Sunday, December 21, 2008

Armpit of some kind of bear...

Modern Drunkard Magazine: Richard Owen said the relationship between a Russian and bottle of vodka is almost mystical.

Gary Shteyngart: Richard Owen?

MDM: He was an English zoologist who spent some time in Russia during the mid-1870s.

GS: Zoologist? Did he think Russians were zoo primates?

MDM: Maybe.

Read on... Pretty funny, and mostly accurate...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Russian Ballet

Russian ballet is a form of ballet characteristic of or originating from Russia The original purpose of the ballet in Russia was to entertain the royal court. In the early 19th century, the theaters were opened up to anyone who could afford a ticket. There was a seating section called a rayok, or 'paradise gallery', that was comprised of simple wooden benches. This allowed non-wealthy people access to the ballet, because tickets in this section were inexpensive. The first ballet company was the Imperial School of Ballet in St. Petersburg in the 1740s. Today, the Kirov Ballet company (now known as the Mariinskey Ballet) and the Bol'shoy company are two world-renowned Russian ballet companies that tour the world. There are several methods of ballet in Russian ballet. The most widely used in the Vaganova method.

Unit 5 - Irving Berlin


IRVING BERLIN - I bet you thought he was German, didn’t you?

I just wanted to share some info on my favorite Russian composer and it seemed like the right time of year since he won an Academy Award in 1942 for “White Christmas”.

Irvin Berlin also composed “God Bless America” and here is the rest of the story...Nationality: Russian.

Source: Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2002.

Entry Updated : 02/25/2002

The most prolific of all American composers, Irving Berlin created over one thousand songs, nineteen stage scores, and eighteen film scores.

Called "the last of the troubadours" because of his simple melodies and warmhearted lyrics, Berlin forged his long and successful composing career from a musical style that was largely patriotic and sentimental.

"If some of [my] songs are corny," the artist once explained to Abel Green of Variety, "then it's because they're simple, and all I know is that some of the corniest and simplest songs have lasted."

Berlin began his musical career at age eight when his father died and the lad took to the streets to help support his family.

One of his first jobs was that of guide to Blind Sol, a singing beggar in New York City's Bowery.

From there, Berlin began to sing at popular cafes in the neighborhood, waiting on tables and learning to pick out tunes on the piano.

In 1907 the composer published his first song, "Marie From Sunny Italy," with Nick Nicholson, a pianist at the cafe.

Berlin also altered his name at that time.

In 1909 Berlin's attempts as lyricist captured the attention of music publisher Ted Snyder, who hired the young composer for twenty-five dollars a week.

While in Snyder's employ, Berlin continued to write his own songs, and in 1911 "Alexander's Ragtime Band" was published and made him an international celebrity.

By popularizing ragtime and its accompanying dance style, Berlin was one of the first American artists to showcase jazz and make it acceptable.

Within the next few years, the composer created a number of other "rags" and came to be identified in the public mind with all things ragtime.

Berlin was also a successful performer in vaudeville before World War I, first appearing on Broadway in "Up and Down Broadway" in 1910.

The artist introduced many of his own compositions on the stage, but Berlin was generally more interested in writing music than in performing it.

He contributed songs to many Broadway musicals, including the unofficial theme for all the Ziegfeld spectacles, "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody."

In 1914 he wrote his first complete musical score, Watch Your Step.

With the onset of World War I, Berlin was drafted into the army, where he used his musical abilities to raise money for a service center at Camp Upton.

The composer's "Yip Yip Yaphank," an all-soldier show, raised over $150,000 from its Broadway run in 1918.

After the war, Berlin returned to New York City and formed the Irving Berlin Music Company, a music publishing firm.

Shortly thereafter, the composer erected the Music Box Theatre in 1921 in New York City and used it for several years to showcase his musical creations.

Yet by 1934, the West Coast and its movie industry had begun to attract the Broadway veteran, who wrote the film score for Top Hat,starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Berlin also contributed individual songs to numerous movies, including Puttin' on the Ritz and Sayonara.

At the beginning of World War II, Berlin's sense of patriotism prompted him to create another all-soldier show, "This Is the Army," which raised $10 million for the Army Emergency Relief fund.

Before that, in 1939, Berlin's patriotic and philanthropic inclinations had moved him to allocate all royalties from his popular "God Bless America" to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.

In addition, Berlin composed songs for the Army Ordnance Department ("Arms for the Love of America") and the Treasury Department ("Any Bonds Today?"), with profits going to each bureau.

In 1954 Berlin attempted to retire, but returned to Broadway in 1962 with a final stage score, "Mr. President."

After the show's long run, the composer re-retired to his home in upstate New York, where he golfed, fished, painted, and, as he told Newsweek, "tinker[ed] at the piano" until his death in 1989.

Among his career honors are an Academy Award, a Tony, and a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.

Family: Birth-given name, Israel Baline;

born May 11, 1888, in Temum, Russia;
came to the United States, 1893, naturalized citizen;
died September 22, 1989, in New York, NY;

son of Moses (a cantor and shochet [meat/poultry certifier]) and Leah (Lipkin) Baline;

married Dorothy Goetz, February, 1913 (died July 17, 1913);

married Ellin Mackay, January 4, 1926;

children: Mary Ellin (Mrs. Marvin Barrett), Linda (Mrs. Edouard Emmet), Elizabeth (Mrs. Alton Peters).

Education: Attended New York City public schools.

Military/Wartime Service: U.S. Army, Infantry, 1917-18; became sergeant.

Memberships: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (charter member; director, 1914-18), Masons (Shriners), Elk, Lambs, Friars, City Athletic Club.

AWARDSAcademy Award for best song from Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1942, for "White Christmas;" Medal of Merit, 1945, for "This Is the Army"; Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, February 11, 1955, "in recognition of his services in composing many patriotic songs including `God Bless America'"; Antoinette Perry Award from League of New York Theatres and Producers, April, 1963, for "distinguished contribution to the musical theatre for many years." Awarded D.Mus. from Bucknell University, 1939, Legion of Honor (France), 1947, D.Mus. from Temple University, 1954, D.H. from Fordham University, 1969, and Medal of Freedom, 1977.
Posted by Lillyan at 11:19 AM 0 comments
Thursday, November 13, 2008

What Did I Just Eat?

After four bountiful courses of food at Dr. Steeves Christmas party, I had to ask myself, “What did I just eat?” The first course consisted of lots of beets and mayonnaise parading as different dishes. There was also meat filled bread, пирожок, salmon cream cheese stuffed tomatoes, and hearty russian хлебь. The second course was a traditional meat and beet borscht. At first I was alarmed by the lack of mayonnaise in this dish, but never fear, the soup was topped off with sour cream.  I thought it tasted a lot like my mom's vegetable beef stew. The third course was lamb with what seemed like greek tzatziki sauce. There was also a side dish that anders described as “some sort of russian lasagna” and finally, the ever russian chicken and rice. To follow up this feast, a full table of desserts was served. The rainbow sprinkle brownies had to take the cake as most authentic dish of the evening. As the woman next to me said, “They're certainly Russian! I was rushin' around all day to finish them!” 

This whole Russian food escapade made me want to explore their cuisine a little more. I'm pretty confident I'll be able to eat well in Russia when I study abroad there, but still, I'd like to know what I'm getting into. So, I googled the phrase “weird russian food” hoping maybe to figure out what my mayonnaise to vegetable ratio might be. However, to find that I might have been better served to look up “normal russian food.” Anyway, what I did find was reference to a Russian malt beverage called “Kvass” which is basically a beer made from bread. However, the alcohol content is so low, basically nonexistent, that it's considered safe for kids to drink. No wonder Russians always beat us in drinking contests! They've been training their whole lives.

To get the real good stuff, Kvass connosuiers have to go to Zhenigorod, which is about an hour from Moscow, as the sparrow flies. This Kvass is the real deal, still made by the monks who drink it. In the 19th century it was not unusual for peasants and monks to drink more kvass than they did water. I guess I finally know what it is the drunk monks were in such a hurry to drink when they added those extra letters to the alphabet. Well, there are definitely weirder things to base alcohol on than bread. I guess if that's the weirdest Russia has to offer, I have nothing to worry about. 

UNIT 4 & 5 Entries

Unit 4:

New York Times Article:

December 9, 2008
Falling Sales in Russia Force Ford to Idle Its Plant
MOSCOW — Hopes that Russia and other emerging markets could help support the automotive industry despite a slumping performance in the United States and Europe dimmed on Monday as the Ford Motor Company followed Volkswagen and Renault in suspending production at its Russian assembly line.
While Ford’s fortunes were less than glittering elsewhere, the automaker had deftly anticipated a surge in demand for cars in Russia over the last decade. As sales fell in the United States, Russia remained an engine of growth for both imports and the domestically assembled sedans.
In fact, the Focus was the best-selling brand in Russia, easily outpacing its Japanese and European competition and proving Ford could do what it had struggled to achieve in the United States — efficiently build a popular, compact family car.
Ford opened its largest dealership in Europe outside Moscow; demand exploded so quickly that the company at one point had a six-month backlog of orders for Focus cars built at an assembly plant near St. Petersburg.
The company said Monday that it would idle that plant from Dec. 24 until Jan. 21 for an extended New Year’s holiday, citing poor sales; Focus sales were down 30 percent in October from a year earlier, the Interfax news agency reported.
When it opened in 2002, the Ford plant became the first fully owned foreign automobile assembly line in Russia. Nissan, Toyota and parts makers followed, and the district around St. Petersburg now has so many plants it has become known as Russia’s Detroit.
But that Russian car boom seems over now. Volkswagen and Renault have also idled Russian plants for an extended winter holiday to offset swooning demand.
“The company decided to cut Ford production volumes in Russia because of the situation on the market and lower sales forecasts for the automobile industry in general,” Ford said in a statement. The company will pay two-thirds of the wages of assembly line workers idled by the shutdown.
The loss will be partly offset by Ford’s plans to use the suspension to retool the factory for the introduction of local production of its Mondeo, a sedan aimed at more affluent buyers, the statement said.
“It’s not as awful as in Europe or the United States, but it’s moving in that direction,” Elena Sakhnova, a transportation analyst at VTB bank in Moscow, said in a telephone interview. “We will see a significant drop in sales.”
Russia had been the fastest-growing automotive market in Europe. In 2007, car sales grew 36 percent on a surge of trickle-down oil money. The forecast for 2008 is 20 percent, according to Ms. Sakhnova; in 2009 she predicts a contraction of 15 percent.
Ford’s succeeded in Russia partly because it never sold many pickup trucks there; that sector is now hobbled in the United States market. Instead, Ford concentrated in Europe on compact family cars, particularly the Focus, which became the centerpiece of its strategy of selling to newly well-off, but hardly rich, clientele.
In the United States, Ford is asking for $9 billion in standby financing from Congress to retool its American assembly lines to more fuel-efficient and electric cars, ensure financing for dealers and for other revamping costs. Ford’s worldwide sales are forecast to decline 13.9 percent next year, according to a note published by Deutsche Bank.

Unit 5:

New York Times Article:

November 21, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor
From Russia With Loathing
SHORTLY before the presidential election, at a discussion about Russian-American relations I attended in Cambridge, Mass., speakers from both countries voiced the hope that the election of Barack Obama would signal the renewal of a beautiful friendship. These hopes were chilled the day after Mr. Obama won. In an address to the Russian Parliament, President Dmitri Medvedev welcomed President-elect Obama with a threat to deploy Russian missiles on the Polish border if the United States put anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe. While some conciliatory signals followed, it seems clear that the Kremlin intends to keep the “new cold war” going.
Just three days before Mr. Medvedev’s speech, the state-subsidized youth movement Nashi staged a Halloween-themed rally in front of the American Embassy in Moscow. Nearly 20,000 young people held pumpkins marked with the names of “America’s victims,” among them the casualties in South Ossetia. In an amateur film shown at the rally, an actor portraying a drunken George W. Bush bragged that the United States had engineered both world wars and the rise of Hitler to expand its power.
Leonid Radzikhovsky, a Russian journalist, has said that “the existential void of our politics has been filled entirely by anti-Americanism,” and that to renounce this rhetoric “would be tantamount to destroying the foundations of the state ideology.” There is a notion, popular in Russia and among some Western analysts, that this anti-Americanism is a response to perceived threats to Russia’s security — above all, NATO expansion and missile defense in Eastern Europe. Yet top military experts like Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, a former high-level official in the Russian Defense Ministry, are convinced that neither the missile shield nor NATO expansion pose any military threat to Russia.
Russia’s post-cold war humiliation is real. But as the human rights activist Elena Bonner, widow of the great scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, told me recently: “Nobody humiliated Russia. Russia humiliated itself.”
In the post-Soviet era, many Russians are angry because their country has neither the stature nor the living standards that they believe it deserves. Polls shows that most Russians actually favor a Western way of life. Nearly two-thirds would rather live in a well-off country than in one that is poorer but more powerful and feared by others. Unfortunately, most also believe their country will not reach Western levels of well-being any time soon, if ever. As frustrations mount, it is often easier to blame an external force than the country’s own failings. It doesn’t help that the 1990s, when pro-Western attitudes were at their peak, are remembered as a time of poverty and insecurity.
The result is an inferiority complex toward the West and, in particular, the United States, as the pre-eminent Western power and cold war rival. This widespread sentiment combines admiration, envy, grievance, resentment, and craving for respect and acceptance as an equal. Most Russians viewed the recent conflict in Georgia as a victory over the Americans — a matter less of strategic self-interest than of psychological self-assertion.
In his Nov. 5 speech, President Medvedev asserted that “we have no inherent anti-Americanism.” True enough, but in recent years, anti-Americanism has been carefully cultivated by official and semi-official propaganda, especially on government-controlled television, which manipulates popular insecurities and easily slides into outright paranoia.
In 2005, Sergey Lisovsky, then the deputy chairman of the Committee on Agricultural and Food Policy of the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament, said that the avian flu was a myth created by the Americans to destroy Russia’s poultry farming industry. This year, Russian television commemorated the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, with a prime-time program promoting the conspiracy theory that the attacks were engineered by American imperialists in order to unleash war. A staggering 43 percent of Russians agreed in a poll last year that “one of the goals of the foreign policy of the United States is the total destruction of Russia.”
Today, the government may be especially anxious to ratchet up anti-Americanism in response to the election of Mr. Obama, who is likely to make it more difficult for Russia to exploit animosity toward the United States in Europe and even the Third World.
Mr. Obama and his administration need to respond with both firmness and flexibility. He should indicate that we will help the democracies of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to resist Russian bullying while also making it clear that we do not seek confrontation with Russia for confrontation’s sake.
One of Mr. Obama’s top Russia advisers, Michael McFaul, has suggested offering Russia a path toward membership in NATO. The current Russian leadership would, of course, reject any such offer, because it would entail democratic reforms that Russia is not willing to undertake. But the offer would give Russian reformers a tangible goal, and make it harder to convince ordinary Russians that America will always treat Russia as the enemy.
Mr. Obama should make the offer in person, during a trip to Russia. Ronald Reagan’s visit to the Soviet Union in 1988 went a long way toward dispelling anti-American stereotypes in the minds of many Russians during the twilight of the cold war. Mr. Obama, the object of a great deal of curiosity and fascination, is one American politician who could repeat that feat.
Cathy Young, a contributing editor for Reason magazine, is the author of “Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood.”

Feodor Chaliapin

Few singers have impacted music in the way that Feodor Chaliapin did in the early 1900's. A largely self-taught basso, he was the most famous Russian singer of the first part of the 20th century, and made a significant career out of the bass and bass-baritone rep. His most stunning and well-known role was that of Boris Godunov. He had stiff competition from two other Russian basses, but his unique timbre (quality) of voice and striking stage presence and personality gained him worldwide fame. Even though he was personally affected by the Russian Revolution in 1917, he had a significant career, with hundreds of performances, dozens of recordings, and a legacy that has been passed down through the ages to modern bass singers.

Architecture in Russia

For most of its history, Russian architecture has been predominantly religious. Churches were for centuries the only buildings to be constructed of stone, and today they are almost the only buildings that remain from its ancient past. The basic elements of Russian church design emerged fairly early, around the eleventh century. The plan is generally that of a Greek cross (all four arms are equal), and the walls are high and relatively free of openings. Sharply-sloped roofs (tent roofs) and a multitude of domes cover the structure. The characteristic onion dome first appeared in Novgorod on the Cathedral of Sancta Sophia, in the eleventh century. On the interior, the primary feature is the iconostasis, an altar screen on which the church's icons are mounted in a hierarchical fashion.

The centers of medieval church architecture followed the shifting dominance of old Russia's cities--from Kiev to Novgorod and Pskov, and, from the end of the 15th century, Moscow. With the establishment of a unified Russian state under Ivan III, foreign architecture began to appear in Russia. The first instance of such foreign work is Moscow's great Assumption Cathedral, completed in 1479 by the Bolognese architect Aritotle Fioravanti. The cathedral is actually a remarkable synthesis of traditional Russian architectural styles, though its classical proportions mark it as a work of the Italian Renaissance. The Russian tradition experienced a brief period of renewed influence under Ivan IV (the Terrible), under whose reign the legendary Cathedral of St. Basil's was built. In general, however, the Tsars began to align themselves increasingly with European architectural styles. The great example of this shift was Peter the Great, who designed St. Petersburg in accordance with prevailing European design. His successors continued the pattern, hiring the Italian architect Rastrelli to produce the rococo Winter Palace and Smolny Cathedral. Under Catherine the Great, the rococo was set aside for neoclassicism, completing St. Petersburg's thoroughly European topography.

During the nineteenth century a fresh interest in traditional Russian forms arose. Like the associated movement in the visual arts, this revival of older styles participated in the creation of an avant-garde movement in the early twentieth century. For a brief period following the 1917 Revolution, the avant-garde Constructivist movement gained sufficient influence to design major buildings. Lenin's Mausoleum, designed in 1924 by Alexey Shchusev, is the most notable of the few remaining Constructivist buildings. By the late 1920s, the avant-garde found itself repudiated by Stalin's increasingly conservative state. Moving away from modernism, Stalinist-era architecture is best exemplified by the seven nearly indistinguishable "wedding-cake" skyscrapers that dominate the city's skyline.

In more recent years, the dissolution of the Soviet state and a renewed interest in traditional Russian culture have produced a new appreciation of more modest folk architecture. The few remaining examples of traditional wooden architecture, such as those on display in the outdoor architectural museum in Kostroma, are now among Russia's most treasured architectural monuments.

Unit 5 blog

Russian Military back.

Unit 5 blog

Russian Military back.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Russian Christmas

Thirteen days after Western Christmas, on January 7th, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates its Christmas, in accordance with the old Julian calendar. It's a day of both solemn ritual and joyous celebration

After the 1917 Revolution, Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious celebrations. It wasn't until 75 years later, in 1992, that the holiday was openly observed. Today, it's once again celebrated in grand fashion, with the faithful participating in an all-night Mass in incense-filled Cathedrals amidst the company of the painted icons of Saints.

Christmas is one of the most joyous traditions for the celebration of Eve comes from the Russian tradition. On the Eve of Christmas, it is traditional for all family members to gather to share a special meal. The various foods and customs surrounding this meal differed in Holy Russia from village to village and from family to family, but certain aspects remained the same.

An old Russian tradition, whose roots are in the Orthodox faith, is the Christmas Eve fast and meal. The fast, typically, lasts until after the evening worship service or until the first star appears. The dinner that follows is very much a celebration, although, meat is not permitted. Kutya (kutia), a type of porridge, is the primary dish. It is very symbolic with its ingredients being various grains for hope and honey and poppy seed for happiness and peace.

Once the first star has appeared in the sky, the festivities begin. Although all of the food served is strictly Lenten, it is served in an unusually festive and anticipatory manner and style. The Russians call this meal: "The Holy Supper." The family gathers around the table to honor the coming Christ Child. A white table-cloth, symbolic of Christ's swaddling clothes, covers the Table. Hay is brought forth as a reminder of the poverty of the Cave where Jesus was born. A tall white candle is place in the center of the Table, symbolic of Christ "the Light of the World." A large round loaf of Lenten bread, "pagach," symbolic of Christ the Bread of Life, is placed next to the Candle.

The meal begins with the Lord's Prayer, led by the father of the family. A prayer of thanksgiving for all the blessings of the past year is said and then prayers for the good things in the coming year are offered. The head of the family greets those present with the traditional Christmas greeting: "Christ is Born!" The family members respond: "Glorify Him!" The Mother of the family blesses each person present with honey in the form of a cross on each forehead, saying: "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, may you have sweetness and many good things in life and in the new year." Following this, everyone partakes of the bread, dipping it first in honey and then in chopped garlic. Honey is symbolic of the sweetness of life, and garlic of the bitterness. The "Holy Supper" is then eaten. After dinner, no dishes are washed and the Christmas presents are opened. Then the family goes to Church, coming home between 2 and 3 am. On the Feast of the Nativity, neighbors and family members visit each other, going from house to house , eating, drinking and singing Christmas Carols all the day long.

Changes During the Reign of Peter the Great

When Peter I, also known as Peter the Great, became the ruler of Russia he knew that neither his armed forces nor his country as a whole compared favorably with other European powers. He had assumed the throne of a country that had missed the Renaissance and the Reformation, placing Russia a century behind the rest of most of Europe in cultural and scientific developments. Peter wanted to know how and why Russia lagged behind its neighbors.

In 1697 and 1698 Peter traveled throughout Europe under a false name as a common person. He studied things such as shipbuilding in Holland and gunnery practices in Prussia. He visited military and civilian schools, factories, museums and military arsenals. When he returned to Russia he brought with him western educators, businessmen and military personnel to serve as his advisers.

Peter the Great instituted many changes throughout Russia, which have been called the modernization or Europeanization of Russia. Some of the changes he made were:
  • demanding that education, trade and industry incorporate western ideas and methods
  • simplifying the Russian alphabet
  • introducing Arabic numerals
  • providing for the publication of the first newspaper in Russia
  • demanding that men shave their beards
  • demanding that the court wear western clothing
  • encouraging western habits of smoking tobacco and drinking coffee

Book of Veles

So I decided to look up Russian Mythology and I came across this book called the Book of Veles. Apparently it was a text of ancient Slavic Mythology and History that began in the 7th century B.C. and has stories as late as 9th century A.D written on wooden planks. It has been widely criticized for being inauthentic and many think it was a forgery made in the 1800s. (Above is the original Book of Veles)
It first emerged in a Russian newspaper and it believed this paper forged the details of the book to gain publicity. Scholars analyzing the book say that modern words are used where ancient words should be, the phonetics do not match up with ancient Slavic roots, and features inconsistent grammar forms. These details make it apparent that the book was artificially aged. Proponents of the book say that these discrepancies are due to the varied nature of the Slavic tribes during the time. Still scholars rebuke this claim.
Unfortunately, the books are lost today and there will probably never be a consensus on their authenticity. They were discovered in 1919 by General Lizenbeck of the Russian White Army who refused to let others outside of Russia see them. He gave them to the editor of a Russian newspaper who was the only one to read and transcribe them. Afterwards, they were either stolen by the Nazi's or the KGB or burned and lost. The book outlines the Slavs migration from possibly Kazakhstan to the Carpathian Mountain where they are eventually defeated by the Normans (Vikings).
Veles, also known as Volos, was the Slavic god of the underworld, earth, and water and was in constant opposition with the thunder god Perun. Their battle is the Slavs etymological myth for the seasons for when Veles was killed rain would come and the next season would take over. The death of Veles was a cyclical occurrence.

This is Thor. He is much cooler than Veles. Also, I couldn't find any pictures of Veles, but there is a definite link between the Slavic thunder god Perun and Thor. Thor is also much cooler than Perun.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Borsch is a traditional vegetable soup that is made with beetroot which gives the soups is red color. There are two different types of borsch; hot and cold. Here is a recipe for hot borsch:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup shredded cabbage
3/4 pound roasted onions, peeled and chopped, reserving liquid
3 1/2 cups beef broth
1 cup pot roast gravy (leftover)
1 pound roasted beets, peeled and julienned, reserving liquid
2 cups diced pot roast
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Garnish: sour cream and dill sprigs

In a large heavy sauce pan over moderate heat, melt butter, add cabbage and cook until wilted. Stir in onions and reserved liquid, the broth, the gravy, the beets and reserved liquid, the pot roast, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped dill. Ladle into warm bowls, spoon a dollop of sour cream onto each serving and garnish the soup with the dill sprigs.( )

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Get Smart

While I was studying for exams, I watched the movie Get Smart with Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, and I realized that there was a bunch of spoken Russian in the movie. Another plus, I understood some of it! So, while you're studying for exams, take a break, test your Russian comprehension and watch a hilarious movie!!

Here are some of the great quotes from the movie:
Siegfried: How do I know you're not from CONTROL?
Maxwell Smart: If I were from CONTROL, you'd already be dead.
If you were from CONTROL, YOU'D already be dead.
Maxwell Smart: 
Neither of us is dead, so I'm obviously not from CONTROL.
[long pause]
That actually makes sense. 

The Chief: Around the world our people are under attack. CHAOS has learned the identities of all of our field agents. They hit us and they hit us hard. Fortunately we have a new agent?
Maxwell Smart: 
Who's that sir?
Maxwell Smart: [after he gets recruited as a new agent] 
I request a cone of silence.
Maxwell Smart: [he doesn't press the button hard enough so everyone can hear him] 
Oh, I'm so happy! I'm so happy! This is the best day of my life!
You didn't press the button hard enough...
Maxwell Smart: 

Agent 23: We don't follow the rules then what are we?
The Chief: 
We're not people who jam staples into other peoples heads. That's CIA crap. 

Larabee: "I'll do it sir, I have no problem exposing myself."
Agent 99: "Do you ever think before you open your mouth?"
Larabee: "No, I just tend to whip it out there"

Maxwell Smart: "I think it's only fair to warn you, this facility is surrounded by a highly trained team of 130 black op snipers."
Siegfried: "I don't believe you."
Maxwell Smart: "Would you believe 2 dozen Delta Force commandos?"
Siegfried: "No."
Maxwell Smart: "How about Chuck Norris with a BB gun?"

and my favorite...

Maxwell Smart: "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
The Chief: "I don't know. Were you thinking 'Holy shit, holy shit! A swordfish almost went through my head?' Because if you are, then we're on the same page."


Friday, December 5, 2008

Ouch ouch ouch

Putin had painful plans for Georgian leader

Thu Dec 4, 11:13 am ET

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appeared wryly to confirm on Thursday French media reports that he had said Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili deserved to be hung by his testicles for his role in the August war with Russia.

French media had quoted Putin as saying in a heated conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Moscow on August 12 that Saakashvili should be "hung by his balls" for starting the war which was roundly condemned by the West.

In a distraction from queries about the economic crisis during a lengthy televised question and answer session with the Russian public, Putin was asked: "Is this true you promised to hang Saakashvili by one part?"

Smiling thinly at the question, posed over a crackling phone line by a man in the Russian city of Penza, Putin, who has in the past used coarse language to hammer home a point, waited for the laughter of his studio audience to subside before replying:

"But why only by one part?"

Up until now, Russian officials had described the talks with the French president as a "tough dialogue" but did not deny that Putin had made such a comment.

Putin then frowned and blamed Saakashvili for triggering the brief war and compared his attack on the breakaway region of South Ossetia with the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.

"Seriously speaking, both me and you know about tragic events in another region of the world, in Iraq, invaded by American troops due to a concocted pretext of searching for weapons of mass destruction," said Putin.

"They found no weapons, but hanged the head of state, albeit on other charges ... " said Putin, referring to the 2006 execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"I believe it is up to Georgia's people to decide what kind of responsibility must be borne by those politicians who led to these harshest and tragic consequences," he said.

Months of skirmishes between separatists and Georgian troops erupted into war in August when Georgia sent troops and tanks to retake the pro-Russian rebel region of South Ossetia, which threw off Tbilisi's rule in 1991-92.

Russia responded with a counter-strike that drove the Georgian army out of South Ossetia. Moscow's troops then pushed further into Georgia, saying they needed to prevent further Georgian attacks. The West condemned Russia for a "disproportionate response" to Georgia's actions.

Russia said Georgia's attack on civilians and Russian peacekeeping troops in South Ossetia left it with no other option. Georgia accused Moscow of launching a premeditated and unprovoked invasion of its territory.

(Writing by Conor Sweeney; Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov and Conor Sweeney)