One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Walking [9/25/16]: Golden Bough, Blue Lagoon, Batbird

The lagoon is under siege again. For the better? All my palms!






Sigur Ros @ Hollywood Bowl (9/24/16)

I thought of it as an adventure. Not really my kind of music (the sameness and electronic hijinks got on my nerves -- not to mention the incense smoke oft-wafted to the god Cannabis). Anyway, good seats (pretty much at center) but not great (a bit too far away to see the human touch, though I could see the seesawing bow in miniature or the larger virtual take on pulsing screens).

Best photos (toyed with a bit) I could get:






Half-moon & Staves

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Reading: Victor Pelevin's "Omon Ra"

Victor Olegovich Pelevin (Russian: Ви́ктор Оле́гович Пеле́вин; IPA: [ˈvʲiktər ɐˈlʲɛɡəvʲɪtɕ pʲɪˈlʲevʲɪn], born 22 November 1962) is a Russian fiction writer, the author of novels "Omon Ra", "Chapayev and Void" and "Generation P". He is a laureate of multiple literary awards including the Russian Little Booker Prize (1993) and the Russian National Bestseller (2004). His books are multi-layered postmodernist texts fusing elements of pop culture and esoteric philosophies while carrying conventions of the science fiction genre. Some critics relate his prose to the New Sincerity literary movement.

[From Wikipedia:]

Morning in Seal Beach [9/18/16]




Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Natal Plum -- Yum Yum Num Num

On a tip from a knowing man with a broom in his hand (he took the first bite and lived), I tasted a new fruit I've been staring at for years (the starry white blossoms are very fragrant, but I didn't know the fruit was edible).


Carissa macrocarpa (Natal Plum), is a shrub native to South Africa, where it is commonly called the Large Num-Num. In Zulu, as well as in the Bantu tribes of Uganda, it is called Amathungulu or umThungulu oBomvu. In Afrikaans the fruit is called Noem-Noem.

C. macrocarpa deals well with salt-laden winds, making it a good choice for coastal areas. It is commonly found in the coastal bush of the Eastern Cape and Natal.[1] It produces shiny, deep green leaves and snowy white flowers whose perfumed scent intensifies at night. Like other Carissa species, C. macrocarpa is a spiny, evergreen shrub containing latex. They bloom for months at a time. The ornamental plump, round, crimson fruit appears in summer and fall (autumn) at the same time as the blooms. In moderate, coastal areas the fruits appear through the year. The fruit can be eaten out of hand or made into pies, jams, jellies, and sauces.[1] Some claim that other than the fruit, the plant is poisonous.[2] However this claim is a myth, possibly based on similarities to other plants with milky sap.[3] The California Poison Control System rates the plant as mildly toxic.[4] It appears in the South African National tree list as number 640.3.

A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

[From Wikipedia:]

Sasha Sokolov's "A School for Fools"

Kind of like what Kundera said re Musil's opus: no matter where you land you'll find something exceptional. Here's pretty much where I ended this morning.


Yes, dreams Mikheev, the wind will put all this orchard and samovar life upside down and will stomp the dust at least for a while. The retiree suddenly recalls something he read sometime and somewhere: A breeze fashions fast silver keels out of dust. Precisely, from dust, Mikheev analyzes, and precisely keels, that is boat keels, that is boats with keels, and not the flat-bottom boats, may they sink to the bottom! If only the wind came soon! A gale in the vale, but a breeze in the trees -- again Mikheev quotes in his mind, while the path turns to the right and goes slightly up the hill. Now, as far as to the little bridge across the ravine (where the burdocks are plentiful and where, most likely, snakes live), one can leave the pedals alone and let one's legs rest: let them hang calmly, swinging on both sides of the frame and not touching the pedals, and let the machine roll by itself -- towards the wind. Sender of the Wind? -- you think about Mikheev. You don't see him anymore; as it is occasionally said, he vanished beyond the bend -- melted in the dacha July haze. Completely covered with the floating seeds of dandelions, risking at each meter of the bicycle ride losing summer postcards written as a result of nothing else to do, he and his elderly venous hands now speed towards his dreams. He is full of concerns and worries; he's been an outsider in the dacha world and he does not like it. Poor Mikheev, you think, soon, soon your pains will go away and you'll become a metallic headwind, a mountain dandelion, a ball belonging to a six-year-old girl, a pedal of a cruiser bicycle, compulsory military service, the aluminum of airports and the ash of forest fires; you'll become smoke, the smoke of the rhythmical food and textile factories, the speaking of viaducts, the seashore pebble, the light of day, and the pods of thorny acacias. Or -- you'll become a road, a part of the road, a roadside bush; you'll become a shadow on the winter road, you'll become a bamboo shoot, you'll be eternal. Lucky Mikheev. Medvedev?

Blue Pony & Fountain



Sunday, September 11, 2016

Old Car Show 9/11/16: 2nd St. [Belmont Shore, CA]

Got there early: wanted to see the cars waking up, rolling in. Peeted, completed the usual loop, walked back home. Enjoying Sasha's opus. Another busy day in teacherdom.








Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sasha Sokolov

Sasha Sokolov (born Александр Всеволодович Соколов/Alexander Vsevolodovitch Sokolov on November 6, 1943, in Ottawa, Canada) is a paradoxical writer of Russian literature.

He became known worldwide in the 1970s after his first novel A School for Fools had been published by Ardis Publishing (Ann Arbor, Michigan) in the US, and later reissued by Four Walls Eight Windows. Sokolov is one of the most important authors of 20th-century Russian literature. He is well acclaimed for his unorthodox use of language, playing with rhythms, sounds and associations. The author himself coined the term "proeziia" for his work—in between prose and poetry.

Sokolov is a Canadian citizen and has lived the larger part of his life so far in the United States. During the Second World War, his father, Major Vsevolod Sokolov, worked as a military attaché at the Soviet embassy in Canada. In 1946 Major Sokolov (agent "Davey") was deported from Canada in relation to spying activity. After returning to the Soviet Union in 1946 and growing up there, Sokolov did not fit into the Soviet system. In 1965 he was discarded from a military university, probably because he had tried to flee the country. After that he studied journalism at Moscow State University from 1966 to 1971. Shortly after his first daughter was born in 1974 his first marriage ended.

Sokolov made several attempts to flee from Soviet Union. He was caught while crossing the Iranian border, and only his father's connections helped him to avoid long imprisonment.[1]

He met his second wife, the Austrian-born Johanna Steindl while she was teaching German at the University in Moscow. She smuggled the text of his first novel into the West. Only after she started a hunger strike in the Stephansdom in Vienna, Austria, in 1975, was Sokolov allowed to leave the Soviet Union. Sokolov left Vienna in late 1976 for the United States after his first novel had been published. In early 1977, Johanna Steindl gave birth to Sokolov's son, who has become a journalist. He also had a second daughter named Maria Goldfarb, born in New York in 1986, who has become an artist. Sasha Sokolov later married again several times and is now married to the US rower Marlene Royle.

His second novel, Between Dog and Wolf, builds even more on the particularities of the Russian language and is deemed untranslatable. Thus, it has become a much lesser success than A School for Fools, which has been translated into many languages. His 1985 novel Palisandriia was translated as Astrophobia and published by Grove Press in the US in 1989. The complete manuscript of his fourth book is said to have been lost when the Greek house it had been written in burnt down. Sokolov, who leads a rather reclusive life, says that he keeps writing, but doesn't want to be published any more.

[From Wikipedia:]

Alexander Goldstein (1957 - 2006)

Alexander Leonidovich Goldstein (Russian: Александр Леонидович Гольдштейн; born (1957-12-15)15 December 1957, Tallinn, Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic — 16 July 2006(2006-07-16), Tel-Aviv, Israel) — was a Russian writer and essayist. He was awarded the Russian Little Booker Prize, the Anti-Booker prize and the Andrei Bely Prize (posthumously, in the category for prose).

Biography and Work

Alexander Goldstein was born in Tallinn, the son of Leonid Goldstein, a man of letters. From his early childhood on, he lived in Baku, where he later studied literature at Baku State University. From 1991 he lived in Tel-Aviv.

Goldstein worked as a journalist for the newspaper Vesti, as well as other Russian-language publications, and sat on the editorial board of the Russian-Israeli journal Zerkalo. His articles were published in the books Расставание с Нарциссом (Parting from Narcissus) and Аспекты духовного брака (Aspects of Spiritual Matrimony). The first of these volumes, published in 1997, gained recognition as one of the most important books of the decade. For instance, the Russian literary academic Irina Prohorova wrote about Parting from Narcissus, and indeed Goldstein's work as a whole:
He was the first to describe that peculiar time in which we partly continue to live, but perhaps have already left behind. In any case, beginning with his first articles and his first book, Parting from Narcissus, which marked a huge cultural upheaval in the middle of the 1990s, he was the first to have the courage to say certain things, to push back certain borders and barriers. What he tried to do (and it's even worth asking how he managed to do it) was to find the language of the time.[1]
In the opinion of Sasha Sokolov:
It seems he was only really appreciated by professionals. Living here and now, in Tel-Aviv, I remember our few meetings and frequently walk along Ben Yehuda Street, past his house... Sasha is difficult. He's not only difficult stylistically, but also philosophically. He offers up his immense knowledge without thinking of the reader, without glancing back at him – a knowledge of art, science, philology, naturally. I can understand the value of his texts, but I don't understand how they were made.[2]
In 2002 moved into large-scale forms with Помни о Фамагусте (Remember Famagusta), a "novel in the Schegelian sense." With time, he acquired the reputation of a refined stylist, erudite intellectual and thinker.

He died from lung cancer in 2006, the same year that his last novel, Спокойные поля (Quiet Fields) was posthumously published. A volume of his selected prose appeared in Hebrew translation in 2009, though he has yet to be translated into English.

The poet and essayist Alexei Tsvetkov remembered him with these words:
...he had very few friends in the commonly accepted sense of the word – that is, people who could climb into each other's skin. He was one of those people who protect their own territory very well. Yet at the same time, as strange as it might seem, it was easier to talk with him than with many in this traditional "subcutaneous" category.[3]
Mikhail Shishkin has frequently praised Goldstein's work and cited him as an inspiration.[4][5] In an English-language talk at the Harriman Institute of Columbia University, Shishkin said:
For me now, the top of Russian literature is Alexander Goldstein. [...] I'm sure in fifty years here at Columbia University and other American universities all professors will consider our time, our epoch, the epoch of Alexander Goldstein. And we, writers, will be just contemporaries of Alexander Goldstein. We just shared with him the epoch. [...] And if you asked me, "What Russian writers are important and genius nowadays?", I would say: “Read Alexander Goldstein”.[6]
Alexander Goldstein's wife – Irina Goldstein – was also a journalist.

[From Wikipedia:]

Mikhail Shishkin

Mikhail Pavlovich Shishkin (Russian: Михаил Павлович Шишкин, born 18 January 1961) is a Russian writer.


Mikhail Shishkin was born in 1961 in Moscow.

Shishkin studied English and German at Moscow State Pedagogical Institute. After graduation he worked as a street sweeper, road worker, journalist, school teacher, and translator. He debuted as a writer in 1993, when his short story "Calligraphy Lesson" was published in Znamya magazine. Since 1995 he has lived in Zurich, Switzerland.[1][2] He averages one book every five years.[3]

Shishkin openly opposes the current Russian government,[4] calling it a "corrupt, criminal regime, where the state is a pyramid of thieves" when he pulled out of representing Russia at the 2013 Book Expo in the United States[5]

Shishkin's books have been translated into more than ten languages.[6] His prose is universally praised for style, e.g., "Shishkin's language is wonderfully lucid and concise. Without sounding archaic, it reaches over the heads of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky (whose relationship with the Russian language was often uneasy) to the tradition of Pushkin." He deals with universal themes like death, resurrection, and love.[7] Shishkin has been compared to numerous great writers, including Anton Chekhov, Vladimir Nabokov and James Joyce,[8] while he admits to being influenced by Chekhov along with Leo Tolstoy and Ivan Bunin, saying "Bunin taught me not to compromise, and to go on believing in myself. Chekhov passed on his sense of humanity – that there can’t be any wholly negative characters in your text. And from Tolstoy I learned not to be afraid of being naïve."

[From Wikipedia:]

Morning in LB [9/4/16]

New Android phone. Different tricks to do with pics. Some things I miss from my old Windows phone. Anyway, that's progress.






Saturday, September 3, 2016

Morning in Seal Beach [9/3/16]

Coffee & Mikhail Shishkin (The Light and the Dark). Shishkin led to Goldstein (not even translated into English yet) led to led to ... And at some point I found Sasha Sokolov's A School for Fools (next in my Kindle carousel).