Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Joy is knowing God has granted you innermost wish and you are still around, basking in His glory, breathing the air and smiling back at the sun or childishly enjoying the raindrops falling on your cheeks. Joy is knowing you are not alone and there is always someone to share the miracle of being alive with.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Word(s) of the Week: Angry

Everybody knows what "angry" means, but did you know these related words and expressions? :)
a little angry: miffed (informal), peeved (informal)
rather angry: annoyed, irritated, cross, in a bad/foul mood
very angry: furious, livid, outraged, incensed, incandescent with rage (formal)
to become angry: lose your temper, go mad , go berserk (informal), go ballistic (informal), hit the roof (informal)
words for describing someone who often gets angry: bad-tempered, grouchy, cantankerous, crabby, stroppy (BrE informal)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Call me Z"

"I thought you are my Jesus"

"A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers" is a beautiful book. So beautiful that it becomes difficult to express it into words. It is the story of a simple girl from China who is sent to London by her parents to study English so that she could easily establish connections and develop their business. Nothing out of this world so far, except that she narrates her story/love affair with an older Englishman in a rather incorrect English, and this is what made it unique for me. Besides the sad love story. Not only is she struggling with tenses and plurals, but she also has difficulty in understanding the Western way of living and loving.

The honest way in which she compares attitudes and cultures is so touching. Her naivete and search for love and truth are endearing. We do smile when she pays a visit to a sex shop or when she states how irrelevant it must be to talk about the weather all the time. Still, there is sadness in her lines when she talks about being loved and needed.

"I hate myself being so needy. The way I want of love, is like a hard toothbrush try to brush bad teeth, then it ends up bleeding. The harder I try, more blood comes out.But I believe love can cure everything, and eventually the teeth will not bleeding anymore. I still think love is the hope, of everything."
Is it, indeed? There are many dreams in a long night...

To read the entire novel, click here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


There's nothing like a French movie, especially when Kristin Scott Thomas stars in it. After an astonishing part in "Il y a longtemps que je t'aime", she takes up a role in which she embodies a wife who longs for attention and love and whose husband doesn't seem to provide that. So, she finds herself a penniless lover and strives to get by with very little, provided she is offered love, sweet love. Is there a happy ending to their story? Maybe, maybe not...

I quite liked the movie, but I still prefer "Il y a longtemps que je t'aime", simply because I didn't find any plausible reason why I would sympathize with the Spanish lover... Nevertheless, the scene at the gas station is heartbreaking and the way Kristin portraits a 40 and something woman in love is quite impressive and reminiscent of this.
Peut etre partir, c'est aimer un peu...

More about the movie and the director's ideas here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Read Books Because I Can't Stop

Is it a bad thing being a bookaholic?

* I spend more money on books than on other "respectful" things.
* There are times when I don't go to sleep because I have to see how a book ends.
* I have a book with me most of the time I am out of the house.
* It is hard to leave a bookstore without buying (a) book(s) even if I have a huge pile of "to-be-read".
* I am not sure of the books I have.
* I sometimes find myself quoting from the books I have read.
* I don't lend my books because I might not get them back (or have them stained).
* I can easily get excited about any new book that my favorite writers release.

* There are plenty of books I have read before other people.
* I can leaf through a book and forget about the food on the cooker.
* I enjoy reading reviews before and after I have read the book.
* I have a wishlist on a dedicated site.
* I have my favorite books in English, French and Romanian (if they have been translated).
* I have struggled to get autographs from my favorite authors (and succeeded).
* It took hours to be taken out of the "Shakespeare and Co."
* I am planning a future trip abroad in accordance with a literary festival.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Teaching to the Student

Seth Godin continues to teach me smart things :)

All teachers know about differentiated learning, but what this phrase actually says is that different students want to do different things and what they end up doing is what makes them acquire new information. Thus, if you want your students to learn the most, you should start by thinking that they are different.

The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition states that there are 5 stages that a student could pass through:
1. Novice
--wants to be given a manual, told what to do, with no decisions possible

2. Advanced beginner
--needs a bit of freedom, but is unable to quickly describe a hierarchy of which parts are more important than others

3. Competent
--wants the ability to make plans, create routines and choose among activities

4. Proficient
--the more freedom you offer, the more you expect, the more you'll get

5. Expert
--writes the manual, doesn't follow it.

Although it is hard not to teach to the book or to the curriculum, what should one do is teach to the student in order to get positive feedback.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Demonstrating Strength

Via Seth Godin's blog.


Defer to others

Avoid shortcuts

Tell the truth

Offer kindness

Seek alliances

Volunteer to take the short straw

Choose the long-term, sacrificing the short

Demonstrate respect to all, not just the obviously strong

Share credit and be public in your gratitude

Friday, October 1, 2010

Poetry Is Where the Heart Is...


aud glasul tau si privesc in
lumina ochilor tai.
fara suflare
incerc sa-ti patrund in inima
cu sfiala,
sa nu-ti tulbur ritmul
exact si perfect,
care ma-nfioara.

(Nicu Alifantis)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Art of Travel

It’s in our nature to be on the move, in the search of new places, exhilarating experiences and longed-for soul mates. We travel in our heads or over the clouds, but we always look for the next heart throbbing spot that will place us in the center of the yet untamed mother Earth.

Indeed, there’s nothing more addictive than roaming around, discovering, with every step, things, places and people that change us forever. We go sightseeing, travel guide(s) in our backpack, just as the painter goes on to trace lines on the canvas, hoping for wishes coming true, as we hope to go beyond the unknown and tedious, because there is pure ART in the way we TRAVEL, and there’s no art without pleasure. Yet sometimes, our sole purpose is to only return from our travels in order to flee again, in a much greater style, for what is our world but an oyster awaiting to be conquered?
And if our restless heart and desire to hit the road prove to be more abundant for a single life, we can still hope for the other eight...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

If You Want, I'll hunt You like an Animal...

I am totally overwhelmed by the number of Madonna leaks this past week. Not only are they of good quality, but most of them sound fabulous.
Here's Animal, from the Hard Candy sessions, and I am still wondering why it wasn't included on the album. It's definitely funkier than some of the songs from HC.I guess Madonna has her ways, after all...

Madonna - Animal (Hard Candy sessions)

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Four Lions or Screw Political Correctness

Ok, let’s cut to the chase. I loved this movie. It was simply brilliant while being bloody funny. I haven’t laughed that much since Blackadder.
Four Lions is a black comedy, which, fortunately, makes you laugh at contemporary issues, because, let’s be honest, that’s probably the only thing worth doing. It tries to show that extremists are humans after all, and multiculturalism can also be a sloppy matter. Indeed, there may be some uncomfortable truths amongst the laughter and irony, but one can go past them in order to savour a comedy in which four blokes are trying really hard to put together a terrorist cell that could blow up …. wait for it….. a mosque. What the buffoons end up doing is … well, I won’t spoil it for you so watch the movie without feeling guilty that you might laugh when a bomb goes off. It happened to me, too.

Here are some hilarious lines and the trailer.
“We’ve got women talking back. We’ve got people playing stringed instruments. It’s the end of days”.
“You can’t win an argument just by being right”.
“Are you in Paradise, bro?”

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Les Memoires D'Hadrien

Octavian is generous once more and here I am writing in order to get a book. But not just any book, Les Memoires d'Hadrien written by Marguerite Yourcenar, the first female writer to enter the French Academy (and this time, my knowledge about her and the book stop here).

Why this book? Well, shamefully, I haven't read anything by her, not even during my French courses, so it would be a great first. Secondly, I long to read in French and to brush it up a bit, since I can sense I am getting rusty at that :).
Thirdly, (and here comes the "generosity shock" on my part), If I enjoy it, I will pass it forward to my friend and French teacher... How does that sound for "giving, you shall receive"? :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Whisling in the Wind

I was leafing through the "Encyclopedia of Taboos" and found an interesting article about whistling.
Now, it seems that you can whistle in the dark or become a whistle-blower, not to mention the wolf-whistle that some men use to show the animal within, but still, it is useful to know that in the Islam world, whistling is forbidden because of its association with sorcery and the casting of spells in pre-Islamic times. Whistling is also a means of “communication with the Jinn”. The Jinn (from which the English word “genie” derives) inhabit the immaterial world. In the Koran it is stated that the jinn were created from “smokeless fire” while man was made of clay and angels were formed from light.

Moreover, the French anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss, has uncovered a link between whistling and sorcery in ancient tribes, fact described in his book "From Honey to Ashes: Introduction to a Science of Mythology".
If you also happen to travel at sea, mind that you could easily be thrown overboard if you attempt to communicate with the jinn, simply because whistling at sea is deemed unlucky.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's All about the Clothes

~ all mouth and trousers
blustering and boastful, showing off without
having the qualities to justify it.

~ pull up one's socks
try harder

~ keep one's shirt on
try to stay calm

~ buckle down
to give one's complete attention or effort to do something

~ feather in one`s cap
something to be proud of, an honor

~ talk through one`s hat
to say something without knowing or understanding the facts

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fabulous Madonna

Madonna turns 52 today and I can't stop marvelling about her power and determination to change the world while also having fun :)
Happy Bday, Queen of Hearts! :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sacred Hearts

I really enjoyed reading Sarah Dunant's previous books, whether they were thrillers - "Transgressions" - or historical fiction - "In the Company of the Courtesan" or "The Birth of Venus", so I was glad to emerge into a new reading of hers.

SACRED HEARTS is a novel that belongs to the genre of religious fiction and thus, it represented a premiere amongst my readings, which at first made me reconsider it, thinking it would be tedious, but once you get past the first 200 pages (lol) (out of its 460), it totally grips you.

"She is only a young woman who did not want to become a nun. The world is full of them."

As the world of the Santa Caterina nunnery during Renaissance is set, you experience an eagerness to get to the last page and see if Serafina, a sixteen year old novice, will run away from the nunnery and reunite with her lover/music teacher or she will benevolently succumb to the life of the nunnery where Sora Zuana plays an indispensable part.

If Serafina manages to escape her destiny or remain its prisoner is for you to find out in this weave of devotion, rebellion and the worlds between them.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William A. Ward

Monday, July 12, 2010

Why Would I Go to Paris?

Once you've been to Paris, it becomes quite difficult to describe it because there's nothing that compares to it, even a few previous visits...
So, "La Femme de Trente Ans" will go to Paris because it's the one and only city where love can actually be felt in the air, where one can indulge in the sheer beauty of the Sacre Coeur, stroll in "Jardin de Luxembourg" with no care in the world, be overwhelmed by what true art really means in Le Louvre, touch the dreamy sky while up in La Tour Eiffel, allow oneself to be swept away by the gentle breeze while enjoying a ride in a "bateau mouche", chuckle about some "dubious" artifact while in Le Musee de l'Erotisme et refaire le parcours d'Amelie, comme une petite folle de ce film :)
How much Paris can one squeeze into two weeks? I will let you know when I return, now I almost feel like I am living a life of pure debauchery :))

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Single Man

"A Single Man" has easily crept among my all time favorite movies, for a simple reason: it is STUNNING! The actors, Julienne Moore and Colin Firth need no introduction, and Tom Ford, the director, writer and producer, is at his first but worthy attempt in the vast field of Hollywood movies.
This perfect film combines 3 unfinished love stories and the sadness and desperation that they bring along. It is love that turns the main character into a suicidal one, and it is also love that rescues him. But not for long, as fatality strikes...

The haunting music reminded me of "In the mood for love" and I wasn't wrong. The music composer, Shigeru Umebayashi, wrote the music for "In the mood ..." but also for its sequel, "2046".

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Hump Effect

The Hump Effect is related to the idea that Wednesdays are considered days of hard work and making it through to the middle of the work week is just as getting "over the hump."

The Hump Effect, mentioned in Edward de Bono's book "The Happiness Purpose", is explained as getting people to do things which seem to go against their best interests at the moment. It may be a matter of preventing someone from doing something which is tempting, or making someone do something which is unpleasant, but eventually, this less attractive 'road" opens out into a wider one, with more, beneficial opportunities. A simple example would be the one about going to the gym. It may seem hard and/or boring, but if you succeed in constantly going, it will better your health and looks, which may prove exactly what you wanted for yourself in the beginning.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Spelling Bee

If you think you're good at spelling, try this preliminary test. I scored 17 and missed 3 because I didn't check the words at the end, so make sure you do that!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom

The funniest thing you may have heard :)

Jeremy Irons - The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Proficient in English

If you are able to correctly solve this word - formation exercise, then your English has reached a proficiency level :)

For many people Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is the most (0) influential (INFLUENCE) figure in the history of western classical music. His (1) ..... (ORDINARY) talent was already clearly evident as a young man, (2) ..... (MERCY) surviving a somewhat unconventional(3) ..... (BRING) during which his eccentric father would often force him to take music lessons in the middle of the night.

The young Beethoven's ability won him the admiration of the leading contemporary musical figures. Throughout the 1790s he worked hard to secure the interest of wealthy patrons. Such patronage (4) .....(ABLE) him to concentrate on becoming a successful composer.

Whatever his awe-inspiring musical (5) .....(ACHIEVE), however, his personal life was something of a disaster. His day-to-day (6) ..... (RELATE)with people invariably turned out to be rather turbulent. Although he apparently fell in love with a number of society women, the identity of the girl who lay closest to his heart remains (7) ..... (ELUDE)to this day.

However, just at the point when Beethoven was beginning to reap the rewards of his early endeavours, he had to come to terms with the crushing (8) ..... (REALISE)that his increasing deafness was (9) ..... .(CURE) From that point on, his music displayed a (10) ..... (STRIKE) change in style, becoming both heavier in tone and larger in scale.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nothing Really Matters

I still can't believe this video wasn't included on CELEBRATION :(

Here's a remix I simply and totally LOVE.

Madonna - Nothing Really Matters Lukesavant New Beginnings Mix

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Monday, May 10, 2010


"Friendship is like peeing on yourself: everyone can see it, but only you get the warm feeling that it brings." (via Internet)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

To Die For ...


Sunday, May 2, 2010

In a Nutshell...

Click on the pic to see a bigger size...

Sorry, I thought you were an American :))

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Liquid Love

Madonna - Liquid Love David Guetta Remix Edit

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

5 Reasons to see a French Movie

... and not just any French movie. I am talking about "Micmacs a Tire Larigot" ("Excessive Intrigues")

1. Former director of Amelie, a cinematic masterpiece - Jean Pierre Jeunet
2. Incredibly talented actors (3 of them also appeared in Amelie)
3. More realistic action than in "Mission:Impossible"
4. Deliriously funny but not stupid
5. Still serious and with a message at its core

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Movie of the Month 2



I am still amazed that it took me so long to actually see this movie, taking into account the fact that I've seen "Cum mi-am petrecut sfarsitul lumii" and I really think Dorotheea Petre is such a promising actress... But, here I am, years apart from its debut, realizing Romanian directors can make movies that matter.

RYNA is a movie about a 16 year old girl from a rural area around Tulcea. Nothing strange about it, except that she lives with an oppressing, misogynist father and too weak a mother. Ryna Biris longs to wear dresses and go dancing, she longs to be kissed and be taken care of, instead of always taking care of her drunken father.
How the story unfolds next? Well, there's a French guy who seems to like her, there's a mayor quite typical of these days, and a grandpa who sees things as they are.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Whole of the Moon


Waterboys - Whole of the moon

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Thursday, March 18, 2010


Tell me if you've seen something better than this! :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

(The One and Only) WHITE HORSE

This is how my (favorite) students sound like :)

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dreams Are Not Negotiable

In a nutshell, 2 days ago I could once again loudly shout that I am extremely lucky when it comes to wishes coming true.

I am @funkymad from Paulo Coelho's blog post :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Clever Women at Work

Here's a very powerful conversation between my one of my all time favorite writers - Jeanette Winterson - and psychoanalyst Susie Orbach. The two fascinating women talk about Bodies, our Bodies and everything connected to them.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Elephant in the Room


An important and obvious topic, which everyone present is aware of, but which isn't discussed, as such discussion is considered to be uncomfortable.


The expression is of US origin, although the precise source isn't known. The meaning, if not the exact wording, dates from at least the 1950s and is possibly some years older than that. The first reference to the phrase is found in The Charleston Gazette, July 1952:

"Chicago, that's an old Indian word meaning get that elephant out of your room."

It isn't clear quite what the author of that intended, but we can be sure he was being ironic. Chicago is a word coined by the people that now prefer to call themselves Native Americans. Their original meaning for the word isn't known, but we can be sure it wasn't anything to do with elephants.

The first known citation that uses the phrase with the clear intention of conveying our current understanding of the phrase is the title of Typpo and Hastings' book An elephant in the living room: a leader's guide for helping children of alcoholics, 1984.

The number of times that a variety of authors have called on the expression in recent years, whenever a topic that they thought was important and deserved more attention, has caused it to become clichéd.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Red Herring

red herring:
a fact or idea that is not important but is introduced to take your attention away from the points that are important

The only thing that basescu is able to say, during these troubled times, is that 99% of Romanians enjoy "manele"... I can only add that his 100% does not equal mine! No wonder kids are school are not interested in maths... who would be with such a high-placed example of utter crap in one's head???

Monday, February 22, 2010

In Case You Care

Bill Gates on energy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The First Step

British Council Seminar: using literature to aid language learning

British Council Seminars - BritLit Event Manchester from British Council on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What British Council Teaches Us


As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best INFORMATION. (Benjamin Disraeli)

If you have KNOWLEDGE, let the others light their candles in it. (Margaret Fuller)

I have travelled more than anyone else, and I have noticed that even the angels speak ENGLISH with an accent. (Mark Twain)

OPPORTUNITY means the freedom to be what we never thought we would be. (Daniel Boorstin)

To be continued.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

10 Things I Learnt from AVATAR

Yes, I have seen it. I thought it would be a a waste of precious time, but it wasn't, even if I will never choose a 95% animated movie over a "real" one... Still, it was worth it because I discovered that:

1. Women will still continue to be as hysterical as they are today.

2. Things seen from above seem deeper than seen from below.

3. Long hair will be essential.

4. No matter how pressed for time you are, you will still find some minutes for a new hairdo.

5. Having a big bird is more important than possessing a gun.

6. A look can tame even a pussycat.

7. The bad guy always misses when confronted with choosing the best option in order to destroy the hero.

8. Americans will afford to invade a new planet, but it will still be almost impossible for their soldiers to "get' a new pair of legs.

9. The Americans don't win at the end of this movie, which makes it even more ironical, given the fact that they spent millions of dollars to produce/see it.

10. English will be the only language worth knowing.

Friday, February 5, 2010

What Book Am I?

You're The Poisonwood Bible!

by Barbara Kingsolver

Deeply rooted in a religious background, you have since become both
isolated and schizophrenic. You were naively sure that your actions would help people,
but of course they were resistant to your message and ultimately disaster ensued. Since
you can see so many sides of the same issue, you are both wise beyond your years and
tied to worthless perspectives. If you were a type of waffle, it would be

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Movie of the Month 1


If you watch more movies than the average, then you might know that there was once (in 2006) a movie called "Paris, je t'aime". The Americans could not stand aside and not create a movie that will proclaim their strong love towards the most cosmopolitan city of all: New York.

I admit, I watched it without expecting too much, and I was blown away. There is so much poetry and beauty in-between words, a palette of images sculpted out of desire that you cannot help revelling in it hours after you have seen it.

P.S. Did I mention that a few great actors are present in the short yet charming parts of the movie?
P.P.S. If you enjoyed it, then you have the chance to watch the bonus, "These vagabond shoes", an extract directed by Scarlett Johansson starring Kevin Bacon...

Here's the trailer.

Friday, January 29, 2010

No more Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger died today at the age of 91. Having read all his works and also having fallen in love with Holden Caulfield, his (in)famous character, I am now looking forward to the only positive thing that might come out of this: for works that he tried so hard not to publish or share to be revealed to us. With the risk of committing a sacrilege and sounding voyeuristic, I am also dying to read his letters, in case they are to be released.

"Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody."

More about Salinger and his literary life HERE.

Bear/Bare with me! :)

It is not an invitation to take your clothes off...
It is just a plea to try to be open-minded and understand, even for a second, the ones around you. Miracles may happen!
Sure, you don't need to cross any boundaries for anyone, and patience is a virtue that not so many possess, but ultimately, it can be quite rewarding to step out of your comfort zone and say hello to a new ray of sunshine and to new(er) opportunities. So, bare with me :)