A Karine Joke

The WH press secretary is making one embarrassing mistake after another. Recently, she referred to Russia as “the People’s Republic of Russia.”

Or who knows, maybe she meant China.

Or maybe she’s suggesting that the two countries have blended into one.

There’s also a possibility she was talking about New Zealand. Or split pea soup. It’s all equally likely.

I don’t like Karen jokes but here one is begging to be made.


The inventor of the Russian COVID vaccine Sputnik (meaning, “companion”) has been strangled by his… erm, companion whom he picked up where such gentlemen normally sell their companionable services.

As you can imagine, jokes about vaccine injury have never been as popular. Some people suspect shady business but I think that a virologist is just as likely to be strangled by a male escort as anybody else.

Book Notes: Santiago Roncagliolo’s Short Stories (Lejos)

Santiago Roncagliolo is my favorite young Peruvian writer. I mean, young, he’s my age but for a writer that’s still quite young. Lejos is a collection of his short stories, and I loved it more than anything by him I ever read.

The collection is supposed to be about people who travel, emigrate or move away, hence the title which means “far”. But there’s a much stronger theme that binds almost all of the stories in the collection – Peruvian manhood. The characters in these stories try to maneuver between a wild, out-of-control existence among men that is likely to kill them and an orderly, controlled life with women that often castrates them. Men and women in Roncagliolo’s stories are engaged in a mortal battle. They are truly from different planets, and the only way for them to stop destroying each other is to come together over the love for a child they create together.

The only story in the collection that is protagonized by a woman reads like a literary rendition on my recent post about female maturation. In this story, we see how a girl whose mother tramples all over her attempt to grow becomes a failed woman in adulthood. There’s even a wolf in the story. It’s uncanny.

Lejos is extremely funny. I scared half the airplane, gasping for air as I read the book. A flight attendant thought I was having a panic attack and that’s what was causing the wheezing noises I was making. I want to give a couple of quotes to share the joy:

The woman was around 60 years old, and it was clear she didn’t care what she looked like. Her husband was leafing through a book with a look of complete indifference. Gerardo tried to imagine this man experiencing some sort of erotic feeling but failed. He realized that the wife could let herself go all she wanted because it makes no sense to decorate an abode nobody will ever enter.

“Man in Water”

“Chino, what are you doing?”
“The police signaled that I should stop. So I stopped.”
“Chino, concentrate. We are driving with a bag of marijuana, 20 grams of cocaine, a bunch of pills of all kinds, 3 guns, and a dead body. Do me the favor and just step on the gas.”

“Internal Affairs”

Peruvian poets always kill themselves. Luis Hernández threw himself in front of a train. Vallejo was a living corpse. Moro went to work at a military school while gay.

“Pinned Butterflies”

More Language Observations

It’s extremely enjoyable that everybody here in Spain speaks Spanish. I can go anywhere, start speaking, and everybody understands! It’s paradise.

However, I feel exactly the same love for English. If I lived here, I’d miss it like crazy. Yesterday I shared an elevator ride with an American tourist, and it felt like being reunited with a long-lost relative.

I never felt like this about Russian. I have no fantasies of going to a place, and all of a sudden everybody speaks Russian. Since the war, it became a nightmare scenario but even before I never felt any need to seek out Russian speakers.