Dec 29, 2008

Smoke The New Year In

Chesterfield! It is smoother, milder, and guaranteed to make you feel sexy.

Dec 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

These quasi-religious holidays are a real mess if you really look at them. Christmas is a confusing stew of Baby Jesus, Santa Claus and pine trees. The beauty of it is that you can take one part out and it still works. You can have an all christian holiday without Santa, and you could probably leave out the tree, just throw up some decorations.

When I was growing up behind the good ole iron curtain we left the religion out, and it worked fine. By the time I was born the harsh days of communist era were already left behind. Religion was not persecuted, though not encouraged either, which coincidentally had us in sync with the very un-communist West.

At Christmas time we had a tree which we decorated not unlike it's done here. In December street vendors popped up all over Budapest selling Christmas ornaments. We also hang szaloncukor on the tree, a colorfully wrapped "parlour candy." The Idea was that you would slowly eat them off the tree, but they are not that good, so they became permanent ornaments to be reused year after year. Early on we also used to put actual Christmas candles on the tree. They had special clip-ons. Naturally it was a bit of a fire hazard. Then we upgraded to Russian made tree lights. They had big bulbs and if one went out, there went the whole string. They could also give you a mild electric shock. We also put sparklers on the tree.

It's funny how the same holiday develops different flavors and traditions in different places. For example, we always opened the gifts on Christmas Eve, never on the next morning. There was also a pre-Christmas holiday. Mikulás day is December 6. Traditionally the night before you would put your shoe or boot in the window, and the next morning you'd find goodies in them, mostly candy, nuts, tropical fruit. Eventually it turned into the custom of parents putting store bought red plastic boots, filled with said goodies, in the window. Part of the lore is the figure of Krumpusz, a goblin like creature, supposed to scare bad kids.

Ironically this extra holiday is the result of previously strong identification of Christmas with religion. December 24 was the day of baby Jesus, so St. Nick - Mikulás in this case - had to move to a different day. Then after the war, and the coming of the Communist era the bearded fat man developed a multiple personality disorder. On the night of December 6, unseen, he would leave small edible presents on your window sill, and then on the eve of the 24th in his full glory as "Télapó" (Father Christmas) he would deliver the real goods. A real mess, I know, but I never questioned any aspect of it growing up.

The traditional Hungarian Christmas meal is also completely different. It is usually fish soup, followed by fried carp filets, and finished off with beigli made with walnuts or poppy seeds. Around the holidays another popular dish is kocsonya, jellied pig feet, that actually is much better than it sounds.

Dec 22, 2008


I guess the rest of the country must look like something like this. It's very pretty, but not very practical when you are trying to go about your business.

This is a Czech postcard from the 40's. Quite pretty in its almost abstract winteryness. Yet it's the two-headed piglet of my collection.

It has History stamped all over it. It's like a carnival freak show, I'm not sure how I should feel about staring.

For finisher, something more light hearted:

A chalet from the 1960 Winter Olympics. I love those baby blue and pastel classic cars serenely resting under the snow.

Dec 21, 2008

For All You Socialist Pr0n Lovers Out There

No comment...

Paul Krugman is like a cuddlier George Cloony, also Nobel Prize winning economist. This book was published in 2007 but getting republished next year, I hope with some updates. Audio version can be bought and downloaded on audible.

Dec 16, 2008

Leaf Bandit Finally Apprehended

The notorious Leaf Bandit who left sap-smeared leaf prints on windows, then disappeared into the night, despite of being a fifteen feet tall shrub, have at last been axed.

"Leaf Bandit" surrendering to the garden shear equipped authorities.

This slippery assailant have evaded the authorities for over a year, but yesterday he was finally cornered by the Garden Police Task Force.

Once in custody his true Identity was revealed as Teddy Bear, resident of the Loretto Hall Gardens. Neighbors of Mr. Bear - known just as Teddy in the neighborhood - were shocked. A conifer who did not want to be named, have told this reporter that he knew Teddy as a quiet, but friendly shrub. He once noticed Teddy's leaves being extra sticky, but thought nothing of it.

The authorities have assured the public that now with the culprit under arrest, they could sleep easy again. "It's time to turn over a new leaf" - said Sheriff Gardner.

Dec 13, 2008

Pasadena Scene

Pasadena had streetcars in 1912. And the sky had a slightly greenish tint.

What I find hard to believe that even then the mail could find the addressee based on just a name in a city like New York. And what is "R.J.D.#4" ? A signature? So many mysteries...

Dec 11, 2008

Three Blondes

This is sooo California! This photo to me is like million year old insect encased in amber.

Dec 7, 2008

The Wiener Factory Is No More

It was a nice overcast day, so I spent the better part of the morning driving around The Valley, listening to The Prairie Home Companion and hunting down things to photograph. The Wiener Factory (rip) is on Ventura Boulevard. I first spotted it while driving to the Sherman Oaks Arclight.
This Mexican themed mural is on small street, a block from Sherman Way.

I've been thinking of getting a GPS adapter for my camera. That way I could tag my photos with the exact location. Maybe I'll get it for myself for Christmas.

Dec 3, 2008

Picturesque California

I thought it was and odd postcard. Do oil fields really count as tourist attraction? What's next, earthquakes, brush fires and drive by shootings? But then I found this photo:

Now I'm completely flummoxed. Is this normal, living next to oil wells? Isn't it, you know, unsafe?