Scribe, ut possis cum voles dicere: dices cum velle debebis (Pl. Ep. 6.29)

Thursday, January 22, 2004

No porn here

I rated my site with ICRA. There's no porn and violence, but sometimes i use the word "Fuck".

Language test

OK, one of my favourite subjects: i hope there's someone here who understands Russian. Compare the sites of the president of Bulgaria and the president of Ukraine. Which one do you understand better?

According to linguists, Ukrainian is supposed to be more closely related to Russian than Bulgarian -- both Russian and Ukrainian are Eastern-Slavonic, while Bulgarian is Southern-Slavonic. The closeness of languages is usually explained by grammar, and indeed, the Ukrainian grammar -- cases (падежи), word formation, verb tenses etc. - is nearly identical to the Russian, while the Bulgarian is considedrably different - the verb tenses are more archaic, and there are no cases at all. Despite that, when i read the Bulgarian text i understand it more easily than the Ukrainian (i am not fluent in either of these languages and i have never learnt any of them). How can it be explained?

  1. In the Ukrainian alphabet there are letters which are not present in Russian, such as ї, і, є; in Bulgarian, however, there are no additional letters. I know how to pronounce the "strange" Ukrainian letters, but it seems to me that on some more subconscious level they interrupt my thought.
  2. There seem to be more words in Bulgarian which are identical to Russian. Not similar -- 100% identical. Of course it can be proven only by a thorough philological-statistical analysis, but that's the feeling i get. The possible reason? Bulgarian is a direct descendant of Old Church Slavonic, in fact "Old Church Slavonic" is just a fancy name for "Old Bulgarian" or "Old Souther Slavonic". Linguistically, Russian is not a descendant of Old Church Slavonic, but it was heavily influenced by it through, well, the church. Literary Ukrainian, however, is, at least in part, a fruit of political intervention that favoured non-Russian but rather Polish or dialectal Ukrainian forms when literary Ukrainian was standartized. Bulgarians, who never had to prove their national identity and uniqueness to anyone, did not need such political adjustments to their language.

The observations above are not very scientific, i never studied the subject academically. These are just "hunches". I want to study the subject thouroughly some time in the future.

Flesh and blood

Fooled ya -- no blood here. The stitches were painlessly removed from my gums on Sunday and the flesh is growing back steadily.

If you still want blood, read this for some intellectual challenge.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Screaming in the Lift

Snap quietly and wreck all,
But first let them know,
You're just too nice, you won't just surprise,
Scream in the lift so they don't hear,

Stand quietly as you reach your floor,
Walk out, business as usual,
Eat your lunch, pay and be happy,
Then go back, snap and wreck all,

You screamed, they must know now,
Though you hope they can't hear,
Now it's the time to wreck all:
The cupboards, the PC's,
The flippers on the wall,

They they they know all,
They've nothing to do,
They are to blame when you
Snap and wreck all,

You're in the middle,
Not righteous, not evil,
And they'll have no use for the flippers on the wall
The moment you snap and then wreck, wreck, wreck them all.

Punish Me

Strong feelings for the wrong reason,
Wrong reactions to silly decisions,
Silly musings on obvious subjects,
Punish me, please, don't let it get worse,

I could come Sundays, but i come everyday
I'm sad to admit i don't know the better way,
Everyone does it, i'm not better of course,
Punish me, please, don't let it get worse...

(to be finished)

Remembering that night

M. Stipe and M. Mills of R.E.M. perform Nightswimming (48MB MPEG video). One of my favourite songs.

Just as i finished watching it for the first time, a guy named Eli called. He saw my ad at Musicians and offered me a job as a pianist in a cover band in the mega-fabulous Herod's hotel in Eilat. 4000 NIS after taxes + free accomodation. Not too much, but then it's fun. Makes you think...

Confused Materialistic Philosophy musings

Random thoughts about my lost camera:

  • I don't know where i lost it. I know i had it in the bus and i think that i picked it up when i headed towards the exit, but then what? Maybe i forgot it on the seat. Maybe i put it aside when i sat down to pick the big yellow bag from the luggage compartment. Aside -- where? On the pavement or maybe inside the luggage compartment? If i put in the luggage, then it should have reached the airport or the C.B.S. in Jerusalem, but the airport security didn't hear anything about it and neither did Egged. Maybe i forgot it on the pavement. Maybe i put it on the bench of the bus stop when i waited for Hadar, then when she arrived, i was so happy to see her, that i took the two bags and forgot the camera there on the bench.
  • Whoever found it -- what would he do? Does he understand anything about digital photography? Would he see that there are pictures inside it? That it belongs to an actual person, that may want the camera back and make a decent effort to find the owner? Or maybe he just saw something fancy and expensive, and sold it to cover his debts?
  • It is even possible that no-one actually found it -- if i left it on the pavement, a car could have ran over it and that's it.
  • The Israeli Police doesn't mean to do anything to find it; the whole lost and found department in the Police is not intended for finding lost things, but giving people documents that prove that the article was actually lost -- to give the insurance company. The policewoman to whom i spoke was surprised that when i told her that i want to leave them my phone number. What for??
  • Now the more philosophical part: the same morning i lost it, i was very impolite to my mom, particularly when she asked me about the camera bag. She couldn't tell the difference between it and the discman bag. I was very bad and i'm genuinely sorry about it. I called her the next day and told her that i'm sorry, and she told me that she thinks that i'm crazy and then i told her that i lost the camera, which obviously made her sadder and more dedpressed than myself. Very awkward, but did i have a choice?
  • The general feeling is "What is wrong with me?" Is there something radical about myself that i should change? Or should i just be more careful and make a better effort not to lose expensive things? The modern world of 2004 -- the world of electronic gadgets and cool stylish and expensive stuff -- how we should cope with it? With care, insurance and protective bags -- or something more deeply moral? Afterall, we definitely don't need these things, and how happy they make us is a tough question; the possibility of loss is never treated in the advertising and the fancy websites. Hard, hard questions. It makes my poor head all squeamous.

Ying xiong A.K.A Hero

Very similar to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -- the familiar themes of stubborn and idedalistic Chinese pride and very similar flying battles, but i enjoyed this movie much more. It is known to be somewhat more westernized, but i didn't notice how exactly; in that sense it was not very different from Crouching Tiger, except it was somewhat more stylish and post-modern. The main difference is that the plot and the message were a lot more clear. The message was very political and pragmatic, applicable in the political situation of today, although i don't know how exactly. Recommended.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Two albums that i should've hated, but i'm falling in love with them instead

Blackfield -- Aviv Geffen with Steven Wilson. When i first heard about it, i just couldn't believe that Steven was actually interested in Aviv's Isra-teen-Rock, but listening to these clips i realize that they sound good and that there's a good songwriter buried somewhere inside Aviv's gimmicks. The album is out soon, and there's a chance that i'll buy it.

The Dub Side of the Moon -- The name says it all, it's a reggae version of Pink Floyd's Dark Side. It's not the first attempt to do this, i know that there's a trance version and a novelty version (although i didn't hear them), but this one sounds dead serious. First of all, there seems to be a very serious reworking of On the Run, and it sounds as it should have sounded in the first place -- futuristic (that is, it would be futuristic in 1973). Pink Floyd's musings with the famous VCS3 in 1973 were actually not as interesting as King Crimson's and this jungle version of the "song" really makes it up. Hell, i would do it one day, but now i don't need to. The sax solo in Money rivals the original! There's a fat chance that i'll buy it.

Lahit Mic'adim Toem Galgalac (Ma dafuk ecli)

Hishtamesh vetaharos
Plisha el avaryanutenu
Hashlayot shel hauma
Gov'ot bli mafteakh hashladim

Ohev otakh al ma sheani lo'
Lo roce et ma sheyesh li
Smikha m'khuchkenet misigaryot srufa
Daber miyad hamten letorkha

Ma dafuk ecli
Ma ani carikh
Ma ani makhshiv

Ze lo' kashur l'ma sh'ta khoshev
Im ata khoshev bikhlal
Nigudim du-kotviim
Yardu li hamayim behaftaa

Ma dafuk ecli
Ma ani carikh
Ma ani makhshiv

Sna, sna et oyveykha,
Shmor, shmor et khavereykha,
Mca, mca et mekomkha,
Daber, daber emet.

(K. Cobain, 1993)

Saturday, January 17, 2004

I wanted it so bad / I couldn't say / All things fall apart...

After less than 20 days of possessing it, i lost my camera. What is wrong with me?

I have much more to write about it, but currently i'm tired.

Friday, January 16, 2004

I hate the street

Pitchforkmedia report that the first Pixies reunion gig will be at the Coachella festival in Kalifornia on the 1st of May. I'm going there, ya mama.

My b-day gifts

Mom -- two Kenvelo shirts. They are very good, actually, but it's pretty much the same thing she gives me every year. Oh well.

Dad -- deodorant, shaving gel, umbrella. They are very good, actually, but it's pretty much the same thing he gives me every year, except the umbrella. Oh well.

Hadar -- a great backpack, inside which i found a kinder surprise egg, Depeche Mode's "Exciter"1, Return of the King Soundtrack, a little buddha mascot, a pen, and a lot of greeting cards. One of the best gifts ever. Yet again, see Gen 2:24.

1 Which, i've gotta admit, is much better than i thought it would be!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I should've done it earlier OR London 2003-2004 -- the summary

Sunday 28-DEC-2003

Bringing the stuff for the trip from all over the country -- Petakh-Tikva, Nesher, Jerusalem -- to the office in The Big City. My planning was mostly bad. I'm too used to public transportation and i often imagine that i can be in all those places at once. I must settle.

In the evening i went home to Nesher -- i forgot my fancy brown coat, which i thought was in Petakh-Tikva and obviously i forgot my cash $$$ with which i planned to buy the camera in the duty-free (almost ruined my own dream). After just one hour at home i was already back on the train to Tel-Aviv, finally packed the bag, then El'ad picked me up and we went to sleep at his place. I got very little sleep, 'cuz most of the time i had nightmares about forgetting stuff, especially the battery charger, which is essential for the camera, even though i still didn't have a camera! Oh, mercy. At 3:00 AM we headed to the airport.

In the duty-free i rather quickly got FujiFilm FinePix S304 (a.k.a. 3800) even though it didn't appear in the clever comparison lists i prepared (actually it did, as 3800, but then i didn't know they're the same). The price seemed good -- 370$, i didn't sleep so well, so i just paid. Later i found out the price was indeed cheap, at least in comparison to Israeli retail stores (but that's not a big surprise). El'ad also bought a pair of shoes, both of us got a lot of chocolate, i got Martini and Bärenjäger and El'ad got Drambuie and a bottle of Bailey's for his friend. More on that later.

The flight was quite horrible, the worst i ever had. That company, Monarch, might be even worse than Aeroflot and Arkia combined. The seats had zero legroom, the crew wore ridiculous hats, the meals were crappy and vegan (and i do believe that vegan meals can be good!), there was no movie, and the only Hebrew translation they bothered to do was of the security video. For that price i would expect more. But nevermind, as all that brings us to ....

Monday 29-DEC-2003

The lines at Gatwick passport control were a little long, but it was there that i first encountered the funny and wordy and very English signs, the kind of which i would later see a lot more throughout the city: "Staff harassment notice" and "If you would like to file for political refuge in the UK, please do so as quickly as possible". I don't quote them precisely as they were, but you get the general concept.

The bus from Gatwick to the hotel was not a very good idea, as there was bad traffic on the M25 (which is, roughly, London's periferique). The views on the road weren't too picturesque, either. We should've taken the Gatwick Express, which costs pretty much the same; the saddest part is that the hotel is just a 2-minute walk from Victoria Station at which the GS arrives. More on Victoria station: there are no trashbins -- later we found out that they removed them for security reasons; and we also bought weekly tube passes for £19.60 each and no photograph was required!

Here our trouble almost ended. One last very minor problem -- we arrived at the hotel at 13:00, but the check-in there starts at 14:00. So we quietly left the bags and went out to eat at a very special and fabulous restaurant called "Garfunkel's". It took us quite a lot of minutes to realize that Garfunkel's is a chain and that almost all restaurants in London look pretty much the same. But we had a very tasty burger nevertheless. That was also my first English language adventure -- i ordered "Classic Hamburger" and the waiter obviously called it "Yeah, a Classic Burger, and (turning to El'ad) for you, sir?" I actually thought that being a Briton he would say "Yes, a Classic Hamburger." Maybe, like the majority of restaurant employees, he's an immigrant; but then he must be an immigrant from the USA, which doesn't make too much sense.

In any case, that meal was fine, and the hotel was even better. It was the Victoria Park Plaza, comfortable, clean, polite and well equipped with a bath-robe, an iron and even an umbrella. The only letdown was the fully automatic minibar which charges £2 the moment you take a (very small) bottle of Coke. So we just didn't touch it. I immediately started jumping on the bed of which El'ad made a very touching short movie "Aharoni - Why Are You Jumping on the Bed?", which will almost surely get a Volgin prize.

In the evening we went for a stroll at the Piccadilly Circus, and i got pictured with the famous Bishop Line (22, Desmond Tutu -- get it??) and then a little Oxford Street and Soho. Other comments:

  • There's really nothing special about the large CD stores -- HMV, Virgin and Tower. None of them carry Yo La Tengo! Crap.
  • The pizza at Pizza Express is decent.
  • That draught Guinness in an actual English pub is nothing short of exceptional, albeit not very different from the one at Mike's Place. The main difference is the technique of pouring which looks more professional in England.

Tuesday 30-DEC-2003

Off to Big-Ben, that is, the parliament. I, personally, really liked the Victoria tower, the one that doesn't have a clock, but is thicker and even more beuatiful than the one that does. Then the horse guard changing, a hot soup at Benjy's, then -- the Cabinet War Rooms. It was El'ad's idea to go and see them, and it was a good idea (despite the long line). The best part about British Museums are the tour guides -- in this one there were an actor and an actress, playing an officer and a secretary, respectively. You can see their pictures on the aforementioned website. They actually dress and act as if it were the forties now, with old stockings, hairnets, cigarettes, accents and everything. I really enjoyed it. Supper at the Spaghetti House.

We spent the late night at Ronnie Scott's. When we arrived, the literally big black guard said something in a very English English, so i immediately said "What?" to which he replied: "Pardon! When you couldn't hear something that someone said, the word is 'pardon', the RIGHT, NICE word is 'PARDON!' Be nice!" At that moment i mostly wanted to be dead. Anyway, what he meant to say in the first place that there were no seats remaining, and that we can enter, but would have to wait to be seated, to which we agreed. It cost us £20 each (ugh!) but it was worth it. The show inside was already on the way, it was George Melly -- an old, fat and ugly dude with an eyepatch, that also happened to be a fabulous old school jazz singer. As almost all jazz concerts' reviews are exactly the same anyway, i don't have much more to say about the show, except that i hope that that concept will never change, and people from all walks of life will be able to come and see a good old jazz show any day, ever. Just about the time George Melly finished, we were finally seated and enjoyed a burger, as the next singer -- the stylish Italian Ray Gelato came on stage. The hits included "Pizza You" and a swinging rendition of "Volare". Very Italian and very swinging. His website tells the rest.

Wednesday 31-DEC-2003

The classic London tourist trap -- the Tower of London. As with the War Rooms, the best part of the attraction are the Yeoman Warders, a.k.a Beefeaters. In case you haven't been there -- they really are very friendly, will happily answer any question, and volunteer to be photographed with silly tourists, like Amir Aharoni, for example. Or Keito Nakamura. Or Yoshimi Akagawa. Arigatō!!

Dinner at SOba -- a modest and very tasty Japanese place. A little similar to Zozobra, but smaller, less high-techy, and no sushi. Plus, for some strange reason they don't have soy sauce in any their meals, but they do have a lot of "black bean". Maybe it's because they're British. They also have wonderful freshly-squeezed apple juice.

The New Year Night

The Trafalgar Sq./Parliament area was closed to traffic to facilitate a lot of celebrating people, many of them drunk. We watched the Big-Ben strike 12:00, almost lost each other in the crowd and headed for the Underground, as we planned to go nightclubbing. That proved to be very hard, as the demand for it was high. Also, both of us wanted to pee, because we had some beer before the midnight, so we tried to make our way into the toilets of some Scottish restaurant called "McDonald's", and despite the very long line we decided to wait there; i was photographed waiting in that line. That's something to remember. Even worse -- although i promised myself and everyone that i won't eat any McDonald's junk in London (or anywhere), we were both hungry, so we bought ourselves quarter-pounders (with no cheese).

When we eventually made it to the tube, we almost gave up and went back to the hotel, but eventually managed not to fall asleep and reached Shepherd's Bush, where we found what we were looking for: Ginglik, a real London night club, not a tourist trap! Ya mama. After having our ID's checked, we signed up as members, paid £5 each and began the party of our lifetime, danicing like no-one was watching. A live latin band, good drinks, wonderful vibe, yound ladies of all races and clean toilets -- what more a clubber would ask for? El'ad was offered a joint by a lovely Irish girl whom for the sake of privacy i shall call R., but politely refused and settled for her home phone number in Baile Atha Cliath. A cool, unshaved and dressed-up-like-a-hobo guy approached me, asked me where i'm from and when i told him that i'm Israeli he told: "Oh! there's very interesting music in Israel! Do you know the musician who's name is Avishai Cohen?" That was a nice surprise, so i told him about two jazz musicians called Avishai Cohen, the bassist and the trumpeter (that's an interesting curiosity). Later we both took the same tube train and then i also found out that he's Afghan, he left his homeland when the Russian invasion started, and that his girlfriend, whom he loves a lot, is far away -- which made me very homesick, but still couldn't spoil the fun.

Thursday 01-JAN-2004

Woke up late. Went to the Science Museum. It's very impressive, although it's probably much more interesting for the kids. We watched an IMAX movie, and it was the first time i actually enjoyed a 3D movie like it is supposed to be enjoyed. The movie was "Bugs", a good old-style British nature flick about mantises, butterflies and other small inhabitants of rainforests. The experience is indeed intense, and besides, when i see those earth/ecology/nature stuff i get all touchy-feely, so i cried like a baby at a certain point when the planet Earth appeared 3 cm from my nose. Then we went to the exclusive Lord of the Rings exhibition. That took up the larger part of the day.

In the evening we simply went to the pub near the hotel. I got drunk like an idiot from two pints (Theakston and Guinness), a gin 'n tonic and a whiskey. There was nothing to eat in the area, so it got even worse, that is -- very entertaining. We finally found a Pakistani who sold us a Lamb Kebab, which was very hot, so we had to run to the hotel to drink something. El'ad filmed me drinking water in the hotel's bathroom for two wonderful short movies -- "Aharoni - the Drunken Truth, parts I and II".

Friday 02-JAN-2004

We devoted the morning to some art -- the Tate Modern gallery. Elad liked a painting called "Höhere Wesen befahlen rechte obere Ecke schwarz malen (Higher beings order: paint the top right-hand corner black)" by the German artist Sigmar Polke and i had my picture taken lying on the floor underneath Olafur Eliasson's sun. I also found an excellent exhibition of early communnist-era propaganda posters in various languages and alphabets; Stalin, whom many of these posters glorify, killed most of them in the thirties and replaced them with a modified Cyrillic script. I should do a research project about that.

Then we went to the ultimate London tourist trap -- Madame Tussaud's. Ordering the tickets saved us from the queue, but it did cost considerably more -- not only there's a commission charge, Isracard fucks everyone who doesn't pay in US$. We paid as if £1 cost more than 8 NIS, although it is actually 7.8 NIS. Bloody goniffs.

Anyway, i enjoyed the experience -- the paparazzi at the entrance, the breathing Britney, the very small Tom Cruise and Geri Halliwell, Patrick Stewart etc. The only wax figure El'ad liked was Abu-Amar; it was also the only place where he wanted to be photographed and the only place in the whole museum that he enjoyed. I also enjoyed the planetarium very much, even though they almost ruined it with the Treasure Planet characters; El'ad hated it. Supper at Zizzy, an Italian place that felt as if it was in Tel-Aviv.

In the evening i convinced El'ad to go and see The Return of the King in Odeon cinema on Leicester Sq.; El'ad claims that to the best of his knowledge it is the biggest movie theatre in Europe. When we stood in the line to buy the tickets, some brit bloke shouted from behind: "I've seen it, it's crap! They all die in the end!" The tickets cost £10.50 each. A lot. But it really is a big movie theatre, so there. The movie -- pretty good. Watching it was a very post-modern experience, as i was more interested in the way they made it than in the plot, which i already knew anyway (i read the book, ha-ha.)

The movie was long, but El'ad was hungry for more nightclubbing! Ya mama. So we headed to the famous Mean Fiddler club. There was no live show, but rather a pretty standard alt-rock party, the kind of which you can find in Tel-Aviv and Haifa (the whole place really reminded me of the City Hall club in Haifa). The playlist was even more tame than it would be on such a party in Israel, most of the songs played there were MTV hits. But it was fun nevertheless, and besides it's good to know that the nightlife in Israel is not so far behind the world. And even ahead of it. Ya mama. El'ad got a little drunk (Guinness, Smirnoff Ice and some more stuff which i can't recall now). The Smirnoff Ice bottles were plastic. Those Brits are so careful not to hurt anyone.

Saturday 03-JAN-2003

Our last day in the wonderful city. Most of it was devoted to Camden Town market. It is just so big. It never ends. You think that it ends at the end of the street and then you discover that the street suddenly goes right and there are more stores. And then it goes left and there are some more stores. And so on. One shouldn't come with a lot of money, because as long as one has something left in his pockets, it's impossible not to buy something. Hats, toys, souvenirs, army uniforms from all over the world, records, grass smoking accessories, art, food and much more. We had a cheap and tasty Indian dinner, bought some souvenirs and headed back to the hotel, spent the last pounds and minutes on beer and caught the bus to the airport.

The duty-free in Gatwick is pretty good, actually, but there's one thing to watch for: the lovely bears at the Harrods branch there cost twice as much as the same models in another duty-free toy store just next to it. Be careful. The alcohol is cheap, so i got a bottle of Beefeater gin and a bottle of Bacardi Carta Blanca. The flight home was even worse than the flight to London, but after such a wonderful trip, who cares.

The Morning After

We took a taxi to El'ad's home and when we arrived, took the bags and started walking to the house, the handle of the duty-free cardboard box with all the boxes of chocolates and the alcohol torn apart, the box fell on the asphalt and the Bailey's bottle was broken. We ran to the apartment, threw our coats and bags and began washing the Toblerone's and the good bottles. When we were done and wanted to sit and cool off, i noticed that i threw my black Polgat coat on El'ad's shabbat-oven which was working and the coat was roasted and essentially ruined. After cursing the crap out of the whole shitty situation we turned on the TV and heard about the plane-crash in Egypt and understood that there are worse news than ruined coats and broken bottles and that we should feel happy that we landed safely. Since then my mom skillfully fixed the coat and El'ad thinks of suing the duty-free for bad packaging. Not everything is so bad.

Other comments

  • The buskers in London are the best. Paris comes second and Rome is the worst. The secret is that busking in London is not just illegal, and that's it; you can busk if you pass an audition and get a license! It made me want to live in London for at least for a few months. Amazing.
  • The prices of internet cafe's change wildly during the day and i still didn't get how and why. It ranges from about £0.60 to £1.60. Probably peak hours play some part. Moreover, we didn't find one where we could save pics from the camera, but then -- we didn't bother to look so well.

More details might follow as i remember them. El'ad, you're welcome to send corrections and additions. Everyone else -- thank you very much for reading.

Everybody hurts sometimes

I had a wisdom tooth removed on Sunday. The doctors gave me three sick days, which means i have to go back to work tomorrow, but my ability to speak intelligibly has deteriorated today, so i'm taking at least one more day off. A good chance to finally write up some thoughts on the trip to London.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Living in pieces

Lydia Lunch interviews Thurston Moore here, along with some very beautiful paintings. A very interesting interview, i didn't imagine that we think so much alike about music and art. Selected Thurston's quote: "I want to write a song, record it, and throw it out for download. Do that for a half-year, and then compile it for the CD buyers." A must-read.

Lydia Lunch -- an alternative (ahem) singer, collaborated with Sonic Youth on two songs, co-writing "Marilyn Moore" and sharing vocals with Thurston on "Death Valley '69".