The recording quality is not that bad, but actually i hope that someone more experienced will download it, improve the quality (noise reduction, whatever). I really believe in the collaborative power of the Internet; when it works, it works beautifully.
Scribe, ut possis cum voles dicere: dices cum velle debebis (Pl. Ep. 6.29)
Scribe, ut possis cum voles dicere: dices cum velle debebis (Pl. Ep. 6.29)
Friday, December 30, 2005
Time to check my political compass again. Read about the previous one here.
This time it is:
Economic Left/Right: -1.88 (2005-07: -2.50; 2004-09: -2.75)
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.97 (2005-07: -2.10; 2004-09: -3.13)
The flux is first and foremost due to the fact that i choose Agree or Strongly Agree differently each time. To the death penalty question i always say "Strongly Disagree", but to the "Mothers may have careers, but their first duty is to be homemakers" i sometimes agree and sometimes strongly so. It all depends on the moment i'm answering and millions of moments that lead to it since the last time. My answers are honest and reflect how i feel.
Apparently i steadily keep moving away from Communist towards the economic right. It may have something to do with the fact that i slowly started to make real - albeit still modest - profits on the stock exchange. And in the social part i'm going back from Fascist to Libertarian, although the changes are not too significant (and i'm still on the Libertarian side).
I'll test myself again a few months after the elections.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
I finally handed all the long-overdue papers for the previous semester. Technically nothing's finished till i get the grades, and frankly i hardly deserve to pass; and i pray that the professors will be merciful about this almost endless procrastination. Still - i haven't felt so good in almost a year.
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the almighty
We forward in this generation triumphantly
All I ever had is songs of freedom
Won't you help to sing these songs of freedom
Cause all I ever had redemption songs,
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
— "So, do you know what was the miracle of Chanuka?"
— "Well, there was the oil miracle in the Temple."
— "Nah, that's not a miracle. The real miracle was the victory over Hellenism. The oil miracle is nothing - go live with a wise righteous rabbi for a week, and I promise that you'll witness at least one miracle of that proportion."
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Monday, December 26, 2005
Blogs by two of my friends from the university:
They are both in Hebrew. I love Hebrew, but i have a variety of reasons to keep writing in English. But a few things that are common to me and them is that they both like:
- Good XHTML (although i kinda neglected mine lately).
- Being too clever about writing with
Linguists have some things in common.
Oh (edit): Dan commented that calling scripts, particularly the Hebrew script, "weird" is not so nice. This marks the first time that i used the <del> tag for its originally intended purpose and not just for
funny humorous crossing out.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
If Arik Sharon really wants to break some new ground in statesmanship, he should go out and tell the world the whole truth about Israel's nuclear capabilities. And no, i don't know anything about Israel's nuclear capabilities. There are two reactors, in Dimona and in Soreq, and for all i know they are both civilian. And maybe not. I don't know. But if Sharon wants to prove the world that he's so fucking special and to do something new about the Iranian nuclear program, he should just call Iran to direct nuclear talks. But of course, he should tell the world that he's ready to accept international observers in the Israeli reactors, on condition that the same kind observers will go to Iran. And sign the non-proliferation treaty. And then proceed like Reagan and Gorbachov did. Now that would be a revolution.
I hate nuclear weapons. Even if i am the one who has them.
I dreamt that i have AIDS and lung cancer. I was very happy to wake up to the sound of the alarm clock - although i still thought for a minute trying to figure whether i really just dreamt it or really had AIDS and lung cancer and went back to sleep "for just a couple of minutes".
Writing about it makes me think: dreamed or dreamt? Both are considered correct, but English specialists recommend to pick one and be consistent. Dreamed seems to be The Right Way - it's kinda more standard (i love standard) and not irregular and it's also pronounced more or less as it is written, unlike dreamt which is pronounced as if it was written *dremt. But then i would participate in the killing of the only English word that ends in -mt. Not nice.
Anyway, the dream was very, very depressing. I really don't want to have AIDS and lung cancer.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
I stopped eating meat in May. I had a blood test in September, and it was normal. I had another one yesterday and my Vitamin B12 level went up since the last one. It's weird - i don't follow a strict diet and i don't take vitamin pills. But a fact's a fact. If anyone who reads this considers becoming vegetarian, but has concerns about health implications - don't you worry. Just say no meat for a week and see what happens. Then another week. Then one more. Than just go on. It's not that that bad. I have less headaches lately if that's any indication.
Oh (edit): It is possible, of course, that i digest B12 exceptionally well. Ask for professional medical advice before making a decision about your diet, but don't be ashamed of eating according to an idea and not only health - just don't put the idea too high.
Monday, December 19, 2005
There are one hundred and twenty five people somewhere in the world, who think that their language, called Pirahã, is the best one to speak.
In that language it is impossible to count, which makes me, too, think that it is the best language to speak.
— "Yesterday Sharon had a stroke. Some people were glad, but I told them - nu-nu-nu. The Book of Proverbs says: 'When your enemy falls, do not rejoice, and when he stumbles, let your heart not exult' ... But look how God sets things up: I went looking for the vending machine to buy me something to drink and found free Coca-Cola on the way."
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
I wonder what does the Italian word "tinsegna" mean. I can't find it in dictionaries. If you happen to know, please leave a comment.
Oh (edit): Silly me: It's probably ti + insegna = t'insegna = "teaches you". But if it can also be something else, i'll be happy to know.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Help the world with minimal effort!
Folding@Home is not a new project, but i recently rediscovered it. Basically you donate the unused CPU time of your computer to a scientific project that calculates protein folding. I don't know much about biology, but as far as i understand this project might help make significant progress in medicine, which is the common interest.
If you're using Windows, there are two versions - the graphical version and the console/service version. I prefer the service version, because after a little initial configuration you don't see it at all and it doesn't ever bother you anymore. The graphical version can show some pretty pictures of molecules, but it is not very interesting. The installation instructions for the service version at the website are not very good, so i wrote a little something by myself.
- Download the software. I use 5.04beta, but 5.02 probably works the same.
- The FAH504-Console.exe is the program itself, not a setup package. Create a separate directory, for example C:\FAH or C:\Program Files\FAH or something like that and copy this file to that directory.
- Run the file. You will be asked a few questions. If the question is not listed here, it's safe to give the default answer.
- User name: Just write whatever you want - you don't have to create an account with a password etc.
- Team Number: You can create a team and sign up your friends to this team. Then you can see your statistics on one webpage. It is not very important, so you can just say 0 and be in the "General" team, but if you want to do it, read this, create your team and put its number there. You can also put my team number - 47146. Go go team aharoni!
- Launch automatically at machine startup, installing this as a service - say yes.
- Use Internet Explorer settings - say yes. It will copy your internet connections settings from Internet Explorer.
- Change advanced options - if you have a dual-core processor, say yes. Otherwise say no. How to check if you have a dual-core processor: If you bought your computer before 2005, you probably don't have a dual-core processor. If you bought it in 2005 or later, do this: right-click on the taskbar and click Task Manager. Click the Performance tab. There must be a CPU Usage History graph running. If there's one graph, then you have a regular CPU. If there are two graphs, congratulations - you have a dual-core CPU.
- If you have a dual-core CPU, give the default answers to all the questions, and answer 1 at the Machine ID question.
- Now the programs will start running, but you can close the window. The software is smart and it will resume work quietly when you restart your computer.
- If you have a dual-core CPU, you can now run two instances of Folding@Home - that's what dual-core is good for. How to do it: Create another directory, similar to the first one, for example C:\FAH2. Copy the FAH504-Console.exe to that directory too. Do the same configuration operation from the beginning, but give Machine ID 2 this time. Now you are really cool.
When the service is running, you can check the Task Manager and see under Performance that 100% CPU is used. That program runs at the lowest priority, which means that it only uses your unused CPU time and doesn't hurt the performance of your day-to-day activities.
If you want to check you statistics, that is - how many protein folding calculations (so called WU's - work units) your computer has helped complete, go to the "Stats" section at the Folding@Home site.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
See how your name is written in Amharic. You should install a Unicode font if you haven't already.
|Alon Gideon Almog||አሎን ጊድዖን አልሞግ|
|Amir Elisha Aharoni||አሚር ኤሊሻ አሃሮኒ|
|Amit Einav||ዓሚት ዔናቭ|
|Aviram Attia||አቪራም ዓቲያ|
|Bob Nesta Marley||ቦብ ኔስታ ማርሊ|
|Cheli Siman-Tov||ኄሊ ሲማን-ጦቭ|
|Dan Elharar||ዳን ኤልሃራር|
|Daniel Yacobi||ዳኒኤል ይዓቆቢ|
|Efrat Miller||ኤፍራት ሚለር|
|Efrat Segal||ኤፍራት ሰጋል|
|Einat Shauli||ዔናት ሻኡሊ|
|Elad Arye Rosenheim||ኤልአድ አርዬ ሮዜንሃይም|
|Hadar Levi||ሃዳር ሌቪ|
|Itay Hazan||ኢታይ ኃዛን|
|Jehuda Ronen||ይሁዳ ሮኔን|
|Mercury Rev||መርኩሪ ሬቭ|
|Mikael Fassi||ሚካኤል ፋሲ|
|Mira Mohammed||ሚራ ሙኃማድ|
|Noga Gershoni||ኖጋ ጌርሾኒ|
|Oren Bracha||ኦሬን ብራኻ|
|Reut Perel||ሬዑት ፔሬል|
|Shay Bokobza||ሻይ ቦኮብዛ|
|Shachar Shirtz||ሻኃር ሺርጽ|
|Tamir Gefen||ታሚር ጌፌን|
|Udi Cal||ኡዲ ካል|
|Yisrael Schuldiner||ዪስራኤል ሹልዲኔር|
|Yonathan Klinger||ዮነታን ክሊንጌር|
If you are not listed or you find a mistake, send a comment and tell me.
A global warming has occured.
And just because the calendar says that it's Kislev i keep wearing sweaters.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I swear that i try not to be too boring. I like to please. I know, my dear readers, that you loved me best when i wrote about my stupid bosses. Sorry, i don't have them anymore. Try Dilbert. I know that you don't like it when i write about politics. Mostly because you don't agree with me. I don't try to make you think like me. Really. Your freedom to excercise the right to disagree is more important to me than my own opinion. When i'm subjective i don't hide it. What i do try is to make you think. To think beyond the media, to think beyond what your parents or teachers told you. To think for yourself.
Mr. Tzachi Hanegbi leaves Likud for Sharon. Whatever. What's interesting is what he said in his press conference in the morning. He praised Sharon wildly. It broke new ground for bizzare. Not that he said anything very new; he mentioned, just as i expected, Sharon's reasoning and responsibility, not just some responsibility - National Responsibility! and his determination, not just some determination - Determination in The War on Terror! That's right. Soldiers were dying, suicide bombers were killing hundreds, Kassam rockets were falling on all of southwestern Israel, so he was determined to put an end to this and destroyed twenty five Israeli villages. And now soldiers keep dying, suicide bombers are still doing their thing pretty much the same rate of effectiveness and the rain of Kassam rockets is still pretty much the only kind of rain that we get this dry winter. But Ariel Sharon - oh, he was determined.
"I stayed in the Likud and tried to cooperate with people who were running for the post of Likud's chairman, but none of them is Ariel Sharon, and Ariel Sharon is the only man that must lead Israel in the next four years", Hanegbi says. That's just the tip of the iceberg. I remember hearing his announcement with my mouth open. Saying that he should get his tongue out of Sharon's ass is like saying nothing at all. It's more than that - it's a cult. One of the sects of the one true religion of Presumed Democracy. Churchill was right saying that democracy is the worst form of government. It's really a magnificent idea that just can't work, just like Marxism. There are some leaders that are not so good at pretending to be democratic and some that are better. Ariel Sharon is excellent. The media keeps telling everyone how hard it is for poor Arik to do his nationally responsible work, with so much opposition everywhere yet he does it all nevertheless. And he keeps succeeding. If that's not a conspiracy, tell me what is.
Personality cults don't die. They just take different forms and names.
When a few days ago i heard someone saying that he votes for no-one and that he votes for Sharon, i thought that it was ironic. That it was a kind of a funny slip - that Sharon and no-one is the same. That voting not for Sharon is like for voting for someone. You can interpret it in a bunch of ways. I interpret it USSR-style - there weren't much opinion polls, but somehow all the time everyone knew who's gonna win. I don't think that there was even much need for falsifying the results. It really didn't matter whether you voted or not. In Israel i think (well, i'd want to believe) that there are no significant falsifications; they are not needed when the news are falsified so well. But the feeling is that Sharon is very much a part of our life. He's the prime minister for five years already. Or is it "only"? Is five years a lot? Not in France, they elect their presidents for seven years. But then - they don't demolish French villages in the name of National Responsibility.
Anyway - apparently this "no-one/Sharon" thing is going deeper. The latest news is that the voter turnout is expected to be the highest in many years. And people who didn't vote the last few times - and that's 10-20% of the population - are going to vote, and they are going to vote Sharon. I don't get it. Can someone please explain the reason for this strange behaviour?
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
We don't even try to han them. That's what everybody else does in such cases.
Instead we just strangely ignore them, even though they are right here. It really could be much easier. I don't get it.
We keep idly talking about lat without any reck. And we do big things about it that try to look like a plad and fail miserably. We could however easily han the situation.
Just like the dops no-one here will ever - ever! - leck.
(Whatever you understood is OK.)
I plugged th' microphone into th' Japanese minidisc recorder. Then i found th' red button and pressed it. Pretty pictures of funny ladies in black and white tossed and turned on th' silver screen behind th' stage and there was jazz. Then music changed and more pretty pictures of record covers started jumping on th' screen - Hunky Dory, Harmony Rockets, The Velvet Underground (1969), A Love Supreme, Son House and many many many more. And puppies too. Then band came and played songs. Grasshopper played some clarinet and harmonica and Jonathan waved his hands. Then he waved his saw. Later he bowed it too. He was really nice. He jumped around. On th' last few songs Aviv Geffen joined band on stage and played his acoustic guitar. But 'tis not really very important.
Jonathan told us that we're gotta serve somebody (in a funny way). He also told that he's a Jew. I always knew it. "Jonathan" means "God given" in Hebrew. I thank God for giving me this beautiful, beautiful concert.
I hear of people living deep inside of the earth. They are really tall.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Seems that Ariel Sharon plays his Reasoning card well. He has reasoning (shikul daat - שיקול דעת), he has responsibilty, and not just some responsibility - National Responsibility! His image and media advisors are professionals of the best kind - on the bottom line livel, on the results level they just haven't failed since about 1999. His motto in 2001 was "A leader capable of reasoning". His latest spins are all about responsibility. National Responsibility.
At the press conferences he's so quiet and pragmatic. He told journalists - "I didn't kill myself when you were scolding and criticizing me and I didn't go out dancing when you turned me into an 'etrog'" (an etrog is a citron, a fruit that according to the Jewish tradition every Jew must purchase for himself and then keep it well during the week of the feast of Tabernacles; our responsible and reasonable journalists said said that Sharon should be safeguarded like an etrog until he completes the destruction of Gush-Katif). He didn't kill himself - he killed the dreams of about 10,000 Israelis whose homes he destroyed; and he didn't go out dancing, but he did get out of a criminal conviction on his corruption charges. A little humor, a little wink, a lot of responsibility. And reasoning, yea, a lot of it. Staying a prime minister for five years without party support, without media support, without parliamentary support, without lobbyist support takes a lot of reasoning.
That's how a man, that for the whole of his military and political career symbolized the lack of credibility, responsibility and regard for authority, is now the symbol for the opposite.
And we don't even have a better option.
I became addicted to BitTorrent lately. I never liked it so much before: the language was strange and nobody bothered to explain me what the expressions "will seed indefinitely", "NATTED leecher", etc. mean. But now, thanks to Dimeadozen i love it.
That site points to .torrent's of bootlegs. It's even kinda legal - they have a list of bands they won't serve. And they only accept lossless recordings of complete gigs - no MP3's!
Anyway - there's a wealth of Radiohead, Neil Young, Grateful Dead, Jethro Tull and Bob Dylan there. Of course. I also easily found a Mercury Rev show from just a few weeks ago - nice to hear it before the gig on Monday.
But the really nice surprise came from an unexpected direction: I searched for Mogwai and found this instead. I found it, because it mentions Mogwai - "You might like Under Byen if you like Mogwai, Mum or Stina Nordenstam." Oh really? I had to check it.
When i listened to it, it didn't remind me so much of neither one of them, but it was very similar to Björk in terms of both singing style and melody structures. And they sing everything in Danish, the accent of which apparently sounds just like Icelandic, which is perfect, 'cuz i luv it when Björk sings in Icelandic, becuz like zis!!!1
- Like Björk but wish she would sing in Icelandic more.
- Like Björk but sometimes wish that her arrangements were a bit more mainstream.
- Wish you liked Björk but something about her annoys you, such as - her un-Scandinavian look (black hair/weird nose/Japanese eyes), the way she still behaves like a thirteen-year-old at the age of forty, her stupid swan dress (get over it already). The singer of Under Byen has none of these features - she's just a quiet Danish blonde beauty with a beautiful fragile voice and a good sense for melody.
- Wanna hear new music you haven't heard before. Really, just forget all the Björk comparisons - this is really something special. Don't miss it.
Oh (edit): It's pronounced something like Oh-ner-bune. It's weird. I wish i could write it with IPA, but i'd better not. Try downloading their show at Roskilde 2004. You might have to create an account, and it might be impossible because they have too many accounts. It sucks - sorry, not my fault. If you have an idea on how i can send you 10's of MB's, tell me and i'll do it.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I finally ate hummus at Abu-Gosh (أبو غوش). This Arabic village near Jerusalem is known amongst Israelis as the best place in Israel to "wipe" hummus, which is the proper way to eat it. Now the thing is that everyone talks about it, but no-one could tell me where to go exactly - Arabic settlements are very confusingly planned, and it's hard to find your way around the barely named and paved streets (years of goverment neglect, about which i'm not proud at all).
So i just tried to go there myself, alone. I heard about the Hummus Wars between the two restaurants that are both called Abu-Shuqri (أبو شقري); there was even violence against customers (!) a few months ago, but i guess that they understand now that there are lines, crossing of which will hurt everyone.
I drived into Abu-Gosh and just kept driving forward. I saw a couple of restaurants on the way but they looked like 100% tourist traps. So i kept driving until i saw a small arrow pointing left - Abu-Shuqri. So i turned left. A minute later i was in a "piazza", the size of which was no more than 8 square meters, but it was the home of no less than four restaurants, including "Abu Shuqri the Original!" and "Abu Shuqri Number 1!". Of course i saw no parking, but very quickly someone started to point me to some direction, so i just complied. Whatever, i said. He helped me to park in a side alley and of course called me inside to his restaurant. It was not one of the Abu-Shuqri's - it was called Naji and to make a long story short, it was excellent. I ordered hummus with mushrooms, my favourite; by mistake he brought me a plate without mushrooms. Later he apologized and added mushrooms. Actually, their mushrooms were simplistic and just couldn't add much to the wonderful hummus, but they didn't spoil it. The density was just right; the proportion of hummus, tahina, olive oil and pine nuts was perfect.
I've gotta admit that i still think that there's NOTHING like Hummus with Mushrooms in Pam Pam, but Naji provided me with a damn good plate to wipe.
— "By 'allocution' I mean 'an appeal', as opposed to 'response'. German linguists that researched it, assumed that when someone asks, the listener waits for him to finish, then responds. It's a serious problem, don't laugh. My son was in American kindergarten for two years and he learnt to speak after his peer finishes and now he's back in Israel and he's miserable, just miserable."
Friday, November 25, 2005
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Dear readers (all three of you), let me transport you again to Belarus. I'm becoming an obsessed fan of this country and of at least one of its self-proclaimed representatives, who calls himself rydel23.
He tells us today about a Polish political action of protest against the censorship in Belarus. It's nice, you should really take a look at it. You know that i love freedom of speech/press.
I don't have many comments about it. The slogan in the bottom says: "Tak wygląda wolność slowa na Białorusi" - "That's how freedom of speech looks in Belarus".
But i love conspiracies, you know? So i've gotta tell that there are three possibilities:
- Poles are longing for the good old days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, where Warsaw and Wilno/Vilnius were the political centers and Belarus was ... er ... that big land in the middle with a lot of forests and good quiet people who considered themselves Russian, but didn't mind paying their taxes to the Great Polish/Lithuanian Duke, even though actually they really wanted to be under the rule of the one true Tsar in Moscow. So now Poles are trying to bring down the current pro-Russian government and make Belarus its vassal. And even Belarus is just a little pawn in Poland's bid to destroy all of Russia and make everyone catholic. Because, hey - they always hated Russians.
- Same as above, but with Jews. Because, hey - the Jews always hated Russians and helped Poles to hate Russians. Here, look - i'm helping them right now1.
- Poland is the original European democracy and they are fighting the good fight for democracy in Belarus. I don't rule this out.
1 And didn't you know that it was the Jews that together with the Poles taught Russians to drink vodka in order to hurt the strength of Russian men and destroy their families?
I love BBC News. They are quite like the Encyclopedia Britannica - as unbiased as one can find.
This article tells about millions of Russians left in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Information about them is surprisingly hard to find, considering their huge numbers; nearly nil compared to the wealth of data about less than half-a-million Israelis in
the West Bank Judea and Samaria. They are quiet and non-violent, stuck in a weird situation - their language remains dominant in business, politics and education, despite the local politicians' efforts to eradicate it; the style of government that came with them, the Soviet one, is almost unchanged, except now it's artificially anti-Russian (very artificially). And their life is not horribly bad, but kinda illogical. Russia, the successor state or USSR that sent them there for work and development does nothing in particular to bring them back, even now that Moscow doesn't (seem to) have any special plans for these lands. That's a lesson in demography. I wonder what it's like to actually live there. It's hard to write complete truth about this; indeed this article does little more than reminding the indifferent world that they exist.
But here's the really interesting part: there is one sentence towards the end, which is not so encyclopedic:
"The presence of a European and Christian population is a factor that encourages secular government. It's a valuable yeast now in these countries," Mr Starr said.
I don't know exactly what this organization, "Central Asia Caucasus Institute", that the said Mr Starr represents, is. But these are the curious points to note here:
- He calls Russians "Europeans". Whatever.
- He calls Russians "Christian". Almost all of them are atheists. If there would be a notable wave of Orthodox resurrection, i would hear about it. True, they are not Muslim, but that doesn't exactly make you Christian. And the locals are not so Muslim either.
- He calls Russians "population". On the behalf of Russians, i dare to proclaim myself offended.
- The most contradictive part, if you haven't noticed it yet: Mr Starr says that Christian population encourages secular government.
And this is the New World Order for you: Christianity doesn't mean Christianity anymore. It just means belonging to an amorphic, declining and suicidal pseudo-European civilization, whose relation to actual Christianity is - you guessed it - artificial.
It's evolution, baby.
I don't really want to turn this blog into a political news blog in which i fake being a professional journalist topping it with my uneducated reactionist opinion. I've got better things to do. I thought about that and then realized that there are no significant political blogs in Israel. In the USA they are a big deal, a real player in the political media scene. Many of them are famous in their own right and are read daily by thousands (i would name some, but i don't know any myself, because i don't actually care about American politics). But in Israel there are none. They exist - on Tapuz, Israblog and maybe even here on Blogger, but i have never heard about any of them; they are not mentioned in other news outlets and don't come up high on search engines, like their American peers. Israelis - including myself, i admit - like to sound their opinions on talkbacks on the major news sites, of which there are only about five and on discussion forums, which i used to frequent once, but that's a habit that i kicked, luckily, long ago. Almost all of it is unreadable crap, of course. And that makes me think - here, i have an opportunity to be the true voice of Israel. To be read by CNN and BBC reporters and political analyzers. To provide a balanced (yeah, right) view to the foreign public. I just need to dedicate some time to it, write well, etc. In English and Hebrew. I can speak for Israelis like me - Israelis that love their country and are proud of it, without too much religious bigotry; who also happen to be young and not too full of shit. A little like rydel, who speaks for Belarus. He promotes himself well and without too much effort on Wikipedia. I could do the same. Or i could put my time to better use. Better? Or more individualistic?
Really, could i do that?
Sunday, November 20, 2005
It's official. Proved by an independent body. Empiric. Scientific. Israel is ranked number one in Middle East at political freedom. Our freedom index is 8.20 out of 10. Expectedly, Lebanon and Morocco are numbers two and three but the following is a surprise: Iraq and Palestine are tied with an index of 5.05.
They could not take our pride.
If you want to connect to the internet in North Korea, this is the only website you can read. But it is not really that bad, because it is the best website on the internet.
Tolstoy wouldn't write a Russian sentence which is as beautiful as this:
Великий руководитель товарищ Ким Чен Ир подарил юбилейный стол Ли Ген Чхану, непереметнувшемуся узнику долгосрочного отбывания
The great leader comrade Kim Jong Il have given a jubilee table to Li Gen Chan, a non-line-crossing prisoner of long-time serving
In my English translation it sounds just as beautiful as it does in Russian, i assure you.
A strong smell is in the air - the stench of elections.
I must meditate. I must convince myself. I need to use auto-suggestion of all possible kinds to tell myself this: my life won't change fot the better if i will learn about Arik Sharon's, Amir Peretz's or Yisrael Katz's latest trick right now instead of learning about it a few hours later. It can and it will change for the worse. I must not care ... too much. It is important, but not that important.
Oh (edit): In addition to "Made Me Cry" and "People Speaking", i'm starting a new series, dedicated to those elections. I shall call it "Gathering Moss 17", because it will be the 17'th time that Israelis elect a new Knesset, Knesset means "gathering" in Hebrew, most of the MK's aren't worth much more than moss, and "Gathering Moss" is a pretty good Super Furry Animals song.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
From now on, only registered Blogger.com users are allowed to comment.
It's not a spam problem. I would just like to make sure that i know who writes this brilliant prose.
I tried this system and it seems that those who don't have an account can get one rather easily and i hope it won't scare future commenters (is that a word?).
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Sunday, November 13, 2005
I finally saw the Pink Floyd reunion at Live 8, that my parents taped for me.
I weeped from the second i saw and heard Dave playing the perfect slides with the pedal steel on Breathe until the very last drum hit of Comfortably Numb.
Perfect sound forever.
Now i want the DVD.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
You've gotta give it to Shimon Peres - one of the symbols of Israel's so-called democracy, the man is chronically, pathologically incapable of winning an election and still going strong after more than three hundred and fifty years of constant losing.
But seriously: I stumbled upon this blog by some Turkish guy and he has some beautiful photos there.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Monday, November 07, 2005
At the top of this page, there's a link that says "Next Blog". It leads to another random blog on Blogger.com. I sometimes click it. More often than not, the target is not in English. The absolute leader is Portuguese. Next come Malay or Indonesian (they're pretty much the same language that no-one actually speaks but a lof people write). Spanish and Japanese are quite common too. And that sorta makes sense, 'cuz a lot of people speak those languages (although the absence of French and German is rather obscure).
But all too often i come upon Icelandic, a language spoken by less than half a million people.
— "So, are you and Hadar eating meat again? ... Why not? You're breaking my heart. One day you'll have to buy a house; Men will build it - you think that they'd have enough power to build it if they wouldn't eat meat? Or maybe you don't want a house, a family? But you really won't have a family, you won't have children at all! ... And fish - everyone has to eat fish. Twice a week. Everyone! Every doctor will tell you that. What doctor told you that you don't need meat?? Tell me his name and i'll kill him, i'll choke him. He's not a doctor, he's a murderer."
(I sense a recurring theme ...)
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Damn it, i missed the 300'th entry.
I've seen a part from some Korean movie - there were very nice young girls chatting on the phone about something that made them distressful, and there were crates in the room that had 잠앗달고나 written on them. If anyone can tell me what that means and what movie it is, i'll be very thankful.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Freshly converted vegetarians are supposed to have problems with vitamin B12. Many are compensating the lack of it by eating pills. I hate pills. Two hundred years ago there were vegetarians too, and there were no pharmaceutical corporations that produced pills. If there's no other choice than to eat pills, i'd rather eat meat.
I was eating noodles and thought: If we substitute an essential part of our diet for pills, why not just make pills that includes the necessary daily dosage of proteins, carbs, vitamins etc. and eat that instead of wasting time on cooking and dining? "Well, there must be something to make us feel sated", Hadar said. "It all ends up as chemicals", i replied. "No, it must be the quantity, too", she argued. Then i thought - do we really need all that quantity? Is that whole plate of noodles made up of necessary minerals that we need? The answer came quickly - shit.
Shit is all the food that we don't digest. Mama told me that, so it must be right. If we don't digest it, than we probably don't need it anyway. So if we make such pills and stop eating food, it will keep us alive, give us more time for work and leisure and most importantly - there'll be no more shit in the world!
Maybe pills are not such a bad idea.
I'm having a new round of former Soviet Union obsession. This time it is taking the form of fascination with the greatest dictatorships there - Belarus and Turkmenistan. All the rest are dictatorships too, but these two provide the most interesting stories. It's quite startling how those two guys, Türkmenbaşy and Lukashenko keep ruling. It's a depressing proof - yet another - that the hope doesn't lie in the proles.
The Belarus obsession, unlike the Turkmen one, may have practical value for me, as i started a Balto-Slavic Studies course this year. Reading the texts will probably be a very easy part and i even feel a little like cheating, but the more i read about the subject the more i understand that serious linguistic work will not be easy at all. First, because the patterns of Russian are thouroughly stuck in my head and it makes me look at every Slavic language in comparison to Russian, which is obviously wrong. Moreover, virtually anything written on the subject of Baltic and Slavic languages is so soaked with politics, that trusting anyone on giving solid facts is impossible. But then again - languages are defined by politicians who tell linguists what to write in their "research". Particularly in Eastern Europe.
I heard earlier about the history of the west of Eastern Europe - this gray zone formed by eastern Poland, Baltic states, Belarus and Ukraine. Names like Galichyna, Ruthenia, Bukovina, Prussia, which are long gorgotten - or rather erased from history books by force - keep springing up. And of course the GDL - The Grand Duchy of Lithuania. I don't remember learning about it at history lessons in USSR - there i lived under the impression that Ukraine and Belarus (called Byelorussia, of course) were almost always quiet vassals of Russia, although Kievan Rus' was briefly mentioned. But the reading texts in the Lithuanian grammar book which i used at my Lithuanian courses in the University talked a lot about it, painting a colourful picture of a big peaceful union, where Belorusians and Ukrainians, who considered their land Rus' were the majority of population and the Lithuanians and the Poles were the nice rulers who did not loot the villages, rape the women and make everyone pay terrible taxes. And they all coexisted nicely. But of course that was a Lithuanian book, written by mostly Lithuanian authors at the time of Russian/Soviet occupation. Even this Russian nationalistic "Encyclopedia" admits that Rus' is the western land and doesn't include Moscow - but it does say that Ukrainians ("little Russians") and Byelorussians are just branches of one Russian nation, the center of which is, of course, in Moscow.
I grew up in Moscow, so the impression i got when i read Ukrainian and Byelorussian/Belarusian texts was that those languages are the little sisters of Russian. Although the visit to Ukraine at the age of five made me want to study linguistics (really!), i always found those two languages more amusing than interesting. It was like this even when i grew up and started learning linguistics, which was supposed to thoroughly teach that all languages are equal.
So in the last weeks i started to take a serious look at Belarusian, which until now mostly made me laugh, because in written form it looked like a homework of a Russian kid in the first grade who didn't yet master the spelling rules. In the last few days i read the Wikipedia article and some related sites and it was eye-opening. Yes, Wikipedia is not 100% reliable and Belarusian sites are bound to have an anti-Moscow or even pro-Lithuanian/Polish bias, but it made me realize that Rus' and Russia are quite different things; that what i always called Russian, was once called Moscovite and only later began to be called Russian. How - i don't yet exactly understand and probably never will. I also understood that the demand of Belarusians to spell the name of their language Belarusian and not Byelorussian is not a mere secessionist whim, it has historical grounds (and i never liked the expression "White Russia").
Now i just hope that it will help me in my studies.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Let the Golden Age Begin
I met Saparmyrat Nyýazow on a boat. I couldn't believe my luck - just a few days ago an idea came to me that, if properly implemented, will assist the great Turkmen people grow, prosper and find spiritual truth in this Golden Age of Turkmenistan. The idea is to drop the Russian ending -ow (or -ov) from Turkmen last names. And of course, no-one can understand and implement this as well as the great leader of independent and neutral Turkmenistan. But of course, i had to start with a proper and polite greeting - after all, he is not just some head of state, he's the great Serdar - Türkmenbaşy, the head of all Turkmen and the inspired author of the book of Turkmen soul - Ruhnama. Even though such traits can be expected to be found in a great leader, i was still delightfully surprised to find out how modest and nice he was - truly a sign of his unique abilities as a wise and humane person and a teacher admired by his people. Unfortunately, i woke up before i actually got to the part of proposing my idea to him and lost my chance to have a month - or at least a cotton field - named after me.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Blush and Lure, my current favorite rock-band-that-no-one-knows, have changed their name to Haivrit, which means "The Hebrew" in Hebrew and started singing - guess what - in Hebrew. I've seen them twice since that switch and they seem serious about putting their English past behind. Which is curious, because they already had some amount of success abroad. Anyway, the new songs in Hebrew are very good and i would even say more focused than some of the English stuff.
The show last night was already quite packed; they said that they were shocked by the reception and the demand for encore. The secret is quite simple - they write good songs, they play them well and they have character.
I like to encourage those who deserve it.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
A drunk Russian woman was very nice to me yesterday.
— "Where can I eat something?"
— "It's Yom-Kippur, no-one eats today."
— "And who eats you?!! You are bald and your shirt is dirty! I shall cut you to pieces and eat you! You are ugly! I shall annihilate you! You are disgusting! I shall destroy you!"
I went away, she kept shouting. Poor thing, she was probably hungry and couldn't find any grocer to give her leftovers.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Download me as a toolbar, version 0.1alpha.
It is only a bit less useful than Google Toolbar (no "Up" button ... yet), and it will get better. I'm quite sure that there is no spyware there. It's quite harmless and it has "YA MAMA" written in large friendly letters on it.
Works on IE and Firefox.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Monday, October 17, 2005
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Thursday, October 13, 2005
This entry is stolen from another blog, which is probably abandoned.
I jumped over the river of white
into a paddle of green.
I hope the author forgives me.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
лове крове лове бык
Monday, October 10, 2005
I met him thanks to Eran Gitara. His name is Miron Tsabari. He's a songwriter. His home is a dirty little mound of cement and concrete next to Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station, with shapeless walls and hardly any lighting; there is no proper kitchen or bedroom, but there are at least 5 guitars, several basses, an oud, a sitar, MIDI keyboards, 2 microphones, amps and preamps, pro soundcards, and a computer without Internet connection (he's afraid of a virus that will erase his music files), but with 2 monitors (so he can see Cubase screens better).
We met a few times in the past and i appreciated his songwriting skills - it is essentially Israeli indie with oriental and electronic elements, reminds a little of Amir Benayoun, but with much less flare and completely original. We haven't seen each other for a few months and then he called and said that he really wants to play live and needs a keyboard player. We decided to meet a few days later.
When i called him, his girlfriend answered and told that he had a workplace accident and is in a hospital, half unconscious. I won't tell the long story here - i don't have time and i respect his privacy. Anyway, he survived, he returned home and now he wants to play live more than ever. He wanted it so much, that he, in fact, already did; he tried to reach me on the phone to ask me to come along, but i was abroad. Bummer. But he will play again. And then i will come along.
He's a songwriter. A very talented one. He's gonna be a star. I don't need honors for myself; it will be an honor - and a pleasure - to give a little help to a great songwriter such as Miron, to play on a stage next to him, even to a crowd of fifteen people, thirteen of which are our friends. That's a dream i can make true without much effort.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Monday, October 03, 2005
21 - enter, scared, drunk, beautiful inside
22 - no kremlin for you, lenin and marx, chuchela, pizza, butman talk talk
23 - cdh, stalin, bohr and einstein, red october, saviour, alex II, sweet sweet
24 - jerusalem, dacha, mushroom mushroom, mastodont
25 - dacha II, skate, cheapo basses?
26 - moskovski, propaganda, hunt for bass, hunts for gifts, domovoj, obereg
27 - gzhel, cookies, short kremlin, zolotoj moj, jagannath + reichel, washburn vs. warwick - warwick it is, gematogen, new age
28 - kolomenskoe, honey, saint petersburg train
29 - saint petersburg, bad bathroom, nevski, anichkov, dom knigi, teremok, kazanski, dvorcovaja, peterhof, eyfo eyfo eyfo eyfo eyfo hauga, rubinstein 13, panki hoj, lapsha, free coconut, rubinstein 23 - no dovlatov, macaroni - no napolitana but matchbox, mollies grenki, 5 corners beer and bread, but no guitar, metro, way back
30 - caricyno, squirrels, paradise lost, 10 rouble kolav, esthetic education, 16 ton strippers
01 - the big gzhel crisis, dacha 2, bg
02 - the box crisis, the window crisis, the way back
Thursday, September 29, 2005
The terminal from which trains departed from Moscow to Russia's second largest city used to be called Nikolaevsky, then communists changed it to two names - Leningradsky and Oktjabrsky, which means "Leningrad station" and "October station"; it was quite confusing and most people just said Leningradsky. Now the city of Leningrad is no more; it's called Saint-Petersburg. But it is still the center of Leningrad oblast (region); for some reason they didn't change that. And the terminal still has two names. And a huge bust of Lenin in the entrance hall.
It also has Japanese-style restrooms, which Hadar didn't like at all and she decided to do her thing in the train. In the train the restrooms weren't much better, so she decided to wait until Saint-Petersburg. I told her that the terminals on Moscow-Petersburg railroad are designed to look exactly the same, so there's a chance that the restrooms will look the same too, but she just wouldn't agree to go into that atrocious place.
The train ride was rather tolerable, not much to say about that. We slept well.
The terminal in Petersburg is simply called Moskovsky - "Moscow Station". The restrooms there looked just like in Moscow. But instead of Lenin, they had a huge bust of Peter.
In Petersburg we just went on the world-famous Nevsky prospect towards the world-famous Palace square. There were of course the beautiful bridges over the Neva river, especially the world-famous Anichkov. It's the one with the statues of horses and naked horsemen. Apparently it's an age-old meeting place for the city's gays - at least according to the travel guide i had. I've never thought of it that way, but it makes sense, i guess.
It is said that Peter modeled Petersburg after Venice and Amsterdam. Maybe it's true, i havent' been there. The weather reminded me mostly of London. Cold and wet, but it doesn't depress me. And the streets are beautiful. We even found something that was close enough to a bakery and ate some dough; again, most of it was cookies and not bread, but it was a good start for the morning. Then Hadar wanted to finally go to a good restroom, so we went to a fast-food place called Teremok. It is a junk-food joint, but with a warm Russian vibe. So we ate tasty bliny with kvas. More dough; still not bread.
The Petersburg Kazan Cathedral is big, probably bigger than Moscow's Christ the Savior's, but somehow doesn't make the same impression. Maybe because the color is darker.
The Palace square is big and nice. But who needs all those paintings in the Hermitage?
We took a boat to Peterhof. Nice place. This time we fucked the box office at the entrance and took the cheapest ticket for Russians. The place has a very Versaille feel. The fountains are certainly impressive. We didn't go into the palaces, but a walk in the park was very relaxing and even intoxicating. Somehow we found ourselves reciting a Hebrew nursery rhyme: "Eyfo, eyfo, eyfo, eyfo, eyfo ha-uga?" ("Where, where, where, where, where is the cake?"). No idea why. Maybe it has something to do with dough.
When we came back to the city, i decided to take a look at the "Leningrard Rock-Club" - the mythical place where the great Russian rock-bands such as Aquarium and Kino paved the way to Glasnost with their guitars. It's on Rubinstein street, number 13, which is also close to the world-famous "Five Corners" piazza. I finally understood Chizh's famous lines:
"The wind sweeps away the money from my hands ...
With a guitar behind my back and beer and bread in my pocket ...
I'm standing on Five Corners,
There are just two hundred steps to number 13 ..."
But - unfortunately the Rock-Club is no more. All that's left is a just a little wall full of Russian Rock related graffiti.
Instead there's an asian restaurant called Lapsha. Lapsha means "noodles" in Russian, which is very nice of them. They could have just called the place "Noodles", but they gave it a Russian name. Really nice. So we ate more dough. Actually it was veg sushi, salads and noodles soup. I ordered rice noodles and not egg noodles; i thought it would be more natural and tasty and Hadar would like it. Was i wrong. The second the waiter brought the plate she went kaboom: "No! That's not the kind of noodles that i like! That's exactly the kind i hate! Etc. etc." She expressed her dissatisfaction in Hebrew, but it was so clear, that the waiter understood everything and after a few minutes she brought a plate of dessert - "On the house, for the lady." They are nice. The noodles, by the way, were great. Hadar just prefers the egg kind. So she wasn't pleased.
Then we went further towards the Five Corners, passing on the way Rubinstein st. number 23 - the house where Sergei Dovlatov lived for a few years. Dovlatov is one of my father's favorite writers and i hoped that there would be at least some memorial plate. But there was nothing, except a pizza place which has nothing to do with Dovlatov. And as far as Hadar is concerned, it has nothing to with pizza either - Hadar likes the thicker kind (sometimes called Napolitana, but that's a matter of bitter dispute) and hates the thin dough pizza and we didn't eat any dough there. Keeping Hadar dissatisfied is a bad idea, so we went to Mollie's - an Irish pub nearby. I entered and asked the barman quite simply: "Do you have dough?" He was a little confused at first, but then he said that they have croutons with cheese and garlic. That was enough dough for Hadar. I got a Guiness too. And so, even though it still wasn't exactly bread, we were finally satisfied.
Dough-hunting took a long time. When we finally reached Five Corners - remember, just two hundred steps! - it was already dark. I wanted to be photographed like Chizh in the aforementioned song. So i went into a grocery store and bought beer and bread. It was simple and cheap bread in cellophane and we already ate enough dough, so i just put it in my pocket. And the beer too. I didn't have a guitar; a guy with a guitar passed by, and i asked him to give it to me for a second, but he wasn't enthuastic and it was starting to rain. Whatever. At least i'll have one more reason to return.
It was raining, so it was a bad idea to walk the streets anymore, and it was a great opportunity to go down to the underground and take a ride to see the Stalin-era stations. The thing that i wanted to do so much in Moscow, but didn't want to drag Hadar around, has finally happened! What can i say - Socialist Realism had its moments.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
We decided to finally go to St.-Petersburg. Hadar really wanted to and i didn't object. We are young, our stimulation levels go up very quickly and we had quite enough Moscow (we as a unit; i could stay in Moscow and explore it for many months more).
Olga told Nikita about the "Bass Factory" infamy. Actually she just said "We were supposed to see a jazz band, but they replaced it ..." and Nikita immediately replied: "Мерзавцы!" (merzavtsy), which is Russian for "Scumbags". Not a very dirty word for Russian, but not one that you'd expect a fourteen year old to say in this relatively innocent context, if at all. We all laughed.
In the morning we went to the Kolomenskoe park. The park is quiet and nice. Now it's almost in the center, but once it used to be out of town and the Russian monarchs wanted to build their dachas there. For some reason they never completed the building, but the forests around it are nice. I really wanted to see squirrels; i've seen a lot of them in my life, but Hadar never saw one in the wild. It took us some time, but finally we found one.
We hoped that we'd find something baked there, but all the food stalls sold meat. I wish i could say that it smelled good, but it didn't.
There was also a big yearly honey market. Hmmm, honey fair in September, why could that be? Surely the Jews have nothing to do with that. Anyway, there was honey from all over CIS: Kyrgyzstan, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Don, Adyghe. It was nice to see that they bring the flags of their provinces with them - good to know that someone actually uses those flags. The honey was sweet. The dwellers are pretty good at making you come and taste and want to buy. It's like Camden - as long as you're there with money in your pocket, you'll keep buying and buying unless you catch yourself, shut your ears and run away.
We bought train tickets to St.-Petersburg at the Paveletsky station. Hadar didn't like the restrooms there.
City of BG, here we come!
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Hadar made butter cookies. It smelled good.
Finally, it's time for more gift-shopping! Yeah! Gzhel is the thang - Russian national blue-colored porcelain. Fragile, expensive and genuinely beautiful. Olga helped us find a little Gzhel store on a cheapo market full of immigrants from Caucasus that sell fake Chinese crap. Hadar noticed a counter full of purses; she wanted to buy one and started looking for something matching. They were all ugly, of course, but i was smart - ha! - and told her:
— "You're vegetarian now, are you sure you want to buy a purse made of leather?"
— "Hmmm ... ask him whether it's leather."
— "No point in asking him - he'll tell that it's leather. Most people want leather."
— "Hmmm ... let's check the label." The label, very helpfully, was written in Pinyin. "OK, ask him."
— "I tell you - it's no use asking him whether it's leather."
— "So tell him that we don't want leather."
— "Then he'll say that it is not leather."
— "Ask him, ask him."
— "How can i help you? Sprechen Sie Deutsch?", the dweller interrupted.
— "Well my friend here just wanted to ask whether it's leather", i asked in Russian.
— "Why of course it's leather."
— "OK, sorry to bother you - she's vegetarian, she doesn't want leather." He clearly wasn't prepared for that.
— "It's not leather! It's pressed, you know ... they took leather and pressed ... it's not leather! Sprechen Sie Deutsch?"
Hadar bought a huge pile of porcelain and then the question arose how are we going to drag it all around the town. Hadar wanted to put it back at home, i didn't want to waste any more time, we had a little argument yaddayaddayadda and finally left it at the store and asked Olga to pick it up for us. Hadar lost her mood.
We went to Kremlin. It's about time. They fucked us at the entrance and made us pay the full foreigner price and deposit our bags. Bloody antisemite tourist haters.
It was a bite-size visit - we had enough churches already and the red walls, the Tsar Bell and the Tsar Cannon didn't impress Hadar too much. I blame her mood. Curiosity number one: There was an exhibition of antique stuff, including many old gold incrusted drinking vessels, complete with bezoar cases. Having read Half Blood Prince just a few days ago, i knew that a bezoar is a piece of goat shit, that's supposed to be a poison antidote. In the middle ages rich people were scared to death of being poisoned, so they drank their wine with a healthy dose of goat shit. So we were walking around an exhibition of awfully expensive ancient stuff joking about goat shit. I'm sure we were not the only ones. Another funny, but heartwarming curiosity: After we did our thing in the mobile toilet, we asked the nice old Russian cleaning lady (complete with kerchief and all) where can we wash our hands. She answered, "Oh, there's no place to do it here, золотой мой", which literally means "my golden one". Yes, it's a kind of a Russian ultra-gentle vocation, usually said to young people by old people. It's not particularly special or rare, but i haven't heard it in a while. Ah, yes, i forgot - THE KREMLIN! The center of the fucking universe (not counting Jerusalem)! And they don't have a decent toilet?!
Then we ate at the aforementioned veg restaurant - Jagannath. Hadar forgot all her mood swings and became totally happy with the food. No other dining place had ever delighted her so much.
Then Hadar went to buy more gifts. And i bought myself a four-string Warwick Corvette - not before i had a big dilemma whether to get it or a wonderful Washburn.
Then Hadar wanted to buy tissues. So we went to a drugstore. It's one of those new Russian extra/elite/premium stores. Built in an old home, designed with antique furniture and all that, but the drugs and the prices are just the same. I was surprised to see "Gematogen" - a sweet chocolate-like bar, which is supposed to be good for blood circulation. A genius drug - it's very cheap, kids love it, it's healthy and can be consumed anytime with no side effects. I used to eat it a lot when i was little (there was a drugstore near my home). So i bought a bar and it was the same sweet syrupy taste. But now that i write about it, i wanted to link to it and tried to google for it. Searching for "Hematogene" yields results in Dutch and Croat and also Wikipedia articles about medicine. So i searched in Russian and the pleasant surprise turned into a disappointment - apparently it's made from the blood of slaughtered cattle.
In the evening we went to a live music club with Olga and Zhenja - an Israeli latin jazz band called "Esh" (never heard of 'em) was supposed to play there. When we arrived, the very serious server told us - "The band 'Esh' was supposed to play here tonight, but they didn't come, so there's a different band called 'Bass Factory' and they play in the style of New-Age." He said "New-Age" with a particularly strong Russian accent and it was very funny - Nyu-Etsh. We came in anyway. Zhenja came with Roma. The band was weird - the beat was whacky in a good way and the saxophone parts were fine, but the keyboardist was horrible and the guitarist learnt too much from the obnoxious techniques of Alan Holdsworth and 80's King Crimson. And they showed a film about underwater life. Roma said that it was "unbearable" and left after two songs. But we stayed and ate. After a few more songs there was a break and the guitarist promised that they will return with more of their own music and "a film from the life of insects". The second part began with what they called their favorite song, "Inebriated Conversation". It was the very worst song in their set and we left right after it. We constituted two thirds of the crowd.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Today is the shopping day. I wanted to hunt for basses, so Olga took us to the Moskovski department store - there was a small musical instruments shop. I played with their basses a little, but didn't buy. Then Hadar went gift shopping. It takes a long time for Hadar to pick up a gift. A really long time.
Then Olga took us to her favourite cafe - Propaganda. Tasty, stylish, inexpensive, veg-friendly; could work well in Tel Aviv, too. Then we visited a large bookstore (which is called, of course, the Central Book's House - no kidding). Hadar looked in vain for Physics books in English, but i found some funny artifacts - a little book of translation to Russian of a poetess whose name is Йона Волах and an insanely expensive gift edition of something called Талмуд - трактат Таанит.
Then i went for a little more bass hunting. In a musical store i saw a red bubinga beauty called Warwick Corvette, which kicked the Ibanez acoustic away from my wish-list. I can't play bass, but my fingers felt that that's that. I decided to run a little sanity check on the web and then get it ASAP.
We also noticed a vegetarian restaurant near the gift shop. It smelled good and we noticed to ourselves to return there.
Then Hadar went shopping for more gifts. She finally (finally!) bought a "domovoi" - which is a Russian house-elf. The clerk rather obnoxiously kept saying the the domovoi is an obereg - a keeper, a giver of good-luck. I call it simply Avodah Zarah - but what a cute example of it.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I woke up early. Then i took a shower and spoiled the bathtub. Poor Roma had to fix it.
Then we ate. Misha and Roma served yesterday's lamb roast. It still smelled good.
Then we took another walk in the forest, but i am just unable to write about Russian forest.
We went back to Moscow early - Olga bought tickets to a figure skating show. Russians love figure skating, they're pretty good at it and get a lot of Olympic medals. The show was beautiful although rather long. Misha made a manly effort to convince us to leave in the break, but Olga enjoyed herself immensely and Hadar and i didn't mind staying. Poor Misha. When we later went to visit Zhenja and Roma in their Moscow apartment, Roma told us that the traffic on the way back from the dacha was terrible, but he comforted himself with the thought that although he is stuck in the traffic, we are watching a figure skating show.
I took a quick look on Russian shopping sites and saw that musical instruments are really cheap in Russia. An Ibanez acoustic bass costs half its Israeli price. I need to check it.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Morning - The New Jerusalem (probably not this one). It's a big church outside Moscow, built in an area which for some reason resembled Jerusalem to the Russian Orthodox priests who built it. Let's see - plains, a river, grass and trees and old Russian christian women. Very Jerusalem. And a bunch of weddings, of course. We've already seen some bride-and-grooms around in the Kremlin area etc. Hadar liked the beauty-contest style witnesses.
Then - Zhenja's dacha. It is made of real, unprocessed wood glued together with some organic substance, by Belarusian muzhiks. It is not a Finnish ready-made house. Respect that. It stands on the bank of a large man-made lake (technically, a Soviet water reservoir) that's so long that it looks like a river.
I demanded to go to the forest immediately to gather mushrooms. The forests of the Moscow region are rich with mushrooms. They are also really really big. And there are a lot of trees there. I love the forests of Moscow region.
The weather was perfect for the end of September, which also means that it was perfect for mushrooms. We found a lot of them. Everyone, including all the kids, knew exactly which mushrooms are good and which are poisonous. That's one thing i forgot completely.
When we came back to the dacha we made food with all the mushrooms. My writing is so bad, because words can't convey the goodness of making a fresh natural meal in Russian countryside.
Misha made lamb roast. It smelled good.
As the night came down the children went out to sit by the fire and tell each other frightening stories, while we, the older folk, drank Georgian wine and talked about digital cameras and modern work ethics. Roma called himself "Mastodon" - he said that he's completely behind the technology. He proceeded to tell us that as far as he's concerned all information technology is crap. Spreadsheets and email make a lot of information available to him, what is he supposed to do with it? It doesn't make him more productive, not a tiny bit. Then the children ran inside and told that Chuchundra nibbled the electricity cables (really).
After Roma sent them to sleep, he told us about his cat. His cat can't come into the bedroom during the night to sleep on the bed, 'cuz the door is closed, but it makes everyone acknowledge his presence by taking a dump by the door so the smells comes in under it. Email is the same: it comes to the boss swiftly bypassing the secretary, who used to filter phonecalls.
I agreed and went to sleep.
Friday, September 23, 2005
In Moscow there are several "Central Someone's Houses". I already mentioned "The Central Composer's House". There's also "The Central Artist's House". It's a big gallery outside Gorky Park. Yet again i felt how small Moscow became when i grew up: Gorky Park is on the Circle Line of the Metro, which is, like, really far away from the center - but that's what i thought as a kid. Apparently the Kremlin and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior can be seen from Gorky Park and if one is not in a hurry, it is within walking distance.
So, back to The Central Artist's House - we didn't go in. We are stupid Israelis without any patience for serious art, museums, galleries and all that crap that those old boring European cities like Paris and Moscow are so full of, so we had more than enough art in the underground pedestrian crossing, where private dwellers tried to sell pretty paintings of dachshunds, horses, babies, churches and Putin. Some even had character. Hadar is not so much into modern avant-garde and all that silly stuff that they put in the fancy bohème galleries, so the realism of these peddlers' merchandise was perfect for her.
The goal of the trip was the "Salon" - in Russia by "Salon" they usually mean a large shop dedicated to something, in this case - art, of course. Hadar bought herself colours, brushes and stuff. Nice selection.
Outside the Salon i saw a disassembled Moskvich.
Than we moved on to a garden of sculptures on the Moskva embankment on the way to the Kremlin. More art, but in a quiet green setting. Some old statues from the communist era were brought there. I liked the impressive thoughtful Stalin with a pipe. Whoever put the plaque there felt obliged to say that the statue has an artistic and historical importance. It's like an apology; Like, otherwise they'd simply demolish it just like they erased all memory of Stalin from everywhere else. I don't like this. He was a dictator, an antisemite and a war-monger, but he did some good things for Russia. And he beat the crap out of Hitler (and yes, if he was smarter and more moderate, he could have prevent the war altogether, but nevermind). They could, for instance, keep the name of the city of Stalingrad - now it just remained as a name of a famous battle and nobody knows where Stalingrad is. OK, 'nuff said about that.
In that park there was also a cute modern statue of Einstein and Bohr with pipes. Do you see a pattern?
Then we heard bells. We thought that they're coming from Christ the Saviour's, but then we found that it was a show. A guy on a long green gown played on hung metal plates. It was nice, but i could play them just as well.
We've seen the world famous "Red October" chocolate factory on the other side of the river. It smelled good.
On the way to Christ the Saviour's Cathedral there's a Soviet office building, with a name that Hadar really liked: Моспромстройматериалы. Whether by coincidence or not, this organization was one of the contractors that built the cathedral; No wonder the cathedral's so fucking huge. Outside of it there's brand new statue of Alexander II. The engraving on the statue says: "Murdered in a terror act". I'm not sure they called it terror back in 1881. And the funniest part about Alexander II is that the modern Russian liberals and not the monarchists are his greatest fans that supported building the statue. Weird, weird country.
All that time we didn't eat. We talked to Roma, and decided to meet in the famous "Filippov" bakery on Tverskaja street. It took me too long to realize that it was not longer a bakery, but just a "Coffee Bean" place. What a disappointment. We ate too much sweet things there. Hadar and Roma spoke about black and white analog photography. I was happy about one subtle thing, though: Most of the coffee shops in Moscow are called кофейня (kofeynja) and not кафе (kafe) as they used to be in Soviet times. Кофейня has an older aroma - pun intended.
Then Roma drived us around the city, but Hadar was already tired and hardly noticed anything. Roma told us about the Moscow bikers - apparently many of them are wealthy businessmen, "New Russians", who are so bored they drive around the city, holding dangerous races on the not-so-empty streets. We actually saw some of them, too.
Good night. Let's hope for better bread tomorrow.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
We took the metro to Borovitskaya/Biblioteka imeni Lenina. The Kremlin was closed. So we took a walk around Alexander's Garden, the Eternal Fire monument and the Red Square. A miliţia-man asked us for our passport and registration. Olga said that she handles the registration and he had no choice but to believe her and live his sad life for a few more minutes without any bribe income. All this registration business is just some way to rip off tourists in every possible way under the excuse of preventing illegal immigration. Or as we say in Russian - пиздёж.
Looks like Marx and Lenin impersonators make a pretty good living here. Also, many people are still willing to stand in a very long line to see Lenin's rotten mummy. Poor Vladimir. The gift shop there is insanely expensive. And Hadar was disgusted by the stuffed bears.
Walking on the Red Square pavement is now forbidden for some reason and only a sidewalk by the GUM is open. There were painted cows there. Like the penguins and dolphins they put once in Tel-Aviv and the lions in Jerusalem. Which proves that the world really is ruled by a secret government, but probably not of Freemasons and Jews, but of pubescent large-scale-flashmobbers and sociology and liberal arts graduates having their revenge at friends who told them they won't find a job with this degree.
GUM looks nothing like it used to. Too rich and full of brandnames. Boring. The waitress at the coffee shop made a mistake in the bill. Olga said that she tried to rip us off and didn't want to tip her, but i did anyway.
Then we took a walk around the streets near the Kremlin. It's all so flashy and full and people of cars. Whether it's good or bad i haven't decided yet.
Then we met my other sister Zhenja (which is the same thing as Evgenija, in case you're wondering) and her Subaru-driving-banker husband Roma and ate in a tasty Italian place.
Then Olga went home and we took more walks around the city center. Suddenly i saw "The Central Composer's House". It's like the composers' trade union, with a big concert hall inside. I recalled that i played there on stage in front of a huge lot of people when i was ten years old. I suddenly realized that i don't have to dream about being a rock star and playing on stage in front of a lot of people, 'cuz i sorta already did.
In the Chabad synagogue there were more Tanias than Bibles. If you ask me, it's disgraceful sectarianism. But it smelled good.
The Soviet answer to American skyscrapers - "The Tall Buildings of Moscow" - are much more impressive than i remembered. I also realized that they look a lot like Latter-Day Saints temples, much more than Catholic cathedrals, as it is sometimes claimed.
Walking on the streets i saw that there's a Paradise Lost show in Moscow. Hadar was totally happy and we got tickets.
In the evening we went to a jazz show. Igor' Butman is a famous Russian saxophonist. By famous i mean that he played in a couple of old and very good Aquarium songs, so that allows his promoters to write "Igor' Butman (Aquarium)" on the bills and keep living without any shame. But apparently my sisters knew him without the Aquarium connection and saw his shows and said they are good. One thing i missed though, is that it was something called "artist evening" - a weird Russian invention when the artist is talking with the crowd, answering the crowd's questions. I tried to translate to Hadar, but she fell asleep after five minutes. He was blabbing for a whole hour but when his big band finally came on stage and started playing it was HOT. Ya mama. They finished with an ultra-cool Soul Bossa Nova (a.k.a The Austin Powers Theme).
There weather was prroifect.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The Transaero flight was ok but they served us only one vegetarian meal. A mistake, they said. Antisemites. Hard the life of the vegetarian is.
Domodedovo looks like a modern airport, but it's still quite small. Citizens of Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus have separate passport checks. The last dictatorship in Europe (not including Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Italy, Norway, France and UK) has its advantages.
Olga's husband Misha has a Toyota Camry. He helped us with the bags.
The gas stations don't look all the same as they used too, but have brand names now. And there's competition! The insanely rich oil companies which i keep hearing about in the news - Yukos, Lukoil, SibNeft, etc. - don't just drill the Siberian permafrost for self-recycled dinosaurs, but actually sell it as petrol.
Moscow is full of light. There was a huge neon-lit billboard at the entrance to my God-forsaken neighbourhood Birulëvo.
The neighborhood looks mostly the same. Just with a lot of advertisement.
The 16-story house where i used to live looks absolutely the same. Except the entrance hall, which looks even worse than it used to. The mailboxes are all ruined (it's a shame i didn't take a picture of them.) The last time i was there, i was 11 years old, so everything looks kinda smaller now, but that's understandable. The elevators stink as they always did; we were lucky that no-one shitted inside them. That's how it is when the municipality is responsible for everything except what's inside the apartments.
In the corridor near my appartment i saw the father of Misha Shvedov (almost all Russians are called Misha, Sergey, Victor or Vladimir. Sorry, not my fault). Misha Shvedov was the neighbour's boy. A year older than myself, Misha used to piss me off a lot. He wasn't particularly violent or stupid, just very obnoxious. I remember his father as a pretty serious, albeit snobbish, man. He used to wear eyeglasses and sported a very cool bald spot. Now he looks not fourteen, but forty years older than he did back then, his hair is completely white. And he's a drunk. He tried to say something to Misha (we're back with Olga's husband now - i hope you're not too confused), probably asked him for some money, but Misha didn't understand what he said, because it wasn't really Russian. It was very sad and depressing. I hoped Hadar wouldn't be to overwhelmed by the terrible look of the home.
Inside the apartment everything was different. Olga rebuilt it completely, with new furniture, bathroom, kitchen, wallpapers (Russians love wallpapers).
Olga's son Nikita has grown up a lot since the last time i saw him. He's thirteen and almost as tall as his mother.
Misha made lamb steaks. It smelled good.
Hadar was surprised to see that Olga and Misha are giving their bedroom to us.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
So i'm flying to Moscow with Hadar tomorrow. The feeling is kinda strange, but could be stranger. It will probably be great fun. I hope that all the stories about the weird way they treat tourists will prove to be wrong. I'll try my best not to look like a tourist, but i don't really know how easy it will be. Hadar, of course, won't even try.
I became vegetarian all the way. No meat, no fish, but i'm still ovo-lacto, as the veg lingo goes, which means that i didn't dump milk and eggs and i don't plan to anytime soon, as i love cheeses and omelettes and especially omelettes with cheeses. My parents don't take it so well, but not as terrible as i thought. It will pass. Of course they dropped some funny phrases. Mama:
- Well, you don't eat meat, but if i prepare chicken, you will eat it, right?
- But you do eat fish, right? Where will you get phosphor? You're an engineer, you need to think, how will you think without phosphor? (Frankly - i don't have the slightest idea how exactly phosphor is good for thinking, how much phosphor is there in fish, and what will be my other phosphor sources should it really prove necessary.)
- Alexandra Fyodorovna, whom you'll be visiting in Moscow, prepares wonderful osetrina (sturgeon fish). You won't eat her osetrina? It's so delicious! How can you do that to her?
- So how will you go to sushi-bars now?
- So how do you decide what not to eat? You don't eat those that have eyes, that move, that have a nervous system?
- I knew people who kept their vegetarian diets well and they died of cancer nevertheless. Yes yes!
- Oh, i've seen that kibbutz girls at my job, they were vegetarian and they had to get vitamin B12 shots in their ass! Their ass, you heard me?! It hurts, don't you know that?
- Leave all that novelty stuff. You can't be serious. You love meat, it means that you have to eat it.
- Well, if you don't want to kill animals ... i've got an idea - don't kill just Israeli animals. But it's OK to kill Russian ... why won't you eat Russian pigs? What's the problem with them, eh?
- ... I mean, forget about me for a second, but how can you do it to your mother? She is a scorpio, she's really upset about it.
I'll get over it.