Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Racism & Religious Radicalism in Modern Jewry

Racism and Religious Radicalism in Modern Jewry 
Am Yisrael Arevim Zeh LaZeh."
Lulav and Etrog,
a symbol of Sukkot,
 often interpreted as a symbol of the
unity of human beings
amid their diversity
By: Payman Akhlaghi
December 28th, 2010

The following draft appeared first as a Note on Payman's Personal Facebook page, December 28th, 2010, where it has generated a heated debate on discrimination, what's in the best interest of Israel, and other related issues. If you have an FB account, you may wish to follow the FB Thread 1 and FB Thread 2. Send me a message via FB if you encounter any problems viewing the page. The viewpoints expressed therein reflect the individual opinions of their respective authors. Be advised that given the nature of the subject, some comments may be emotionally distressful to the reader.

In an FB response to a report by Jerusalem Post, the Iranian Israeli political analyst, Meir Javedanfar worte, "Racism starts with Arabs, then moves to Russian Jews, then Jews of Arab origin and before we know it the country will fall apart. Like a virus, racism sees no boundaries.This is why we need to fight racism with vigor and determination." (The JP report could be found here.)

His wise remarks brought back some old memories, and brought together some lingering thoughts. It seemed they were worthy of being placed together in a single note.

Pianist Anton Rubinstein once said, "Russians call me German, Germans call me Russian, Jews call me a Christian, Christians a Jew. Pianists call me a composer, composers call me a pianist. The classicists think me a futurist, and the futurists call me a reactionary. My conclusion is that I am neither fish nor fowl – a pitiful individual." [Quote found in Wikipedia; also found in Harold C. Schonberg's "Great Pianists".] One could say, In Iran, you were a Jew; in Israel, you'd be an Iranian, or "Parsi", to be exact!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Sometimes, Only a Wink...", Poem by Payman Akhlaghi

LA Clouds by Payman Akhlaghi
February the 4th, 2010, about 5 PM.
A moment not to be missed...‎

Payman’s Public Page on Facebook,‎
ComposerPA (Payman Akhlaghi)‎

Payman’s Personal Page on Facebook
Payman Akhlaghi (Composer ‎پیمان اخلاقی‎)

More of Payman's poetry in
Persian or English at his
Collection of Poetry on Scribd.
Sometimes, Only a Wink... ‎
A Poem by Payman Akhlaghi

Sometimes, it takes
Not decades, but a second;‎
Not a cry, but a whisper;‎
Not running for miles, but moving a muscle;‎
Not writing volumes, but saying a few words;‎
To give someone a warm feel of the world...‎

Sometimes, it takes
Not a storm, but a breeze;‎
Not a sun, but a breath;‎
Not a friend, but a stranger;‎
To break the ice,‎
To flash the smile,‎
To say the kind words...‎

Be that friend,‎
Or that stranger,‎
But move that muscle,‎
And change a world...‎

Payman Akhlaghi
Los Angeles, October 17th, 2010‎

© Copyright: 2010, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.
First Published on Facbook, October 17th, 2010.
First Published on Scribd on December 17th, 2010.

N.B.: The author is himself a composer. This publication is intended as an introduction to his poetry, and as a preview of his songs in progress. Please read and hopefully enjoy this poem; but you may not set it to music, or print, copy or distribute it – physically, digitally, or through any other means – or use it in any other  form, or for any other purpose, commercial or otherwise. Thank you.

Neruda/Akhlaghi: تو را ساکن می خواهم

تو را ساکن می خواهم
شعری از پابلو نرودا
برگردان فارسی از پیمان اخلاقی

I Like For You To Be Still (1920)
Poema 15. Me gustas cuando callas...
An Original Persian Translation of the Poem Pablo Neruda

تو را ساکن می خواهم
برگردان فارسی از پیمان اخلاقی

تو را ساکن می خواهم، گویی غایبی
آوایم را از دوردست می شنوی
اما صدایم را به لمس تو بختی نیست
گویی چشمانت به لایتناهی پرکشیده اند
چونان که بوسه ای لبانت را مهر کرده باشد
آنک که همه چیز از روح من می آکند
تو نیز سرشار از روح من برمی آیی
تو همسانِ روح منی -- پروانه ای از رؤیا
و به واژۀ "اندوه" می مانی [...]
[لطفاً برای خواندن همۀ شعر اینجا کلیک کنید.]

Kristallnacht (Poem) J Sedaghatfar, Translated by P Akhlaghi

A Synagogue Burning
Krystallnacht, November 9th, 1938
The Night of the Broken Glass

Translation of Poem in Persian by
Jahangir Sedaghatfar

English translation by
Payman Akhlaghi

کریستال ناخت: شب شیشه های شکسته
شعری به زبان پارسی از جهانگیر صداقت فر
برگردان انگلیسی از پیمان اخلاقی

The present poem recounts the horrible events of that nightmare of a night in a quasi-delirious, almost hallucinatory fashion. The brackets designate those moments when the observer pauses the narrative to loudly protest the painful scenes, which are taking place before the eyes.

The Aftermath of Kristallnacht
November 10th, 1938

The Night of the Broken Glass


Watch over the mothers!
Watch over the mother,
Whose fear-poisoned breast
Is feeding bitter milk
Into the mouth of the startled child.
Sacrilege and lunacy
Harden daggers
In the acerbity of blood.]

Watch over the newborns
—These fragile hopes of a better tomorrow;
[Please click on Read More for the entire poem.]

Friday, December 10, 2010

Liszt's Sposalizio vs Debussy's Arabesque No.1 (Paper, 2007)

Imagination, Stasis and Motion
In the Piano Music of Liszt and Debussy
A Discussion of Sposalizio and Arabesque No.1

Années de Pèlerinage, Deuxième année: Italie, No. 1
(“Years of Pilgrimage, Year Two: Italy, No. 1)
Deux Arabesques, No. 1 (1888)

Author: Payman Akhlaghi
Subject: Music Analysis, Comparative Musicology
Submitted: 2007, UCLA, As a Graduate Studies Academic Paper
English, 33 Pages
Published on Scribd: Free to Read.

Excerpt from the introduction:

"Perhaps no two musical oeuvres would leave more distant impressions on the ‎listener than those of Franz Liszt (1811-1886) and Claude Debussy (1862-1918). After ‎all, Liszt is better known for his dazzling bravura than the quiet harmonies of his late ‎period, while the subtlety of taste in almost everything Debussy wrote has made his music ‎stand for all things French.‎

And yet, as implausible it might sound, the two shared enough to make a ‎comparative study of their works meaningful. First, both Liszt and Debussy loved the ‎piano and wrote for it affectionately, enhancing the technical, timbral and expressive ‎potentials of the instrument to its limits. At the same time, unlike their common idol, ‎Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), this affection did not come at the expense of all other that ‎were not piano, as their output embraced orchestral music too with equal dedication.‎

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Film Review: Vision (2009)

Happily, rushing to a last-day screening of "Vision" (2009, German, ca 110 mins) at Laemmle's Royal, proved overall worthy of the trouble.

The film, directed by Margarethe von Trotta, and featuring a serene Barbara Sukowa in the title role, is a respectful, if a slow-motion take on the life of the Mediaeval nun and composer, Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). I had heard some of her chants in the late 1990's, and I had found them rather soothing. But this film has focused less on her music, and more on Hildegard's visions, writings, message of love, and her quest to reclaim the dignity of women in a male-dominated society. In some ways, this Vision's Hildegard comes across almost as a proto-feminist within a patriarchal world.

The glossy lighting and cinematography of Axel Block has done ample justice to the film's beautiful scenic design, locations, and costumes, as well as to the often attractive features of the leading cast. However, given that Hildegard was one of the earliest (female) composers with a recorded legacy, one would have naturally expected more of the score, composed by Christian Heyne. In general,  however, the image and the soundtrack do succeed in conveying a tangible sense of the period, and an understanding of its culturally and temporally distant characters.

Marginally, it might be a fact of particular interest to Persian movie-lovers, that Ms. Hengameh Panahi, clearly of Iranian origin, is credited in the coveted role of the "executive producer" of the film.

November 25, 2010, Los Angeles
© 2010, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

(*) Payman Akhlaghi is an Iranian American composer, pianist and piano teacher, covering the greater los angeles area. He's currently working on his dissertation toward the degree of PhD in Composition (Music). For appointments and further information, please call (310) 208-2927. (ALT: Peyman Akhlaghi, پیمان اخلاقی)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Moonlight" In Beethoven's Own Hand

Ever wondered how Beethoven's handwriting looked like, as he scribbled, page after page, documenting his genius for the posterity?

Here's a sample of his manuscripts, a page from the first movement of Piano Sonata No. 14, in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27/2, widely known as "The Moonlight Sonata" -- Yes, that most serene Adagio Sostenuto...

For more, please click on the following link:

Films: "Up Close & Personal" (1996)

Revisiting "Up Close & Personal" (1996)

I Liked it then; I Loved it now.

It must have been for the perfect chemistry of the two leads (Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Redford) and their likeable, loving, yet independent and ambitious characters; the tightly written script; director Jon Avnet's chic mis-en-scène; the incessant momentum of the edit (Debra Neil-Fisher); not to mention the lovely, beautifully orchestrated, well-nuanced score by Thomas Newman. But I have a feeling that none of these would have cut it for me were it not for the emotional self-restraint exercised in telling this sweet story of love, growth, and self-discovery, with a tragic ending well fitted to our modern sensitivities.

Some films just get better as they age; this one's done it so gracefully. By all means, catch it on a DVD, or find it somewhere on the Web.

(© 2010, Review by Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

For a Sanctuary Called University

Some things cannot or ought not be forgotten.

It was four years ago, almost to the date. Here's a link to the video that captured the utterly shocking events of the night of November 14th, 2006, at my beloved university campus, when a student was subjected to what seemed to be some severe, unproportionately overt security measures. Back then, upon its release, I watched the video two times in horror. Today, I could not even bring myself to watch it. The horror of the first night, when I innocently clicked on a link in an email, has not yet subsided.

From the outset, I thought that it was never my place to run any judgment publicly on an issue so complicated and so sensitive, although as an independent observer, I did arrive at some personal opinions on the matter, and specially the larger context in which it occurred. In this brief personal note, however, I'd rather resort to the following formulation: This should not have happened. This ought not to happen ever again.

Further information is provided in the official Final Report by PARC (August 2007), available in PDF.

(*) I pondered long and hard whether I should dedicate a post on this issue. At the end, I thought that a reminder as mild as this would serve us better, than trying to sweep its account down the dungeons of our collective memory. To avoid unnecessary appearances on search engine results, I did not include any references to specific names, titles, or other parties or locations, who or which were directly invovled in the incident, other than the dates and documents provided as links. As needless as it might seem, I do emphasize that by all accounts, nothing should obscure the fact that the goodness in that particular campus, and the number of good men in those institutions involved in the incident, far outweigh such regrettable mistakes. I wrote this post to contribute as small a share as I could afford to making sure that such goodness shall be multiplied and preserved. Thank you.

Discussing Mahler's "Abschied" from "Das Lied" (2001)

A Brief Discussion of Der Abschied, from Das Lied von der Erde"

Author: Payman Akhlaghi
2001, UCLA, A Graduate Studies Academic Paper
English, 41 Pages

Published on Scribd, Free to Read.
All rights reserved for the author.
Click Here to read for free.

Excerpt from the Preface:
"[...] For many decades, the widely adopted narrative of the history of music in the twentieth century seemed to have left Mahler behind, buried with reverence, in the remnants of the Late Romanticism. Yet, neither his progressive aesthetics were fully compatible with the sensitivities of Romanticism [for example, his adventures in time and tonality and the treatment of dissonances were atypical to a Romantic ear], nor his music was containable within the then predominant definitions of twentieth-century Modernism [‘too’ tonal; ‘too’ lyrical]. Thus, he was forced to live in a limbo, shortly existing in a few last pages on the Late Romantics, a few first pages on the early Modernists, and the dark shadow in between. His ‘Yiddish Accent’ and background had only added to the extra- musical impediments and had cost him almost a perfect silence in the wartime Nazi societies. [...]"

© Copyright: 2001, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved. / © Copyright: 2010, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.
[Payman Akhlaghi (Peyman Akhlaghi, پیمان اخلاقی)]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Film Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Finally, a modern thriller with substance!

By all accounts, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" (2010, Swedish, 150') is an absorbing film. It's finely directed (Daniel Alfredson), superbly acted (no exceptions), darkly cinematographed, and effectively edited. The music score (Jacob Groth) is acceptable, and at times gripping. The script is an adaptation of novelist Stieg Larsson's novel, which was not published until after the author's death in 2004, at the age of 50. (He's now an international best-seller.)

The plot invovles the story of a girl, abused by relatives, and violated by some corrupt elements of the system, yet helped by the good members of the society. What ultimately propels the story is the well-maintained suspense of the fight between good men vs. evil men, and the eternal wish to see innocence finally redeemed. Watch it by all means, but beware of some shocking violence. In other words, watch it at your own risk!

(© 2010, Payman Akhalghi. All rights reserved.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Romance of Flying in Norman Foster's Architecture

Charlie Rose's interview with the eminent British architect, Norman Foster (October 1st, 2010, 30 minutes) is one of the most intelligent, informed and inspiring conversations in my recent memory. Foster is as eloquent a speaker as he's been a boldly imaginative architect. He's a poet of spaces, a composer of buildings, one who plays with bricks and mortar to let a solid edifice flow in the air, like a melody.

Incidnetally, his indelible design for an office building in London, widely known as the "Erotic Gherkin" (on the left), was aptly used as a backdrop in the movie sequel, "Basic Instinct 2".

His 75th birthday is being celebrated by a biography, and a documentary cleverly titled, "How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?", which I hope to catch on a DVD, if not on the large screen.

© Copyright: 2010, Review / Text by Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved for any respective party.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"All the Colors of the Dawn", Poem by Payman Akhlaghi

An original love poem, "All the Colors of the Dawn" (2010), was just published on Scribd. You may read more of my poetry on the same site, brought together in the following Collection: PA Original Poems in English or Persian. A link to this collection could also be found on the right column of this page.

Here's an excerpt:

Afresh, arrived
            The new year,
                  With a knowing gaze,
                           With a crescent smile,
                  With a kind wink,
                           With a caring voice,
                  A sweet basket of melodies
                           Adorned with cheese
                                 And my favorite bottle of wine...
...and I've already
          Begun to feel
                                Like a man, caught
                                       In a transparent armor!

Please read this poem and others in full at Thank you.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

America's Leadership Once More Ascertained

‎"Love, Not Dove" -- Thus read the T-Shirts worn today in Gainesville, Florida, as NY Times reported.

The many people wearing those T-shirts were trying to distinguish themselves from a certain priest in their town, a pastor, whose recent threat to an act of vandalism reminded me of the Middle Ages. They didn't do this because they believed in Islam: They did this because they wished to withhold that long revered American principle -- that anyone should be free to hold his or her beliefs in private. They wished the world to know that they are better than him.

An exercise in free speech, and a lesson in tolerance, that makes you certain America is bound to lead for decades to come.

What better way could be to celebrate the best of America, and to commemorate the victims of 9/11?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Could Facebook Become a Latter Day Wiener Kaffeehaus?

The following appeared first on FB, 8/21/2010. © 2010, All rights reserved for respective authors.

My friends; This is a good read, and an re-affirmation of the very idea that our many hours on the FB could some day be worth something -- vielleicht! Next step: Let's get together for a real coffee! Best, P.A.

I came across a very insightful post and its associated comments by Prof. Donna Shalev, and I thought that these deserved to be compiled into a single note. (You may find my own brief -- yet equally insightful! -- points at the end.)

I hope the non-musicians won't be distracted by musical references. Similar things were happening with writers, philosophers, poets and painters, also in Paris or Barcelona. The point is, it's possible that FB could become conducive to an unprecedented cross-culturization of a somewhat scattered community of intellectuals worldwide, with results similar to that of the close intellectual encounters of early 1900 Vienna. (Payman)


By Donna Shalev

"Kaffeehaus was ueberall": Is Facebook the new fin-de-siècle Kaffeehaus? Does it fulfill similar functions? For these, see the following excerpt of an essay on the culture of the Kaffeehaus. (Schoenberg was a member of Karl Kraus' "stammtisch" [regular's table, or the regular's gathering] at Kaffee central... More ideas and pictures, more artists and their stammtisch/kaffee affiliations are welcome):

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wronged by Justice for 27 Years...

Wronged by Justice for 27 Years... (*)
By: Payman Akhlaghi

Until quite recently, when he was found to be innocent, Michael A. Green spent 27 years in prison for a crime he never committed. And if it were not for the new science of DNA, and some little evidence kept in the archives by accident (sic!), he might have had to remain incarcerated for another 48 years, to serve a 75-year sentence in full. Arrested at 18, Mr. Green was no angel; but nothing he did at the time came even close to the immensity of the accusations laid upon him by the prosecutors -- and by the victim of a gang rape, a white woman. (Mr. Green is black.) He never admitted to his guilt, and he even passed on a 5-year sentence, offered to him in exchange for admitting to something which he insisted he had not done, in the first place. While living a most torturous life in prison, he educated himself in law, and eventually typed the appeal request, which led to the re-opening of his case, and to his soon to be announced exoneration. As you contemplate the plight and misery of this now 45-year old man, bear in mind that 258 people have been exonerated in the past decade alone, as the result of DNA tests.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Two Love Poems in Persian by Payman Akhlaghi

Two Poems in Persian by Payman Akhlaghi

‏دو شعر به زبان فارسی از
 پیمان اخلاقی

Please click on the titles to read the poems in full on Scribd.Thank you.
برای خواندن مطالب روی تیتر اشعار کلیک کنید.
هر شعر تنها شامل یک صفحه است و در تصاویر سمت راست و چپ این پست نیز قابل رؤیت هستند.

I just published two of my poems in Persian as a preview of several songs in progress. The lyrics in full are available to read for free on Scribd. I hope my Persian-speaking audience enjoys the words, while some day soon, everyone could enjoy the music, as well, regardless of the language. Let me know if you are interested in an English translation.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Film News: Black Swan (2010)

Ever since his very first feature, the 1998 BW indie "Pi", Darren Aronofsky has established himself as one of the most daringly original, if not always satisfying, art-film directors of his generation. What followed next -- "Requiem for a Dream", "The Fountain", and "The Wrestler" --proved that not even the director's penchant for dissonant visual formalism, and abstract mystical themes, would stop the likes of Jennifer Connelly, Ellen Burstyn, Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Mickey Rourke or Marisa Tomei, from lending their box office appeal to his visions.

This time, it's Natalie Portman's turn, who has reportedly played the role of a ballerina, in the soon to be released "Black Swan."  Opening this summer's Venice Film Festival should thus come as no surprise.this

Payman Akhlaghi
First published on FB
(*) Revision 04.29.2014: The spelling of Mr. Aronofsky's name, originally misspelled as Aronovsky, was corrected.

Films: Four Snippets on Inception, Love, Grass & Sorcerers

© 2010, All text by Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Christopher Nolan's "Inception" (2010) is a masterpice of form, concept and design. It's an impressive display of visual and narrative complexities, even as it childishly fails in offering any social, philosophical or psychological substance. I particularly enjoyed several animated Escherian structures, the more or less consistent logic of the script, the stylish mis-en-scène and frame compositions, the excellent cinematography and camera movements, the expressive SFX, and the tightly calculated edit of the film. The skillful cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, and including Marion Cotillard, Joseph Godron-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger and the very intelligent Ellen Page, have all imbued their characters with as much humanity as the script would have allowed. Only if Ken Watanabe had worked more on his English enunciation, computer games had not permeated the vision of the director, and the music were not so disappointingly shallow yet pretentious.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Original Drawing: Aspire MMX01b

Aspire MMX01 v01b
 "Aspire MMX01 v01b"

eDrawing by
Payman Akhlaghi

July 27th, 2010
Los Angeles

Please click on the picture to see
more of Payman's artwork.

© 2010, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bruce Sutherland: A Legend of the Piano World

Bruce Sutherland (*) is one of the most distinguished of all American classical piano teachers. His pedagogical lineage could be traced back to Beethoven, via Theodor Leschetizky and Carl Czerny. His students, young and adult, are frequent prize winners in national and international competitions. Despite his unique knowledge, fame and expertise, Bruce is one of the most soft-spoken people you could ever meet. I was fortunate enough to study with him for the summer of 1996, at his Santa Monica studio. This was a brief, yet instrumental period in my education as a performer.

(*) Update: Sadly, Mr. Bruce Sutherland passed away early September 2010, shortly after this post had appeared. You may find a link a touching eulogy by Max Levnison at the end of the note. Bruce Sutherland was born on February 26, 1926, and he passed away on Wednesday, September 8, 2010, in Santa Monica, California. Here's a Tribute Page dedicated to him. -- Payman A.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Original Drawing: Alternate World MMX01e

PA Alternate World MMX01e
"Alternate World MMX01e"
By Payman Akhlaghi

This is the latest in a series of hand-drawn abstract artworks by Payman Akhlaghi. The series began in early 1990's as a sidetrack to my musical output, and it has continued to date to provide me with personal joy and emotional relief.

The original work was drawn using only a Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker, on an 8.5x11 size white paper. The scanned picture was then modified into a high-contrast BW JPG file.

© 2010, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Music Review: Robert Shaw, "Symphony of Psalms"

Remembering a Legend

The American conductor Robert Shaw is likely to remain the standard by whom all other choral conductors will be measured. In this video, he conducts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in the first movement of Stravinksy's "Symphony of Psalms". Notice how effortlessly he guides the massive force before him, how well coordinated the uniformly dressed chorus acts -- even when turning pages -- how clear his cues are, and how musical and comprehensible this difficult piece sounds under his baton.

This is indeed America at its best...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Film Review: Toy Story 3 (3D)

© Copyright 2010: All text by Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

"Toy Story 3: 3D" is a visual, narrative, vocal and musical marvel of a film -- a delightful work of art and entertainment. Preceded by a most creative short, "Day and Night", the Pixar team has proved once more that an unprecedented attention to detail doesn't have to cost the film its structural arc. In short, it's a masterpiece.

It's a tale of child-plays come to life, with the characters' diverse psychology and behavioral traits decided by each toy's individual morphology, and some aspects of its stereotype. The contrast between the human and toy perspectives, and the interaction of the two worlds, are maintained throughout with consistency. The music is a highly accomplished blend of score and songs, mostly composed, conducted, and even sometimes performed effortlessly, by Randy Newman.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Films: Four Snippets on Eclipse, Sex, Igor and Mahler...

© Copyright 2010: All text by Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Happily, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" (2010) has the tightest script & edit of the series so far, even as it often lacks the touching sincerity and the throbbing teen-heart of the first two installments. The cinematography, SFX and action scenes are superb -- and the gifted Kristen Stewart has only got even better. A big disappointment, however, comes from the Oscar-winning Howard Shore. His music bears little marks of decaces-long experience, filled with such successful scores as Silence of the Lambs, Lord of the Rings, Cop Land, or Panic Room. Pro bono? Tired? Ghost-composer?! Alexander Desplat (New Moon) might better be back for the next 2 planned chapters...

(Payman Akhlaghi, July 2010, on FB)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Life's Full of Wonders...

One hopeless evening, living alone, far away from home, and pressed by poverty, he went to the bathroom, tied his belt to a high hook, and wrapped its free side around his neck. He was barely 21. The belt tore apart under his weight. He fell to the ground. He lied there, right where he had fallen, and broke into bitter tears. Then he found his way to his instrument, pulled himself together, cried his heart out, and never looked back. He went on to live one of the longest and most fulfilled lives one could have ever wished for.

His name was Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982).

"Let me say only that in this chaos of thoughts I discovered the secret of happiness and I still cherish it: Love life for better or for worse, without conditions." (My Young Years, 1973)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Swap Craze: A Short Story by Payman Akhlaghi

 Swap Craze
A Short Story
Somewhat Inspired by Sort of True Events

By: Payman Akhlaghi
© 2010, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.
Read Swap Craze on Scribd!

"Status: Bored With My Glasses! Fancy Yours! Care to Swap?!" -- I typed and clicked Enter. Two hours later, his reply came up with a bleep: "Likewise! Affirmative! Opt for Overnight Delivery!" The next morning, I appeared before my class in a pair of golden retro pince-nez. My students ogled. One finally broke the silence, "Professor, are those Jimmy's, too?" I smiled.

As everyone knew, Jimmy had been my number one eSwap pal for the past six months. I knew very little about Jimmy, except that he lived somewhere far in northern Canada, and that we both had an apparently insatiable craving for anything that belonged to the other one. Since we had discovered each other on eSwap, we had exchanged many things via this online bartering service, from books to pants, to furniture, or to whatever else which we'd suddenly found boring. Swap-wise speaking, Jimmy was my soul-mate, and eSwap, with its revolutionary regression to the early days of bartered goods, was the Heaven, where we had luckily found each other.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Life's a Sweet Melody...

Life's a Sweet Melody...
Old Thoughts in Fresh New Words

A Selection of
Original Ideas,Observations, Aphorisms & Humor
By Payman Akhlaghi

Previously Scattered on My FaceBook Page (2008-2010)
Awaiting Categorization & Extended Application
(All material: © 2010, Payman Akhlaghi.)

Life's a sweet little melody: Sing it well!

Don't be blinded by Centuries: Human life is measured in Seconds...
(June 24th, 2010)

A good memory is a gift, only if you can forget -- and forgive, when you can't.

What if life had an Undo far back would you go?

The 11th Commandment: "Thou Shall Back Up Your Data on an External Drive at All Times!"

I wish myself the truth, no matter how sweet or painful. I wish those I love peace, more than truth, but no lies. So I won't ever try saving you, if you find peace in self-deception!

Life Is Beautiful -- because of the first man who said, "Let there be music..." -- Or was it a woman?!

If there is any meaning to life, it must be The Fifth...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Be Fair and Kind in Your Criticism…‎

Be Fair and Kind in Your Criticism…‎

This past weekend, upon invitation by Koorosh (Kory) Yazdani, I attended the June 5th, ‎‎2010 gathering of “Daftarhaye Shanbeh” to speak about his debut music album, “Mahi”, i.e. “The ‎Fish”. As I understand, “Daftarhaye Shanbeh” is an LA-based Persian Camerata of mostly ‎literary professionals, amateurs and enthusiasts. The meetings take place on the first Saturday of ‎each month, hence the name, during which both members and guests are allocated some time to ‎discuss, debate, analyze, criticize or simply opinionate on, preferably original works of art, ‎particularly poetry and short stories. It's a rather famous series, about which I had long heard, but ‎to which I had never been. Naturally, I was nervous.‎