Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Getting Rocked

Part of the reason we went on such a long trip (it's over now, sadly) is that we wanted to stretch it so we'd be somewhere cool for our 2nd wedding anniversary (no, this is not a lame attempt at getting cards or gifts). And boy, were we ever somewhere cool for our anniversary: London. Not just London, but the West End, in the Dress Circle of the Dominian Theatre, along with a housefull of glowstick-waving Brits.
Is there a better way to say "I Love You" than through the music of Queen? I didn't think so.
When God first invented the musical, he linked popular songs together with a loose and silly narrative in the form of the musical revue. Then came The Story Musical, where composers worked with scriptwriters to create music that moved the narrative along. It was a revolution. Luckily, the revolution is over. Luckily, people who grew up listening to ABBA and The Beach Boys can listen to their favorite songs again, with live dancing and millions of dollars of costume and set pieces. The counter revolution is here.
And it was only a matter of time before someone made a musical out of Queen's greatest hits.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nuns in the castle

Today I saw a nun, and thought I should scowl at her and see what she does. But I smiled at her, and she smiled back, and I felt irrationally blessed. Had I scowled, she probably would have still smiled and I would have felt rationally chastised. And shamed.

Did I mention we are staying in a castle? Along the royal road?
We can wave our hankies at the king as he passes by.
Which he does, all the time, back and forth with nothing better to do, the schmuck.

Monday, September 18, 2006

scooters and cars

Look around and estimate the ratio of scooters/motorcycles to cars wherever you live. I'm in LA, so it's about 1:3000, maybe even more. If you happen to find yourself someplace where this is close to 1:1, it may be a place you'd like to stay and hang out for quite a long time. Bol, Croatia is like this.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Village News

Single Moldovan Male seeks wife, must be at least 14 years of age, fully knowing care for cows, horse, sheeps, chickens, children. hearty birthing hips required.
I am strong watch me drink this vodka and arm wrestle this man. I will begin work on outhouse at your reply.

Single Moldovan Female, indeterminate age seeks man with a car. I can make placinta and delicious borscht like a mother. speaks Romanian and Russian. no time have I worked in human traffic. Please drive your car fast to me on the dirt road here, it will be mud in a day so come fast.

Young Moldovan man full of promise with several good passports into jobs in other countries. Hire me for my skills in English and Russian, and I know computers. Also construction. I have managed farm as well with lower workers controlling chickens and the watermelons. Also wine making skills. Ready to relocate when you say.

Moldovan family needs american speaking renter, we have a room for you to sleep so we can sleep in the kitchen where we will be warm. We have daughter good for marrying who can be translating while we watch tv. You like this song because it is so loud, yes? We have kittens and puppies for you to . . . okay, only puppies, who ate the kittens just now, very cute hungry puppies who will grow strong. Our happy home, you can come. Please bring your own toilet paper.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hidden Moldova

Yes, we had to look it up on a map when Evan, Anne's brother, told us he was heading to Moldova to spend 2 years in the Peace Corps. Now we know where Cuhuresti de Sus is, which is something that most Moldovans don't even know. When we applied for our visas in Bucharest, the embassy workers took us to a large map of the country so we could show them where it was that Evan taught English. Once we passed the geography test, the rest of the visa process was just paying the fee and joking about us arranging for California's most famous governor come to Moldova for a quick visit.

I imagine that Cuhuresti de Sus is like a lot of other small Moldovan villages. The infrastucture is stranded somewhere between the first and thirld world. Electricity is mostly there, but there are power outages. There's a disco for the kids at night with a bar across the street that serves drinks. There's a school and several other stores that sell some basic items. Every Friday, there's an open air market that sells clothing and a wider variety of food items, like vegetables, fruit and chickens. No running water unless you hook up a pump to your well. A lot of dirt roads that turn to mudpits in the rain. If you want a bath, you need to heat the water. Of course, everyone has an outhouse.

It's a small farming community where everyone grows or raises a significant portion of their food supply. The host family that Evan lives with and with whom we stayed has pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys and a large garden. Rabbit ribs are tasty but don't have much meat on them. The cucumbers and tomatoes are very fresh now, but in the back of my mind I know that the USSR expoited the growing conditions in Moldova and most of the soil is or needs to be loaded with fertilizers and pesticides to make stuff grow well - one of the main barriers that the country is facing when trying to export its agricultural products to western Europe. Evan has at least three items that the Peace Corps has told him to avoid entirely - wild mushrooms, water and fish. I'm guessing now, but I think the reasons are different for each item. Wild mushrooms because you need an experienced person to make sure they're safe to eat. Water because there is so much livestock that everyone's favorite bacterium, giardia, is an ever-present threat. Fish because they're radioactive AND poisonous. The fish come out of rivers loaded with the same agricultural waste as the soil and we're not too far from Chernobyl. Happy eating.