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Archive for June, 2009

the-wire-2

It’s been said a million times, but HBO’s The Wire is some of the best television ever made. Blah, blah blah… I know. If you’ve seen it, you agree. If you haven’t, you are sick of hearing about it.

Early this year my brother, my buddy Andrew and I loaded up my mom’s silver Jeep Liberty, set the GPS to (sexy) Susan and drove for 17 hours straight to Baltimore to see first-hand the city that sets the stage for this stellar series.

Was it a maudlin exercise in shameless voyeurism? Yes. Was it the nerdiest tribute to a show or movie I have ever made? Not by a long shot. Sadly in my teens I secretly wrote Star Wars fan-fiction.

Good shot Jansen!

Good shot Jansen!

While “Rouge Squadron: The Adventures of Wedge Antillies” never saw the light of day, I’ve kissed a few girls since then and am now a little more comfortable in my acute geekiness. So I’d like to share some pics, vids and insights from our fanboy trip to the city known as Bodymore Murderland.

After the jump you’ll find:

  • The alley where McNulty drunkenly crashes his car, twice!
  • Little Johnny’s Carry Out — aka. ‘The Greek’s hideout’
  • Special Crimes Unit HQ
  • The Corner (more…)
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Oh. My. God!

Here is a recruitment commercial for the Ukrainian army (an Army of один). It speaks for itself, but the jist is basically this: The Army — get paid, get laid and get tanked (pun intended). Enjoy.

Special thanks to the lovely Jess S. for the tip.

Also… my roommate Eddie recently bought a taser to keep around the house for protection. Combine this non-lethal weapon with a few bottles of 1715, an audience of pretty girls to impress, and you get this video…check it after the jump. (more…)

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Camel-FaceBack in March I made my first trip across the Ukrainian border. I’d “befriended” a few smugglers on the train from Poland to the border town who assured me they knew a faster way to get across. I kinda foolishly jumped on a dilapidated old bus with them.  It said ‘Lviv’ on it, so what the heck right? Waiting for us on the bus were 8 of their buddies, and one nun(!?).

The trip to the border only took 20 minutes, but once there we waited for four hours at a checkpoint as the Ukrainian authorities checked our gear. There was no heat on the bus so it was both cold and miserable.

Once across, the deteriorated Ukrainian roads made the bus shake, rattle and vibrate to the point where all of the contraband stuff (cans mostly) stashed in the overhead compartments tumbled down on our heads and rolled through the aisles. Miraculously the nun was spared.

I just found this story recently and realized maybe I didn’t have it so bad.

A (pack? herd? flock?) of Camels belonging to a Russian act en route to a Bulgarian circus were detained at the Ukrainian border due to concerns about “African swine flu.” Not sure what’s African about swine flu, but whatever.

Sadly, after a week-long internment, a pair of Camels suffered the ignoble fate of freezing to death. Very sad. In an attempt to shed some light on this tragedy a Russian border guard spokesman offered this explanation of the misfortune:

“Two camels died today.”

That’s it. That was the official statement.

Pravda… I guess.

:(

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Why sunflowers?

A few of you have asked why I have sunflowers as my banner? The answer is pretty simple. One interpretation of the composition of the Ukrainian flag is a field of sunflowers under a blue sky. Sunflower seeds are a popular snack here as street-vending babushkas sell handfuls of them on most corners.

Flag

Flag

sunflower-field-saskatchewan

Field

The sunflower field in the pic above is actually from Saskatchewan. Ukraine and Canada’s west share many geographical similarities. These similarities are a big reason many Ukrainian immigrants chose Canada as their new home.

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Hello, and welcome!

I hear this song in just about every bar/club/cantina I walk into. It’s Ukraine’s/Russia’s favourite call-and-respond anthem — and it’s damn catchy if heard several dozen million times. Introducing: U Nas Na Rayone (У нас на районе!).

Potap (the guy) and Nastya (the Amy Winehouse-lookin’ lady) rock a chorus in Surjik (a mix of Ukrainian and Russian) that essentially states, ‘This is our neighbourhood/This is how we roll.” The video has all kinds of stereotypical Ukrainian scenes. Dudes eating sunflowers, old folks collecting empty bottles of beer, Russian Facebook, the public de-dusting of rugs, beautiful women and two art-school friends from Kyiv riding a steamroller with their tongues in their cheeks.

Here are four dudes I recently met who love repping their neighbourhoods…Насладитесь!

BFF or in Ukraine бфф
BFF’s (or in Ukraine бфф) from Kamanets-Podilsky
Also, бфф 4 eva!
Also, бфф. Chemervtsi 4 eva!

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drunk russian cropA few posts ago I gave some thoughts on why booze, and vodka in particular, has such a debilitating effect on Ukrainian society. It was a bit of anecdotal nonsense, but this recent article in the Kyiv Post backs up this theory and sheds even more light on why the negative effects of alcohol are felt more here, than say in other countries with similar rates of alcohol consumption. Here are some choice nuggs…

There are many telling facts, including the existence of more than 40 brands of Ukrainian-produced vodka alone. But beer is often the first encounter that teenagers have with an alcoholic drink. And in Ukraine, beer is regarded more as a soft drink, akin to Coca-Cola, under the law. The domestic brands are very cheap and widely available through street kiosks. And, unlike the minimum age of 18 for purchasing hard alcohol, any child can buy beer legally.

“Beer isn’t alcohol, according to legislation, so anybody can legally sell it even to a 5-year-old child,” said Konstantin Krasovsky, head of the Alcohol and Drug Information Center in Kyiv.

Click here for more chilling facts… (more…)

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