The Goatibex Constellation (Book Review)

book reviewssoviet literatureabkhazia

Fazil Iskender's 1966 novella The Goatibex Constellation is that most timeless of things -- a satire of state-planned agriculture and journalism in the Soviet Union.

The story?

A young journalist returns home to his native Abkhazia, where the local newspaper in gripped by fervor for the republic's latest scientific achievement. Local agriculturalists, spearheaded by the support of agricultural journalist Platon Samsonovich have created a new goat/ibex hybrid called the "goatibex," whose unique biology bestows upon it a variety of claimed talents.

Naturally, the success of the project is all but assured, especially given its support from a prominent scientist, whose scientific works were the envy of others:

"There were, it is true, certain envious individuals who complained that no one had been able to repeat the great man’s ingenious experiments. Such complaints were countered, however, with the quite sensible reply that what made these experiments ingenious was precisely the fact that they could not be repeated." (16)

The novel is a bit of a shaggy tale, mixing in visits to the sea shore, a business trip to another town to investigate reports of anti-Goatibex behavior at the collective farm, memories of World War II, and moments in which our protagonist is captivated by the beauty of his country.

52 Frames (May 2021)

mauiwildlife photographybad selfiesSeries: 52 Frames

Oh, so it turns out I'm a few days late in posting my thoughts on the whole 52 Frames photography challenge thing. Drats!

Here I was busily thinking of what I'd do for June's first theme (music), due mere hours before I am reunited with my collections of albums and musical instruments. Alas!

Well, what did I accomplish over the last month? In short, I accomplished at least one very good photograph that I'm immensely proud of, as well as one that is as tossed off as it could possibly be. Well, let's get to it, shall we?

Eurovision 2021: Live Blog

eurovisioneurovision 2021live blog

I've never tried writing a post that updates live, so I figured I'd do it now & see if it works. :)

These are just my notes on the Eurovision Song Competition 2021, which I decided to watch on a Saturday morning as if I had nothing better to do.

Coming into the competition, a number of solid, songs were axed from Semifinal 1 (most tearfully, Croatia and Australia.) Semifinal 2 did not, however, break my heart. The main outcome: the ballads that qualified from the semifinals are the best ballads on offer. (No "Amen"'s here.) The bops are more numerous, but more varied in quality.

Having watched neither semifinal, I'm going into this fairly blind. I don't know who has a good performance, and who struggles to hold their high notes.

Fun fact: for those of you anywhere in the world, the whole competition can be livestreamed with English-language commentary from Iceland's broadcaster here.

Click "read more" and the page should automatically update every three minutes -- approximately the length of a Eurovision song, whilst it is live.

Eurovision 2020 vs. 2021: Battle of the Songs

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We're a mere two weeks away from the start of the 2021 Eurovision song competition. I'm looking forward to it, but unlikely to be tuning in live or providing much further commentary due to other engagements. So, I thought I'd write this post instead.

Eurovision 2021 is remarkably similar in lineup to the cancelled 2020 competition. Initially, all of the countries that would have participated in 2020 confirmed their participation in 2021. Two thirds of these countries eventually decided to select their 2020 artist for a second time.

What this means is that I have the unique opportunity to sit down and listen to two three-minute long pop songs from 39 countries, and pontificate from my armchair about which one is the better number.

I can hardly think of a better usage of my time and yours.

Vincent Bueno is ballading hard in his 2021 entry for Austria, 'Amen.'
Vincent Bueno is ballading hard in his 2021 entry for Austria, 'Amen.'

Let's get started!

An Aborted Trip Through A Swampy Forest, or Face-To-Face With A Porcupine

backpackingwildlife photographypinchot state forestpinchot traillackawanna county patrails

One of many NO TRESPASSING signs marking the boundaries of the Pinchot State Forest.
One of many NO TRESPASSING signs marking the boundaries of the Pinchot State Forest.

I've done most of my outdoor learning through reading things on the internet. I can find a lot of knowledge that way, but it's no substitute for actual lived experience.

So, I try to know what I don't know, and remain cautious. I want to avoid putting myself in bad situations, and ensure that I'm as prepared for conditions as I can be, whilst also not overburdening myself with unnecessary weight. It's a delicate balance.

This post is about a trip that I bailed on, as well as some porcupine photography.