Imagine Empire

Content advisory 18+ Imagine walking down the street in spring, dust sifting through the air, horns of impatient cars blasting, sad people rushing towards old buildings, tensions of all sorts smoldering in the air.


Imagine people fainting because of hydrogen sulphide in the atmosphere, and lamenting their choice to buy apartments in such a miasma.


Imagine your salary dropping down 50% two years ago, and 20% more today, … Read the rest

Where Torches Burn

Content advisory 18+ The other day a friend of mine was trying to explain something during a lesson we were having on Skype. He is a 49-year-old Russian businessman who used to live in America. He is very pro-American, or, shall I say, pro-West, in terms of what he considers its more highly evolved way of life. BUT he is Russian at heart, which I can only explain (to myself … Read the rest

The Summer of ‘18’

Content advisory 18+ When I think about the two great wars of the 20th century, my memory is of course fed by all the ghastly footage that is on hand to help us relive the horrors. As most of this documentary stuff is cast in film noir style black and white, the effect is even more sinister than it would be otherwise. Soldiers frozen in paralytic agony as bullets rip … Read the rest

The Strange Hero Beside Me

Content advisory 18+ A good question is this: how much do we really want to know about the people we have the highest regard for? This can include our parents, husbands and wives, the president of the country, the highest priests, and all our favorite football heroes and film stars. It could include Jesus Christ himself.


Assuming there ever was a real man Jesus -- the one many worship as … Read the rest

The Good Old Days

Content advisory 18+ What differences are there between friendships that are mostly face-to-face and those that are mostly online?"

So ran one of the questions in a student book that formed the basis of my Skype lesson this morning with a fellow named Roman, who has studied with me since 2009. He was Pre-Intermediate then, and now we have gone through five or six Advanced level books together. Most of … Read the rest

The Dark Side of Cyberspace

Age advisory 18+ I have a new friend in a nearby village called Priseltsi (Bulgaria) who has a successful business in Varna selling very stylish and often flamboyant hats. The hats are actually made in Priseltsi and sold in Varna. Theater groups use her work as well as individuals. Both my wife and I are proud owners of one hat apiece. Mine is a white cowboy hat and Liuba's looks … Read the rest

The Last Refuge of Scoundrels

Content advisory 18+ The great old Englishman Samuel Johnson of the 18th century (back when Englishmen were worthy of the name) once declared that "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."


It is hard for me to know if that statement is comprehensible to all of my readers, so, without meaning to be patronizing, let me break it down. It means, basically, that when an individual has forfeited, through … Read the rest

The Security Offered by Fools

Age restriction 18+ Way back in the day, when I lived in the redneck burgh of Jacksonville, Florida, there was an agency which hired day-laborers to supply the city's many construction companies. These building sites were always short of reliable help, and basically, they just needed a few extra bodies to shovel the shit.

Such "immediate employment" offices were scattered here and there throughout Yahooville (I don’t mean the internet, … Read the rest

Mrs. Brown’s Last Room

Age restriction 16+ Of late I have been thinking of the connection between past and present, winter and summer, life and death. Some might consider the latter to be morbid subject, but I do not.


I remember reading a very insightful book years ago which was called "Time's Arrow and Time's Circle." It made what I thought was a very astute point: that the apparent tragedy of our human … Read the rest

The Language of Ghosts (for Vera)

Контент 18+ I read an essay years and years ago in a Norton Anthology which I no longer know how to put my fingers on (recalling neither author nor title), but it made a strong impression on me then, and I thought of it again this morning as I was walking in the woods with Casper and Poppendoshka.

It was the account of a man, at the time grown olderRead the rest

The Art of Story Telling

Контент 18+ Once upon a time, back when dinosaurs still prowled the earth, I was a little boy who lived with his grandparents. It was a nice enough childhood, as childhoods go, and if I have any bitter memories, they do not concern my family members. (Which I why I still don't understand why I murdered them all with an axe !.......Joke. Sorry)


One of the best things was … Read the rest

March: The Most Human Month

Контент 18+ Astrology has its place, we know, and many people devote much energy and attention to absorbing what their individual sign predicts. I even have a student-friend who is a serious and well-paid journalist, and whose wife is 100% engrossed in astrology, studying it as a future career (though doing exactly what and for how much money I am not sure.) I take it that she has been equally … Read the rest

The Way in the Shadows

Контент 18+ It is always more difficult to move forward when it seems that everything is against you. Friends have dissolved in the shadows or have become the shadows of the past themselves. They are engrossed in an endless evil race in the hope of getting the last piece from the back of the dying whale. Partners began to share losses, and not profits, and your health over the years... … Read the rest

I want my California

Контент 16 + Just returned from the frozen streets of Moscow (-14C it is, and windy). Now it is pretty clear to me, that I want, no, desire – to leave somewhere warmer. Tired of this weather, of this grey, grim faces.
I remember my Asian trips, unique cuisine, cheap and affordable living, and realize – no, I can’t live there. I need a comfort, I need proper medicine, and, … Read the rest

Poison, Putin, and Playing for the Cup

Контент 18 + I guess I am one of those guys who doesn’t know how to take anything seriously. You know, one of those clowns who grins like a fool while everyone else is glowering with stony seriousness. Who actually spends time thinking of ridiculous things to say to his partner in a restaurant to explain that he needs to go to the toilet. Who believes that a great loud … Read the rest

A Catcher in the Rye

Контент 18+ Sometimes when I go walking with my dogs in Bliznatsi, Bulgaria, early in the morning, we take a certain route up toward the mountain forest, past fields of still-glistening mud from recent rain and melted snow, and emerge onto a path near one of the many summits; this one seems to diverge in all directions -- and, of course, all roads hint at all possibilities.


For a second … Read the rest

All-Night Diners and Eternal Darkness

Контент 18+ There is a famous painting by the American Edward Hopper called "Nighthawks" which I ran across on the internet a couple of days ago. I love the frigid melancholy of much of Hopper's work and suggest to my readers that you check him out if you have never heard of him before.

"Nighthawks" depicts a late night diner-cafe in New York City in 1942. Four people are in … Read the rest

Forgiveness Sunday

Контент 18+ Although I am in Bulgaria now, I was reminded yesterday of something I always thought was beautiful in Russia -- the part of Maslenitsa, the Sunday of that week, when people are supposed to ask forgiveness from those they feel they have wronged. I don't know how many really put this into practice, nor could I hope to guess if it is always expressed as a sincere sentiment … Read the rest

The Remains Of The Crash

Контент 18+ Once upon a time back in the old days of the Wild West in America, there was a white man and a black man who had been caught while trying to rob a bank. Naturally, according to the judgment of the day, they were sentenced to be hanged. They waited in their cell for the hour of doom. But while the white man grew increasingly agitated, the black … Read the rest

On The Subject Of Taxis

Контент 18+ Taxis and taxi drivers are among the things in life that I generally hate. Which does not mean that I lump them together as a single evil force or that I would cast them, one and all, in a concentration camp if I could. As in all walks of life, the odd Good Samaritan may pop up in one of those meter-machines, plenty of decent sorts are just … Read the rest