The Tank Travel Dream

 tank
When I was a kid I read a lot of sci-fi, and one of the books impressed me so much that I wanted to repeat a trick described in it. The idea of the story (the author’s name and the title escape me now) was that if you find a building that has not changed at all and has stayed untouched for a certain period of time you have a door leading into the past. All you have to do is enter this place, convince yourself that you are in the chosen period (the book’s character was hypnotized for first couple of times, and then he learned how to put himself in trance on his own), and go out to the street some years ago. As simple as that.

The protagonist made several trips to the end of the nineteenth century, fell in love with a beautiful girl and decided to never come back, even knowing about all the dramatic events of the twentieth century that lay ahead of him. Love was worth it, he thought.

I wasn’t looking for love in the past. I was only amazed with the idea that a simple building can be a door into another world. I shared this thought with a friend of mine, and then together we started running round the city and looking for a place that might suit us. We weren’t lucky. There were some old buildings, of course, but they were reconstructed or half-destroyed. They wouldn’t work. Finally we found something. It wasn’t a building, it was a monument. A real tank that stood in the middle of the square as a reminder of the Second World War.

“We should get inside,” a friend of mine said. “The tank is the same as it was fifty years ago. We can go to the sixties and have fun.”

I agreed, we could have fun in the sixties, and I already started thinking what I should wear to look modern in the past. But we still had to find the way to get inside the tank. I suspected that the hatch cover might have been locked, but we couldn’t be sure until we checked. The problem was we couldn’t climb up there, the monument was too high. For a couple of days we walked around the tank like hungry cats smelling fresh fish, trying to figure out how we can bring a ladder and get in, not attracting anyone’s attention. Should we do it at night?

Then suddenly doubts crawled in. I thought that yes, the tank is exactly the same, nobody disturbed it for years, but the dust inside must have changed. Every molecule matters, the book said. Can the new dust be an obstacle on the way to our adventure?

A friend of mine had her fears too. “What if we just get insane?” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“What if we get in the tank, convince ourselves we are in the past, then go out to the present, thinking we are in the past because we’ve gone mad?”

This was a very complex concept for me. I was only preoccupied with the possible dust disorder. Still, the magic was ruined: I knew she didn’t truly believe it was possible, and I, deeply inside, didn’t believe it either. We walked around the tank for another day, and then dropped the idea to climb in. Our doubts won over. Plus, we never found a ladder. But I still think it would be cool to go to the sixties or just to see what’s inside the tank.

 

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My Blog Is My Selfie

“Concentrate on what you want to say to yourself and your friends. Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness. You say what you want to say when you don’t care who’s listening.”

Allen Ginsberg

My blog is one big selfie. It’s all about me even though I don’t post any photos and don’t share any details about my current private life. Still, it’s all about me, my thoughts, my feelings and ideas that attract or bother me. I’m in every word here.

Truly, I believe that’s how it has to be. This is my personal blog and this is why I have it: to think out loudly and, if I’m lucky, receive somebody’s response. I’m here to say what I want to say to myself and to those who care to listen.

The first thing I want to see whenever I go to someone else’s blog is the personality behind all the words. I don’t seek useful information or good advice on how to buy property in Miami even though there are many helpful web pages and I respect them. It’s just not the area of my interests.

I look for people. I know that some enthusiasts who get into blogging put aside reading books completely and only read blogs. I’m not one of them, but I get it. Books tell you stories that end sooner or later, and you have to move on to another book. Blogs allow you to meet real persons, listen to them and see how they cope with their life journey. If you like their voice and way of thinking you want to check on them every now and then as if they were your friends; and the great thing is none of them has the back cover saying ‘the end’.

As you can see, I’m a fan of selfies, but not all of them, of course. I like ones that are sincere, true and full of inner moonlight, and I don’t mind a bit of madness in their shine.

 

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Sad Roots of Comedy

I am reading Craig Ferguson’s American on Purpose, and I enjoy it. I love his writing style and sense of humor. The most interesting thing about my reading choice, though, is that I recently developed taste for stand-up comedians’ memoirs. Not just anyone’s memoirs attract my attention, an author has to be a comedian. I’m still looking for roots of this reasoning myself, but so far, without finding any, I created a whole list of books of this kind I plan to read. And I’m good at making lists, you know.

So far I read only a couple of books. First I went to the boarding school for boys with Stephen Fry (Moab Is My Washpot), then accompanied Steve Martin on his lonely journey (Born Standing Up), and now I am in Scotland, with Craig, whose teachers beat 5-year-old kids on the hands with the belts created and used for this purpose only.

I remember my days at school and many teachers being rude or mean or offensive, but at least they didn’t beat us. I’m so glad that the standards of education changed and keep changing. If they didn’t I would probably have to be a comedian to process all that crap that the gentlemen mentioned above came through. It looks like the laugh is truly the strongest defensive mechanism our brain develops so that we can stay sane, no matter what shit is happening to us. But does the comedy have to come from pain? (This is Jim Carrey’s belief who, I hope, one day will write a book to complete my list of comedians’ memoires). Can’t it have another source, like pure joy, for example?

I think I need to go through all my reading list to find the answer. And if I don’t find any I still will have some laughs. After all, these guys know how to make a joke.
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It’s Not the Genre That Matters

dividing line

“What do you read for fun?” This question sounds very strange to me, as if normal reading implied an obligation and hard, hard work and only sometimes you could allow yourself to read something for pure fun of it. Almost everything I choose to read I read for pleasure. As for the genre, I don’t limit my choices. Fiction, non-fiction, who cares? A book in any genre can be a jewel or disaster.

Many years ago I read Ingmar Bergman’s memoirs, Laterna Magica. I still recall some scenes from that book as if I saw a movie or witnessed a real-life event or maybe even lived through the Swedish director’s experience, so vivid was his writing, so palpable were his joys, pains and fears.

Some fiction books, on the other hand, can be pretty boring even in their attempt to entertain. I remember how once I borrowed a ‘humorous crime story’. It was the most tedious read in my life. I noticed the author’s desperate efforts to make a joke here and there and to leave an intriguing hint about the big question, ‘who stole the apple pie?’, but I couldn’t squeeze a smile out of myself so flat and tasteless was it all. I don’t remember anything about this story, not even the title, the only thing that stayed with me was the regret that I opened the book.

It’s not the genre, I assume, that makes a book good or bad, exciting or deadly boring. It’s all about the talent an author has or, unfortunately, hasn’t. That’s where the big border lies that divides reading into fun and disappointment. All the rest is insignificant; at least, that’s how I see it.

 

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Too Much, Isn’t It?

manybooks

“Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.”

Edna Ferber

I love reading and I want to read everything that sounds interesting. When I hear about a new book that sounds interesting I want to read it almost immediately, and immediately indeed I check if it’s available online. If the book is easy to get I don’t read it right away because I read something else at the moment; but I put the title on the list of books I want to read. On one of the lists, to be exact, as I have many lists of many books I want to read so badly.

The more I read about new books the longer the lists of books I want to read become and the more I forget the titles of the books I want to read so badly. I even forget where I keep the lists of books I want to read which explains why I have so many lists instead of one.

I love reading the lists of books I want to read (when I’m able to find them). I love it even more than reading the books I want to read. My favorite lists are 100 Books You Have To Read, 100 Novels You Must Read Right Now and 100 Books of All Time You Still Haven’t Read. I write and reread the lists of books so often that I don’t have much time left for reading the books themselves. If you think I’m crazy you are perfectly right, but I’m afraid you are quite crazy too as you are losing your time reading about the books I want to read instead of reading a book you want to read so badly.

P. S. I have no idea who Edna Ferber is, but oh, she’s right.

 

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Brevity Teasers

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time,” said Blaise Pascal and looked proudly at the pile of paper covered with his neat writing. “Not a blot! That’s how great I am in writing,” he boasted and stroked the upper leaf with his hand. “This feather can’t be used anymore though,” he looked at the broken tip, sighed and threw it out in the open window. The feather did a slow farewell dance in the air and fell on the cobbled roadway.

You know what they say,” Anton Chekhov pensively looked at the feather disappearing under the hoof of a dirty horse. “Brevity is the sister of talent,” Chekhov gave Pascal a wink, “which one you, obviously, don’t have.”

What?” Pascal jumped up from his chair and clenched his fists. “What have you just said? Repeat it and I will punch this grin off your face right away!”

Oh, come on, Blaise, calm down! Don’t take it so seriously,” William Shakespeare tapped Pascal’s shoulder.

But Bill, don’t you see, he’s mocking me!”

Tony made a joke, that’s all. He’s a satirist, that’s what they do.”

Pascal looked at Chekhov through his narrowed eyes and murmured several words in French, one of them being ‘merde’.

Chekhov took off his pince-nez and, while cleaning it with his handkerchief, looked with his near-sighted squint at the cloud that looked like a grand piano. “But tell us, Bill,” he said after a long pause. “You are agreed with me, aren’t you?”

Well, you know what I wrote in my last work…”

About the cuckoo prince? Yes, I remember. But tell him,” Chekhov pointed his pince-nez at Pascal. “He has no time to read, he spends it all on writing without blots.”

Shakespeare nodded and recited, “Therefore since brevity is the soul of wit, // And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, // I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.

I will be brief,” repeated Chekhov and giggled, “Pascal is tedious and should quit writing.”

Damn you idiots!” Pascal jumped up from his chair again. “We are not friends anymore.” He pointed at the door. “Get out of my house!”

Shakespeare shrugged his shoulders and got up from the couch. “Ok, Tony, let’s go. It’s time to pay a visit to someone else.”

“To Charlie maybe?” Chekhov put the pince-nez back on his nose.

Sure, why not?”

They came out to the street and stopped a cab. “Bring us to the Dickens’s house,” Shakespeare said.

Yes, bring us to Dickens,” Chekhov grinned and rubbed his hands. “We have some brevity issues to discuss.”

“All right, sir,” the cabman said, and off they went to see the man working on Little Dorrit.

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Nothing Better

adams

There is nothing better than sitting home on such a gloomy and rainy day like the one I’m having here and reading one of the books of Douglas Adams. The brightest and shiniest writer who makes you forget about the weather, the universe and everything.

The first his book I read was, of course, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I remember how it sucked me in right away, from the very first words, and after the Earth was destroyed I couldn’t stop laughing till the very last page. After the book, I believe that the meaning of life is 42 and the only words you should keep in mind are ‘Don’t panic’.

I couldn’t let go of  the book and put The Hitchhiker’s Guide in my bag to read it in the bus on the way to work. I took a seat, opened the book and started giggling excitedly over one scene after another. Suddenly I felt an urge to look up. When I did so I realized that the whole bus, each and every passenger turned to my side and stared at me as if I were a runaway from asylum. Slowly coming back to reality, I fixed on their weary, drowsy and totally confused faces and felt sorry that they didn’t have this book in their hands. One of the men who seemingly envied me asked, “What is this you are reading?” I proudly showed him the cover and plunged back into the intergalactic journey.

There’s nothing better than reading one of Douglas Adams’s books, and not only on a gloomy day like this one. Any day will become sunnier. The only thing that makes me sad about Adams is the fact the he died and won’t write anything anymore. All the rest, thanks to his immortal magic, turns into mostly harmless.