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  • Michael Krakovskiy 4:34 am on May 10, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Bandolier, , Charles Babbage, , , , Fiction, , , , , Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, , , Mike Mingola, , Nazi mad scientist, , , , Robert Oppenheimer, , The Hidden Fortress   

    Victory Day 

    Time is slowly erasing the traumatic memory of the two world wars. That is to say that the people who fought in it are dying out, and the younger generations do not like to think of the horrors that the two great wars brought.

    When I was growing up, World War II did not seem very exciting to me, from the infantile militarism standpoint. Bootleg American movies, like Rambo and Star Wars seemed oh so much cooler. WWII killing machines seemed outdated and andand reminiscences of veterans who were invited into Soviet classrooms prior to every May 9th – boring.

    I did like the Polish movie serial about WWII, called “Four tankers and dog” (“Четыре танкиста и собака” in Russian and “Czterej pancerni i pies” in Polish). It was an awesome, awesome serial about a Polish tank’s crew in WWII. Recently I purchased it on DVD from a Russian movie store as a present for my childhood friend. We watched it a bit, and I’ve got to tell you, it held up amazingly well.

    Later, I realized that “Star Wars” technology was based on WWII, down to space battles mimicking real aerial dogfights. The rest of ideas Lucas lifted from Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress. That was probably one of the reasons why the original 3 episodes were so much cooler then the new ones.

    WWII is all the rage these days. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an awesome WWII game. Mike Mingola brought back WWII chic in his Hellboy comics, Nazi mad scientist and all.

    I particularly like WWII-style superheroes, without overabundance of superpowers and in baggy costumes with many gear pockets and bandoliers. In Hellboy’s origin story, there’s a panel where a group of Allied soldiers poses for a picture with Hellboy and Liberty Torch, a wartime superhero, that appeals to me a lot. I also liked how in Batman: Year One Batman uses thermite as a weapon that he gets from his military-looking bandolier belt.

    For the firts time since Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace and Charles Babbage, computer programmers became active, this time being driven not by intellectual curiosity, but by a dire need to break Nazi codes. If not for the Polish scientists who created the first Enigma-breaking mechanical “bombes”, Alan Turing and the rest of the computer pioneers, me and my dad not only wouldn’t be computer programmers, but probably would not have been born.

    That reminded of an echo of WWII that I once encountered. I used to work as a doorman, porter and elevator operator in an Upper West Side residential building where Robert Oppenheimer was born. There was a very nice old man who lived alone in a huge pre-war apartment. Every year he asked one of the staff to help him set all the clocks in the apartment during the daylight savings switch. It remains one of the more memorable experiences for me from my employment there. I remember a huge apartment with many clocks. The old guy seemed to be very anxious to have all of them set, and all of them set correctly, asking me several times to check and doublecheck. Must have taken me half an hour to get them all. Once I set all the clocks he became very relieved.

    I guess the guy had a very special relationship with time. My boss told me he saw a number tattoo on the old man’s arm. That most likely means that he had a “user id” for an IBM punchcard machine in Auschwitz.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:10 am on March 24, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fiction, Paul Teutul, Paul Teutul Sr ., Paulie Gualtieri, Tony Soprano   

    TV Dreamblog 

    I’ve been pretty busy the last couple of days and did not get my fill of TV. The day before yesterday I had a dream in which I was working on some bikes with Paul Teutul Sr. Today’s dream involved me working for detective Monk, I think, while investigating Tony Soprano and his associates. Paulie Walnuts had a blood stained shirt from someone he murdered hanging above his bed, he wanted to hide it, but was too lazy to do so.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:19 pm on November 14, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Apron, Ashley Olsen, Fiction, Madame Balen De Balu's Gymnasium, Mary-Kate Olsen, Mir Space Station, Nintendo, , Princess Zelda, Public School, , The Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda series characters   

    From the Old Photoalbum 

    1986. Mir Space Station is launched. Space Shuttle Challenger explodes. Nintendo releases The Legend of Zelda. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are born, as well as one of the London Underground suicide bombers.

    Odessa, Soviet Union. Public School #39 (former Madame Balen De Balu’s Gymnasium for Girls), 3rd grade, group A poses for a picture in front of a patriotic mural depicting the fictional underage foe of burgouise, Malchish Kibalchish. Here’s a modern rendering. If I remember correctly, the remainder of the mural depicted Malchish’s main foe, Main Burjuin and his henchmen. I might be wrong about that though.

    Somehow I missed school the day when the picture was taken. Of all the people in the picture, I sometimes chat on ICQ with two.

    An interesting thing to notice is the color of boy’s shirts. There were two types of uniforms – one for special occasions and one for everyday use. No doubt that prior to the picture was taken everyone was told to put the special occasion uniform, which for boys means white shirts instead of blue ones, and for girls – white aprons instead of brown or black ones (like seen in this ebay auction). As you can see, all the girls are wearing white aprons, but most of the boys are wearing incorrect blue shirts.

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