Friday, December 30, 2005

Manhattan mornings

New York. What can I say about it that has not been said before, that you don't already know, that hasn't come up in at least half a dozen of films, books, stories?

Like Prague, knowing about it is so different from getting to know it. I like New Yorkers, too, even more than Bostonians.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Street performers

Here's a new one: street performers (touring Europe on bikes) reached the Capital's central square and performed there: a medley of pantomime, clown acts, juggling, song and dance. Here is a bad photo (shot with my mobile):

street performers

Merry Christmas.

Educational mini sculptures for your home

The first item illustrates a comfortable breast-groping position. In shiny porcelain, to emulate that unique baby-oil effect.

grope

The second item, in solid metal, has a fourfold use. First and foremost, a lethal weapon to deter any prospective intruder foolish enough to attempt your home (given your particular taste, too); second, a table light -- although not obviously so; third, an object of decorative and esthetic value, tying in nicely with previously advertised items; fourth, an educational illustration of the perils of attempting cunnilingus while standing, especially in the hampering presence of a giant light-emitting lotus-shaped object between the aspirant performer and the sweet target of performance.

reach

Xmas gonads?

donuts or

Mini ones, too?

No, no: just mini donuts

Monday, December 19, 2005

Just a feel of the place

The weather has been vacillating between autumn and spring lately: chilly in the evenings, warm, almost hot, during the day. Outside my window I could see the familiar grey patch of winter against the sky moments ago, the kind of grey you get when you mix too many watercolour tones together. Now, the brightest blue of Northerners' Spanish fantasies as a backdrop to the cypresses.

This place has always felt secretly broken to me, of a quality that makes it feel unwound, ruptured, punctured, razed and, ultimately, unfixable. This is both true of the 'deserty' countryside, now all green and pleasant due to some rainfall recently, and of the incoherent urban developments that both spread out in the emptiness and encroach on older, humbler settlements with narrow streets and curiously eclectic houses and churches. This is sometimes true of some people, too, quietly despairing on the lap of luxury, momentarily glimpsing at the great void ahead of each one of us' line of gaze.

When I think of the Outpost I think of scorching heat and the precious consolation of its short winters, of so many ruins and wildflowers, of old clots of blood on dry soil and the devastating ugliness of unimaginative concrete prisms, of unmarked graves and discarded condom boxes, of roadkills and the shame of erstwhile poverty; I think of the locals' desire to tile every patio and housing-develop every hill, especially if overlooking the sea; I think of the thin forests on the mountains that cannot usually hide sweeping vistas of barren rock and dust just behind them, in the near distance. I somehow always think of kind Outposters, always of kind people, never of unkind ones. I can even name them. I feel the loneliness of a tired couple who only have each other. I feel them embracing inside a room as if to keep each other from the cold, where there is actually none; I feel their inability to be happy in this ugly town, feeling as they do like trees sometimes, uprooted from and thirsty for the wide open world.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Pinter

I can't help feeling that, for a brief moment in time -- say, the instant occupied by a blink in the indifferent flow of history, Harold Pinter restored our sense of dignity as humans, exactly as intended. By standing up for truth.

Xmas solutions

Bored of this Xmas tree thing? Why not hang it from the ceiling, then.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wolf's Medea

Last night we went to the theatre, to a world class adaptation of Christa Wolf's Medea as a dramatic monologue, at the Principality Theatrical Organisation's small "experimental" stage. It was one of the most intelligent, profound, powerful and harrowing pieces of theatre Jod has ever seen (she knows so much more on the topic than I do, but I wholly agree). The play was minimally but solidly directed and acted, foregrounding the many themes subtly enfolded within Wolf's majestic but intimate text: if it had opened in English in London or New York, the world would have been raving the following day. Congratulations to the Principality Theatrical Organisation, they've done it once more and we are planning to go back to watch it again. Pure delight on a Wednesday evening, rare and precious.

Then we went for sushi. Yum. Great tuna sashimi.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Once more

The week passed relatively quickly. My internal life restricted itself mainly to the development of a number of themes: how to deal with idiocy in dignity; Yu's sorrows; my personal shortcomings and a blunder; planned trips.

Among other things, from the motley fare we deal with over a week's time: after many years I remembered Karakter, that wonderful Dutch film, and its unique atmosphere and, ehm, characters. I saw the number 626 on a number plate and had Requiem's Introitus humming in my head for the first time in years. I stared dumbstruck at the sight of four copies of Tender is the Night with the front cover torn off. I sensed the spirit of Rosa Parks hovering around a TV station, which suddenly decided to host two interesting and revealing shows on civil rights and on immigration, the second one featuring a brave woman police officer set against a patronising immigration officer. I stood in awe in front of a 14-year old's talent, as materialised in her portfolio: she'll be a great comic artist one day, I hope. I had my own Ulysses day yesterday.

Yu found a great place. But the landlord would not have her sign the contract, unless a guarantor would sign it, too, in the presence of two witnesses. Without entering into debates about generalisations, sweeping or not, this is not standard in the Outpost. I would be the guarantor. I made sure I would intimidate the landlord before signing the contract, especially after his wife, Yu and Jod (one of the witnesses) entered the lift and he turned to me and, smiling, said "women are dumb" for no apparent reason. Hence, I scrutinised the contract. I remained unsmiling and stern. I asked him why a guarantor was needed if Yu was paying a deposit (she was). "Because she is a foreigner". "I am a foreigner, too". He was embarrassed, but got the message, so I morphed back into a more pleasant me. He turned out to actually be a polite, considerate and discrete person. He was just as scared of foreigners (especially 'Russians') as anybody else. Great is the power of prejudice although, thankfully, not absolute.

My Ulysses day started with me waking up at 8:45 and deciding to go back to sleep for a little while, beneath blankets and duvets and in the sweet fragrance of a sleep-in. It continued with me going to work (yes, on a Saturday) to attend a professional training seminar NewYorker was running, where I saw a fellow administrator I had a disagreement with -- but no more hard feelings here. A miserable buffet lunch after the seminar. Then to the supermarket, for cat sand and leeks and chevre. Then home for coffee with a hard-working Jod on a break (ah, teachers! what a life!). Then to an Irish pub where Great Westphalian and his wife were watching the Liverpool vs. Wigan game, to talk business and down a pint of Caffreys (after years of not having done so). Then for coffee with NewYorker, true confessions and trip planning, her friend joining us later, a businessman who's served in the US Army. Then accidentally meeting Maria and the Guitarist on my way home. A shower and driving Jod to a parent-teacher reception thing, myself joining One of the Seven to an experimental theatre thing (which was not really good). Then drinks with One of the Seven and Emiliano Zapata. Fog has covered everything as Zapata and me drive to opposite directions after midnight. Pamuk's Snow and sleep.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

World AIDS day

UNAIDS and some more material here. Also, how to do AIDS research at home.