Top 5 songs from Eurovision 2020 (that never happened)

As some of you may know, Eurovision 2020 was cancelled. Everyone was saying Russia was supposed to win this year, and I will dutifully mention their entry in this post, but I don’t really like it that much personally.

1. Efendi – Cleopatra – Azerbaijan 🇦🇿

This music video seems to be Katy Perry’s Dark Horse, Beyoncé’s Run the World, and Sting’s Desert Rose in one bottle. But honestly, maybe thanks to my Qaraqoyunlular heritage, my heart beats for it 💖

2. Senhit – Freaky! – San Marino 🇸🇲

They say Eurovision would be incomplete without San Marino. Now, welcome to the 70’s! I really like the disco-hippie vibe this song is giving me. With a modern polish, of course. I also like the vocal choices the singer makes, talking rhythmically over music, and the overall “freedom” message of the song.

3. Little Big – Uno – Russia 🇷🇺

Okay, here comes Little Big’s UNO, the supposed winner of this year’s Eurovision. I guess the 70’s are a trend this year, and they may be nailing it with the costumes. I do realize the sour demeanors are also intentional, but I still can’t like the song personally as much as I liked the other four in this roundup, sorry.

4. Gjon’s Tears – Répondez-moi – Switzerland 🇨🇭

This year, a singer of Albanian background sings in French to represent Switzerland. To me, this would be my winning song! It stays with you after you read the lyrics (that are very timely, I should say):

Why rain?
And clouds too?
And clouds too?
Why in the evening,
you fall asleep in my bed?
you fall asleep in my bed?
Why do we sleep,
so far away from the family,
in another country?
Why death,
comes after life? – Answer me…

5. Daði og Gagnamagnið – Think About Things – Iceland 🇮🇸

The song is about love, but the band reminds me either of elves or leprechauns. It’s an addictive tune, plus I think I can see a disco ball spinning in my mind’s eye as I listen to this. Fun fact: in a 1998 survey, 54.4 percent of Icelanders said they believed in the existence of elves.

And here is the non-Eurovision version of this music video. Which one do you like better?


All Our Dreams: English-language synopsis


(I’ve written 14 chapters plus Prologue of this book in Russian so far. I’m planning to finish it and to have it translated into English, perhaps.)


In the future, a group of progressively-minded individuals creates a robot by investing their best talents, dreams and aspirations in a single human-like being. The robot is breathtakingly beautiful, supernaturally smart and has a balanced and pleasant personality. It can also be a male or a female depending on the situation. Overnight, Ini-Nioni becomes an international sensation and is admired by billions of people all over the world.

But any technology has its limitations. At some point, the robot begins to display aggressive behavior for an unknown reason. Balancing between the odds of being shut down/terminated and solving its own problems, Ini-Nioni is forced to search for the meaning of its existence – as well as the meaning of the existence of its Creators.


Hotel employee Melinda sees a gorgeous young man in the lobby and realizes it’s Ini-Nioni who has arrived for the Creators Gala . She talks to him briefly and asks the celebrity robot to allow her to save the memory of their encounter in her personal archives.

Chapter 1 – Ten-Year Anniversary

It’s been ten years since Bekker Research Center created the robot. Journalists organize a holographic broadcast in World Capital with Ini-Nioni as their guest who tells them the story of its creation. Prof. Marsha Sonders watches the broadcast closely, looking for signs of unusual behavior in the robot. She notices none, though.

Chapter 2 – Creator Gala

The annual Creator Gala takes place at the Ten Whales hotel. It brings together hundreds of scientists, designers, and people of art who have ever contributed to Ini-Nioni and hold intellectual rights to the robot.

Together with the renowned dancer Nei-Lee, the robot performs the Dance of Elementals. After the show, Nioni asks Nei-Lee to share with him her dance technique and to become his Creator. Nei-Lee predictably says “no”. The robot leaves concluding that she’s proud. Nei-Lee’s colleague and secret admirer Kan Haetto points it out to the dancer that she must have feelings for Nioni that are making her not want to become his “mom”.

Chapter 3 – Galatea

In its female aspect, the robot approaches its Supreme Creator – Prof. Hugo Bekker – at the Gala. Ini asks the professor if they can talk in private. The two retreat to Prof. Bekker’s room where distressed Ini confesses that she’s been having a hard time controlling her rage lately. Prof. Bekker feels concerned, but acts calm on the outside and tries to reassure the robot. In an adjourning room, Prof. Marsha Sonders eve droops on their conversation using spy gear and is jubilant that her sabotage efforts seem to be paying off.

Chapter 4 – Calm Before the Storm

Back at Bekker Research Center, Prof. Bekker launches an investigation into the Creator contributions to Ini-Nioni made in the past year. He sits in the room with ten other General Manager for hours, but they find nothing of substance. When everyone is dismissed for lunch, Prof. Marsha Sonders catches up with her old friend, General Manager Keanu Ayle in the elevator. Among friendly chit-chat, Marsha is able to trick Keanu into telling her how the investigation is going.

Chapter 5 – The Fall

Marsha Sonders gives a lecture at BRC University where she talks about inertia and free-fall. Late at night, Prof. Hugo Bekker is woken up by a call from his assistant. He discovers that Ini-Nioni has just gotten in trouble during the concert at Marcian Heights. The robot acted hostile and aggressive to a fan, which left the public shocked and bewildered. The following day, Prof. Bekker suggests they temporarily reduce the intensity of the robot’s emotional response to outward stimuli. Ini-Nioni agrees, but ends up feeling depressed. It tries to hide it from everyone, including Prof. Bekker.

Chapter 6 – A Clue

Dancer Nei-Lee visits Nioni at his apartment and says she’s now ready to become his Creator. Nioni acts coldly towards her and says he’s not accepting any contributions from anyone at this time. Meanwhile, the media report people’s frustration over the robot’s withdrawal from the spotlight. The head of a competing company, Prof. Tokku-Richie Nasu, goes on a live show where he criticizes Prof. Bekker’s decision to make just one copy of the robot. He insists that Ini-Nioni is BRC’s top-grossing product, and that its rarity is used to guarantee its high price. Back in his office, Prof. Bekker who also watches the broadcast realizes he’s heard this exact POV before… from BRC employee Marsha Sonders!

Chapter 7 – All Our Dreams

Prof. Bekker organizes a press conference where he explains certain things about Ini-Nioni. He talks about the Creators’ motivation behind making all contributions to one single being. He also says that BRC has had more money that it can burn for years, and that the project was never about the money, but about “seeing what their dreams can do, united”. Nioni watches the press conference with fashion designer Ki E-Zhuo. At first he grumbles that people talk as if he were a piece of metal, but then tells Ki E-Zhuo he may have find a way to solve his problem without human help.

Chapter 8 – A New Ally

The day after the press conference, it turns out that the media misunderstood what Prof. Bekker was trying to say. The only journalist who seems to have gotten the message was a little-known blogger Pilla Chianti. Prof. Bekker asks Keanu Ayle to give Mrs. Chianti a call and see if she wants to be their new PR Manager. Pilla is surprised to hear from a high-ranking BRC professor, but is flattered by the offer. After he hangs up, Keanu Ayle finds himself replaying young Pilla Chianti’s facial expressions in his head, but shakes off the feeling they give him.

Chapter 9 – The Forbidden Fruit

Nioni comes to Prof. Bekker’s office and tells his Supreme Creator about his breakthrough. Turns out, the robot has been reading the Bible and trying to understand what drives his good behavior. He now thinks he can teach himself what’s good and what’s bad through experience.  Prof. Bekker is not thrilled at the idea of the robot becoming his own Creator. He asks him to wait and says there is a clue (to solving the robot’s problem) that he wants to follow up on. Pilla Chianti arrives at BRC for a job interview and is entranced by the brief meeting with Ini-Nioni she has there.

Chapter 10 – The Confrontation

During the interview, Prof. Bekker and Keanu Ayle tell Pilla what is expected from the person in her job role. Prof. Ayle also warns Pilla about the danger of falling for the perfect robot, since it could never return anyone’s feelings. After the meeting, Prof. Bekker calls Marsha Sonders to his office and confronts her about the robot. He bluffs and says he knows that Tokku-Richie Nasu and she did something to Ini-Nioni. He offers to keep it a secret if Marsha tells him what they did. Marsha confesses to everything, and Hugo Bekker is shocked to learn that the damage cannot be undone.

Chapter 11 – Know Thyself

Pilla Chianti signs a contract with BRC (Bekker Research Center) and becomes its Public Relations Manager. With Prof. Keanu Ayle appointed her supervisor, she takes a short course that’s supposed to teach her about Ini-Nioni’s psyche, abilities and behavior. Meanwhile, Ini-Nioni keeps analyzing the drivers behind the good behavior in humans. Now that Prof. Bekker knows that the robot’s problem cannot be solved by traditional means, he intends to keep his promise and return normal sensitivity to the robot, if it promises to be careful and avoid situations that could make it irritable.

Chapter 12 – Back to Normal

Pilla and Keanu have lunch together and get to know each other better. Pilla is in awe with Prof. Ayle’s ability to stay focused and frame his thoughts in a precise manner. She also notices his unusual eye color. Keanu realizes that Pilla’s childish and innocent personality gives him a warm fuzzy feeling he is unable to control. Back at the laboratory, Ini-Nioni is put inside a freezer capsule and his software is updated to bring back his normal sensitivity to outward stimuli. When the robot emerges from the freezer tube, it’s happy and smiling, and very glad to have his normal mood back.

Chapter 13 – Professor Sonders

(I think I made it chapter 13 on purpose, because everyone who read the book seems to hate Marsha. In fact, I kind of hate her, too, but I want to show her from a different perspective over the course of the narrative) 

Marsha Sonders resolves to resign from BRC. Hue Bekker is happy and unhappy about it. He has a difficult conversation with Marsha, which resembles a chess match where both seek to uncover each other’s plans while keeping their true thoughts secret. They end up “laying the cards open”, and Prof. Bekker accuses Marsha of being cold-hearted because she’s willing to destroy Ini-Nioni. Marsha calls Hue Bekker a hypocrite and says the robot won’t have any memory of ever living or being destroyed if they break it into smaller programs. The meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Ini-Nioni who is sad to learn that Marsha is leaving. Both Prof. Bekker and Prof. Sonders act normal in front of the robot and tell Nioni that his “mom’s” departure is for work-related reasons.

Chapter 14 – Ini-Nioni’s Only Fear

World Capital is engulfed in celebrating Spring Holidays. The robot’s female aspect, Ini, makes some public appearances. Unexpectedly to anyone, a long-time fan of Ini tries to take his life when the robot refuses to meet with him. The media bring up the question of why there is only one “copy” of the robot out there in the world. Tokku and Marsha participate a live show where they say the world needs more affordable robots and more of them. Ini-Nioni is shocked to see Marsha on the show. Right then, Tokku says that his colleague Marsha does not support the decision to shut down the robot – they only want to make more robots like Ini-Nioni. Meanwhile, Prof. Bekker meets with Pilla and Keanu and reveals that, although Ini-Nioni has no human-like fears, it can literally “go mad” if the Creators disagree and threaten to shut down its program.


Top 7 Dimash Kudaibergen reaction videos

Back in 2015, I went to a singing contest in Vitebsk, Belarus. That was the first time I lay my eyes on Dimash Kudaibergen, an extraordinary singer from Kazakhstan. Fast forward to 2017, Dimash won the “I am Singer” reality show in China and shocked the audience with his S.O.S. song.

And now voice coaches, opera singers, and ordinary people have been making reaction videos to this “dude”, “alien”, “angel”, and whatever other names they’ve been giving him. These vids are fun to watch, especially when the coaches get puzzled 🙂 Here are my top 7 Dimash reaction videos – – – >

Why “Death Note” is a stunning piece of animated cinematography

You can’t study Japanese and avoid hearing about Death Note – arguably, the most popular anime series of all time. So, I decided to give it a shot. For the first couple of episodes, I was bored, to be honest. But once you have detective L. on the set, and the story unfolds, it becomes one of the best detective stories ever told. And so cleverly produced, too.

I am no anime critic. I find Hayao Miyazaki’s work amazing. I really loved Your Name (although some think it overrated). But in Death Note, you’ve got this incredibly well thought-out, meticulously made animation that maintains its high quality throughout the entire series, episode after episode. There are 37 of them total.

So, here are just some things I find so stunning about Death Note:

1. Camera: motion and focus

In Death Note, they make the drawn anime look like a movie with the “camera” slowly moving through the scene, shifting focus from object to object, etc.

2. Camera: manga-esque frames

Death Note is clearly based on the popular manga by the same name. And we see many frames that look just like they have been inspired by the manga style, with lots of closeups, bottom-up perspectives and stark shadows.

3. Camera: photographic details

Death Note is incredibly well drawn. Objects look extremely realistic, as if they were photographs. And you’re in awe with the animators’ attention to detail. They didn’t have to create those elaborate sets and details, and yet they did.

Note the reflection in the glass window

4. Directing: noises off mode

When directors want to emphasize an intense moment between two characters, they move them to an imaginary place. Then the characters continue the conversation there.



5. Directing: pensive mode

When a character starts thinking things to himself/herself, directors use a special color for each character to indicate their “thinking to self” mode.

It’s red for Light Yagami

It’s blue for L.

It’s amber for Matsuda

It was also green for Aizawa and turquoise for Near, I believe 😉

6. Directing: emphasizing tension

Directors often use insignificant details: exaggerated ticking of the clock, slowed down falling of rain drops, etc. to build up tension.

In the final scene (episode 36) between Light and Near, Light walks into the abandoned mill house and we can see a large fan near the rooftop. The fan slows down, then it comes to a full stop. It starts moving again when everything is over.

7. Directing: parallels

There are lots of parallels in the series. For example, on the day that L dies, it is pouring rain. And, in the final two episodes, on the day when Near and Light meet, we see the same kind of heavy rain, which immediately makes one remember the day L died.

This is a hint that it will be either Near revenging L’s death, or Light triumphing after killing both L. and Near.

“Can you hear it? I think the church bell is really loud today. There must be a wedding not far from here going on” – L.

It was raining cats and dogs on the day L. died.

It’s the same kind of pouring rain on the day when everything is decided between Light and Near (N.)

January 28, 2013

8. Incredible music

The OST to DeathNote attracted many ravishing reviews. I personally like L.’s second theme and the actual “Death Note theme“, because it sounds like a piece of Russian Orthodox religious singing to me, to be honest.

I also like it how, in the last two episodes, the music gets more and more “symphonic” and at the very end one can hear an entire orchestra playing the piece.

9. The potato chip scene

It’s a classic and there is no doubt about it. The following video explains it all.

P.S. By the way, please please please do NOT watch the Netflix movie. Not only is it totally gross, but has almost nothing to do with the original series. 


“La-La Topolya” by BI-2 translated from Russian into English

“La-La Topolya” is an OST by BI-2 for the movie “Things That Men Talk About.”

The song has some metaphorical phrases that can be translated literally, but actually mean something else in a fixed context.

  1. La-la topolya” – literally means “la-la poplar trees”. But it actually means something like “blah-blah-blah”, “yada-yada-yada”, “etc. etc. etc.”
  2. Skol’ko vody uteklo” – literally means “(how) much water has run away”. But the phrase also means “it’s been a long time”, “a lot has happened since… [we last met].”
  3. Sbezhim s koroblya na bal” – literally means “we will flee the ship to the ball”. But the expressions “to come from the ship to the ball” means “to experience an abrupt change of setting”, for instance, when five minutes ago you were in a dusty train compartment and now you’re addressing a UN General Assembly meeting.
  4. Sanitarnaya kareta” – literally means “medical carriage” (like the one with the horses). This is an archaic/poetic name for “ambulance”.

Here is the complete translation:

Much water has run away
And now it doesn’t matter: whether it’s blood or wine
I won’t have regrets anymore
Try answering this – who has had luck?

La-la, poplar trees! We’ll flee the ship
To arrive at the ball in a medical carriage.
La-la, poplar trees! Have a good day, everyone
And may the summer never end.

Tears are crawling down my face,
And your kiss has hops-like bitterness.
If the Earth is round,
Will the ailing soul slip down or will it stand?


And here’s the line-by-line translation with the Russian version:

Сколько воды утекло,
Much water has run away
И теперь всё равно: что кровь, что вино.
And now it doesn’t matter: whether it’s blood or wine
Больше не буду жалеть.
I won’t have regrets anymore
Попробуй ответь, кому повезло?
Try answering this – who has had luck?

Ля-ля, тополя! Сбежим с корабля
La-la, poplar trees! We’ll flee the ship
На бал в санитарной карете.
To arrive at the ball in a medical carriage.
Ля-ля, тополя! Всем доброго дня,
La-la, poplar trees! Have a good day, everyone
И пусть не кончается лето.
And may the summer never end.

Слёзы ползут по лицу,
Tears are crawling down my face,
И твой поцелуй горчит словно хмель.
And your kiss has hops-like bitterness.
Если Земля – это шар,
If the Earth is round,
То больная душа устоит ли на ней?
Will the ailing soul slip down or will it stand?

Clémentin Agrees to Die

The next morning, Clémentin woke up with a splitting headache. His thoughts refused to fall in place. They would come and go, like waves that washed the shores of Mataró where Clémentin lived. The night before had been by far the worst in his recent memory. Clémentin sat up on his bed and rubbed his forehead. Inside, he felt emptiness. “What’s gonna become of me now?” thought Clémentin. “Am I done? Fired? Don’t have anything to do here anymore?”

He got up and walked to the bay hoping for some understanding. The sun watched Clémentin with its reprimanding eye burning his skin with hot rays and refused to say anything. In despair, Clémentin plunged in cool water, but the sea didn’t want to share its salt with him. It even stopped storming and got completely still. Clémentin then walked back ashore and decided to wait until something finally happened.

He waited on and on. The day was almost spent when some thought finally tapped him on the shoulder – the thought that came from the sea. Clémentin clang to the thought, grabbed it by the sleeve and sewed it on tight to his soul. He made a ruthless decision not to let go of it till the very evening – until he, with the thought as his lucky charm, went to sleep.

Clémentin’s day began not like any other person’s day – his day began when he rested his head on the pillow and sank into the world of his dreams. When ordinary people slept, Clémentin lived. In his dreams he’d travel down hellish abysses or rise to celestial heights – he’d seen it all.

Hardly did he “wake up” in the dream world, as Fellen greeted him. “Clémentin, you almost lost,” said the demon with his lips fixed in a lopsided smile. “It was your last chance and you managed to use it – not entirely bad.”

Clémentin did not reply. He just stood there and waited for the demon to come up with some decision or a pointer. However, against his will, the thought that he had brought from the sea started to move. “Clémentin, you gotta be kidding me! How dare you think of Him in my presence. Summoning Michael, are you?!”

Something happened, and Fellen was at once gone from the dream-woven space where vacuums and elements met. In his stead, Clémentin saw the figure of Archangel Michael approaching, which looked enormous even from afar. The Archangel stopped at an indefinite distance from Clémentin. The space around the Archangel seemed to have more depth to it, as if it had more dimensions. Deep inside his mind, Clémentin heard His unspoken thought. The thought was about him, Clémentin. Suddenly, Clémentin realized – or he was told so – that not much could be done at that point. His life – as he knew it – was finished. His confusion had gotten so profound, his vices so deep-rooted, that he’d better leave then. Be done with the old life and start a new one. Get a fresh start.

“Do you have faith, Clémentin?” rang the unvoiced question directed at him.

He hurt so bad, as if some invisible weight was trying to smash him against the unmeasurable space of the dream world. Laid bare against Archangel Michael’s brilliant light, Clémentin’s ugly memories, like dirty underwear, made him ashamed of himself. He realized he’d now agree to anything.

“I do,” Clémentin replied without saying a single word.

Then his shame reached its peak. Clémentin broke down and cried. Heavy feelings rushed down his soul like a snow avalanche descending from Alpine peaks. With every passing second, he was feeling more and more relieved.

And then he forgot everything: memories had left his head, drowned out by his tears. All Clémentin could see was darkness. Until he could see no more.


A flash of bright light. Another flash of light. Something was bothering him, something was waking him up, something was nagging him. Clémentin opened his eyes and, to his surprise, found himself in his very bed.

It was broad afternoon. It was drizzling outside, yet the sun was out as well – a rare combination. Blinking fast through the remains of his sleep, Clémentin stared at his palms, then touched his face and, having sprung out of his bed, rushed to the mirror. A well-familiar reflection stared him back in the mirror.

Suddenly, he heard a sound outside the window. Through the thin veil of raindrops that sparkled in the sun, he saw a tiny angel. The angel was flying in circles in front of his patio, making crazy loops as he went around.

“You live, Clémentin, you live!” laughed the angel.

And then Clémentin realized he had just been born.


Saint Germain des Prés, a place I got tipped off about in a dream

a snapshot of my cell screen

Okay, let me see when this happened. The screenshot in my phone is from December the 7th, 2016, 8:01 am. It means I had this dream on the night of Dec 6 to Dec 7.

I dreamed about some place abroad. I was outside an old building, standing on the line to a movie theater with other. Suddenly, some kind of employee of that place walked out of his booth, holding a phone receiver in his hand.

“Does anybody speak Russian here”, he addressed the crowd.

“I do”, I said.

“Could you pick up. Someone needs help here”, he told me and gave me the receiver (or maybe it was a portable radio phone.

“Hello!” I said into the phone.

“Hi, is this Alexandra Leonidovna?” asked me a female voice with a thick French accent. I was shocked she knew my first and my paternal name, because I was supposed to be a total stranger to her.

“Yes, it’s me,” I replied.

“Do you know where in Paris is located the church of San Germain du pre?” she asked (I’m misspelling the name of the church to reflect her French pronunciation with the nasal “ung” and “dew” sounds).

“I don’t know…” I replied in confusion. Hastily, I racked my brain for this name. The only Parisian church I could think of was Notre Dame. I also remembered D’orsay and the Louvre for some reason. “But I can check on the map in my phone”, I said. But the woman on the phone had already hung up.


Then there was a leap in my dream. I could see this old church, Said Germain des Prés, simultaneously from the inside and the outside. Inside there were two men guards. Outside, there was a woman who looked a bit like a vagabond or a beggar. She was pregnant.

“I need to go inside”, she told the guards. For some reason it was important that she gave birth to the baby inside of this church.

One of the guards was a skeptic, and he said: “Look at her, she must be mad!” But his partner guard could feel that there was something unusual about the woman and the whole situation. He said: “Wait, maybe it is us who is actually crazy, not her”.

I don’t know what happened eventually, for I woke up in my bed.


The first thing I did upon waking up was, of course, I google the name of the church. My eyes got really big when I saw that not only there was a church by the exact name, but also that Saint Germain des Prés was the single oldest church in the whole of Paris!

It was the first Christian church ever built in Paris. And it’s still there today!

Because I had this dream in December, it was almost New Year’s Eve. I did not have the time or the opportunity to go to Paris.

I waited for almost one year to do it. Towards the end of 2017, I decided I’d go to Paris for New Year’s and would visit the church while I was there.

There were almost no hotels left. Finally I found a not-entirely-horrible place in Les Gobelins. Because I was learning Japanese at that time, I miraculously attracted Japanese people. The guy at the front desk looked Japanese, but I didn’t want to question him about his country of origin.

My roommate, though, turned out to be a Malaysian guy who was born and was living in Japan. He told me I could call him “Lin-san”, while he would call me “Alesia-chan”. Actually, the Japanese use “chan” instead of “san” when they talk to babies, little kids and teenagers. I was flattered that I must have appeared quite young to him 😉

In the morning of December the 31st, I set out on my trip to Saint Germain des Pres. The forecast predicted rain, and there were some omnious-looking clouds in the sky. I decided to take a longer route to a far-away metro station, because it’d be inconvenient to get there from Rue de Gobelins. As I was walking to the station, my heart skipped a bit. In a flash, I remembered that this had happened to me before. I’ve seen this over-the-street train, this route and this area a long time ago in another dream. I stopped and made a short video for myself.

on my way to the church

I was destined to undertake this journey a long time ago.

As I reached the square where Saint Germain is located, there were not that many tourists there. I guess it’s a place that’s more popular with the locals. There were about a dozen Christmas tents selling food, pastry and some souvenirs. Suddenly, the sky cleared the sun came out. It felt as if I was in a dream. With my gaze slightly blurred, I was looking around the place, as if in a trance. Then I decided to go inside.

There was a statue of a woman with a baby (probably of Virgin Mary) at the far end of the church that sent chills down my spine, don’t know why. I also found the tomb of John II Casimir Vasa (I know his name from a common historical period shared by Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus). Now, I read in Wikipedia:

He [the king] died on December 16, 1672 from apoplexy, and his burial took place inside the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków. His heart was interred in the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

How strange is that!

Now, they say the Abbey (and later the church) were founded by Saint Germain, a bishop of Paris. It’s a burial site of many kings. Also, until the 17th century, the church “owned” a major part of Paris and was one of its administrative centers.

And, of course, I can’t help thinking of the mysterious Saint Germain (the theosophical figure.) Just to clarify, this isn’t the same man as the Bishop Saint who founded the Abbey.

I spent close to an hour inside Saint Germain des Prés. After all, it was the main reason I flew to Paris to see off the year 2017. When I left the church, the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining. I bought some fried potatoes with mushrooms from the street fair around the church. As I was standing there, eating my food, two women asked me:

“Excuse me, are you American?”

“Nope”, I shook my head. Don’t know why I remember that incident. And don’t know why they asked.

Top 7 artist collaborations (list)

Every once in a while, I feel like compiling a list like this. For example, check out my 7 Greatest Contemporary Instrumental Music Composers  😉 I hope this will help some of you discover new artists or songs you may have never heard.  Enjoy!

MIKA and Chiara | Stardust

Chiara won X-Factor Italy and MIKA was the coach. What’s interesting about them (well, to me) is that they both have the Sun in Leo in their horoscopes frrrrrrrrrrr

Brett Anderson and Ilya Lagutenko | Scorpio Rising

I’ve known about Ilya Lagutenko and his band Mummiy Troll for a really long time. But only recently did I really get to like them. Ilya does amazing live broadcasts on Instagram, one day I almost cried from happiness when I caught their live broadcast from a Tokyo show and he was singing in Japanese..

But his one is a collaboration with a British singer Brett Anderson. And yes, my ascending (rising) horoscope sign is Scorpio wshhhhhhh

Jamie Winchester and Hrutka Róbert | Hide and Seek

This could be a good time to confess that Jamie Winchester is actually one of my favorite artists in the world. He may not be tremendously big, but for me he’s got this personality and this creative genius that should be known to more people, I believe.

MIKA and Fedez | Beautiful Disaster

MIKA and Fedez both judged the Italian X-Factor, and that’s how they met. A nice side effect was this quite interesting video.


Jamie Winchester and Baba Yaga | Secret Combination

Baba Yaga records are extremely hard to find these days. I used to own an audio tape (!) by them back in… not even sure which year. Jamie met this Russian folk band at some kind of festival and they decided to do a project together called “Baba Yaga”, which was this eclectic- and unique-style band for some time. Their songs combine really vigorous folk singing in Russian and Jamie’s vocal and rock music. I really like another song by them, but there isn’t a video for it on YouTube.

PITINGO, Farah Siraj and Dorantes | Leila

This is a HT to my Lebanese origins (if you know what I mean 😉 ) PITINGO is a Spanish flamenco artist who also sings in other styles, and does many joint projects with other artists. Don’t know why, but his personality amazes me. He started his life’s career doing something different, but I think he was destined to eventually become what he is nowadays. (I do hope someone will invite him to play an elf in a fantasy movie one day :)))


Muerdo and Lola Membrillo (Perotá Chingó) | Semillas

In one interview, Muerdo said that his stage name literary means “a bite” in Spanish, but it’s another word for “a kiss”. I believe he has a great voice and a lot of expressiveness. In this feature he sings together with Lola Membrillo (aka Perotá Chingó).


Limitations of Linear Thinking

If I am ignorant, I am in the dark. If I am learned, I am in even greater darkness. ~ paraphrasing the Vedas.

Linear thinking is a way of, first of all, learning things. And, second, of performing cognitive operations with the things you have learned.

Cognitive operations are analysis, synthesis, comparison, etc. If both are linear (the learning and the building of new knowledge off of the already acquired knowledge), the individual plunges into infinite darkness where he or she never achieves illumination (or, as they say, “enlightenment”.)


Because of the limited nature of linear thinking. Imagine that the world looks like this.

And, say, the linear mind (liner learning + linear thinking) wants to explore Existence.

So, it goes like this.

It keeps tackling the question from multiple sides/facets, but keeps failing to grasp the big picture.

A linear mind is also puzzled by contradictions. It can’t see the whole.

How do you define linear?

Once in a English literature class the teacher drew a timeline of literary genres on the board. The timeline was linear and went consequently from one genre to another.

The teacher then said: “you may have noticed that certain genres come back within similar periods of time. If you look at the timeline in terms of cycles [classicism – decadence – renaissance – neo classicism, etc.], it will be easier for you to remember.”

In existence, linear motion comes across as very unnatural.

Think about these cycles:

spring | summer | fall | winter | spring

life | death | life

Q1 | Q2 | Q3 | Q4 | Q1

Linear represents a not fully natural, simplified picture of the phenomenal world.

Knowledge vs information

Albert Einstein famously said that “true knowledge comes from experience; everything else is information.” At least this quote is attributed to him.

If you have never been to Malaysia, no matter how much you “learn” about it from others, this is information. A human being has limited time in this world to have first-hand experiences. With that in mind, one should always remember that most of what they learn is useless. It’s like honey that was never gathered, but was only observed by an idle bee from the distance.

How to be truly phenomenal

Maybe I’ve been reading too much of Swami Vivekananda these days, and it’s been affecting my mind.. But, for what it’s worth >

Phenomenal = natural = accidental as in a “natural phenomenon.”

The opposite of linear thinking is phenomenal thinking (here’s to those of you who thought I’d say “spherical” or something like that.)

Existence is a natural phenomenon. By exploring it with a natural mind, you can get complete, non-contradictory knowledge.

I came across this analogy (and the quote from the Vedas) in the book “The Journey Continues: A sequel to Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master” by Sri M.

Non-contradictory knowledge

The reason I started this post with a quote from the Vedas, which is a great source of “phenomenal” (if in a slightly different sense) knowledge, is that, according to them, there are six sources of non-contradictory knowledge.

For your learning process to be phenomenal, all six should be in balance.

Image credit: Alexey Kljatov via Flickr

  1. Direct observation
  2. Testimony by an authority (who is to be trusted)
  3. Logic (including analysis, comparison, etc.)
  4. Experiment
  5. Intuition
  6. Non-existence!

My peculiar education

From an early age, I’ve been getting these insights about how the world works from time to time. They did not come from my teachers, my friends or my parents. They rather came from a source within me, which I cannot explain.

When the circumstances are right, I sometimes get a powerful message that “attacks” me with these three components at once:

  • deep idea
  • strong emotion
  • visual scheme

As for the visual scheme, I normally see it with my mind’s eye – no hallucinations, or course.

For example, one day I suddenly saw that the world’s gravity system is a hierarchy of escape holes (=black holes). At first, I could not believe my own idea. Yet pretty soon it was partially confirmed by scientists who discovered black holes inside atoms.

Could Tiny ‘Black Hole Atoms’ Be Elusive Dark Matter?

A Black Hole at the Heart of an Atom! PDF

Black hole in the nuclei of an atom

(If you are interested in this particular subject, there’s an article about it on my other blog.)

I often feel sorry for the people whose habit of using the linear mind is blocking them from receiving information in the same way I get some of “my” ideas.

The conclusion and the gist of this post is that the linear mind has its limitations. Intuition can serve like a flashlight in a dark forest and can illuminate the path ahead, if temporarily. It can help you take a shortcut.

This is not to say that intuition alone can be reliable. But linear thinking without its 5 other rightful companions (see “non-contradictory knowledge”) is doomed to bring progress at snail’s pace.


As I wrote before, I came across the original quote of the Vedas and the metaphor that a still mind beholds the absolute while reading “The Journey Continues: A sequel to Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master” by Sri M.

The person who told me about the six sources of non-contradictory knowledge was my friend and mentor Prof. M.I. Mikhailov. Together with his wife who is a mathematician, he co-authored “Key to the Vedas“, a scientific research that contains proof that the Vedas are nothing by syllabically-encoded mathematical-astronomical body of code. And, if you know the key, you can decipher the message contained in the great ancient scriptures.

Protected: The Blue Mosque of Tabriz, and Two Lives Terminated in Year XX’67

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