The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

Posts tagged “Books

Beatniks in Wine Country

Posted on March 8, 2013

and all I’m taking is my camera, film, toothbrush, and books. While I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest, it’s not the sites I’m concerned with this time around. This week-long adventure is completely people-oriented. One of my best friends goes to Berkeley, so I’m flying to San Francisco and soliciting her for her company and food recommendations. Then it’s off to Oregon, a supposedly magical state where some epic kids I came to know and love in Russia now reside. First Eugene then Portland, the city “where young people go to retire”. I look forward to the beers and reminiscing of our stint in Petersburg. Seattle is last, and this is where I get to have a much-awaited dinner with my travel muse,…

Theory of Omission

Posted on October 10, 2012

This story has three players: Ernest Hemingway, St. Petersburg, and an American in Russia for the first time. We’ll call him Chad. This story doesn’t end well for Chad. Hemingway Bar is located on Ulitsa Lomonsova, a dark and eerily silent street in the lively city center. The bar in question is surrounded by abandoned buildings and telling foreclosures slapped with bulletins in intimidating Cyrillic lettering. But the place lights up at night. It lights up and its emanating glow attracts all those moths looking for a drink. Sadly, it’s not quite the place Hemingway would frequent; the neon lights and bad music tell me so. My favorite bars are the ones where I can picture the man himself in the corner enveloped by…

A Russian Ballet and Zoom Cafe

Posted on October 1, 2012

In you’re ever in a foreign land, let me divulge a crucial not-so-secret secret that I find people sometimes forget. Take the time, spare the energy, and spend the money to go to places and do things. You’ll only regret not going to those places and not doing those things. In my case, I’ve been trying to maximize my time in Peter by seeking out the best bars and food and Russian cultural experiences, like the ballet and Zoom Cafe for instance. While I’m not one to be the most appreciative of ballet, this rendition of Don Quixote was visually stunning. And Zoom Cafe, the swanky restaurant featured below, is seriously cool. It’s like a lounge covered in books, pillows, coloring-book menus, crayons, and…

Scattered Thoughts On My New Petersburg Home

Posted on September 10, 2012

Some background music, if you will? My new Petersburg home is a vintage oasis frozen in time. It’s a place where Glenn Miller plays on a worn-out record player. Stacks of books consisting of world classics and anthologies reach perilously unstable heights. Films from the forties like Sun Valley Serenade are dubbed in Russian and played on repeat. Finally. People who get me. These people also happen to be in their seventies. Two different types of old souls collide. Larisa Ivanovna first greeted me with a squirmy wiener dog on her shoulders. Her husband, Mikhail, excitedly pushed me into their small yet labyrinthine Petersburg flat. I clumsily removed my boots at the door – Russian law – and put on the warm, arch-supported slippers…


Posted on July 17, 2012

“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realization that you may have been born in the wrong century. Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world. Travel is tipping 10% and being embraced for it. Travel is the same white T-shirt again tomorrow. Travel is accented sex after good wine and too many unfiltered cigarettes. Travel is flowing in the back…

Gratuitous Photo Dump//Nikon FM

Posted on May 4, 2012

After a month-long nerve-wracking misadventure with my Nikon FM, I finally see a finished product. Film photography is dying medium, but I’m still thrilled to use it. This camera has shaved years off my life just from sheer stress, but the feeling of seeing these photos materialized feels too good; the weight on my shoulders is alleviated, I breathe easier. I think I have a problem. Cherry Blossom Festival, 2012. Ten minutes before I took this, the painter said that someone stole one of his paintings that was leaning against a nearby tree. He was fuming, and the last thing he probably wanted was for someone to steal another one of his images with a camera. A photo of the paints will have to…

The Story of a Book

Posted on March 2, 2012

It’s seldom that I see anyone perusing the stacks of the library. While this indicates that too many people aren’t taking advantage of a different type of infinite wealth of knowledge and wisdom they have at their keyboard-stroking fingertips, this also means that I have unlimited literature all to myself. I can skip along the aisles in utter joy, dragging my fingers along thousands of leathery bindings and there is no one there to obstruct my path. I can, theoretically, build a blanket fort anchored by books, one with bookshelves for walls and two password-guarded exits (hint: it’s the invention in Cat’s Cradle that destroys the world). This is nothing but a silly theory, but it is one I am determined to test. And there would…

Books and the Stig

Posted on January 20, 2012

My bedroom is comically imbalanced – the desk is cocooned by a lego-esque border of old and new books. Books I love, books I’ve read, and books that have yet to endure the gratuitous cover-bending that comes with each thorough and addicting read. This provides for a not-so-subtle contrast comparative to the rest of the room, which is stark white and empty. My Stig flash drive is the king of the books.

Book Rant

Posted on September 12, 2011

How can a place call itself a bookstore when it doesn’t carry any of the publications of Bill Bryson, possibly the greatest writer of all time? How can people work in a bookstore, thereby assuming unto themselves the label of “book person” because they accepted the job after all, and not know who Bill Bryson is?? And then they couldn’t point me in the right direction for Camus, Solzhenitsyn, or Neruda. God, that sounded pretentious.