The Only One Who Knows

Content advisory 18+ Without ever having been a surfer, I remember watching a film a long time ago about surfing. It was called ''The Endless Summer" and it showed (endlessly) the magnificent, bronzed guy surfers (Wow !-- if only I were gay !!!) as they sat on the waves, dipping and slanting at just the precise instant, simultaneously gliding, dictating terms to the sea, and then being abruptly devoured, violently … Read the rest

Where Champions Are Born

Content advisory 18+ Consumed as I am by my passion for football and the World Cup, I inevitably run into those flustered, exasperated souls who just can't understand what all the fuss is about. Usually, these nay-sayers spill from the ranks of the intellectual elite for whom Sport, like Religion and Victory Gin, is simply opiate for the masses at best, and, at worst, a slavering, blood-spurting reenactment of gladiator-style … Read the rest

1-0 After Penalties. But Who Will Be the World Cup Winner?

Content advisory 16+ So, at last, the long-awaited World Cup kicks off today. In fact, by the time this post hits the board, the Russia-Saudi Arabia match will be underway. Frankly, under normal circumstances, I wouldn't walk across the street to see an encounter between these two worse-than-mediocre sides, but, hey, it IS the World Cup.

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A few observations, based on recent World Cups. Look for the most entertaining football … Read the rest

Skyscrapers and the Mourning Morning Sky

Content advisory 18+ (Restricted content) Long ago I stood atop the Empire State Building and peered down at Manhattan far below. I don't remember my feelings precisely, but I am sure that I was in awe of where I was -- you know, the mere Fact of it ("Damn -- this is really the top of the Empire State Building!"). I do recall that we were securely fenced … Read the rest

The Wild Face of Patriotism

Content advisory 18+ In the last couple of days, Russian "patriotism" has had its finest hour. First, a famous painting was well-nigh destroyed by a vodka-swilling nationalistic fool at the Tretyakov gallery; and, second, a Russian journalist, well-known for his criticism of the Kremlin, was fatally shot in the back as he tried to enter his apartment in Kiev, where he had fled in fear of his life in Moscow.… 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 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 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

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

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

Death of an Ideal

Контент 16+ I have recently heard through a very reliable grapevine of present students and old friends that the long-running 'SNOB Project' is about ready to go down the tubes. For those of you for whom the name does not ring a bell, the idea started about 10 years ago to create an international fraternity of Russian intellectuals (many of them now in America, it would seem) -- with the … Read the rest