source.

In an effort to bring our dear campus closer to students, MUSE went on a quest to gather all the craziest, weirdest conspiracy theories about our beloved building, the Anthropole. Why was it built this way? Is it haunted?

We sent out a form to compile the rumours or made up stories about the Anthropole, and the replies did not let us down. Thank you to everyone who participated. Here you go 😉

Rumours and fiction about the Anthropole

It was built this way to prevent students’ revolts.

The side stairs were used to play hide and seek.

The architect had a stroke while drawing the plans of the building.

I do wonder the number of people who had sex in the building…

I LOVE to think that at night there’s a ghost, the ghost of the faculty of Arts roaming in the floors (just like Helena Serdaigle), she likes to wander outside with the sheep as well. That’s why everybody likes the sheep. Also, she doesn’t like the students coming from EPFL, they don’t feel at ease in Anthropole and avoid coming :-)

It was built this way so people meet other people in a “random” way.

Breaking News: People were secretely scared of Anthropole, that is why They created Covid so students were allowed to have online classes which relieved so many.

The statues are actually people who worked on building Anthropole and who fell into fresh concrete.

This isn’t a rumour but there are showers in the basement and people totally have sex there.

The stairs move and change their pathways from years to years, just like in Hogwarts…

The architect had a stroke while drawing the plans of the building.

I’ve heard that the Anthropole was built like a labyrinth to avoid big crowds. There isn’t enough space to gather lots of people at the same place and theoretically you shouldn’t be able to make a revolution, lol. And there’s a bloody experimental lab in the basement, the place is scary and who knows what they’re doing down there.

You cannot go there between 1 and 1.30 am, I mean around the building. It’s just a rumour, I don’t know why…

The stairs were built that way so people would meet there and socialise… They must have forgotten about silently taking the lift.

It’s actually pretty much confirmed, so not technically a rumour but a fact. I heard that the way the Anthropole was built was to avoid student riots. For example the many different entrances means that one can’t block one entrance and keep people from going in, also the fact that the bathrooms are small means that students can’t meet in big groups to secretly plan a riot. When I mentioned this once a friend told me that after 1968, for a while all student buildings where built to avoid student riots. Other rumour (that is more like a rumour this time) : that the ground 0 is infamous for people who want to go have sex in a hidden place (I bet other people will bring that up).

It was intentionally built so people got lost.

We experiment on innocent students in secret labs in the basement floor (the locker rooms are a ploy) and no one ever goes there.

It’s Hogwarts (editor’s note: I wish it was.)

The stairs move and change their pathways from years to years, just like in Hogwarts…

One day, I’ll meet Hermione.

 

*responses have been edited for clarity and length

A Series of Surprises

Light curtains

Image:  “Light Curtains” © Andrew Mason. SourceCC Licence.

Author: Sorcha Walsh

Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. Alanna woke up in a bed that was decidedly not her own. This did not, at first, produce any sort of unusual reaction within her. This was not, after all, the first time she had woken up in a bed she didn’t recognise. She turned over, expecting to see a strange man who was probably less attractive in the daylight, and mentally prepared herself to stealthily sneak out of the door. However, she was instead met with the sight of a woman, long brown hair mussed from a rough nights’ sleep, and her face half-buried in the pillow. Now this was new, even for her. Usually if she woke up in bed with a woman, there was a man between them. Far more disturbed now by this realisation, she decided it was time to leave, before the sleeping beauty arose. She sat up and swung her legs out of bed, and found that they landed squarely in a pair of slippers. Men’s slippers. She rolled her eyes. She’d promised herself she would stop homewrecking, weeks prior, and had mostly managed to keep that promise. They were pretty small men’s slippers, all things considered, her feet fit quite snugly inside of them.

She was suddenly struck with a sense of deep malaise. Her legs, surely, hadn’t always looked like that? And her head felt much lighter somehow, and, oh god, her hands, why were they suddenly so… hairy?

She stood up abruptly and ran out of the door, tripping as she went, coming to a hallway. Blindly, she stumbled her way to the first door she came to, which by some stroke of luck was a bathroom. She stared deeply into the mirror, aghast at the face that stared back. A strong brow covered deep-set eyes, crowned by a head of floppy hair. Below, an aquiline nose, below that a straight mouth and, between them, a well-groomed, full, silky moustache, accompanied by an immaculate goatee. Instinctively, she retched into the sink, and made her second unpleasant discovery of the day: she had been drinking Bloody Marys the previous night. When she stood back up, a third surprise awaited her: the brunette woman who had been sleeping was standing behind her in the doorway.

“Is everything ok love?” enquired the smooth voice. Oh God. Alanna thought. A Brit. I’m in a poxy man’s poxy body and I’m living with a poxy poxy Brit. Just my luck. 

Out loud, she replied with an affirmative grunt, surprised by the resonance of which her voice was now capable. 

“I’m making toast, d’you want any?” said the oblivious woman.

“M-mh” said Alanna, suddenly grateful for the cover her bout of nausea had provided her. She needed to think, fast. Her first instinct was to attempt to avoid suspicion and adopt the persona of this… man. But really, she hadn’t done anything wrong. Her only crime, as far as she could see, was waking up. Really, it would be bad (not to mention inconvenient!) to keep it a secret. So she gathered all the nerves she could muster, stood up straight, and made her way downstairs, only to be met by yet another unpleasant surprise: a side-tackle from a ball of kinetic energy that she quickly deduced was a child. She stumbled slightly but picked the kid up and carried them downstairs, somewhat awkwardly, gripping them around the waist and holding their body out horizontally. Luckily, the child seemed to think of it as a game, laughing and crying out “Wheeeee” as they went down the stairs. At the bottom, Alanna put the child back down on their feet (more or less) and tried to find what she could only imagine was her partner. She looked down at her left hand. No. Her wife. Steeling herself once again, she made her way into the kitchen.

“Can I talk to you?” she said in her natural accent, cursing the awkward formulation. Her wife (?) didn’t seem to notice the awkwardness and continued buttering bread while nodding.

“Listen, there’s a problem. Or something. I’m… I’m not… I’m not this.” Alanna said, gesturing vaguely to her entire self.

“Okay?”

“As in, I’m… I’m a woman named Alanna.”

“Oh.”

There was a beat.

“So do you want to do, like, hormones and that?”

“No, you don’t understand. I am a woman and my name is Alanna.”

“Yeah, you’re a woman. Of course I support you.”

Alanna wanted to tear her hair out. This support, under any other circumstance, would have been charming, and for someone in the situation the woman imagined her to be in, extremely validating and reassuring, but she didn’t want hormone therapy so much as her body back.

“I woke up in this body today, but this isn’t the one I fell asleep in last night. I have no idea who you are. My name is Alanna Quinn, I live in Dublin. I’m twenty three tomorrow, I’m like five foot nothing, I definitely don’t have children and a wife. And I don’t know how this happened.”

Unexpectedly, the brunette woman burst out in near-hysterical laughter.

“Oh, that’s funny! You’re such a joker, Liam. Now get Posey ready for school.”

And just like that, her wife, whose name Alanna did not know, pecked her on the lips and flounced upstairs. She reeled back, stunned for an instant, and gave a deep sigh. This was going to be, somehow, even more difficult than anticipated.

App Review: Forest – “Stay Focused, Be Present”

Image: Forest © Julien Chalendard. Source – CC Licence

Author: Anonymous

App Review: Forest – “Stay Focused, By Present

Forest is a mobile phone app and Google Chrome extension that you can download for free on Chrome and on Android, and that costs to download on iOS. The premise of the app is fairly straightforward: “Stay focused, be present.”

How does it work? You build a (virtual) tree!

How do you grow a tree? By not using your phone!

The idea is that you decide how long you’d like to stay focused and not use your phone. Depending on the amount of time you select, your tree will be small or large. You press on “plant”, and from that moment on, your tree starts growing! In case you open your phone, the tree will encourage you to get back to work, for example by saying “Stop phubbing!”. If you switch apps, your tree will die. If you don’t want to kill your tree, you need to remain focused/not use your phone until the time is up! Some apps can be whitelisted, a feature you can customize to your liking.

Images: © Forest

With every tree grown you receive a certain amount of coins. Once you’ve collected enough coins, you can spend them either by buying new types of trees or bushes, or, if you’re premium, you can spend them in-game on the “Real Forest” app, after which Forest donates to Trees for the Future, a tree-planting organization.

My favorite part about the app is that it gives me statistics about how many trees I’ve grown, at what times, etc. It lets you create adorable little forests (pictured below) that give you daily, weekly, monthly and yearly views of your work. It also gives you a timeline (pictured above), in case you’d like more details. You can definitely use this app to track your working habits and, if used over a long period of time, at what times of day you tend to work more/better.

You can also sync it with friends so you can build a forest together!


Images: © Forest

I have not been using this app as often as I could. But, it has definitely come in handy on those days where I seem to always be reaching for my phone. It has become especially useful for me when I combine it with the Pomodoro technique, which I have been using for years! I highly recommend checking it out. The combination Forest-Pomodoro has personally helped me stay productive and motivated to work during the day (“a little 25-minute tree won’t hurt!”). One unfortunate thing is that I work ideally with a Pomodoro of 23 minutes, but the Forest app only allows multiples of 5 minutes. My solution has been setting for 25 minutes and starting my break even if I finish 2 minutes before the tree has grown.

One of my only complaints about the app is that I have it set so that my phone vibrates when the tree is grown, except that it never vibrates (or I just don’t notice). I could set a ringtone, but it’s not great for libraries and other study spaces. I haven’t found a solution to that yet :(

If you think that using an app to curb your phone usage is sad and that it’s pathetic to reach that point… That’s fair. Good luck to you!

If you think that this is something that could benefit you… I say go ahead!

If you’re on the fence and are an Android user or if you’re ready to get the Google Chrome extension, it’s a free download so you might as well try it out. Maybe it works for you, maybe it doesn’t!

If you like the idea and have issues keeping regular sleeping habits, you can check out their other app SleepTown where you set sleeping goals and build houses!

In any case, good luck with your assignments and happy tree-growing!

Who Said? – Contest!

Image: “leave your mark” by Shelby Steward. SourceCC License

Author: Anonymous

This semester, we have sent Santa’s elves into various classes in the English department to take notes for us! But they got their sheets mixed up, so we don’t know from what classes they are! :( We have set up a list of various approved quotes by various members of staff, and it’s your job to help us figure out who said what in time for exams!

The amazing only English bookshop in Lausanne, Books Books Books has helped us by giving us two book coupons (50 CHF and 25 CHF) that we will give to the two students who get the most right!

So send us an e-mail at muse.magazine@gmail.com until the 15th of January 2017 with which members of staff said the following quotes!

Have fun and good luck for our little contest called “Who Said?”!

 

1. “Do you know what Cheetos are? They’re a bright orange, powdery cheesy snack. You might have noticed last week that the United States have elected a racist, bigoted Cheeto.”

2. “I hate moodle. It’s really ugly and inelegant.”

3. “But here I am, waiting for a bigger BUT. But with one “t”, people. Come on.”

4. “He’s kind of like a cool guy, like Han Solo, just cruising around, making money here and there, except he turns to the dark side.”

5. “Never trust someone who appeals to your common sense.”

6. “And does anyone remember who is this temple devoted to? VENUS! Yes, Venus is back and she’s more naked than ever. This time, she’s letting it all hang out.”

7. “I don’t know where the flesh is coming from, and I’ve never weighed a penis…”

8. “The wage difference is bigger whether one is a man or a woman than whether one speaks English well or not. The other is more cumbersome, so maybe concentrate on your English.”

9. “This is the ultimate story about men thinking with their penises.”

10. “If you want to see children in a pie being eaten by their mother, this is your chance!”

11. “A revenant is someone who comes back from the dead, not necessarily a Leonardo Dicaprio.”

12. “The annoying thing with literature is you have to read it.”

13. “Scooby-doo is basically a romance re-make.”

14. “DO NOT start a sentence with “in the middle-ages”. I will kill you.”

15. “A prerequisite to become a university professor is to be able to count to two – did you know that?”

16. “It’s kind of like “clap if you want I don’t give a shit” and then he storms off the stage.”

17. “Should we study Macbeth or Hamlet? Macbeth is Scottish… but Hamlet is Hamlet.”

18. “And Sir Gowther behaves badly, like a really naughty child. Eventually, the mother confesses. And Gowther is like “I’m the son of the Devil. Shit. What can I do?””

19. “La Faculté des Lettres; it means you study what is not. Qu’est-ce que vous faites dans la vie? I mean, seriously.”

20. “You know what a eunuch is, right? If not, look it up. BUT DON’T DO AN IMAGE SEARCH!”

Hylobittacus Apicalis

A girl coyly drinking tea

Image: ‘An Irish Girl at the Christmas Market’ © Mike Kniec. SourceCC License

Author: Anonymous

It was that time of year, the time of gift-giving and the spreading of love and joy. Manny had been preparing for a while. He had finally found the perfect recipe he would present to his chosen one, knowing it would impress her. He had never spoken to her, but had kept his eye on her. Younger and more naive, he had often been rejected by women for trying to sleep with them without taking them out for dinner first. He would then carelessly switch from one to another.

But with her, it was different.

The first time he had seen her, he was in awe. They were so different, not only physically, but her behavior and daily rituals were so foreign. He had an intuitive feeling that she would be a wonderful mother and that the two of them would make great children. It made him want to succeed at seducing her and be the best man he could be. It inspired him.

Last time, he had made sure that everything would be perfect. He had known the exact time she would walk through the snowy park. The atmosphere he had set was delightful: from the charming wooden bench to the carefully chosen wine and the white candles, all set under the glimmering stars. But, just minutes before she had arrived, a man had appeared from nowhere and taken over.

Manny had been weaker back then and had been easily ripped away from his hard work. Bloodied up, he had lain just meters away behind bushes as he watched her approach him. He had felt his heart ripping as she had laughed at his jokes, held his hand, and sat down with him. Fury had filled him as they started eating, and jealousy had spread through him with every heartbeat as they started making love there, on the pillows he had thoughtfully laid out. Defeat had taken over him after they had finished and only long after that had he been able to pull himself off the ground.

Things were different now. He had taken a two year break to plan everything exceptionally better than last time. He also trained himself in self-defense, should last time’s occurrence want to repeat itself. Seeing the children that were conceived by the other man and her did not anger him further: instead they were a source of motivation for him to do better. He knew that his children with her would be better than any others.

He took a deep breath, stepping away from the meal he had set up. He evaluated the quality of it, reassuring himself as he couldn’t find anything out of place. He straightened up and readjusted his tie, before checking his watch: she should arrive momentarily.

“Wow, this is beautiful.”

He turned around to look at her beaming face, cheeks rosy from the cold. After staring at the cup of tea hesitantly, she accepted it, allowing him to then guide her to the table. He laid a warm blanket over her shoulders as she sat on the couch he had brought. He sat down in front of her as they smiled at each other shyly from across the table.

Manny had to calm himself down as she evaluated the meal he had laid out in front of her. He was so close to reaching his goal, yet still so far away. The next few seconds were crucial. A feeling of reassurance rushed over him as she began to eat. But he knew he needed to be quick. He slipped under the table and crawled over to her, running his hands over her legs and pushing her skirt up. This was it. Her ovum would take in one of his spermatozoa and he would finally have the perfect descendants.

The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads

Image: The Amazing Snakeheads, © Gavin Watson. Image available here.

The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads (2014)

The very first impression that comes up when you listen to the album of this Glaswegian band is very simple – it is raw. By that I do not mean to say that the music or the sound is unfinished. On the contrary, there is not an instrument, a word, a note too much.

Their style is very difficult to classify; a mixture of punk, rock’n’roll, ballads. One can even say they have a sound of their own, while the arrangement remains classic: guitar, drums, bass, and voice. In addition to their trio, a saxophone and a feminine voice emerge to add an unexpected texture. In other words, as they say it themselves, they do not try to be somebody else. They do not see themselves as professional musicians, and indeed the voice sounds at times unmusical, the instruments simplistic.

The voice is harsh, the drums marching, the bass low and full, and the guitar piercing. Together they form a unique configuration that slowly drags you into an irritating atmosphere. Although it may seem repulsing, the songs, slowly and softly following one after each other, start to cleanse your anxiety.

The song order is, indeed, rightly chosen, alternating aggression with softness, distortion with clarity. The lyrics are hopelessly charged with emotions and passion. The themes chosen by the trio appear various and sometimes mysterious; vampires, nightlife, love, memories… In addition, the lyrics are scarce, which, altogether, lull you into making sense of each word – each syllable.

The whole album feels refreshing in the end. As a rough diamond, it contains a value despite its appearance. However it does not need refining. Accustomed to over-furnished songs, your ears will start to focus on the core of the melody, rhythm, and lyrics. Each part of the sound they created has its significance and is rightly balanced to give a bursting, soothing sound, sucking all your attention. I highly recommend to listen to the whole album at once. The experience only makes sense when the band guides you through their songs and force you into a realm you usually refuse to discover.