Tonight… I just feel defeated

It’s been a long while since I wrote anything personal here. Tonight I feel…sad. Defeated. Hopeless. Questioning my goals, my silly dreams, wondering why do I even bother with this road to nowhere.

Tonight I just cry.

Perhaps it will help. Perhaps not.

Tomorrow will tell.

Crate of Curios part 74

Again a few glimpses of spring in between cold spells, sore throat, runny nose, sleep, sleep, sleep, and suddenly the virus is gone and I feel ready for spring and sun. Until the sun reclaims its steady spot in the sky, let’s get to opening this (rather late) Crate without further ado.

  1. “I would like to blur the firm borders that we human beings, cocksure as we are, are inclined to erect around everything that is accessible to us.” Hannah Höch, one of the inventors of photomontage (or collage as we now call it), was one of the few women in the Berlin Dada movement and the only woman artist to exhibit her works at the First International Dada Fair in 1920.

2. Our time worships speed… but slowing down can have considerable benefits.

3. Which are the innocent debates dividing the European countries? This map will enlighten you.

4. We know the New York brownstone buildings from countless series and other pop culture images. However, you might not have known their timeline of styles until now.

5. A short poem by the Ukrainian-American poet Ilya Kaminsky from his “Deaf republic” published in 2019.

6. And to finish off for this week – a cinematic painting (that looks very much like a comic) on how to make a perfect Martini by Guy Buffet.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
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If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 73

The sun is starting to appear more and more often and the mornings, instead of being dark leftovers of the night are becoming lighter and lighter. Today is the Clean Monday, the first day of the Orthodox Lent fast and the asceticism of the 40-day denial of earthly pleasures seems to fit well with the current bleakness of our time. Should one choose distraction or immersion? Is there some kind of balance between the two? Erring on the side of distraction, let’s start with opening this week’s Crate.

  1. “The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings, and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless, I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brush stroke.” Hilma af Klint is still a somewhat controversial artistic figure. Was she the first abstract artist or an eccentric outsider?

2. The mythological harpies are half-human half-birds – and they inspired the name of the harpy eagle.

3. If you didn’t know what’s the most popular book of all European countries, it’s time to find out.

4. Why do we have a tendency to trust authority?

5. The most beautiful quote about rain comes from Ray Bradbury.

6. And to finish off for this week, a little comic on the use of OK by Tommy Siegel.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
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If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 72 – Ukraine special

It is odd to imagine that just a week ago the world was a rather different place – living in interesting times really doesn’t live up to the hype. It’s only the fourth special edition Crate and with the exception of Siblings, the other two – Isolation and Afghanistan – were inspired by the external events, the second lockdown and the Taliban takeover. Which means that for obvious reasons, now it’s time for a special edition Crate about Ukraine. Let’s get to it with no further ado.

  1.  “Once, as a young girl, I was tending a gaggle of geese. When I got with them to a sandy beach, on the bank of the river, after crossing a field dotted with wild flowers, I began to draw real and imaginary flowers with a stick on the sand… Later, I decided to paint the walls of my house using natural pigments. After that I’ve never stopped drawing and painting.” – Maria Pryimachenko (Ukrainian: Приймаченко Марія Оксентіївна), a peasant woman and self-taught painter is considered to be one of the most outstanding representatives of naive art.

2. Not sure about Ukrainian geography? The Visual Capitalist has got you covered.

3. The founder of Suprematism, Kazimir Malevich, also counts Kyiv as his birthplace.

4. If instead of dry geographical data, we look at the local dishes – the map of Ukraine gets considerably more colourful.

5. Before Christianity, the Kievan Rus are thought to have worshipped the primordial Slavic gods, one of whom was Mokosh – the Mother Moist Earth.

6. Considering the effort of the Ukrainian national dance hopak demands, Sergei Polunin’s ballet moves start looking very natural.

7. And to finish off this special edition, a little comic by Itchy Feet.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
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If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 71

The sun is heating up the air during noon these days, birds are chirping at the top of their tiny lungs, street cats are lounging on the warm sunny spots of pavement… could it finally be spring? Tourists are already sporting shorts and T-shirts in the streets, whereas the locals are carefully replacing the winter jacket to a slightly thinner one. The trees have been pruned and for a while the streets are full of light – just until the heat picks up and the new leaves will be providing a welcome shadow… But enough of the spring dreams for now – it’s time to open this week’s Crate.

  1. “I think Richard Dadd was very much of his time, right up until he killed his father,” Marc Demarest, who maintains a popular web page about Dadd, the ‘fairy painter’, told Artsy.

2. Pools can be exquisite things of beauty – especially if they are designed by Julia Morgan.

3. How common is your birthday? This chart will tell you.

4. Roeselien Raimond is a portrait photographer who portraits… foxes.

5. After the everyday politics of anger, Ece Temelkuran is proposing politics of gentleness.

6. And to finish off for this week, a little comic about life from The Awkward Yeti.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
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If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 70

Two days late this week, due to my having other things to do, today under the full moon it will be done. The new Crate of Curios. Carried by the hot noon sun and days that are progressively getting milder, let’s get to opening it without any further ado.

  1. “Those damn Moomins,” Tove Jansson wrote in her notes. “I don’t want to hear about them any more. I could vomit on the Moomintrolls.” – Tove Jansson was frustrated, feeling that the Moomin – literally her scribbles – were obscuring and taking necessary time from her painting.

2. Madeleine Dore, the author of Extraordinary Routines newsletter and podcast, has gathered a charming list of life lessons for her 32nd birthday.

3. How does disagreement actually work? Here’s a chart for it.

4. We already knew that crows are smart. Turns out… they are even smarter than that.

5. This week’s book (and series) recommendation is Elena Ferrante’s ‘My Brilliant Friend’, the first book of the Neapolitan Quartet.

6. And to finish off for this week, a completely absurd little comic by Joan Cornella.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
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If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 69

And finally the Halcyon days seem to have arrived. The afternoon sunshine felt positively hot and the local feline population at the workplace inner yard were enjoying in full scale, occupying all the seats. It’s about time… This winter, which in all honesty hasn’t even been particularly long, feels as if it’s been dragging on for months instead of weeks. So, in order to celebrate the warmer days, let’s make haste and open this week’s Crate.

  1. “Although Miss Anderson’s limbs are not as regular from the artistic viewpoint…her general health is better,” proclaimed one article in the St. Louis Republic in 1897. “From a comparative feebleness she has grown into robust strength. From head to foot she is a mass of muscles.” – Tilly Anderson, the Swedish seamstress in Chicago found her calling in bicycle racing and helped to popularize the sports across the U.S.

2. We’ve all heard at some point that joy is contagious – unfortunately so is arrogance.

3. Whether you like or dislike precipitation – this map will help to to pick the most befitting country in Europe.

4. Rest is not always literal rest. For the brain, rest is often just doing something different, such as having unrelated hobbies.

5. A little poetry spamming from the pen of Sylvia Plath from 1962. (It’s a part of the longer poem that can be found here.)

6. And to finish off this week – a 9gag meme that feels very familiar.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
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If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 68

Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s snowfall has left a few lingering drifts here and there, half-dirtied by the muddy melting water. Some parts in Athens are still without electricity, but mostly life seems to be back to normal, although the limits to ‘normal’ seem to be continuously stretching wider and wider. Nevertheless, let’s forget about pocket philosophy for now and open this week’s Crate.

  1. “‘If you only knew, my dear Uncle Shura’ Zinaida Serebriakova wrote in a letter to Alexander Benois on 17 December 1923, ‘how often I dream of leaving and somehow finding a way to turn my life around, a life without that single overriding daily worry about food (of which there is never enough and is always bad anyway), a life where my earnings are not so hopeless that we can’t even afford essentials. Commissions for my portraits are very infrequent indeed and hardly pay. The pennies I earn from them are normally spent on food even before the pictures are finished. If only something would sell at the American exhibition…’ Her later life in Paris brought a slightly greater financial stability at the price of forced separation from her family.

2. Monopoly, a game we mostly connect with the idea of getting rich, was in fact designed to teach about income inequality.

3. These two places have a roughly equal population. Think about it for a moment.

4. Want to be more mindful of your spending? These Japanese concepts might prove helpful.

5. Bill Bryson has a knack of writing about… more or less everything. This week’s book recommendation is his overview of a history of a home, introduced to the reader one room at a time.

6. And to finish off for this week, some alien problems by XKCD.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
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If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 67

It is cold-cold-cold this week and the heating hours are the true highlights of the day. My hope for the Halcyon Days last week was obviously premature as ‘Elpida’ as the phenomenon is ironically called is descending upon us with snow instead. Meaning that it’s time to dig deep under the warm blankets, arm oneself with a cup of hot tea and open this week’s Crate without further ado.

  1. According to art critic Roberta Smith “One day Traylor picked up a stub of pencil and a scrap of cardboard and began to draw…. He produced hundreds of drawings and paintings that rank among the greatest works of the twentieth century.” Bill Traylor, born into slavery in about 1853, began his life as an artist in his late 80s when, homeless on the streets of Montgomery Alabama, he produced over 1200 (surviving) drawings and paintings.

2. How fast do we forget? Ebbinghaus forgetting curve says… quite fast.

3. Colors had considerably more colourful name at the times of the Tudors.

4. Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska’s wise words from “Literary Life” advice column. It’s never too late to take up writing.

5. How to get your way according to Mel Brooks – say yes, then do whatever you want.

6. And to finish off for this week – a little comic on contemporary fairy tales by J.A.K.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
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If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 66

January is moving along and yesterday the wind was warm, almost promising the arrival of the Halcyon days; but alas, today the freezing feeling is back with a vengeance and the hope needs to be postponed. Sitting in the park yesterday with a freshly-taxed cup of coffee reminded me of the spring of the first lockdown, when walks were more or less the only entertainment possible and the neighbourhood parks had never been busier. Nostalgia born from the strangest epochs. Nevertheless, now it’s time to open this week’s Crate.

  1. Occasionally art seeps into life through our everyday language and Jan Steen‘s paintings are a wonderful example of it. I figured it was just a piece of internet lore when I read that “a chaotic household, where everyone does just as he or she pleases, is still called a ‘Jan Steen household’ in Dutch”, but apparently the expression ‘een huishouden van Jan Steen‘ really does exist.

2. There was a time in 1970’s and 1980’s when… the former Yugoslavia was one of the most popular nudist destinations in the world.

3. Many musicians find their inspiration in nature, but David Rotherberg gets even more specific – his music is inspired by the sounds of bugs.

4. Just how probable is ‘probably’? At least in the U.S. it’s pretty likely.

5. This weeks’ book recommendation takes us to the occupied France during WW2 and plunges us right into the civilian spy network. And just to make it extra appetizing – although not a documentary, the book is based on a real story.

6. And to finish off for this week, a little introspective comic by False Knees.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
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If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.