Sunday, February 7, 2016


I was looking up Russian holiday traditions over holiday break when I stumbled upon a holiday I had never heard of before called Maslenitsa. Apparently it’s an extremely old holiday celebrated by many Russians and people of Slavic decent where they celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Like Christmas, Maslenitsa started as a pagan holiday and was later adjusted to be Christian holiday, although the pagan customs still exist. The pagan part celebrated the vernal equinox and the coming of spring, while the Christian part celebrates the last week before lent and focuses enjoying everything that has to be given up during lent, much like in Mardi gras. The celebrations go on for a whole week with different festivities on each day. It is customary to make lots of blini, or pancakes, and to give them to friends and family.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Сегодня в лингафонном кабинете... Русский язык (второй год) (Урок 7 Неделя 1)... Анекдот дня, разговор...

Шутка дня... 
Настоящий мужчина (a real man) - это мужчина, который точно помнит день рождения женщины (what case is this?) и никогда не знает, сколько ей (what case is this?) лет. А мужчина, который никогда не помнит дня рождения женщины, но точно знает, сколько ей лет - это ее настоящий муж (husband).
Поняли? Ха ха! A теперь... Прочитайте... эту интересную статью on knock-knock jokes in Russia...
А теперь... прослушайте разговор 2 и ответьте на вопросы на хендауте! Listen to Conversation 2 and answer the questions on the handout... Вам можно ответить на английском, хотя вопросы на русском... если вам понадобится... ну, да, мда... спрашивайте! Ask, you know, if you don't understand a question or something in the разговор.

Закончили уже? Молодец... а теперь... Прошу к столу! Please go to the tables! Давайте поработаем!

We're going to work on the verbs "learning, teaching." Recall the conjugation pattern for the basic verb учить (to teach) and учиться (to be a student, learn). The verb is really just a garden-variety "говорить style" or second-conjugation verb... The stress shifts (ending for the я form, stem for all the others). Observe that the third singular and third plural are essentially homophones.

Самое сложное... The hardest thing about these verbs is the case of the object. Observe:

Мама меня научила вязанию (плаванию, хореографии).
Mum taught me knitting. 

That's tough, right? The case valence goes "the person in the accusative, the thing being taught in the dative." And for us Anglophones, really unexpected. At odds with the whole "dative is the people's case." Oh, well. Мда... Fortunately one MOSTLY uses verbs in such sentences...
Мама меня научила вязатьMum taught me to knit.
Finally, as an aside, it's standard Russian to speak incorrectly (!)... In Russian, stuff that's learnable by rote memorization often gets mistreated... Correct Russian is:
Я хочу учить английский.

I want to learn English.
Right? Russians say, "I want to teach English" when they actually mean, "I want to learn Russian." Note that in the above example, the object is in the accusative, not in the dative. 

The hypercorrect Russian would be:научиться английскому языку 

Lebedushka – A Russian Dessert

a Russian dessert

Lebedushka is a two layer gelatin dessert, with the first layer consisting of a creamy ricotta mixture, with the top layer being fruit and a flavored gelatin.

2½ tbsp unflavored gelatin
1 cup water
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 (3 oz) packages flavored gelatin (such as strawberry, raspberry, strawberry-kiwi, etc.)
2-3 kiwis
1 pint strawberries (or any other berries)

1. Pour the water into a shallow bowl. Sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over the water. Set aside for about 5 minutes for the gelatin to bloom( you will know what this means when you wee it). Place the bloomed gelatin mixture in the microwave for 1 minute. Do NOT boil. Set aside to cool.

2. Place the ricotta cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract into the blender. Blend just until smooth.

3. When the gelatin mixture has cooled for about 5 minutes, add it to the ricotta mixture and blend to combine.

4. Divide the ricotta mixture among 6 individual cups. Chill in the refrigerator until the mixture sets, 1-4 hours. The longer the mixture to sets, the thicker it will become.

5. When the ricotta mixture has set, prepare the flavored gelatin according to the package instructions. Cool for 10-15 minutes. Peel and slice the kiwi and slice the strawberries. You can use many combinations of fruit and berries for this recipe. Place the kiwi and strawberries on top of the chilled ricotta layer. Pour the prepared flavored gelatin over the fruit and the ricotta layer. Chill until set, 1-4 hours. Garnish with more fruit or whipped cream.


Tetris, or Тетрис, is a Soviet Era Russian video game. It was made by Alexy Pajitnov while he was working at the Academy of Science in Moscow in 1984. The game was the first exported entertainment software to be exported from the USSR to the US.  The game was sold for many arcades and home computers but it was made famous by and made famous from the Nintendo's Gameboy. It went on to become one of the most regarded video games of all time. Electric gaming monthly, a well known game magazine, gave it #1 in their greatest video games of all time. Even now its being ported to the news consoles, the Xbox One and the Playstation 4.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Leaders Number One

At the beginning of this year, a luxury store in Moscow started to sell, “Leaders Number One,” a  Putin inspired perfume. It is supposed to smell like lemon, black currant, and fur cones. It is apparently “warm, well rounded, and not aggressive.” While some say it smells like cheap perfume, it certainly isn’t cheap; It sells for around 7,000 rubles or $95 which is extremely expensive consider a Dior perfume is around $70. Allegedly, the proceeds go to a charity that helps children in need. 

Russian Randoms

While reading about Russia, I came across some rather random and often obscure facts. Some may be fact, some may be fiction, but all are at least somewhat interesting. For this post I've collected 10 of my favorites.

1. McDonald's "local" food for Russia includes McShrimp.

2. Some rich people use ambulances in order to get around traffic.

3. Though we are often critiqued for our own low voter turnout, how does that compare to Russia's turnout of 146% in one district?

4. Beer was considered non-alcoholic until 2011.

5. 25% of Russian men die before 55. 1.5 liters of vodka weekly may have some effect on that.

6. Whistling indoors is not good per Russian superstition.

7. Russia's land mass is so large it covers 9 time zones.

8. Russia and the US are actually less than 3 miles apart (at the closest point).

9. Metro 2 is a supposed secret metro line running below the main line and used to connect underground bunkers.

10. Russian citizens can identify as any ethnicity...including Hobbit.

Russia. A one-of-a-kind place.

Child 44
This book by Tom Rob Smith is the first in a trilogy that revolves around the Soviet Union. This particular novel focuses on the investigation of a child serial killer with an excess of fifty confirmed victims. It touches on several famous “stalin-isms,” such as the infamous statement “there is no crime in paradise.” Murder, especially of a repetitive nature, was considered to be a capitalist crime, a consequence of competition and dogma. The book is highly interesting in that it follows the investigation from start to finish, unpacking the deeper issues surrounding the investigation. What would it mean to claim you’re investigating a murder in a state where even to talk of such crimes as a possibility was itself a crime?
So often, truth is stranger than fiction. This is no different. The book is loosely based off of the true events surrounding Andrei Chikatilo. This was not just a murderer, but a serial murderer who raped and often cannibalized his victims. His story is quite dark, and there’s no reason to darken counsel with it here. Just know that in this region in such a pivotal time period, there was indeed atrocious crimes being committed that shook the system to its core. Chikatilo was executed in 1994.
This ties into our region in the discussion of power. Power, when abused, can become ugly, as in the case of such horrendous crimes. Power can also be blinding. It was power that shut down early investigations of this terror, early investigations that could by all means have saved many. It was power wanted to hide the most powerful thing, truth. Because the truth has the propensity to invariably cripple all illegitimate power sources around it. This is also a discussion of culture. Such wrongs, wrongs that can be so universally agreed upon, change a place. This wrongs that dwelt in darkness were brought to the light, and they changed the environment. Lastly, this relates to empire. This murders took place all around the soviet union, and Chikatilo himself was originally from Ukraine. No ladies and gentlemen, the Soviet Union is NOT Russia.
To study is to embrace all aspects, and no nation is perfect. Take this time to learn from this example; embrace truth, for it’s the truth that sets you free.

[Unit 6] пастила recipe

2 lb (1 kg) sour apples
2 tbsp sugar or honey
2 tbsp water

Wash and peel apples, remove seeds, and cut every apple into 8 pieces.
Place the apples into an oven-safe sauce-pan with a thick bottom.
Sprinkle apples with the sugar, and pour 2 tbsp water on a top.
Place the sauce-pan on a medium heating, and boil apples for about 20 minutes.
Blend boiled apples until an even consistency, return to the sauce-pan, and boil with a very low heating until the consistency turns thick.
Cover a baking sheet with a parchment paper, and put boiled apples on paper.
Flatten to make an even layer.
Set an oven temperature to 210 F (100 C), and place the baking sheet into the oven.
Dry a pastila slightly opening the oven's door.
To check if pastila is ready, cut a corner .
If the knife does not stick, turn the heating off, and leave baking sheet in oven until a cooling.
Remove the paper, cut pastila into pieces, and keep in a dry cool place.
In my research, I came across a man named Alexey Navalny. Right now he is living and working in Russia as an investigator into just some of the corruption that is happening under President Putin. His most recent work is a short film/ article that details the connection of the general prosecutor, Yuri Chaika and Russia's most notorious family associated the organized crime.

Attached is an article that details what exactly he found and the Russian governments reaction to the allegations.

Vasilisa the Beautiful

Image result for vasilisa the beautiful

Vasilisa the Beautiful is a famous Russian fairy tale that tells the story of a merchant’s daughter whose mother died when she was 8 years old and her mother, on her deathbed, gave Vasilisa a small wooden doll with the instructions to give food and drink to the doll if she ever found herself in need of help. Eventually, Vasilisa’s father remarried and her new stepmother was rather cruel to her. With the help of the doll, she’s able to outsmart the difficult and dangerous tasks her stepmother orders her to complete. One of these tasks was to take some fire from a fearsome deity known as Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga had threatened to eat her if she failed to perform a series of tasks that Baba Yaga thought was impossible to complete all of them in a day. Vasilisa tried her hardest, but was certain it was hopeless, but the doll her mother had given her told her to let it complete the chores. Eventually, all the chores are completed, and Vasilisa is given a skull full of hot coals. Upon seeing the coals, her evil stepmother and stepsisters all turned to ash, and Vasilisa buried the skull within the woods so it would never hurt anyone ever again. Eventually she moved to Russia’s capital and became a well-respected tailor. Her craft was so great, that even the Tsar sought her out, and eventually married her.
The utlimate moral of the story is the belief hat one's parents will always look out over their children and watch them, always trying to help them wth whatever troubles they may come across.