Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
I thought this was funny! It's a traffic light in St. Petersburg.. watch closely most of the cars just keep going! I was reading an article on another blog and there are some really random traffic laws in Russia. For example, it's illegal for police to tow a man's car in the presence of that man.. does that make much sense???
Saturday, December 8, 2007
When you see a stereotypical terrorist or criminal, as depicted in movies, you almost always see them with AK-47s. Short for: "Автомат Калашникова образца 1947 года," this rifle has become the iconic weapon of rebels and guerrillas after World War 2. It is so widespread that the AK design was spread to over 55 national armies, and 100 million of the rifles have been produced so far.
The creator, Mikhail Kalashnikov, according to a BBC News article has expressed regrets over creating it:
"Mr Kalashnikov recently said he wished he had invented the lawn-mower instead.
He claims he has made no money from his rifle and is said to live on a meagre pension."
In 2006, Colombian musician and peace activist Cesar Lopez devised an AK converted into a guitar. One sold for US$17,000 in a fundraiser held to benefit the victims of anti-personnel, while another was exhibited at the United Nations.
I actually saw the one that you see above, which was set up in the UN building when I toured it last year.
-Islam is the second biggest religion in Russia
-Most Islams are from Middle Volga and the Caucasus.
-they make up 15- 30% of the Russian population but is is hard to be completely accurate because there is no census in Russia
-it is projected that in the year 2050 half of Russia's population will be Islamic because of the immigration of Islamics from the Caucasus and central Asia.
hope you learned something today :-D
The Russian government has taken similar measures before, albeit with things that are public. For example, Russia prohibited a Gay Pride parade because some might be offended by the existence of gay people. They did the same for a group of racists from having their own march. When a small group of gay people got together to march anyway, they were savagely beaten by ultra-nationalists and then arrested.
The problem is the fact that everyone doesn't have to see Borat. Movies like The Da Vinci Code were allowed to play without controversy. But after the Danish Muhammad cartoon controversy, the Russian government became much more restrictive to things which could offend people's religious ideas. For the first time since the Soviets, a non-pornographic film was banned. This demonstrated the government's power to intervene in private affairs and it willingness to shut down people's freedom of expression of it conflicts with its interests. The interesting thing is that little uproar resulted from this ban, so the Russian government might be emboldened in any other assaults on private matters in the future.
The predominant evidence used by anthropologists to come to this conclusion is linguistic evidence - which, to those studying Indo-European languages (Russian is one), may seem obvious. The interconnectedness in vocabulary, grammar; shared verbs and idioms; each language family in Europe very obviously come from a strong, single parent language, with families and dialects differentiated in various ways (Grimm's Law for the Germanic languages and iotated vowels in Slavic languages, for example.)
Native religion is the other source of information about these proto-Indo-Europeans. Looking at the most famous forms of religion brought by Indo-Europeans into both Europe and India, the connections are startling, interesting and very strong. As is obvious, all fragmented Indo-European cultures practiced some form of polytheistic paganism, with many similar rituals and celebrations. The Greeks (and by extension the Romans), the Germanic peoples, Hinduism, and the ancient Slavic religion; all are descended from the same single cultural practice. While looking at some information about ancient Slavic paganism the connections became even more profound.
Unfortunately, for the information-hungry scholar, records of Slavic paganism are rare; there is no evidence of any kind of written language amongst the Slavic tribes before the introduction of Cyrillic and the conversion of much of eastern Europe to Christianity. As a result, one has to rely on the few mentions of ancient religion in modern customs, and in the historic documents of other nearby cultures (which are prone to bias; the Slavs were the last of the major inhabitants of Europe to convert - even the famously heathenistic Germans and Scandinavians wrote about how the Slavs were bloodthirsty pagans.) As a result the record is scant, but there are a few established facts.
Two of the key gods of the ancient Slavs were Perun, the sky god and Veles, the earth god. Perun is generally perceived to have been the supreme god of the Slavic pantheon; he is the most widely mentioned in the few sources that exist. Perun was the ruler of the sky and the god of lightning and storms; unlike many other religions, it is believed that the Slavs attributed many, many aspects of the world and their faith to each individual god (Veles is a better example; more on him later). Parallels can easily be drawn between Perun and various other Indo-European 'sky' or 'storm' deities; Perun's domain is shared by the Greek god Zeus (who also held a supreme position over the Greek pantheon); Perun can also be compared to the German Donar/Norse Thor, in that both are upright, valorous and mighty and control lightning, thunder and storms. The Hindu god Indra likely derived from the same proto-Indo-European belief as well; Indra controls the domains of weather. Perun's association with war also works out here; he was the patron of weapons and fighting, which works out with Thor's association with valor, strength and combat, and Indra's domain over warfare. Much of Slavic mythology appeared to revolve around the conflict between Perun and Veles. Unlike some of the other deities in Indo-European myth, Perun was treated rather mercifully by the Christians; his characteristics as the powerful lord of war and storms were absorbed by saints and other Christian figures after the Christianization of Russia.
Veles was one of the most broadly worshiped Slavic gods - he was associated with earth, the underworld and afterlife; the harvest, livestock, cows, dragons, poetry, magic and music. His portfolio seems to match that of the Germanic Odin, who also held domain over poetry, magic, music. Veles's worship was held sacred and separated from the worship of Perun and other similar deities; he was held as special for his strong association with the working people, the peasants, laborers and traders; and for his special domain over common life, as opposed to rulership of the heavens much associated with Perun. While the conflict between Veles and Perun, and its place alongside many traditions in Indo-European religion is too complex to recount completely (it's very interesting however; the battle between the sky god and snake is recurrent in many old pagan faiths), linguists and anthropologists believe that oral legends of the old Slavic religion often involved epic poetry about the battles of Perun and Veles. Like the Vedas of ancient Hinduism and the Eddas of the Norse pantheon, these poems celebrated bravery and the glory of battle.
There are other interesting bits about the old Slavic religion. Their cosmology is believed to bear a striking resemblance to the 'world tree' phenomenon present in other Indo-European faiths (a sacred oak is believed to have been the tree here; another reason that Veles was associated with oak trees, as he was located at the base of the world tree). Chernobog was believed to be a cursed or evil deity; however his occurrence seems unique only to western Slavs, and as a result he was likely not an old or important god. A number of deities or creatures originating from old folktales morphed into fairy tale characters, such as the old witch Baba Yaga. The topic is incredibly interesting to delve into, and if you're a dork like me you'll find all the interconnectedness of so many different cultures to be really intriguing.
Friday, December 7, 2007
The modern балалайка comes in six sizes - piccolo, prima, secunda, alto, bass, and contrabass.
The origins of this instrument are not precisely known, but the early representations resemble Central Asian instruments. The frets were tied to the neck and could be moved around the neck.
Fun Fact: The Beatles mention the балалайка on their White Album in the song "Back in the USSR".
Take me to your daddy’s farm
Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out
Come and keep your comrade warm.
I’m back in the USSR.
баян - a chromatic button accordion
This instrument was developed in the early 20th century and was named after the bard, Boyan.
The differences in construction from western accordions give the баян a different tone color; the bass has a much fuller sound.
Владимирский Рожок - a wooden horn with less than a two octave range and a very distinct sound
The repertoire for the folk music played on this instrument is divided into signal, song, dancing, and dance. A lot of folk music is played on this instrument because of the wide variety of shepherd's signals played on it.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
- Officially they consider themselves Christian, but their religion is really a mix of Christian, Muslim, spiritualist, and pagan beliefs.
- Khevsur belief gives certain animals special significance. The cat is considered an unclean animal. If someone is convicted of thievery, a dead cat is hung outside his door as a sign of shame.
- The cult of the dead is especially important in Khevsur culture. A person on the verge of death is brought outdoors, in an effort to prevent the house from being rendered unclean. Hardly a health tonic, I should think... In fact, those who come in contact with the dead body in order to prepare it for burial must remain secluded afterwards, and undergo a series of purification rituals.
- A Khevsur horse always must be present for a burial. Afterwards, a horse race is conducted in honor of the deceased.
- The soul is regarded as pure, and in order to reach the land of the dead it has to cross a bridge made of a single hair. Virtuous souls get to stay in a many-storied white building. Baddies reside in hell, which is thought to be a four-cornered dark room. They must know about the Stetson dorms.
- A premarital relation exist among young people called the sts'orproba, but don't get the wrong idea - any woman found to be pregnant out of wedlock becomes the object of such scorn that she often resorts to suicide.
- When it comes time for a pregnant woman to give birth, she must remove herself from the village and camp out by herself in an isolated childbirth hut. It used to be the case that after giving birth she would be confined to the hut for a month or more, only coming out after thorough purification rites. Afterwards the hut would be burned down. Very concerned with cleanliness, these people.
- Women wear a headpiece called the mandili, which has a special significance. If she throws her headpiece between two quarreling men, they must immediately stop fighting. If a man takes the mandili from a woman's head, he is accusing her of indecency.
- At the age of 8 to 10, Khevsur children are already entrusted with adult tasks. In the past, young boys were instructed primarily in fencing, weaponry, and rhetoric.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Here's another strange Russian commerical. It's an ad for "New Myth", a washing detergent. The character (Lacy says its a sink) snorts the detergent off his arm and says "cool freshness." After he falls down he says "I didn't expect that to happen." The words at the bottom read: "Use according to instructions."
Monday, December 3, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
The Soviet Union hosted the Summer Olympics in Moscow in 1980, but this will be the first time the Winter Games will be held in Russia. In a speech made by Vladimir Putin at the 119th International Olympic Committee Session, he made many promises regarding how security, the press, the athletes, and other details will be handled. Amongst other things he said 70% of the athletes will be within five minutes walking distance of the arenas, everything will be enjoyable and memorable, and the greatest promise of all: no traffic jams. Of course, this all comes with a hefty price of $12 billion dollars (so far), but that doesn’t seem to bother people much. Putin also said he has planned many special privileges for the athletes and the guests who come to Russia...we just don't know what they all are yet...
Sochi Olympic Emblem:
So, here is the video of Putin giving his speech. It should be noted that this is in English, and apparently this is the first time he has spoken English publicly. Now, I read that he speaks German like a native because apparently while he was growing up the Putin family spoke German at home. But really, just listen to the way he speaks. He has a very strange accent. It’s not what you’d expect to hear from a Russian speaking English. It’s nothing like Sergei and Ivan =( . Rather, it’s more like 3 accents mashed into one or something. Anyway, it’s a little over six minutes long and at the very end, Putin decides to spice it up saying a few words in French: “The Olympic dream of millions of Russians awaits your decision with high hopes.”
(Oh, and my brother wanted me to mention that the piece playing during Putin's entrance is Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto. He says if you want to hear a really good version listen to Van Cliburn who won the first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow in 1958, which was judged by Svaitoslav Richter and Emil Gilels; two legendary Russian pianists amongst other famous Russian musicians)
Saturday, December 1, 2007
PRESTIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN'S ELECTION ADDRESS:
"My friends! Of course the work was difficult and not without mistakes and failures, and the authorities still owe much to their citizens. Surely we all want life to improve faster. But we remember where we started eight years ago, from what hole we pulled the country. There is still much to be done to make Russia genuinely modern and prosperous. But if we truly want to live with dignity, then we can never again allow into power those who once tried unsuccessfully to steer the country, those who today want to reverse and talk away the plans for Russia's development, to change the course supported by our people, to return to a time of humiliation, dependency and disintegration."
Putin’s Last Realm to Conquer: Russian CultureBy MICHAEL KIMMELMAN
Putin’s Last Realm to Conquer: Russian Culture - New York Times: "MOSCOW — The fight is long over here for authority over the security services, the oil business, mass media and pretty much all the levers of government. Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, notwithstanding some recent anti-government protests, has won those wars, hands down, and promises to consolidate its position in parliamentary elections. But now there is concern that the Kremlin is setting its sights on Russian culture."
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I have very mixed feelings about this: On the one hand, I'm honored and delighted to have been asked to give a speech at such an important, public event. "Ivan Il'ich" (as anyone who's taken my lit classes knows) is my favorite work of literature (well, along with Walden).
On the other hand, I'm going to have to figure what the heck I am going to say to a lay audience about a book, the theme of which is (roughly speaking): "You are going to die. A painful, humiliating, terrifying death. Probably a really painful one, too. And, at the moment of death, you will realize that everything you believed was good and pleasant and important were, in fact, the least good, least pleasant, and least important things in the world. Oh, and, there's no redemption. Sorry about that." I mean, this is the book the Heidegger read and said: "If you want to know about the hopelessness of life and the true meaning of death, read this book!"
Not exactly an Oprah Winfrey selection.
Anyway, one way to help me focus on the book, and to communicate with the participants in the Big Read in Illinois, is (you guessed it!) -- a blog! Check it out...
Monday, November 19, 2007
Koval was born in Iowa, but immigrated to Birobidzhan during the Great Depression. He studied at the Mendeleev Institute of Technology, and was later recruited by the G.R.U., and later sent to the United States to spy from 1940-1948. Koval rose through the ranks in the United States, and was assigned to some of the most top-secret projects. The Kremlin's announcement on November 2 stated that Koval's work ''helped speed up considerably the time it took for the Soviet Union to develop an atomic bomb of its own.'' Historians have suggested that Putin made the announcement of Koval's award to reinvigorate Russian pride.
It's wedding season in Moscow, and young couples parade on Red Square to be photographed and showered with rose petals. Our FRONTLINE/World reporter, Russian-born American filmmaker Victoria Gamburg, congratulates them as she walks by but concedes, "It's not all romance and rose petals for women in Russia today."
Gamburg has been invited to Moscow to visit the set of a hot new television series, Balzac Age, modeled on America's Sex and the City. The show follows the lives of four women in their 30s. The first scene we see features the 35-year-old character, Sonya, who is frustrated at having no children, no husband and no job. Her friends cheer her up by hiring Chippendale-like marginally dressed hunks to clean and cook. It's a comedy show, but Gamburg explains that its success comes from poking fun at the real conflicts faced by Russian women today.
The shows stylist explains the paradox of women's expectations. "On the one hand, the husband wants dinner to be ready when he comes home. But on the other hand, he is not at all against having his wife work and not ask him for money."
The behind-the-scenes stories of the actresses illustrate that conflict between being a successful modern career woman on the one hand and a wife and mother in the traditional sense on the other. Before shooting a bedroom scene, the actress sits in the bed talking to her real-life son. The production is put on hold while she tells her nanny not to feed her 6-year-old son kielbasa before bedtime.
Next we follow the actress who plays Julia, a character who lives with her mom and drives a gypsy cab, but offscreen is a single mother of two. "The show was the beginning of the end of my marriage," she tells Gamburg. We learn that her marriage fell apart because her success made the partnership unequal.
Gamburg introduces us to a real-life Muscovite who also faces the dilemma that "success" often brings for modern women. Zhenya Timonova is a senior advertising copywriter in an international ad agency. Her boyfriend, Victor, stays at home and drinks. He takes Gamburg on a stroll through a Soviet-era park, where he stops and admires his favorite monument, a gold statue depicting women as mothers and workers.
Later, back in their apartment, Timonova explains that after World War II there was a decline in the male population. According to Zhenya, men had the luxury of saying, "Just be grateful that I exist," and women became a shoulder to lean on. Zhenya accuses men of being infantile as a result. Victor thinks that it has resulted in Timonova and other businesswomen valuing career over family.
This disconnect between men and women is a theme played out in the show, for example, in a scene in which the character Alla, now a high-powered attorney, runs into her old high school sweetheart, who is now a handyman.
Gamburg learns that characters like Alla are role models to Russian women like Vera, a 49-year-old retired teacher whom she meets in Gorky Park. Vera has just moved to Moscow and sells kabobs six days a week. Her glamorous makeup and well-coiffed blond hair make her look more like a star of the show than a vendor. However, her life is a far cry from the glamorous world of the Balzac women, as we see when Gamburg visits the two-room apartment that Vera shares with her daughter, sister and brother-in-law. But Vera's second occupation, selling products that enhance women's orgasms, could be scripted from the show. Vera's frank discussion with clients about how to make sex more satisfying would never have happened in the Soviet era, according to Gamburg.
Gamburg speculates that the show may, in fact, reflect a women's movement in Russia. One of the actresses sums up the new feminism with a story about grandmothers today. Before, grandmothers always helped our mothers care for the children. Today, they prefer to work as paid nannies for others. "Isn't that the beginning of feminism?" she asks Gamburg. "No, it's capitalism," Gamburg says with a laugh.
Whatever it is, women have more choices than ever before. Zhenya, the PR executive, decides to leave her alcoholic boyfriend for a new job in Kiev. Unlike the characters in Balzac's Age, she believes she will be happier on her own.
But many women, like the kabob maker, Vera, take their cues from the show. "I know many Russian women have an enormous potential inside themselves," she tells Gamburg. "Even in the show, there's a scene about how to become a successful woman." According to Vera, before the show, women were never taught these things. "It will be women who will change Russia," she tells Gamburg proudly. "Everything depends on women."
To watch the documentary visit: http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/russia602/video_index.html
I think that this new women's movement in Russia is great. Women are finally realizing they don't need to have a husband and they can have their own goals and aspirations to live up to. I find it entertaining that this movement correlates with a popular t.v show in America, that was at one time extremely controversial. I found it astonishing that several of the husband simply could not deal with the success that their wives were having and rather than celebrating the success they up and left. However I do realize that this will happen because women having a significant role in Russia is new and the acceptance of this will come with time.
Sasha Spesivtsev was raised in an abusive home where his father tortured the entire family. Sasha was institutionalized after he murdered his girlfriend. Later, he shared an apartment with his mother. One day a plumber, responding to a neighbors call, forced his way into Sasha's home after a pipe breakage and found the apartment covered in blood and with, lets say, surprises throughout. Authorities found Sasha's diary detailing the killing of 19 girls, for which he was sentenced to death.
Andrei Chikatilo, known as the Red Ripper, also lived in a traumatic household. He would often wet the bed, for which his mother would beat and humiliate him. He would approach runaways and vagrants and bring them into the forest, where he would commit his crimes. He was arrested at a train station, but released when he produced a false negative from blood tests. He would go on to kill a total of 52 women and children before being arrested and confessing. He too, was executed.
Alexander Pichushkin, known as the Chessboard Killer, was thought to be in competition with Andrei, which some speculate was the motivation for his actions. He said that he wanted to kill 64 people, equal to the number of squares on a chessboard. When captured though, he claimed that he wouldn't have stopped at 64, he would have continued killing until he was stopped. He was arrested in 2006 and charged with 48 counts of murder, but he told a Russian court to add another 11 counts to that. It took the judge an entire hour to read his sentence, life in prison with the first 15 years to be spent in solitary confinement.
Finally, there's the one female in the group, though she is no less sick than the rest. Darya's crimes occurred long before the others, in the 1700s. Darya inherited her late husband's estate at age 26, which allowed her to do as she pleased to the serfs working there. Darya was well connected in the royal court, so any complaints of the deaths and torture of serfs taking place at her estate were often ignored or even punished. Eventually, relatives fo those killed started a petition and the empress arrested Darya. Darya was held for 6 years while an investigation took place, after which she was found guilty of having tortured and killed 138 female serfs. The death penalty was outlawed at that time, so she had to settle for life locked in the basement of a convent.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The origin of Russian roulette is depicted in several legends, most concerning Russian soldiers or prisoners of war. However, there is no real evidence, and some say that it may have been a literary creation.
The first account of Russian roulette is in "Russian Roulette," a short story from 1937 by Georges Surdez. The following is a passage from that story:
"'Feldheim . . . did you ever hear of Russian Roulette?' When I said I had not, he told me all about it. When he was with the Russian army in Rumania, around 1917, and things were cracking up, so that their officers felt that they were not only losing prestige, money, family, and country, but were being also dishonored before their colleagues of the Allied armies, some officer would suddenly pull out his revolver, anywhere, at the table, in a cafe, at a gathering of friends, remove a cartridge from the cylinder, spin the cylinder, snap it back in place, put it to his head, and pull the trigger. There were five chances to one that the hammer would set off a live cartridge and blow his brains all over the place. Sometimes it happened, sometimes not."
The interesting part about this story is that Russian roulette is depicted as less of a game, and instead as merely suicide with an element of chance thrown in.
According to one article, "The closest thing to Russian roulette, that we know did happen on occasion, was a game called ‘’cuckoo’’. One Russian officer would stand on a table or chair in a dark room. Other officers would hide around the room and call out, ‘’cuckoo’’. The officer with the gun would fire randomly at the sound." Another carefree game to play with your friends, but no Russian roulette.
In old times in Russia the word barynya (Landlady) was used by simple folk as a form of addressing to a woman of higher class. Barynya - original fast Russian folk dance with fancy foot stomping and traditional Russian squatwork ("prisyadka", "vprisyadku"), sudden knee-bending and jumps. The Barynya dance is an alternation of chastushkas and frenetic dancing......lots of frenetic dancing....
The Barynya chastuskas used to have the refrain, kind of "Barynya, barynya, sudarynya-barynya", or "Barynya ty moya, sudarynya ty moya". The content is always humoristic. The country dancing was without special choreography. There are a number of scenic, more refined versions of the dance, but our version is the best of all!
Here is the inspiration for our dance!
Now, for your viewing pleasure, Sergei and Ivan dance for you, on the inter-web-net, the Barynya!!!! Отлично!
One of Russia’s best customers was Britain. Britain purchased 90% of its marine hemp from Russia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and relied heavily on Russian hemp products to promote strong naval forces. Now, think back to what you learned in grade school about the War of 1812. You probably don’t remember hearing much about hemp but some insist it was a key factor! Napoleon, eager to infringe on Britain’s naval forces, sought to cut off trade from Russia to Britain and its allies. So, with the help of Czar Alexander of Russia, the Treaty of Tilset was signed in 1807. This hurt Britain; they needed hemp from Russia to continue to dominate the sea. Eventually, Britain found a loophole and started receiving Russian hemp through American traders who had access to Russian hemp. Napoleon caught on. He demanded Czar Alexander stop trade with America or let French troops patrol the trade stations. The Czar said no, and Napoleon invades Russia! To learn about this take on history, in depth, check out Chapter 11 of the book The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
This is Irina Tchachina she is a rhythmic gymnast. one might ask what is that. It is more or less using ribbon, hoops, balls, ect in dance that includes, but is not limited to, ballet gymnastics and lyrical. I personally don't know about you but o my goodness....brilliant amazing innovated...and i am COMPLETELY jealous
Here's the link: http://www.stuff.co.nz/4275406a12.html
Monday, November 12, 2007
Moscow, strange and mysterious
Towers of reddish-gold
Cold as the ice
But Moscow, those who truly know you
Know that within, a fire burns
Burning so hot inside
Cossacks, hey hey hey, raise your glasses!
Natasha ha, ha, ha you are beauitiful!
Comrades, hey hey hey, (drink) to life!
To your health, brother hey, brother ho!
Throw the glasses at the wall!
Russia is a beautiful land,
Ha ha ha ha ha, hey!
Your soul is so great ("soul; spirit"; in a sense meaning energy or passion; in the same sense as the English phrase 'you've got a lot of soul')
In the evening everything goes wild,
Ha ha ha ha ha, hey!
Your love is a delicacy,
and your girls are for kissing, (!)
Ha ha ha ha ha, hey!
Come, let's dance on the table,
Until the table breaks apart, (! See? Crazy Russians!)
Ha ha ha ha ha!
Moscow, gate to the past
A mirror into the time of the emperors,
Red as blood
Moscow, whoever knows your soul
Knows that your love is burning
Hot, like coal
(Repeat the chorus, and then the guys come up for the best part of the song, heh)
Where one drinks their Vodka straight
That way, you'll live until you're a hundred
Ho ho ho ho ho, hey!
Old friend, your glass is empty
But there's always more in the cellar
Ho ho ho ho ho!
(Then repeat chorus)
Then there's this other interesting Eurodisco song by one of the most popular groups of the 70s (outside America at least, where no one has any idea who they are) - Boney M - singing about everybody's favorite crazy historic icon, Rasputin. However, like "Moskau", Frank Farian (the songwriter and guy who brought us artists like Milli Vanilli) decided to treat the subject a bit unconventially - as you'll see in the lyrics, he turned Rasputin into a crazy rock-star sex-symbol and decidedly exaggerates the relationship between Rasputin and the Czarist government. Still, it's funny to watch and an interesting pseudo-history lesson. (I especially like the crazy guy in the beard).
There lived a certain man in Russia long ago
He was big and strong, in his eyes a flaming glow
Most people looked at him with terror and with fear
But to Moscow chicks he was such a lovely dear
He could preach the bible like a preacher
Full of ecstacy and fire
But he also was the kind of teacher
Women would desire
RA RA RASPUTIN
Lover of the Russian queen
There was a cat that really was gone
RA RA RASPUTIN
Russia's greatest love machine
It was a shame how he carried on
He ruled the Russian land and never mind the czar
But the kasachok he danced really wunderbar
In all affairs of state he was the man to please
But he was real great when he had a girl to squeeze
For the queen he was no wheeler dealer
Though she'd heard the things he'd done
She believed he was a holy healer
Who would heal her son
RA RA RASPUTIN
Lover of the Russian queen
There was a cat that really was gone
RA RA RASPUTIN
Russia's greatest love machine
It was a shame how he carried on
But when his drinking and lusting and his hunger
for power became known to more and more people,
the demands to do something about this outrageous
man became louder and louder.
"This man's just got to go!" declared his enemies
But the ladies begged "Don't you try to do it, please"
No doubt this Rasputin had lots of hidden charms
Though he was a brute they just fell into his arms
Then one night some men of higher standing
Set a trap, they're not to blame
"Come to visit us" they kept demanding
And he really came
RA RA RASPUTIN
Lover of the Russian queen
They put some poison into his wine
RA RA RASPUTIN
Russia's greatest love machine
He drank it all and he said "I feel fine"
RA RA RASPUTIN
Lover of the Russian queen
They didn't quit, they wanted his head
RA RA RASPUTIN
Russia's greatest love machine
And so they shot him till he was dead
Spoken : Oh, those Russians..
It's on the longesh side, but definitely worth the read if you are interested in U.S.-Russian relations.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I was searching youtube for clips of movies/tv shows that I am familiar with, that had the extra bonus of Russian subtitles or dubbing. I find it very helpful. I searched clips like the simpsons or Harry Potter, and I thought it was hilarious that this clip came up over and over again...
I don't know........someone obviously thought it was vital that this was translated into Russian..... *shrug*
So it inspired me to research the history of drug use in the USSR/Russia.
Apparently the first information on people suffering from drug addiction in the USSR appeared in the in beggining of the 1950s. At that time about 300 people were registered.
Since the mid 50s an internal drug market began to form in the USSR. Poppy plantations were the most obvious, appearing in Куйбышев (Samara), Нижний Новгород regions, in Татарстан and Беларусь.
In the 60s, large hemp plantations were planted in the far western Краснодар and Ставропольский край regions. In the Ukraine hemp was planted for sale within the country, as well as for export. The Ukraine still exports thousands of tons annually.
Until the mid 70s, in some regions of the USSR, narcotism was usual but not a publicly recognized occurence. The real drug revolution did not occur until the end of the 80s. It is thought that such a delay in comparison to the West is due to the following:
1) Post-war time difficulties -social and cultural problems, national economy recovering.
2) Total alcoholism. Who needs drugs when you live in such a vodka-saturated culture? The place of a drug as an antianxiety remedy in a Russian man's culture was already occuipied by alcohol.
3) Social, cultural, economic isolation from trade and most other ties with the world, and laws against going abroad.
All this, and especially the last factor, meant that there were no universally widespread drugs throughout Russia. Thanks to this, the home-made industry flourished. In country territories cherniashka was popular -poppy straw broth, along with home-made amphetamines such as 'jeff', 'mulka', 'vint' and marijuana.
Now that the Iron Curtain has dropped and Russians are free to travel, other addictive substances have made it into the country. Thanks mainly to injection drug use, the HIV epidemic is now rising faster in Russia than anywhere else in the world. Injection drug use has become quite widespread among young people, especially young men. An estimated one percent of the population are injecting drug users. In St Petersburg it is believed that the number of people infected with the HIV virus is close to 100,000.
Drugs are bad, mmkay?
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Located in Southern Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast and Buryatia, the name comes from the word Байгал which in the Mongolian language means "nature".
Known as the “Galapagos of Russia”, Lake Baikal is home to 1,085 species of plants and 1,550 species and varieties of animals and 80% of the species that live there cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It is one of the oldest lakes in geological history, estimated at 25-30million years old…thanks to its age and isolation it is of exceptional value to evolutionary science.
It’s a pretty cool, almost sci-fi sort of place. It’s filled with some really strange looking creatures, but for this blog I’m going to focus on just one, the Nerpa, one of the only species of entirely freshwater seals in the world.
Nerpa are unique among seals in many ways, (and not only because they look like some kind of big grey balloon).
They are, along with two subspecies of the Ringed Seal, the only seals to spend their entire lives in fresh water. They can grow to be over 50 years old, making them the longest lived seals, and they nurse their young on milk for twice as long as any other seal species.
Scientists are still not sure as to how the seals originally came to Lake Baikal, seeing as it is hundreds of kilometres away from any ocean. But it is thought that they probably came at a time when there was a sea-passage which linked the lake with the Arctic Ocean.
Nerpa generally tend to prefer the more northern parts of the lake, as the longer winter keeps the ice frozen for longer, which is good for looking after their pups. The females raise the pups on their own, and dig them a large den under the ice. The pups remain here until spring; when the ice melts and the dens collapse, then the pups are left to fend for themselves. Nerpa usually only give birth to one pup, however they are the only seal that has the ability to have twins.
Nerpa (this is kind of cool) have two litres more blood than any other seal of their size and as a result can stay underwater for up to 70minutes if they are frightened or in danger.
So what do these guys eat? Well, a variety of different shrimp and fish make up their main diet, but their main food source is this spiny little guy here.
The Golomyanka, a type of sculpin that lives solely in Lake Baikal. Isn’t he ugly?
Amazingly, sculpin can live for several hours out of water if kept moist. They use their large pectoral fins to stabilize themselves on the floor of flowing creeks and rivers.
This fish lives in silty areas, and as a result it usually has a lot of grit and silt in its stomach. This silty grit scours out the Nerpa’s innards and removes parasites.
(Dr Denner, I've changed my mind. I do want to study ecology/biology when I go on exchange to Russia...)
And now, in closing, here's a clip of some Nerpa swimming....
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Here's one you should all be familiar with: John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
(Actually, we changed his name to "Ivan Jacob Jinglovsky Scmitt" for fun.)
Иван Джейкоб Джингловски Шмитт
Иван Джейкоб Джингловски Шмитт,
Меня тоже так зовут!
Когда мы выходим,
люди всегда кричат:
"Bот Иван Джейкоб Джингловски Шмитт!"
And who doesn't know The Song That Never Ends...
(Go ahead and sing these lyrics to the tune. Not happening!)
Песня Которая Никогда Не Заканачивается
Песня которая никогда не заканачивается,
она продолжается вечно
Какие-то люди начали петь, не понимая что делают,
но они продолжали петь потому что...
We tried translating The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, but I'm still unsure of how good it is. I used one of those online dictionaries and instead of "the spider crawled up the water spout" I ended up with "the spider made a heavenly ascent up the spout." Yea, just ask Inna, she couldn't stop laughing.
I wonder if you can guess what this song is about? =P Well, here's my quick summary: Written by Billy Joel, the song Leningrad is about a man named Viktor who (surprise!) lived in Leningrad. Joel sings about how depressing Viktor's life was growing up during the Cold War and compares it to his own childhood living in the United States. He makes references to many historical events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Korean War, and McCarthyism, all of which show the tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The lyrics were inspired by a Russian man Billy Joel had actually met while on concert tour of the Soviet Union in the 1980's (there is a reference to this tour in our textbook in one of the dialogues. When Lena asks Vova what he is listening to he says "An American Rock Concert in Moscow" and he says his favorite artist is Billy Joel) I couldn't really find a better quality video but this one is good, I guess....Alright, that's it for the summary. Enjoy the song!
Clicking on this link http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3252315.stm will take you to a BBC article about embarassed Russian officials who want to keep kids safe by banning kissing. The article is a couple years old, but it's still funny to read. Back in 2003 they were contemplating banning kissing, but now in 2007 they're having events where people smooch all over each other.
Maybe it's gotten out of hand?
This clip is from he classical ballet “Swan Lake” by Pyotr IIlich Tchaikovsky (Russian composer of the romantic era). Originally choreographed by Julius Reisinger, and first presented as “ Lake of the Swans” preformed by the Ballet of the Moscow Imperial Bolshoi Theater in 1877.
The ballet begins at an open court at which the prince must declare his wife. Sadden that he cannot marry for love the prince escapes into the forest at night. While in the forest the prince falls in love with a beautiful woman like swan. As the two dance the prince learns that the swan like woman is the princess Odette and that an evil spell has been caste upon her turning her into a swan by day and a woman by night. The prince takes great pity on her and begins falling in love. While he is swearing his love for the swan woman the evil sourcerer, who caste the spell on the princess, appears. The prince cannot kill the sourcerer for then the spell will never be undone. The prince returns to the castle to attend the ball. While at the ball he mistakenly announces his love for another princess (who was disguised as the swan woman) and announces his intention to marry her. Realizing his mistake the two lovers drown themselves in the swan lake, causing the evil sourcerer to lose all power of them and die.
The following is from Act I of the ballet. Hope you enjoy the music and complex dancing.
The opera was based on Alexander Pushkin's play of the same name. Boris Godunov is Mussorgsky's only completed opera and is considered his masterpiece. After several revisions, the show finally opened in St. Petersburg in 1874 at the Mariinsky Theatre and was well received by the public. Unfortunately, critics weren't so fond of it. Tchaikovsky said, "I consign [Boris Godunov] from the bottom of my heart to the devil – it is the most insipid and base parody of music... Mussorgsky is a narrow-minded individual devoid of any desire to educate himself, blindly putting his faith in the preposterous theories of his circle and in his own genius... his is a low nature, rough, crude and coarse... [he] flaunts his illiteracy and is proud of his ignorance."
I'm no expert on music, but I kinda liked it. Like I said, the public loved it. They were singing choruses from it in the streets afterward. Tchaikovsky must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed that day.....
In the beginning the people of Russia are depressed and suffering and crawling like zombies on the streets. Boris Godunov arranges for the assassination of the Tsar's half-brother Dimitri. When the tsar dies, he pretends to decline the crown, but his his agents convince the suffering populace to acclaim him as the new Tsar. In the monastery Pimen, a monk, is writing a chronicle of Russia, complaining to Sergei about йу, йо, йа, йы, etc., drinking beer, and telling Grigori about the history surrounding Boris. Grigori gets all riled up and decides to avenge Dimitri so he leaves, pretending to be Dimitri.
Grigori's lover Marina prances around with some lively girls while getting dressed and dreaming of becoming tsarina. Rangoni, her Jesuit confessor, exhorts her to support the Catholic cause. She, of course, falls off her chair and screams. Later, she joins Grigori in a "moonlit rendezvous" and tells him to go on with his plan.
In the Kromy forest, the people are ready to riot against Boris so they go with Grigori to Moscow. Boris becomes mentally unstable, prays for Russia, and then dies.
How can that not be a crowd pleaser?
Sunday, October 28, 2007
The internet has soared in popularity in Russia; 25% of Russian adults now go online regularly, compared to only 8% in 2002. The internet has provided a wide variety of websites and blogs, where people can discuss and criticize the different events occurring in Russia. However, Putin and his supporters are looking to balance the opposition to his administration by teaming up with different privately owned websites, and working to create a larger and more active pro-Kremlin network. In 2004, bloggers created such a firestorm when a pro-Kremlin candidate was elected as president of Ukraine; after days of protesting in the streets, a new, pro-Western candidate was selected. Last April, however, many savvy Putin supporters rallied together to spread news of a Pro-Kremlin march over the internet later that day. Members of a youth team called the Youth Guard were also active in posting blogs about the Pro-Kremlin march; and eventually they were able to overflow the blog sites with posts about the march. Putin dismisses any rumors that the Kremlin is looking to censor the internet; however that has not surpressed many blogger's fears that the internet may soon become government-controlled.
It is no surprise to me that the Kremlin has begun infiltrating cyberspace; in fact, when I read an article about this on MSNBC, I was actually surprised to learn that the Kremlin didn't already have a great amount of control over the internet. I'm sure that Putin's government would have little trouble in creating a dominant Pro-Kremlin sphere in cyber-space; however, it seems far fetched to think that a complete government heist of the internet would be able to go down today, even in Russia. Unless the Kremlin shuts down the internet entirely, they are not going to be able to stop millions of bloggers from posting their opinions. It also seems to be the trend that more people begin posting blogs when controversial issues in the news arise, especially a political issue. Therefore, if the Kremlin begins to more vigorously pursue their internet campaign, the opposition would probably grow even more. These days,trying to take away a person's ability to blog freely, is like trying to talk off a dog a meat truck; people love their computers, and the Kremlin would not have an easy time trying to infringe on people's cyber-space rights.
For instance, in Russian jokes, policemen are seen as unintelligent, and often willing to accept bribes:
"Do you know why policemen always go in threes?" / "No, why?" / "It's specialization: one knows how to read, one knows how to write, and the third is there to keep an eye on the two dangerous intellectuals."
It also seems that Russians have their fair share of ethnic stereotypes as well:
"What do you call one Russian? --A drunk. What do you call two Russians? --A fight. What do you call three Russians? -- A Party Cell"
"What do you call one Jew? --A financial center. What do you call two Jews? --The World Chess Championship. What do you call three Jews? --Native Russian Folk Instrument Ensemble."
Many more can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_jokes
One group that has managed to become popular (and there aren't that many) is Bad Balance, or Bad B. for short.
Here's a little bit of their work:
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Everyone knows about the crazy mystic, Rasputin, who enjoyed an unusual amount of sway over the Russian imperial court for a peasant, and whose quackery earned him widespread admiration among the nobility. His 'ability' to heal the Tsar's ailing son meant anything he said was gold, and any 'vision' he had must be the true tellings of a dark future ahead. He held special control over the Tsarina, to whom he became a personal assistant during World War 1. He appointed his own officials and advisers, and expanded his control over the aristocracy by.. ahem.. well, one could say he was... in bed a lot. His nighttime escapades were the a relatively public affair, and sent waves of shock and anger through much of Russian high society. The (most likely embellished) popular tale of his death is well known - he was poisoned, shot, stabbed, beaten, and finally bound in a sheet and thrown into a frozen river nearby. Dispute remains about (of all subjects) whether or not Rasputin's... family jewels, were intact when his body was recovered from the frosty winter's night. Many claim to possess the preserved "artifact" (if you want to call it that), though testing has not been performed extensively to prove any of these theories.
Speaking of people with extensive.. 'appetites', Catherine II of Russia (known as 'the Great', usually) had a voracious appetite for young men which, due to her controversial nature among Europeans an the great changes she brought to her nation, bloomed into a series of rather unusual legends about her more, well, 'interesting' endeavors. All of these appear to be false, however - There is NO evidence that Catherine the Great died on the toilet, or that she was crushed by a horse with whom she was.. well, you get the idea. What actually went on in her private life was not without its own flair, however. One of the most interesting facts about Catherine the Great is that she was barely Russian at all, and was actually a German princess of a small region with little to no diplomatic power. The idea of such a small figure rising to become the great empress of Russia is quite astounding indeed.
Russia's rulers have had more than a few unusual policies. For example, in a move to promote social 'westernization' in Russian society, Tsar Peter I imposed a 'beard tax' - which, as its name implies, was exactly that - a tax on having a beard. Peter saw the beard as an antique of old, stale Russian culture and hoped that a tax would promote the removal of such awful things. Indeed, the idea seemed to succeed as over the years men arrived at the barber's in droves to get them cut off for fear of paying the ever-increasing tax. Legends about another ruler, Ivan IV (well-known as Ivan the Terrible) are numerous; legend says Ivan was so impressed by the beauty of St. Basil's Cathedral (the funny-looking onion-domed church that, to most people, is the symbol of Russia) that he blinded the architect who built it to prevent him from ever building something as beautiful again. Legend also holds that Ivan died, in true Russian fashion - while playing a game of chess.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
*this mushroom (the morel) is actually the most expensive in the world!
That was Ivan Vasiliev."born in Vladivostok. In 2006 after graduating from the Belarusian State Choreographic College joined the National Academic Bolshoi Ballet Theatre of Belarus as a principle dancer." from http://www.bolshoi.ru/en/theatre/ballet_troupe/soloists/. i apologize the for the excessive moment of the camera...it is COMPLETELY worth it!
Monday, October 22, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
TTheir journies all fall along a similar movie making storyline. They begin playing at their local tennis courts and simply "fall in love". They each have obsessed parents, go relentless hours on the court and eventually get shipped off to America to perfect their training and game. Their results also reflect similar patterns. Their booming tennis game starts their popularity but their off court success feeds the obssessed fans. Maria Sharapova fills these shoes perfectly. Blonde hair, piercing screams and ground strokes that paint the sidelines cause a loyal crowd to form. However her offcourt endeavors complete the successful package. Currently the highest paid female in the business, yet only 20 years old and ready for years more of tennis.