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LA dreaming #17: Hollywhat? P.2
Я
belanovsky
Despite the facts that Hollywood is starting annoying me a bit and I’ve been here already almost 7 weeks, I don’t cease wondering. And this is pretty pleasant wonder.

What amazes me is that here you may meet and talk to people, who work in film industry and even are quite famous. I never sought actors/producers/directors etc specially, but I got at least 2 people from Hollywood cinema industry, who I ran into.

The first one was a girl in the nightclub. Her name is Jael. That’s how I knew her during the evening we spent. She didn’t tell me she was an actress — I discovered her full name and biography by myself later. We met in so-so nightclub in Hollywood, she didn’t look and act like she was a famous recognizable person. That time I was surprised.

But today I was surprised even more. I was smoking at Hollywood blvd, as always just staying and staring at people, when a middle-aged man came to me and offered some tours around there. I got to say that there are a lot of guys selling their local tours to foreigners. As always, I denied his offer, but then one word led to another and we warmed to our conversation. This dude turned out to be an actor and producer. His name is Leonard Waldner. This is his play. He told me about friend of his, the he was producer of Lincoln and some other films, and he himself is in the process now. But for some reason that I did not get, he was staying at the Boulevard and handing out some needless booklets.

This is kind of... I don’t even know how to say that in the most appropriate way. But this thing makes me think that Hollywood is definitely not just a usual touristic neighborhood of LA.

LA dreaming #16: My school
Я
belanovsky
Life’s come back in our household. I mean Wi-Fi and TV have been recovered so I can write this post. I got few questions from acquaintances of mine, who asked me what exactly I am doing here. I decided to devote a bit of time to telling about my school.

Its name is Kings Colleges.

It’s a school, neither a college, nor a university, nor an institute. I’ve taken 10 week Vacation Course, which means I have only 15 hrs/week and thus I didn’t have to apply for F-1 visa. I’m here on B-1/B-2 visa, which suppose me being here first of all as a tourist. It frees my hands in many senses; particularly, I don’t need to maintain my visa keeping attendance, like F-1-students do.

So I have every weekday lessons from 9am — 12am whereas many other students have their classes after 1pm in addition. I’ve been studying here already 6 weeks, so I can say something about it.

Honestly speaking, my main impression is that they don’t have a general structured educational program. What we’re going to learn today, or tomorrow, or in 10 days is up to particular teacher. Maybe it’s not the case, but this is how I see it and this is most likely the truth. We may have a topic about conditionals on the first lesson, then on the second part we have small talks and chat about weather, dreams, food, relationship and whatnot. Some teachers care about your participation in the process, some not. Some lessons are pretty boring, others ones are much funnier.

If you ask me about if recommend this school or not, I will probably have no answer. First of all, I have to compare this school with another in order to feel the difference, but I don’t have any other comparable experience. Moreover, if you want study English, you will study it anyway, despite the fact that your school may not be as good as you expected it would be.

I can say that I do feel the progress in my English. And I get a lot of information and knowledge about English from my classes. I assume that could be the criteria.

LA dreaming #15: «We’re sorry. Something went wrong»
Я
belanovsky
Silence and breakdown is now in our house. All because today is the third day since we’ve been living without Internet. That means we don’t have ability not only to get connected to the web; it also means we don’t have TV in the entire house. While I personally don’t really care about TV, my hosts do.

For them, watching television is everyday way to relax after work or household chores. As of me, I can’t live without fast Internet, since this is my way to have a rest and I’m suffering too. BTW I didn’t participate in sunday radio-broadcast and postponed this «LA dreaming» by that reason.

We still don’t know what happened. Suddenly, all this stuff stopped working. My hosts called AT&T to ask them about the cause, but reps were only mumbling something and couldn’t tell us what exactly happened and how we can get our connection back. Technicians are expected to come on Tuesday.

Although this is definitely a problem, it’s interesting to me to see how problems like that get solved here. To tell the truth, I thought it would be easier here in the US to seek satisfaction from the provider if you cannot use service for which you paid. Reaching an AT&T-representative is the same as reaching some russian IT-providers. First you have to wait, afterwards you have to wait again and finally you have to wait a bit more.

Everyday I get evidences which prove me that everything is relative. Our stereotype ideas are not exception.

LA dreaming #14: What is the difference between... P.1
Я
belanovsky


If I show you the history of my last google search requests, you will find out that most of them are about the difference between some similar english words or constructions. This is quite important thing, because it’s not enough just to know how to define each of them. In order not to get misunderstood at least, it’s always better to make sure that you know which one you’re supposed to use in a particular situation. Below, I’d like to give you and myself again some couples of words and their explanation made up by me, so we won’t get confused with them anymore. Those are not from my searching history, because I’d already known most of them. However they are weak points.

...and yeah, all this heck is going to be divided into few parts ;-)

Part 1.

Here we go:

Under / Underneath / Below / Beneath

All the above-listed are about being more lower then something other. Under is the most common, and you can see this word much more often then other ones from that list. This choice is the safest one. Underneath isn’t so common and means the same but also is used in order to emphasize the location of something. Below is mostly used when we talk about some flat surface and the place of objects on it. Finally, beneath is considered more formal then under, and it is also commonly used in the figural meaning.

E.G.

The cat was sitting under the table.
Thank God, finally I’ve found my ring! It was underneath the sofa!
Picasso’s picture was below the mirror.
He is so arrogant like we are all beneath him.



Used to / Be used to

Used to means some past habits or activities which are no longer actual in the present. That’s just about what was in he past. To be used to means to have a habit, to be accustomed to something.

E.G.

I used to attend LA Fitness. Now I have my membership canceled. (I did attend LA Fitness in the past, but now I don’t.)
I’m used to thinking that everything is going to be okay. (I’m accustomed to having positive thinking)



May / Can

May is mostly about probability and making predictions, whereas Can is about ability and being capable to do something. However, honestly, as far as I got it they are quite interchangeble in many instances. May is more polite and therefore more common in cases of asking for something like a check.

E.G.

May I ask you to do me a favor?
can’t go to the gym since I got back pain.


To be continued...

LA dreaming #13: My Oscars
Я
belanovsky


A topic like this would never have been published if I had been somewhere not in Los Angeles. I’m not a movie junkie, and I normally give a damn about things like that.

However, since it was happening close by me, I decided to undertake something. I tried to get closer to Dolby Theater where the ceremony was taking place, but it was completely impossible — the way was blocked by police. Very soon I figured out that there was nothing to do around there and went to the school which is two blocks from Hollywood / Highland.

There was kind of party of fifty watching the show in one room. (Not that bad as you could imagine ;-)

Then awesome singing in the yard:



Then awesome partying:



Now when it’s already February 25, I don’t even know who got the statuettes. I only remember that Ben Affleck’s «Argo» won as best picture. I can’t say I agree with that decision, and my opinion is that «Argo» is pretty shallow. While watching it I didn’t feel kind of deepness or whatever. However, this is just my humble view.
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LA dreaming #12: Tolerant English
belanovsky


As I once said in my twitter, English language is very tolerant. Indeed, everyday I receive evidence that this is true. We learn academic language whereas this doesn’t mean we learn real language. Even academic books admit that fact. More than that I’m not afraid to claim that English is much more indulgent towards departures from the language norms than Russian. Correct me if I misunderstand that.

In order not to sound proofless I’m providing the page from my book (American Headway):



As you can see that page does literally say English doesn’t have rules, but it has «rules». It means they are pretty relative. The quotes certainly devalue the idea of grammar qua grammar at all. There is no denying if even George Bernard Shaw (the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize in Literature and an Oscar) considered rules as «rules».

* Many natives say «I’m good» when they’re asked about how they’re feeling. Although that’s definitely incorrect.

* They do ask «Where are you at?» whereas the preposition «at» is absolutely unnecessary here.

* The rules don’t allow us to start a sentence with a conduction as I found out recently. But I’m doing it right in this sentence and it’s not that bad.

You can say almost however you want to and it's gonna be totally understandable and acceptable.

Anyways, as I see all this, thinking that there are no rules in English is not really productive in terms of learning it. We’d better keep in mind that we must know the rules in order to understand people who break it. In short, the «rules» are rules to learn too.

LA dreaming #11: Take me to
Я
belanovsky


Besides Los Angeles, I've been to New York, Washington, Chicago, twice to San Francisco and Vegas. So I've never experienced so big problems with getting myself from one place to another inside one city like I do now. You're a loser if you don't have any vehicle living in LA. As I was saying in LA dreaming #2 this city is strongly dispersed and public transportation system isn't really good and convenient.

Unfortunately, I don't have a driver license since I'm used to having all my stuff around me in the center of Moscow. I never felt need to get a car there. I rather felt the opposite when I saw those red Yandex.Maps.

I realize that I look a bit odd when I'm walking on foot where nobody else do that. All they have cars. And if you don't, you're a kind of strange.

There are a lot of buses, the metro and all it helps. But if I want to go to the beach for instance, it takes about 2,5 hrs. Because of transfers, waitings and inconvenient bus stops' locations.

Better situation is in San Francisco, New York and Chicago, which are more centralized. Anyways getting driver license is one of the first things in my to-do list. It's going to free my hands.

LA dreaming #10: Hands up, yo bitches!
Я
belanovsky


Few days ago I heard the story about some accident with police officers. That one shocked me. My arabian schoolmate was driving a car rented by his local friend when police brigade suddenly stopped them and ordered them to get out the vehicle. Of course they stopped it and then 5 cops pointed their guns on guys’ heads, shouting. No one from poor men knew the reason and bobbies didn’t want to explain anything. They were just roaring like «shut your mouth, bitches, and do what we are saying you to do».

Can you imagine what that arabian newbie was feeling at that moment? Keep in mind it was his 4th day here in LA.

At the end of the scene dudes got jailed with drunkards and hookers in the same cell and only after 3 hours the reason was explained by respected police. All that hell happened because that car was stolen recently and it was in the respective list of snitched vehicles. Of course no one from those was the thief. They were simply left holding the bag.

Boys spent few hours in prison, but it seems like that was enough. Police said that they were sorry for what’d happened though.

Probably in general police acted like it was supposed to act in that kind of cases, but how about presumption of innocence?

Huh?

Why were the guys subject to violence (not physical, but psychological, I assume)? Sure, thank God it’s not about raping with bottle and such stories may hardly happen in this country, but Americans do have their own Evsukov and many other issues.

Please notice that this is a second-hand story so thank God I wasn’t involved in that accident and i didn’t see all the details. But the moral of this story is that police here is not expected to be perfect. They may be rude guys even if you’re just an innocent tourist. And if you’re a stranger learn the laws and pay attention for any signs around you, which remind you about local rules.

I realized that very clearly.

LA dreaming #9: Break the balance!
Я
belanovsky


Each orgamism (everything in the world?) strives for homeostasis and balance. If those things lose their balance for a long time it can be the end. The principle of least effort is truth. Less or more all we are living our life in accordance with this law.

Much more convenient to do things that we already did. Because we already know what to expect, how to react on smth, uncertainty doesn’t get on our nerves. We keep the balance.

But degree is the matter.

I guess the more we do like we are accustomed to do, the more we make no headway or even become degraded. Maintaining our float on the general line of homeostasis, we constantly have to rock the boat a bit. Since we can get new life experience, new feelings, new knowledge and new ourselves only then, when we doing something brand new or the same but in different ways.

You’re tired of your daily route like home-work-home? Hell yeah, I know that feeling. But buddy, anyway tomorrow you have to perform it again, but try to catch another bus, or make a detour, or cross the road not where you did it yesterday. So you’re will see the new world around you.

Same bar, same drink? Throw it out and go to another one and get specialty of the house. When daily routine drives you nuts, just gamificate it! The only rule is something new every day. And it will never be routine again.

Movement is life. Silence is death.

PS

When I say «we» and «you» I use it as a figure of speech. I always mean «I», ’cause I can’t know what other people are supposed to do. But it seems like this is more or less common thing. Argue about that.
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LA dreaming #8: Notes from the underground
Я
belanovsky


I would like to continue language topic. Just because this is the most important thing for me now. I realized for real that there are two levels of any language. The first one is what we all study in our (language) schools and colleges. Grammar, listening to fake dialogs with «stars», conversations about common things in our life and blah-blah-blah.

This level is fundamental since this is the first floor. If don’t have your keys from the front door, you aren’t able to get into the building at all. And plenty of people are glad to hang out in here, on the first floor. They always advance forcible argument for staying here: «I speak understandable, I am able either to order a pizza or to write a business text. That’s all I need. My accent does not bother me».

I’m happy that they don’t care about irrelevant stuff they don’t actually need. They do the right thing for themselves.

But everyone is different. Some of us aren’t satisfied with dullish party talking place on the floor #1 and have a desire to uncover what’s going on in the underground.

There is completely different life. This is a living language whereas the first one is dead. Its ceiling is a floor of the first floor, but this is the only fact that connects those two levels. People in the underground have their own rules, perception, slang, expressions etc. that you can never find out from your books. It’s almost like another language you have to learn.

It’s a long way. First time you will definitely feel ill at ease, but the more you will defy that felling and keep going on, the more the fog will disperse and you will begin to see clearly what’s going on in there.

I mean, never give up in any case. Thanks.
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LA dreaming #7: The United States of the Soviet Union: Russians in America
Я
belanovsky


The United States of America is known as a country of immigrants. And of course all of you at least heard about Russian immigrant culture here in America.

Actually there are lots of Russians in any big american city, especially on the Coasts. So, I’ve been to 3 russian neighborhoods in New York, San Francisco and recently in Los Angeles. I went there not because I felt homesick and wanted to poest’ kotletki s kartoshkoi v kafe pod nazvaniem «Beriozka». I just was wondering how it looks and feels like. And every single time it looked and felt quite odd.

Surely only Russian folks are able to sense that. Although chinese tourists experience kind of the same taking a walk around chinatowns, I assume.

First of all american Russians are very recognizable. For instance (the pic below was taken by me in NYC’s Brighton Beach in 2009):


Is it possible to not identify your countryman? ;-)

Secondly Russians in America are not necessarily Russians. This term may refer to all local people speaking Russian (ex-Soviet), most of whom came to the US during the last waves of emigration (when USSR was about to fall apart or had already fallen apart). Therefore in the majority of cases members of russian neighborhoods are seniors.

They couldn’t or rather didn’t want to assimilate into American society and live by their own in pretty closed communities. As far as I can judge the typical inhabitant of Russian neighborhood is a senior person with soviet habits. Their children don’t live with them because as opposed to the parents young became embedded in the environment and they are losing the bond with the old folks more and more now.

When I try to describe my impressions on visiting America’s Russian areas to someone I always claim it looks like those people were uprooted from their own native ground and carried to other one that does not really fit them.

Indeed, I constantly feel that when I am in those places. Maybe I am mistaken. But it doesn’t seem like I am.

The photo I took a couple of days ago here in West Hollywood represents my impressions exactly enough:


LA dreaming #6: Wake me up in San Francisco (+bonus)
Я
belanovsky


It wouldn’t be a mistake to give this blogseries a new name «SF Dreaming» for a time. No, i’m just kidding ;-)

But you know I’ve just came back from San Francisco and I changed my opinion about this city pretty radically. I have been there in summer 2010, and only image of a cold, windy, rainy, and in general unfriendly place remained in my head. But I have different view now. Probably the city is still the same but my attitude has changed and I’ve uncovered other sides of San Francisco literally and figuratively.

There is unbelievable distinctive spirit which no one can explain with words. This is kind of feeling (again), so you just sense it. You can express your admiration for those Victorian houses, hills and views, ocean and Golden Gate Bridge, but the sum of all these summands doesn’t represent the whole.


I had a great time there with my friends, I’ve been to many places to which I’d never go by myself. And yes, I had a big merry weekend since Thursday till Sunday. Now I have to take breath before next week. See ya.

PS

And the picture below is a bonus. This is view of Pacific Ocean captured in San Francisco yesterday. Enjoy it ;-)


LA dreaming #5: I gotta feeling...
Я
belanovsky

This morning I woke up with a thought that this is not a skill to know a language. This is a feeling. A feeling that you have to grow and cultivate in you. You can study grammar, listen to special podcasts, translate texts constantly, but it won’t impart the feeling in you.

The feeling is when you’re not thinking which word is correct in one or another situation. You feel unconsciously which one is right just because you have huge speaking experience. And you may not know if it is a phrasal verb or just a verb with a preposition that you have just used right now.

A baby starts to speak not because it has read tons of books and memorized dozens of grammar rules. All this educational stuff comes later. A kid knows lots of idioms but he has no idea about what does the word «idiom» mean and what do phrasal verbs consist of. He has an unconscious feeling.

Therefore the best way to know language is to feel it. To be in the environment as long as possible, as well as be patient and ready for a long severe trip from where you are to your aim.

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LA dreaming #4: That magic word
Я
belanovsky


I spend most of my daytime in Hollywood from the very first day here. I’ve been living there before, in 2010. But every single day Hollywood blows me away. Because of crazy people I meet on its streets. It seems to me like if you’re not a freak, you are a freak here.

Hollywood looks like a place where any limits related to your appearance or behavior do not exist. At all.

A middle-aged man has pink hair and piercing on his face, he wears a worn-out skirt (!) and Skechers. That guy can lay right on the street and scream out something unquotable. And it’s okay here. Nobody cares. Because that’s how some of locals look like and act.

However, I guess, this phenomenon is just a display of the general national idea that has been absolutized: You are unique, so be yourself and take it easy.

Americans are very individualistic nation. They believe, that everyone must have his own privacy...

What?

You don’t know how to translate exactly the word «privacy» into Russian? Of course, you don’t. And I can’t do this. Because we don’t have this word in Russian.

But we do have the word «collectivism». Hell yes we do.

LA dreaming #3: It's all about the Truth
Я
belanovsky


Those from you who know me also know I am not a religious person.

But last sunday I decided to join my host family and «go to the church» with them. Putting those words into quotation marks I just want to point out that it was not exactly church.

«Church» may happen in a cafe, how it was last sunday, because real church was under construction. Its name is Apostolic Christian Fellowship.

Me, my host, pastor Eric Turner and about 10 others got together at table in buffet in Hawthorne, had breakfast paid by pastor and talked to each other just about our concerns and cares. After that parishioners prayed and pastor started to read and explain texts from the Gospel According to Mark. Then everybody was able to make a donation.

No one asked me if I believed in God and cared about the fact that I was not from here. To tell you the truth I felt very comfortable on that meeting. It was nice experience even for me, a person who does not believe in God.

But you know what? I do believe in some eternal verities. Because it’s all about the Truth. If people talk about the Truth it is of no importance what they believe in.

LA dreaming #2: What is Los Angeles?
Я
belanovsky


Everyone knows that Los Angeles is a city on the West Coast of the United States. That’s right. And it would seem there is nothing to add, but it’s not the case. Los Angeles does not belong to that type of cities to which most of us are used to.

First of all, I have to say that Los Angeles is not only a city. Los Angeles is also a county, which is the most populous one in the entire States with more than 10 million inhabitants. County of Los Angeles consists of many unincorporated areas (enclaves) and 88 incorporated cities, such as Los Angeles, Glendale (where I live), Long Beach, Pasadena, Burbank etc.

Secondly, there is no center in the City of Los Angeles. There are Civic Center, Central LA, Downtown LA and so on, but all these places are not the center either historically or culturally. Los Angeles is absolutely decentralized and diversified, like the United States in general. That’s because it didn’t use to be one city and in the past there were many independent settlements in that area.

Frankly speaking I don’t know where exactly the city starts and where it ends so far. And I am afraid lots of locals don’t really know it as well. Because it’s pretty hard to figure that point out.

For instance, it was a surprise for me to discover that Beverly Hills is an independent city surrounded by the City of LA. I thought it is a part of the City of Los Angeles.

However, does it really matter either for angelenos or newcomers? I believe the answer is no.

LA dreaming #1: Pilot
Я
belanovsky
вPhoto Jan 31, 9 28 34 PM

Okay guys.

Today is February 1. It means that I’m going to announce something.

Since I am going to spend my next 2 months in beautiful sunny City of Los Angeles and I am here to brush up my English, I decided to start a kind of text-series about my LA experience.

Its name is LA dreaming.

I’m going to publish short notes about different aspects of life in LA on odd days at the midnight (Pacific Time). It’s going to be 30 episodes.

Surely, I will write and speak only in English.

There are few goals that I’m trying to achieve doing that. It’s simple.

The first one is that I want to practice my written English using new words to describe the reality around me.

One more reason why I am doing this is just to reveal you such a lovely city of LA.

If you guys want to discover some new things about LA or the US, or you are interested in something special about the topic just let me know. I will try to find it out and give to the world.

When you find mistakes in my texts and want to correct me, feel free to do that. But please always tell me what exactly is not right and why it’s not.

That’s it.

Have a nice day!

О том, куда на самом деле я пропадаю на 10 недель
belanovsky
Ребята, коротко расскажу о том, куда и зачем я пропадаю аж до апреля-месяца. Не преувеличиваю значения этого события для других, но все же чувствую, что паре-тройке людей может быть интересно, что да как.

Читать дальше...Свернуть )

Непростительная ошибка
Я
belanovsky


Наивысшим достижением человека является счастье.
Хосе Антонио Марина, «Поверженный разум»

Есть у меня один университетский приятель, с которым, когда учились (да и сейчас), мы были в хороших отношениях, несмотря на то, что мнения по общественно-политическим вопросам были противоположными.

Каждый раз наша дружеская по началу беседа превращалась в клинч: красной тряпкой для него были мои «демократия», «свобода» и «либерализм», для меня — его «государство», «империя», «коллективизм».

Спорили мы с ним ожесточенно, бывало часами. Спорили просто так. Реагируя на раздражитель, как примитивные организмы. О необходимости выборов, пропаганды, наращивания оборонительного потенциала страны, о цене победы, американцах, кавказцах, капитализме...

В какой-то момент я ясно осознал.

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11 октября — День каминг-бэка
Я
belanovsky

Этот день представители секс-меньшинств называют, как я сегодня узнал, днем каминг-аута. Для меня же это день каминг-бэка. Возвращаюсь в ЖЖ, друзья.

Все чаще чувствую, что мне не хватает полноценного блога.

Буду писать не слишком часто. Но по делу.

До встречи.