Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hole in the Sky

I have quite a few updates to make and I'll start with the awesomeness that was the Hole in the Sky Bergen metal festival that took place 24th to 27th of August. This was the last Hole in the Sky festival ever (supposedly) and they appropriately named the event "The Last Supper". There were club shows the Wednesday and Thursday nights at Garage and bigger shows on Friday and Saturday at USF. I only attended the Friday and Saturday night events.

I got a spot front row centre. \m/
18:00- Negative Plane: I don't really remember much about this band. Not bad but I didn't feel like they were anything special either.
18:50- Ghost: I enjoyed this band. Their stage presence was entertaining with the vocalist wearing a Satanic pope outfit and face mask while the rest wore hooded robes. With the doom music and powerful incense it made me feel like I was at a ritualistic black funeral.

19:55- Nifelheim: Good band, good show. Hate to say but their skullets were distracting.
I was really really excited for. The first time I heard Primordial I liked their music but something about the vocals made the listening experience slightly uncomfortable. That was until I saw them live and it didn't take long for them to skyrocket up my list of favourite bands. It was a fantastic performance as Alan Averill (Nemtheanga)'s stage presence is always dynamic. As it always is with bands you love the set felt way way too short and felt like it was over much too soon.

Now here I must say that I was going pretty crazy in the crowd for Primoridal, singing along, headbanging, etc. It was very hot and I was using up lots of energy and I hadn't really eaten much more that day besides a bunch of peanuts and a hotdog. So when the next band came on...
22:35- Godflesh: and they were boringly repetitive (not like droning black metal repetitive but in a way that makes me certain I could learn any of their bass lines in an afternoon and I can NOT play instruments to save my life), and had the fog machines blowing smoke a couple times a minute I started to not feel so good. I started feeling like I was going to vomit and the next thing I realize I'm on the other side of the barricade with security holding me up. I was escorted to the medics who brought me out to a cold hallway and gave me water. One of them just chatted with me about the show and what I was doing in Norway until I started feeling better. I was a little worried that they wouldn't let me back into the show but it was no problem. I hung around the side until Godflesh was done before making my way back to my spot at the front (a feat I did not think would happen).
00:20- Satyricon- This was the part of the weekend I was most excited about. There was a short while when I thought I was going to faint again before they came on but the best security personnel I have ever encountered gave me a bunch of chocolate to perk me up. I was super tired by this point so I probably didn't get into the set as much as I typically would but I still went fucking crazy. They played a really cool mixture of songs from their discography. Satyr is highly entertaining to watch both because he's fricken sexy as hell but also because it seems like he has a lot of fun climbing around on equipment on stage and once jumped onto the barricade in front of the crowd (unfortunately not on my area).
After the show I hung around the venue with a fellow female metalhead who's from Italy in the vain attempt to meet famous people. I decided that it wasn't a good idea to push my exhausted body any further so I got McDonald's and went to bed.

18:00 Helheim
18:55 Virus
20:20 Enslaved
22:05 Mayhem
23:55 Immortal
I was less enthused about the Saturday show in general despite it being the one with the really big names so I won't really go through all the bands that played and just say that my favourite band of the night was undoubtedly Enslaved. Great music and great stage presence, Grutle just seemed so friggen happy to be on stage. I'm not sure if they actually planned for their encore or if they just claimed extra time but I was happy that they did. Enslaved has been a band that I've always liked whenever I've heard but I've never actually made an effort to actually listen to them in depth. That has become a priority.
I also want to listen to Helheim more, all I know is that they're actually good Viking metal. They had a guest appearance by Hoest of Taake which I expected. Mayhem and Immortal- I honestly couldn't care less about. I appreciate Mayhem's contribution to black metal but I don't really care about them now and I can't look at Abbath without laughing so I can't take Immortal seriously.

General observations:
-The crowd was really really tame. As far as I saw/felt there was no mosh pits and certainly no crowd surfing. I didn't have to fight to claim by position in front row and I certainly didn't have to fight to keep it considering I left once to pee and once when I fainted and I was able to return to my place both times hassle-free. I'm guessing this was because the general attendee was much older then at a typical concert. This was probably due to the effort and cost of traveling to Bergen for the show.
-I was very surprised at how small the venue was. But I guess it makes sense given Bergen is quite a small city. 
-I don't understand the desire for so many metal females to dress like absolute skanks. Including the woman in my hostel who must have been in her 40s who spent several hours each day putting on layers of makeup and wore skirts that would have looked trashy on a 20 year old. 
It was overall a fantastic experience that was well worth the money. It makes me really excited for the Inferno festival that will take place in Oslo in the spring. Imagine! living in a city with its own black metal festival :D

Friday, August 19, 2011

Perpetual construction

Oslo, like most major cities in the summer, is doing a lot of construction work. Right outside my building is a construction site featuring 2 ginormous cranes. The control seat of the smaller one is directly opposite my twelfth floor window, the other must be about 15 storeys high at least. Every morning around 5-6 they start working at the construction site. Even 12 floors up with closed windows they're noisy as hell. So that noise lasted from the early morning to early evening. Then there was a company repaving the road right in front of the building overnight, so they would be noisy from 9pm-3am, leaving only a few precious hours of relative quiet. I now just received an email saying that there's going to be four new single room apartments built on floor 13-- fuck. I don't know exactly when week 34 is but that's when it's going to start and it's hopefully going to be finished by the end of the year. Yayyyyy. I'm going to try for a housing transfer as soon as I'm able to in October, more because of the distance from school than the construction (since the external stuff has to end in the winter anyways), but this contributes.
Akershus Festning

Another summer undertaking that can be the bane of tourists is restoration work on historic sites. I know that this is vital work to keep our monuments in good repair for many generations to come but fences and scaffolding can ruin the historic atmosphere and make for some less than appealing photos. I went and explored the Akershus fortress grounds yesterday and found many of the exterior walls covered in plastic and some wire fences around others. The castle area was unfortunately closed for a concert but it was nice enough to look around. Great view of Aker Brygge and some of the islands in the fjord. I also walked around Aker Brygge but didn't really understand the appeal; it was just a bunch of shops and restaurants that I didn't bother to go into. A couple nice fountains/statues. Lots of nice looking apartments that must cost millions.
 Also went and visited one of my favourite spots in Oslo- Sognsvann. Took a nice walk around the lake and took tons of pictures.

I still need to buy a pillow so I think a trip to Ikea is in the plans soonish.

Rainy day today so I'm staying in.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

In Oslo- The Voyage and Lodgings

On the glorious Wednesday 10th day of August, Ash the Viking embarked upon a wondrous quest to a faraway land. She fearlessly set out in a steel bird to traverse the swan-road of the air. Leaving her homeland and many beloved behind for many seasons, Ash looked only forward towards the next grand adventure. The dangerous beast and capable foe: GRAD SCHOOL.  dun dun dun.

Well, that's enough of that. I miraculously have nothing to complain about the flights, no complaints about Icelandair and none about my fellow passengers. The only kids that cried thankfully did it during the main portion of the flight and not during take-off and landing so it was simply a matter of turning up the music. I was able to watch the take-off, read a few chapters of A Dance with Dragons on my new Kindle, and sleep a little. Flying through Reykjavik is much much better than going through Frankfurt, so much more direct. It was a painless 5 1/2 hours to Keflavik airport and another 2 1/2 to Oslo. I had been worried about only having an hour and twenty minutes between flights but it turned out to be more than enough.
Over Iceland

I knew that the chaos would begin once I arrived in Oslo. Keep in mind that I have over 100 pounds in luggage in two suitcases and a backpack. Disembarked, went through duty-free and got some cheap rum and beer (no cigarettes to the chagrin of a friend :P), and waited around for baggage. A little part of me worried I would be pulled aside. One of my bags contained a drinking horn and a bullet belt. I had checked that belts made of fake bullets are allowed to be in checked luggage but I didn't know if they'd be able to tell from outside the bag that they were in fact fake. Of course my bags eventually came out unopened and I was on my way. I took the flytoget (airport train) to Oslo S/ Jernbanetorget (the main train station in Oslo) where I paid for two lockers to put all my baggage in.
I then went and bought a transit pass and from there took the subway to Kringså which is quite North of the city to pick up my keys. I then took a bus from Kringså to Bjerke to make sure all my keys and such worked. I quickly met my bathroom mate (she's from Ethiopia) and then took another bus back to Oslo S. I picked up my luggage and because I'm stubborn and now knew the bus route decided to take my luggage back to residence on the bus instead of taking the logical taxi. (Thanks to the nice boy who helped me lift a suitcase onto the bus, my arms were jelly by then). Finally got my stuff upstairs and dumped them where they now still currently lie.
You probably don't know where Oslo S, Kringså, and Bjerke are in relation to one another but just take my word that they're not close. Or google map it if you don't believe me. I live in a very inconvenient location.
On to the Apartment.
My room.
My room is quite nice. The biggest of all student rooms I've lived in. Bed's quite comfy and so is that red chair (despite it being covered in stains :S). No closet in the room only a big cube-y shelving unit thing that I know will get very disorganized very quickly.
The bathroom: quite small. Doesn't really have a shower stall which is slightly annoying. Only a shower curtain that divides the room but doesn't really prevent water from spreading and the toilet gets soaked as well. There's also a heating element on the wall that I haven't fully figured out yet but is probably the best thing ever in the winter.
The Kitchen: Pretty big and nice. It's covered in notes about cleaning up after yourself. Big red-flag. I'm not exactly sure how many people I share this with. The bathroom-mate said 5 but she didn't seem sure and there's definitely more rooms down the hallway. I tried to draw a little picture to show what the hallway looked like...but it didn't work out. Probably because I'm still not sure. The first time I wanted to leave the apartment I felt lost in the hallway because it's just a sea of closed doors and you can't just open a knob you have to turn the lock as well so I was worried about getting caught trying to get into someone's apartment. But the maze was not enough to vanquish Ash the Viking.
From the picture of the kitchen you may be able to notice the best thing about this apartment.

From the 12th floor I can see from the Oslofjord to Homenkollen ski jump to all over Marka. It's beautiful. Of course you have to look past a construction site and two giant cranes...but it's beautiful. The pictures don't do it justice and I really wish I had a card reader to show you pictures from the other camera (I got a dslr cam from my brother- thanks Mark). There's a horse race track just beside the building so I can also look down into the horse paddocks and see part of the track.
The view from my room is also pretty awesome, especially at night. After the sun sets there's a beautiful light blue/ greenish glow from behind the mountain forest. Pretty sure it's not the northern lights but it's pretty nonetheless.
again pictures don't do it justice

Anyways, lots to do, things to unpack, people to meet.
Fare thee well,
Ash the Viking.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Moving to Oslo

The time is almost here. On Wednesday I will be leaving Canada for Norway. I won't be back for at least a year when I hope to get funding to come back to a conference being held at my alma mater. If I don't go to that it may be years before I return. It's a really strange feeling to be saying good-bye to so many people when you know you'll probably never see the majority of them again. Of course everyone says "We'll see each other again" and insist that yours is an everlasting friendship but realistically, at least in my experience, this isn't true most of the time.
I've barely started packing. I'm allowed bring two bags as long as neither exceed 50 pounds but then there's the hassle of getting my luggage to my residence. It's largely an issue of pack or purge and I'm getting rid of quite a lot of clothes. It's hard to really decide what to bring and what I'll need to buy once I arrive. I don't know if I need to bring kitchen utensils like cutlery or pans. I know I'm capable of going without numerous comforts but in many cases I don't want to. For example, on my last three month trip to Oslo I didn't have a curtain, sheets, or a pillow. As a result I hung a fleece blanket in the window but it only covered half the window that let in the midnight sun all night, I slept in a sleeping bag, and I used a blow-up neck cushion with a t-shirt draped over it as a pillow. Not exactly luxury living and not something I'd like to repeat for the long term. I could get by with a lot less clothes than I'm packing but I've spent quite a significant amount of money on band shirts and hoodies and I actually do wear them all. Then with pants I'm only bringing one pair of jeans (plus the pair I'll be wearing on the day of travel), simple black pants, a pair of dress pants, and maybe a pair of capris. Another issue with moving to Norway is that I also have to prepare for winter. My trenchcoat weighs a good couple pounds by itself and my hoodies are bulky. What I'm going to have to do is pack up a couple shipping boxes and have my mom mail over the things that I won't need right away.
Once I'm done packing I'll post a list of what I'm bringing.
Still so so many things to do and only a couple days to do them.