Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Briefly: On the Boat

We played a lot of cribbage in the green room

A lot of the scenery looked like this, dachas and sleepy fishing villages

But a lot looked like this, remnants of the Five Year Plans

The official highlight was passing through several locks: the boat enters a little manmade channel and the gates close behind it; water is drained (or raised) until it reaches the level on the other side of the dam; the forward gate is opened and we drive (drive?) away.

The only good food we got on the boat was the one day they actually served us Ukrainian cuisine. The rest of the time it was your standard fish/bifteck/kotelet with potatoes and overboiled vegetables. I don't take this to be a function of being in Eastern Europe, or of being on a boat, but of the need to cater to the lowest common denominator of 65-year-old.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Briefly: Kyiv outskirts

This model Ukrainian village was put together with houses collected from around the country.

I could live there.

In the afternoon we went to Babi Yar.

This is the Jewish monument:

This is the local monument, to the children:

This is the fucking Soviet monument:

Your standard soldier-machinist-mother triad. Yes thank you, communist party, that captures it perfectly.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Briefly: Kyiv II

Ok, we are ready for tourism (it was a guided tour - hence the lanyards. Kate and I were the youngest people on it by decades).

This church was 1000 years old, with multiple layers of frescoes. The Soviets would have torn it down, like they did the 1000-year-old church that used to sit opposite it, but local scholars convinced them it had a lot of "scientific value."

Lemme tell you, seventy-plus years of Soviet rule did nothing to attenuate the religious fervour of the Ukrainians. We visited the equally old "caves monastery" and crept around catacombs with tapers, and had to manoeuvre around all kinds of people holding their sick babies and rocking and whispering, or kissing the coffins of the mummified saints and crying.

Lighting a candle for Baba and Dido:

We were supposed to go see a choir that night, but Mom and I begged off to fill up on red caviar and champanski, cuz we ain't dumb

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Briefly: Kyiv

Airport exasperation shot (EWR - YYC - FRA - KBP)

Our cabins (actually, this is Mom and Cathy's suite; Kate's and mine was a bit more modest)

Hitting the grocery store for provisions: those lemon- or anchovy-stuffed olives you can get all over Europe, and champanski (23.2 hryvnia, or $2.32 a bottle)

Actually, we stopped off for champanski on our way back to the boat

The sun deck of the MS Princess Dniepr

Friday, June 12, 2009

My mom is in town


Me: "So right over there - see that elevated train track? - that is the new Highline park. We can either go there and wander around for a while, or we can go and have a caesar salad at the Redhead, but that's in the other direction."

Mom: "Hm... caesar salad at the Redhead."

Me: "Ok well let's walk this way through the Meat- packing district, because you've never been, and it's kind of nice and hip and full of celebrities. See? Like that guy. He's probably famous. Over there, getting out of that car."

Mom: "He is famous."

Me: "Really? Who is he?"

[Guy passes next to us, being fawned over by attendants.]

Me: "Who is that? You know who he is?"

[My mom waits for him to be out of earshot.]

Mom: "That was Quincy Jones."

Me: "Oh! Cool."

Mom: "Rashida Jones' father."

Me: "I didn't know Rashida Jones was Quincy Jones' daughter!"


[My mom and I are standing on Smith Street in Brooklyn. Christian has just gone into the Rite Aid and Lindsey is phoning come to check on Vance. A guy walks by us.]

Me: "You know who that was, don't you?"

Mom: "Who what was?"

Me: [pushing her] "That guy right there. Go look! Go catch up to him!"

Mom: "Marianne, no! So who was it??"

Me: "The gay husband from The Real Housewives."

Mom: "Really? Oh my god it is."

Me: "How's that for a celebrity sighting?"

Mom: "It is him! Oh wow. He's probably going home - they live in Brooklyn!"

Me: "Yeah."

Mom: "Wow, that's really him."

Friday, June 05, 2009

Anthamatten vs. Whoever that guy was

Now, I don't usually watch fights, especially not in person, and especially not involving my own friends, so before going to Eric's event at the Capitale I took him out for a nice brunch and made him explain to me exactly why it wasn't going to be traumatizing to watch and exactly why he was definitely going to win and exactly what kind of wine they have on hand at the Capitale. The Capitale, by the way, is where your friend's parents went to that wedding last year:

Alright, so watch the video and then we'll talk about it.

The fight was called a TKO at some point in the second round, which why there was no third round. Yes, the in-between-round girls are pretty great. I like how Eric looks like a serial killer when he raises his arm in victory because watch this: