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I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock. I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the president. I’m here to serve the country. – Anthony Scaramucci, White House Communications Director

I broke down when I read this.

I cried and cried and cried.

I hate Southern Italian men.

I hate every single fucking thing about them.

That’s because I’m a Southern Italian woman. Thank Gawd, I got away.

But come to think of it, aren’t all men disgusting? All women, too? All human beings?

What’s the point of being alive?


After about three hours or so, my sense of humor returned. Isn’t it great that all those years of secret yoga practice are finally paying off for Bannon? I thought. Though, really, someone should tell him that some tasks – blowjobs, for example – are best left outsourced.

The point of being alive is obviously to feed cats, to watch The Real Housewives of New York, to eat ice cream, and to see wonderful things like these in antique stores:



Before I had my mini-psychotic episode, I’d spent a pleasant enough day futzing around with various writing projects. The Eleanor Roosevelt Haunted Childhood story has a structural problem: I invented a coachman as the receptacle for the ee-ee-veeel spirit of Elliott Roosevelt, but there’s also an unpleasant male relation lounging around Oak Terrace, Valentine Hall.

Two sinister male presences seems like too many. Plus – Chekhov’s Gun.

The coachman works better for my purposes since I can kill him off at the end of the story. But Valentine Hall is an actual historical element; he lived at Oak Terrace during the same period Eleanor Roosevelt lived there and he was so fucking weird – an 1899 U.S. tennis champion, a mad alcoholic with the habit of shooting at passers-by from the window of his bedroom. It would make a lot of sense (and cut the story by at least 2,000 words) if Valentine Hall becomes Elliott’s ee-ee-veeel introject. Except historically, Valentine Hall doesn’t die until 1937.

Decisions, decisions!

I will futz some more today.

And make money. That asshole apparently is never going to pay me, so I find myself short with all the bills attendant on the first of the month looming ahead. I’ll be able to pay them all, but it’s seven days of ramen dinners for me.

The most bourgeois hotel room in Kiev

Jul. 28th, 2017 02:47 pm
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
[personal profile] sabotabby
We're heading out for lunch as soon as the dude can get the AC working, but in the meantime behold the "VIP suite," in which we will spend our last evening in Kiev. We are pretty sure Soviet dignitaries stayed here and they haven't touched the room since:



Jul. 27th, 2017 09:15 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I meant for this to be two separate posts: one for the fun stuff, one for the Ninth Fort, which is the most harrowing, emotionally devastating place I have visited since Buchenwald. But of course image hosting isn't cooperating, so unfortunately at the moment, if you want to see the fun pictures, you will also have to see the depressing pictures (which I promise aren't actually that bad, as I only really took exterior shots that are only disturbing if you know the context). This said, here is the gallery, and content/trigger warning for some of the photos being of a place where 30,000-50,000 people were murdered.

(Of course, I have no idea if you can even view the photos. I really need to work out my image hosting issues. Flickr is an impossibility at the moment while I'm out of Canada.)

Anyway! I'm sure somewhere in your mind, you were wondering about the fact that I keep posting pictures of pretty buildings and lovely, walkable cities. Admit it--you expected a bit more Soviet brutalist and you were wondering where it was. The answer is that it's all in Kaunas. Kaunas does have a cute Old Town but the stuff we wanted to see wasn't there, and where we're staying is pure 1960s poured cement. I will admit a slight fondness for it, though I wouldn't want to live there.

Our first stop was the Devil's Museum, which is exactly what it says on the tin. It's an excellent collection of devils of all sorts. Our one criticism is that the gift shop was missing some obvious opportunities as it practically didn't exist.

Then we went across the street to the museum of M. K. Ciurlionis, a Symbolist artist and composer. Cool, not the most exciting, but some lovely work.

We also rode a funicular, which is kind of like an amusement ride except not very good. But it's one of my favourite words now.

The main event was going about a half-hour outside town to the Ninth Fort. It's an early 20th century fort that became a hard labour camp, then a transfer point for deportations to Siberia during the first Soviet occupation of Lithuania, then basically a killing field under the Nazis. The second time the Soviets occupied the country, they turned it into a vast and ghastly monument to the victims of fascism, which subsequently was expanded to include evidence of their own crimes after Lithuania's independence.

I can't really describe it to you properly. Unless you've been in the remnants of a concentration camp or similar, you won't be able to get what it's like to stand in a place that is well and truly haunted by the unquiet dead. The museum consists of one building that's an overview of the atrocities committed on the premises, but focusing mainly on the Soviet occupation, several vast, giant sculptures and plaques describing the Nazi massacres, and the fort itself, which shows prison cells, interrogation rooms, a recreation of a Kaunas Ghetto house, and informational rooms with the requisite belongings of the victims. It's cold, and damp, and good luck ever not feeling that bone-deep chill again. Also, this is why we don't fucking compromise with fascists, okay?

Anyway we coped really well after, which is to say I had 1/3 of a bottle of wine and I'm just about shaking history from my head. Tomorrow it's back to Kiev, and then home.
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[personal profile] mallorys_camera

Credit where credit is due:

Donald Trump is such a talented cultural terrorist.

Consider this morning’s tweetage:

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow...... ....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming..... ....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.

There goes Caitlyn Jenner’s Big Dream of becoming a Marine sergeant!


This is a Big Deal because it’s a basic civil rights issue.

Let's say that Pacific Islanders constituted 1% of the U.S. population (I have no idea whether they do or don't; this is just for the sake of argument), and let's say Trump banned all Samoans from joining the armed forces. Today's tweetage would be something comparable in terms of the basic issues involved.

But it’s such a hot button.

I’m convinced the dialogue around transgender bathrooms is what won the election for Trump.

Personally? I think people have a perfect right to do whatever they want to their own bodies and to justify that any way they please. Do I think some people are born into the wrong bodies? No. But that’s because I think constraints like “femininity” and “masculinity” are cultural constructs devised by a patriarchal society that have little or nothing to do with the actual physical experience of being either female or male. If someone wants to claim a gender that has nothing to do with their genes or their genitals, that’s A-Okay with me, though.

Frankly, I don’t care who shares my bathroom. And I don’t understand why the U.S. doesn’t go for the European solution and install unisex public in all new private and public buildings.

I am against expensive public works projects designed to retrofit existing toilets, but that’s only because I think the money would be better spent elsewhere. Like on schools. Or public transportation systems.

Economic resources are limited at the local level.

But transgender bathrooms are a red flag for anyone who’s even just a little bit right of center. So I don’t honestly know how you go about having conversations about transgender bathrooms or about the right of trans individuals to join the military without derailing conversations that have larger implications for the common good.


Trump is able to create a reflexive fear and terror in a significant portion of the American population by violating their norms and expectations about the social code. He does this for political gain and profit, to gain credibility with his base.

Hitler was good at that, too.


In other news, I met up with BB’s pal Magdala in Kingston yesterday. We walked around Kingston, which is an interesting little city and oh-so-historic: The 17th century graveyard of the Old Dutch Reform Church is filled with the names of local towns and bridges.

Magdala is an interesting woman. She lived in a tiny Moroccan village in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains for three or four years. She married a Moroccan musician, 15 years younger than she is. She fell in love with him because of his voice.

Of course, I was dying to ask, And do you seriously believe that he fell in love with you? Or did he just see you as a meal ticket?

But, I didn’t.

Because, you know, propriety.

Fortunately, the subject came up on its own without my having to bring it up!

The marriage ended, she told me, because she’d had to come back to the States for a couple of months to take care of her dying mother, and when she returned to the tiny village in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, her husband had become an alcoholic. And violent. Threatening to kill her.

“It seemed like such a change,” she said to me. “But then sometimes I would think: Maybe it’s not a change. Maybe he always felt like that. Maybe he was just using me.

“Well,” I said as diplomatically as I could. “The cultures are certainly very different. And I don’t know how many questions would be asked about an American woman who disappeared in Morocco.”

I remembered thinking that exact thing about Imaan: For about a year there, I really was the closest thing she had to a mother. And yet, there really wasn’t any closeness. I was dispensable. I was not part of her tribe, so in some essential sense, I didn’t matter.

(It’s funny. I never felt that way about Summer – who comes from a culture that’s even more unlike mine. I’m tempted to pontificate about the essential differences between Middle Eastern and Chinese cultures here. But I’ll spare you.)

We started talking about North Africa in general.

“I’ve been to Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia,” I said. “Libya sounded interesting, but it always scared me.”

“Libya used to be a great place under Gaddafi,” Magdala said. “I sure wouldn’t go near it now.”

“Under Gaddafi?” I asked.

“Sure! Oh, come on. You can’t believe anything the American propaganda machine churns out. The Libyans adored Gaddafi. Everyone in North Africa adored Gaddafi. He wanted to create a United States of Africa. That’s probably why the U.S. put a target on his back.”

“Make Africa great again!” I said. “A populist!”

“Absolutely, a populist,” Magdala said.

And a consummate narcissist!”

“I suppose,” Magdala allowed.

“Like Donald Trump!” I said.

Magdala was taken aback. “Well, I wouldn’t compare Gaddafi to Donald Trump,” she sniffed.

“Loved by his base? Hated by everyone else? Sounds like Donald and Muammar were separated at birth!”

“I suppose there are similarities,” she said grudgingly.


In other North African news, Samir – my Algerian student - is really, really smart.

He’s a programmer, right?

A programmer who deals with abstractions that are far more complex than computer programs, which are still based on syntax. He’s an electronics programmer, which is pure machine logic, ones and zeroes that follow no syntax save applied mathematics. It’s a kind of crystalline approach to thought, which is light years beyond anything my brain could approach.

But, of course, he knows computer languages.

I had this thought that since he is a programmer, and I’m trying to teach him to read English very, very quickly, that it might be useful for him to define English as a set of objects and instance variables.

“So,” I said. “You are going to be looking at these sentences for three things: Subject, verb, and object. The subject does the action; the verb is the action; the object is the thing the action is done to, okay?

“Everything else is a modifier. Think of all those modifiers as variables and methods inside invisible parentheses, okay?”

I read a sentence: A tradition as old as the civilization itself, Greek pottery can be studied as a chronicle of ancient Greek society.

“Subject: pottery. Verb: study. ‘Study’ is what they call an intransitive verb, so it doesn’t do something to the so much as affect the object. Object: chronicle.”

I peered at Samir intensely. “Get it?”

He nodded thoughtfully. “But what is ‘chronicles’?”

“Stories. History. Old stories.”

He nodded again.

I read another sentence: It was designed to fulfill a functional rather than decorative purpose, so Greek pottery was fundamentally related to everyday life, not separated from it.

“Subject?” I asked.

“Greek pottery.”

Pottery,” I said. “’Greek’ describes the pottery.”

I could see the lights flickering in his brain.


“Related,” Samir said.

“Very good,” I said. “Object?”

“Life,” he said.

“Excellent! Furthermore, the Greeks’ pottery is an essential source of historical information because so much of it survives today. Subject?”






“Very good!”

“What is ‘furthermore’?”

“Also. In addition to. TOEFL uses reading comprehension examples from academic writing, so the writers are going to use a lot of words that people never use, but you will have to know them. Although vessels may be broken, even these remnants of pottery contribute to contemporary historians’ understanding of ancient Greek culture. Subject?”







“But what is ‘remnants’?”

“Things that are left over. Things that remain.”

“Ah!” he said.

And then he began to tell me about the lost city of Timgad, a Roman city almost perfectly preserved because it lies in the Sahara desert just south of the foot of the Aures Mountains where Batna, the city he grew up in, lies.

Timgad was his playground when he was growing up. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but since it’s in Algeria, nobody goes there. And since there’s no money for public works administration in Algeria, there are no officials to keep curious teenage boys from exploring.

After that, Samir began to tell me about the lost city of Tkout, which is even more obscure than the lost city of Timgad: It exists on no map whatsoever. It’s the ruin of an Amazighe city that flourished well before the birth of Christ, about 100 kilometers outside of Batna. The hovels of the modern prefecture of Tkout – many of them constructed from the stones of the forbidden city – were the birthplace of the Algerian War for Independence.

Two more places I long to go to.

Two more places I will never go to.


Nothing happens for a reason.

Everything happens for a reason.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[personal profile] sabotabby
We rolled into Vilnius, Lithuania just before 10 pm last night after a four-hour long bus ride. It was pouring rain, which is typical for here (apparently the weather is awful in one way or another at least 60% of the time), and late, so we grabbed dinner at a vegetarian bar and crashed out at the hotel. Today, it was supposed to pour--our cab driver assured us that this time, the entire city would be flooded--but our luck held and we were able to do a walking tour of the Old Town and the Republic of Užupis.

Vilnius has a messy, dilapidated charm. I think, perhaps, my lack of bonding with Riga was due to the fact that it's kept in such good repair; letting a city crumble a bit is much more aesthetically pleasing. It's slightly less Westernized--people here speak Russian as much as they do English, though mainly Lithuanian--and just, well, weirder.

photos )

(no subject)

Jul. 25th, 2017 12:01 pm
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[personal profile] bitterlawngnome
I had a Milda memory just now. We used to use the words "Persian kitten" to describe that moment when you feel like there's something you should be doing but have no idea at all what it is. Something like "at a loose end".

Since the mid 1970s there had been a commercial for toilet paper ( on TV featuring fluffy white Persian kittens playing with toilet paper (meant to make you think warm, soft, and fluffy - not bitey with claws). One day M just plopped down on the bed and pawed their air and said "I feel like a Persian kitten with no toilet paper".

And we're off again

Jul. 25th, 2017 04:41 pm
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Here are a few last glimpses of Riga before we hop a bus to Vilnius. We went to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, the Art Nouveau district, and I shot a few more pictures of the hotel.

under here )

Exploring Riga

Jul. 24th, 2017 10:12 pm
sabotabby: (sabokitty)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I don't have a ton of spoons left over tonight for a long post, so have some photos around and about Riga.

After the aesthetic exuberance of Odessa, Riga seems much more restrained, even dour. It's impressively old (founded in 1201, and there were settlements well before that) and lovely, but also more orderly, less lively, less organic. And, of course, much more expensive: welcome back to Western Europe.

This said, it's gorgeous and fun. Everyone speaks English here, which is relaxing. I don't mean this in a chauvinist way; mainly that I don't need to bother Anya to translate everything. Actually, where we're staying in the old town, it doesn't seem like anyone other than people working here are from here; it's pretty heavily touristy.

Which also means that it's incredibly easy to find vegan food. Including an entire vegan restaurant. I was like, "GIVE ME ALL THE PROTEIN."

The most important story I learned today was this: There were two powerful guilds in Riga. One was for skilled craftsmen, and admitted every eligible craftsman who applied to join. The other was for merchants, and only admitted Germans. A wealthy merchant from Riga applied to join and was rejected on the basis of his nationality. Accordingly, he built himself a giant fuck-off house across the street from the guild building and put black cats on the roof with their asses facing the building, as if shitting. The guild immediately sued to have the cats removed, but because lawsuits take time, WWI broke out, and no one gave a shit about cats' asses. The cats were mysteriously removed anyway in the 1920s, and replaced just as mysteriously in the 1950s, this time facing towards the guild, as it is now the home of the Riga Philharmonic, and no one has any quarrel with them.

photodump )

17 Moments of Riga

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:47 pm
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Just arrived in Riga, Latvia. Thought, hey, this hotel is teh cute!

Anya is like, "This hotel is familiar."

I realize that this is of interest to probably no one else reading this (sadly it would be if I were cross posting to LJ, where there is a teeny community for such things), but I'm staying in the hotel where they shot Seventeen Moments of Spring (as well as parts of the Soviet Sherlock Holmes.) And if you think I'm not geeking out like mad over this, you don't know me at all.

Fortunately, Anya is the person who introduced me to the series so she is also geeking out and is equally pleased that Stirlitz is watching over the beds in our room, judging whether or not we have adequately sacrificed and fought for the cause of anti-fascism:

Here's the view out the window:

(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here is my screenshot recap of Seventeen Moments after I watched it and decided that everyone needed to see it. Minus the image hosting, unfortunately; I'll need to fix that at some point.)

(no subject)

Jul. 23rd, 2017 11:42 am
bitterlawngnome: (Default)
[personal profile] bitterlawngnome

Hemerocallis 'Gold Prize'; 0300
© Bill Pusztai 2017


Lilium 'Gold Class'; 0597
© Bill Pusztai 2017


Hemerocallis 'Persian Market'; 0402
© Bill Pusztai 2017

Odessa Opera House, Pt. 2

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:07 pm
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
[personal profile] sabotabby
So the performance sucked so hard we walked out. Like, possibly the worst thing either of us have ever seen, which is saying an awful lot. The tickets were suspiciously cheap, but tbh most things in the Ukraine are suspiciously cheap. But in this case I think it was because they knew it was terrible. We'd actually gone in to see if we could get a tour or just wander around the opera house, but the lady said that there was a show that night, so we decided to give it a shot.

She described the show as a sequel to The Nutcracker but also a crossover with War and Peace, and a musical. A "wonderful spectacle," in fact. I have to admit that we were basically morbidly curious, and it would get us inside those gorgeously ornate doors.

Anyway, we made it two songs in. The thing was in Ukrainian so we don't know what it was about but I don't think it would have made a lot of sense even if we did understand the language. It was kind of embarrassing to listen to.

But! It meant that we got to sneak out and take unobstructed photos of the glory that is the Odessa Opera House, and that was worth the ticket price alone. I hope you appreciate how hard it was to narrow these down. They don't half capture the actual, real spectacle that is this building, but I've given it my best.

pretty! )

The Opera House, Pt. 1

Jul. 23rd, 2017 01:17 pm
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
[personal profile] sabotabby
We went to the Odessa Opera House, one of the most famous and beautiful opera houses in the world.

behold! )
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[personal profile] mallorys_camera

The fabulous [profile] lifeinroseland is visiting this weekend. Whirlwind of activities!

Exciting tour of the Poughkeepsie ‘hood!

Strange dinner cobbled together from ingredients found at Ocean State Job Lot.


Dragonboat fest!

Local Downton Abbey sighting!

Rhinebeck retail! (I bought a $3 pair of scissors at Sharpy’s!)

More sl-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-eep!

Barbecue with L’s drunken boyfriend!



Today’s itinerary:

An intimate meetup with the Biggest Buddha in the Western Hemisphere.

Antiquing in Cold Springs.

Teary farewell!


I am dying to see if that pink Dior jacket in perfect shape that I didn’t buy for $50 three years because it was a tad too small is still in that antique store in Cold Springs.

It was still there two years ago although bizarrely, the store had doubled the price – I mean, if something doesn’t sell, aren’t you supposed to discount it?

The jacket was beautiful, and for an entire year, I tortured myself: I will write away to Hong Kong for fabric swatches to find one that will match its precise color – something between Hello Kitty and that frothy color you get when you beat Cool Whip into raspberry jello – and then I’ll find some struggling seamstress who is struggling to make commissary money to send to her sons – all three of whom have been locked away in the Fishkill Correctional Facility on cocaine trafficking charges – and I will pay her $25 bucks to lengthen the sleeves and do something about the shoulders –

But damn! A hundred bucks for something I can’t possibly ever wear? I don’t know.

If it’s still there, it should be up to $200 by now.


C is a pretty bright guy, but when he drinks, he turns into a total redneck. And not just any redneck: a redneck with liberal kneejerk biases. Thus, instead of the usual All Muslims are scum! from C, you get, All Republicans are scum!

“And the bastards are trying to shut down Poughkeepsie’s bus system!” C growled.

He had started slurring his words.

One of the big local issues hereabouts is that Dutchess County is finally wresting control of the city of Poughkeepsie’s flailing bus system. Really, the City of Poughkeepsie should not be running anything. The City of Poughkeepsie can barely keep its streets plowed in the winter: I still remember Adventures in Grocery Shopping between the months of December and March when I was living in Poughkeepsie and I did not have a car. They involved hopping from ice floe to ice floe kind of like Eliza fleeing the hounds.

Lois Lane does not have a car and is completely dependent on the public transportation system, so I get weekly updates on just how awful the City of Poughkeepsie’s administration of its bus system is.

Public transportation, in fact, is one of those few areas where economies of scale make perfect sense.

So, it was kind of a ridiculous argument to be having, plus I have a deep sense of C’s underlying tragedy – I can hardly look at him without flashing on the beautiful young artist wife who went mad and the beautiful young artist daughter who went mad: How do you survive tragedies like that without hating yourself, without thinking, It was something I did, I drove them mad?

Nonetheless, I continued having it – fueled, no doubt, by my deep contempt for Joel Tyner whom C kept citing as some kind of an authority. Joel Tyner is the flamingly left-wing county legislator from Rhinebeck, a weasely attention ‘ho of a type that’s very common in Berkeley – I used to date his clones regularly, which no doubt accounts for my deep, irremedial hatred for him. Talking about Joel Tyner in front of me is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

Anyway, at some point, I realized I had an incredibly well-behaved guest sitting to my left who had not made a peep but who no doubt was bored to tears by this conversation, so I made C shake hands with me – See? We’re still buds! We can still discuss the finer points of cinematography in “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”! – and toddled off to the Patrizia-torium where I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca.

What a ridiculous movie, and how Hitchcock must have suffered when Selznick and the Hayes Code board forced him to tack on that awful ending.

Perhaps my most touristy of posts

Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:13 pm
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I did it! I got a picture of the unicorn.

click here )

WTF: Ukraine Edition

Jul. 21st, 2017 11:09 pm
sabotabby: (coffee)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I feel like this needs to be a separate post from the OMG ODESSA IS SO PRETTY post. For one thing, these were taken on my shitty cell camera and not my iPad. But also they're pictures I've taken when I've seen something hella weird and immediately need to inform social media.

Let's just say there are some, uh, cultural differences between Ukraine and everywhere else I've ever been that take a bit of getting used to. FOR EXAMPLE:

What is this, some kinky sex thing? Maybe in that masochist bar that we didn't get into because your kink is okay but not my kink?

No! It is the café in the Lviv airport. Why do they have chairs like this? No one knows. But to answer a few questions:

1) Yes, we sat in them.
2) Yes, they are actually quite comfortable.
3) No, no one else seemed to think they were out of the ordinary in any way.

To answer a question no one asked:

1) Yes, the Americanos in that café are quite good, especially by airport standards, would totally recommend. Though, granted, it was like 5 am and I would have drank lighter fluid if it would have woken me up.

Our hotel in Lviv, while cute, had no elevator--a problem, since our room was on the 5th floor. (I may be an obsessive step-counter who never goes on an escalator when there's the option of a staircase, but at the end of the day when you've been walking/carrying bags? Less fun.) We were relieved to see that this hotel does have one. In fact, it has all of the regular floors you would expect to see in a building, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, and crab.

1) Yes, I know what's on the crab floor.
2) No, you'll have to wait and see until tomorrow if it's any good.

Massive Odessa photo dump

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:33 pm
sabotabby: (magicians)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Sorry-not-sorry, but you will be getting a load of pictures of Odessa because it is fucking magical. My intention at the moment is to retire, sell my house, buy one of the dilapidated old buildings and restore it to its former glory, learn Russian (it's another city where most people speak Russian, not Ukrainian, much to our joy), and wander around the glorious streets at night in a fashionable dress, drinking an open bottle of champagne.

Life goals, amirite?

In all seriousness, though, not for nothing is Odessa called Paris on the Black Sea. It has all the architectural splendour and literary tradition you could hope for, it is cosmopolitan and fashionable, and it is lit. I have never been to Paris, granted, but from what I understand Odessa is much cheaper and not as crowded. In Kiev and Lviv, people are pretty much the same as anywhere else, except with a penchant for wearing poorly translated English t-shirts bearing inspirational but nonsensical slogans, expressions of general hatred towards anyone viewing the shirt, or just vague weirdness (my favourite so far was a picture of a cat made out of ramen noodles sitting in a bowl with the caption "Pet Food").

Here, though, everyone looks like a model. The women are all tall and thin and wear flowing striped dresses, and the children prance around in tutus at all hours of the night. The streets are alive with music and performers and what I'm pretty sure is a unicorn (i.e., incentive to look at the pictures under the cut).

plz appreciate how much I had to narrow these down )
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[personal profile] mallorys_camera

Spent another day doing absolutely nothing.

This is probably Not Good since starting this evening, I’m embarking upon ten – count ‘em! – days of intense socialization with (one assumes) limited opportunities for revenue generation or imagination mining.

And yet, and yet, and yet…

Absolutely nothing seems to be what I like to do.

Other people like to drink, take drugs, and party; climb Mt. Everest; sail yachts; watch PornHub; have orgies; eat German sausages; cook Italian food etc etc.

I like to do nothing.

Why not indulge myself?


In the afternoon, I did venture out in the oh-so-oppressive heat – 92 degrees, dew point 74 – to do some light shopping at Ocean State Job Lot. Ocean State is a bottom feeder in the liquidator food chain.

The setup of the store physically nauseates me – crude shelves, fluorescent lighting, no attempt at display – and yet I find myself really fascinated with the place: This is where brands go to die. It’s artificially created demand’s graveyard.

This is where Nabisco unloads all those Watermelon Oreos and Banana Split Oreos that nobody in their right mind would ever buy at a supermarket.

Wiffle ball set, anyone? Ocean State’s got like a billion of them.

Discontinued olive oils doctored with chlorophyll? Right this way.

I particularly like the counter of anti-aging skin serums, which since they’re the same ones being sold for $80-plus at various mall anchor client department stores, one must assume are years past their expiration dates so all those carcinogenic chemicals have had a chance to ripen and burst into bloom:


Sometimes, it's true, you can find rare and wondrous things. Where else outside an ethnic grocery store (where you would certainly be overcharged) would you find six separate flavors of dried seaweed?

But in general, what you are looking at is the retail equivalent of cholesterol plaque.


Why the hell is there so much surplus inventory? Be-caw-w-w-se… we have an economy that owes the illusion of its robustness to the production of crud.

This would seem to indicate that inefficiencies exist at some very basic level of the capitalist economic model, no? It’s a particularly interesting question in light of the fact that bricks and mortar retail is under siege right now. Customers much prefer to buy their useless retail items online, which adds yet another layer of inefficiencies (distribution and transportation costs) to the model.

Really, it’s an unsustainable model.

Artificially created demand a/k/a marketing is a great way to persuade people to buy things they don’t want and can’t afford, but as the cost of things that people actually need to survive like housing, energy, and food continues to spiral and the gap between the 1% and the 99% continues to grow, ya gotta think at some point, in the not so distant future, this business model implodes.

I could write all day about this one.

But I’ve got to drag my sorry ass out on the trails before the temps hit 90.

With apologies to Sergei Eisenstein

Jul. 21st, 2017 01:58 pm
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
[personal profile] sabotabby
We're in Odessa, about a 10 min walk from the !!!!!!!! Potemkin Steps.

Expect incoming photos for every day I'm here.

Srsly, I didn't even like Battleship Potemkin but I don't think a movie needs to be enjoyable to be arguably the most important movie ever made, with which we would not have our current cinematic vocabulary. I mean. I teach film. So naturally the first thing I had to do (well, after we had lunch and coffee because we were up at 4 am to catch the flight from Lviv) was brave the 30°C weather to bring you the following:

Don't mind me, I'll be over here geeking out hard/memorizing the angles in the scene so that I can do horrible imitations of them amongst all the tourists.
mallorys_camera: (Default)
[personal profile] mallorys_camera
Spent yesterday reading Joshua Green’s Devil’s Bargain cover to cover. An obsessively readable book all about the symbiotic relationship between Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.

Bannon was the mutagen who spun the conservative RNA, and Trump was the pointy-headed virus who penetrated the body politic. The disease was the narrative, Crooked Hillary.

The most interesting part of the book for me - since I am what the Trump team dubbed a “double hater” and it’s all about me-e-e-e, right? – was this:

[B]oth campaigns battled for a group of voters who would ultimately decide the race. ... Trump's data analysts gave them a nickname: 'double haters.' These were people who disliked both candidates but traditionally showed up at the polls to vote. They were a sizable bloc: 3 to 5 percent of the 15 million voters across seventeen battleground states that Trump's staff believed were persuadable.

Early on, many indicated support for third‐party candidate Gary Johnson. But after a series of televised flubs, ... they largely abandoned him. ... Many refused to answer pollsters' questions ... These were the voters Clinton had hoped to shear off from Trump with her 'alt-right' speech in August. ... Comey's letter had the effect of convincing the double haters to finally choose.

Double haters ended up going 47% for Trump, 30% for Clinton.

I stuck with the original game plan and voted for Gary Johnson.

As I see it, Comey's letter was not a precipitating event, but a cumulative event that was like the denouncement of a story that Bannon et al had been telling - but more importantly, circulating - about the Clintons for a very long time. The massive Hillary hatred was the result of a very conscious campaign.

Of course, Trump’s story is filled with as many if not more unpalatable facts than the Clintons, but since Trump was not a public servant until very recently, it’s difficult to work up a sense of moral outrage however easy it may be to feel personal disgust.

Also Trump was a celebrity, and the purpose of celebrities is to function as collective ids, no?

One of the most fascinating parts of Devil's Bargain, by the way, is how Trump managed to carry over the narrative from The Apprentice into his campaign. Trump benefited from advertisers' determination to make The Apprentice an ethnically inclusive show so it could sell more McDonald's hamburgers! Black and Hispanic voters LUVVED The Apprentice!
And this is one of the reasons why Trump didn't tank as badly among black and Hispanic voters as Democratic pollsters predicted he would.

Anyway, it’s very clear to me that unless the Left becomes more comfortable creating narratives, they’re cooked.
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