Monday, April 28, 2008

. . . Voistynu Voskres!

Yesterday was Russian Orthodox Easter. This means 5 things:

1. Greetings. When someone says to you, "Christos Voskres!" ("Christ has risen!"), you have about 3 seconds to reply with, "Voistynu Voskres!" ("Indeed he has risen!") That's a pretty hard and fast rule. I tend to play the Replier, not the Instigator role, both on the phone and in person.

2. The three-kiss hello and goodbye. A kiss hello is pretty standard for family and family friends, especially if you don't see them every day. High holidays require the three-kiss hello (and goodbye), alternating cheeks. Very awkward for me and my cousin. Also very awkward if one party forgets and only does two and the other party goes in for the third.

3. Easter eggs. I grew up without ever experiencing the joy of the Easter bunny or Easter baskets. However, there were always Easter eggs. Growing up, I used to help my mom dye the eggs on Saturday night. We would buy the Paas egg dye at the grocery store and I would get excited about giving the eggs sticker and white crayon makeovers. The last few years, my mom has gone Russian old-school and has been using onion peels to dye the eggs an interesting red/brown color. I am glad she's gone back to her roots and doesn't sell out like I would have, had it been my responsibility to dye the eggs again.

4. Easter egg game. I am not sure I know the universal rules of this game, so I cannot speak for other Russian or Greek families. In my family, everyone picks an egg and the tournament begins. Playing against one opponent at a time, you hold up your egg, your opponent holds up his/her egg, and you basically hit your eggs against each other. If your egg cracks, you are a loser. However, you get to eat your egg. If your egg is whole, you play the winner of the match-up sitting next to you. The game keeps going until there is one winner. Sometimes, if the game is played at lunch, the winner might even keep the winning egg until the dinner-time game. Honestly, the whole thing lasts like 10 minutes. My mom usually wins, she's sneaky. This year, Papa T was the champion. I am not sure if this means that Jesus likes him best or that he had frozen his egg ahead of time.

5. Kulich. This is traditional Easter bread that we eat for dessert. [If you take it to midnight Mass, the priest will bless it. He will also bless your eggs.] Now I don't really like kulich to begin with, which makes my mom's cruel game extra cruel. She makes her own and also goes to the Russian grocery store and buys a kulich made by one of the ladies who works at the store. We are then asked to compare and contrast and declare hers to be more delicious.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Us Weekly

This is the second week that Mike and I have been puzzling over why I have been getting Us Weekly in the mail with my name on it, when I do not remember subscribing or paying for it. It's a Festivus Miracle! Tonight, this exchange happened:

Mike: Maybe I was the one who really wanted it but was too embarrassed so I put your name down.

Katya: laughing

Mike: . . . No, I'm not smart enough for that.

Katya: laughing/crying

I guess this is a "you had to be there" story.

In the meantime, we are thoroughly enjoying the Just Like Us! section of the magazine, which I had heard about but had never seen with my own eyes. John Goodman waits to go to the bathroom just like me! Insert photo of John Goodman standing by a bathroom door. Photojournalism at its finest. It's another Festivus Miracle!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Exam Study Music

The Kooks -- Konk

"Still I need your sway, because you always pay for it
And I, and I need your soul because you're always soulful
And I and I need your heart, because you're always in the right places" -Sway, The Kooks

The Kills -- Midnight Boom

"There's nothing wrong with a little electro." -Katya


The first and only pack of cigarettes I personally bought came with the following warning: Smoking is highly addictive, don't start.

I wish I had gotten a similar warning about WEBLOGGING!!


On an expedition to Georgetown, Kelli and I stopped at Dolcezza for some gelato refreshment and were both blown away. This tiny shop on Wisconsin Ave. serves Argentine gelatos and sorbettos as well as tea and coffee drinks. I had a scoop each of the Chocolate Classico and the Sicilian Blood Red Orange. The chocolate was good, but the orange was superb. It tasted as if the gelato artisans had mashed up an orange, stuck it in the freezer, and then served it to me in a cup. I tasted some of Kelli's Banana Split (mashed up banana in ice cream form) and Champagne Mango (mashed up mango, soaked in champagne? in ice cream form). We also saw some crazy flavors like Cilantro-Lime. I mean, that's just crazy. The website says the gelatos are hand-made every morning, and the shop uses locally-grown ingredients when it can. Hooray for supporting local farmers! I am also partial to gelaterias that have their own blogs.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


LONGHENA - "THE SALUTE". I've recently decided to brush up on my art history. Or rather, Netflix came up with this brilliant idea and gave me a friendly nudge by recommending that I rent Simon Schama's Power of Art. This 3-DVD BBC series has an hour-long episode for each of 8 artists: Caravaggio, Bernini, Rembrandt, David, Turner, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Rothko. I am pretty pumped to watch these and squirrel away some more knowledge other than LONGHENA - "THE SALUTE".

LONGHENA - "THE SALUTE" was my mantra when studying for the AP art history test back in high school. For whatever reason, I was convinced that one of the multiple choice questions would ask me to either name the architect of the "Salute" or name the basilica that Longhena designed. To this day I remember that the answer would have been LONGHENA or "THE SALUTE", but not what the structure looks like or its significance or its location (probably Italy, the hub of all things finer).

Power of Art would have provided some much-needed relief for my mental sanity back in, say 1999, but today it provides much-needed finer thing entertainment. The stories are dramatic, the actors intense, Schama . . . very Oxford, very British. Tonight I learned about Caravaggio, a "thug" who made it big in Rome with sensations such as this, The Calling of St. Matthew:

Umm, I'm pretty much a Caravaggio expert now. Believe it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tax Research research

Finer thing activities I would rather be doing than working on a Tax Research research paper:


Monday, April 21, 2008


Someone on metafilter posted a link to the Soviet Museum where I found more propaganda prints with which I would like to paper the walls of our apartment. I've already won one large-scale battle in the war of apartment decoration -- Fred, the alligator head, is no longer prominently displayed on the bookshelf. Cry me a river.

What are the chances of me getting some Soviet propaganda prints up on the walls? Retro fierce! Try and tell me this one won't make the room more "homey".

I probably don't even need to mention that it comes with a golden nugget of advice: BUNS DON'T GROW ON TREES. REMEMBER, LITTLE BOY. BREAD -- IT'S HARD WORK!

picture of the day

Home early enough to watch a Seinfeld episode!

GEORGE: I’d like to report a problem with one of your mechanics.

WILLIE: When did you bring the car in?

GEORGE: (To the man behind him in line) Yeah right.. I’m gonna get my car repaired at a dealership. Huh! Why don’t I just flush my money down the toilet?

WILLIE: Sir, what, exactly, is the problem?

GEORGE: One of your guys - Kip, or Ned, short name - stole my Twix candy bar!

WILLIE: Are you saying he grabbed the candy bar away from you?

GEORGE: He might as well have! I caught him, and his face was covered in chocolate and cookie crumbs.

WILLIE: I thought you said it was a Twix.

GEORGE: Oh, it was. But he claimed it was a 5th Avenue bar.

WILLIE: Maybe it was.

GEORGE: Oh, no, no. Twix is the only candy with the cookie crunch.

WILLIE: What about the $100,000 bar?

GEORGE: No. Rice and caramel.

WILLIE: Nougat?


WILLIE: Positive?

GEORGE: Please.

(A woman appears from behind the window)

WOMAN: You know they changed the name from $100,000 bar to 100 Grand?

GEORGE: All I want is my seventy-five cents back, an apology, and for him to be fired!

(An old man sitting in a nearby chair speaks up. He’s Willie’s father)

WILLIE SR: I remember when you used to be able to get a Hershey for a nickel.

(The man behind George speaks up)

MAN: What’s the one with the swirling chocolate in the commercial?

GEORGE: They all have swirling chocolate in the commercial!

WILLIE SR: Not Skittles.

WILLIE: Dad, I told you you could sit here only if you don’t talk.

WOMAN: (Sitting behind George) You make your father sit here all day?

WILLIE: He likes it!

GEORGE: Alright! Do you mind? I have the window! (To Willie) Now, what are you gonna do about my Twix?

MAN: (In line behind George) Twix has too much coconut.

GEORGE: No! There’s no coconut!

WOMAN: (Behind service window) I’m allergic to coconut.

WILLIE: I’m not.

WILLIE SR: ..A nickel!


WILLIE: Mr. Costanza, I really don’t have time for this.

GEORGE: Now, if this mechanic guy, was, in fact, eating a 5th Avenue bar, as he claimed, wouldn’t you agree he would have no problem picking one out from a candy line-up?

WILLIE: "Candy line-up"?

GEORGE: I’ve spent the last hour preparing ten candy bars with no wrappers of identification of any kind for him to select from.

WILLIE: It took you an hour?

GEORGE: Only I hold the answer key to their true candy identities. And so, without further ado, I give you.. the candy line-up. (Opens a door to a back room.

Various dealership employees are munching on candy bars)

SALESWOMAN: Hey, Willie, check it out! Free candy!

GEORGE: That’s my candy line-up! Where are all my cards?! They’re - they’re all on the floor!

(George starts picking up the numbered cards from off the floor. He sees the mechanic eating one of the candy bars)

GEORGE: And you! How many Twix does that make for you, today?! Like, 8 Twix?!


MAN: Hey, this Clark bar is good.

GEORGE: It’s a Twix! They’re all Twix! It was a setup! A setup, I tell ya! And you’ve robbed it! You’ve all screwed me again! Now, gimme one! Gimme a Twix!

MECHANIC: They’re all gone.

GEORGE: (Yelling out, frustrated. The camera spins from a top angle) Ttttttwwwwiiiiiixxxxx!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

No End in Sight

Tonight I watched a documentary called No End in Sight (number 7 on the 2007 Howard Movie List), which chronicles the invasion of Iraq and its subsequent occupation and the mistakes that were made along the way. The film briefly touches upon the National Museum of Iraq, which contains a large collection of art and historical artifacts from the Mesopotamian civilization, the "cradle of civilization", thousands of years old.

The museum was looted in 2003 after the U.S. invasion of Baghdad, and the U.S. government was criticized at the time for not protecting the museum. When asked about the museum's looting, Donald Rumsfeld replied, "To try to pass off the fact of that unfortunate activity to a deficit in the war plan strikes me as a stretch."

Therapeutic Anti-Allergies Playlist

Disc 1:
1. Altered Beast - We Are Scientists
2. I Stand Corrected - Vampire Weekend
3. Chick Lit - We Are Scientists
4. Campus - Vampire Weekend
5. Ruby - Kaiser Chiefs
6. Park Song - The Dodo's
7. This Place Is Killing Me - Liam Finn
8. Rest My Chemistry - Interpol
9. Remember When - Liam Finn
10. The Well And The Lighthouse - Arcade Fire
11. Pioneer To The Falls - Interpol

Disc 2:
1. Spoken For - We Are Scientists
2. Sour Cherry - The Kills
3. Lead Balloon - Liam Finn
4. Stronger - Kanye West
5. Tonight - We Are Scientists
6. Second Chance - Liam Finn
7. So So Cold - Hot Hot Heat
8. Wise Men - Liam Finn
9. Bryn - Vampire Weekend
10. Energy Spent - Liam Finn
11. God Killed The Queen - Louis XIV

Disc 3:
1. Ghouls - We Are Scientists
2. Born To Be A Dancer - Kaiser Chiefs
3. Black Mirror - Arcade Fire
4. Better To Be - Liam Finn
5. Not Even Jail - Interpol
6. Love's Not A Competition (But I'm Winning) - Kaiser Chiefs
7. Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend
8. Shadow Of The Day - Linkin Park
9. Fall - Editors
10. A-Punk - Vampire Weekend
11. The Angry Mob - Kaiser Chiefs

Saturday, April 19, 2008


NPR has done a few brief shout-outs to BIG - a collaboration between Big Boi from Outkast and the Atlanta Ballet who joined together to produce a performance that combines ballet with hip hop. Naturally, I was very much drawn to this idea.

I searched around on YouTube and found a bootleg-looking clip of the show and an official-looking rehearsal video:

We don't have a lot of famous rappers in DC. I was trying to think of who the National Symphony Orchestra could collaborate with...
1. 9:30 Club
2. 9:30 Club with a rock band
3. 9:30 Club with a rock band, and the rock band is British

Please hold your judgement, there are no dumb ideas in brainstorming.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Howard 2007 Movie List

Every year, Kristin's dad compiles a list of the best movies that came out that year, based on his research of dozens of reviews and critics' lists. Thanks to Kristin for sending me the list for 2007:

From the movies I've seen on the list, my favorites were Rattatouille, Once, Lives of Others, and La Vie en Rose. I guess Brendan does have some basis in his shameless accusations of my watching only international/art house "smut".

Monday, April 14, 2008


Deep thought of the day: The mundane chore of cleaning up one's room is greatly enhanced by a glass of Spaten beer. In addition, this beer is an excellent warm-up for tomorrow's ACCOUNTANTS GONE WILD festivities.

On a recent trip to Total Wine we checked out their beer selection, which in my opinion is extensive, although I am for sure not the beer connoisseur of America. What is extra awesome is that they sell individual bottles of beer, and you can create your own mix and match six-pack. This is one of those ideas I wish I had come up with first. If you are like me and cannot commit to an entire six-pack of wheat ginger ale blueberry hops beer or the like, but are curious to try it, well Total Wine gives you the opportunity to be the cautious daredevil that you are. Here is the Katya original six-pack:

1. Peroni (Italy) - I specifically remember drinking this beer in London with my dad at Covent Garden before we went to see Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House.

2. Spaten (Germany) - Used to order this at Dr. Dremo's before it closed. Sad.

3. Sam Adams Cherry Wheat Ale - Kelli pick. I was intrigued but now I am anxious.

4. Pilsner Urquell (Czech) - Mike pick. Assuming that the Czechs have good beer.

5. Pacifico (Mexico) - Kind of like a Corona? I have a lime ready to go.

6. Quilmes (Argentina) - High hopes for this one too.

Between Katya's original six-pack and Mike's original six-pack, our fridge might as well be the local Brickskeller/RFD on the block. And that's the way we like it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Arlington Farmer's Market

The Arlington farmer's market at Courthouse is back! Or rather, I am back to being its customer.

Walking in, I made a beeline for the scones only to find that they were already sold out (at 10 am) so I had to settle for a loaf of the Country White bread, which is only the best bread EVER. I bought my entire breakfast from the market. Very rustic. Very delicious:

Country White Bread
European-style butter - Basically butter cannot get any more delicious.
Applewood Smoked Mozzarella - This was a slight mistake on my part. I usually get their regular mozzarella and it's phenomenal. Thinking "smoked" can only make the cheese better, like with Gouda, I went after the smoked mozzarella but found that I do not enjoy it as much.
Fuji apple - who knows where the crazy farmers are getting apples in April, but who am I to complain.

And of course Saturday morning rustic breakfast is not complete without a homemade latte with Starbucks Espresso Rigalo.

The Summer of George has officially begun.

P.S. If you have not already, read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. It will make you want to go to farmer's markets every day if not grow all your own fruits and vegetables and make your own cheese.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Seinfeld Finer Things

Did you know that the original title for War and Peace was War, What Is It Good For?

(The Marine Biologist)

Jack Handey Finer Things

Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he's carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you're drunk.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"Self Portrait"

I have never been a poetry-lover (poetry is another finer thing that eludes me). However, occasionally I listen to what Oprah tells me to do, and Oprah told me to sign up for the poem of the day at Knopf to celebrate National Poetry Month. You too can have a daily mini-celebration when you open your inbox!

I had not been too enthralled with the first week of poems, but today's pick struck a chord with me.

"Self Portrait" by Edward Hirsch

I lived between my heart and my head,
like a married couple who can't get along.

I lived between my left arm, which is swift
and sinister, and my right, which is righteous.

I lived between a laugh and a scowl,
and voted against myself, a two-party system.

My left leg dawdled or danced along,
my right cleaved to the straight and narrow.

My left shoulder was like a stripper on vacation,
my right stood upright as a Roman soldier.

Let's just say that my left side was the organ
donor and leave my private parts alone,

but as for my eyes, which are two shades
of brown, well, Dionysus, meet Apollo.

Look at Eve raising her left eyebrow
while Adam puts his right foot down.

No one expected it to survive,
but divorce seemed out of the question.

I suppose my left hand and my right hand
will be clasped over my chest in the coffin

and I'll be reconciled at last,
I'll be whole again.


Currently listening to: Devotchka - A Mad And Faithful Telling.

Why I like them: 1) Provided the score to Little Miss Sunshine. 2) Make for a surprisingly good soundtrack when working on a cluster of a tax provision or reviewing massive quantities of corporate state tax returns. Also make you imagine that you are a gypsy. 3) Devotchka means "girl" in Russian, and I am a devotchka.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bryant Park Project

I wrote an anti-NPR post a couple of weeks ago. This week, I read about an NPR show on (Amanda introduced me to dooce. Changed my life, I swear. ) The show is called The Bryant Park Project, and it is a two-hour morning show that has news, interviews, movie reviews, book club picks, etc. every weekday. I listened to the Friday show this morning, and unfortunately think that is all I will have time for every week. Devastating.

Friday's show included a story about the Democrats pouncing on McCain for a sound byte from January in which he said he would stay in Iraq for 100 years, an interview of an interesting 2-man band called The Dodo's, and a book pick - The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle. Definitely adding this show to my iTunes podcasts.

Also, I promised Kristin I would give Terry Gross's Fresh Air another try.

Gotta love the finer things word of mouth.