Saturday. Greek crisis, Greek crisis, how Greeks see themselves.
Friday. Driving south with Robin after dark again, heavy rainy, snowy weather nonsense again.
Seems the send-your-enemies-glitter thing was a
clever publicity stunt. Whereas this lawyer's
colouring book could use a bit of glitter.
Thursday. Bits of snow & rain. Meet Steven K & his friend Joe for an uplifting coffee. Here are Barbour and a couple of others in short 9-minute snatches tackling the question "What is time?"
Huw Price /
Wednesday. BitCoin meeting in the Anker bar with Niall, Troy,
Miklos, Gabor, and other fine folk.
Tuesday. Return to Budapest. Meet Troy for coffee. Sunday's election of a new populist party to govern debt-stricken Greece is causing
Monday. Weather still cloudy, chilly, muddy. Composer?
Sunday. Robin & I drive to Csongrad for a late lunch with Balla. We take the long route to avoid the ferry because all my phone calls between 11am and 12 noon to the ferry service go unanswered, activating no message machine, voicemail, or person. Once in Csongrad we briefly visit the other side of the river Tisza to see if there is a notice board at the ferry dock, only to find it is operating after all. I shout to the ferry as it pulls out, asking why they don't bother with a telephone message machine. One of the two ferrymen angrily shouts back at me to get away from the wire winch as the ferry pulls away from this shore into the river mist veiling the woods on the far bank. At Balla's house, as dark starts to fall, we inspect the paper-making equipment he installed this last year in his shed and the thick, fibrous paper he's been making with it. Then we enjoy venison stew with red wine by his warm tiled stove, chatting about politics & history.
Saturday. Robin off in the rainy, muddy afternoon, playing squash with Letty at a club in a neighbouring town. Alone in the house I watch the long slow fade into dusk without switching on any lights inside, a rare pleasure. The Waks radio show #249 has a lighter, more lyrical feel to it - probably because a male guest DJ is there, softening her hard edges.
Friday. Esoteric Veronica is most insistent I should see a Tarot-reader she recommends in Szentendre. The office block on the corner still stands empty with black-tape crosses in most of the ground-floor windows, but for at least a month there has been a smart-looking finished office lobby in one section where a fat security guard keeps his glum lonely vigil round the clock. Rains in a dismal, half-hearted way all day. In the evening Robin arrives after dark and we drive down south in what is by now quite heavy rain.
Thursday. Nifty map plots different cultures in 2D space. Looks vaguely unfinished (though I thought this had been around a few years). The dark green zone seems to have no label, a couple of countries misspelled, but there are fascinating bits. Poland's Catholic version of the Danzig Corridor, for example, and the curious pairings, like Uruguay & Northern Ireland - or Romania & Iraq.
Wednesday. 2 security pieces: stealing fingerprints from photos & implanting false memories to create false confessions. Have an intriguing lesson with young Lorinc where he shows me round his complex of buildings he's constructed in Minecraft - I love the boxy clouds, like chunky white square jigsaw pieces hovering above. Then to Boardgame Orsolya, where next to the little paddock of fenced-in cafe tables in the middle of the floor of the shopping centre the Happy Box wrapping-paper store has vanished. At Christmas still a free-standing cuboid mini-shop out by the cafe tables, now just an empty expanse of tiled floor beside us, creating a slightly chilly mood of emptiness and isolation. As if the fake-packaging kit-assembly pseudo-shop inside the mega-mall had never been: tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.
Tuesday. They couldn't make films with titles like 'Lizard In a Woman's Skin' for much longer: everyone started to take everything literally quite soon after. Such as in the crass TV show 'V' just a decade later. Sexy Samantha recommends FKA Twigs, here impersonating Ishtar, Queen of All Heaven, several times over. Having smaller versions of yourself doing the erotic temple dances somehow very Babylonian. Oh and four more radio-on-film sets from Lady Waks, Russian drum-and-bass (or is it 'minimal techno'?) DJ:
Monday. Dark gloomy nonsense weather continues. So 2014 was the hottest year on record -
or maybe it wasn't. Striking estimate that 1/3 of the CO2 up there has been pumped out since 2000. Intriguing claim that Labour ministers knew in 2005 of global collapse danger coming in 06 or 07, but took no precautions & gave no warnings, quietly hurrying instead to get re-elected before it hit.
Sunday. Life at the moment very low-key: rest & recuperation to prepare for my next mission. Delicious burgers with Attila by night. Sad but interesting article on centuries of Crimean & Russian trading in pagan Baltic slaves.
Saturday. Someone a few weeks ago described oak as "the parmesan of woods", creating images that stay with me. A cheeseboard with curvy knife, arrayed with several differently shaped chunks of miniature timber, is one. Here's a thought-provoking history of how prewar car firms used public relations & media manipulation to manufacture the idea of jaywalking so as to criminalise & marginalise (geddit?) pedestrians. By the mid-1930s, streets no longer belonged to everyone.
Friday. The 'Blue Banana' is actually a thing. A French economic-geography thing.
Thursday. Chinese research tricks.
Wednesday. Politics x 4: Nordic Paradise nonsense; Il Papa's having us on; East Germans got Sovietised; Venezuela's doomed.
Tuesday. Still waking startled from eerily vivid dreams that seem as if they're someone else's. Some look a bit like this.
Monday. Bob from Philadelphia reappears after years, and we meet for midday coffee. He confidently predicts Democrat Hillary Clinton will win the 2016 US presidential election, and fairly easily. He explains that the things Mitt Romney had to say to be nominated Republican candidate in 2012 were the same soundbites that killed his chances of being elected president.
Sunday. Attend film audition for Casting Kata out past Eastern Railway Station, dusk clouds scudding across a luminous mid-grey sky. Walk round the shopping arcade there on way back. Inside pass one shop whose giant lettering labels it as "Women' Secret", and in another daring use of the grocer's apostrophe a store called "Marc O'Polo" transforms the great Italian traveller into a French Irishman. Mall full of vaguely bored couples wandering around together. Looking in on slightly androgynous Saint Petersburg drum-and-bass DJ Lady Waks again and her sets seem a little tighter than 2 or 3 years ago - perhaps I'm imagining it. There's still usually a ten-minute truck-tyre-machine-shop section at one part. Perhaps those bleaker, more grinding rhythm stretches might have a similar function to the minor-key movement in a symphony: something to move into and then away from to achieve a mood of return & resolution by the end. Still odd to see a radio show on a still camera: literally radio with pictures. Four sets:
Saturday. 1) Perhaps talent is genetic after all? 2) How
non-voters decide elections; 3) In the wake of Friday's killing of some cartoonists in Paris, more on that Muslim ban on images; 4) And finally a proper news story - astronomers are looking for giant lifeforms which eat entire stars.
Friday. Funny that really stylish tattoos are so rare. Or perhaps no stranger than most drawings being dull drawings.
Thursday. Genuinely good news: a fresh class of antibiotics. And for those who don't understand that diseases show evolution in action, the Mutating Mice of Madeira.
Wednesday. Adorable innovation at KLM, apparently flying again.
Tuesday. Budapest is chilly. Review of an odd-sounding fantasy novel.
Monday. Gyuri gives me a lift to the railway station in a nearby town. During the drive we chat about tree-pruning & forest-management; he has strong views on excessive pollarding. Quite right too. Last night with Robin & Bela watched 'Pulp Fiction' again after roughly two decades. Interesting to see how much it's dated, from looking so sharp when it was new. 80s film already looks strangely grainy and the lighting seems wrong, but this film, while being crisper & cleaner than 1980s film scenes, struck me as oddly slow & fake. The rooms looked "set-like", and the smart-arse dialogue has aged especially badly in parts. The plot twists are clever still but they play knowingly with conventions that weren't massively interesting in the first place. That might be what Tarantino shrugs off by defensively calling it 'Pulp Fiction'. Although two tough yet honourable characters are changed for the better by the end, their development still seems forced: the aftertaste's nihilistic.
Sunday. Blokes dress as tarts to serenade blokeness. Skater-bro stoner dudes make good woeful lack of buzz in bass. Gio from Rio & I walk outside, the frost-stiffened ripples in the lawn like hardened rubber underfoot. We cross the long shadows of sharp low winter sun to the spirits-and-jam hut. He & I join Robin & Lexi the foxhound, all of us watching Lacko demonstrating the still in action. Apricot schnapps was the first batch, and the second batch of mixed fruit is stewing. Quince might be next. Blue toxic methanol already run off, we all sample the mild first run of the second batch, tasting like pleasantly smooth fortified wine rather than spirits. We refuse the two large shaggy white Komondor bitches (widow & daughter of the genial but unhinged late Lupi) access to the hut, so they stay outside to cheerfully bully Lexi by the stack of yet-to-be-used roof tiles. Presumably, Sisi the daughter is bored with ripping chunks of cream-coloured fur out of her mother Domor's buttocks.
Saturday. Tasteful traditional fireplace on the Continent. Useful correction to the Islam-rescued-Western-civilisation fantasy. Houellebecq meanwhile, after being taken to court for "insulting Islam", tries a slightly different tack: thoughtful - even clever - interview.
Friday. New Year engages gears. Rather defeatist, if interesting: a senior doctor urges researchers to stop trying to cure cancer, because it offers "the best death". Also interesting is this article via tech-writer
cracker-Jacques - on which frame-refresh speeds look more or less natural to the human eye and why.
Thursday. In Robin's rural cell of good living we continue to eat our way through delicacies prepared by the Transylvanians or by Zsuzsi. We drink port, wine, & the local moonshine that Hungarians misdescribe as "fruit brandy", in fact more like fruit vodka - or schnapps. These types of grappa or slivovitz-type firewater range from plum and pear, through walnut or raspberry or cherry, to the fig schnapps Lacko is particularly proud of obtaining. Once the combined jam boiler and home still he built out of local unfired-clay bricks over the last few weeks is up and working, Robin's multilingual household will be consuming its own schnapps. On top of its own eggs, mutton, chicken, duck, veg & fruit, as it already is. Creative collaborations continue, with Gio from Rio & Robin out on frosty muddy walks doing landscape photography most days, while - back indoors - Robin & Zsuzsi discuss the refurbishing town-flat floor tiles and wall colours in painstaking detail.
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
markgriffith at yahoo.com