Monday, March 31, 2008


I am addicted to the NYT because of articles like this.

Key quotes:

"President Bush is also the only Western leader I know of who doesn’t believe in evolution, saying 'the jury is still out.'"

"Only one American in 10 understands radiation, and only one in three has an idea of what DNA does. One in five does know that the Sun orbits the Earth ...oh, oops."

"How can we decide on embryonic stem cells if we don’t understand biology? How can we judge whether to invade Iraq if we don’t know a Sunni from a Shiite?"

Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's Not You, It's Your Books

In this essay from the New York Times, Rachel Donadio considers "literary deal breakers". Do you or have you judged a potential significant other based on his/her literary tastes? I certainly have. Thinking Dan Brown's novels or Harry Potter are entertaining or fun reads is one thing. Citing them as your favorite books is a turn-off. Lord help you if you do not read at all. Maybe I am a Snooty McSnootsters, but being snooty about things like literature is what enjoying the finer things is all about.

Donadio makes an interesting point though:

Let’s face it — this may be a gender issue. Brainy women are probably more sensitive to literary deal breakers than are brainy men. (Rare is the guy who’d throw a pretty girl out of bed for revealing her imperfect taste in books.) After all, women read more, especially when it comes to fiction.


Vampire Weekend are everywhere, even at Starbucks entertaining me as I wait for my morning cappuccino. Here is their music video for A-Punk. The video is as much fun as the song. I especially enjoy their colorful sweaters and the lead singer's guitar jam moves.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Last Shadow Puppets

I recently discovered that Alex Turner, the lead singer and songwriter of one of my favorite British bands, the Arctic Monkeys, took time off from the band to form a duo with another British front man, Miles Kane from The Rascals. The result is The Last Shadow Puppets, and their first single is titled "The Age of the Understatement".

On first watching the video, it seemed so bizarre to me. And that's when I realized that all of the imagery is Soviet, and it looks like it was filmed in Russia. On first listening to the song, I kind of liked it. And that's when I realized that it reminds me of "Bremenskie Muzikanti", a Soviet cartoon from my childhood. We also used to have a record player and a record of this cartoon/movie, and I used to listen to the "Bremen Town Musicians" for hours. Behold the wonders of YouTube, as it has a clip:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Road Rage/Missed Connections

Typically on my way in and out of work, driving along 66, I zone out -- I accelerate and break appropriately, but lose myself in thought or my Hot Hot Heat CD. Perhaps I should pay more attention. Who knows, maybe the guy in the silver Camry to the right is the love of my life and he's waving to me [Side note: craigslist missed connections makes for an interesting read sometimes, and there's all sorts of people smiling and winking at each other all over the place]. Tonight however, I could not help but witness an interesting battle. I like to call it: The Battle of the Douchebags.

The players: an van or SUV-type vehicle and I think one of those little Mazda Speeds.

The setting: 267 merging into 66, continuing on 66

The plot: The SUV was driving behind me on 267 and somewhat blinding me with unusually bright headlights. My urge to show the driver my middle finger was tempered by my fear of getting shot. We were driving with the flow of traffic so neither one of us switched lanes. As we both merged onto 66, I merged into the right lane to continue on my merry way home. The SUV continued to merge into the left lane, and almost stumbled over the Mazda Speed. It was at this moment that the SUV decided to turn on his/her high beams, I suppose to signal to the Mazda Speed to get out of the way. The high beams were high enough to illuminate the road a half-mile up ahead, and I could have comfortably read a book, driving alongside the SUV. In retaliation, the Mazda Speed slowed down to a comfortable 40 mph on the 55 mph road. I drove on by, but kept checking the rearview mirror to see which one would take the high road, so to speak, and switch lanes. As far as I could tell, the two stubborn douchebags continued on, the SUV bearing down on the Mazda, and the Mazda driving along as if it had pooped its pants (Russian expression).

Apologies for this event being the most interesting story I have at the moment.

[Side Note continued: The missed connections on craigslist fascinates me. Usually people will meet at school or through friends or through family. Not typically at a bus stop. So when I read about these strangers striking up conversations at grocery stores but not exchanging numbers, or smiling at each other at the car wash only to part ways without saying a word, I always wonder if they ever end up finding each other again.]

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Versace Hot Flowers continued

An Ode to my Versace Hot Flowers Fierce Hot Mess Tranny Pimp Cup (VHFFHMTPC)

Oh, sweet chalice, from thee doth I will gargle magnanimous Starbucks jamocha brew. You are mine forever.

The End.

It only takes fifty-five dollars of tacky, a fancy box, and a certificate of authenticity to truly make me happy. All I need now is to walk over to the Starbucks and buy some new coffee for my cappuccino machine so that I am not drinking the Christmas blend at Russian Easter in April. If you want to see my glorious cup, I am charging a quarter per viewing. A nickel during bank holidays.

VHFFHMTPC in action shot:

NYT Reads

I'd like to share with my loyal readers, all two of you, some thought-provoking articles I've read this week in the New York Times.

How to Survive New York on 99 Cents. This is basically a foodlit article on 99-cent grocery stores in Manhattan. I had no idea there was such a thing as a 99-cent grocery store, but apparently you can concoct a pretty fancy meal with only five dollars of cash money in your pocket. The author seems a bit too daring though, living on the edge, messing around with 99-cent discounted (I take it to mean old) food items and all. I am glad he at least "dodged" the 99-cent ham cubes.

Can Sips at Home Prevent Binges? This article considers whether or not parents can or cannot, should or should not, introduce their children to alcohol at home, with a taste of wine at dinner here and there, in order to prevent teenage binge drinking outside of the home. Interesting.

Now I grew up in a home where wine was not a stranger at the dinner table. Usually drinking was reserved for special occasions. Every time everyone got a refill, and maybe a few times in between, glasses clinked and toasts were mandatory. Granted, a special occasion could be the purchase of a new couch, a shopping spree at the mall, a good report card, a promotion, a new research paper published about squid eyes, et cetera. Milk at dinner is an entirely strange concept that I view as just another one of those eccentricities of American culture that I will never understand. If American culture were a person, she and I would argue bitterly over the concept of milk at dinner. It would probably end in tears.

So I grew up in a home where the school of thought was the traditional European view of fully including adolescents in the meal and allowing them a taste of alcohol. And look how I turned out! Just kidding. I did not drink with friends in high school or the first half of freshman year. But soon the pressures of peer and school got the best of me, and also I was just plain curious about being DRUNK. Of course it is fun, of course it can be not fun if you overdo it. I am proud to say that I have never blacked out, never want to black out, and would never look at blacking out as a badge of honor. Binge drinking lots of crappy beer can be fun. Sipping on a fine glass of wine can be fun. In conclusion, I will leave you with a Finer Club Things homework thinking question: If you had grown up with alcohol in the home, how do you think that would that have impacted your later drinking behaviors? Part II: If you DID grow up with alcohol in the home, do you think your later drinking behaviors were impacted in a positive way?

Morning or Afternoon, There's a Kettle Brewing. Another reason why it seems reasonable that I would love living in NYC, even though I probably wouldn't. This is a travel article on teahouses and tea spots in Manhattan. Not so much practical for today, but filed away for future reference. The one tea spot that I have been to in NYC is Alice's Tea Cup (thanks to Alison). Cute teacups and saucers that all mismatch (fierce!) and a long list of teas for any mood or flavor preference.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Finer Things?

Today on my solo lunch trip to Whole Foods part deux, I picked up a copy of the Economist. Now there are some things out there that I would agree are "finer" or more cultured, but I have just never been able to fully endorse them. One such item is the Economist. Another is NPR.

In all honestly, the Economist is really difficult to read from cover to cover. Call me a bad person, but I just can't get excited about articles on soaring food prices in Egypt or Venezuelan illiteracy. Perhaps if I were dating a Venezuelan migrant worker or was planning to move to the KPMG Egypt office (either one of which are sounding kind of appealing right now), I would be more inclined to know about Egyptian economics or my illeterate Venezuelan paramour's reading problems. Papa T definitely thinks highly of the Economist, and I used to bring him my unread/barely- read back issues from my subscription, and he would be mighty pleased and actually devour them cover to cover. But I'm probably just a bad person.

NPR is another one of those media sources widely regarded by intellectuals. I most certainly consider myself an intellectual, and I have tried to listen to Fresh Air with Terry Gross, believe me, I've tried. But does anyone else think she sounds inexplicably patronizing (and her questions sometimes silly)?? Fifty Cent, please tell us why you believe it is moral to be "popping them th[i]ngs"? Did you listen to your parents' records growing up?

All I know is: Every hood we go through, All the gangstas around know my whole crew.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Oprah Magazine, April 2008

On a solo lunch trip to Whole Foods last week, I bought my first ever Oprah magazine to keep myself and my salmon sushi company. Other than having occasionally enjoyed some of her book club selections, I have by no means been an Oprah fanatic and have not kept up with the world of Oprah. But, to be quite honest, after perusing the April issue, I can't help but think that Oprah knows how to get a girl excited. Oprah knows.

1. Tiny Showcase. This site picks a new piece of tiny artwork by an up-and-coming artist each week and make a limited number of prints. A percentage of the money goes to a charity of the artist's choosing. The pieces cost $20-$30, are printed on fancy German printmaking paper that lasts at least 60 years, and will for sure be more original than the Van Gogh prints you can buy at one of those online poster stores.

2. Artscape. America's largest free public arts festival is held in Baltimore every year. I am blocking off July 18-20 on my calendar for street theater, films, music, crafts, jewelry, exhibitions, outdoor sculpture, photography, dance, opera, fashion, basically a finer things orgy.

3. NEWTREE gourmet belgian chocolate. I know that I am a chocoholic, but these just look too damn good.

4. Four-ingredient dinner. The magazine features an essay/article by Cindy Chupack (Sex and the City writer) on hosting a "four-ingredient" dinner. I am definitely on board. The premise is to invite a small group of friends, individually or collectively choose a total of four favorite ingredients, and build a meal around those four. If the meal is not a perfect success, there should always be infused vodka on hand. I've hosted an afternoon tea party, an appetizers and drinks party, a baking party. A four-ingredient dinner with infused vodka is definitely the next progression.

China Rose Petal Tea

To intensify my enjoyment of Sunday and delay thoughts of the inevitable Monday, I have made myself a pot of my favorite tea - China Rose Petal Tea by Taylors of Harrogate. I bought this tea awhile ago at Balducci's in Bethesda. I also just found it on amazon, although what does one do with a whole kilogram of tea, my goodness?

This is a loose leaf tea, which makes it extra fun. To make what I think is the proper cup of tea, boil water and first rinse the teapot with some of the hot water to warm up the teapot. Add to the pot a teaspoon of tea per person and one teaspoon for the pot, pour in the boiling water (I am hazy here on proper tea-water ratios and just play it by ear), and let steep for about 5 minutes. Pull up a scone with English clotted cream and preserves, and you might as well have died and gone to heaven.

Versace Hot Flowers

I've had a gift certificate to bloomingdale's since December, and tonight it was destined to be spent. Deciding to forgo the usual purchases of jeans or make-up or fragrance, I browsed through home furnishings and decor. I literally spent hours trying to pick a vase, but then settled on this mug designed by Versace and created by German porcelain maker Rosenthal.

I actually think it's gloriously tacky, but you better believe that my Saturday morning cup of coffee will be that much more enjoyable! Need I mention that this pattern is called "Hot Flowers"? Must resist dangerous thoughts of someday registering at bloomingdale's for more of this tableware.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wolf Trap

The Wolf Trap schedule for this summer has been announced. Seeing as how I have never been, which is sort of shocking, I may have to overcompensate and go to several performances.

Looking good so far:

July 8: Paul Taylor Dance Company
July 10: Tcheers for Tchaikovsky
July 31: Beethoven's Best
August 29-September 7: Les Miserables

As a prerequisite of being a full-fledged member of the Finer Things Club, you have to join me for a Wolf Trap event. We will have a picnic. Drink some wine. Before you know it, you will have an official Finer Things Club tattoo.

Chopin: Preludes, Op. 28

Currently listening to: Chopin Preludes played by Alexandre Tharaud, a French pianist. I'd never heard of him, but I am beginning to think that he is the Josh Groban of classical piano.

Chopin's pieces often sound more technically impossible than actually playing them. Certainly playing quickly with technical precision is difficult, but Chopin helps you out with his finger placements, meaning he doesn't make you stretch you hand in unusual contortions to get from one note to the next (unlike Tchaikovsky sometimes) and often an arpeggio or chord is repeated in every register or in a pattern as your hand moves across the keyboard, helping your muscle memory. What is sometimes more difficult is finding the right expressiveness that Chopin's pieces command in every single note - you can't just bang out the notes one after the next, the music begs for emotion. Tharaud is definitely technically flawless, but I am also enjoying his interpretations.

There are 24 preludes in opus 28, and similar to the WTC, Chopin composed a prelude for every key. Unlike Bach, he did not pair each prelude with a fugue or arrange the pieces on a chromatic scale.

Well-Tempered Clavier

Hello, my name is Katya, and I am a pianist. I used to play the piano, and I took it pretty seriously. The ordeal, because towards the end of my piano career it had turned into an ordeal, lasted 11 years. Despite the pleas of my favorite piano teacher, Marina, I did not pursue a minor in Piano at Maryland, quitting my glorious musical career while I was ahead slash before I even started, whichever way you want to look at it.

Browsing through iTunes, I experienced an insatiable craving for some classical piano. I picked out several albums to listen to in the near future: Rachmaninov plays Rachmaninov, Bach's Italian Concerto played by Brendel, Chopin by Ashkenazy, other snobby selections that will make me feel tremendous nostalgia. For tonight I settled on Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, played by Andras Schiff.

Each of the two books of the Well-Tempered Clavier is comprised of 24 pairs of a prelude and fugue in each of the 24 major and minor keys. A prelude is typically an introduction. The fugue is a theme that gets repeated in several "voices" all "singing" together in harmony, as Marina would describe it to me. For whatever reason, the Well-Tempered Clavier reminds me of Sufjan Stevens wanting to record an album for each of the 50 states. Or maybe Sufjan Stevens's ambition reminds me of the Well-Tempered Clavier. Both seem like a systematic way of cataloging something through music.

Not being familiar with Andras Schiff, I looked him up on wikipedia. He is a Hungarian-born British pianist and apparently one of the best-known living interpreters of Bach in the world. For Bach interpretations, in my previous piano-playing life, I had always listened to Glenn Gould, a Canadian who died in the early '80s. Professional pianists can of course play anything, but sometimes they are known for "specializing" in the music of a certain composer, kind of like a tax accountant being better at "interpreting" corporate tax returns as opposed to "interpreting" partnership ones. If I were a concert pianist or a recording pianist, I would have been a Beethoven or Chopin kind of pianist. Not so much a Mozart and Bach kind of pianist.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I should be folding laundry and going to bed instead of puttering around on YouTube...

Here are my 3 all-time favorite videos.

Awesometown - Chip. For Andy Samberg fans.

Travis Barker's remix of Flo Rida - Low. Fucking amazing.

Awesometown - 21 Questions. More love for Andy Samberg.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Great Success!

Vampire Weekend's self-titled album is now #6 on iTunes, the Once soundtrack is #9, and the Total Wine staff have trouble restocking the Menage a Trois red wine on the shelves because it moves so fast (I think). All have been featured earlier on this blog. It's not a coincidence. I make shit happen! :)

Chester French

I read about Chester French on perez. They are two preppy boys from Harvard who wrote and produced their songs in their dorm's basement and were subsequently signed by Pharrell Williams. That's fierce! They're a hot mess, tranny.

Listen to She Loves Everybody on myspace.

Finer Club Things SUGGESTIONS

Sugar-free vanilla cappuccino and a blueberry muffin from Greenberry's Coffee and Tea Company. They do put a lot of syrup in, so maybe ask for half the pumps.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

American Photobooth

I am sometimes a sucker for coffee table books, whether it's the PostSecret books or Banksy's Wall and Piece graffiti book. Another one I read about in the Times yesterday that I may need to add to my collection is American Photobooth by Nakki Goranin. This book is an in-depth illustrated history of the photobooth. The first one was unveiled in Times Square in 1926 by a Jewish inventor from Siberia, and it became an American phenomenon. I think it would be fascinating to see the different people and faces throughout the ages.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Brain Thrust Mastery

We Are Scientists's new album, Brain Thrust Mastery, is out in the UK. Brendan, ever the resourceful fellow, was able to get us a listen.

It's pretty amazing. It seems darker than the previous With Love and Squalor, but I love it. I am not going to lie, I might be loving it because I have been sitting around at work all bitter about the cube moving politics drama as I listen to these songs, but that's neither here nor there.

Favorite songs:
After Hours [of course]
Altered Beast
Chick Lit

The CD comes out in the U.S. on March 25.

Also new and refreshing in my playlist rotation are Vampire Weekend with Vampire Weekend, also thanks to Brendan. I have trouble classifying and describing them. Guitars and drums of course, but also violins, and is that a xylophone-sounding keyboard melody in one song and a harpsichord one in another? Amanda notified me that they were the musical guest on Saturday Night Live last Saturday, so I taped the show just for them. Their image and their status as alternative/indie rock musicians was a tiny bit incongruous - their j.crew v-neck cable sweaters made me think of sailing and playing croquet, not rocking out at the 9:30 club. I have to say they are enjoyable though, upbeat, sound like spring and then summer are just around the corner.

On Beauty

Tonight I finished both that bottle of Zin and the novel I was reading, On Beauty by Zadie Smith. Great success!

If I had to describe the book with a string of disjointed nouns and phrases, I would list: race, friendship, family, infidelity, Rembrandt, university, beauty, art history, status, rap and hip hop, jealousy. Overall I have it 4 out of 5 stars on my goodreads page.

My next reading project is a non-fiction book Dana and I read about in the Times: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. This book looks at decision-making with an economics perspective. I hope it will be helpful in honing by decision-making skills, as we all know how much help I need with that.

I have also been reading Boom!: Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today by Tom Brokaw since like December. It's actually interesting, I just can't get through it and want it to be over. :\

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Apartment Cleaning

What better way to spend International Women's Day than to clean the apartment. I couldn't resist taking some pictures though.



I could go for a cup right about now.

Rooster place mat. Mike likes to smear peanut butter on it. :)

The Menage makes an appearance in the wine rack.

Indy makes an appearance in the living room.

International Women's Day

Papa T called me this morning to wish me a "Happy March 8", otherwise known as International Women's Day. In Russia, it is an official holiday. I suppose it is sort of a mix between Mother's Day and Valentine's Day, although it is not limited to girlfriends, wives, and mothers. There is a lot of flower-giving involved.

Hooray for womanhood!

Finer Club Things SUGGESTIONS

Wine flights at Wildfire in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. I especially recommend the Jazzy Reds (flight #2).

Thursday, March 6, 2008

After Hours

Can't wait for the new We Are Scientists album to come out. Listen to After Hours on MySpace.

Sobon Estate Zinfandel

One of my wine selections from Total Wine (see post below) was the Sobon Estate 2006 Amador County Zinfandel Hillside. This particular Zin was recommended at Total Wine, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon (also I was totally and completely overwhelmed, so when a sign said "Editor's Pick", I just grabbed and moved on, grabbed and moved on).

This wine is supposed to suggest hints of blackberries, cherries, and cocoa. I am not sure that my currently dulled palate can make any of those out. If I concentrate really hard, I may be getting some of the blackberry hint. It is light; much lighter than the Menage (see post below), so maybe white wine drinkers would be able to at least tolerate it. The wine is meant to be paired with roasts, steak, rich sauces, and aged, full flavored cheeses.

I award it bonus points for being made with organically grown grapes and having a screw top. Although, Mike and I collect corks and put them in a dish, so I love it when wine bottles have cool corks. I guess that means that I am undecided about the cork/screw top situation.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lenin's Tomb

At this juncture, I would like to impart some knowledge to you about the finer things of Russian culture though some photos of my trip to Russia with my dad two summers ago.

Sunrise in St. Petersburg. My dad and I took an overnight train from Tver (town in between Moscow and St. Petersburg where my grandmother lives) to St. Petersburg (or Leningrad as it used to be called during Soviet times). We arrived early in the morning, in time for the sunrise. Putin is originally from St. Petersburg, so this city got much attention and funds pumped into it from the government to build it up and make it "beautiful". The facades of the buildings and whatnot look nice, but the insides are still old and decrepit.

Hardwood floor at the Hermitage, one of the largest museums in the world. It has one of the oldest art galleries, and one of its 6 buildings, the Winter Palace, used to be the official residence of the tsars. We were so exhausted from our trip, we did not do this place justice. Next time I make it to St. Petersburg, the first place I am going to is the Hermitage Museum.

Peterhof. This is another palace of the tsars. If the Hermitage is the rough equivalent of the Louvre in Paris, this place would be the counterpart of Versailles. It's also known for its gardens and fountains.

Sipping Bochkarev beer at Peterhof. Moscow and St. Petersburg were experiencing a heat wave during the two weeks that we were there. At some vendors and shops, a bottle of beer was cheaper than a bottle of water. Brickskeller in DC actually has this beer on their list. I ordered it once, and they had it in stock, and that was pretty exciting.

Onion domes of the Church of the Savior on Blood in St. Petersburg. This church was built on the spot of the assassination of one of the tsars. It is gorgeous.

Full body shot.

Lenin's Tomb on the Red Square in Moscow. We stood in line for over an hour to see Grandfather Lenin's waxy body on display in the dark chamber inside this building. The guards strip you of everything - coats, purses, wallets, cameras, keys, phones, everything. Then you are led into the chamber, which is pitch black except for the dim light on the body. You make one circle around the body and then leave through the back door. Whole thing takes about 5 minutes. Probably one of the creepier things I have experienced/seen. Stalin's body also used to be on display, but it was buried after his atrocities were revealed to the public. We saw his grave as well.

Dinner at grandma's. Yes, old-school Russian people put rugs on the walls. Yes, Uncle Vitya is not wearing a shirt. Boy, this is quickly becoming the "drinking club" blog.

Self and Papa T, my travel companion.

Total Wine

Today on our lunch break, Dana introduced me and Caroline to Total Wine in McLean. The store is probably the size of a small/medium Giant, but every single shelf is stocked with wine (there's also a beer section). I walked in and I couldn't stop saying "oh my god, oh my god", and when I stopped saying it out loud after a few minutes, I was still thinking it in my head. Later, as I had time to reflect, I told Dana that going there for me was the same as going to a bookstore and wanting to read every single book on the shelf or looking at supplies at Staples. Meaning, I can barely contain my glee and yearning.

My selections were a bottle of the Menage (see post below), a bottle of Zin, and a bottle of Pinot Noir. I also wanted a bottle of Rioja, but because of a horrible case of indecisiveness and limited time, decided to forgo the Rioja on this round.

Stay tuned for more posts as I try out my selection, or come over and we'll try them together.

Also, I am debating whether or not to let my parents in on the knowledge of this wine haven. They love to entertain and also drink wine with dinner often. These silly people will drive to the Leesburg Costco from Maryland for the wine. It's embarrassing to go with them because they'll cart boxes out of there. On the other hand, I get lectures on my alcohol consumption every other time we speak on the phone. Tough call!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


The 2 boxes of California tax return are on their way to the client in Atlanta! In celebration I enjoyed some wine at Cafe Deluxe with my KPMG family. We are gearing up for another NRL (No Return Lunch) on Friday. In preparation we must each come up with 5 poignant questions minimum relating to a certain topic. My topic is Finer Things, of course. I wonder what my questions will be.

In the meantime, here are some more pictures I will share:

London Eye

Pebbly beach in Dover, England

Garfield at New Year's Day Parade in London, 2006

Gloucester Road tube stop

Soviet propaganda posters, Tate Modern, London

Testudo on McKeldin Mall

Nathan from Snow Patrol, 9:30 Club

Terps vs. William & Mary

Self, new haircut, game face


i wish i was a stupendous photographer. i also wish my career was to sit at starbucks, blog, and post pictures of finer things or of my enjoying the finer things. here are some of my favorite photos that i have taken. except for the peaches, all were taken in london in the summer of 2007.





Sunday, March 2, 2008


I had the movie "Once" sitting on my desk for the past week, and last night I finally got the chance to watch it. If you watched the Oscars this year, the Best Song was from this movie. And if you remember, the girl didn't get a chance to say her thankyous so Jon Stewart brought her back after the commercials so that she had a chance to speak, and she gave a spirited speech about hope. Dana, Mike, and I had a nice little Saturday, sipping our wine and watching this film.

The story is very simple. A street musician (guy) meets a Czech girl who plays the piano, and they spend a week together recording music. He has an ex-girlfriend in London who he is still in love with, and she has a husband in the Czech Republic who she might want to reconcile with, because they have a daughter. The guy and the girl (they don't have names in the movie) do not get romantically involved -- they build a friendship.

There's very little plot. Not too much dialogue either. The focus was definitely on the music, which was all written by the two actors who are good friends in real life. We watched the "making of" special feature on the DVD, and the director, who used to be or is a musician as well, noted that his vision for the film was to communicate the story through the music and through tone. He thought the making of this film was similar to writing a piece of music. In fact, he chose musicians who act to be in the film, as opposed to actors who play music.

A word about the music. The melodies and phenomenal -- I got chills. You all know how I like my British boy bands who rock out on their electric guitars. These songs in contrast feature the acoustic guitar, the piano, occasionally some drums. Some are heart-breaking. Some are hopeful.

I was trying to think of why the movie was titled "Once". Maybe it means that sometimes there is a once in a lifetime event when you meet someone and form such a bond and create something so beautiful together. Maybe it's a play on "once upon a time". Maybe they meet once and never see each other again.

I definitely enjoyed this film and was definitely moved by the music. This movie is sweet. Not bubble gum sweet. Dark chocolate (60% cacao) sweet.