I wish to forget 2014 and all the horrible things that happened in the world. May the new one be better and less bloody! I would like to forget ISIS and Ebola above all. 😉
Should I be jealous of Uhura kissing Spock? After all, he is my first love and I’ve known him since he was speaking Persian to the good old James Tiberius Kirk and they were called Pishtaazaane Fazaa…
I have grown up like millions of Iranians with Star Trek—my cousin, Anousheh Ansari, was inspired by them (she even made the vulcan salute before going to space!)
I still have his picture in my bedroom to prove my unchanging love for Spock:
I went to see the movie yesterday and I liked it a lot—I am a hopeless Trekkie and all the holes in the plot didn’t bother me a bit. I was relieved to see the first Enterprise where the shield wasn’t leaking energy every few minutes; maybe as Roger Ebert suggested, they did get new batteries…
On a more serious note, I saw a couple of great movies this week: Il Divo, an Italian film about Gulio Andreotti—I loved it in spite of my ignorance about the politicians involved (and the Mafia),
Somebody called the new Star Trek movie operatic—they have to see Il Divo to see how a governement can be operatic! That clown Berlusconi is not helping the Byzantine image of Italian politics…
Another very interesting film I saw was Examined Life; I only knew a couple of the Philosophers but it didn’t diminish the pleasure of watching some intelligent thoughts on screen:
It reminded me of Saul Bellow’s funny quote: Socrates said, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ My revision is, ‘But the examined life makes you wish you were dead.’
not bad for a young Persian dude…
You can watch him with Charlie Rose here.
A good movie to me is the one that stays in your mind for a little more than the two hours that you are spending in the theatre and these films will stay with me for a while like my last year’s favorite, Starting out in the evening or Michael Apted‘s unforgettable Up Series about the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old, up to now (the next episode will be in 2012).
Imagine seeing the same people grow old in front of your eyes every seven years—it took 42 years to make it—now that’s a documentary!
I do watch entertaining films like the Batman series/Iron Man/Duplicity but from time to time it is refreshing to watch something that makes you stop and think.
Last but not least, today is Mother’s Day in America so please don’t forget to love your mother.
Visit my best movie post here; these films are really worth watching again.
Sadly many new technologies have contributed to increasing our isolation (TV, iPods, etc.) but it doesn’t have to be that way.
As children, we start the conversation by playing together, as young adults our conversations become intense but something strange happens in midlife: all those ideals sediment in our heads and we get comfortable in our somehow more quiet and prosaic lives – we sink gradually to the bottom of our minds.
Unfortunately for many of us, by the time we get to old age, the conversation has died down completely or has diminished to a competition about who’s more sick and who’s children are more ungrateful – Man dies in solitude and silence…
To fight the loneliness of it all, we compromise our standards/principles and settle with a wide array of less than par exchange of ideas.
Sharing opinions, ideas and images is my motivation for blogging. Ideally a post can be the start of a conversation; the Internet equivalent of sitting down in front of a cup of coffee (make it tea) to relax and shoot the breeze. The conversation is at the root of creativity and it can help change our mindsets.
To make the conversation flow easier, it’s now possible to be notified by e-mail when someone makes a comment on the same post you have. All you have to do is check the little box labeled “Notify me of follow up comments via e-mail”, which appears below your comment.
There have been so many great comments and I can’t mention them all, but here are some of my favorites:
- Ali (he has his own fan club among my readers!) on “Leaf peeping” in L.A.
- Lily Daryabegi on Suicide, a fundamental human right
- Entropy quoting a poem by Tagore
- Melvin Sokolsky on Contagious enthusiasm: Gustavo Dudamel
- Tamas Ungvari on Matters of the heart
- BMZ on Ahmadinejad, Bush and Sarkozy: fatal combination
- Gens Deau on Africa exasperates me
- Anousheh on Southern California is burning – sudden and intense changes…
One of my favorite thinkers, Theodore Zeldin believes that “conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits – it doesn’t just reshuffle the cards it creates new cards.” I agree with him when he says “we are increasingly leading bubble lives in which we insulate ourselves from everyone apart from an ever diminishing circle of friends and acquaintances.”
A good conversation starter would be this very funny NY Times article about the books that end love stories.
Check your facts people! Until a few years ago, being judgmental was politically incorrect (a very tired notion today) but as I am growing older, I am realizing that Life is too short not to judge. My good friends André Démir and Tamas Ungvari are “Messrs Opinion” both; in these times of “chilling apathy”, it’s refreshing to see somebody take a stand on something (in their case, on everything). This post is an homage to these two gentlemen, both hungry observers of the life around them and armed by an uncanny fluidity of intelligence.
I get frustrated when I hear all these unworthy opinions rolling out of everybody’s mouth; it’s good to check our facts before sharing them with everybody. Trust but verify. I am ready to listen then but I can’t even count the number of times that somebody has recited an article from a major newspaper or repeated a pundit’s interpretation of the news as an absolute fact to me. I am not completely innocent myself.
André is a mean Tango dancer (here with his angelic wife, Carol Kelly):
My hero, Isaiah Berlin, believed in “the power of the wisely directed intellect to illuminate, without undue solemnity or needless obscurity, the ultimate moral questions that face mankind”.
You just have to watch TV a bit to see how this power is misused by the kinds of the anchormen at the Fox News (or CNN for that matter). Beside making me sick, Ann Coulter makes me doubt Berlin’s philosophy:
‘Life can be seen through
none of them necessarily
clear or opaque,
less or more distorting
than any of the others.’
I would have loved to listen in to Berlin and Akhmatova‘s conversation in a fateful night in 1945.
There is so much going on in the world with the renegade Kosovo, the two-headed Russia and Ahmadinejad in Iraq but those should wait another post to exploit your patience – I’ll try to make the next one all about flowers and butterflies.
Ok people, brace yourselves – this is going to be an image heavy post! I will take you through a couple of days in Paris – the way I like it: hitting the streets early in the morning to catch the blue hour of this great city; Montparnasse is a very busy neighborhood at 8:30 am.
This was my first time witnessing the changing of the ads:
I walked to a favorite café that reminds me of my twenties, La Rotonde.
I don’t like them anymore (remember the whipped cream out of a can?) but nostalgia and Balzac take me to them every year.
Of course anything that remotely reminds me of Los Angeles while I am in Europe is not welcome so this kind of restaurant/café just makes me wince but the worst offender is Starbucks and its paper cups.
I bought a pariscope from this news stand,
and had a coffee while looking for the hottest exhibition in Paris.
I decided to see Giacometti in Centre Pompidou . “It was never my intention to paint only with gray. But in the course of my work I have eliminated one color after another, and what has remained is gray, gray, gray! ”
What a great show it was – complete with the artist being filmed while painting and sculpting.
His drawings (included some fabulous small notebooks), paintings and sculptures made a large window into the soul of this great creature…
Even though I am not a big fan of the Centre Pompidou, I have to admit that the view is breathtaking…
I visited the Maillol museum a couple of days before this and liked its architecture as much as the collections:
Maillol is very different in his style from Rodin – they were good friends.
The picture bellow shows the plaster versions of the bronze sculptures above.
On a more colorful note, living in Los Angeles, I am deprived of pretty store windows – abundant in New York, Paris and London.
I am ending this post with two images of my loyal laptop that’s getting very old but gets the job done.
Café crème or Petite Arvine, a good post I hope.
I am sitting in this cute café which happens to have wifi! The world is changing and Paris with it.
I’ve been very busy since I am here; three interesting exhibitions in 2 days: Arcimboldo has never been so complete as in this exhibition in the Luxembourg museum.
A way more somber show was Germany, the black years at the Maillol museum. Otto Dix, Beckmann and Grosz were the most impressing but i have to admit that the German propaganda posters with Hitler’s name on them were the most striking/chilling to me.
This one can give you nightmares:
this next one takes me back to all of my dear Professor Ungvari’s battlefields (Somme, etc…)
of course Paris can erase these nightmares with a winter sunshine after the rain.
I just saw this wonderful film, Starting out in the evening, about an old writer who has outlasted the social order in which his life made sense. How can you go wrong with New York in the fall and tons of books? I can’t believe that the lead actor is the same guy who played in Superman returns.
I am a movie junkie but so much of what’s being produced now is blissfully forgettable; I know I like a film if I keep thinking about it the next day and when I start talking about it to others. These are a couple of them: The lives of others which got an oscar is about the constant question of how a good man acts in circumstances that seem to rule out the very possibility of decent behavior. The actor, Ulrich Muhe, was amazing – unfortunately he passed away in July.
The one movie I will always remember is Into great silence. The film is an eloquent achievement in capturing the slow and delicate rhythm of the Carthusian monks’s daily lives in silence – a great meditation if you are stressed out. “Silence. Repitition. Rhythm. The film is an austere, next to silent meditation on monastic life in a very pure form. No music except the chants in the monastery, no interviews, no commentaries, no extra material.”
I enjoyed Children of Men, a superbly directed political thriller – London has never looked this scary…
My favorite of all action movies was The Bourne Ultimatum. An unusually smart work of industrial entertainment with the great Matt Damon – as good here as he was in the two previous Bourne films. The music is so interesting I had to shell out a buck for Moby’s “Extreme Ways”.
I also hope to be able to find Primo Levi’s journey. (I am insisting that he didn’t commit suicide!)
and…maybe Beowulf for fun.
My eucalyptus tree attempted partial suicide (non-fatal self-destructive act, self-mutilation) a couple of days ago.
The California Eucalyptus are transplanted trees from Australia (ca 1850) – they were brought here in the hopes that they would provide a renewable source of timber for construction and furniture making.
I heard a big swooshing noise and a loud thump; what seemed to be my whole eucalyptus tree landed ten inches from my parked car at my doorsteps killing some poinsettias. I thought I’ve lost the tree but I found out later that “some species of Eucalyptus have a habit of dropping entire branches off as they grow. Eucalyptus forests are littered with dead branches. Many people have been killed as they camped underneath the trees. It is thought that the trees shed very large branches to conserve water during periods of drought.” Mine’s “accident” may have been caused by the wind or the heaviness of the branch.
The whole yard smelled wonderful though – by its very essence, eucalyptus has the scent of freshness and purification. I love trees especially the ones I grew up with – sycamores and poplars. “Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.” Bill Vaughan
One whole day of yard work reduced the giant branch to these. Maybe my wood sculptor friend would be interested.
I can’t translate this poem without stripping it of its original beauty:
Dans la forêt sans heures
On abat un grand arbre
Un vide vertical
Tremble en forme de fût
Près du tronc étendu.
Cherchez, cherchez, oiseaux,
La place de vos nids
Dans ce haut souvenir
Tant qu’il murmure encore.
Here is my favorite T-shirt:
- I haven’t seen two poplars to be enemies
- I haven’t seen a willow selling its shade to the ground
- The elm tree freely bestows its branch to the crow
- Wherever there is a leaf my passion blossoms
- من نديدم دو صنوبر را با هم دشمن
- من نديدم بيدي، سايه اش را بفروشد به زمين.
رايگان مي بخشد، نارون شاخه خود را به كلاغ.
هر كجا برگي هست ، شور من مي شكفد
Je n’ai jamais vu la haine de deux peupliers.
Je n’ai jamais vu un saule vendre son ombre à la terre.
Et gratuitement l’orme offre sa branche aux corbeaux.
Partout où frémit une feuille,
S’épanouit aussi le bourgeon de l’ardeur.
Ok people I was just joking when I said I was going to have plastic surgery! I talked about the United States’ dire economic situation (true), having a kid in law school (true) and needing cosmetic surgery (maybe true but won’t do it) to make you guys buy my stuff.
These are my 2007/2008 holiday cards:
I hope that you had a good thanksgiving – I always cook two turkeys no matter how many people are coming to my house (one in the oven and one in a pot) and this year wasn’t an exception – great persian stuffing camouflaged as the usual stove top…
“Thanksgiving is when gluttony becomes a patriotic duty.” To me, this is one holiday that is not tinted with religion or acute nationality.
The real turkey this week will be president Bush going to Annapolis when thousands are protesting in Jerusalem and Gaza against the talks.
Mike Luckovich sums it up in the above cartoon; I like Bob Gorrell’s too:
Wildfires, burning out of control, are continuing to threaten thousands of homes in California. A lot of people are going to lose theirs today. You can’t help but to have this incredible sense of the fragility of everything. As human beings we are wired to think that everything will stay the way it is, safe from sudden and intense changes…
We’ve had a very dry summer and the global warming is not helping. It is pretty scary to watch (even on TV) a fire that “jumps the freeway”. In my last post, I said that we have only one season here but I have to correct that because we have four: the earthquake season, the mudslide season, the fire season and the last but not least the Oscars season – each as unpredictable as the others in its outcome.
The arbitrariness, the randomness of it all is astounding…”You did or did not escape the fires?” That could be the current definition of a Californian. The two images (above) from yahoo say more about these devastating fires.
I took the picture above from my car, trapped on the closed down freeway 14 near Sand Canyon, a couple of hours ago – I still have the smoke on my hair.