Friday, April 30, 2010

You missed a spot.

Rozhdestvensky Monastyr' [Nativity of Our Lord Monastery]
Down the street from The Institute

I don't know if it's meant to inspire passers by with the juxtaposition of fake-new and possibly-fake-old, or if this approach simply isn't important to the people who did the restoration (seeing as it's not the facade or main entrance), but there's something amazing about the fake and pinkish bricks of the church poised above the crumbling brick wall, as if some anthropomorphic architectural giant was trying to put blush on and did a really really really bad job blending.

How to Murder Yourself Without Trying

I want to do this.

Here are some of their recommendations to train:

On hygiene
We suggest starting off each day taking cold, freezing showers to prepare for the icy water and mud you’ll have to wade through from start to glorious finish.

After your shower, look at yourself in the mirror. Punch yourself in the mouth. This works on two levels: the first is that you get used to pain. The second is that girls love wounds.
On nutrition
What you put in your body has a direct effect on how you preform on May 2nd – mentally and physically. We recommend a meal of raw baby cow, preferably one you found and wrassled yourself (for city dwellers, any form of rodent, bird, or next door neighbor will do.) For dessert, snort two lines of protein powder and call it a day.
On training
"EMPIRE STATE OF MIND" Since you’ll have to get used to jumping from tall places, practice jumping off buildings or moving cars the next time you take a drive.
Alternate: Make a bungee cord out of Tough Mudder armbands, band-aids, and your ex girlfriend’s underwear. Tie to a tree. Go nuts.
Why am I such a crazy person?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Funeral for a Friend

It’s morbid, but sometimes I plan parts of my own funeral.

Ok, so it’s really morbid and disturbing, but in my defense the first part came because I’m an egotistical maniac and the director of one of my host museums died, and the other part came because I just watched the episode of Scrubs where Laverne dies.

I think I just committed the same egregious error of modern humanity’s lack of emotional depth as best expressed by Kelly, from The Office:
I can still remember when Princess Diana died. Oh. My. God. That was the saddest funeral ever! Well, that and my sister's...
In the first part, I mentioned that I want to destroy superstition by placing around the coffin or urn or symbolic effigy of myself (depending on if I really have an Icarean end and they can’t dredge my body from the depths or not) in the center of a semicircle of eight full-length mirrors, so anyone who comes has to see themselves reflected as a multitude.

I haven’t decided on the full soundtrack to my passing yet, but I know that in place of a eulogy I want someone to play the three parts of Muse’s “Exogenesis: Symphony,” and at some point (either the entrance or exit music) I want Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” to play. Or maybe "Halo"...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On the Brown Line

The dezhurny po eskalatoram [employee watching over the escalators] had left her glass booth. She was standing, standing on the floor, outside of her glass booth.

The dezhurnye NEVER leave their glass booths.

She was yelling at some man whose back was turned to me. “Shame on you, scaring people like that!”

He cackled, and the way I imagine Voldemort’s high-pitched cackle shifted, like finally seeing someone alters the way you’ve always imagined them, and you forget even the memory-alternative.

And then he turned. And then I realized just why she said “scaring people like that…” He was drunk, or crazy, or both. His eyes wild and iris-less, black rings in white rings in jaundiced yellow. His teeth were surprisingly white for the bedraggled costume, of what was presumably a homeless man, in which he’d dressed himself. He slunk along the floor with his shoulders stooped, like a zombie or a Salvador Dali sketch of a man led by wingéd Victoire.

The employee said, “Gospodi!” [Lord!] She opened the door to her booth.

The man turned, and took two steps towards her, and she looked at him, wide-eyed, from behind the speckled and dirty glass. He laughed again, and turned his back on her, and walked away.

The whole time a policeman watched from a safe distance away, rifle and metal detector in hand. He hadn’t moved throughout the whole tableau.

The ring line is full of crazies.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cathedral of Christ the Neurotic

Just the other day Homer emailed me a link to an article published in last spring’s issue of the journal History and Memory. The article is a discussion of The Cathedral of Christ the Savior as an object of national memory and memory-making policies.

Seeing the link, I felt the stomach drop, the mark of the first sharp descent in a roller coaster. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on that same object, in much the same framework – and finished just before the publication of this article. Crap, I thought, and now I’ll see just how shoddy the work I did really was.

I just finished reading the article. And you know what? For once in my life I’m not plagued by self-doubt. For once I feel content with what I did. There were sources Haskins used that I had missed – primarily theoretical and in relation to the post-Soviet reconstruction – that is, those articles as help her discuss the contemporary status of Christ the Savior as a memory object – but I had already come to terms with the fact that my chapter on the post-Soviet context really deserved a whole thesis to itself, and I hadn’t gotten into as much depth as I could have, there. She and I differ in what we term analogous structures built under Luzhkov & Friends, but our conclusions are roughly the same.

I finished reading the article, and I didn’t think, Man, this is better than my thesis. Rather, the first thought was Huh, that was different than my thesis. And yes, there were many aspects of Haskins’s work far superior to my own. But there were other areas in which I was able to employ, if not a more skilled analysis, thicker description of the events that transpired, less reliance on outsourced footnotes to breeze past two hundred years of Russian/Soviet cultural history.

So maybe I’m having a bit of an egotistical moment, and perhaps I’m too blinded to the true nedostatki [inefficiencies/errors] of my thesis. But I’m not trying to publish that thesis, and I’m not looking at it as an incomplete or poorly-written first step into the professional discipline. I can relegate it to its place as the cusp between student and scholar.

More importantly, I don’t feel like a group of five girls I remember from middle school, who, having performed Titanic at a talent show, went running off the stage and started crying because they didn’t feel they’d done as well as Celine Dion. I don’t feel the need to log onto and write anonymous reviews of my competitors.

Oh. Wait. I said I wouldn’t write undiplomatic commentary…

Monday, April 26, 2010

La cathedrale engloutie

Maybe I'll write a good treatise that interprets just why we want to see the city fall to ruin.
...The ancient fisherman
Silently pushed his boat into the water
The boy untangled the nets
Gazing, just as quiet, into the distant gloom.

And while he looked, he was deep in thought
And a melancholy took ahold of him:
"How come's the sea mourns so, uncle?" -
He asked the fisherman.

"Can you see that spire? I think it's been a year -
A year must have come to pass since the time,
You must remember, when we tied up
Our boat to it?

Once there stood a city here, entirely free
And over all the world a-ruling
From which that bell-tower's spire alone
Remains visible above the sea...

The boy listened, bashfully looking away,
For it made him feel afraid:
"And what name, uncle,
Did they give this fallen city?"

"What name'd it have? Well - something foreign
Long since forgotten
'Cause it wasn't native
And no one knows."
-from Mikhail Aleksandrovich Dmitriev, "The Drowned City," 1847.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I wanna know what Love is

I have the impression that the Institute’s librarian-bibliographer, Love, is a crazy person. It pains me to admit this because she always comes up with gems about how genius I am in the questions I ask, and how well I use their card catalogue… I hate to seal my ego away from such a font of compliments.

I’ve been suspecting that Love is off her rocker primarily because of said compliments. The final straw came yesterday – actually, before I start in on this story, I have to explain that there is no Dewey Decimal in Russia. There is a “systematic” catalogue, but its logic is beyond me. I end up having to search subject keywords in the thematic catalogue, and instead of following those cards’ links to the systematic catalogue, working directly from the alphabetical list (which can be by author’s last name or any of the first three words of the title).

It’d be too easy for me to take a potshot at the system in this case, so I’ll just return to my story. Yesterday I had a list of an organization’s plenary sessions. Before I went digging around in the archives (those same archives that are so far away), I checked the Institute’s stacks for any published materials. I found references to three of the sessions in the thematic catalogue and another in the alphabetic. (It was under neither author’s last name, nor any of the first three words of the session’s title. Sometimes one lucks out by looking under “Materials to” or “As to” or “The shiz that happened the other day.”)

I guess I’m taking potshots at the system.

I still only had 4 of 12, and not all four documents I’d found were primary. I looked at the systematic catalogue, and over my shoulder to Love, and back to the Beast, and then at Love again. I called her over. I asked, “Is there any possible location where I could find a list of all the materials the Institute has on these plenary sessions?”

“Ohhhhh, plenums are typically meetings of a group, you know,” she told me.

So often, I fight so hard and so in vain to control my expression. “Yes,” I replied, “right. These are the sessions of the All-Soviet Organization of Architects.”

She pulled down a drawer of the systematic catalogue. “Flip through here for ‘session’ and ‘meeting,’” she said, “and I’ll go speak to my girls.”

See the above comment on the hell that is the “systematic” catalogue. I found nothing. Love called me over.

She had gotten the main librarian out of her office and involved in a search for random materials on sessions (I hate – and this will be a different post, possibly – when this happens. Yes, archivists have a good knowledge of their stacks. They don’t have perfect knowledge. That’s why things like the Dewey Decimal are great - because then you don’t have to rely on whatever books come first to the batty old librarian’s mind. Sorry. More potshots.) The book the librarian had produced was from 1967. “Oh no,” I said, and presented the list again. “The sessions I’d like to see are 1937-1952.”

The librarian shrugged and said she’d come meet me at the catalogues to take a more thorough look. Love, meanwhile, had gotten A Look™ in her eye, and started muttering [like a crazy person] about “1937 – the most horrific year,” “Oh, do you think the materials are classified?” “The respected professor ---- ---- classified not just his research, but all materials,” “If an architect mentioned the Kremlin they’d classify the whole session,” “Oh, 1937 was the most horrific year.”

She didn’t stop on that topic until after the head librarian herself gave up. I said I would find what materials the museum and the archives had, that I had just wanted to check if I was missing something, and thanked her. She smiled and walked away. Love was still talking about the craziness of the year 1937.

So often, I fight so hard and so in vain to control my expression. I turned my back on her before I gave in to the temptation to lecture her on the architectural history of her own country. YES, 1937 saw the greatest number of repressed individuals, total. That didn’t mean that EVERYONE was repressed. And of ALL OF THE ARCHITECTS in the country, a grand total of 2 were repressed (in the literal, arrested and shot or imprisoned way. I’m not talking about people who weren’t given projects). To me a much scarier time period is post-war, when the aphorism “Socialist in content, nationalist in form” became “…Russian in form,” and the works of the Old Masters were taken off the walls of the Pushkin and the Hermitage, and theorists had to come up with reasons how it had been Russia, in fact, that initiated the Renaissance…

As I walked away, she said, “I’m sorry we couldn’t help you. But you know, you’re so good with our catalogues that if you couldn’t find it…”

Gah. Love! You make it so hard to be mad at you!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

More like Giselle's Dance (of Delirium)

I'm not going to put any commentary on this piece for fear of saying something undiplomatic - I'd rather not touch the news with a 99-1/2 foot pole - but seeing as it's news dealing with the discipline to which I'm dedicating my life, I want to reference the Sturm und Drang (and not the fun kind) in London.

Showing here (AP), here (The Independent), and here (The Guardian).

And Oreos. I miss Oreos.

Alright, I miss having a kitchen.

It’s pitiful when I start thinking about ways I could steam broccoli using an electric teapot, and start ripping strips of toilet paper to hold the broccoli, and look down on what can only be described as a half-made nest made over a woman’s toilet full of boiling water and bodily waste, and only then decide that I’m being a crazy person and should just eat the broccoli raw.

At least there’s extra spice on my Korean carrot salad today! YUM!

Friday, April 23, 2010

All the descriptions share two things in common.

Today has had mixed productivity (this is, I’ll remind you, coming at the end of my day, even if it’s going live at a different point in time). I’ve been working on an essay on aesthetics, and I want to give it to Briullov so I can get critiques and then revise (because this is how the writing process works) but I apparently cannot come up with a conclusion that’s not pathetically feel-good and humanistic. We’ve gotta break free of the chains we wrap around ourselves!

Gah. I’m such a proletariat-humping hippie.

I have, however, gone to a bookstore! Exciting on multiple levels. The primary reason I went was because I made the mistake of doing a search on its online catalogue the last time I had interwebs, during which I found out that they had The Bible of Socialist Realism™ in their collection. I couldn’t concentrate in the library today. I thought, “I could have this book. I should have this book. I must have this book.”

Never mind that the third-largest library of Slavic materials in the United States, which will be hosting me for the next umpteenth years of my life, has it in its stacks. I am a capitalist-humping hippie. I must have my own copy!

So I have, as I mentioned two paragraphs ago, gone to a bookstore. The book was still there! (This was the used and antiquariat section, so this truly is cause for excitement.) I also bought a fresh stick of glue. I ran out of the last stick a few pages into my Collection of Supporting Documents, a project I’ve obscurely mentioned before. I’ve gone through all the newspaper clippings, pictures, and notes I’ve taken and stored in a ridiculous number of places. I’m hoping in the end I’ll be able to finish a work without resorting to my feel-good message technique. (See above.) So I’m putting all of those clippings and fragments into one massive mother of all collages. Spread out over multiple pages. But it’s not a scrapbook.

Alright, fine, call it a scrapbook if you want, but know this – it is the kind of scrapbook that makes children fear the Things that Go Bump in the Night, that causes them to set up camp during those first and formative vigils against the Oppressing Darkness, that inspires me to speak in properre Aenglishe, which has retained Germanic noun capitalization.

Ugh – in other news, I’ve forgotten how much glue stick glue gets over the users hands. I am writing this while having a snack of unsweetened tvorog (cheesy, crumbly curds) with yogurt, and got some on my finger, and when I licked the offending microbes and bacteria off, tasted yummy Spanish glue. I’m apparently a crafts-supplies-humping hippie.

I didn't taste it to check.

I recently went to the bathroom in a cafe. I lifted up the seat to do my business, and a white, powdery substance rubbed onto my fingers. I am left with one of three possibilities.
1. A really really really dehydrated pigeon used the facilities, and missed.

2. This cafe uses chalk/talc powder as a cleaning agent.

3. One of the businessmen sitting near me did a line of coke from the toilet seat.
I'm expecting it's option #2, but I kind of wish it was #3. It's just exciting and crazy enough to be true...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

These aren't the droids you're looking for.

You'll be happy to know that there's a whole section of linguistics that deals with situations when people "don't say what they mean."

Sometimes it's called pragmatics. Sometimes it's under the bubble-theory of speech act theory. Sometimes people talk about the difference between performative and constantive meanings.

In short, it explains why we can say things that are seeming non sequiturs, but that work in the given situation. Like
Person 1: Let's go!
Person 2: Sarah just went to the bathroom.
In most technical terms, the first person gave a polite command, to which the second's response is an inappropriate response (because a command only allows "yes" or "no.") Speech act theory allows us to understand "scientifically" what native-English speakers intuitively know - the "no" in the second part is elided, and skipped straight to the explanation why they can't go yet.

It doesn't have to be in a dialogue. For example,
I have tree jism in my eyes
is a statement I've been pondering for a while. It doesn't mean I've been pleasuring the odd willow on my way to the archives, but that stupid allergies are stupid here.

All this because the Institute just put up some new signs. I've talked about having a confused moment with signs and slogans before. This time around, the sign says
Respected students and teachers! From April 21st, because of organizations using our institute,
[the word for "using" could also be "enlightening" or "dedicated to," but those...don't make sense...]
security will be different, and entrance to the buildings will be strictly by pass or student card. Please, to avoid unpleasant situations, make sure you have the necessary documentation.
Maybe, if I were a native Russian speaker, I could untangle what exactly it means, but the way I currently understand the sign I can't figure out if the organizations are renting or using a space that needs extra security, or if they mean to say that there is a new organization providing them with security, and this organization won't be as lax as the old one was.

What caused the whole connection to speech act theory is that I think the intention behind the whole sign was in order to provide those same "respected students and teachers" with a "reason" for this new demand. But they don't include any specific information, so the attempt just seems weird and vague and like a rule made to be a rule.

Which isn't unheard of in this country.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ghostbusters only, please.

I'm such a good capitalist consumer that when "A Moment Like This" came on in the cafe where I'm sitting, not just did that Sandals commercial flash to mind, but I even clicked over to their website.

And noticed this.

I'm not saying that firefighters don't do an amazing service for our community. Volunteer or paid, theirs is a career path that is full of danger, and certainly they deserve any recognition that comes their way.

But why is theirs the only public service profession that deserves such special treatment? Why is there such a stigma around - say - a policeman getting a similar deal? I can only imagine the backlash, the comments about "corrupt pigs not needing special treatment." Why? What about EMTs?


When did we build the cult of the firefighter, and why should I buy into and continue it?

I borrowed my mom's car to drive here

I’ve been culling and organizing my notes from the summer and this past year. Now, I’ll remind you that back in P'mouth I would frequent a pub or two in town after work ended, and play at Hemingway, writing and drafting and whatnot. Every so often I would – unintentionally – overhear conversations and - then quite intentionally - copy out the gems. Here are some precious moments from July 30 (it’s relatively important that it was a Thursday, not a weekend, night):
“Is this your regular hangout, man?”

”No, I’m just here with my girl.”

“No doubt, no doubt.”

“What about you, what are you doing?”

“Man, my mom and I got into a big argument. I’m just getting a beer before a sausage. I’m f***ing starving. The man doesn’t open for another 20 minutes.”


“Man, my confidence is my strong suit. Those guys in UFC, WFC, they go for one jab. You see them fight, and they land one hit where I could get a combo in.”


“You know what I don’t understand is it seems like there are hot girls walking around Portsmouth all the time, but you get into bars and it’s all older guys.”
Oh, P’mouth. And I’m looking forward to returning to you, for some reason…

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Clowns equal, both

My favorite statue at Statue Park and the horribly disproportionate and ugly "Imperial House" [Imperskii Dom] construction project.

Speak 'N' Spell

There's been something of a theme, recently.

The most recent addition comes from the other night, when Earl Grey, his girlfriend Belief, and I went clubbing.
I wanna dance. I just want to express myself through the art of dance, Mike.
We are dancing. It is happiness. We decide to get shots of tequila and, all of a sudden, the reason for this post presents herself.

By grabbing onto my shot glass-holding wrist. I twitch in self-defense, thinking she is falling over or something, not wanting to spill my drink. She says, Mozhno vas sprosit' -- [Can I ask you something] and hasn't let go of my arm yet. I try to shake it free so I can take the shot. I say, Sejchas, sejchas [One sec], nodding at the shot in my hand for lack of better gesticulation (seeing as my other hand is a bit out of commission for the gesticulating, what with the salt and lime holding).

She is relentless, repeats Mozhno vas sprosit', and bodily pulls me towards herself. Earl Grey is laughing. I allow myself to be dragged over. She asks, "Vher you from?"

Cue the rage. Really, this is the important question you needed to ask me? I think. Iz Ameriki [From America], I say, and tear myself free. We take our shots and walk away.

We notice, later, that she is dancing with some guy, and Earl Grey and Belief laugh at me. Belief says, Ona prosto xochet kogo-to. [She just wants anyone.]

I think, but don't respond, And her pick up line is to ask the obvious?

The reason I bring this up isn't to emphasize that I "struck out," if you will - as the Dane Cook reference above implies, I really just wanted to dance, not to schmooze. I'm still upset that this girl - and, as experience is coming to show - any other Russian who happens to hear my accent - has a set conversation they once learned in high school English, and their only hope and dream is to run through that set conversation with me.

It's not just me. Briullov says,
It would be different if it were a rarer language, English, like if a Russian was in the US, and s/he was trying to figure out where you're from.
Briullov says,
It would be different if s/he weren't initiating a conversation solely because you speak English, and s/he wants to show off.
A fellow historian (I might have given her a nickname before but I'm too lazy to check so she'll remain anonymous) says that without fail, every Russian man asks her:
1. Where are you from?
2. What are you doing in Russia?
3. A historian? What are you studying?
4. Why are you studying that?
5. Are you married?
I don't get asked question #5, myself, but the rest is true. And the order never fails. I hate to say it - I know it's rude and me refusing to be a good cultural ambassador - but sometimes I feel like I'm not conversing with humans, but rather sitting in front of a poorly written Turing Machine entered for the Loebner Prize.

Briullov says,
They're exactly like those computer programs you train to converse. If you say the right answer the conversation continues. If you don't, the conversation stops.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Finding New Perspectives

Askant; Behind; Across

(Krymskii Bridge; Mixed Freudian metaphors on Trubnaya Square [St. George is killing a snake on top of an obelisk...]; Frunzenskaya Embankment [specifically, the headquarters of Russian Ground Forces, constructed 1940-1941, architect L. Rudnev])

You lookin' my way?

First of all, to finish the alarm clock saga, eventually the batteries did work. I used the troubleshooting method my ancestors developed millenia ago:
1. Swear.
2. Press buttons at random.
3. Smash device against hard place.
4. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Second - face lift. Possibly in honor of the volcano. I haven't decided.

As for the meat of today's post -- it's still more in my continuing series of thoughts from the gym.

Today's entry dedicated to the concept of "looking." As in - not just the phenomenon of sight, but the whole crazy Game™ of "checking someone out." And the thought process that ensues.

I don't understand it. It's worse than sitting at a bar and trying to play into the games -- are they looking at me? Should I look at them? Is it a good look? Bad look? Fun look?

Same thing in the gym. There are few women who work out there, but those who do are very fit (in both the British and the literal meanings) and usually wear athletic bras and sometimes high heels.

I wish I were exaggerating.

And sometimes - as in today - which sparked this entry - I just don't feel like playing those games. I was stretching after running on the treadmill. I just wanted to stretch! But there was a girl standing nearby, doing pilates in the mirror, and I could see that she was watching me to see if I was watching her and I just didn't. Feel. Like. Playing.

It comes down to this. Either I look and make this girl the object of my male gaze, to use what is already an out-dated terminology. Her agency in that could be:
a) neither to notice nor to care
b) not to have noticed but to have cared if she did notice
c) to notice, and be upset
d) to notice, and derive vainglorious pleasure
Or, I could choose not to look, in which case the input/output on her end would be:
a) neither to notice nor care
b) to be able to work out in peace
c) to turn it into a neurosis that a man at the gym isn't looking at her
It was that last that I believe occurred today, that precipitated this post.

Head, meet wall. Lather, rinse, repeat. Or, in the words of one Venture Brothers episode,

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ladies of the Night

Soullessness à la Rodchenko; sculptor A.S. Grigor'ev
Near Park Kul'tury and in Statue Park
on the grounds of the New Tretyakov Gallery

On the Red Line

Where there was one, there are now two.

Whatever she's lost, the girl can't find it anywhere. It ought to be small, and precious, and nowhere on her body or in her backpack. The boy she's sitting with suggests more places, and her fingers scramble.

The thought echoes that he is far too young to be her father, even though there is something of the paternal in the way he looks at her. His hair recedes, true, but then no one's hair in this country seems to resist the siren song called from widow's peaks. His nose is softly pointed, and skin too smooth - he must be her brother.

And she, for all her youth, commands him; she can't be Lear's Cornelia. She had made him sit and stands nearby, light brown hair jutting through the crown of a red cap, brown eyes flaring yellow as she searches through pockets and zippers. Whatever she has lost has utterly disappeared.

He reaches a hand, so much larger, into the backpack in his lap, and she impatiently draws it out with both of hers. She zips his jacket's chest pocket open, peers inside, and then shut again. He tries to mollify her but she responds in the terse tone of an individual pissed off and just barely in control.

Mature for her age, that she could keep herself in control, and refrain from any tantrums. He stops trying to comfort her. He zips up all of the sections of her bag, and they exit at Lubianka.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Statue Park
on the grounds of the New Tretyakov Gallery

Storm and Thunder (and Drunk)

My travel alarm clock died last night. In one of those bizarre moments when I foretell stupid things, yesterday I thought, "This has lasted me since St. Petersburg [fall of 2007]. I wonder when its batteries will die." And then they did.

So I bought a four-pack of Duracell batteries in an underground crosswalk (perekhod). Unlike the listing, however, these babies cost me 140 rubles (almost $5). Oh, price inflation.

I write underneath a dark cloud that I pretend is part of the Icelandic volcano's fall-out but is likely just Moscow smog.

My computer is – quite literally – falling apart before my eyes. A screw fell onto the desk at the archive on Wednesday. It's one of many holding the bottom of the casing to the top; as of now, it's not caused any major malfunctions or had any ramifications. I keep begging it
Please. Please. Please just wait until I’m back in the US. Please survive these last months, these last few days. You can make it help you get down.
Then I - [with surreptitious glances to the side, and whispering] - will buy a Mac.

Edit: And the batteries don't even work. I must become a child of the twenty-first century and use my cell phone as an alarm clock...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Like Cain. Or the mole on my right wrist.

It’s a bit presumptuous to question the ontological logic of a show about time-traveling. We must relegate so many aspects into the safety umbrella that is "suspension of disbelief." There are those categories of viewing that act as prisms of a sort, or points of departure (that is, with which we may maintain a moment of ambiguity, both disbelieving and not, simultaneously): those that enable the viewer to query his own perception of historical events, those that are "remarkable" inasmuch as they are defined as science-fiction excitement, and those that are simply groan-worthy. None of which seem worthy of sparking a true inquiry into the mechanics of time and being, at least not as devices qua devices.

But there are certain points where a paradox is too inexplicable, too contradictory, that it even unbalances the suspended disbelief that there can be such paradoxes in the first place.

Now I know no one other than Wer, Wif, and Briullov have seen an episode of Dr.Who. I still think the specific paradox I have in mind is prevalent enough I can talk about it here, because it has infiltrated even the linguistic system of the English.
To be marked.
Marked for glory, by destiny, for fame, by Voldemort, by S.S.B.J.

By the Doctor. Showing here.

Here’s the point. The Doctor is an alien who goes on adventures in time and space with his human companions. Typically he is white and British and male and Briullov and I have speculated as to the Imperialist OVERtones of that but if I end up writing about that, it will not be here.

Usually said human companions are female, and usually they are young and nubile. Showing here. And here.

Imperialist and a randy ol’ bastard.

No, I said I wouldn’t write about that here.

What I mean to say is that in the case of the first woman to whom I linked, Martha Jones, there’s a slight paradox that arises because the Doctor time travels to the morning before she meets him and startles her, just to prove – later that same day – that he can time travel. But the only reason she drew his attention to herself was because she had been startled by him earlier in the morning when he had proven to her later that same day that he could time travel but he was inviting her to travel with him because she had proven herself…

You see why it’s called a paradox.

That’s more-or-less a moment I can put into the second category of my “suspension of disbelief” template – that it’s a science-fiction television show, let’s sit down and enjoy, no real skin off my back, etc. (Did I get the metaphor right that time? I accidentally said “hair off my chest” to someone recently and now I worry that I speak in mixed metaphors.)

What prompted this was the second link above – Amy Pond – into whose kitchen the Doctor crashed when she was a little girl. At that same moment there was crack in space-time that allowed a creepy alien that can shape-shift by stealing other creature’s minds in her bedroom. That bit’s important.

The Doctor had to pop away, but he left for twelve years as opposed to the five minutes he’d mentioned. Imagine that – an alien in a box that disappears who promises that he’ll return immediately, and take you on adventures, and then never does. And that’s what Amy does – she imagines, and she dreams, and from that one encounter she built an entire image-obsession in her own mind. An image-obsession that imprinted, or left its mark on her, as truly as did the creepy alien that had those same twelve years to graft itself onto her mind.

The Doctor invites Amy to travel with him because she had dreamt about him and helped him defeat the creepy alien, but she does both of those latter actions because he had come to her when she was a little child. It’s not a paradox as much as it is messed up. Even less than in the typical human situation of having or not having historical agency does Amy actually have any choice in this matter. She was in a place at a time – right or wrong – and she was marked because of it. In this case a specific individual character “marked” her, but how often is that the case?

And how often do we use “to be marked by X” as shorthand for something inexplicable, or some form of serendipity, or some act of the S&S.B.J.? What is the balance to draw between the inertia of historical structurae and schemae and the spontaneity of agency?

Possibly to be continued. (Also, cf. a similar thought-post at ahsasha.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Should we get it a date with the Washington Monument?

Sometimes I think there’s something aesthetically pleasant, if not pleasing, to the High Classicism built under Stalin that I’ve been studying. Other time I think…not so much.

But never ever, not once while studying these architects and their questionable aesthetics, and their questionable politics, and their questionable lives and country, never have I been as disgusted as I am by this. (NB - you have to click to #4 to get to the one I talk about. The link breaks blogger's inferior coding.

I’ve heard it said that if there were magical windows that connect Moscow to other geographic locations (which is a plot to an early-90s movie, Okno v Parizh [The Window to Paris]), such would never connect Moscow to a cultural center like Paris, or Milan, or Hong Kong.

The magical windows would connect Moscow, heart and soul, to New Jersey.

Nota bene: It sounds much more vehement if I write “disgusted” before the link. Really I’m more “tickled” or “amused.” It’s not my state.

No. My state lost its monument. Six years on and I’m still mourning my beautiful, granite, cuddly Old Man.


Tverskaia at Bol'shaia Gruzinskaia

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I found this one in the trashcan!

I recently went to see a temporary exhibit of Pablo Picasso's works, on loan from the Paris Picasso Museum itself, at The Pushkin Museum of Arts.

Actually entering the Museum took some planning, as I’d heard that others had waited in line for approximately three hours before they could get in.

Even though I arrived right when the museum opened, on a Tuesday morning, I waited for about fifteen minutes just to get onto its territory. Not even to get in line to buy a ticket. This was a line waiting to get in line to buy a ticket. And the crazy bit - which I wasn't expecting - was that I wasn't the only person there under the age of sixty-five. Approximately half of the line's occupants were senior citizens on a pension, but only half.

Don't let that "lack" fool you. It was still hot in the exhibit halls, and packed with people like the metro can be, and I am afraid not all individuals of that age group can keep perfect control of their bowels.

Inside the exhibit hall was, in a word, vile.

That personal foible ought not to have been enough to deter me from such a master of world art as Picasso, himself. And there were certainly those works that were astonishingly beautiful. There are times when I confront the canon of High Phenomenological Objects (Briull makes fun of me for calling it that and not simply “phenomena,” but I think there’s a difference) and, despite being conscious that I am looking at something so famous and so familiar for its fame, I still find it beautiful. Of course I can’t untangle whether I think it is beautiful because it’s famous or if it’s famous because it’s beautiful – except for the knowledge that I reject most of the Canon of HPO, which would seem to disprove the former. My understanding of aesthetic beauty would appear to be a different thought process than my understanding of what I should understand is “important” for world art history.

But even with those masterpieces (ROD – shedevry) in mind, I cannot say I was pleased by the exhibition, or that I derived, in the end, more pleasure than displeasure from it. And there’s a moment where I think: “S&S.B.J! How can you dare say such a thing about a Picasso exhibit?!” I dare say such a thing about a Picasso exhibit because it’s true. Sure, there were masterpieces that I’ve seen since childhood, and there were those masterpieces that I hadn’t known before, and there were those paintings and sculptures that I’m sure other people think are beautiful but I didn’t quite enjoy.

But for that fraction of the exhibit there was a spawning cesspool of “etudes” and “sketches” and “variations.” I would say, with no actual numbers to back up my statistical claim, that in terms of sheer proportion it was roughly 25% finished works, 75% etudes.

And I kept thinking to myself, “Picasso wouldn’t have called this art. I don’t think this is art. Why am I supposed to consider this art? Who thinks this is art?”

An etude is nothing more and nothing less than a tool used to attempt to perfect the eventual masterpiece. I’m not trying, in this post, to be iconoclastic. I’m not trying to argue that we should build an aura around The Master and his Work by burning drafts and unfinished projects. What I mean is that these etudes have a special place for researchers, painters, creative individuals attempting to understand what kind of creative process Picasso used. It’s for the hardcore fans who aren’t satisfied with “the real deal.” I’m not sure I agree with the assumptions at work behind any of those groups’ “need” to see Picasso’s works in progress.

But I agree even less with the desire to put those unfinished works on display and speak of them in the same breath as those works for which Picasso gave up some bit of his soul. For those works to which Picasso gave years of his life and chunks of his liver and the various loves of his heart.

I am not and never will be a painter, period, let alone a master like Picasso. But say I was. Say that I had some series of paintings half as famous as “The Guitarist” of the Blue Period or the murals to the 1937 Spanish Pavilion. Never, in none of the multiverses, would I want to see every doodle I’ve ever drawn put on the same wall as those paintings.

I am not and never will be a theatrical individual, period, let alone a master like Diaghelev, Stanislavsky, Meyerhold. But say I was….I would never want to see a video recording of that third-grade musical in which I played some kind of shopkeeper to be included in the “definitive collection” of my work.

I am not but will hopefully be a writer, kind of like all those masters who have gone before. Let’s say I am. I’m fine with letting some kind of diary, or correspondence, be published. But never, in none of the multiverses, would I want to see every draft and every note I’ve ever written be published, as if they were as important as those novels that I have named done, that I have named Art. Those drafts and notes inform the work that follows them, but they are not, themselves, a work of art. They are not, themselves, important; nor should the beneficiaries of my potential estate try to glean still more profit out of the reproduction of them. I’d rather that those – as they are not full manuscripts – burn.

Yes, I – the historian – the lover of drafts and censorship and self-censorship and revisions - I am tempted to destroy every draft of everything I ever write, saving only the “finished” product. And I am tempted to damn those who do not.

I’m looking at you, Christopher Tolkien.

He gave it a tiara but no flowers.

Apartment building "Patriarkh" (Sergei Tkachenko, 2002), named "possibly the worst of all Luzhkov architecture in Moscow" by architectural critic Vladimir Paperny.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

At least they have Zapekanka.

Lunch at the Institute's dining room is a total flashback to middle school neuroses. I don't care if I eat alone in a restaurant or cafe, but put me in a controlled environment with a bunch of kids to whom physical appearance is important, and...

I miss having lunch with The Professor and cowering under the shadow of his importance. When I eat alone, I don't look old enough to seem like a visiting professor or homeless bum. I just look like the outcast. It is sad.

Images of the curd-cheese-baked-pudding that is zapekanka.

The Little Building that Could

1st Brestskaia Street near the Garden Ring

credit to Miriam for this observation, as well.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On the Orange Line

Picture the Rum Tum Tugger's ideal mate. She is short, and stretches black leggings over thighs that would do better in a muumuu, but for all that she can't play at the hourglass figure that once she could she's achieved a more-or-less V-shape from a high and full, yet voluptuously languorous minx collar that's probably a second cousin of the love child between Shakespeare's plumed collar and 80s shoulder pads of DEATH™.

Her hair is thin and streaked with gray and pulled back by a black scrunch band. The spotted brown sunglasses are so tight that she can't tuck them behind her ears (that would, in any case, upset the delicate arrangement of taut hairs she's achieved), so they press upon her ear drums. Her lipstick is a rusty orange of a shade that may once, years ago, have been scarlet, but no more.

The only movement she makes is ill-fated, an attempt to reach the empty seat when the train starts moving, heels tripping and chipped nails clanging against the metal hand rail. Desperate, nearly disastrous. The air of sneering haute couture now has undertones of flustered self-hatred and embarrassment.

I could have called her "Moskva," or "Kapital'ka," but I recalled the conversation Briullov, Phoenix, and I had the day before. We asked, if American Pyscho describes the decadence of the 1980s, and Invisible Monsters - the 90s' elitist fatalism, what novel could describe the Noughties? Harry Potter? Twilight? The Da Vinci Code? A novel, in any case, penned for children or for anti-intellectualists, so confident in their ignorance that, "If I haven't learned it by now it's not worth knowing" - a novel marked by its reductivism and escapism.

So I've left her as a real woman, given just the slight enhancement of being Grizzabella's ideal fate. (The 80s are retro, now, so I can get away with an extended Cats metaphor.) A nastoiashchaia woman, whose pitiable condition and attempt to look like a younger, sexier version I cannot ameliorate by abstracting her into an allegorical category. Her story is minimalist, and subjective, and existentialist:

She was born when she walked into my metro car, and lived looking like crap, and she died when I exited on Sukharevskaia.

Climbing Mountains

I love guerrilla photography.

He can make it help him get down
Help him get down he can make it help him get down
If he only knew the answer
He wouldn't be booooooothering youuuuu

Also, and while I'm on a B.Flow kick - Andy, You're a Star!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Would you like some meat to go with your meat?

After being told I was un-American for staying up for the Superbowl (even though I did end up pulling an all-nighter at the Starlite, just for a different occasion), I was determined to prove myself to be a man.

So Jude, his roommate, and I went to Macho Grill, a Brazilian steakhouse that's recently opened and that offers an eat-until-you-can-no-longer-walk meat buffet for 750 rubles (just about $25).

I should have realized the futility of trying to reestablish my virility by participating in a meat-eating contest.

Now, I'm not saying I don't have a healthy appetite - put me in an Oreo-eating competition and I know I beat everyone out for the championship. Back when Wer lived with multiple Wers of the same name, I remember attempting the world-record most-double-stuf-oreo-creme-at-once -- 6 cremes between two cookies - which was a failure - but which I ate nonetheless. I also remember eating an entire packet of Galinda's oreo cookies in the span of two Arrested Development episodes...

All's I'm saying is I have a sweet tooth.

But in the three hours that we sat at Macho Grill, even with the (much needed) breaks we got between skewers upon skewers of lamb and beef and chicken and fish brought out, and even with the (much appreciated) entertainment the Cuban band and (drunken) Russian men dancing provided, there was no way I could keep up with the others. I flipped my card over to the red side and they kept eating another three or four courses.

Oh well. The waiter still sliced a couple of the caramelized pineapple wedges onto my plate, ignoring the "stop" card in front of me. I didn't complain.

Friday, April 9, 2010

And I had just told Brett my dreams were boring

I was back at my parent's house for a couple days, and discovered that they had built a shower into the closet of my old room.

I decided to give it a go.

Only when I had put shampoo in my hair did I realize that there was a showerhead installed, and a drain in the corner - but they hadn't taken out the carpet, or inserted any kind of tub apparatus at all. There were still clothes on the shelves, and the water sprayed out into the room, onto the bookcases.

Then I noticed a book I didn't know before. It was a Necronomicon of sorts, and in reading it I discovered that extradimensional beings had been present at the creation of our universe, and their very presence had caused it to form incorrectly. Of a 1,000 step process a universe ought to undergo, ours, regardless the possibility, could only go through step 32. And they had made a program to show that all of the probabilities would lead to an early demise.

They were mildly apologetic for upsetting the natural order of things, particularly as they had just been on a class trip from their home universes. They begged me to pass on their condolences that our universe would never have a true god, because that one could only be created in step 50.

And they piled into their school bus and drove away.

Panic! In the Espresso Bar

I write in a new cafe.

I just spent ten minutes figuring out how to and then adding it as a place marked on just so I could include this picture.

View Larger Map

That's where it is.

Anyway. This area of town is well developed - it's on the north end of what I've before labeled Moscow's equivalent of 5th Avenue, and this location has these huge floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, and a huge wrap around bar, and really cushy booths, and it's so comfortable in its generic Americo-West-European-ness.

And that thought scares me. It doesn't shock me, but it saddens - to think that I still think of as comfortable that to which I'm used, and think of as "Russian" those things that fit into the tales about the uncomfortable and the bizarre and the unpleasant.

I try to comfort myself by saying that I'm being too harsh on my own psyche. I won't change my understanding of what comfortable or exotic are just because I'm in a different country. I don't need to have everything be American. I just don't take pleasure in enduring unpleasant things. Right?


Why do I feel like I keep asking this same question, this entire year? Why can't i break the loop, or tip the balance in one way or another: either admit what the problem is, critically analyze my way through and address the issue, or backslide into the anti-intellectual beast all Americans are trained to be, and just enjoy what I want to enjoy, no questions asked...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The censor says: "Oh no!"

There's something amazing about watching Internet memes develop.

Take the NH parody of the JayZ&Alicia Keys song, for example. It was posted on youtube a week ago, and I had seen it spread virally through my friendslist on Facebook by, at the very longest, Saturday.

Two days ago I got an email from an alumna who works in the embassy, who's half-adopted me here, saying "check this out!"

Today I got an email forward from someone who lives in St. Louis now and didn't understand most of the jokes and references.

Where will the meme be tomorrow? California? Should I expect a message from Kipling about it from across the pond? Will one of my acquaintances at the conversation club next Tuesday say, "hey, aren't you from Nyeu Xehmshah? I saw this video about it..."

Sometimes I love the dissemination of information available in the world today. I dare some conservative or watchdog group to try to stifle a controversial piece of literature/art/creativity. I dare them.

(Now, if only I could find a way to make the people properly repressed, à la Parts 1, 2.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

More gym thoughts.

1. The sweat stain on my chest made a smilie face today. I started laughing like a crazy person in the middle of the hall.

Then I thought about taking a picture for the blog but decided that would be disgusting. Talking about it...isn't...though?

2. Jude and I were talking in the locker room. I walked over to wash out my shake bottle. A man came up to me: “Hey, sorry, I couldn’t help but notice your accent. Where are you from?”

Your accent, not “notice that you speak English.” I thought it sounded like he had a bit of a Texan twang. I said: “From Boston.” (For simplicity’s sake.) “Where are you from?”

“Oh, here.”

“You have a good accent, then,” I complimented, and turned for the door.

“Really? You sink it sounds auzzent-eek?”

I fought the urge to turn and say “Well, it did, until you had to try to say “th”…”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Attempt Perfect Despair Embellished with Hand Gestures

I was invited to see some models strut their stuff at Russian Fashion Week.

The irony of the situation - me, invited to tag along to a fashion show - was not lost upon me. I sat there with a bemused look upon my face while right beside me Briullov and the Dash provided each other with intelligent color commentary.

I thought the best part was people watching. Apparently if I had brought a trucker cap and square scarf (or just gone for the all-out Old Western bandit look) I would have looked more fashionable. Also: orange skin has become an accessory. Its shade should match one's apparel.

From the Dash and Briull I heard tales of the famous people who were sitting around us. My favorite was a French fashion critic who also has a sense for the ironic. She sat in what was more or less a burka with the face open, and a belt buckle perched upon one temple. The Dash whispered that she is famous for wearing the same outfit for the past ten years.

Imagine that -- her whole life dedicated to the sea of young women the runway pounding, swimming in the oceantide of bulimia and costume fabric, all the different catalogs from the changing trends and collections and tastes of world fashion's fickle mistress, and she has made the conscious choice to wear one and the same outfit for ten years. Pound though the waves might, the rock will respond only in its most exterior criticisms. The physical appearance, and the internal personality underneath - so it's projected - will never change.

I can't decide if I like it or have already talked about my problem with that thought, that someone might have an objective and fixed viewpoint...

Also: I sometimes lose track of just what I'm referencing in my titles, and I want to give credit. This won't always happen. But anyway. Today's title's brought to you by Timothy Donnelly, from "Fun for the Shut-in:"
Demonstrate to yourself a resistance to feeling
unqualified despair by attempting something like
perfect despair embellished with hand gestures.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday, Bloody Monday

I doubt my smattering of current event witticisms is entertaining to anyone, so I don’t write about every headline I read (although sometimes the urge to take the soap box stage comes upon me so hard…) Today, though, I encountered an unholy troika of reportage, and had to share: one social, one cultural, one economic. Yay.

Read this.

It’s funny because if you insert “factory worker” instead of “intern” and “overseer” instead of “corporation/law firm/company/bank/etc.” you have economic history, circa 1850 to the present day.

Tell me that capitalism is an economic system that supports the ego and individualism. Tell me that a Howard Roark would survive in New York today. I dare you.

And while we’re at it – tell me that it’s worthless to study history, as well.

I hate people.

Also, in less soap-box-y news – the opening lines to this article is awesome.
Let’s face it: Financial reform is a hard issue to follow. It’s not like health reform, which was fairly straightforward once you cut through the nonsense.
Nor is brain surgery hard. It’s pretty straightforward, once you’ve cut through the scalp and isolated the tumor and taken care not to sever any of the neurons surrounding the cancerous tissue and sewn the patient back up.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Who shall die for whose sins?

Happy Easter and all that.

The Russian traditional greeting is in Old Church Slavonic. It goes:
Call: Khristos voskrese! [Christ is risen!]
Response:Voistinu voskrese! [Truly, he has risen!]
There's a whole linguistic bit, here, too, because Russian differentiates between "light" or "basic" truth, which is the word pravda, and held in contrast to "higher" or "Almighty" truth, which is the word istina (the root of the responder's first word, and the way Pilate's famous question to Jesus is translated: Shto est' istina? [What is truth?]

That was a fun ROD. Briullov and I are trying to find ways to destroy istina. Wish us luck.

I've become distracted by one of the BBC headlines, that a white suprematist was murdered in his sleep.

It's not the news so much that bothers me, but the reaction I've already seen and heard from those who are glad that he's dead. The distaste I'm now swallowing reminds me of a similar conversation.

How evil does a person have to be before I can unequivocally be happy that he has died? Apparently this "isn't enough." But am I really feeling a crisis of conscious that I'm not taking pleasure in this man's brutal murder? Wouldn't it be more messed up if I was?


Saturday, April 3, 2010

I thought: “I’m Totally Going to Blog about this Later.”

Customer service is an entirely different beast in Russia. There are the stores which have trained the employees to go after the buyer in “the American way,” which is the way of the hard sell, the up-sale, the “would you like to supersize your order” brand of Fordist capitalism.

There are the others where no one cares.

Also - I’ve always wondered why “extra medium” has remained relegated to the jokes and puns. I fit poorly into both mediums and larges, and I don’t feel like shelling out $50 a dress shirt to get them tailored specifically for my body – if there were to be an extra-medium, I think it would better approximate my life and the lives of quite a few people.

I mention this because I went shopping yesterday and found a buy-2-get-one-free t-shirt deal. I tried one on, found that the brand fell into the typical wear-a-medium-and-look-like-Eurotrash or wear-a-large-and-look-like-the-oracle-at-Delphi (because it’s a dress) conundrum. I went for M and pulled three off the rack.

Got home.

One of the shirts is on an “medium” hanger but the tag says it’s a large.

Crap. Initiate a 12-hour period of vacillation: do I want to, don’t I want to, should I, shouldn’t I, do I have time to, I don’t have time to.

In the end I left the archive early specifically so I could go and exchange the shirt.
Icarus: Hi, I was in yesterday and I accidentally bought the wrong size shirt. Here’s the receipt. Can I change it?

Clerk from Hell: If you have the shirt with you right now.
[ICARUS makes a little flicking motion with the shirt that’s currently in his hands and in her eye sight. CFH rolls her eyes.]
CFH: If we have one in the right size…
[ICARUS walks to the racks, finds a shirt on a medium hanger, the tag of which also says medium, and returns to the counter. CFH looks at it.]
CFH: This is also a large.

Icarus: No, it’s not.

CFH: I’m looking at the price tag. Yes, it is.

Icarus: Oh, that must just be an error, like how you put a ‘large’ t-shirt on a ‘medium’ hanger.

CFH: No, it’s a large.

Icarus: Look at any of the other tags on it and you’ll see the “M” for medium.

CFH: Aren’t you the guy who just bought a wrong-sized shirt?

I wish she had been the kind of saleswoman who asked if I needed fries with that.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Can I get the vegetarian chicken?

Ask a Russian to what religious sect they belong, and the majority will answer Russian Orthodoxy. There is, of course, a wide spectrum of what that means to all of those different individuals. Some don’t go to church. Some go on high holy days. Some buy the threshing brush that Briullov identified for me but which I still can’t remember. Some kiss icons.

Some fast for Lent (the 40 days before Easter, which doesn't always correspond to Western Easter, although this year both Orthodox and Western Easters are on April 4th). It’s called the Great Fast [Velikii Post] in Russian, to differentiate from the other fasts that occur throughout the ecclesiastic calendar (for example, during Advent). Their fasting is also different than the kind that developed in Western Europe under Catholicism. I’m not even sure what all of the rules are – I know there’s a vegetarian element, and other restrictions apply.

That knowledge informs this story.

I went to the closest thing to a “diner” there is in Moscow for a quick lunch around 3 pm (this is at one of my archives, which is located about a mile away from the metro. I bring a banana or something light to snack on, and then get something more substantial when I’m center-bound). I ordered some borshch [hearty beet soup] and grechka [short for grechnevaia kasha, or buckwheat] when I heard this conversation behind me:
Scary Old Babushka: Do you have any Lenten goluptsy? [Meat wrapped in a rice-crepe]

Worker: No.

S.O.B.: Grex na vas! [lit. “Sin on you!” Figuratively, then: “Shame on you.”]
But there’s another way to say “shame on you” - Kak vam ne stydno? - which is much less severe, especially when we take into account the shock and rage that was in the S.O.B.’s voice. (I’m having too much fun with that abbreviation.)

The best part is that the S.O.B. didn’t end up ordering something else on the menu, like the vegetable soup, or the grechka, both of which automatically qualify as “kosher” on the Lenten menu. She got the non-Lenten goluptsy.

Because it wasn’t her job to figure out creative ways to follow the Great Fast. It was the restaurant’s duty to provide her with an easy way to follow the rule set up for her by some patriarchs long ago. There was – and this is, of course, all [rather mean] speculation on my part – no critical thought process as to the whole philosophy of sacrifice and deprivation that is the basis for the Great Fast’s existence.

What an S.O.B.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

You know how I got these scars?

Happy April Fools.

Apparently S.S.B.J. (Sweet & Sour Baby Jesus gets a nickname in the blog, I decided) wanted to pull an April Fool's on me. I forgot that the archive I go to has its sanitary day on the first of the month -- until I got to its door.

Let's just remember that this is the archive that's on the opposite edge of the city from me.

I decided to go to the major and Western shopping mall that's a stop inbound from the archive, so I wouldn't just ride 45 minutes there and then 45 back. I'm sitting in Starbucks, right now. Which I swore not ever to do but...we must make choices in our lives.

However, I have power and I have interwebs. Today's not going to be a waste. I'll just get to go home at a reasonable hour, instead of spending all evening writing after all day in an archive reading! Mwahaha.