Day 8: Artists and Charlatans

As a lover of art, it’s difficult to put an opinion like this in writing and even attempt to make it creative. I’ll rather gush and lambast in a gathering, over beer, with pieces of suya flying out my mouth and waving a chicken leg above my head to buttress my point. Because in one breath, I exalt a writer, his piece of work, efforts and talent, and in another I condemn one, completely and entirely.

Skipping Day 7, because no tattoos.

Yet.

See link to previous posts here

I’ve loved a number of books over time. Fantasy books like the Raven’s Shadow series by Anthony Ryan, Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. Mafioso books by Puzo. Spy thrillers by Ludlum, and then late-1990s Cussler. I’ve disliked a few books too; that lord awful Blood and Bone thing by Tomi Adeyemi, that barely lets me past the first chapter, and then all of the rip-offs that are Nnedi Okoroafor’s bestsellers.

The Parsifal Mosaic by Ludlum is one of my favourite books of all time. To start with, it’s the story of a black operations engineer, (read: spy/assassin) who worked for the US State Department and retires after supervising a mission in which his fiancée is shown to be a traitor and is killed before his eyes.
Drama. Passion. Pain. Violence.

His psyche is torn apart in typical Ludlum fashion, and he embarks on a road to rediscovery before he takes on a position in a university as professor of history. While touring his old haunts, cities he had never seen in the daylight, cities in which he had masterminded assasinations, blackmailed bureaucrats, but this time as a tourist, he happens on his supposed dead girlfriend at a busy train station in Rome. A trapdoor to a whirlwind of turmoil is opened and he is tossed back into the world he had left, as he chases after her, chases after those who set them up, upending a chess game initiated by a mad genius strategist codenamed Parsifal, hell-bent on showing the world the hubris behind giving too much power to one person.

The action in Parsifal is explosive, every chapter has stakes higher than the last. You are driven to experience the protagonist; Mikhail Havlicek’s, turmoil, to feel the stress that erupts from his childhood trauma carrying suicide packs on the streets of Prague in the old Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia. To feel that stress repeat itself as he races against time to piece together the mosaic and save his sanity, the life of his fiancée and the mind of his priyatel and mentor.

Everything written by Nnedi Okoroafor is plagiarism, as far as I can recall. Finely crafted sentences, able to fool plagiarism checkers, but basic rewordings of any of a hundred different fantasy novels.

Disclaimer

  • I have nothing against Nnedi. I think she’s a brilliant content developer.

Day 6: Fascinations

I had to check the dictionary, and then because I wasn’t satisfied, check Google for the meaning of fascination before writing this. And good thing I did, because my initial subject of interest was Muhammed Buhari, self-acclaimed leader of Nigeria’s Republic, (self-acclaimed because he supervised and then won a completely corrupt and undemocratic election). But then, I found out fascination doesn’t mean, amazement and stupefaction, because, bless me Jesus, that man leaves me amazed and stupefied with each turn. It actually means admire. So well, I don’t admire Buhari.

See link to previous post here

I admire Mrs Adebowale. Oh, it’s not for the usual stuff: lifegiver, caregiver, constant source of comfort and support and succour. That counts utmostly, but isn’t the focus of this piece. It’s for the one major talent that every parent must learn and then, somehow pass on; it’s for her ability to always seem as though she has everything under control.

Here’s the rub.

I am an adult now, I have responsibilities that choke my responsibilities on a daily basis. I understand how there is a pressure to seem as though everything is under control, even though I’m practically living paycheck to paycheck. On most Saturdays, I look as though everything is alright, everything under control, every harness checked, every letter properly crossed and dotted. But somewhere on Thursday, by about 5:42pm, I am in shambles, struggling to keep every stitch from coming loose, grasping at straws and then pulling on threads, thoughts flying every whichever, basically at odds with myself. It’s barely visible to those afar, but pretty clear to all who are close and familial that I’m stretching at seams. It’s de rigeur, every adult faces it. This woman, though keeps it together, every day of the bloody week. Every week.

She’s strong. Stronger than most people I know, psychologically and physically. She once pinned down a 30 plus year old man who wanted to beat me up, and then talked him into silence. She’s brilliant, one of the most analytical minds I’ve ever seen put problem to the thought mill. She will grind out a workable solution of most problems, be they rock or mountain, without even formal education of that subject matter.

She inspires me to go further, to do more, with all that I have. She is the voice, often behind my ear, telling me not to worry, and to make the best of every situation. She taught me how to delay gratification, a philosophy that rules most of my daily decisions, that has made me a harder worker than I would have been.

Mrs Adebowale fascinates me.

Disclaimer

  • That fascinate doesn’t mean amaze has really set me back, questioning all the conversations I’ve ever had.

Day 5: Abodes

Considering the fact that I’ve been in only four countries (including my birth country) this shouldn’t be a hard sell. There are lots and lots of countries I would live, though I haven’t ever visited them. However, the place that immediately jumps to mind at this moment is Austria.

See link to previous challenge post here

I have never visited Austria, and I’ll love to.

Austria, the home of music, of elegant waltzes and operatic concerts. What’s not to love? I want to visit Austria for the music. I want to see the opera in Vienna. To sit in a booth, elegant in my black tie, spying through my glass and oohing and aahing, at the twirls of the dancers and the oh-so-earth-shattering vocals of the singer.

I want to stroll along the streets of her cities, over thin bridges made of stone, crossing placid water. I want to hear the cries of gulls and other birds, to throw bread in the water, and then duck behind a hedge to dodge the Bundepolizei.

I want to eat at a streetside cafe near the Danube. To order fifteen different types of schnitzel and wash down with beer seasoned with gruit and thick with so much yeast. I want to eat icecream while watching a street artist strum a zither down the street.

I want to visit a convent near the Austrian Alps, to stare over the mountains and pretend I can hear the sound of music. I want to run up and down a meadow, searching for edelweiss, and throw my hands all around and scream “I have confidence!”.

I want to ski. Not in an indoor rink, but over the mountain slopes, to be dressed all in white, dark goggles on my eyes, and pretend I am James Bond, on the run from abominable snowmen sent by SMERSH.

I haven’t visited Austria, except in my dreams, but I intend to.

Disclaimer

  • I often pretend I’m Bond while zipping in a Camry around the hairpin bends of Milliken hill.