London Tour: Southbank

The Thames Path along Southbank, from the London Eye (seen in the previous installment) to the London Bridge, is one of my favorite walking routes in Central London. At intervals, it gets very congested with tourists and other gawkers, but it is mostly tolerable. The views, though, are great. Here is an across-the-river vista with[…]


Family update, 03/30/09

Becky has left for China with her classmates. The itinerary will take them to the major Beijing sights, such as Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square, plus a day-long outing to the Great Wall, and a two-day trip to Xian. I directed her to take as many pictures as she can, with hopes[…]


A war poem

Becky’s history curriculum this year includes World War I, and as part of her coursework, she was supposed to imagine herself as a Wilfred Owen and write a poem about war. All I can say is that, parental bias aside, I find it amazing that such a piece can be written by a 14-year-old who[…]


March movie roundup

You would think that after a short hiatus I’d come back with plenty of stuff to talk about. You would be wrong. I am not touching any of the current events or political topics (not that I have ever been prolific in that area), there is nothing exciting going on at home (only a couple of weeks left before the next excellent travel adventure, though), and I can’t think of a fascinating expat topic to expound upon.

I’m left pretty much with an assortment of my serialized “features”. So, I suppose, I’ll fall back on one, bringing it forward from its usual slot, because (a) there is little chance that I’ll see more movies until the end of the month, and (b) I actually want to talk about movies for a change.

[I heard your collective groan from here. You don’t have to be so obvious. Feel free to not look below the cut – I won’t hold a grudge.]

In the first half of the month, I watched a few of recent award contenders, interspersed with a couple of “guilty pleasures”.

Across The Universe 2007
Hitman 2007
In Bruges 2008
Slumdog Millionaire 2008
Vicky Cristina Barcelona 2008

There be spoilers – I’ll keep them to a minimum, but please be warned.


Homework on Fridays

I wrote in the past about my views on British education and its differences from the American brand. The main gist was that under the right conditions, British system looks somewhat superior, but in the state educational environment on grammar school level, I don’t see much of a difference. I kept forgetting to mention one[…]


London Tour: Admiralty Arch

One of the streets converging on Trafalgar Square (the previous entry in the series) is The Mall, which runs straight to the Queen Victoria Memorial and the Buckingham Palace. Access to The Mall from the square is through Admiralty Arch. Its name symbolizes solely the fact that it adjoins the Old Admiralty Building. It was[…]


Three hours under arrest

I only went back to Russia once in the years since I emigrated. Did not like that journey much, for a number of reasons. The pervasive state of dilapidation on Russian periphery at the turn of the century was the primary reason. The commonplace boorishness of service sector employees, from shopping assistants to receptionists, grated on my American-honed sensibilities. The expectation of a bribe clear on the face of anyone with power to make my life simpler or harder made me want to hurl. Yes, seeing many old friends was really nice, but it also made me realize how divergent our values and interests have become.

Natasha ascribes much of my disaffection with that trip to the weather. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to go, and with Natasha more than half-term along with Kimmy, I could not postpone it until warmer months. Mid-March tends to be quite cold in the Russian south, with driving rain or wet snow dominating the skies. And so it was, raining one day, snowing the other, freezing overnight and thawing by the midday just enough to make everything one big puddle of mud.

But the very last day of my visit turned out bright and sunny, with not a cloud in sight and the temperatures finally climbing into early-spring territory. I had a few hours before I needed to go to the airport, and I decided to use them for a bit of video-recording.


YouTube’d memories: All You Need Is Love

Having watched Across the Universe a couple of days ago, I find myself constantly humming my favorite Beatles’ tunes. All You Need Is Love is one of the more obvious ones. I actually have a vague memory related to this song that includes an auditorium full of students and the title of the song written[…]


A travel quote

I’m reading a passage in a travel book that describes a little town on canals in Italy as “not exactly Venice, but rather Bourton-on-the-Water disguised as Portmeirion”. I realize that not only am I familiar with these references, but I can vividly imagine what the town should look like from the description. Which turns my[…]


On time travel

My brilliant brother pondered this thought the other day: If you had a time machine, where would you travel first? Assuming that you are universally invincible. He suggested several more or less obvious choices for consideration. Witnessing the Big Bang. Seeing the asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs. Witnessing the Exodus of Jews. Following Jesus to[…]


London Tour: New Row

The next installment of our virtual walk around London (the previous post in the series is here) has just one picture, of the corner of New Row and St Martin’s Lane in the West End Theater district. Seemingly nothing special here, but I find these kinds of streets irresistible.    


Mixed weekend

This has been one of those weekends that can be filed under the oh-so-frequently-used “the good, the bad and the ugly” label. Starting with the ugly. We decided to go out for late lunch on Saturday afternoon, to a place in Greenwich that Natasha had targeted for a while. The meal was quite nice, the[…]