Sunday, February 15, 2009

remembering Amalia

A candle for Amalia on her would-be first birthday at my grandmother's on February 2:

And the flowers my grandmother Anna gave me on that day:

And a video I made as I set out to pay homage to my deceased grandmother and daughter at the New Jewish Cemetery on the first anniversary of Amalia's death. It was at that cemetery that I first encountered death after my grandmother Bedřiška died when I was ten. The video somehow illustrates a bit about Amalia's journey to me: the journey through the unknown towards a light, mom's (my) hand opening the door, being out in the world for just a moment, and, as the film ends, even -- unintentionally yet fittingly -- the funeral service office across the street called Tranquility...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

the gift that keeps on giving: Playmobil's Security Check Point

I just came across an internet posting about the Playmobil's Security Check Point. The toy is clearly something I do not plan to purchase for my child, but just reading the product reviews makes my belly ache.

Just to whet your appetite, here is a customer review by "loosenut" entitled "Great lesson for the kids!"

I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger's shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger's scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said "that's the worst security ever!" But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.

The best thing about this product is that it teaches kids about the realities of living in a high-surveillence society. My son said he wants the Playmobil Neighborhood Surveillence System set for Christmas. I've heard that the CC TV cameras on that thing are pretty worthless in terms of quality and motion detection, so I think I'll get him the Playmobil Abu-Gharib Interogation Set instead (it comes with a cute little memo from George Bush).

Take a look yourself at this mini revolt on the internet. The best laugh I've had in along time.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Berlin with babi

This year for Christmas I got my babi, or grandma, a concert ticket to see her favorite pianist, Murray Perahia. He was on tour and the closest place he was performing was Berlin. So to the ticket I added two nights in a hotel in Berlin.

We took the train there last week. It was a trip to remember. I wasn't that excited about Berlin, but realized as soon as we got there, that it's undoubtedly an interesting and vibrant place to visit.

The highlights: impressive modern architecture using lots and lots of glass in pleasing ways; historical places like the remnants of the Berlin wall, the bits of old architecture that withstood the bombings during the war, and the most stirring: the Holocaust memorial. We actually got to Berlin on International Holocaust Commemoration Day.

The pianist was fabulous. A huge, arena-like concert hall sold-out and bursting in the seams. Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Beetoven. My grandmother was beside herself. She is quite the music critic too. I am not well-versed in classical music, but I was impressed as well.

Here are some pics from our trip. More here.

And a video of the Holocaust memorial experience:

Jonah watches "the Prez"

On the day of Barack Obama's inauguration, we streamed the ceremony live over the internet while eating dinner. It was, after all, 6 pm in Prague. As I watched, ate, and fed Jonah, I took notes of Jonah's commentary as well. Here is a list of his quotes from the occasion:

• Obama? Obama? Is that Obama coming?
• Does she not have a black face?

(To which I responded that Michele Obama's skin is dark and that some people have brown skin, some light, some dark skin just like one of his teachers at Czech preschool. Jonah nodded and then went on with his commentary)

• Why is there always police? Why are they protecting?
• Why did she say liberty? (about Feinstein's speech)
• What is it liberty?
• Why can't he see? Is he closing his eyes? Why do they close their eyes? - (about Rev. Warren)
• Why is there a flag?
• Why is she there? (about Aretha Franklin)
• Who's that boy? Who's Robert Bennet?
• Why do they shoot? (about the cannons)
• Why would they shoot people?
• Why don't they shoot people?
• Mom, what do they shoot?
• What do they shoot in the air?
• Why did you say boo? (to thanking bush for service)
• You don't have a gun?
• I have a gun.
• It's a shooting gun for school: shoot, shoot, shoot!
• Action, Tereza! (random Obama word he repeated)
• Watchful eye. (random Obama expression he caught)
• Why did he say tanks?
• Are those microphones?
• Why do they need guns?

As you can see, he was mostly fascinated with machines, cannons and the police, I guess, well, because life for him now is all about: "Action, Tereza, action!"