Friday, August 31, 2007

Did the Russian Federation hire Borat as PR-czar?

Российская газета, the new Pravda, spent a heap of money on this insert that ran in yesterday's Washington Post. You need to read these articles with your best Boris Badenov accent to get the full comic effect:
Shee leeves een Yu. Ehs. yeet eez prahd to bee Rahshun.

I honestly thought it was satire when I first read it... The title of the publication does not even make sense, logically or linguistically...

The question begs...

What ARE the other eight bears doing to Marilyn?
Guess we'll have to subscribe to Russia: The Magazine, which proudly advertises:
"This issue (132 pages of Russia-focused content) does not even once mention Leo Tolstoy, ballet and Maria Sharapova."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I hate matrioshki!

People are always giving me Russian gewgaws, thingamajigs, junke, and bricabrac. I hate the stuff.

A friend of mine sent me a postcard from 'The Museum of Communism' in Prague, Czech Republic with this hilarious image. The Czechs are generally considered to have the best sense of humor in all of Europe... Pretty girls, great beer. That's all I remember from my trip there back when I was 22. I studied Czech for two years, so one day I hope to get back there and appreciate the other, finer points of Czech culture.

Matrioshka dolls (матрёшки) aren't actually particularly authentic bits of Russian culture. A Russian painter/folk enthusiast named Maliutin made the first 'real' matrioshka at the end of the 19th century, imitating a long-established Japanese tradition of nesting wooden dolls. (Other accounts have it that the matrioshka appeared in Russia after the Japanese-Russian War of 1905.)

Maliutin had a workshop at Abramtsevo, a lovely estate not too far from Moscow -- I've visited there several times, and think it's a must-see for anyone in Moscow. There's also a Museum of the Matrioshka (Музей матрёшки) in Moscow, though I've never been. Maybe I'll try to convince one of our students studying abroad in Moscow to visit it and send me back some pictures...

Anyway, I do have one matrioshka that I love -- it depicts the literary greats of Russia -- Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Pushkin and Gogol. It's really quite lovely and tasteful, unlike most...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One last set of pictures...

I presented a paper at a conference that took place at Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy's ancestral estate. I also got to present copies of the Tolstoy Studies Journal (the journal I edit) to Vladimir Tolstoy, Leo Tolstoy's great-grandson, who is now the director of Yasnaya Polyana. The conference was a really amazing opportunity to learn from my colleagues, meet new people, and drink vodka under apple trees (and elsewhere...).

One of our four study abroad options...

Our students can choose to study at various institutions in Moscow: Russian business at MirBis, language at Moscow State University, politics or economics at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, or Russian Studies at Moscow University of the Humanities.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Фотографии Москвы и Ясной Поляны

These photos were taken while I was at a conference in Russia in late-August 2007.

The market pictures were taken at the Vykhino Market, located outside Vykhino metro station. It's very located very close to Moscow Humanities University (Московский гуманитарный университет), one of several locales where our Stetson students study.

The Vykhino Market is widely considered the best and cheapest market in Moscow. Many fruits, veg, meat and preserves make it up from the south of Russia and the Caucasus this time of year, belying the notion that all food in Moscow is drab old meat and taters. The prices in a market like this, though expensive for many Muscovites, are much lower than you'll find in the many Western-style supermarkets that have sprung up in Moscow and other European-Russian large cities over the past decade.

The countryside pictures were taken in a tiny village called Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula region, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) due south of Moscow. Yasnaya Polyana is Leo Tolstoy's ancestral estate, and is also the name of the village that sits alongside his estate. (Such was the common practice in pre-Bolshevik Russia -- most villages in Russia are named after the nearest estate.) I read a paper and presented copies of the Tolstoy Studies Journal at the conference.

For a full-screen slide show, click here.