New word learnt today, from a story by Mira (more on that later). Definition taken from Merriam-Webster‘s 11th Collegiate Dictionary:

abaya : variation of ABA
Main Entry : aba
Pronunciation : ə-‘bä, a-, ‘ä-bə
Function : noun
Etymology : Arabic abā
Date : 1811

1 : a loose sleeveless outer garment worn as traditional dress by men in the Middle East
2 : a fabric woven from the hair of camels or goats

Mira says that this definition is not very precise.


English words learnt today from Catch-22

rumple : WRINKLE

jowl : slack flesh (as … the pendulous part of a double chin) associated with the cheeks, lower jaw, or throat

infundibulum : funnel, funnel-shaped

bloated : being much larger than what is warranted; obnoxiously vain

putrescent : ROTTEN

throb : to pulsate or pound with abnormal force or rapidity

humdinger : a striking or extraordinary person or thing

supra- : SUPER-; transcending

mess hall : food hall (military)

pungent : sharply painful

damask : a firm lustrous fabric (as of linen, cotton, silk, or rayon) made with flat patterns in a satin weave on a plain-woven ground on jacquard looms; a grayish red

… But it bears repeating

My Lithuanian teacher, Prof. Lea Sawicki told us a story about her meeting with William Schmalstieg, one of the co-authors of “Beginner’s Lithuanian”. “You see,” she said, “He’s German, but he prefers to be considered American, so he calls himself William instead of Wilhelm and often spells his last name Smallstig. When i met him a few years ago, he told me: ‘You can call me Bill, unless it hurts your Eastern-European dignity.’ He was really very nice.”

I just love this story.

It’s your turn to fight the things they say

My renewed gusGus obsession brings about these thoughts: I own more than 300 CD’s. Not all of them are favorites, some of them are almost never played. Among the ultimate favorites almost all were bought back in the time didn’t have so much money to spend and usually had to beg my dad to buy them for me. Post, In a Bar Under the Sea, Noise Only Noise. N., Nearly God, and even much-hated Pablo Honey — i know every single note on those records. It puts me in a very philosophical mood. I can draw some very depressing conclusions — for example, that rock was really never supposed to be enjoyed by adults and that one day i’ll stop enjoying it myself and also that having the means to buy music kills the anticipation and the excitement. I can also draw optimistic conclusions — that this all is only a preparation to something bigger.

To sum it up, take Vespertine: it is truly a great album — revelatory, innovative, beautifully written and performed, not overproduced. Add to that the fact that i am a huge fan of Björk. Then why have i listened to it not more than maybe 15 times, while i listened to Post probably more than 150? I can only hope that somewhere in the world there’s a 16-year-old kid that has the same passionate feelings for Vespertine that i have for Post.

I should offer myself as a subject of study to a Musicology student.


I talked to Hadar on the phone yesterday, and we had nothing interesting to say, so she told me to just babble some crap. So i opened the “Good Vintage” (“Batzir Tov“) lyric sheet and read her Yona Wallach’s “Kol Neshifa”. Hadar was pleasantly surprised, and so was i. Reading poetry aloud is fun. Later in the day i read her some more Yona Wallach’s and also the first verse of “Eugene Onegin” (the whole of which i should read myself already!) Today i read her Shalom Gad‘s “Yibane Hamikdash”. It seemed fitting — it talks about building a home, a temple (mikdash) of love by a couple, using manual labor and some funding help from the bank. Equally realistic and poetic.

Now if i could write some decent poetry it would be really great…

Could you fake your reflection, child?

Nothing reminds me of my teenage blues as well as gusGus‘ “Polydistortion”.

  1. Oh (edit). When i think of Polydistortion, i think of being seventeen. Being deep in love with a girl that hated me (and very depressed about that), starting to understand that life is harder than i ever expected … and having very few CD’s. With the little money i had i didn’t buy East 17, Metallica and Tupac like everyone i knew, but Björk, Tricky, dEUS, Sonic Youth, Rockfour and gusGus. The soundtrack of losing innocence really. Nothing better to say about that than “Oh…”
  2. Gun. Back in 1997 i used to be very miserable and disaffected and for me Polydistortion was a wonderful soundtrack for almost killing myself. I really thank God (and Beck) that i didn’t. I thank God that i blew my mind with gusGus’ music and not my head with a gun. How can music be so depressing and so uplifting at the same time is a mystery which can probably be understood only by Icelanders, but luckily it can be enjoyed by anyone. Oh + Gun = one of the best openings for an album, ever.
  3. Believe. On the water we talk se-ri-ous-ly. Yep, it seems that for an Icelander, nothing is easier and more natural than having a serious conversation with Jesus while walking on water. Whatever is the message of that song, it is encapsulated so well, that “Laconic” is not the word. Even “Effective/Passive/Aggressive” is far from describing it right.
  4. Polyesterday. They tried to rape her, she couldn’t reach higher. With gusGus, it all comes back to the sheer simplicity — the simpler the song is, the better. Sparse and minimal is the formula for genius. These songs aim straight at the heart and they hit perfectly.
  5. Barry. It is a song about love. Homosexual, probably. Or maybe i didn’t get it right at all. What i am sure of is that it is a song about someone who is very unlike me, at least on the outside. Or vice versa.
  6. Cold Breath ’79. This song, along with Barry, is the one that i find hardest to identify with on Polydistortion, which doesn’t mean that i don’t love immensely. I’m a guy and Cold Breath has something inherently female in it; some things we just don’t understand.
  7. Why? Everyone likes this one. I don’t know why, no pun intended. It’s one of the tracks i like least; the context makes it loveable, though. The best thing about “Why?” is the “Longing for you baby, mm-mm-mm” line, which can’t leave anyone indifferent.
  8. Remembrance. It’s a little too long, but one just needs to find a good time to listen to the album. Probably the saddest song i know. And it’s nasty. So nasty. It is in the feeling — i have very little idea what the lyrics are about.
  9. Is Jesus Your Pal? Oh, the heavy cultural burden: I was born Jewish, and this deprives me of the possibility – and the need – of being pals with Jesus. The good thing about it is that i don’t have to call out his name when my conscious is shivering. Something taught me that coping with it by myself is the right way; maybe it was my culture and maybe it was this beatiful song.
  10. Purple. One of the best and the most outstanding tracks on the album. The artists are not ashamed for a second to put a happy major-scale trance tune at the end of one of the saddest albums ever. Whatever were the reasons to putting it there, the result is so wonderful, that this song changed me — suddenly i moved from hating trance into respecting it, along with absolutely any other kind of music. Up to that time i was almost purely a rocker/grunger, with a little Björk/trip-hop deviation (trip-hop was c’est chic in 1997); it was “Purple” that triumphantly crushed that bubble.
  11. Polybackwards. The little hidden track that could. Nothing but weird synths with no melody or beat, but who needs them? It made me feel good about buying an electronic album – “ha-ha, i’m listening to super-cool arty music, it’s not just trance.” How innocent was i.