Glengarry Glen Ross

Brass BallsA quintessential, brilliant celebration of incredible talents united by David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize winning script. Despite on the evergreen hypnotism of the “Sales Conference” scene, its placement and impact is too dominant and after undetermined number of watch-times, it hits less and less, giving a viewer long awaited opportunity to explore the other no less deep and significant scenes.

One of these scenes is my all time favorite: “Are we just talking about it or we just talking about it?” The prior mutual cross-complain dialog only emphasizes the sales speech Ed Harris projects on his fellow salesman Alan Arkin. In addition incredible Al Pacino, mesmerizing Alec Baldwin - absolutely the best 5 minutes of his acting career, Jack “The Legend” LemmonKevin Spacey in non-psychotic role, and star of Brazil Jonathan Pryce.

Silent Flow of Shapes

Being a true fan of late Modernism and post-Modernism, I have always been fascinated by the level of perfection achieved in commercial and residential works of Richard Meier – one of the most respected architects of our time along with Alvar Aalto, Tadao Ando, and other brilliant few. Each of his white concrete opuses appears as a clear continuation of the best modernistic traditions, and, being mixed with distinctive and consistent Meier’s style, delivers a real visual treat.

Placed mostly within green zones – especially residential – these remarkable buildings create magnetic paradox as they appear alienated from the environment and, at the same time, completely embedded, emphasizing linear and three-dimensional harmony of the modernistic wave. From Smith House (1965-1967) to Friesen House (1998-2001), Mr. Meier has been sustaining this striking tendency of contradiction.

One of the most recent of his creations is Church Dio Padre Misericordioso (Jubilee Church, 1996-2003). Emerged about 6 miles from the center of Rome, it exceptionally redefines ecclesiastical architecture of the 21st century. Despite on translucent and remote resemblance to the lighting effects employed by Le Corbusier in Notre Dame du Haut, the church is full of symbolism and spiritual fulfillment.

Light is the protagonist of our understanding and reading of space. Light is the means by which we are able to experience what we call sacred. Light is at the origins of this building,

says Richard Meier. Explore the world of Richard Meier at:

Richard Meier and Partners Architects LLC.

Guns, Laws, and Common Sense

Wilson Combat Recon Tactical(Photo Wilson Combat)

First of all, to be clear: I am not at all advocating for “everyone has to have a gun” – I am not a blind follower of what you call “pro-gun dogma”. Being intelligent, rational, and mature adult, I am only advocating for the right to own and carry a firearm if I choose to, to have the option to protect myself. I am for balanced, comprehensive, and realistic gun laws that make sense. I am also for basic firearm education and training.

I am however against some currently proposed, as well as some existing, rules and regulations, which fall under the term “Gun Control” as it is framed by anti-gun politicians. The reason for my opposition is that in my view the above rules and regulations do not address gun violence, nor they produce any solutions to it. Let’s look at the infamous 10 year experiment we just recently went through: the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB), signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 and expired in 2004:

…Opponents of the ban claimed that its expiration has seen little if any increase in crime, while Senator Diane Feinstein claimed the ban was effective because “It was drying up supply and driving up prices.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the “assault weapon” ban and other gun control attempts, and found “insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.” A 2004 critical review of research on firearms by a National Research Council panel also noted that academic studies of the assault weapon ban “did not reveal any clear impacts on gun violence” and noted “due to the fact that the relative rarity with which the banned guns were used in crime before the ban … the maximum potential effect of the ban on gun violence outcomes would be very small…. (Wikipedia: Federal Assault Weapons Ban)

One clear achievement of the AWB is that it has introduced and legitimized somewhat illogical “Assault Weapon” classification for certain firearms. Aside from grenade launcher and high capacity magazine, such classification was based on firearm appearance and non-essential features (folding or telescopic stock, pistol grip, etc.) and not on actual firepower or performance characteristics (Wikipedia: Criteria of an assault weapon). One of such firearms classified as “assault weapon” was AR-15 semi-automatic rifle (which stands for “ArmaLite Rifle model 15” and not “Assault Rifle model 15” as many uninformed may think) originally designed by Eugene Stoner and made by ArmaLite. This semi-automatic rifle design has been converted into fully-automatic and then adopted for military use in 1963 under M16 designation (Wikipedia: M16 rifle). Unlike M16 however, this AR-15 rifle is incapable of selective fire between full-auto and three-round burst, and is capable of single shot only. Therefore it is not intended for “assault” but for sport and hunting. Moreover…

A Weapon No More Dangerous…

Opponents of the AWB claimed that assault weapons are generally no more dangerous than many other readily available firearms. Most of the defining characteristics included in the AWB do not hinder or enhance the weapons’ effectiveness or accuracy. While semi-automatic weapons can be fired faster than other firearms, a large number of semi-automatic rifles, pistols and shotguns remained legal in the U.S. after the adoption of the AWB. The AR-15, one of the rifles that became an assault weapon with the passage of the AWB because of its physical characteristics, is a .223 caliber. The .223 is smaller and less lethal than many rifle calibers. In most states, a .223 is not permitted for hunting big game because of the caliber’s ineffectiveness at bringing down animals such as deer and elk. ( Civil Liberties)

In reality, an evil doer could inflict as much (if not more) damage, using currently legal rifles, shotguns, or handguns without employing ANY of the features proposed to be banned. The 2007 Virginia Tech shooting is one of such examples where no “assault rifle” has been used at all.

Law enforcement officials found a purchase receipt for one of the guns used in the assault among Cho’s belongings. The shooter waited one month after buying a Walther P22 pistol before he bought a second pistol, a Glock 19. Cho used a 15-round magazine in the Glock and a 10-round magazine [legal in CA] in the Walther. (Wikipedia: Virginia Tech Massacre Perpetrator)

Or how about 2009 Fort Hood shooting? This event is rarely mentioned by anti-gun politicians because it does not fit into their skewed perception of the “evil” nature of certain guns over the others.

The truth is that these rules and regulations have not been designed to address more important issues such as deeper and more comprehensive firearms pre-purchase screening, firearms storage and access restriction within household as well as lack of mental health treatment programs, excessive over-medication and prescription drugs abuse, poor parental supervision, etc.

Despite almost complete lack of merit for this kind of legislations, radical anti-gun politicians (Gun and Game: List of Anti-Gun Politicians) continue to scare masses by nonsensical terms like “military style semi-automatic assault rifle”, ultimately pushing for a protectionist society utopia where firearms are only in hands of law enforcement. Sounds like a great idea but… in most cases, police arrives on a “crime scene” after crime has already been committed. This in turn would eradicate the self-defense option for you and me. They are unable to make guns illegal outright in one sweep so they go after bits and pieces, little by little, and AWB legislation is one of the prime examples of that.

Now let’s throw some statistics into our discussion. It is necessary to mention that most of the time, the numbers representing gun related violence include ALL 31,076 firearm related deaths, of which 11,078 (or 35%) homicides, 19,392 (or 62%) suicides, and 606 (or 1.95%) accidental death and injuries (2010 statistics, Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence: Gun Violence Statistics). For argument sake, let’s subtract suicides from this total number under the assumption that in case of a suicide no one else is harmed and there are many other methods to commit it. Suddenly, our number is now a third of all 32,146 deaths occurred in automobile accidents (2010 statistics, Know Your Car Accidents Statistics) and only a small fraction of all 195,000 deaths occurred due to medical malpractice (Wikipedia: Medical Malpractice).

Furthermore, the US is the 12th (14th by homicide) in the list of countries with high firearms related deaths – not the 1st! (Wikipedia: List of countries by firearm-related death rate). This fact is often skewed and obfuscated by addition of among “richest” or “modern industrial countries” qualifier. Which brings me to the subject of mass shootings, which are responsible for under 120 (or 0.39%) total deaths a year ( Crime & Punishment). Seems like the latter is a statistically negligible number but… when it comes to mass shootings, it suddenly is not about statistics at all, is it?

One interesting fact however is that almost all mass shootings have taken place in so called “gun-free zones” (or as pro-gun advocates call them “kill zones”) – the byproduct of 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act, where perpetrator is guaranteed to face virtually no resistance. As Eric Holder (now US Attorney General) has said once: “No good crisis should go to waste.” and each time a tragedy like this occurs, it doesn’t: law abiding gun owners are being broadly demonized.

Now, let’s also look at leading causes of deaths in the US: 435,000 (or 18.1%) due to smoking, 111,909 (or 4.6%) due to being overweight and obesity, 85,000 (or 3.5%) due to alcohol, 44,000 to 98,000 (estimated) due to medical errors, 43,000 (or 1.8%) in traffic accidents, and finally 29,000 (or 1.2%) firearms-related, of which 10,801 due to homicide (Wikipedia: Leading Causes of Death in the USA). Tobacco, alcohol, bad food, cars are all legal but despite being the leading causes of death they rarely if ever get mentioned by our hypocrisy filled politicians.

The issue is surely complex and highly emotional, especially taking to account high politicization coming from both sides, but almost none of the current proposals helps to solve it. Meanwhile, the objective reality is such that millions of guns are already widely spread among the US population, with more guns sold this year than ever before. My own passion towards shooting sports aside, this aspect alone tilts my view towards having an option to own a firearm for personal protection.

Concluding, let’s take a look at Switzerland, which takes 4th place among highest gun ownership countries in the world, and their gun laws.

…Gun politics in Switzerland are unique in Europe. Switzerland does not have a standing army, instead opting for a peoples’ militia for its national defense. The vast majority of men between the ages of 20 and 30 are conscripted into the militia and undergo military training, including weapons training. The personal weapons of the militia are kept at home as part of the military obligations; Switzerland thus has one of the highest militia gun ownership rates in the world. In recent times political opposition has expressed a desire for tighter gun regulations. A referendum in February 2011 rejected stricter gun control… (Wikipedia: Gun Politics in Switzerland)

And let’s not forget to look at “Gun Crime” section on the same Gun Politics in Switzerland page… Surely, Switzerland is an isolated example (just like Japan with their low rate of gun-related crimes) but interesting example no less, where widespread gun ownership – somewhat 3,400,000 firearms with a total population of 8,000,000 does not result into a high volume of gun related violence (53 homicides in 2010, Switzerland)… perhaps because of sensible gun laws, mandatory firearms education, and other measures?

Wide availability and access to guns in the US is surely a consideration in the whole “gun violence” debate but I believe, it’s one of several and without addressing the issue from all angles, gun-related-only legislations won’t produce the results desired, if any. Here is Forbes: Disarming the Myths Promoted By The Gun Control Lobby. I truly hope that our politicians will be able to come up with balanced and sensible approach.



(Photo by Mebilia)

He was staring at himself in the mirror… he was staring at himself in the mirror, helplessly trying to bring into focus his mentally projected self-image but instead, he could see only gray, foggy, shapeless substance, the kind of substance that is suppose to be a human. That in itself was not helping a herd of already pessimistic thoughts, running around his head like sheep forgotten by a sleeping herder.

…How is it possible? Why is the emptiness, which should serve as a quintessential, equalizing yet basic definition of stability, ripping my guiltless head apart with its tornado of an eclectic misbalance? How is it possible, feeling this dominating and immodest pressure of potential, not to be able to see destination or even direction of this movement? What is this… an explorative wondering? A desire to create is almost unbearable but all possible anti-matters, all possible powers are trying to push me back into my jar – the jar, where circumstances are comfortably nurturing me…

…I am living with ever fading anticipation of something bright, something positive, cheerful, wonderful, magnificent, remarkable to happen, skipping days, weeks, years but nothing awaits me. Nothing, except the emptiness, with which I am granted since the day one. Does it mean that this is all in my head? Does it mean that I am a slave of my own imaginary, randomly located world?…

He was staring at himself at the mirror. Life seemed to be as still as The Time itself. Those questions… those undetermined particles of every thinking process… an annoying pattern that grows around you like a branchy grape tree, cultivated by hand of caring winemaker.



She is an amazing woman. She is the woman I fell in love with from the very first time I saw her… Ah! How rare those moments, how precious. Why… why do they always end? Trying to be an optimist, I think, once experienced, they are trying to free up space for the new ones. At least this is the kind of self-delusion I choose to exercise. But how wasteful and hurtful those ends usually are… No choice, I must let go – dwell on this will lead to self-defeat. No matter how deep we have drowned into this abyss of love, rehabilitation is inevitable. Non si può tornare indietro! Avanti!

I feel blessed and grateful for my Path… not in religious sense but rather as a human being. Surely, I ate my grain of salt but I would never gained this wisdom and sensitivity towards the world around me as much as I did. I have truly loved and have been truly loved – what else can a man dream of? All this male posturing comes down to nothing – only finding yourself in other people’s hearts can bring true happiness, true satisfaction. Every romance, every moment of understanding, every sense of unity, every gaze into each other’s eyes brings nothing but assurance that there is a point in life. My only hope is not to loose this state, this sense of being tuned in…


Recently, I have developed a religion fatigue. Growing older, I am starting to recognize one of the most important blessings of my Soviet childhood – forced atheism. All those seventy-something years of Soviet Union, “they” have been patiently and methodically burning out any ideas or memories about heavily religious past of Kiev’s Rus, eradicating centuries of worship and tradition. Rare followers aside, the majority of the population have been living under the spell of Communism, paying attention mostly to their own achievements or achievements of the country in whole. More steel! More coal! More wheat into the bottomless silos of the Motherland!.. silos of the General Secretary.

Perhaps not the atheism itself – taken radically, it’s no different than any other religion, but rather an ability to review, analyze and agree, partially or fully, with any doctrine… or none. This unclassified set of beliefs really serves well for reality check, adding to personal balance and, at the same time, rendering the affected others as delusional. It almost feels like God must exist for those who lacks enough capacity to develop their personal strength or unwilling to recognize challenges and face the reality on their own, without His helping hand. Seems like not everyone is born be a champion.

And everything would probably be OK if not for the Church. Why in a world would I need often perverted middle-man to talk to God, especially the kind of God that loves everyone? Just as Santa Claus, he is so accepting, so welcoming… he should have no problem talking to me or anyone else, anyone should be allowed to sit on his lap. What a fraud. What a delusion. The finest example of superb mind control. Bravo!

The Conversation (1974)

The Conversation

A low budget masterpiece by Francis Fold Coppola, the film delivers extremely well crafted, slow and carefully unfolding analysis of humanly uninteresting but remarkable for his obsession with privacy professional surveillance expert Harry Caul – the most complex performance ever delivered by Gene Hackman according to many critics.

“You see, I would be perfectly happy to have all my personal things burned up in a fire because I don’t have anything personal. Nothing of value. No, nothing personal except my keys, you see, which I really would like to have the only copy of…” explains he to his landlord.

At first, he appears as a man who is assured in his own invincibility and proud of his professionalism, as he commissioned by The Director (Robert Duval) to record a conversation between two people somewhere in San Francisco, the city he has recently fled from East Coast to, hunted by guilt and sorrow… his previous assignment has lead to a death of innocent people.

While working on the assignment and lecturing his business partner Stan (John Cazale) on how uninvolved, how faceless, how autistic this business must be to the very subject of events and recordings, he finds himself engaged into the conversation he has recorded between Ann (Cindy Williams) and Mark (Frederic Forrest). This fatal deviation from this professional self-ethics established by the lead character himself, leads to complete crash and destruction of what is left from so-called life of Harry Caul.

Minutes of Ecstasy


(St. Lawrence String Quartet)

Getting tired and aggravated by cacophonous instrument tuning, you are loosing meaning of the preparation. You are sitting there, waiting impatiently for opus to begin but instead, you are getting fed these meaningless exclamations of nothing. More and more you are getting saturated by this mis-balanced audio jungle, and sense of deception rises, gradually elevating you to a state of autistic-like absence and isolation. Drowning hopeless in the bottomless abyss of nonsense, you are wondering if change will ever come, if sacred manifestation of talent will ever be revealed.

And here it is. As it starts to fill flawlessly all available cavities of your soul, you immediately forgive. You are no longer a lab rat, you are no longer a powerless slave, chosen to be tortured by a supreme and being observed while at it. Warmth of certainty and light of assurance surround you and grow simultaneously in all directions, proclaiming nothing but ecstasy of understanding.

First resisting to its unconditional pressure but opening more and more, you are sliding side-to-side in its cradle, trying to achieve the ultimate climax on each and every swing. Further… coordinates of reality become amorphous, vague, and blurry, leaving you with fading away foundation and reason for sanity.

This ever ending carnival of emotions demands complete obedience and you feel that surrender is your only chance to survive and be rewarded. Continuously transiting to the unknown levels of pleasant autism, you are no longer yourself – you are helpless part of the whole, part of this well-orchestrated exposure of excellence.

Unexpected. The fatal ax of silence cuts off oxygen of expectations with its needless and irrational rudeness. Strong urge to scream is burning your throat in weak attempt of protest, to return to the Eden of sound… or at least not to acknowledge the End. But, nothing will save you; nothing will lead you to the salvation, to the clue for this upsetting charade. No matter… the hurtful but inevitable contrast of silence is final…

I.S. Bach: Adagio. Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C minor.