Doctor Faust’s Error

Nina encouraged her birthday party guests to prepare something for the delight and entertainment of other guests.  I chose to read a tale from the “Fairy Tales and Stories” collection by Max Frei for the Birthday Salon.  To be precise, I impromptu translated it from Russian.  Despite my getting occasionally stuck looking for the right word, the tale delighted.

Part I of the “Fairy Tales and Stories” book could have been titled, if one were to translate it, “Weird Mythologies”.  It’s unlikely to be translated though, because many of the tales there build on the children’s literature and culture  we grew up with in back in 1970ties, 1980ies back in the urban Soviet Union, and the initial familiarity is a substantial component of the wonder and thrill of the weird mythologies.  Fortunately, the particular tale I read built on broader cultural context, so I brought it to the salon and I’ll translate it here for the delight and entertainment of those my readers who don’t read Russian, more thoughtfully than at Nina’s birthday salon.  (If you do read Russian, head over here for the original and the rest of it.)

Through many a storyteller, in great detail, in many voices (so as to find a version for every listener, according to their size and intelligence), the history tells us the tale of Doctor Faust, as she remains stubbornly silent about his contemporary, neighbor, and the closest friend named Peter.

Continue reading “Doctor Faust’s Error”

Weird Families. Where Leaders Are Made

Do You Have Any Family Here?

A new acquaintance would soon ask about my family.  “They are all back in Saint Petersburg,” I’d say, “…No, no one in the States, all by myself.”  It doesn’t seem weird to me.  It must seem weird, because I haven’t met many other people likewise removed from any family, not lately.  “Do you visit them often then?” the small talk would continue.  Last time, 3 years ago, and then 10 years before that.

During the 10 years, Continue reading “Weird Families. Where Leaders Are Made”


20120915_NolaLast night, on my way to a milonga, I received a message from Kathy:

“I don’t know if you saw the post by <so and so> that Nola passed away this morning. We don’t know details but I know you were good friends and you were her mentor.”

I didn’t know that.  I knew that Nola was retired, so she must have been older than she appeared and lived, but no, I didn’t see that, didn’t see that coming.  She was 67.

Years ago Nola worked as a math teacher somewhere on the East Coast.  Continue reading “Nola”