Friday, May 30, 2008

Fire, Wood, Metal, Water...

Galen Blythe.

I knew him because he'd been in all the papers. How he'd managed to make his way to Madagascar undetected I will never know, I suppose DeVeaux won't either, but at that moment it was the last thing on my mind.

I sat, lost in thought behind a large wooden desk in the flickering glow of an old nautical lantern. My eyes were trained on lines running jaggedly across a large piece of paper stretched out in front of me, and I failed to notice that I had absently balled one fist and pressed it against my lips. I tend to do that when I'm concentrating on something. My other hand, to that effect, was brushing over the paper - tracing and following these lines. This certainly was an old map and how someone found it was beyond me. 16th century maybe, but despite it's age the ink was still quite visible even in the dim light.

A noise from outside suddenly caused me to snap out of my stupor, and with a glance at the clock realised I had been studying the map for over four hours. Checking my watch to confirm it, I stood and stretched, and went to get a glass of water from the kitchen - if you could call it that. The house Galen had brought me into was smaller than many garages back home. The walls were fashioned with vertical planks of wood and no drywall, and the roof was sheet-metal, the same kind of corrugated iron you'd see in some stereotypical Australian outback shack. If not for the thick square logs holding the place up it probably would have collapsed during the rain a couple of nights ago. How it had survived cyclone season I'll never know.

I returned the lantern to its peg, a nail stuck awkwardly in one of the thick logs, and headed to my makeshift bed to call it a night. Galen had slipped out the door hours ago after presenting me with the map and hadn't returned yet. I sat removing my socks and just began wondering where he had disappeared to, when with a loud creak the door swung open.

"Ah!" He said as if greeting me for the first time, and closed the door behind him, "How did you find it?"
"Fascinating," I said with a glance back to the table, "there's a whole group of small islands that aren't there anymore..."
"They are now known as the Arachas." He said with a grin and walked over to it, then removed his jacket and placed a small package on the wooden bench top. Turning to hang the jacket on the chair I'd just vacated he continued, "There was once a large chain of islands there, all of them formed from underwater volcanic activity... the difference here is the underwater currents. They are so strong that they cause the magma to form, uh 'bridges', if you will - masses under the water that grew horizontally like tree branches." He described this with his hands like he was performing charades, "Over time, these bridges broke the surface, where it they began forming into more vertical masses like traditional volcanic islands."

"I think I know where you're going with this.." I said, walking back over to the table. Galen was now staring at the small chain of islands on the map with a childlike glimmer in his eyes. He turned back to it and directed my attention to the illustration as he continued, "The islands remained there for just over a thousand years. Early in that period, people from the mainland - here, sailed there and settled creating a series of small coastal villages. It is estimated that two-hundred years later they had a capital city and culture that flourished in such profusion that they actually sealed it off from visitors simply because of the lack of need and want for outside influence."

"So, these people became recluses.." I said, fascinated by the possibilities of an isolated community flourishing out of sight. This was it, the place my father had been looking for..
"Exactly.." Galen said, looking back at me. "Ryan, what you must understand here is that these people lived alone for over six-hundred years. They had a model society that we have never and will probably never see again. In this environment, they were able to innovate and thrive, but something even more incredible is what I'm trying to search for." He said. I remained silent as he removed his glasses and took a moment.
He polished the glasses with his shirt and placed them back on his nose, "The islands, without anything underneath to support them eventually collapsed, and when that happened everything vanished - dropped to the ocean floor. But the city is still there under a couple of miles of water." And with this he paused and opened the small package he'd brought in with him, "Incredibly enough, from what I've learnt recently the structures could still be intact. But these people discovered more than just how to build a city. Their innovation stretched much further." He said, and I listened intently as the rain began softly pattering on the iron rooftop again. "They were metalsmiths, woodsmiths, stonesmiths, but more importantly" Galen placed something small and metallic on the table and went on; "Ryan, these people discovered electricity."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Stalking Galen Blythe

I crouched in the shadows, forcing myself to remain still even though the warm night air was causing me to perspire, beads of sweat sliding down my face and neck. My legs trembled from the stress of perching motionlessly and silently for half an hour, waiting for movement. The only noise was the occasional rustle of the leaves in the trees overhead. They lined the alley from behind old stone walls, one of which had a door, and it was this door that I was now watching intensely.

Suddenly it swung open. There he was.

Like a shadow he made no sound as he checked left and right, and swiftly swept out the door making a beeline for the main road. I waited a moment, forcing myself to remain still as he walked a few feet farther. I had followed him half way around the world, by plane, boat and car, and finally by train to here, this seaside town of Manakara. Sitting still any longer was torture, yet I was afraid that he might hear my heartbeat as I watched him walk. He was a cautious one - but this time he had let his guard down, satisfied perhaps with the thought that he had somehow lost me back on the mainland.

Now I could end this.

I moved from my spot and flitted down the alley, my shoes barely connecting with the red-tinted soil on the ground as I approached the street corner he had veered around moments ago.
I turned to see him walking alone. Still alone, what on Earth had happened to DeVeaux..?

Shifting finally from the alley, I tailed him, but only made it a few meters before he stopped abruptly, and with a sigh and a brief shake of the head said quite loudly; "Alright. You can stop, you win."

For a moment it seemed he wasn't talking to me, however seconds later he was still waiting, and I awkwardly resumed normal posture while staring cautiously at his silhouette. It felt strange, leaving behind the hunched, animal-like stance that I seemed to have picked up in the last couple of months.
He turned to face me and placed his hands in his pockets.

"No sudden movements.." I said, and like lightning found my small revolver and squared it at his torso. He shrugged and replied "You know I'm unarmed Ryan." and my focus shifted from aiming with one eye closed to staring him right in the face. I cautiously lowered the weapon. "So," he began as I walked towards him, still holding the lowered gun with two hands, "what is it you want? What is it that you have followed me half way around the world for..."
"The samples," I stated bluntly, "you have the core samples...", then I waited for a reaction. "Ah... the core samples." He said casually, rolling his head toward the sky for a moment and pinching the nape of his nose, then continued, "So I was right... you're hunting for the city as well.", and as he said this last sentence a look of relief flickered across his face.

"Well my boy, let's call this whole messy issue a draw. You lower that gun, and I'll take you to them. Agreed?"

"You're... going to help me?" I stammered, confusion clearly visible on my brow.

"I see no reason why we should keep this little game going." He replied. "You want what I want, you seem to be in this for the right reasons, and you've shown me that you're not going to give that up easily. So yes. A team-effort then. What do you say?" With that he took off his glasses, and held out his hand.

"Who-... who are you?" I asked, housing the gun back in my holster and approaching him step by step, not glancing anywhere but directly into his eyes.

"You are Ryan Hurst, son of Donald and Abigail if I'm not mistaken. They would be proud of your efforts." He said, and as I took his hand he smiled and finished, "I look forward to the coming journey Ryan. My name is Galen Blythe."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Conquering the Chief (Pt. 1) & the Return to 3D

Thirsty dear traveler? Please read on.

Last Sunday was (by no coincidence whatsoever) both the 11th of May, and also the day that my roomie Lindsay, her friend Lindsay and I decided to saddle up and head to Squamish. Destination? The Chief.
Now before you run off screaming at the thought of me meeting the Village People, or sitting in a circle smoking calumet pipes while singing renditions of American Pie to small First Nations children, let me briefly explain.

The quaint town of Squamish lies about 40 minutes drive out of Vancouver, and is home to the northern hemisphere's largest exposed slab of granite; a small series of mountains commonly referred to as 'The Chief', 'The Chieftan', or on rarer occasions 'The Solarium Grouting'. (That last one may or may not be what I heard a plumber say as I hopped off the bus this afternoon)..

Either way, the Chief is very impressive. Lindsay, Lindsay and I arrived, set off up the rocky incline, and after sweating it out for almost an hour arrived at the top of peak one, where we were greeted by a rather spectacular sight.
For your viewing pleasure I've attached some images and a movie (7.9MB) of our experiences.

We'll be returning to complete the set, and hike the second and third peaks soon enough, but needless to say, this place is awesome. The ledge we're sitting on is a drop of... oh a couple hundred meters or so. Lucky for me my fear of heights evaporated a few years back, along with my dreams of being the world's greatest country singer... I'm not bitter.

On another front, I've delved back into the fiery chasm of molten, steaming creation that is 3D. I haven't touched the stuff since I left home, and have only just this week started using my beloved 3D modeler again. It feels like I'm back at uni - late nights, early mornings, computer screens, and... scarves for some reason. Anyway I'm working on a cool piece which I expect to have done soon, I'll be sure to pop it on here and in my freshly added gallery section on (yes Luke, the Gallery is finally up and running! Movies are coming soon too.).
Hey it's better than trawling the web for Dharma Initiative miscellany, and Lost finishes another season in three weeks! (Ugh, can you believe it, another year till the next season!? Damon & Carlton had better give us an amazing Lost Experience this time!)

Peace, love and giant mosquitoes all!

Jimzip :D

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Attack of the 'Vox!

Update: The competition is now closed. Thanks to everyone that voted for us!!

Alright people, this is for realz!

The site I've had a hand in designing, memelabs (pronounced 'meem•labs') is up for an award. You know what that means! Yep, your bestest buddy James and all the folks at Invoke Media need 32 seconds of your time to help us reach the magical goal of 'Winner'.

The competition is the PopVox People's Choice Awards for best websites of the year. All you gots to do is vote for us.
For convenience, I've put the link directly to our contest page over there ->
Hit it, sign up with your email (or all of them if you want super-extra-hyper brownie points..), and hit that 'Vote!' button.

It takes less than 32 seconds of your time, and my smile will last much longer. :) We'd all really appreciate it!


Jimzip :D

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