Grant Muller

American Gods and running with the dead

So I finally got around to reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman this past winter, and as it turned out I couldn’t have picked better circumstances.

Actually I didn’t so much “read” American Gods as I listened to it. As narrated by George Guidall, who I am convinced is the finest narrator of audio books I’ve ever had the privilege to listen to.

It turns out the story takes place largely in winter, and since this book was to be my running companion for much of the season it turned out to be perfect. Most of the time anyway. Gaiman’s descriptions of the sub-artic temperatures in Lakeside made my balmy “barely freezing” weather that much worse.

The story itself wound its way through much of the midwest into the south, just as I was training for my pre-season marathon here in Atlanta, and the journey quality to the tale in particular made the 2 and 3 hour runs memorable, even enjoyable. I really got a kick out of the final scenes, which took place in Rock City. Anyone who’s live south of the Mason-Dixon has seen the “SEE ROCK CITY” Birdhouse and can certainly relate.

Towards the end of the cold season I found myself running through a confederate graveyard just across the street from my home, just as the protagonist of the story is beaing lead through the ceremony of the dead. What timing. It was about here that I realized how old the city I lived in was, and how much history I was passing as I ran through it. Later I would realize how much history my city has managed to collect in such a short time, when I’m reminded that:

“In England 100 miles is a long way, in America 100 years is a long time”.

It was a nice experience, and I hope to be able to match my book selection and season again in the future. Its a sunny spring day as I write this, and already I’ve swapped Tennessee Whiskey for tequila and lemon and Doc Martens for flip-flops.

As a last note I have yet to read a Neil Gaiman story I haven’t liked. The way he weaves primal myths into everything from sci-fi to road stories is entertaining at least, timeless at best. I think I’ve read Sandman three times now. When my only disappointment with a story is that it has ended, then it was a fine story.

Music to code by

Lately I’ve been having to step back in to writing a lot of code. I used to have no trouble at all concentrating on the task at hand, but for some reason focusing these days is tough. Its probably the vast number of distractions from co-workers needing help with this, that, or the other thing. At any rate, slapping on a Tool album or Captain Beefheart or something like that certainly isn’t going to help matters, so I’ve gone back to my music collection to find some tunes that are “barely there”.

Recommendations:

  • Godspeed! You black emperor – Yanqui U.X.O
  • Pole – 1
  • Basic Channel – Basic Channel
  • Monolake – Momentum
  • Brian Eno – Apollo
  • Pan Sonic – Aaltopirii
  • Autechre – Tri Repetae++
  • Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works Vol I and II
  • Aerovane – Tides

All of these albums are pretty linear, with very few quick changes in time signature or tempo. They’d probably work well for relaxing after a rough day at the office. I’ll update this list as I find new tunes to code by.