Saturday, August 16, 2014

Borko Loves His Broody Hens

Borko's sister who is a post-hipster wannabe (which = mom with two kids she feels embarrassed that she actually enjoys being with but not enough that she'll correct the kids' names that would shame Frank (father of Dweezil and Moon Unit) Zappa. Borko's sis is constructing a hen house in the backyard of her house. Asheville, North Carolina allows six chickens per family so naturally sis 'o Bork will be getting seven (post-hipsters are still law breakers at heart!) - but what does this have to do with Europe though (keeping within the Murse theme?)

Well, she explained what a broody hen was, and not believing such a thing existed, Borko went online and instead of finding a description of a broody hen, he found an encyclopedic description of pretty much most of his female expat friends in Europe.  Thinking back on weekends in from town stretching from Vienna to Donetsk, from the fourth floor Tbilisi apartments to those memorable (if we could remember anything) dignity defying weekends in Istanbul and Budapest, this description which was meant for national geographic simply should be a yearbook entry describing my gal pals. To wit....

            A: When a hen is broody, that means she wants to hatch her eggs. A breed known as broody has hens   that often, individually go broody, and they may not even need eggs to set on to be broody--they may go broody in a nest with no eggs. Further, if there are eggs in the nest, if there is not a rooster in your flock, your hens will not know that their eggs won't be fertile. Your hen will seem to be in a sort of bad temper while she broods, she may pluck out her breast feathers so she can be closer to the eggs, and she may even screech a warning at any birds or people who come near her nest!

Her warning means, "Stay back, this nest is mine for hatching!" Actually, we find it charming when our hens are broody--they are beautiful when they're angry! Once a day or so your hen may emerge from her nest like a whirling dervish: all her feathers will be ruffled out so she will look VERY BIG. She will hold her wings out from her body to give herself even more apparent size. She will rise with a terrible screech, and run at anyone that gets in her way. In my head, I sort of imagine that if my hens were hatching eggs in the wild, all the to-do she'd be making as she gets up would be meant to distract any thing nearby from getting her eggs while she couldn't look after them. Also, she acts so tough, I wonder if some predators would be intimidated by her fierceness?

However, this movement from the nest may last 5 or 10 minutes, because all she's doing is arising to eat and drink (and poo), so she can continue to brood her eggs. When hens are broody, they may only eat once a day, so the normal pecking order doesn't usually apply. She won't need to beat up on the other hens to prove her place. In fact, sometimes the the other birds in your flock will defer to anyone in this state. I can imagine my Faverolles whispering to each other in their French accents "Eeet iz not worth your time, Juliette! Leave zis hen to her madness!" However, you occasionally may have a girl mad at your broody hen since broody girls will usually choose the favorite nest for her production!

Some chicken breeds will go broody every so often and some are less likely to ever go broody. Some will stay broody a long time even with nothing in the nest, while others will snap out of it quickly if they don't have eggs to set on. If your broody hen is actually setting on fertile eggs, it is best to separate her from the rest of the flock, since hens often like to crawl on top of the broody to lay additional eggs in the "safest" nest. If too many eggs get laid underneath her, she may not be able to cover them all, and those that are developing can get too cold and die.

Broodiness is more annoying to human caretakers than to the rest of the flock--hens take it in stride. It can be problematic for humans simply because for one, your broody hen will stop laying while she is broody, because she is trying to hatch. In addition, some broodies will peck at you to keep you from taking the eggs your other hens have laid underneath her (or sometimes she will switch from nest to nest "adopting" eggs for hatching, whether the eggs are fertile or not). However, if the eggs are not fertile, it's not a good idea to let them set eggs, since they eat and drink less when they are broody. Since they don't get off the eggs to dust bathe, for example, they are more vulnerable to infestations of mites and lice. They can lose weight and condition. If you have a broody hen and she is not hatching fertile eggs, try to lift her off the nest at least once (or even several times) in the day so she will get enough to eat and drink. She will get over the broodiness and begin ranging with the rest of the flock again. After a while, she should begin laying eggs again, and you will know that broodiness is over! 


Another sign the broodiness is pretty much over is the welcome sign to IST or TBS duty free.

Disclaimer: Borko realizes that with this posting, he will be picking up the alcohol tab for an entire upcoming wedding weekend. But worth every Henny Penny!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Rare Sighting East of the Polish Border

There she was at last.

I'd been searching in vain for years to find her in post-Soviet land. Not an oblast was overlooked in this journey to nowhere. Like a missing child who's disappearance you had only recently come to accept, hope had been abandoned to acceptance that you would never see her again. But hope, even in Ukraine, dies last. Then as if she had been there all along, she appeared out of nowhere. The broom handle. And not just any broom handle. The rarest of breeds in post-Soviet land..

the LONG broom handle.

Casually leaning against a warm refrigerator unit as if she'd been there all along. And tempted were we by the comforting familiarity of her wet, filthy, worn-to-a-nub bristles which render her sweeping powers almost useless to do anything but scrape dirt and swine entrails underneath a neighboring kiosk. Leaning there, in an almost mocking manner, daring any babushka to risk using her. Risk being ostracized by the Babushki tribe. Risk losing your excuse for having a bad back. Risk 70 years of Soviet indoctrination on the need to be close to the floor and bent over while sweeping (perhaps there were health benefits!). Risk having your whole world as you have known it crash down before you as you stand up straight. What would the Patriarch say?! Go away, she-devil. Tempt us not with your Western ways. Begone!

And she vanished just as quickly as she appeared. Some say she flew south to Crimea, to tempt, for the sake of a good challenge, in even less fertile ground.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Mighty Oak Strikes Back

In our last posting, we all but wrote it in the sky with a Curtis biplane for the crusty old regime in Kiev to warn them of her strength and the consequences of pissing her off. Our warning went unheeded and an army of wizened crones has now descended on the Ukrainian capitol to prove once and for all that the babuski of Ukraine remain the mighty oaks of post soviet land. But those latent soviet winds have been blowing in a westerly direction as of late and the old gals having picked a side - and its colors are blue and yellow. We knew she was mighty - what we didn't know was how much she wanted to vacation in Barcelona and no longer Bishkek.

So, to Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, winner in these pages of the 2013 Annual Mursie Award, don't say you weren't warned. In this battle of your truncheon carrying black op special forces versus an army of really angry old women from the village, only a fool would bet against the stalwart babushka.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bye Bye Babushka

The gold teeth. The wizened stare. The solid skeletal structure which says 'Hitler never had a chance'. The crevices across a face that knows pain so well it still senses fear during times of happiness, a sort of comfort in life's tragedies. The headscarfs which protect them against slight breezes in Autumn that are more deadly than a Chernobyl explosion. Who is this battle-axe?

She is a babushka. 

And she is not to be messed with. 

She has survived terror famines, communist dictatorships, world wars, revolutions, aggressive drunk husbands, and a long litany of outside forces which have tried to destroy her slavic soul. She has survived all of them, coming out stronger with each victory, all the while making a mean batch of pickles.

Borkos stands in awe of the Babushka. Half saleswoman, half protector of the realm, always ready to chide a young American woman for sitting on a cold stone slab on the sidewalk in the winter as she may freeze her ovaries, bear no children and die alone in a one room apartment on Karl Marx Street thus contributing to the ongoing depopulation of slavic Europe. The Babushka is a force to be reckoned with. So when Borko travels around Europe, he is always in search of this ultimate symbol of "stabilnost". The one place he knows he can find her is behind the counter at any outdoor market...

selling fruits 




raw pig fat or any other piece of the animal that she has just butchered

even the occasional almonds and cigarettes

and she has been known to strategically position herself outside 
Metro stations and underground street crossings

In the European Slavic world, Babashuki have never been difficult to find...that is, until now.

There is a threat on the horizon to this oak of a woman. A force so destructive, that even ol' Baba may not be able to withstand. Her new foe: The European Union.

While she can still be found plying her wares from Magadan to Murmansk, from Chisinau to Cherkasy, it appears that EU enlargement market forces are her kryptonite, as a recent visits to EU slavic markets from Warsaw to Bratislava have shown. The Babushka has been run out of town, as unwanted as a Franc or Deutschmark, she as been tossed aside and been replaced by, of all And not even  men who look like they ought to work in a market, but men who should be in an auto shop or on an oil rig. This is just not right.

Below are some photos take at EU markets by Borko himself just in the last month. Note the extinction in these EU markets of our sturdy, aged gal:

Alas, the European Union is not place for Baba. Should Russian President Vladimir Putin really want to coax Ukrainians away from signing an Associate Agreement this autumn in Vilnius at the EU-Eastern partnership summit, he should abandon his current attempts at threatening Ukraine by banning Ukrainian chocolates and wine and instead, unleash a mighty force of Olgas and Lyudmilas, axes in hand, to make the case that they deserve to be protected against EU market forces. And who would say 'no' to a Babushka. Certainly not Borko.

Kremlin strategists take note - or you'll be buying tomatoes for the rest of your life from Boris - if you don't believe me, visit a market in an EU country near you.

(on a serious note: these women are the best in the world, but they are not always treated as such by their own societies. A few charities have popped up to help them survive what should be their golden years. Living in poverty and often in corrupt states with broken soviet pension systems, they must survive on meager incomes that barely allow for enough food. If you are inclined to help these wonderful ladies there are two awesome charities which Borko's Murse can recommend: One is called For Survival which assists elderly in need in Kyiv, Ukraine, and the other is called Babushka Adoption  which seeks to help elderly women in the Kyrgyz Republic. What could be more fun than adopting your own Babushka...she may even come with an axe.)

Oh, there is ONE thing they still let Babuska sell in the EU markets...

Monday, May 20, 2013

How do you say "Welcome Home" in Lithuanian?

Borko had a minor Eurovision brush with fame today at the airport in Vilnius, Lithuania when his plane landed at approximately the same time as the flight from Copenhagen. Borko was sharing the same baggage carousel with those on the Copenhagen flight. Borko thought it might be interesting to ask if any of those on the flight had attended the Eurovision Song Contest the day before in Malmo, Sweden, which is a 20 minute drive from Copenhagen when suddenly Borko noticed several people with musical instruments and Eurovision VIP name tags about worn on their necks. Could it be? Why yes, standing right next to Borko was Lithuania's singer, Andrius Pojavis, arriving back after his near last place finish.

Having formerly met three Eurovision Song Contest entrants in his life - Elnur Huseynov, Ani Lorak, and Ruslana - Borko was excited at the possibility getting a photo with him and adding a fourth singer encounter to his life's EV scrapbook. But then Borko remembered what he had posted online in this blog just the day before about Andrius, calling his performance "the worst song in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, hands down..." Not wanting to be fake and say 'great job', Borko just decided to smile and give an approving nod to our tired looking songster. Besides, we don't put photos of Borko on this blog so asking for Andrius to pose for a picture with Borko wouldn't have added value, so we'll have to settle for this photo of him exiting the customs area of the airport to a throng of photographers and well wishers welcoming their defeated hero home.

Andrius Pojavis, arriving at Vilnius Airport
May 19, 2013

Redeeming factoid: Despite the fact Andrius should never, ever be allowed anywhere near a microphone or stage, it is nonetheless Borko's pleasure to note that this man who had been performing for over 100 million people worldwide just hours before could not have been nicer to the people around him and in fact helped an elderly woman who did not know who he was with her bags as they came off the carousel. He's a very, very nice man. When there is a Eurovision Manners Contest...Lithuania, Andrius is your guy.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eurovision Song Contest 2013: Europe's In a Funk

Every blog or article about the Eurovision Song Contest must always start with an explanation of what this bizarre spectacle actually is. Somewhere halfway through the article, after the obligatory references to ABBA, sequins, and a sly yet inoffensive way of suggesting the contest has a gay following, the writer must go into some degree of detail about the technical aspects of how the voting takes place. Some writers even get into the nitty-gritty of diaspora populations, and eastern Slavic bloc voting. But Borko presumes that if you are already this far into this post, you are probably somewhat familiar with this annual musical ritual which has (ah, here's another obligatory reference) an audience larger than Super Bowl Sunday. So, without further delay, I'd like to just jump right into the real matter at hand: Europe, my friends, is in a funk.

The Eurovision Song Contest used to be shiny, happy glittery people all coked up on bubble gum and disco balls. The occasional torch song or love ballad was an acceptable diversion (and only then, it had to be sung by a substantially overweight woman with a 'great voice and personality'). But pixie dust and cheese were required. Uptempo. Four-four time. Songs sung in the key of E minor would have been booed off the stage. At least, that was, until this year.

Something is not right in Denmark. Nor in any part of Europe these days. And the music tells the story.

A pope resigned. The new one is cleaning house. Unemployment is at record levels, and there is a floodgate of Tunisians paddling towards us. Is it any wonder Ukraine isn't even sure it wants to join the European Union, and instead may kick in its lot with, of all places, Kazakhstan! And to top it off, the people who usually serve as the pick-me-ups and bring the best food and fun to the party, the Turks, have decided they are tired of being Euro-fucked (see controversy alerts - plural - below) so they are staying home. It's bad folks.

It is as if Eurovision producers have channeled their inner-Hee Haw and produced what amounts to two hour long episode of the Gloom, Despair & Agony skit whose lyrics read:

          Gloom, despair and agony on me
          Deep dark depression, excessive misery,
          If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all,
          Gloom, despair and agony on me

Europe, we have an anthem.

Titles of this years songs include Lonely Planet, Love Kills, and Only Teardrops. And I am fairly certain Estonia's song Et Uus Saaksalguse translates to I Am Slowly Dying of Cancer.

Well, a couple of things happen when Europe starts having pity parties for itself. The bitching usually begins at mom's house in London and Paris. And this year is no different. The complaints are the same. "Those crafty Slav's and Caucasians are participating in bloc voting and this is why we are not winning a contest WE invented." A tired argument. No, UK and France, you aren't losing because somehow people from Crapistan countries have finally learned how to vote strategically - you are losing because you are entering Englebert Humperdink and Bonnie Tyler and singing in French. Don't get us wrong, if we have a choice between attending next year's contest in London or Paris, we'll take that over Chisinau or Tirana. But ya gotta earn it. So stop your bitching and enter a good act. Take note from your neighbor Ireland this year. They won't win as their song is bad, but they at least have some shirtless eye-candy on stage. It's called an effort - make one.

And there's no crisis like and economic one to ruin a good, fun sing-a-long. Among the countries which were unable to compete this year due to lack of funds includes: Andorra, Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Liechtenstein (I checked, it is a country), Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Monaco. Now folks, when Monaco, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg all say their out of cash, things are pretty dire. With such misery, who could possibly be expected to cheer Europe up? Why America, of course.

When Europe is in a funk, and Borko is not altogether convinced this is a good thing, but, well...yes...that's when the Americans start to arrive, and as is often the case, uninvited. Hannah, an American who married a Slovenian man, is going to use her professional background having been a singer for no less than that ultimate of world pick-me-uppers, Disney Studios. She's got her work cut out for her this year. But just like the thanks America gets for D-Day, Hannah's friends on this side of the Atlantic are likely to vote her dead last.

Who else might be able to cheer up Europe? Why those fun loving Armenians. Their group this year is singing a song written by Tommy Iommi, guitarist of that very optimistic, happy group whose name inspires confidence and pleasant thoughts: Black Sabbath.

Despite Disney and Black Sabbath's efforts to get our minds off of the economic bailouts and Euro zone austerity measures, there just is too much funk in Europe right now. If I had to chose though just one song that really expresses how depressed Europe is in 2013, it would have to be the song "Birds" by the artist Anouk from The Netherlands. The stanza includes lyrics like "Isolated from the outside, clouds have taken all the light...birds falling down from the rooftops, out of the sky like raindrops." Good God, I came to Malmo to have a little fun, not bury rescue workers from the Chernobyl explosion. Couldn't you have had a song praising your outgoing Dutch Queen Beatrix (oh wait, not allowed under the lyrics rules..yes, that's right, there are rules governing the lyrics and politics is a big a no-no):

The lyrics and/or performance of the songs shall not bring the Shows, the ESC as such or the EBU into disrepute. No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature shall be permitted during the ESC. No swearing or other unacceptable language shall be allowed in the lyrics or in the performances of the songs. No commercial messages of any kind shall be allowed. A breach of this rule may result in disqualification." says the point 1.2.2.g of the Rules of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. (this was the obligatory rules reference.Didn't think I'd squeeze it in, did you?)

These are the same rules that almost disqualified San Marino last year and definitely disqualified Georgia a few years back.

But I digress, back to depression.

Here is Borko's annual run down of commentary on the participating groups with the predictions of top five placing with our regularly featured "controversy alerts":

First Place: DENMARK - Emmelie deForest (Only Teardrops) - she's barefoot (austerity), anorexic (poor), singing about pain (austerity) and she has snare drum players dancing with her, the kind that do the drum roll before the hangman pulls the lever (pain). With lyrics like "how many times do we have to fight, how many time can we get it right...why tear ourselves apart...we've only got ourselves to blame." Folks, this isn't a love song, it's a Germany-Greece Euro zone budget summit. If this song doesn't win, it won't be because it didn't have the current mood of Europe perfectly down.

Second Place: RUSSIA - Dina Garipova (What If). A Russian singing a song with lyrics like "what if we all just opened our arms and became one." You'd like that, Russia, wouldn't you? Well, yes, you tried that just after World War II and some might say we are still paying the consequences. So chalk one up for pain on a continental scale. Might even be enough to tip this song into the winner's column. Additional lyrics include "what if we all buried our guns." These lyrics of course would violate the EV lyrics rules as being too political if we were in the state of Arizona, but in Russia, where only gangsters have guns, it is a perfectly nice message crafted by the peace-loving Putin. Yeah, right. If Russia had drones this song would be about the beauty of metal butterflies. So, since Europe is in a cynical mood, this song is right up its alley this year.

Third Place: UKRAINE - Zlata Ognevich (Gravity). Borko was initially concerned that Zlata, born in the icy, Arctic Russian port city of Murmansk, lacked Ukie creds. Her father is a medic on a Russian submarine (which is why her family moved to Crimea - which belongs to Ukraine despite Russian discomfort with the notion) and her mom is a Russian language teacher. But all fears were set aside when Borko discovered that Zlata redeemed herself by establishing her Ukrainian national credentials when she was a singer in the Ukrainian National Army Band. It is well known that Borko has a soft spot in his heart for Ukraine and has been so close to victory twice with two second place finished by Ukraine with Ani Lorak and Verka Serduchka, and so he tends to put Ukraine higher than it often probably ought to be, but this year, the reviews are all positive. And she gets carried onto stage by someone who is arguable the tallest man in the world. Arguably...

CONTROVERSY ALERT - Borko is so excited. Our first controversy alert and it happens to be cross sectoral and include gigantism, Zhytomyr, China and yes, the Guinness Book of World Records. To wit:  Zlata will be carried onto stage by Leonid Stadnyk, a giant of a man from Zhytomyr, Ukraine. He measures in at a cool 7'7" or 231.1 cm. Or does he?

On August 20, 2008, editor-in-chief of Guinness World Records, Craig Glenday, announced that the title of world's tallest man had been returned to China's Bao Xishun after Stadnyk refused to be measured under new guidelines, which required him to be independently measured by Guinness World Records adjudicators. On August 8, 2007, Guinness book's spokeswoman Amarilis Espinoza stated that in the 2008 edition of the record book, Leonid Stadnyk at (8 feet 6 inches), appeared to be taller than Bao Xishun, a native of Inner Mongolia in China who stands 236 cm (7 feet 8.9 inches). Although he held the title for a few months, Stadnyk refused to be measured and was consequently denied the GWR recognition. Others have questioned the legitimacy of his record, noting that Stadnyk has never been officially measured by Guinness World Records, only by the "Ukrainian Book of Records" that says that he measures 254 cm (8 feett 4 inches), and that the doctor originally credited by Guinness with confirming Leonid Stadnyk's height has denied ever measuring him.

A doctor who the Guinness Book of World Records says measured the tallest man in the world denies he ever measured him and a tall man who refuses to be measured because he disagrees with the measuring method but who Ukraine nonetheless is allowed to claim to be the tallest man in the world is just too Ukrainian of a controversy. I am going to have a shot of horilka right now as I am typing this. Budmo!

Fourth Place: GREECE - Koza Mostra (Alcohol is Free). Could there be any better analogy to what is currently happening in European politics than a stage full of Greeks dancing around while Berlin is burning as they sing about free alcohol. The video is even more priceless. It opens with a scene of the band trying to steal vegetables at a local market (Ms. Merkel, you're guests have arrived!) The old vendor gets so angry at them until he realizes he can drink with them, at which point he picks up his balalaika and starts strumming along with them.  But there is some strategy in this placement here: the competition for Balkan votes, as pointed out by Gavster of ESCtips, "has to consider the competition for Balkan votes, as there is no Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia or Bulgaria in the finals, which leaves Greece in an extremely strong position being the (regional) default." It really will just come down to how many Hans's and Franz's are in the various juries across Europe. But lest you think this song is too happy, the lyrics reveal several references to the current plights befalling the crisis stricken country, so don't get too happy about the free hooch.

Fifth Place: ITALY: Marco Mengoni - (L'Essenziale) - Good song, good singer, and betting against Italy being a strong contender is not wise, even when they are bad. For whatever reason, they just tend to do well. And it isn't like there is an Italian diaspora in Europe. And Pittsburgh can't vote either, so Borko just continues to be baffled by their strong showings and is making a strategic choice here.

CONTROVERSY ALERT: It was mentioned earlier that the Turks aren't coming to dinner. And it's all because of Italy. Or what Italy represents. You see, the Eurovision Song Contest has what Borko has repeatedly referred to as Eurovision's version of the UN Security Council. The countries which do not have to compete in the semi-finals but are automatically in the finals are France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany. As original founders and those who pony up most of the money for this extravaganza each year, they have this special privilege they share each year with the year's previous winner. Turkey had offered to contribute substantially to the contest and asked only that in return it be allowed to go directly into the finals as well. Expanding the security council was not in the works, according to the old gray ladies. But just as Turkey was being told to sit in the back of the bus, Italy arrived on the scene asking for to join the security council, avoid semi-finals and sit at the front of the bus. Not only was this granted, but the bus driver comped the ride. Turkey it seems, it just not European enough. Italy, on the other hand, well...Here is a link to the official communique issued by the Turkish Broadcasters Association (sorry folks, it's in Turkish). Turkey diplomatically declined on the grounds that the voting procedures were not transparent nor fair (imagine that, the Turkish government insisting that election procedures be free and fair - I know, I know...the irony!), but most insiders believe the admittance of Italy while Turkey was snubbed while making the very same request, is the real reason.

Now, onto general comments on the performers in the finals in no particular order:

Albania - Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko (Identitet). The music video features half abandoned construction sites. It's a horrible song. Here is a link to a song about Albania that might actually have a shot at winning some day.

Armenia - Gor Sujyan (Lonely Planet) - Good voice, the Black Sabbath association helps.  The rest of the band looks like a death row line-up. (unibrow alert #1)

Austria - Natalia Kelly (Shine) - wait, did this one even make it into the finals?

Azerbaijan - Farid Mammadov (Hold Me) - Good song, good voice. Azerbaijan consistently turns out good singers. In fact, very good singers. As last year's host of the contest, people still have some positive memories of the contest. We just wish they didn't continue to jail young bloggers who write about democracy. We aren't sure if Farid is gay, and frankly we don't care, but knowing the readership of Borko's Murse, there are more than a few who may have a passing interest in knowing this, so we provide you with a photo shoot of Farid for you to make your own determination.

It seems Farid REALLY likes taking his shirt off. (dangerously close to unibrow alert #2).

Belarus - Alyona Lanskaya (Solayah) - Remember when your mom got drunk on too much sangria at the neighborhood barbecue and decided she thought people would want to see her dance the Macarena with all the other neighborhood moms. You were one part happy for them that they thought they were young again and equal parts horrified because they were such awful dancers? Belarus really needs to steer clear of songs with the words "cha-cha" in them. Major marks against jumping out of a disco ball on ABBA's home turf. You can't out-ABBA ABBA, and certainly not in Sweden. Go back to Minsk, now!

Belgium - Roberto Bellarosa (Love Kills) - So does this song. (unibrow alert #3)

Bulgaria - Elitsa and Stoyan (Samo Shambo) -the good news is that you will be spared this song as it did not make it into the finals. Disappointed, aren't you, that you won't get to hear that Bulgarian bagpipe again. I know. Maybe next year.

Croatia - Klapa s Mora (Mizerja) - more good news (I know, I am messing with the depression theme here), but it is good news about bad music you won't have to listen to. Croatia is another group that failed to make it into the finals. And this is a very good thing. Klapa s Mora is a group of men who were selected from across Croatia, men who did not know one another until preparing to perform the song (and it showed) in a form of Croatian ethnic music style called Klapa. Klapa has been recognized by UNESCO as being something we should celebrate. Eurovision and UNESCO - not two words we generally use in the same sentence.

Estonia - Birgit Oigemeel (Et Uus Saaksalgue) - Wednesday Adam's singing about cancer.

Finland - Krista Siegfrids (Marry Me) - The lyrics in this lesbian love anthem include a promise not to hyphenate her last name after she is betrothed. There is not much to say about this song except that it has generate the most exciting and recent of controversies - and this is our second controversy involving Turkey too!

CONTROVERSY ALERT: Finland and Turkey are so far apart. And not just geographically. It appears that Turkey, although no competing (see earlier controversy alert) was nonetheless planning to show the song contest finals on their national television show. That was, at least, until they learned there will be a big ol' lezbo kiss at the end of Finland's performance. Fearing that hastening of the day when all Turkish women could realize their lives might improve without Turkish men, the Turkish thought police have manned the walls of the Hagia Sofia against the infidel invaders and instead have, through publicizing this controversy, likely increased the number of Turks who will now view this smackaroo, but quietly and from their computers. And women from Kars to Constantinople will wonder: "Do I really need Turgat when I can have Aisha instead?"  This isn't the first time a possible lesbian kiss caused a stir at Eurovision, but it is the first time a country which is not even in the contest has generated not one, but TWO, controversy alerts. The Turks are giving the Ukrainians are run for their money in the controversy category.

France - Amandine Bourgeois (L'enfer Et Moi) - Think Sandra Bernhardt in heat.

F.Y.R. Macedonia - Esma & Lorenzo (Pred da se razdeni) - It's a shame this little gem didn't make it into the finals because nothing says winner than Chaz Bono and Aunt Jamima singing a duet in Esperanto.

Georgia - Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani (Waterfall) - She has an adorably cute smile, and he probably smokes little itty-bitty cigarettes. The song might just be a little too "Islands in the Stream" and a tad bit too hopeful for a year in which the Euro-meme is wrist slitting . One wonders how many of the thousands of Georgian people who were involved in violent street riots yesterday, including the Orthodox priests demanding gay youths be, yes, crucified, will tune into this gender bending song contest and fail to see the irony as they delight at cheering on Nodi & Sophie in hopes of bringing hundreds of thousands of gays to Tbilisi next year. We need to get UNESCO on this!

Germany - Cascada (Glorious) - hefty gal belting out a disco tune. No surprises here. Will rank somewhere in the middle.

ASK BORKO: Since Germany's Turkish diaspora is so large and therefore contributes to an almost always substantial point allotment from Germany to Turkey, where will those Turkish votes go this year? My bet is on Azerbaijan. The Turkic votes tend to stick together, and this may help Farid Mammadov have a higher placing.

Hungary - ByeAlex (Kedvesem) - A hipster singing a song in Hungarian language with Tim Burton-esque cartoons spinning in the background. So, if there is any such thing as a Finno-Urgic peoples voting bloc , look for Kedvesem to help place Hungary a bit higher than it might otherwise. All that said, for reasons that escape Borko, this is the one tune he can't quite get out of his head. Kedvesem, for those who don't speak Farengi or Romulan, means "darling".

Iceland - Eypor Ingo Gunnlaugsson (Eg a Lif) - Hyphenate THAT name Finland! Eypor looks like Kid Rock, has a solid voice, but the Viking theme is so 2005.

Ireland - Ryan Dolan (Only Love Survives) - Good discos hit, naked men with tattoos, lots of drums. Testosterone with pixie dust. Expect more riots in Tbilisi if Ryan wins. Bigtime.

Lithuania - Andrius Pojavis (Something) - this is the worst song and the worst singer in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, hands down. I just don't don't know where to begin with how bad it is, and feel sorry for any other country which got cheated out of a finals slot to make room for this punchbowl poop.

Malta - Ginaluca Bezzina (Tomorrow) - Jason Mraz in Capri pants singing a cute little toe-tapper. No chance.

Country Factoid: Borko didn't have a chance to ask the question here whether or not San Marino is even a country as it failed to make the finals, however, a similar inquiry was made with respect to Malta. Not only is Malta a country, it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. And it has nine UNESCO world heritage sites (I just won a bet with someone that I could work a UNESCO reference into this blog posting four times - not hard to do in Europe).

Moldova - Aliona Moon (A Million) - is there any serious person who thinks the city of Chisinau could pull off hosting the Eurovision Song Contest should Aliona win? You need not stress about how that city's 83 hotel rooms might provide shelter for hundreds of thousands of visitors because, my dear Aliona, you will not be bringing the trophy home.

Norway - Margaret Berger (I Feed You my Love) - I'm not that hungry.

Romania - Cezar (It's My Life) - A male soprano in a vampire costume, this guy would get booed off the stage at a high school talent show in Chillicothe, Ohio. Move the talent show to Steubenville and he'd just get the shit kicked out of him. Fly him to Tbilisi and the priests would work him over with rocks in no time. If I were his promoter though, I might try to save his life and just direct him to a dinner theater in Branson, Missouri where he could probably land a gig at the Yakov Smirnoff Comedy and Country Music Show on Thursday nights during the off season. Maybe.

Spain - El Sueno de Morfeo (Contigo Hasta el Final) - Chrissie Hynde channels her inner-Barbara Mandrell and goes country "with you all the way" - that's the English translation of the title. After watching this, you understand why Turkey has a point about the automatic finals qualifiers being unfair.

Sweden - Robin Stjernberg (You) - I watched this video four times before giving up trying to guess the sex of this individual. So I decided then to just look at his/her first name. No help there. Well, this song is expected to do well. The guy/gal has a great voice, but just because you are Scandanavian doesn't mean you have to dress like it, especially not in front of millions of people.

The Netherlands - enough was said earlier about this depressing song about dead birds.

So, there you have it. Probably the most depressing Eurovision ever. Hell, they might as well give it to Russia and host it in Moscow next year. I mean really, could it get any worse?

A final few words about something that could bring a little hope back into sluggish Europe, the one thing that can bring this great continent back from the abyss: Massive, ass-kicking pyrotechnics! Nothing will ever surpass the greatest pyrotechnic phantasmagoric display, Lordi's introduction at the contest in 2007 in Helsinki. A Patriot missile hitting a Kirkuk oil field couldn't bring as much excitement, but I wouldn't mind seeing the US Army try.

When in doubt with a Eurovision performance, light up the stage with flames. Have them shooting from the instruments, make that Malmo fire department as nervous as a whore in church, but light up big. It makes a bad song good and a good song great.

For the best live tweets following Eurovision, tune in to @schennessey on Twitter - she's wicked fun!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Too Capri or Not Too Capri, That is the Question

Borko has noticed a disturbing trend in Europe lately. Men are wearing Capri pants more and more. Nobody is sure exactly where this trend began, but Borko himself can attest to having witnessed them first rearing their ugly shortness at an airport in Kiev, Ukraine in 2009. Often seen on men from former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact nations who are looking to get a head start on their dress code for that vacation in Sharm el-Sheikh. So the Capris are donned for the flight into Egypt (replace Kiev with Moscow and Sharm el-Sheikh with Pattaya and it's pretty much the same thing). The problem is that after returning from their vacations, the men don't seem to want to put their beach clothes away. And slowly, like boiling a frog until he doesn't realize he is half dead, the European Capri pants have been a growing lower-middle class spring and summer fashion statement that says "look at me, I can afford a $380 round trip ticket on Aerosvit to a country where I don't need a visa."

Ah, but what exactly ARE Capri pants. Well, they are not really slutty, so we couldn't exactly consult with Carpetblogger, who has become known as the wikipedia of slutty dressing. So we decided to consult regular Wikipedia. And here is what it tells us:

Capri pants (also known as Capris, Crop pants, long or three-quarters pants, and clam diggers) are mid-calf pants worn in warm weather. Variants end below the knee and calf. Though widely popular with women they are also worn by men in many countries, especially in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Sidebar: Note that Wikipedia doesn't particularly find American men wearing Capri pants. The again, it doesn't find them carrying murse's either (notice a trend on this blog?). So since this blog is about educating Americans about things in Europe that Americans don't understand, what could be appropo than grown men wearing Capri pants when they are not going clam digging.

But back to the definition of Capri pants and speaking of the Carpetblogger...on a recent trip to Warsaw, the Caustic Commentarian of Constantinople was asked to define Capri pants, along with a group of friends visiting from other countries. One friend from Georgia gave pretty much the definition of Wikipedia, that they had to be cut somewhere mid-calf. And while she isn't exactly an expert on men's clothing, she was visiting from the country of Georgia which this blog has already deemed a country where manly men can sometimes be girly girls, so she had some street cred on the issue. But then another posed the question: what about JAMS, those fashions faux pas of the 1980's. Were they not mid-calf sometimes, at least the one's worn by MC Hammer?

JAM's - circa 1983

This is when Carpetblogger added to the definition. Said she: "they have to be sinched at the bottom."

So began a long weekend of pointing and asking: are those Capri pants? No, over here, look at him..are THOSE Capri pants. What if they are partially synched or just tapered. After a third cocktail, it became harder and harder to determine if someone was just wearing floods or really long board shorts. After the fifth cocktail...well, you get the picture. But as you travel about Europe this summer, my American friends, notice how many men are wearing Capri pants. And remember, it doesn't mean they are gay. They are just European.

And since we had camera in hand, a few items to note, of no particular relevance to the Capri pants debate but noteworthy nonetheless:

     Please, dear European friend, understand what the words in English on your shirt really represent

                       And next time you decide to dress like the Polish flag...don't.

Warsaw, Poland - Orthodox Easter