Friday, November 24, 2006

Art Thou Art?

Art is different things to different people.

Some like to be swept off their feet by it, stirred deep within. Others expect art to be provocative and challenging; to comment or rebel thus carrying a socio-political mission. Others still, need it to be beautiful and pleasant to live with, or on the contrary represent nothing but another smart investment.
And of course, you may have all of the above expectations although probably not from the same piece of art.

Art, whatever your expectations of it, is spreading to/ appearing on/ using (all depends on your definition of art) more and more media, from the very mundane and practical to the truly innovative and weird. Theoretically, there's nothing new to this, in fact I'm sure every generation comments on how now-days art is no longer what it used to be and how can a can of beans/ electronic noise/ swirvy incoherent colors or dots/ be art?


No intention of trying to define art. I just wanted to share an interesting concept I have come across, which in its form is commonly accepted to be art (a photograph, sculpture or painting) but is in fact a reproduction of individual human blueprints.

The stuff that not-so-long-ago showed tiny, if key, differences in between what makes a human, human and not a chimp. The stuff that enabled the cloning of Dolly. The stuff that in
the movie Gattaca would allow you to choose your profession or lead you to a pre-defined destiny. The stuff you inherit and that if insurance companies have their way, will cost you loads in coverage that will no longer be prophylactic if they find you carry a cancer gene...the stuff that makes you, specifically, scientifically, you - your DNA.

Now you can have a portrait of your DNA in your living room! Or your partner's. Or have them sitting side-by-side.

It's innovative, it's funky, it's colorful and supposedly what makes you, you. Is it art? or

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bond is back - not!

Just back from Casino Royale, the latest James Bond film - or not.

Funny, how although I am not a huge fan, I've somehow seen just about all of them... James Bond films have become such an institution that they've been on TV again and again over the years.

Anyway, back to Casino Royale; it's based on the first Bond book written by Ian Fleming, the one that never made it into film until now. The story is supposed to take place at the beginning of Bond's career and recounts his first mission as a '00. However, it's set in today's world with Albanian terrorists and money laundering in Montenegro.

Perhaps to avoid too many clashes in chronology, the story is not obviously linked to any key political context other than the bad guys being private bankers to terrorists, so the whole film is very much focused on Bond.
But a Bond with none of the
trademark gadgets from Q, no nuclear or satellite bombs to be disarmed, no over-the-top evil villain nor hallmark flirtations with "Bond girls".
Gone is the
refined, suave if slightly macho 007 we were accustomed to. No more sarcastic familiarity and twinkle in the eyes à la Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. In his place is a blond Bond, portrayed by Daniel Craig, who looks like a boxer (not the dog species naturally) and is a violent, ruthless and cold blooded killer (ok, he has a license).
His usual elegance has been replaced by clothes that look like he's walked out of a laundrette without doing the "press" cycle (except for the scenes in the casino). Dialogues with M (throughout) and a fellow spy (opening sequence) are cold and hard, with none of the usual innuendos.

So in the end, although the scenery of Montenegro, Venice and the Lago di Como is fabulous, the stunts impressive and the plot full of somersaults, it's no longer really a James Bond. It's a 2 hour and twenty minute long thriller, with a ruthless and cold-hearted, steal-eyed and brutal secret agent, who after each confrontation and
his enemies dead, is left bruised and bloody, colder and lonelier than ever.

Bond films might have reached the end of their life cycle, but they were different from all the other action/thriller movies. James Bond was the world's most notorious secret agent, and his lines might have been out-dated and sexist, but they were unmistakeably his. Sure, he would punch and fight, but there was nothing gruesome about it. Now with Casino Royale, we might be at the beginning of Bond movies that are just like any other thriller.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Istanbul was great.
We were there on our own, not playing guide to friends, nor sharing our stay with business related matters. Also, having been a few times now, we've been to all the main tourist must-see locations, so we could just wander as we pleased.

It felt like autumn - it was chilly and windy and leaves were falling- not spring-like as it is in Izmir. Don't get me wrong, I definitely appreciate the warmer climate, but it somehow feels weird for it to be greener than ever in November. So I enjoyed the wind and the leaves and the Istanbul autumn sun.

It was urban.
What is that supposed to mean? Well, there are lots of different cafés full of people reading weekend editions, sharing brunch and a chat. The streets were busy, young and old, fashionistas and devil-may-care, students and families strolling, window shopping and sitting on benches. I love urban trekking; discovering the contrasting neighborhoods and districts of a city, its shops and cafés, museums and buildings, parks and squares, and people from different walks of life. Istanbul is superb urban trekking territory.

Wherever you turn, there's a feeling of
history mingling with modern chaos. Old crumbling buildings, renovations going on, trendy shops and bars siding with older börek shops or incense vendors, entire shops dedicated to baklava and other honey coated pastries next to up-market deco shops, banks next to knick-knack vendors, mosques and ruins. Buildings from the nineteenth century are by far not the oldest. Some are in superb condition, other are a threat to public safety, especially in a region often visited by earthquakes. The fact that they have not managed to turn it into a homogenous picture perfect newly renovated postcard gives it a rough class in my eyes. It's still a mess, and far from the polished glamour so many cities of historical importance seem to ooze, but it feels real.

There's an air of creativity and vibrant energy. Cafés, jazz clubs, garden lounges, saunas and shops are sprouting where you would never guess to look; behind the doors of a crumbling building and shabby entrance lies a café in the premises once occupied by the Italian Labour Association (Società Operaia Italiana), on terraces, roof tops, in court yards, basements, dead ends, you name it. Istanbul is vibrant with (chaotic) life.

People have gotten their tushes into gear and are being very creative in making the most out of things. Better still, they are often doing it with taste and not in view of making a quick buck on a tourist's need for a toilet-stop. I don't mean to sound patronizing, but it's definitely a welcome change, and I fully appreciated it. There's loads to discover in Istanbul and the fantastic thing is you have to look for it, it's not just being served on a plate according to some proven marketing recipe. In this respect it kind of reminds me of Belgrade; both cities manage to preserve some form of authenticity amidst the trendy urban imports, which makes them all the more enjoyable. Perhaps working on a budget has something to do with it?

more pics of Istanbul

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Potato Pita

In utter despair of the heating ever coming on again, I resolved to try heating myself from within. No, not in a spiritual way, or by doing exercise, but via good old carbs.
I tried J. 's recipe of Bosnian Potato pita.

Although tasty, mine looked nothing like her pics.

If you can do this without the phylo pastry tearing when folding the pita into "loose cinnamon bun shapes", let me know!

Off to Istanbul for a few...

P.S. the heating is now working!!!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Cold and intoxicated

Since I'm on my own - hubs being on a business trip including most of the week-end - (lucky him) I've decided to share my oh so positive thoughts with, well, whoever is reading...

It's 8° degrees INSIDE since the heating is not working.
in my best Turkish, I will try to get it to work. I'm a much happier person with a warm tush. But tonight, I'm practically sitting in the fireplace.

Now, I know 8°C isn't
that cold, but try sitting at 8°C degrees for hours and then tell me that it's not that cold. And yes, had we moved to Russia, it would be much colder, but when I was last there, the heating worked.

Thankfully, at the moment, the electricity is on, which means I have light, water, and TV! Hurrah! My standards are getting lower by the minute.

On top of that, my dog has once again managed to swipe a whole slab of Swiss chocolate, if you please. He is now having a hard time digesting it, resulting in a farting bout that is truly unfathomable. So not only is the air cold, it is also smelly. His toxicity also means I cannot let him be the warm and wonderful foot-heater he can be. Umph.

That'll do for now.
Tomorrow is another day....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

When it gets cold...

It's the time of year when it gets cold and the rain is swishing around on the roads and gathering into enormous grey puddles that splash all over the sidewalks and mingle with the seawater the waves have landed on the shore. But I don't mind, 'cause inside my car, the heating is on and Jamie Cullum's mellow voice sooths the air, my windscreen wipers are on full blast, and I feel warm and safe in a island of mobile warmth and cosiness.

...walking into a warm, heated home, where you can finally remove your shoes, scarf and coat, and your skin swells with pleasure and your muscles relax - it's just an unbeatable feeling, don't you think?

I love being inside under a warm blanket, with my thick, scruffy, pink socks and a cup of tea when it's stormy and pouring with rain.

I love how, no matter the cold and the rain, there is a place you can go, light a fire, turn the heating up and listen to some music. Doesn't take much, but it's enough to make you feel totally protected and isolated from the aggressive cold and wet just meters away. Mmhhh...

Which is why, when it's 15°C inside, the hot water is cold, and the electricity is out - the darn weather wins and you actually feel more exposed than you did minutes ago driving along the wet streets and looking forward to coming home. Doesn't take much but when it's not available, you really miss basic comfort!!!!