Tag Archives: USA

Why “Sex and the city 2” is a must-see for the Russian audience

A statistically average Russian girl is raised with a tremendous amount of “you must” over her shoulders. First, she MUST study well at school. As soon as she reaches the age of 20 (in some regions even earlier) she MUST get herself a fiance and she MUST marry him within a year or two. The next thing she must do is have kids, be a good mother and an excellent wife who is pleasing her husband with a delicious dinner every single evening.  Having a career is not forbidden at all but only if it does not conflict with all of the above.

One might think that Russian women are poor miserable slaves who are exploited all their lives. Well, not exactly. The thing is we take it for granted. And very few of us honestly think that it’s OK not to feed their husband when he comes home from work.

And here is what I find deliciously striking in “Sex and the city 2”. The main characters, Carrie and Big, are finally married. No kids. Carrie is around 40 and Big is considerably over 40.  When a friend asks them if they plan to have kids, they reply something like: “No, we don’t. Maybe some day”. Another thing is that Carrie is a freelance writer which means she doesn’t have to work 9 to 5 in a dusty office and is supposed to have enough time to do things around the house. But still, when Big comes home from work, he brings along a take-out bag from a nearby restaurant. Because he’s hungry. And because Carrie doesn’t cook. At all. But they are still in love and they are still together.

I think all Russian guys and gals must see this movie despite the fact that it’s far from being a masterpiece or a future cinematographic legend. It teaches that YOU are the only master of your life and whatever you consider right will be right for you and your family. Delete stereotypes. Stop listening to your mother (at least at some point of your life :)). And enjoy the fruits of your new ideology.

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Eat America!

Now here’s a question: where is the line between being funny and being offensive? This is a billboard in Moscow advertising a local sushi restaurant. The heading says “Eat America!” and the idea is that Alaska rolls are available for as low as 99 RUR (~$ 3.4) per portion. Maybe I’m overreacting but I probably wouldn’t be happy about some “Eat Russia!” billboard somewhere in NYC. What do you think? Rude or funny?

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Yahoo! I’ve seen Oahu!

And here’s me again after quite a long break. First off, Happy New Year you guys and gals! Hope 2010 will be happy, fruitful and eventful.

As for myself, 2009 was a lot of fun. Both in terms of traveling and “normal” life as well.

The highlight of 2009 was definitely my trip to Hawaii (the island of Oahu).  The Russian mentality has always pictured Hawaii as something extremely exotic, with tropical plants, waterfalls and palm trees. There’s even a Russian song called “Oh, Hawaii!” that has a line that goes: “Coconuts grow there”. Well, they don’t and now I know it (at least I failed to find any on Oahu). 🙂 Pineapples do though. 🙂

Pineapples at the world famous Dole Plantation.

A quick couple of Hawaiian facts. Of course “Oahu” says nothing to most people, so here’s a list of all 8 Hawaiian islands and the number of reasons why I picked the one that rhymes with “Shmoahu”. 🙂

  • Kauai
  • Niihau
  • Oahu
  • Molokai
  • Maui
  • Lanai
  • Kahoolawe
  • Hawaii (a.k.a. the Big Island)

The capital of Hawaii is Honolulu and it is located on Oahu. So, basically all major U.S. cities have direct flights there. And I didn’t feel like making any more connections after flying from Moscow to New York and then to Minneapolis. 🙂 Second, Oahu has many other attractions apart from beaches, such as: Pearl Harbor, Polynesian Cultural Center, Waikiki downtown area that includes International Marketplace, bars and restaurants, shopping plazas filled with local stuff and world known brands, etc. But perhaps the key reason why I picked Oahu was the fact that the topline TV show “LOST” is being filmed there. 🙂

Right after I found out that Oahu is cooler than Hollywood, I started searching  for ways to get to see all “Lost” film locations. It turned out that the best way to see them is through the “Hummer guys” (as they were called by Jorge Garcia starring as Hugo “Hurley” Reyes in “Lost”). Here’s their website and a free whole-hearted promotion for the Hummer guys 🙂 http://www.hummertourshawaii.com It was a real blast riding in the jungle and seeing all the movie locations in the middle of a beautiful privately owned Kualoa Ranch. Apart from “Lost” spots, you get to see places where many other movies were filmed, such as “Jurassic Park”, “Mighty Joe Young”, “Pearl Harbor”, “50 First Dates”, “You, Me and Dupree”, “Godzilla”, etc. Well, enough of that, here’s a couple of pics that say more. 🙂

The guide shows the place where one of "Lost" episodes was filmed.

Godzilla was here. 🙂

"Jurassic Park" movie location.

Time for a couple of complaints about my trip. 🙂 As I said before, most Russians (including myself) portray Hawaii as an exotic place with white-sand secluded beaches and tropics. Well, I admit that I have fallen a victim of this stereotype but I found very few places like that there. First, Oahu is the most populated Hawaiian island, so don’t expect to find a quiet cozy spot – there are crowds everywhere. Second, Honolulu is the capital, which means a severe urban touch on the whole island. Moreover, it is the 2nd most expensive city in U.S., next to Anchorage, Alaska. The most famous district on Oahu, Waikiki, is often called “the tourists’ trap” for its numerous expensive stores and restaurants. But you can still catch a cool sunset there though. 🙂 Well, I guess these are about all my “complaints and grievances”. 🙂

What I liked most about Oahu is the fact that you can find all types of entertainment there. It’s not just a boring resort where you get sick of swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing 3 days after you get there. You can amuse yourself with tons of attractions, from “swim-with-sharks adventure” to exploring history at Pearl Harbor. Oh, and don’t forget that Hawaii is the surfer’s paradise, so, if you’re not a surfer already, make sure you take at least one surfing lesson. They are offered in abundance on Waikiki beach and elsewhere. 

Here’s a cool website that helped me pick most attractions beforehand: http://www.hawaiiactive.com You don’t have to book them from home and don’t buy the usual “Hurry! Limited offer!!!” crap either. 🙂 Most Oahu hotels have a desk with loads of information and a tour guide who can help you book your adventure as late as 1 day prior to the tour. But it’s still better if you at least make a draft of your program in advance. Here’s another source of info for ya. 🙂 http://www.gohawaii.com

And I’d like to wind up with a short Hawaiian video of mine. It shows just a few things that I did on Oahu but I’m sure you can do much better and much more than that! 🙂 Happy traveling and ALOHA! 

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Down and out in Santa Barbara.

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Back in the early 90s Russia got smashed by the wave of imported soap operas. Most of them came from Brazil and Mexico and were exceptionally dumb and similar to each other. However, the then Russians (still Soviets in their souls and backgrounds) had never seen anything like that and were deeply touched by the fate of every Juan Carlos and Jose Ignasio. But there was one soap opera that was definitely standing out. It was American. It was “Santa Barbara”.

I remember when in my highschool days every kid in the class had a second “Santa Barbara” name. Every other cat in Russia was called Mason after one of the sexiest and “catlike” SB characters (first from the right on the upper picture). There was even a popular joke:

A Russian woman is emigrating to the U.S. – Where in the U.S.?, her friend asks. – Santa Barbara of course. – Why Santa Barbara? – Because I know everybody there.

Many years after the mass craze I had a chance to visit Santa Barbara. The first surprise was the pouring rain. Running away from it, I jumped into a tour bus. “You’re the luckiest tourists here”, the guide said. “You managed to catch one of those few rainy days of the year”. I didn’t feel that lucky however, since I was looking forward to some foot walking. So, we drove about the city, listened to the guide’s stories and admired the beautiful European architecture (Santa Barbara was founded by Spanish missionaries). “So where was the Soap Opera filmed?”, I finally asked. “I get that question all the time. But I hate to tell you that not a single episode of “Santa Barbara” was filmed in Santa Barbara”, the guide said. It was like telling me that my mom and dad were not actually my biological parents. I was knocked down. The city where I knew everyone suddenly became just a wet unfriendly spot with the average realty price of $ 1 mln. The fairy tale was over. One poor consolation was  the road sign that said “Castillo Street” (one of the main characters was Cruz Castillo).

Of course I’m proud to be one of those rare Russian “SB” fans who has visited the city of their dreams. But here’s my advice to all of you “Mission to Mars” fans out there: don’t be in a hurry to visit Mars. Sometimes it’s better not to fulfill your childhood fantasies unless you are ready to face the adult reality.

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