Monday, December 27, 2010

Something Good

In the holiday spirit.
Well I’m watching an old classic – Sound of Music. I remember watching this film when I was probably twelve with my parents in the open air movie theater in Tashkent. I loved it then: I laughed, I cried, I fell in love with Maria. Lovely children, the beauty of Alps, the love story, the music, the suspense of escape. I’m watching it now more than 30 years later for the 5th or 6th time. And guess what: this is such an amazing experience. The innocence, the romance, the lack of irony. It still works magic.
I was thinking about writing the end of the year blog. The first thing which comes to mind is how long and difficult this year was. Counting my sorrows, sharing miseries of getting old... But it felt so stupid and so ingénue and so Russian. And I’m not. So I thought about counting my blessing and being cheerful and optimistic and looking forward. But it felt so stupid and so ingénue and so American. And I’m not. The anxiety of identity search was about to strangle me.
And here comes the old classic and puts you in a great mood does not matter if you are young or old, if you watching as a child in Tashkent in the warm summer evening or as an adult in DC in the cold winter night. Viva to the magic of movies and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Question and Expression of discontent

I don’t know how to relate to a group of people with whom I have a common past. In that past I loved and like them. These are my childhood friends, college buddies and just in general people which were a big part of my youth. Many of them left and end up here in the new and wonderful land of USA. The crowd which is here falls into two camps along major political parties: republicans and democrats. I do not see myself belong to any… even I vote democrat.

The problem is that many of them erected a wall around themselves. Within this wall they want to build a fantasy world, similar to one Ayn Rand created in Atlas Shrugged. Many of them never even heard about Ayn, but they worldview is the same. So it looks like there is a natural path which leads people to that believe. The path is not complex; in fact it is very simple. We lived in USSR which was a communist country. Everything was managed by government and everything was bad. It must be like that everywhere and government is just wasting our money and doesn’t do anything. (never mind that our parents on Medicaid/medicare and SSI). In the fantasy world free market will take care about all of this. It is pretty much described and discredited in one lovely episode of Monty Python in the Life of Brian:

I know that simplicity is a very attractive quality. It gives a clear way to judge what is good and what is bad without spending too much time pondering why? The religion gives the same benefit. No wonder that majority of people go for that. The question is why a few people who I respect and consider thoughtful and kind human beings fall for this very simplistic and childish outlook.
Any thoughts?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This is not a food blog

I love food, I love to eat and I like to cook. I even have not so secret dream of opening a bakery. Recently I realized that I don’t necessary like to read about food. May be this is just an oversaturation of food blogs, extensive dining and food sections in newspapers and magazines, cooking shows, diet fascination, and eating disorders. It feels like the normal interest to the basic human need became an obsession. The realization that we are society without traditional food and eating culture drives us to compensate with madness. May be this is a temporary fad and it will go away after more people will start feeling this way?
This is not a way to create a culture. The culture comes from tradition, tradition comes from family. Young people I know who cook and eat well are not the one who read food blogs and watch 24/7 food network. These are kids who come from families which managed to preserve food culture. There are several attributes which characterize such families. They eat what they cook (not prepared food), they often cook what their mothers cook and they eat at least one meal at home together every day.
How to get there from where we are now? I don’t know. I will think more about this. But current media obsession leads to eating disorder not to tradition and culture.
Sorry no pictures today.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I'm back!

Today is exactly 10 weeks since I broke my foot. And even though I spent a lot of time sitting on the couch, this is my first blog entry since then. I finally understood why I didn’t write anything. Sitting on the couch and being isolated creates a huge luck of data input. The internal storage has plenty of data, but because I’m somewhat depressed that data doesn’t look that hot. Today was a bit of a break- through initiated by Patrick’s friend food blog. She is a good writer, not like me. I think she is Harvard educated. Definitely more prestigious and may be even better school than Tashkent State University. She has a nice food blog with lovely description of her experience preparing pies and muffins and bread. But there was something wrong. May be the entries were too long for the genre, or the ratios of text and pictures was not to my liking. I for sure like texts with a lot more pictures. Here is one at the entrance of Madison Square Park.

And then Alla Pugacheva! My recent experience of going back to old Russian favorite movies and pop music is dismal. The prime example is Russian 80s adaptation of Mary Poppins. Back in Russia I thought it was a lovely film. But couple years ago it was shown on RTN. Wow! What a pitiable amateurish attempt for a musical. It was embarrassing. Especially when you’ve seen an American version. However, yesterday one of my old friends from Tashkent (living in NJ now) posted on facebook a youtube video with Alla. I went to youtube and listened some more. Not all of them are great. But what a relieve! She is real and she is good!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The search for oriental rugs and why I had to continue about Barcelona

I cannot believe that I could spend a day just looking at oriental rugs on eBay. Even though the subject is fascinating I feel that the day is wasted. When I was younger it didn’t bother me at all. But these days something is different. May be perception of my own mortality becomes more clear. By the end of the day I realized that the only way to seize the rest of it is, to pick up where I left the Barcelona travel notes.
The architecture of Barcelona is huge subject. It is beautiful, eclectic and surreal. There are plenty of masterpieces from the middle ages to modern stunning buildings. The Gaudi is the star of the show. The obligatory visit and contribution of funds (in form of very expensive tickets) to ongoing construction of his last project Sagrada Familia was a live demonstration that in the old times people really made things better. The building which was started in 1880s is still under construction. The part that was build in the beginning under Gaudi management is exquisite with intricate façade details. The part which is being built now is interesting and does have reminiscence of signature Gaudi style but looks simplistic at best and cheap at worst.

The detail of the old façade
The old façade next to the new part of the building which is still under constructionThe newly built interiors. I liked them even they are not really Gaudi.

The short march from Sagrada and you walk in the less known masterpiece. On the way we passed a strange fountain with a sign which prohibits swimming. I warned you about some surreal elements in Barcelona.
The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Santa Pau is huge (9 blocks) and build on the premise that being in the beautiful surrounding has the power to cure the sick. After walking around the complex I was convince that the premise is truePart of the complex is still functioning as a hospital