Thursday, 31 May 2012

The continuation of 5 word adventure of Robert and Reginald Archibald

Robert awoke with a startle when his alarm clock buzzed, but the hand searching for snooze button instead touched a sheet of printer paper. Who could have thought that a misplaced piece of plain paper could be a source of such discomfort. He picked it up, thrust his large glasses upon his nose and read the contents of the email that Reginald Archibald had lovingly printed and brought for him earlier that morning.
'I don't remember receiving this...or printing it...or taking it to bedroom,' murmured Robert. He scratched the back of his head, messing up the hair that had been flattened by the pillow. 'Either I am lunatic and don't remember walking in my sleep...or the guys at the materialisation department of our lab have succeeded finally...' Robert was very sceptical about the work of that particular department of their research centre. In his opinion, their work resembled more a game of baccarat than serious research, no material proof of results ever being produced. To be completely honest, even though Robert was quite staid, he could not deny experiencing a certain amount of schadenfreude about the neighbouring department's lack of results, for in the light of their misfortune the achievements of his own lab department looked much more prominent. Everything is relative, whether you want it or not.
In the kitchen Robert put the kettle on fire and prepared a mug and two Earl Grey teabags. Despite the widely accepted Briticism of drinking tea with milk he shuddered at the thought of spoiling the taste of the drink with a dairy product and preferred his tea plain, no milk, no sugar, and very strong. On the other hand, Robert was very picky about the brands of tea, to the point of having formed a sort of "His Majesty's Reserve" of a few very carefully chosen tea leave types over the past few years. When the tea was ready, he took his cup and the printed sheet of paper to the kitchen table and immersed himself in both.

Baccarat, schadenfreude, staid, "His Majesty's Reserve", Briticism.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The next 5 word adventure of Reginald Archibald

The next morning after the mysterious pill eating incident and the uncanine behaviour that followed, the Labrador Retriever Reginald Archibald woke up at the break of the dawn while his owner Robert was still making windowpanes tremble by his snoring, spread across the bed like a sea star washed out unto the shore. Reginald Archibald was bored. No one to play with. Well, normally he would chew Robert's shoe laces for fun, but after yesterday's exciting experience of  cooking a meal for himself, Reginald Archibald just couldn't go back to the old lifestyle. He sniffed around a bit and sure enough found the same fruity smell in another of Robert's pockets. 'Let's see what we can do today,' he thought picking up the pill with his tongue. A minute later he was at Robert's desk, browsing the net, checking the inbox, watching funny cats on youtube. He heard a sound of an incoming email. 'Now what?' thought Reginald Archibald and opened the email that was marked as high priority. "Hereby we inform you that after tackling some problems we mentioned in previous emails, we have managed to enter your name on the shortlist for the Transnistrian congress of this year. We have high hopes for the implication of your results in the frame of our work. Even though benchmarking process is not over yet, we are rather optimistic of the outcome. Please, respond ASAP.  Best regards, ...'
'I better print that for Robert,' thought Reginald Archibald and put some paper into the printer's paper tray. Then he took the printed email to Robert's bedroom and placed it on his bedside table right on top of the alarm clock to make sure it's the first thing his owner finds.
'Acting like a human is taking a toll on me...I better go take a nap.' Reginald Archibald yawned, climbed onto the living room sofa and fell asleep at once.

shortlist, benchmark, tackle, implications, Transnistria

Tread lightly

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats

Monday, 28 May 2012

A 5 word adventure of Reginald Archibald

While Robert, a secret government lab scientist on vacation, was watching Richard III play on TV ("Half a kingdom for a horse!"), the wi-fi headphones on max volume, his Labrador Retriever Reginald Archibald (oh those pure breeds with their posh names and all!) came over to the comfy chair and poked the owner's hand a few times with the cold wet nose. 'Food, man, foooood!' Reginald Archibald was trying to send brainwaves to the man's mind, but Robert was absolutely absorbed by on-screen drama and didn't pay any attention. After a couple of minutes the dog gave up on the man, but not on the quest. Sniffing here and there like a hound, which was his life's secret ambition, after a few minutes he came across a new smell - something fruity and delicious, coming from the pocket of his owner's lab coat that was hanging on the back of a chair. 'Better than nothing,' thought Reginald Archibald and stuck his long tongue into the pocket thus picking up that tiny sweet smelling thing. Before the dog could make a surprised Scooby-doo sound he felt something strange happening in his body. 'I think I'll be sick...I better go find a nice place on a carpet...quick,' he thought. Instead of vomiting on the carpet though Reginald Archibald did something that no respectful hound would ever do (and trust me he was very ashamed of such non-canine behaviour at the beginning!). He got up on his back paws, walked into the kitchen, turned on some samba music on the radio for the right mood, picked up a knife from the counter and chopped up some meat and vegetables for a soup... Before the effect of the mysterious pill wore off Reginald Archibald had made a delicious soup, eaten two dishes of it and even washed his dish and spoon afterwards. Then as suddenly as it had begun everything went back to normal. The dog went back on all fours and plumped himself down on the kitchen floor. Tired, but pleased with himself he thought 'Life is like a pill from a pocket, you never know what you gonna get.'

 soup dog knife pill music

Sunday, 27 May 2012

A 5 word adventure of endgame

All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal. Who can argue with an inference of that sort? As long as your life projects pan out alright and your endgame is suave, mortality doesn't seem such a bad idea. And if you throw on top my cameo appearance through my works that the next generations would benefit from, I'll sign up for it at once. What do you mean,  I already signed at the moment of birth? I don't remember anything, I was too young!
inference, endgame, suave, pan out, cameo appearance

A 5 word adventure of an unflinching man

An unflinching man in a dark pinstripe suit and a wide brim hat walked into "Cash and Carry". He marched straight to the counter, a large paper bag in his hands. 'One banger and a dollop of that,' said the man and pointed at a shelf behind the shop assistant's back. 'Wha..what?' uttered the shocked salesman and turned around to see what the man in the pinstripe suit was indicating. When he turned back to face the mysterious customer he saw that the stranger had thrown the heavy paper bag on the counter. 'So?' asked the man and put one hand inside the paper bag. The shop assistant squeezed his eyes shut and tried to retreat, but was stopped by the shelves. Nothing happened. He took a deeper breath and opened one eye just enough to see what was going on. His jaw dropped open. The man in the pinstripe suit was holding a stack of banknotes in his slightly lifted hand and wearing a confused expression on his face. 'It said "cash and carry" on the sign outside, so I brought cash to pay for my stuff,' he muttered surprised by the effect it had had on the shop assistant who was now sliding down along the shelves onto the worn out linoleum floor.

unflinching, banger, dollop, pinstripe, "Cash and Carry"

A 5 words adventure of a Tiffany lamp

If there was anything Kitty Kelley hated more than not finding any dirt to write about, it was the Tiffany lamp  on her desk. She couldn't help but shudder thinking what it reminded her of.  This lamp was given to her by her first long term boyfriend, George, an incurable gambling addict, especially keen on horse race betting. George had bought this lamp as a surprise for Kitty using money from one of his few trifecta winnings. He was on his way home from the shop, the lamp tucked under his arm, still unwrapped and its wire dangling loose, for he didn't want to waste 'no time wrapping the damn thing', when the worst happened. George was entering the lift in his building when the loose wire got hooked on Mrs. Chesterton's trolley on her way out of that very same lift. The rest happened in a blink of an eye. Mrs. Chesterton was walking away, the lift door closing, and George clinging to his lamp got pulled backwards onto the floor, his neck right on the level of the shutting door. Maybe in a universe where justice existed it would have ended differently, but there he was - lying on the cold floor, his jugular vein blocked by the tightly shut elevator doors. As if it wasn't enough, the automatic doors jammed and they had to call for ERT to get him out of there. After all these years Kitty still hated that lamp, but didn't have courage to get rid of an object that had almost cost more than just money. Well, that and the fact she found out later - it had once belonged to duchess of Bedford and cost a fortune now.

 Kitty Kelley, trifecta, Tiffany lamp, ERT, jugular

A 5 words adventure of digression

A constant gibe from other NBA players made Spud Webb want to cry. It wasn't his fault his parents gave him such a ridiculous name. At any rate it was a much more dignified  name than Garlic, on which his raunchy grandparents were insisting when Spud was born.  Gramps said it was an old family tradition to name every third child Garlic as a good luck sign and protection against the evil eye. It's a pity they never specified which family's tradition it was or where the person with the evil eye had lost the other eye. As Spud's parents didn't follow the family naming tradition gramps always considered poor Spud a shameful digresion from the family line and treated him as such.

Spud Webb, raunchy, gibe, digression, garlic

A 5 words adventure of Haumea

The visitors of the art gallery were both amazed and appalled. The op artist had the effrontery to express his misogynistic views as openly as romcom expresses the female views on 'true love'. Some shook their heads, others turned away in disgust. But there were a few people who stood there stock-still, unable to comprehend how the painter could put so much unmistakable meaning into an image of Haumea. 

Op (noun), Haumea (noun), misogynistic (adj), romcom (noun, abbr'ed), effrontery (noun).

A 5 words adventure of foreboding

There was a strong feeling of foreboding in the news that morning, Robin Gibbs had died the night before. It felt like a reminder to the human kind that this world was full of pariah, decrepit buildings, entropy law on every step of the way. Dangerous. Uncomfortable. And now also tiny bit less melodic. 

Robin Gibb, foreboding, entropy, pariah, decrepit

A 5 words adventure of carnie folk

Carnie folk were not in the least offended by the general stereotype of scary circus folk with small hands and lingering cabbage smell attributed to them. They proudly called themselves "The Rat Pack", were known for their sagacity and delivery of expendable monocycles in three large counties. On Mondays, the circus day off, they would get tipsy, take their accordions  and sing "mano-a-mano" which they believed to be Rino Gaetano's once famous song with long since forgotten lyrics.

Carnie folk, mano-a-mano, sagacity, expendable, "The Rat Pack"

A 5 word adventure of a flak inventor

A gleeful flak inventor was rubbing his hands. He had just finished a year long work on the best flak model known to militants. After the last modifications he had added a florid ornament with pervasive scent of echinoderms that, as he was hoping, would keep the machine operating soldiers alert, yet calm. 

Flak, gleeful, florid, pervasive, echinoderms. 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

A 5 words adventure of Pippin the Hunchback

Pippin the Hunchback, the son of Charlemagne, the grandson of Pippin the Short (but not too short to be a king, and it is good to be a king even when you're so short) was about to splice two covens of ancient sorcerer families, when a crooked elder stood up and leaning with his full body weight unto his staff croaked, 'You shall not cast aspersions on my family!'

Splice (verb), aspersions (noun), deception (noun), "Pippin" (noun), coven (noun).

A 5 word adventure of a gauche boy

A precocious, but rather gauche boy's eyes were glued to the screen. In memory of his late grandfather, who had been a metalworker all his life, the boy was working on a technical drawing of a lathe on his computer.  His mother was annoyed and confused by his conduct. 'It's like talking to a stonewall,' she mumbled and shut the door of  the boy's room behind her.
(Screen, to stonewall, precocious, lathe, gauche)

An adventure of 5 words

I want to play a game with you. Give me any 5 words in English and I'll write a sketch, a (very) short story, maybe a poem (who knows) in just a few sentences using all 5 of them. It will help me to stretch my writing muscle and, hopefully, will be fun reading. Are you with me? Please, leave me your 5 words in comments, and thank you very much in advance!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Things that turn me on Vs. things that turn me off

  • Colour green.  I can just sit and stare at the right shade of green, not too light, not too dark and get the relaxing effect of a half an hour nap. (Vs. colour brown that "gets in your face", massive and obstructive.)
  • Intelligent people. Not just people who have BA, MA, PhD and God knows what other academic degree and can repeat unrepeatable phrases from the science magazines. Wise, deep people. People whose wisdom is rooted under their skin, in their life experience and observations. The sexiest part of man’s body is his brain. (Vs. superficial people, which tend to care only about themselves in a rather ugly way.)
  • Tea. The kind, brand, sweetness and additional slice of lemon is decided upon while making it. I choose my tea like some people choose their wine. (Vs. coffee which I take as a shot of medicine)
  • Curious, flexible mind. No, not nosey and sneaky. Just curious for the sake of discovering something new every day. (Vs. nosiness combined with lack of interest in anything not related to gossip beyond the reach of the hand)
  • Picking fruit from a tree in your own garden and eating it on the spot. (Vs. eating food that has travelled across the world and tastes like paper by the time it reaches your table)
  • Unstoppable laughter of children for no obvious reason. (Vs. whining and tantrums of the same children. I believe God gave such a long term of pregnancy and a painful labor in order to elaborate in the mother just enough patience to endure anything from the child whose life cost her so much effort. What comes easy, goes easy, you know)
  • British comedy shows. The insane Monty Python. The resourceful QI and some other funny yet informative comic panel shows. (Vs. horror films that scare me out of my pants already during trailer)
  • Cuteness and silliness of kittens. (Vs. crudeness of some serious people)
  • Faithfulness and optimism of dogs. (Vs. unreliability and tendency to pessimism of humans)
  • Mother's heart. As they say, becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children; from now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. It gives me faith in human race, in which I'm otherwise rather disappointed. (Vs. "children must be seen, but no heard")
  • The arts. Any visual arts from sculpture to cake decoration. (Vs. criticism on artistic expressions. Visual art doesn't have to be beautiful. "Beautiful art" is like a "normal human" - a mysterious creature no one has ever seen and therefore everyone imagines it differently. Art has to carry meaning and be interesting, expressive)
  • The books that are so well built they become doors to a different world, so fine that you have no doubt in its existence somewhere in a parallel universe. (Vs. many people's fear of free imagination)
  • Empathy. I'm affected by empathytis and, as it seems, it's not curable. It makes me physically sick when people seek conflict without a valid reason, "just because", just because they don't always get what they want. Empathy is one of the most beautiful sides of human nature. (Vs. stiff mind of bigots that know everything best and consider others unworthy of consideration).
I realised that my list is endless. It goes as far as a thought can wander. To be continued (in my mind). 

Monday, 21 May 2012

My mind's citizenship

Do you have a favourite book? Recently I was asked a similar question by one of my closest friends, with whom I share passion for language and literature. Some girl-friends sip coffee and share a cake, we sip languages and share books, screenplays and ideas. 
My first reaction on her question was - I don't have one favourite book. If I feel like reading a book after the first page, it makes it special by definition, and if I find it 'unputdownable', as some literary critics love to say lately, it automatically promotes it to the status of favourite. That was my first thought, but then I started to scratch under the surface of my mind, into my soul. 
I asked myself, which is the only book so important to me from the beginning of my literary adventure that it defined something fundamental in me? Which one was the first true adventure via written text? And it came to me. 'Alice in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll. It was one of my first books that weren't part of school book list thus I was free to choose to read it or not. Freedom of choice usually notably adds to the pleasure of reading. During my childhood in a totalitarian communist country with stiff censorship a book like that was almost a miracle. Now that I've come to think of it, I can't stop wondering how on earth did they approve of it, allowed it to be translated and published. Maybe they were hoping it would show the "true, ugly face of the rotting capitalism", as they loved to say back then. To me it was the door to the limitless fantasy world which has never closed since. As time goes by, I start to see more and more sense in seemingly absurd and purely entertaining parts of the story. Sometimes I can't help feeling like Alice who has to quench her thirst with a dry biscuit or run as fast as she can just to stay put. Not to mention that "the jam is always tomorrow" and never today. I'm in love with the Wonderland, I am a citizen of that mad, surprising, amazing world where you can think of six impossible things before breakfast and no one will roll their eyes on you, as a matter of fact, they will expect you to. Which book do you belong to?

Friday, 18 May 2012

La vita è bella

As some of you know, I live in the sunny lemonland of Italy - Sicily. The place of "dolce far niente". The "EAT" part of "Eat.Pray.Love". What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Italy? Unless I'm very much mistaken, it's the exquisite food. I'd like to add to the thought by specifying that it's not so much about food as such, for people feed themselves everywhere in the world in order to survive. It's more about taste. Italians may be less pedantic at work than, say, Germans, less dutiful than, for instance, Japanese, but if there is one thing that describes them best, it's taste. It's in their DNA, la dolce vita, the mastered sweetness of life passed from father to son in every aspect of life. The beauty and enjoyment of every bit of life. It's hard to find an Italian who, regardless age and gender, can't describe spectacularly the mouthwatering dishes consumed in the latest family lunch. Food here is not only means to fill the tummy and get it over with. It's a tradition, means to get together, to unite, to celebrate life. Every single day. No particular reason needed. Holidays are celebrated at huge family tables, food coming in many courses and impossible to refute even when you feel on edge of bursting open after a long meal.
When I first got here, one of the observations that struck me was empty city streets and closed shops during lunch hours. Where do people go every day from one to four? A meal surely can't take this long. Only when you are embraced by an Italian family you will truly understand it. Again and again it's about all about taste and joy of being. In my opinion it's one of the smartest traditions Southerners have created. Not only because in summer it's too hot to spend noon and following couple of hours outside, but because it helps to keep people healthy physically, as well as mentally. Humans are social animals, as we know. Now imagine a period of the day when you get it all - delicious food (usually a variation of pasta dish, followed by fresh fruit), a bit of rest from work and company of your beloved (when you have possibility to have lunch at home). If there is anything  strict about Italians, and it is so hard to find anything strict in people whom their former and despised leader Mussolini described as "impossible to govern", it is meal times. It's a given. Breakfast with espresso or cappuccino and a cornetto. Lunch with appetising pasta. Dinner with all the meat or fish and lots of different veggies to make your doc happy. Add to that all the positive interaction with your dear ones during meals. That is the essence of Mediterraenean lifestyle - happy mind in a happy body. That's what foreigners seek for and try to imitate all around the world. The recipe for taste of life.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Recipe for perfect parenting

All (sane) parents wish the best for their children, so here is a fool-proof recipe for perfect parenting, based on years of experience. I hope you will find it useful.
Take as many parenting tips as your brain can hold. Take some more, don't underestimate your capacities. Start early, from first weeks of pregnancy. Read weekly updates on how your baby is developing in the womb. So far so good, you can't intentionally go wrong on this stage.
Now baby is born. Make sure you read even more parenting advices on every occurring tiny and big problem like diaper rash, correct burping, bonding, teething, bathing, communicating. For more effect google your question and get the shock of discovering that it could go even worse, that there are moms out there in cyberspace who have it much much worse. Linger on this soothing idea, but not too long. Duty calls, back to work. Take notes of advices you find on anything you can grasp with one hand, while safely holding baby with the other. You got the idea. Now add some more information on top, from your mom, aunt, pediatrician. Don't be shy, a bit more. That will do. Your barrel of knowledge must be full by now, maybe overflowing. Don't worry, you're not alone.
And now we've come to the most important phase. Take all those notes you've collected for months and even years...and let your family pet chew on them. When that's done and over, take the remaining shreds and put into a blender, add some PVC glue and mix well. Pour the result into the mould that your child was made in and keep your fingers crossed for the rest of your life hoping that it will suffice.
The truth is that nothing you can read, watch and hear will help you when stuff actually happens. And stuff  does happen when you have a child! Forget all of the above and just follow your instinct. No mom blogger, pediatrician, aunt or anyone on this planet knows your child the way you do. Follow your guts, they don't lie. There are no perfect parents, but each and every (sane) parent is the best parent for their own child. You are the best. Now relax for 3.32 minutes and listen to some magnificent Bach.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


No matter how it looks at the moment, life is getting better. Not easier, better. I feel stronger and wiser than I was 10 and definitely than I was 20 years ago. Noone promised life will be fair or easy. But that's the sour-sweet beauty of it. Have you ever heard the story of butterfly being born? If you in your compassionate desire to ease its struggle against the enclosing walls of the cocoon break it open and release the newborn butterfly, it will never be able to fly properly. The effort of pushing against cocoon walls pumps liquids into its magnificent wings and gives it strength to fly. We, humans, are very much like butterflies.  Gentle souls that have to struggle against the rough, sometimes crude life to become stronger, deeper, wiser and more humane. Have a great day, make another step uphill!