Wednesday, May 20, 2009

International Real Estate - For Sale In ... Moscow -

Owners' paradise...
International Real Estate - For Sale In ... Moscow - "After years without a true real estate market during the Soviet era, Moscow housing has gone through a roller-coaster ride in the last few decades.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moscow residents who were officially registered at an address were given the right to purchase their government-owned homes for pennies, said Nuri Katz, the president and chief executive of Century 21 Russia. “Wherever you were at the time, you got to own at the time, free and clear,” he said. “It was amazing.”"

Friday, May 8, 2009

Russian Jazz!

Vladimir Voynovich

Vladimir Voynovich

I tried to post this earlier and the internet ate my post so here is the Encyclopedia Britannic biography of the writer whose style had a very strong contrast to Maxim Gorky [see my Unit 8 blog] besides some of the best modern Russian humor.

Russian author - in full Vladimir Nikolayevich Voynovich
born Sept. 26, 1932, Stalinabad, Tadzhik S.S.R., U.S.S.R. [now Dushanbe, Tajikistan]
Soviet dissident writer known for his irreverent and perceptive satire.
After serving in the Soviet army from 1951 to 1955 and attending the Moscow Pedagogical Institute (1957–59), Voynovich worked as a skilled labourer and then as an editor of radio programs.
He published such well-received fiction as the short story “My zdes zhivyom” (1961; “We Live Here” ) and the novellas Khochu byt chestnym (1963; “I Want to Be Honest”) and Dva tovarishcha (1964; “Two Comrades”), all of which concern pressures to conform to Soviet urban life.
In 1974, after publishing a letter in defense of dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Voynovich was expelled from the Writers’ Union of the U.S.S.R. and was forbidden to work as a professional writer.
In 1980 he settled in West Germany. His Soviet citizenship was revoked in 1981 but was restored in 1990. In the 1980s he was a visiting writer at Princeton University and the University of Southern California.
Voynovich’s best-known work is the acclaimed underground novel Zhizn i neobychaynyye priklyucheniya soldata Ivana Chonkina (1975; The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin), about a naive and unsophisticated man who battles the Soviet bureaucracy. The pseudoepic, autobiographical Ivankiada: ili rasskaz o vselenii pisatelya Voynovicha v novuyu kvartiru (1976; The Ivankiad: The Tale of the Writer Voynovich’s Installation in His New Apartment)details his personal battles with the Soviet bureaucracy to obtain a two-room apartment.
After he emigrated, he continued to write slyly humorous accounts of the vagaries of life under the Soviet system in works such as Pretendent na prestol: novye priklyucheniya soldata Ivana Chonkina (1979; Pretender to the Throne: The Further Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin), Anti Sovetsky Sovetsky Soyuz (1985; The Anti-Soviet Soviet Union), Moskva 2042 (1987; Moscow 2042), and Shapka (1988; The Fur Hat). He also wrote film scripts and plays.
By the late 1960s, however, most of these writers had again been silenced. Solzhenitsyn—who was charged with treason shortly after the publication of the first volume of...
With the death of Stalin in 1953, Russian literature was freed from the most oppressive demands of socialist realism. The two decades after Nikita Khrushchev succeeded Stalin were characterized by a thaw, during which works were published that earlier would have meant prison or worse. Afterward, in the era of Leonid Brezhnev, there was again a hardening of official attitudes. One intriguing masterpiece, 'The Master and Margarita' by Mikhail Bulgakov, was published in the Brezhnev era. It had been written prior to 1940 but was not allowed publication until 1967.

In Dr. Huskey's first year seminar last semester we read The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin and The Ivankiad: The Tale of the Writer Voynovich’s Installation in His New Apartment.
I really enjoyed the latter because it WAS autobiographical and provides a very sad yet realistic portrayal of life in the USSR (plus the constant image of the installation of a blue American toilet being behind Voynovich's rival’s quest for that extra room was just so very unexpected and Monty Python-esque I had to snort with laughter after I read that passage over ten times).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"They were considered the big capitalist threat during the Cold War."

For our last portfolio I looked at the classic Beatles song, "Back in the USSR." For this unit, I got to thinking, "the Beatles have had such a massive impact on western culture, I wonder if they did the same behind the Iron Curtain?" According to Yury Pelyushonok, they did. At times his description is a big exaggerated I think, but it is interesting to see just how far the Fab Four reached.

In this article, Yury describes how infatuated the Soviet youth were with the boys from Liverpool. Beatles music was banned in the USSR, as it was believed that their music would taint the youth. As Krushchev once said, "The youth of the Soviet Union do not need this cacophonous rubbish. It's just a small step from saxophones to switchblades."

Yury describes how, because of the government's position on the music, Beatles record were incredibly hard to obtain. When atheletes would come back from other countries, they would be asked, "Do you have a Beatles record?" If they did, it would be confiscated, scratched by a machine and returned as a sort of souvenier. Yury claims that various diplomats, atheletes and sailors managed to smuggled records in. It is from this contraband that most people got their copies of the Beatles' music, often as fourth or fifth copies of the original.

Pelyushonok goes on to say that in later years, records from bands such as the Rollin Stones would be allowed, but not the Beatles. He says that the reason is that the Rolling Stones were just a band. The Beatles were an event - the cultural event of the 20th century.

While some of Yury's claims are a little hard to swallow, for example his claim that the Russian youth worshipped the Fab Four so profusely that imitating John Lennon on stage would be akin to a Catholic dressing up as Jesus for Halloween. He also believes that it was this lost generation of Russians, rocking out to the best band in history with their messages of peace and love, that changed Russia. When these youngsters grew up, indoctrinated by the Liverpool regime, they became the deputies and the officers of Soviet Russia, and they changed the way things worked.

Those last statements may be a bit out there, but I think it would be foolish to disregard Yury's claims entirely. The Beatles were one of the biggest cultural forces in the recent history of the West, it shouldn't be surprising that they did the same in the repressive Soviet state.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Disney always has a lesson for us!

After many many horrible hours of studying verbs of motion (sorry Denner, but it's true, they suck) I found a fun and silly way to see verbs of motion in action. Haha, I made a pun. Anyways... Here is A Whole New World in Russian, obviously, with subtitles so that when a verb of motion pops up, you can see how it translate. Enjoy!

Unit 9 Blog

Ovechkin and Crosby are two of the giants of hockey, but one has become the fans' favourite - for his talent, his antics, his heart and the huge fun he's having - while the other has seemingly become what Russians were once considered to be, robotic

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May 6, 2009
There's nothing wrong with the ad - but perhaps the casting could be better.
The commercial is for Tim Hortons coffee, Canada's official blood, and it involves a team bus pulling over on a dark winter's evening, snow gently falling as the disappointed driver announces, "Sorry guys, looks like this is going to take a while."
There are children playing shinny on a nearby frozen pond, and one of the players on the bus sees this through the window he was likely just sleeping against.
Print Edition - Section Front
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Balsillie's power play puts NHL on edge
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Seven in the seventh is heaven
Vancouver spoils Chicago's party
Pronger of Ducks still a dirty birdie to peers
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He gets out with his skates and stick and goes to the pond, turning one youngster speechless with a simple, "Can I play?"
That's Sidney Crosby asking; Alexander Ovechkin wouldn't ask. He wouldn't want to lose any playing time.
"Did I miss anything?" a man arriving late asks as the bus starts up again, Crosby back aboard.
Well, if he missed the first two games of the Eastern Conference semi-final, Ovechkin's Washington Capitals against Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins, he may have missed the finest hockey exhibition that the so-called new NHL has seen.
Canada's Best Player against Canada's Favourite Player.
Make that the World's Favourite Player - at least in the world of imagination that is inhabited by the very young.
They could make a sweeter ad right in Ovechkin's very own neighbourhood in Arlington, Va., where the Washington Capitals star lives. A year ago during the playoffs, children from a nearby elementary school began leaving handwritten notes, and the odd Teddy bear, on his doorstep to wish him luck.
Children can be harsh critics, as well.
After one 7-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers this season, Ovechkin stepped out to find someone had left an egg but no note - no note required to say he had just laid one himself.
Ovechkin's popularity among children seems sure to rival that of past idols such as Wayne Gretzky and the Maurice (Rocket) Richard of Roch Carrier's The Hockey Sweater.
This is not a knock against Crosby's phenomenal skills, not in the least - he matched Ovechkin goal-for-goal Monday night as each scored a brilliant hat trick and Ovechkin's team won 4-3, giving Washington a 2-0 series lead - but it is a recognition that Ovechkin touches something that is denied most stars.
Children love his absolute joy of playing. They love the leap into the boards after every goal. They love the new Hip Bump with which 23-year-old Ovechkin and young 21-year-old Nicklas Backstrom celebrate victories. They loved Ovechkin's clown getup for the shooting competition at the all-star game. And they loved his stick-on-fire routine following his 50th goal of the season.
Don Cherry attacked Ovechkin for this on Coach's Corner, and the support for Ovechkin's bringing a little delight to the game was so overwhelming that, in subsequent weeks, Cherry backed off and even began praising the Russian star.
Ovechkin is not only good for the game, he is becoming the game, just as only Gretzky has done previously.
So great has been his impact on the Capitals that his 13-year, $124-million (U.S.) contract now seems a bargain. But his impact is far beyond that, heard in every road hockey and ministicks game in the world. Kids simply take to him. Perhaps it is because his Stone Age features give him the look of an action figure - one whose every stride and shot is so instantly recognizable he no longer needs that number, 8, to be identified. Perhaps because he is Captain Underpants to Crosby's Curious George, somehow more modern, more mischievous, more alluring to them.
Crosby is huge in Pittsburgh - he's nearly five storeys high on a banner hanging from the new rink going up at the corner of Washington Place and Fifth Avenue - and huge in Canada, where it is hoped he will bring back Olympic gold; but his demeanour at the rink is as though he has come to a board meeting of the Toronto-Dominion Bank. Ovechkin, on the other hand, always looks like recess has just been let out.
It is hard to believe that a generation ago Russian players - then known as Soviet Union players - were routinely dismissed as "robots."
It was a knock that began in the 1972 Summit Series and lasted through to Glasnost. Writing in 1987, columnist John Robertson reflected the thoughts of many when he complained he was sick of hearing that "the red robots from the Soviet Union" were giving lessons "on how our game should be played.
"In a pig's ear," Robertson railed. "The so-called Soviet system so many of our hockey geniuses see fit to applaud and envy, is inseparable from the abysmal depths of human degradation inflicted upon all Soviet citizens by the intrinsically evil rulers in the Kremlin."
It was said then that what would always separate Canadian hockey players from Russian players was "heart." The sort of passion Bobby Clarke showed in 1972 when he deliberately broke Valeri Kharlamov's ankle to help his team win.
Some Soviet players even acknowledged this critical difference; one player, Slava Fetisov, even called himself and his teammates "robots on ice."
But then everything changed.
The wall fell and Fetisov and many of his teammates came to play in the NHL. No one ever again questioned Russian "heart" after the Russian Five - Fetisov, Igor Larionov, Slava Kozlov, Sergei Fedorov and Vladimir Konstantinov, who later lost his hockey career to a car accident - were so pivotal in bringing the Stanley Cup to the Detroit Red Wings in 1997.
Today, a dozen years later, the three finalists for hockey's main individual trophy, the Hart, are all Russian: Ovechkin, Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings. Ovechkin already won the Rocket Richard Trophy as leading goal scorer and Malkin took the Art Ross Trophy as the leading point getter. Datsyuk is also up for the Selke Trophy as the league's best checker and the Lady Byng as the league's most-gentlemanly player. Most astonishing of all, however, may be that Russian Alex Kovalev of the Montreal Canadiens is one of the three finalists for the league award that goes to the most community-minded player.
Robots no more.
In fact, if you had to look for a comparison for the obvious passion that Ovechkin is showing these playoffs, you could do no better than ... Clarke.
The hockey world has changed that dramatically.
A lone white sail shows for an instant
Where gleams the sea, an azure streak.
What left it in its homeland distant?
In alien parts what does it seek?
The billows play, the mast bends, creaking,
The wind, impatient, moans and sighs... It is not joy that it is seeking,
Nor is't from happiness it flies.
The blue waves dance, they dance and tremble,
The sun's bright rays caress the seas.
And yet for storm it begs, the rebel,
As if in storm lurked calm and peace!...
(1832, translated by Irina Zheleznova, from Mikhail Lermontov: Selected Works, Progress Publishers, Moskow, 1976)

Here is a translation of Lermontov's Парус. This is only one of the many poems that Mikhail Lermontov wrote. He was born in Moscow and began writing his poems at the age of fourteen. Throughout his life he was exiled several times because of conflicts with the French ambassador's son. His death came at the age of 27 when he fought in his last quarrel.

Rasputin's Death

I'm not sure how many people read (or have even heard of for that matter) the website, but the authors there write some pretty hilarious articles. They ran this one article a few months back or so titled "7 Historical Figures Who Were Absurdly Hard To Kill." Not only did Rasputin take top place, but Trotsky was thrown in at number 4.

Here's a link to the article (WARNING! Explicit language....):

And I feel the need to add some real merit to my post, so here is some information again on the death of Rasputin, in a much less interesting fashion:

Native Flowers of Russia

 Image of the National Flower

National Flower of Russia

Camomile (Matricaria Recutita), a member of the daisy family Aromatic, Fruity, Floral fragrance, is the national flower of Russia. Native to West Asia, this flower grows freely everywhere.

Used for hysteria and nervous diseases, prevention of gangrene, for breaking up typhoid and in combination with bittersweet for bruises, sprains, calluses and corns, this flower possibly is one of the most important central European remedies, whereas blue chamomile oil is very soothing and dried flowers make a relaxing infusion.

Other Native and Popular Flowers Of Russia

Russia has a largely continental climate because of its sheer size and compact configuration and the climate thus effect the cultivation of flowers in the country. Both imported and locally grown flowers may be found in Russia.

Some of the famous Russian native Flowers are Rhizomatous perennial, Crocus and Arnica Montana.Though wholesalers normally offer a rich stock of cut flowers, the famous grown flowers of Russia such as Camomile, Azalea, Orchid, Roses, Lilies, Gerbera Daisies, Chrysanthemums and Carnations are very much used by the Russians

for gifting purposes on the occasions like, birth days, marriages, valentine days and other festivals.

Russian Mutants

Well since this is the last blog I figure I'd talk about Russian mutants. I mean why not?

So our first mutant is Colossus who actually stole his name from the Greek kolossus, "large statue." He had the superability to turn his skin into a hard organic metal and was one of the strongest of the X-men. Like all Russians, he has a quiet, shy character and is honest and innocent. Also like all Russians, he has lost his entire family, including his sister and his love interest. He also feels it is his responsibility to use his abilities for the betterment of human and mutant-kind like any reasonable Russian would. Basically Colossus epitomizes the good Russian (are there any other kinds) I mean, his name is Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin. How more Russian can you get?

Our second mutant epitomizes the evil Russian. He's a murdering Russian raised in a small town of Siberia. That's right, it's Omega Red. Named Arkady Rossovich (another awesome Russian name) he killed people and then they tried to kill him but then discovered he was a mutant with superabilities and decided to make him a super soldier. Foolproof plan, eh? Well anyway, seems like he had regenerative abilities as well as the emission of death spores that killed people and stuff. The Russians in an arms race with the Americans made him to combat Captain America. So he's like Captain America only a serial killer, an agent of the KGB, and a crazy Russian. Like every evil Russian, he also is equipped with giant carbonadium whip-like tendrils that he can shoot out of his wrists. He uses his whips to mess people up. Also like all evil Russians, he is equipped with weird red armor and a funky hairstyle.

And that's it. Пожалуйста!

--Anders the Great.

Monday, May 4, 2009

End of the year reflection

Why did I decide to take Russian? I want to work in global market research at Goldman Sachs. I want to be a Russian spy for the CIA. It offers lots of scholarship opportunities. These are the answers I give when people ask me why I study Russian. Do you want to know the real reason I decided to take Russian? T.a.T.u., plain and simple, Я сошла с ума, All the Things She Said, got me where I am today. I remember the day we learned what the phrase сошла с ума meant, I thought to myself, "Mission accomplished." 

Needless to say, I've needed to do some re-evaluating my goals. Goal number 2: Memorize lots of russian poetry and collect some номер телефон. Speaking of телефон, that poem was not a good start. You can't even pretend that poem is suave, it rhymes like mother goose. 

Here is the video that got me interested in the mother tongue:

Here is the poem we were required to memorize for our final:

Not even close.

Next fall I am taking all Russian classes with the exception of Honors 3. Hopefully next Spring I will be abroad in the motherland. It seems like Russian pop has gotten me pretty far. 

Three Sheets

My brother told me about this called Three Sheets that follows a comedian as he travels the world drinking and then trying the local hangover cures. He told me I should watched the Moscow episode.

Here's the link to hulu to watch it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Amazing Ballet

I don't know if I posted this last year...but this is seriously one of the best ballet dancers ever. She kinda makes you want to be a ballet dancer!