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Archive for April, 2010

Catching Up

Ever find yourself wondering: hey, what’s going on in the Bulgarian pop scene? Or thinking: I’ve really got to catch up on the latest Bulgarian pop.  No? Okay, I haven”t spend much time thinking about it either. Sorry.

Then last night, I was doing dishes and watching/listening to “the Voice.” Sofia’s not-mtv but also not-chalga station for music videos. Generally they play really bad American pop music–which is lucky for me (as MTV seems to have gotten out of the business of playing music videos–go figure). Because it turns out, now that I live abroad, I have a very fond spot for bad American pop music in my heart.

Anyhow a song that I didn’t recognize came on. So I turned to see who it was. I had no idea. But he was singing about coffee and you all know how much I love coffee. I stopped doing dishes and started watching. The video is pretty straightforward–angsty guy at piano–but I couldn’t make out what his accent was or what his nationality was. I wondered if he was German.

Ha. Turns out that he’s Bulgarian. Who knew? His name is Monyx.  Here’s his video:

As luck would have it both youtube and the Bulgarian version of youtube–vbox–have the video. VBox also has a version with subtitles. But, don’t ask me why an English language music video has English subtitles. I just don’t know. It would be much easier to understand if the video had Bulgarian subtitles but Monyx sings in English and his English is pretty accent-less. So that’s that I have no idea what’s going on with the subtitles.

I still don’t really know anything about Bulgarian pop. So this post is basically a report. Yes. There is Bulgarian pop. And here is a video. It’s proof.

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I woke up this morning and realized I’d been dreaming in Bulgarian.

Wow. Right?

I mean many people say this is the first sign that you’re actually becoming fluent when you can dream in the language you’re studying, learning or living. However in my case this dream was really just an extension of my real life–me stumbling and fumbling around. Only in this case, I was doing a good job conjugating verbs and I seemed to have a bigger vocabulary than I normally do.

This said, my dream was a pretty basic representation of my day-to-day life. The big difference was that instead of my interactions happening in real life–this time I was dreaming them up. There was nothing fantastic about my dream. Trust me, it was just me stumbling through Bulgarian.

It seems unnecessarily cruel that I’ve now started dreaming about this. As if I don’t do enough of this during the day, I now have to dream about it as well? Great. (more…)

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Wine Tasting

I generally like the underdog–I like the dark horse. I like trying new things.  I guess this is in part why I am here in Bulgaria. On a whole, I think there’s a lot to like here and half of it is figuring out how to access it.

Recently the NYT and other newspapers have been spending time exploring Eastern European wines.  There was this article on Hungarian whites in February and another that I can’t find on Slovakian wine (which I am beginning to wonder if I made up because I can’t find it).  And these two articles got me thinking about wine and the American interest in Eastern European wine.

Part of the interest seems to rest in the fact that Eastern Europe is relatively unexplored by many Americans but it’s accessible now. People chatter about things like holidays in Prague or Budapest and want to drink wine from these areas as a reminder of their travel. But wine is also a status thing–something to be discovered, discussed and shown off. The more exotic the better. I think that the Eastern European wine craze is a convergence of these two things. (Oh and I think there’s some pretty good wine being made and now, exported to the States as well).

Of course, all of this makes me wonder: what about Bulgaria? But I guess by now this doesn’t surprise you. Well, so what about Bulgaria? (more…)

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Oh, Bulgaria

I just went to the grocery store to buy five tubs of cream cheese to make two cheesecakes for a party on Wednesday. It turns out philadelphia cream cheese is on sale but there’s not a single tub on the shelf. Of course not. No cream cheese.

It made me think: Oh Bulgaria.

Thanks for reminding me that I am living in Bulgaria.

And, Hum. Cheesecake. You’re going to be difficult aren’t you!?

So now I am looking up some recipes that don’t require as much cream cheese–maybe I’ll make a honey ricotta cheesecake. Or maybe just maybe Hit, Kaufland and/or Billa will have cream cheese tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Or if all goes horribly wrong and all of my well laid plans are foiled, maybe just maybe I’ll be making lemon squares instead. No cream cheese required. Just lots of lemon.

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The Life of a Teacher

It turns out the life of a teacher is neither as exciting nor as glamorous as you may think.  This weekend, I’ve been hunkered down grading as the quarter ended on Wednesday and grades and comments are due tomorrow.  As such, I haven’t done much but grade, grade, grade and drink way more coffee than I should. But that’s okay. I like coffee and grading is not the worst thing. It’s not like this was a surprise to me–it’s a part of the  job.

I just didn’t realize I’d spend a whole weekend in my sweats grading to the exclusion of everything else.  Even this blog.

Oh well. That’s how it works it works sometimes.  So, maybe tomorrow I’ll have something more interesting to write about. Something more engaging. Something more than just a quick up-date.

Hope that each of you had a more exciting weekend than I did.

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Sometimes, I think that the minimalist Mark Bittman (from the NYT) and I should be BFF.  Yes BFF–that’s best friends forever (fyi, MoM). But I am worried that now that I’ve written it, the magic is going to be lost forever and it will never happen. Okay, this wouldn’t be the end of the world. I mean,d I don’t actually know Mark making it hard for me to truly be BFF with him. Just as long as he keeps writing his column in the NYT The Minimalist I will be a happier camper.

Why you may ask?

Well because Mark Bittman is a no nonsense kitchen rock star. He makes tasty and beautiful dishes with just a couple of ingredients (which I can generally find Bulgaria).  Moreover, the recipes are easy to follow and usually quick to put together (which I like because I am cooking for one). There’s little to no pretense and usually you can also watch a short video of him cooking up everything. Even better, usually he includes awesome variations which turns one dish into three or four (which I love because at the end of the day I’ve got about zero creativity left).

This week I just about died when I saw his recipe: Pad Thai. It was also the moment that I realized that Mark and I will never be BFF. I’ve got a food crush on him. (more…)

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Sex & Violence

I’ve found myself confronted with the conflict American and European views of sex and violence in the media recently.

I am teaching an elective this semester titled: American Culture and American Television.  It’s a take on the elective I taught in the fall American Culture and American Magazines. The idea is for the Television course is simply this–why not use American Television as a lens to discuss American culture, as a medium to improve vocabulary and fluency and as a way to engage students in a discussion of class, race, religion and gender as it appears (or does not) in a variety of different programs.

But what’s surprised me are how prevalent the topics of sex and violence have become in our discussions. It’s not shocking but it’s become notable. Moreover, my time away from the States has given me the space to recognize the fact that violence is much more acceptable in American television than sex is. In some ways this is to be expected.

I grew up in a country whose constitution guarantees its citizens the right to bear arms. This right is guaranteed to us in the Bill of Rights. (more…)

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