oh Madonna

60,000 people went to Madonna's concert last night. Not the shepherd from yesterday, but 60,000 others went.
And from what I hear, it was great. Apparently, Madonna is touring with a group of gypsy musicians and chose to bring up the issue of gypsy discrimination in Eastern Europe to her fans.
Perez Hilton had his western say on the incident.
I wonder what will come of this incident.


sticky and sweet and saggy

Madonna is singing in Bucuresti tonight. This is her first and probably only time in Romania. It's a big deal.
So while Madonna's concert stage was receiving its final touches this afternoon I was in the woods near my house, foraging for mushrooms with my neighbor Milicha and his daughter Sabina. On our forages, we came across a Stana, which is the headquarters of a sheep farm.
So we were sitting on a picnic table, drinking whey and eating sheep cheese and polenta.
"Madonna is in Bucaresti tonight. The cheapest ticket is about 200 Lei (88ish dollars)" Milicha tells the picnic table.
"200 lei!" the shepherd and his mother comment shockedly.
"And she's 51 and her skin is saggy," Milicha makes saggy motions with his skin, "Paying 200 lei to see saggy skin." He shakes his head sadly.
"If you're at a big concert you probably won't be close enough to see the saggy..." I offer.
"Some of the tickets cost 800 lei," continued Milicha.
"That's how much I make in a summer," said the shepherd, in his green alpine hat, high grey pants and plaid long-sleeved button-up shirt. "I'll just work all summer to see Madonna in concert!"
I can definitely see him dancing wildly at a Madonna concert :)
Have fun tonight Madonna. All of Romania is talking about you.

the soviet workmanship

A couple night ago my lighbulb went out. I've been waiting for it to happen since I moved in here more than a year ago and I haven't had to change it yet.
So the next morning I unscrewed the burned out lighbulb. I'm that person that reads everything - shampoo bottles in the shower, ingredient lists on cans while I'm cooking, romanian subtitles while I'm watching TV...so I read the lightbulb. And it said 'made in USSR.'
The USSR has been nonexistent since 1991.


an independence day here, an independence day there

Today is the 23rd of August. Not much different than any other day in August, I though.
But I was visiting my neighbor, Anucu, for a cup of coffee this morning and she informed me that this used to be the national day during communism. Currently in Romania, December 1st is the equivalent of the American July 4th, but after WWII until 1990, August 23rd was the big day. Apparently, August 23rd is the day during WWII when Romania switched allegiance from Germany to Russia. The Romanian News stations are broadcasting archived films of the parades in Bucuresti with Ceausescu heading up the celebration. The festivities reminded me of China's opening ceremonies at the Olympics. People lined up to spell the words August 23 and Ceausescu in the middle of the stadium. Youth dancing with ladders, traditionally costumed romanians in tightly choreographed marches.
"Wow, so that was a big day, huh?" I ask Anucu and Marin.
"Nah. Only in the big cities." Anucu replies.
"We've had too many national days," Marin informs me, counting them off on his fingers. "Stefan Cel Mare (the ruler who fought off the Turks in the middle ages)gave us a national day, when the Austro-Hungarians were here, they gave us an independence day, Ceausescu gave us a day, the 'free' western world gave us December 1st. Who can keep track of what day is actually the national day now?"

I have to agree with Marin, changing your national day every 30 years would take away from the patriotic spirit of the day. Either way, happy August 23rd.


Kiev's mayor

There is a newspaper sold in Romania, Romania libera, that has a few articles from The New York Times folded between the society and business section every Friday. Whenever I remember its Friday (I'm on summer vacation, ok)I buy this newspaper at whatever newsstand I am near.
These excerpts are from an article about the current mayor of Kiev, Ukraine, a city I visited a few months ago.
"Leonid M. Chernovetsky, this city's unpredictable mayor, likes to answer his critics in his own special way.
"When Parliament memebers said he was acting bizarrely and needed a psychiatric exam, he went to a stadium where he jogged for the cameras before yanking off his shirt and doing pull-ups. He swam laps and flexed his muscles. Then he held a news conference - in his tiny bathing suite.
"'They are judging me today and want me to spend the rest of my life behind the bars of a psychiatric hospital,' Mr. Chernovetsky said. 'Look at my body, at how I express my thought. I am absolutely healthy.'"
-Friday, August 21, 2009 New York Times

Does Chernovetsky's logic make sense?


the pyromaniac

It is August, which in my mind should be the hottest month of the year.
But a couple nights ago it got down to 9 degrees celsius. Which is somewhere in the upper 40s F. Mark is visiting. Mark who lives in Arizona. He tells me the temperatures here are like his winter temperatures. And he has been spending the last couple nights swaddled in blankets and drinking tea to counteract the winterish elements that are August in Bucovina.
Mark is also a pyromaniac. When he was 12 and I was 11, he would shave off the ends of millions of matchsticks and use this combustible material to make blue and red fireworks rockets which we would shoot off on special occasions. The last couple nights, swaddled-in-blankets-brother has asked, can we make a fire in your soba? Its so cold. I want to make a fire.
So tonight, after a drizzly day at a monastery and a hike in the drippy forest we came back to my room and Mark lost his soba virginity.
And these are the words that came out of the pyromaniacs mouth after the fire had burned out on him once and the room's dampness was fighting the wood's catching fire.
"I have a lot of respect for you, heating like this all winter. It seems like you have to work really hard."
I have earned the pyromaniacs respect. Heating with my soba in the winter is worth it just for that.


World colliding

I found out what the midget and porsche were all about - a circus came to my village.
But I'm going to meet my brother.
yes. I am going to see my brother, Mark, here in Romania. In less than 24 hours.
Mark and I have obviously always had a caring relationship with each other

Besides pulling his hair, we'll do some traveling, he'll eat romanian food and become mind-fogged by hearing romanian all the time.