2017-05-25

sovay: (I Claudius)
Tonight in unexpected numismatics: identifying two kinds of coins in five different writing systems for my mother. The former had classical-looking pomegranates on the obverse and were obviously Israeli because they said so in Hebrew, English, and Arabic; they turned out to be Israeli pounds or lirot issued between 1967 and 1980 and the design of a triple branch of budding pomegranates looked familiar to me because it was patterned after the shekels issued in the first year of the First Jewish Revolt (66–67 CE). My grandparents almost certainly brought them home from their visit to Israel in the mid-1980's. The latter were very worn, thin copper or brass cash and I thought Chinese, which meant the latest they could have been issued was 1911; they turned out to have been struck in Guangdong in the reign of the Guangxu Emperor, specifically between 1890 and 1908, and the script I didn't recognize on the reverse was Manchu. We have no idea where they came from. I really appreciate the role the internet played in allowing me to stare at images of different kinds of cash until I recognized enough characters to narrow my search parameters, because I don't actually read either Chinese or Manchu. I mean, I know now that the Manchu for "coin" is boo and it looks like this and the Chinese inscription on the obverse of that issue is 光緒通寶 which simply means "Guangxu currency" (Guāngxù tōng bǎo) and the reason it took me forever to track down two of those characters turns out to be the difference between Traditional and Simplified Chinese, but seriously, without the internet, that would have just been a lot of interesting metal to me.

(Me to [personal profile] spatch: "This is ridiculous. If I can read cuneiform, I should be able to read Chinese. I feel incredibly stupid." Rob to me: "You can't call yourself stupid if you're teaching yourself Chinese!")
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
I want my country to figure out a way of being angry that its political system has been externally manipulated without becoming any more nationalistic than it already has, since that's being a disaster.

My mother showed me a one-panel comic with one of those hot dog carts on a sidewalk and two passers-by looking on. The cart's umbrella advertises it as "Vlad's Treats"; the menu is "Borscht—Caviar—Unchecked Power." One of the passers-by is saying to the other, "It's an acquired taste." It is very obviously a Putin reference, but it still rang off-key for me. I don't want to move back into an era where we have ideological purity food wars. It was embarrassing enough when French fries were briefly and xenophobically renamed in 2003. No one in my family has been Russian for more than a century (and Russia might have disputed whether they counted in the first place, being Jews), but my grandmother made borscht. I don't make it with anything like the frequency I make chicken soup with kneydlekh, but that's partly because kneydlekh will not make your kitchen look like you axe-murdered somebody in it. I order it every chance I get. For my mother's seventieth birthday, my father took her to a Russian restaurant especially for the caviar. It can't be much of an acquired taste if as a toddler I had to be stopped from happily eating the entire can my grandparents had been sent as a present.

And let's face it, if I get this twitchy (and vaguely sad that at four-thirty in the morning there's nowhere I can get borscht in Boston), I assume the dogwhistles are much louder for people for whom Russia is closer than their great-grandparents. Can we not do McCarthyism 2.0? Especially since we sort of have been for some years now and it's, see above, not so much working out?
sovay: (Viktor & Mordecai)
Today was cold and grey and generally sucked and the first three restaurants I thought to check for borscht didn't have it on the menu at the moment (and the fourth was two states away), but we walked out to Inman despite the drizzling rain and I had a bowl of borscht with sour cream at the S&S and it was extremely satisfying.

1. I am very glad to read that the revised travel ban continues to be ruled unconstitutional.

2. This is a very sweetly drawn comic about bisexuality.

3. Courtesy of [personal profile] gaudior: an appreciation of the Mahler's 6th mallet. I feel someone should point Hurra Torpedo at this symphony.

In conclusion: borscht.
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