Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Today we went to a soccer match. My first professional match outside the US.

We bought our 30 cent liters of beers and drank them before going in. Armed militia encircled the stadium and stood on the track keeping everybody in line. We watched a guy with a walky-talky about the size of a powerbook use it to block the wind while he lit a cigarette. I tell you that thing looked like it came out of a WW2 movie. Somebody set off a massive smoke bomb that cleared the stands in one section.

Our Team won!

During our walk to the game, I was carrying an empty coke bottle and a Ukraine Friend smiled and said to me "garbage". Thinking he was asking if I was looking for the garbage, I said "Garbage? Yes, I have garbage and I am looking for a garbage can to put my garbage." and everybody freaked out. Turns out he was referring to a passing militiaman. That is their version of "Pig".

My Host mom wants to introduce me to some friends. Maybe she's playing cupid? Probably not but I have to
have my fantasies. Hubba hubba.

Today I saw my first truly american style of doing things. I passed a road crew digging a hole. Three guys were digging while 5 supervised. Just like america.

Saw a TV ad tonight. First screen shows a woman working like a dog, scrubbing clothes by hand in a tub. The voiceover says something about an easier way and the screen slides over to show the same woman, much happier, much better looking
and in much better condition because she now has a better soap to scrub her clothes by hand in the tub. I was expecting an ad for a washing machine. Wouldn't you

I've been seeing TV ads for basketball. They evidently have semi-pro basketball here. And the net
seems like its 6 feet off the floor. In the spots, everybody is slam dunking the ball. They just kind of hop up and grab the rim as if they've really made some huge leap. Their feet are dragging the floor! Gary Coleman could slam dunk on these courts. They must have 400 point games. I've been assured these are regulations baskets so I guess they just jump real good here.

There is a game show I've watched a couple of times and I cannot get my mind around it. It is like wheel of fortune but everybody arrives with things like a 30 pound turnip they've grown in their garden for the host or whatever and they yammer
at length about the significance of the turnip, I guess, about the great trials of their lives or maybe the joys, I can't really tell.
The audience shots are classic East European stereotypes with everybody grimacing as they wildly celebrate with tepid and scattered applause. And the words they guess as part of the game are the most mundane things like "toaster" or today, I swear, "stepmother". One old guy today spinned the wheel and evidently won a car. I still don't know. They gave him some keys and it looked like a car was sitting over his shoulder and then he disappeared for the rest of the show. They just moved on to some other lucky contestant. Maybe they just took him in the back and beat him down.

Finally, there is a potboiler of a soap opera that I've caught. Don't know the story yet but the stud looks like Ernest Borgnine's younger brother and he trips from one beautiful Ukraine woman to an even more beautiful ukraine woman,
breaking each and every one's heart. Why can't I be Ernest Borgnine's younger brother?

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