Monday, October 31, 2011

Flagler charter school to emphasize Russian language

Looks like a charter school that specializes in Russianlanguage and culture is starting soon in Flagler:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Disney Channel Russia

SURPRISE! I'm writing a blog post about Disney. Specifically Disney in Russia. I had no idea what I was going to write about but as I opened my Google account and checked my RSS feeds, I found this little tidbit.

That's right! 75% of the Russian television audience will now have free access to a free Disney Channel! Lucky Russians. Next thing they need is a theme park...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Хеталия: Россия

Now we [Taylor Takoushian & Katherine Fanning] know probably none of you in this class watch anime, but thankfully one exists that we can relate to this class: Hetalia: Axis Powers. Originally a webmanga/webcomic by artist/author Hidekaz Himaruya, this anime recently became ridiculously popular, starring the personified countries of the world playing out their cultural stereotypes and histories with satirical humor.
And of course, there is glorious Russia.
 Glorious, downright adorable Russia.

You just wanna hug him, don't you?

Believe it or not, Russia is portrayed as a very split character! He is introduced as sweet, soft-spoken, and filled with positive intentions, but it is rapidly shown that due to the strain of his bloody history, he has partially snapped. Russia frequently exhibits an intimidating aura. Russia is completely aware of his volatile personality, and generally has all of the innocence and cruelty of a small child.
Russia's character design depicts him with a slightly prominent nose, beige-blonde hair, blue-ish eyes and has him rather tall, about 182cm, and he is usually clad in a standard beige, winter trenchcoat adorned with a military medal, a scarf given to him by the character Ukraine (his "big sister" whom he misses dearly), and is seen holding sunflowers, vodka, and/or a faucet pipe. Sunflowers, because Russia hates the cold and longs to live in a sunny place filled with such flowers, vodka for obvious reasons, and the faucet pipe...... well, who knows.

In the profiles of the published manga, he is described as a large young man who is seemingly bighearted and innocent, but is in reality childishly cruel. He comes off as intimidating without even saying a word, his gentle smile and disposition only intensifying the aura of dread which seems to constantly hang over him. He is often described as gentle and naive, and not malicious, but insane. Though he is capable of being incredibly cruel-minded, Russia himself is unaware of it.

Russia hates the cold mostly because every year he is attacked by General Winter. However, General Winter is his most powerful ally in the face of war.

His given human name is Ivan Braginski, or Иван Брагинский, and in fan-works the diminutive "Vanya"/"Ваня" is sometimes used.

Himaruya, the author/artist, has also created various female versions of the characters, Ivan included. as you can see below.

Isnt she a cutie? The female version of Russia does not have an official given name at the current time.

 Below, there's a video clip from the English-dubbed version of the show, here we get to see BOTH SIDES OF RUSSIA. (and a really freaked out France) 
We hope you enjoyed this little expose on Hetalia's Russia.
Stay tuned for more blogs about him, his sisters, and his foreign relations with the other Nation people~!
До свидания~!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

большой театр

Instead of talking about an actual opera for this blog post, I decided to talk about where most of the operas are performed! The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow boast some of the best artistic performances in Russia. Not only does this amazing venue house the State Opera company, it also produces ballet performances! The theatre just went through a 6 year renovation, and they just announced, today, that they will have a grand re-opening! Read more about it from it's website and Wikipedia!

Putin Sings for Charity

Although this video is a little old I thought it was still worth watching. In it, Vladimir Putin is surprising no one by being a little bit ridiculous and singing "Blueberry Hill" at a charity dinner for children in St. Petersburg last year. Honestly I don't think Vladimir Putin can shock anyone anymore by being a little absurd.

Alla Pugacheva

For my blog I'm going to be introducing you to an extremely famous Russian singer by the name of Alla Pugacheva. I grew up listening to her because my parents would always play her music in the house and in the car. They grew up listening to her, as did millions of other Russians.In order to get a clear idea of how influential she was in Russian society, both during the Soviet Union and after its collapse,here is an article about her that I found. I hope you find it interesting. I am also posting one of her most famous songs so you can hear her voice and hopefully you enjoy her music just as much as I did growing up! This song is one her older songs.Enjoy!!

P.S. I didn't know if I could add a second link or how to do it so here is the address for the music:

Natural Resources

Russia has one of the greatest reserves of natural resources in the world. So why don't we hear more about Russian resources being used? Probably because they're way off in Siberia. The remoteness of these resources makes them expensive to mine.

So what resources does Russia have, anyways?

Minerals! Russia may hold as much as half of the world's coal reserves, and even larger amounts of petroleum. They also have about 40% of the world's supply of natural gas.

Ferrous metals! Iron ore deposits south of Moscow near the Ukrainian border contain so much iron ore that they have actually caused a deviation in the Earth's magnetic field. Russia also has adequate quantities of manganese, nickel, tungsten, cobalt, molybdenum and other iron-alloying elements.

Non-ferrous metals! Mostly copper, but there's a smaller amount of aluminum as well. The North Caucasus contains a large amount of lead and zinc ores, which are commonly found with copper, silver, gold, and a bunch of other rare metals. Russia has one of the largest gold reserves in the world, and mercury deposits can be found in the southern and central Urals and in south central Siberia.

Raw minerals! Potassium, magnesium salt and apatite (not to be confused with appetite). Rock salt can be found in the southwestern Urals, and sulfur can be found in the Urals and in the middle of the Volga valley

I suppose it shouldn't be such a surprise that Russia contains such a large amount of natural resources. Being REALLY REALLY BIG helps, I'm sure.

Deanna Wotursky Unit 3

Russian World of Oil
What do you think of when you see gas prices? Many automatically start complaining about the high prices it takes to fill up your tank now-a-days, but this isn’t the case in Russia. They currently are pumping 650 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and one cubic meter is the equivalent to about 36 cubic feet. Now that is a lot of oil. It is said that they have pumped enough gas to sustain themselves for over a century. They currently are the largest exporter of oil, and are home to most of the largest oil reserves in the world. Russia’s largest oil company is Rosneft, which has recently reported a 10% profit in its third quarter. Rosneft like many Russian companies is majority owned by the government, and they currently drill in Siberia, southern Russia and surrounding areas. They don’t have control of any pipelines but the company runs two successful refineries. This success may not last though because competitors are seeking licenses to drill and research oil in the Artic. This poses a threat to these companies because they have already spent millions in exploring possible oil areas. In all, one of our most sought after natural resources is being used to boost Russia’s economy, and keep their gas prices low.

Taylor & Alecsa's Unit 3 Dialogue (with a little HEBREW)

Here's our dialogue~!


Blog post unit 3-hannah

So people of our generation are always complaining about the US and how its run; apparently this is common throughout the world, even in Russia. Basically this article talks about young Russian scientists who have decided that they want more control over what they do... sounds like the terrible twos all over again...

Стефан и Эзри гоборят по-русски.


dialogue:unit 3 Ashley and Deanna

Kira Plastinina, fashion prodigy

Kira Plastinina is a Russian fashion designer who I've been following since she debuted in 2007. The amazing thing is that this fashion designer happens to be of the youngest in the business, and she's taking it by storm. By fourteen she was a brand, and by sixteen, she was selling her designs to celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears while opening stores all over the globe. She is the daughter of a prominent Russian businessman, so people often think that her success is only a product of her wealth. But, while her wealth did help her get her start, it is her talent that keeps her a true contender in the fashion world.

The link is of a 2008 article about her from New York Magazine, and below is a youtube video of her Fall 2011 collection at New York Fashion Week.

--Kristen Moisio

Dialogue: Unit 2 Ashley and Deanna

Emmy Minteer Blog Post Unit 3: Russian Story (via Luke Ford's Tumblr)

My good friend (and fellow Honors Student) Luke Ford did a series on his Tumblr about Czar Nicholas II of Russia in World War I. It's super interesting, I hope you like it! The others will follow later!

Emmy Minteer and Katherine Fanning Recorded Dialogue for Unit 3

The Truth of Anastasia?


Dialogue for Unit 3

Billie V. and Brittany O. Dialogue for Unit 3

Ethan's Unit 3 Dialogue

Russian Skit-Corrine G, Kristen M. Unit 3

Tyler and Anthony's Speaking Lines.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Russian Sweets

There is a link to a recipe for Kulich. I thought it was interesting that the dish is very similar to the Italian Panettone, which is a common holiday dessert in Italian households.

"Desserts feature at many traditional Russian celebrations, such as the delicious soft cheese and dried fruit 'Paskha' served at Easter. Many Russian desserts come from Western European influences, started in the early 18th Century by Peter the Great's fascination with all things Dutch, German, French and Swedish.

Many popular Russian desserts and baked goods feature berries, varieties of which we never see in New Zealand, such as the bilberry. These desserts have come from the Central Asian countries that were eventually annexed by Russia and formed part of the Soviet Union.

Baked desserts are also very popular, like the small sweet pies and dumplings called vareniki which are filled with preserved fruit or tvorog (a dry soft cheese similar to quark). Whilst they are often eaten as a dessert, because they are so filling they also can be served as a sweet luncheon dish or for afternoon tea.

Perhaps most well known are Russian pancakes or 'blini'. These are not strictly for dessert as they are often served with savory accompaniments such as mushrooms or caviar. In February, Muscovites celebrate the end of winter and the coming spring with a week dedicate to blini, called 'Maslenitsa'."

Maman, regardes - tout ces russes!

Mommy, look at all those Russians!

Nice, in the south of France, has been home to a Russian community for a long while now. A Russian Orthodox Church bears witness to this. The problem is, Russia wants to reclaim the property on which the church stands. It's an interesting battle, if nothing else!

Урок 3 Dialogue: Brandis and Georgia

Unit 3 Dialogue with Karina and Lindsay

We speak Russianly so well! :-D

Nihilism: Rejecting Authority (Unit 3)

Nihilism: Rejecting Authority

     The decade of the 1860s was a time of progressive change throughout Russia. In 1861, serfdom was abolished effectively by Alexander II, and new European ideas had begun to spread through the intellectual communities. It was during this period that the Nihilist movement developed in Russia. Originally coined by Ivan Turgenev, Nihilism was a Russian movement that rejected all authority and advocated the eradication of traditional values in Russia. Heavily influenced by Marxist philosophy, Nihilists saw the Czarist Monarchy and the Boyar class as the oppressive bourgeoisie that owned the means of production. They also believed that the emancipation of serfdom was simply a transitional stage to the serfs becoming industrial workers.
     Truly speaking, Nihilism was a sort of an embodiment of the prominent philosophies circulating through Europe at this time. People in Russia were finally seeing things for how they "really" were, and so they wanted to change their country for the better. Nihilists thought themselves as revolutionaries fighting to bring about that change through whatever means necessary. Of course, they did not succeed in doing this and even brought more violence and trouble to their nation. Nevertheless, the Nihilist movement changed the history of Russia and influenced many revolutionary groups to come.

- Anthony McRae

Ivan's Childhood

This was Tarkovsky's first feature length film and it is quite remarkable. If you have 90 minutes to spare I would certainly recommend watching it. So, here is a link to Ivan's Childhood, in its entirety on youtube,

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cold War Redux: The trial of the alleged "Merchant of Death"

Who is the real Viktor Bout? A former KGB official residing in Moscow who says he has “friends” in high places in Russia? The ultimate capitalist, who once had the world’s largest arms transport fleet and was contracted by the U.S. Pentagon during the Iraq War? Or a puppet on the international stage in a show trial reenacting the Cold War? There is no denying the tug of war between the Russia and the U.S. during the extradition battle in the Thai courts. The process was prolonged as both countries flexed their muscle and weighed in heavily. Hence, Bout was not extradited to the U.S. until November 2010.

More and more Russian agents, primarily old KGB Cold War spooks”, have immigrated to the Unites States either to suck up the perks of capitalism, or deal arms to Americans. When the Soviet Union was still intact, Russians with connections to higher power, such as Victor Bout, lived a very capitalist lifestyle, since it was truly a totalitarian form of government with a few percentage were rich. I’m sure he came to America to continue in that lifestyle. Or he might deal arms, such as a Russian “sleeper” agent was dealing certain Barret .50 Caliber infrared scoped in Texas a few years ago, she is back in Russia now because of a spy exchange. It seems that more and more Russians are coming to America to pursue riches that they never got in the former Soviet blocks or to continue in their former lifestyle as a rich high-ranking KGB officer.

Tyler Swanson

Man's new best friend?

I found this article a couple weeks ago and thought it was pretty interesting. Russian scientists domesticate the fox, check it out.

Yeti/ Abominable Snowman / Eastern Bigfoot/ whatever you wanna call it

Like cavemen who have been lost in time, reports of the Siberian Snowman (aka Chuchunaa) are different from typical Bigfoot sightings reported around the globe. Believed to be living in remote regions of the former Soviet Union, such as Siberia where they are known as Mulen, the Siberian Bigfoot has often been described as wearing clothing, specifically animal skins. Although the Siberian Snowman fits the size and furry descriptions of Bigfoot in North America, the wearing of animal skins and a noted white patch of forearm hair seems to be more indicative of Neanderthal depictions than Sasquatch descriptions. Does the Siberian Snowman truly exist?

In 1928, the government of the Soviet Union began exploring the remote Indigirka and Yana river regions with expedition teams collecting eyewitness accounts of the Bigfoot creatures. Tribes native to the area have lore that has passed down for hundreds of years about the Siberian Snowman which some have viewed as outcasts from human civilization (the name Chuchunaa means "outcast"). In Siberia, the Siberian Snowman Bigfoot is known to penetrate buildings and barns to take food and other items.

Josh Gates and his team from the tv show, Destination Truth, went to Siberia to search for the elusive creature. They found some unidentifiable animal hairs and made a cast of a supposed big foot track. ( I personally watched this episode when it aired in 2010, it was pretty cool I must say, very compelling.)
Ezri, unit 3

Виктор Цои/Viktor Tsoi /,_%D0%92%D0%B8%D0%BA%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%80_%D0%A0%D0%BE%D0%B1%D0%B5%D1%80%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87
(The Russian one gives more sources)

Виктор Цои русский музыкант. Actually, he was part Korean, so one could say he was simply россиянин. Semantics aside though, he was one of Russia's greatest rock stars. Some Americans might know him from one of his songs which was featured in the game Grand Theft Auto 4:

Starting out during the tail-end of the Soviet Union, his first shows were primarily in the underground music scene of the time. He established himself through his use of political themes during a time when the Soviet Union still practiced censorship.

During the period of Glasnost and Perestroika, Tsoi began to gain more fame as the loosening up of censorship allowed his music to be heard more widely. He and his group eventually become one of the most popular rock groups in the Soviet Union.

Despite this, Viktor Tsoi remained a normal guy. He was dedicated to his family and lived a modest life. These were some of the things that made him so appealing to Russians.

He died in 1990 in a car accident, leaving many Russians sad over the loss of one of the more dynamic figures of Russian Rock.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Typical Russian Weddings

In a typical Russian wedding, the groom arrives at his bride's home with his closest friends and pays a 'ransom' for the bride. A ransom would typically include: honey, candy, reading a poem, dancing, singing, etc. but he would only have to do this if he answered a question wrong about his bride. After that is done, they all would ride down to the department of public services or "ZAGS" to register their marriage. Now marrying religiously is an option, but not required since Russia does not recognize it as official. Afterwards, it is customary for the newlyweds and their close friends to go see the sights and have a few drinks for about 2-3 hours then they go to the wedding reception. At the wedding reception it is all fun and games. Literally. There is tons of drinking, drinking games, and games I have no clue what they're called! In the video. There is this one game where someone walks as fast as they can around a plate with their finger on it and then when they lift their finger off of it, they keep on spinning and run into people or people try (and usually fail) to catch them. I think that that looks like so much fun!!! A wedding reception last about 2-3 days and it is full of fun, games, drinking, eating, and sleeping by everyone.

i thought this was funny

The Booker Prize is Britain's most prestigious literary award. 

Edward Docx has a charming account of his recent visit to Russia for a literary festival, and the scuffle he accidentally started when he explained the Man Booker to the Russian writers.
I begin to explain that the chair of the judges is Dame Stella Rimington and that she is an ex-head of the security services in Britain. And—bam!—that's it: now everyone is laughing. Oh, the west, they guffaw. Oh, England, they chortle. Oh, hypocrisy. Oh, MI5. Oh, MI6. Even the FSB would not dare! You mean, they splutter, that the winner of your most famous literary prize is judged by the security services? It seems I could not have told them a more perfect Anglo-Russian joke if I tried.
I try to explain that they are mistaken, that Dame Rimington is retired and is a now an author herself. Yes, someone cackles, like Putin is retired from the KGB!
Fuck it, someone else suggests, we should set up an international prize for the security services. We should judge the FSB versus the CIA versus MI5 versus FBI and Mossad. We should proudly declare we know nothing whatsoever about security but say that we intend to make the award based on who we feel has the most zippy-looking offices as seen from street level. Had I ever been in the boy scouts? Yes, for a day. Well, then, certainly I was qualified. Let's set it up tonight. A famous meta-realist falls off his chair.
Reading the essay I'm reminded of the... is it Bruce Chatwin?... quotation that the famed Russian hospitality is mostly just the Russian love for seeing a foreigner drunk.

From here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Brittany Ooman portfolio 3

Boris Grenbenshchkov
Born on November27, 1952 in St. Petersburg, Boris is one of the most influential rock stars in Russia. He is the lead singer in a band called Aquarium which has been main stream since 1972.
Growing up, Boris obtained his degree in applied mathematics, however chose to concentrate on music instead. He spent much of his 1970’s touring and drinking all over Russia. The band continued to record throughout the 1980’s, when the music business was booming, then in 1986 a smuggled recording of Aquarium was released in the United States.
As the Soviet Union was collapsing, Boris headed west in hopes for a successful career outside his norms. After two solo albums, he figured out the west was not for him and headed back to Russia. He continued recording through the Aquarium brand throughout the 1990’s. Through Boris’s career, he has written over 500 songs and recorded over 20 albums, along with writing and presenting his own radio show in on the Russian Radio station.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Russia Asked to Join ExoMars Project

Russia has been formally asked to join European space missions to mars in the years of 2016-2018. Involving the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) is the only way to ensure the financial stability of the project. The mission will send a satellite and robot rover to the planet. Both the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA acknowledge that diplomatic work will be needed to get Roscosmos on boardIn return for helping with the project, Russian scientists hope to be included on the scientific experiments and discoveries that would be made during the mission. Making changes to the already established line of command, however, could anger other European states. The agencies have given themselves until January to determine if a compromise can be met that would include Russian scientists in the project.

Russia Asked to Join ExoMars Project

Russia has been formally asked to join European space missions to mars in the years of 2016-2018. Involving the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) is the only way to ensure the financial stability of the project. The mission will send a satellite and robot rover to the planet. Both the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA acknowledge that diplomatic work will be needed to get Roscosmos on boardIn return for helping with the project, Russian scientists hope to be included on the scientific experiments and discoveries that would be made during the mission. Making changes to the already established line of command, however, could anger other European states. The agencies have given themselves until January to determine if a compromise can be met that would include Russian scientists in the project.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Europe's Real Problem, The Lack of Growth

Europe is facing its most severe challenge since 1945. If the Greek crisis morphs into an Italian crisis - Italy being too large to bail out - the entire structure of post-World War II Europe could unravel. When Greece’s economy plummeted, a year or so ago, the EU gave them a decent bailout check that would hopefully bounce their economy back up, Although they only did this, probably because they did not want the Euro to fall as one of the top-valued currencies in the world. This bailout package lightly helped for a short period of time, but Greece finally went back to its downfall, and now Italy is falling down the same path. The Germans think that another bailout is out of the question. They need to learn how to reform their countries that will best benefit their culture and economy. When I went to Sweden recently, they did not feel much of an effect from this because they have their own currency, the Kroner. All three Scandinavian countries are on this currency and their economies have been just fine. In fact, If you look at Sweden’s inception into a very socialist democracy, and relatively neutral to other world affairs, they have not had one economic plummet. The rest of Europe is a true mixture of socialist economies and capitalist economies, and I believe that they are feeling the effect of having a capitalist economy, as America is so familiar with.

Tyler Swanson

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The New Pravda

I've been poking around, a Russian newsite, reading articles with pro-Putin, anti-U.S. slants. Pravda was originally the official newspaper of the Soviet Union and an outlet for much of their propaganda. After the fall of the USSR, some of the paper's journalists founded a new paper of the same name. The new Pravda was bought soon after by Greek entrepreneurs, just in time for a major editorial schism to erupt. Many of the journalists from the Soviet era left and went on to establish Pravda Online, the nationalist, pro-Putin, anti-U.S., publication that exists today. Interestingly, the articles are not inaccurate. The straight information and the statistics are essentially true. But the narrative, the sensationalist headlines, and the missing information form a very different perspective of world events. A few of the articles I found particularly interesting:

Ban Ki-Moon: An insult to the memory of Dag Hammarskjöld

On the 50th anniversary of the death of U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, Pravda had this to say of the current U.N. Secretary Ban-Ki Moon:

"As for Ban Ki-Moon, the history book will have him down as the weakest, most insignificant and inept non-entity ever to have insulted the UNO (the United Nations) and the world community of nations due to his biased and totally ineffective stance on Libya, where the UNO passed the responsibility to that evil clique of war-mongerers and murderers, NATO and stood back while these war criminals unleashed hordes of marauding thugs on the good people of the Jamahiriya."

The West does everything possible to make Russia dance to its tune

Pravda reports on the feud over natural gas prices between Turkey and Russia:
"It is not hard to understand the concerns of Turkish and Western business partners. Cheap fuel has always been one of the basic conditions for the prosperity of Western economies. The current situation is different, though. However, the West has always glorified the market freedom and everything else that is related to it. Why does Russia have to refuse from its own profit if gas prices have grown? Would Germany sell Mercedes cars at half-price?"

NATO exterminates 2 percent of a populated city
This is an opinion piece on the war in Libya:

"In truth, the only ones NATO is "protecting" are their terrorist criminal stooges so that they may create havoc and total disaster on an unfriendly population that hates them and all they stand for: terror, murder, destruction, crime, rape, theft, treason and inviting colonial crusader powers to take over the country so that they may obtain personal financial gain."

Putin solves all problems Russia had with China
Despite the headline, the article is not as emotionally charged as some of the others. It still comes off as pretty one-sided by chalking up "all the problems" to China's unwillingness to pay the full price for Russian oil:
"During his visit to China, Vladimir Putin managed to come to an agreement regarding the payments for the Russian oil. Officials with the Russian administration believe that China was not paying the full price for the Russian oil. According to them, China was keeping $3 from every barrel. Chinese officials claim that those were "transportation costs."

Putin: "We don't need great disaster. We need great Russia"

This one has relatively neutral language, but you can still hear the reporter's excitement over the presidential candidacy of Vladimir Putin:

"The Russians say that they trust Putin and that they do not see any other candidate. Many people said that they were used to having Putin as the leader. People notice positive changes that have happened in the country during the recent years. Many of them say that the changes became possible because of Putin's work. The respondents said that they think of Putin as a responsible, experienced and confident politician."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Подмосковные вечера

Unit 2 Post: Russian Dolls

This should be interesting. I wonder how the rest of Russian-Americans will react?

Winnie the Pooh

Came across this odd Winnie the Pooh cartoon from Russia. And not our lovable Disney interpretation. But a full on different version. All the characters are drawn differently and the whole video is pretty much one long song. Eeyore even seems happy. It's odd. But worth a watch.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Emmy and Katherine Proceed to get Glorious grades on their portfolios. RECORDING.

Unit 2 Dialogue: Brandis and Georgia

Unit 2 Dialogue Recording: Taylor & Alecsa

Here it is:

please ignore the weird looking lemon dragon thing, the program we used needed a picture/video format.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Emmy Minteer Unit 2 Blog Post

This is one of my favorite paintings - my mom has a thing for nautical/ocean scenes. The painter happens to be Russian too!

Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900)
Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky was born in the family of a merchant of Armenian origin in the town of Theodosia, Crimea. His parents were under strained circumstances and he spent his childhood in poverty. There is some evidence to suggest that poverty obliged the young Aivazovsky to work in the cosmopolitan coffee-shops of Theodosia, alive with the chatter of many different tongues: Italian, Greek, Turkish, Armenian and Tatar. The young boy's eager mind soaked up all the colorful sights and sounds which Theodosia with its mixed population had to offer. He also had a keen musical ear and soon learned to play folk melodies on the violin. Later Aivazovsky recalled some of these melodies for his composer friend Mikhail Glinka, who used them in his compositions.

It was drawing, however, which most seized the young boy's imagination: lacking other materials he drew in charcoal on the whitewashed walls of Theodosia. These drawings attracted the attention of A. Kaznacheyev, the town-governor, who helped Aivazovsky to enter the high school at Simpheropol and in 1833, the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts, where he took the landscape painting course and was especially interested in marine landscapes. In the autumn of 1836 Aivazovsky presented 5 marine pictures to the Academic exhibition, and they were highly appreciated. In 1837, Aivazovsky received the Major Gold Medal for Calm in the Gulf of Finland (1836) and The Great Road at Kronstadt (1836), which allowed him to go on a long study trip abroad. However the artist first went to the Crimea to perfect himself in his chosen genre by painting the sea and views of the Crimean coastal towns.

When Aivazovsky began his career, Russian art was still dominated by Romanticism and it was the romantic mood which set the terms for Russian landscape painting in the second half of the nineteenth century. It is scarcely surprising then to discover romantic elements both in Aivazovsky's early works, and in the majority of his later ones. One reflection of this is his choice of subjects - again and again we find him depicting shipwrecks, raging sea battles and storms.

Aivazovsky's student days in St. Petersburg coincided with a confused and in many ways contradictory phase in the Russian history. On the one hand it was a period of harsh tyrannical rule and political stagnation under tsar Nicholas I, on the other it witnessed a great flowering of Russian culture, beginning after the Napoleonic War of 1812. This was the age of Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Belinsky, Glinka and Briullov. Within the Academy the canons of Classicism, closely linked to ideas of civic duty and patriotism, still held sway, but the new stirrings of Romanticism were also discernible.

The great success of Karl Briullov's picture The Last Day of Pompeii made a lasting impression on Aivazovsky, summing up as it did the victory of the Romantic school in the Russian painting. Both the picture and Briullov himself played an important part in stimulating Aivazovsky's own creative development. In general Russian art of the first half of the nineteenth century combined Romanticism with Realism and very often both principles found expression in an artist's works. This was especially evident in landscape painting, an essentially realistic art form which continued romantic features for a long time. Aivazovsky acquired a romantic outlook in his student years and maintained it in maturity. He remained to the end one of the most faithful disciples of Romanticism, although this did not prevent him from evolving his own form of realism.

Russian Cuisine

Sour schi recipe

Sour schi are made mainly from sauerkraut that gives this popular Russian soup a special taste. This recipe is considered to be a good working remedy for hangover.

2 cups Russian pickled cabbage, kvashenaja kapusta; (available in Russian stores), drained, juice reserved
1-1/2 lb beef short ribs*
1 slice smoked bacon, about 3 oz.
4-5 dry shiitake mushrooms
1 cup wild mushrooms, such as borowiks, porcini, chanterelles, or shiitakes, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 small onion, whole, peeled
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 small carrot, whole, peeled
4-5 parsley stalks
2 stalks celery
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp minced dill
vegetable oil
sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

*Oxtails are also a good choice of meat, but they require longer cooking.
measures conversion [+]

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add short ribs to the pot. Add a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat and let simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove the scum. Add smoked bacon, small onion, small carrot, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, parlsey stalks and dry mushrooms. Cover and keep at a bare simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Remove the short ribs and set aside. Strain the stock through multi-layered cheese cloth and discard the solids. Strain fat from the top. (The stock can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated, which makes fat removal easier.) Bring the strained stock to a simmer. Reserve approximately 2 cups of stock and set aside. Saute chopped onions and julienned carrots in vegetable oil until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add pickled cabbage, stir, and saute, covered, for 10 more minutes. Add to the stock in the pot along with reserved cabbage juice. Add mushrooms and let simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Warm butter over medium heat and quickly sift in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture (roux) is dark blond in color. Add reserved stock in a thin stream, whisking vigorously. Whisk the resulting sauce into the soup. Adjust the salt and season generously with pepper. Return the short ribs to the soup and let warm through for 5 minutes. Stir in dill just before serving. Serve with sour cream on the side.

Kristen and Corrine's skit.

Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto

In this blog, I’m going to be writing about the history behind one of my favorite violin concertos of all time by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The piece is called Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35. This piece is one of the best known out of all the violin concertos and is considered by many to be one of the most technically difficult pieces for violin. Tchaikovsky wrote this piece in 1878 in Clarens, a Swiss resort on the shore of Lake Geneva while recovering from depression due to a disastrous marriage that quickly ended in divorce. He was there with a composition pupil named Isoif Kotek. While in Clarens, Tchaikovsky regained his inspiration and completed the concerto within a month, although he decided to discard the middle movement and rewrite it. Kotek helped him complete the violin solo part because he was a violinist and Tchaikovsky was not.
When he truly completed the concerto, Tchaikovsky decided that he wanted Leopold Auer, a friend who was the head of the violin department in St. Petersburg Conservatory, to give the first performance. He sent the manuscript to him and Auer sent it back, deeming the concerto as unplayable. Unfortunately for Tchaikovsky, Auer spread that word with such authority that it took three years for this concerto to finally be premiered to the public. The first performance was finally given by a violinist named Adolph Brodsky. He was a former colleague of Tchaikovsky at the Moscow Conservatory. He performed it with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1881.Brodsky must have felt the pressure of performing this work because only one rehearsal was allotted for the new work.The audience applauded Brodsky for his performance but they ridiculed the piece itself. Despite the feedback that was received, Brodsky stood by the concerto and performed it throughout Europe. The work soon began to gain popularity and even Auer, who had once shunned the work, began teaching the concerto to his students.
Here is a recording of the first movement. This movement is the one that is most often performed. I think it is gorgeous and there is a beautiful melody that is introduced by the violin towards the beginning of the concerto and returns throughout the movement. When I first heard a performance of this movement, I fell in love with it. I hope you like it just as much as I do!

A Continuation of Tchaikovsky and Eugene Onegin

In September 1865 Nikolay Rubinstein, the brother’s of Tchaikovsky’s Conservatory teacher, came to St Petersburg to recruit a theory teacher for music classes in Moscow similar to those Anton had organized in St Petersburg. Tchaikovsky was offered the position, and with it a place to live in Nikolay’s quarters.” During this time, Tchaikovsky’s sexual orientation became obscured; it is said that Tchaikovsky had both homosexual and heterosexual relations. “Tchaikovsky’s letters as we have them suggest reasonable conclusions about his sexuality…Tchaikovsky expressed the belief that he could function in a heterosexual union even if he had to lead a double life.”

Tchaikovsky’s dysfunctional and ultimately disastrous marriage to Antonina Milyukova, who had been a student at the St. Petersberg Conservatory, occurred during the same time the idea for the opera Eugene Onegin was being formed. Ironically, Tchaikovsky had received a love letter from Milyukova just as the character Onegin had received a love letter from Tatyana in Pushkin’s poem. Tchaikovsky, who had a great dislike for Onegin, was horrified at the prospect of behaving in the same manner as Onegin, who rejected Tatyana and dashed her hopes of love. So, even though he explained to Milyukova that he did not and could not have any romantic feelings for her, he agreed to a secret marriage. The result of this was a nervous breakdown two weeks into the marriage and an unsuccessful attempt at suicide on Tchaikovsky’s part before he finally fled to St. Petersburg to recover. It was during and shortly after this time in his life that he composed Eugene Onegin.

Spektacular! (Katherine Fanning, portfolio post 2.)

So here is the face of the most beautiful angel of all time, my personal favourite musician, Regina Ilyinichna Spektor. She's not quite mainstream -- this lady here has her roots in New York's anti-folk scene, and you've probably heard her music here and there; 500 Days of Summer soundtrack, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian end credits, etc, etc etc. Regina Spektor was born in Moscow, USSR and gloriously proficient in piano probably since she left the womb. She was so good, that even with her entire family being Jewish, they were actually thinking about not immigrating to America solely because of wanting her to continue her piano lessons in Russia. However, they did move to Bronx, and Regina continued being perfect. Her music is vivid, colourful, sometimes blusey and melancholy, sometimes nauseatingly peppery, but always beautifully, normally incorporating her piano prowess, curiously lovely singing, and hints of her Russian origins. One of my favourite songs, Apres Moi (linked here) is a prime example -- in the bridge of the song, she dips into Russian, singing part of a poem by Boris Pasternak:

Fevral. Dostat chernil i plakat!
Pisat o fevrale navzryd,
Poka grohochuschaya slyakot
Vesnoyu chernoyu gorit.

February. Get ink, shed tears.
Write of it, sob your heart out, sing,
While torrential slush that roars
Burns in the blackness of the spring.

That part of the song gets to me every time, and I can thank this class for making me capable of singing it correctly now, yessssss.

Regina speaks Russian fluently to this day and values her heritage immensely, and it is always grand getting a taste of it in her music!

Ladies and gentlemen, until next time B)

Basso Profondo, aka "Russian Bass"

The term "basso profondo" refers to a male vocalist who sings in the range an octave lower than a normal bass part. It came to be colloquially referred to as "Russian bass", because of its popularity among Slavic composers. I have always had a deep (pardon the pun) admiration for these vocalists, which is why I chose to share this with you.

Here's a recording of We Bow Down Before Your Cross, composed by Pyotr Goncharov, which includes basso profondo. It might be a bit long for some of your attention spans, but I find it unbelievably beautiful.

"The Russian Campaign"

Here is a little history on Napoleon Bonaparte when he tried to make war with Russia. He was one of the reasons why I was so interested in taking a Russian course and how I learned of their VERY cold winters!

Corrine Garwood

Deanna Wotursky blog entry for port 2

Who is the most powerful man in Russia? Many would argue that it is Vladimir Putin. On September 24th he put his bid in to reclaim the presidency in the 2012 elections. For this current term he has been serving as prime minister after he had to depart the “Kremlin” in 2008 because he had served two consecutive terms as president and in Russia, just like America, that is the limit.

It was no question that Russia’s dominant political party would approve his candidacy. He has remained the dominant political figure even over the current president Dmitry Medvedev. His presidency is seen as nothing special because he didn’t do anything very important, Medvedev is known mostly as a place-holder until Putin can resume presidency.The Russian party also approved Putin’s nomination for Prime Minister in the 2012 elections who consequently is Dmitry Medvedev.

Putin maintains his popularity by putting himself out there, for example he goes on the television to show the public that he is healthy, interested in global affairs and that he socializing with the public as a whole. His popularity and the way Russians political system usually plays out he will win the 2012 elections, and will make changes within the system to increase his power as president.

Previously, as president he has caused a lot of tension between the West (mostly the United States) and Russia. He has recently proposed forming a "Eurasian Union" which would bring together all the previous soviet nations. What I got from this is that he would like to get the previous Soviet Union together as allies to become a “player” in the global game for power and influence. Putin is known for thinking the fall of the Soviet Union was one of the worst things to happen…like ever. If he wins the 2012 elections I predict this plan for a “Eurasian Union” will be one of his biggest endeavors.

Vladimir Putin is one of the most influential political figures of our time, and not just in the Russian culture but in the entire world. He has his own style to things, and offers another view that is very different from standard political figures. The 2012 election in the worlds eyes is already won by him, and everyone would be surprised if he didn’t win.

"Not your grandma's nesting dolls."

The link is a website that has compiled 25 not-so-typical matryoshka dolls (Матрёшка). I've always loved these growing up, and my mother and I used to collect them. These dolls date back to 1890, when the first set was carved, and they usually feature a figure of a woman in traditional Russian peasant dress (сарафан). The link, however, shows some more "creative" versions. Enjoy!

--Kristen Moisio

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Extreme Schooling? 3 American Kids in Russia

Here is a very interesting article about a New York Times writer's children's experiences being placed in an all-Russian school for 4 years, and having no prior knowledge of Russian language.

I highly suggest reading the whole article, its pretty intriguing. :)

~Taylor Takoushian
Тейлор Такушиан

Ethan's Dialogue

Billie V. And Brittany O. Dialogue for Portfolio 2

The October Revolution

The October Revolution
by Anthony McRae
    When the October Revolution took place, Russia was in the middle of fighting the German horde in one of the most brutal conflicts in history. There was massive shortages in food and general supplies, and the people were tired of being abused by their government. The Bolsheviks who had control over the Petrograd soviet and the soviets surrounding Petrograd (the capital city of Russia at the time) were waiting for the right kindle to ignite the fire of their communist revolution. By October, there was mass unemployment, growing tension over Russia's involvement in WWI, and great political repression throughout the land. The time to start the engine of revolution was now.
   On the 23rd of October, the Bolsheviks' Central Committee voted 10-2 on a resolution that would create an armed militia to overthrow the government. Then at 9:45 a.m. on October 25th, the Bolshevik military led by V.I. Lenin stormed government facilities taking them over with little resistance. By 2:00 p.m., they had overtook the Winter Palace ending the Russian Provisional  Government. That night was the last night of the great Tsarist institution called the Russian Empire. The next morning heralded the birth of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Летят журавли

The Cranes Are Flying, directed by Mikhail Kalatozov in 1957, is an expertly crafted drama featuring an exceptional cast. Its greatest strength may be the work of cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky. His brilliant use of a handheld camera was quite innovative in itself but the use of long sequence shots with the handheld was revolutionary and unheard of at that time in the Soviet Union or anywhere else(with the exception of some members of the French New Wave in its early years).


Lindsay and Karina's Dialogue for Unit 2

Here is our dialogue for Portfolio #2

Hannah and Janine's dialogue chpt 2

Hannah blog post 2

this article is absically about Russia wanting to renew ties and make the existing ties stronger with the US. I found it an interesting view on Russian foreign policy.

Russia Says No To Kalashnikovs

This year has seen the end of the longstanding tradition of the Soviet times. Russia's Defense Ministry has decided to completely refuse from purchasing the legendary AK-74 rifles for the army. There are two reasons for that: the country has too many Kalashnikovs and they are outdated.

Although Russia has one of the largest and most diverse militaries in the world, the use of the Kalashinkovs, also known as AK-47s, has been its downfall for most of its infantry. Although Russian Special Forces, especially the Russian Naval Spetznaz usually use M-60s, the majority of their firepower comes from the Ak-47. It was the gun of choice for the entire military during the Soviet Union, because it was founded in 1947, hence the name AK-47. This gun is arguably the most durable gun in the world. I know from friends that have used AK-47s, you can leave one lying in the mud for a week and pick it up and it will shoot as if it is brand new. It is also the most popular gun within the Middle-Eastern countries and radical Islamic groups because of its availability, durability, and price from Russia especially now since they are getting rid of them. It was probably the new President Medvedev’s idea, as Putin is still a full on Soviet until the day he dies, but since it is changing, they both probably agreed on it. It is truly about time they got rid of that gun. No other military force on the planet, especially one as strong as Russia’s uses a gun as outdated as the AK-47

Link To Our Recordings

Modest Mussorgsky

My next post will be about one of the Russian Mighty Five: Modest Mussorgsky

The Russian Might Five is a group of composers that wanted to make Russian music a strong component in the Romantic Period. The Mighty Five consisted of: Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Cui, Balakirev, and Mussorgsky. Mussorgsky composed many brilliant pieces such as the opera, Boris Godunov and the symphonic works, Night on Bald Mountain and Pictures at an Exhibition. Mussorgsky was the most reckless and lazy out of all five of the composers, but he was by far the most talented. Some attribute his amazing talents to his continued abuse of alcohol. Here are 4 songs from his amazing set entitled, Songs and Dances of Death. Each song talks about Death in very vivid detail. My favorite is the Lullaby. A mother is cradling her sick son in her hands when she sees Death show up at her door. She screams and yells for him to leave, but he doesn't. He takes the child and the mother falls on the floor crying hysterically.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Russian blog: Borch soup

 Borsch soup is a popular dish in Russia, made mainly of meat and beets. Originally the soup wasn't made from beets but actually made from European cow parsnip. The roots were used to stew the meet while the leaves and shoots were cooked as greens. Throughout the Middle Ages, people began to add egg yolks, millet meal or cream. The dry leaves from the parsnip were used to create a sweet & sour taste. Today, borsch is commonly cooked with meat, eggs, sour cream, cabbage and beets.


Here is the recipe to make borsch:
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 1 pound slice of meaty bone-in beef shank
  • 1 large onion, peeled, quartered
  • 4 large beets, peeled, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1.  Bring 4 cups of the beef broth, the beef shank, and onion to boil in large pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
Step 2 Transfer meat to work surface; trim fat, sinew and bone and discard. Chop meat; cover and chill. Cool broth slightly. Chill in pot until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
Step 3 Spoon fat from top of chilled broth and discard. Add remaining 4 cups broth, beets, carrots, and potato; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
Step 4 Stir in meat, cabbage and 1/2 cup dill; cook until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in vinegar.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sour cream and remaining 1/4 cup dill.Then Serve!

Could Skolkovo be the next Russian Silicon Valley?

I came across this article when I was perusing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is concerned about the lack of proper professional scientists that are skilled enough to work in laboratories such as Skolkovo. So Medvedev had a meeting with Russian and foreign scientists to discuss problems academics face, and possible solutions. It's an interesting post so check it out.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Those Damn Ukrainians!

In this article, the conflict between Ukrainians and Russians in the Crimean peninsula is portrayed not just as a political issue between the two nations but a cultural issue that in many ways defines Ukraine itself.

The Ukrainian nation as we know it formed right after the fall of the Soviet Union and since then has had a hard time solidifying its national identity. There is a Ukrainian language, but some argue it is just a dialect of Russian; there is a Ukrainian history, but it mostly involves Russia, Poland, and Turkey; There are even great Ukrainian writers, but most of their works are in Russian.

As of now it is hard to grasp what it means to be Ukrainian, and in the era of Russian natural gas domination, it might never be fully possible. Ukraine is in debt to Russia and reliant on cheap natural gas, so some think that Russia might use this to its advantage in reclaiming its favorite vacation spot and putting an end to an independent Ukraine.

Despite all this, there are some lighter sides to Ukraine. They are the creators of Borscht (here is an article and a recipe for it:, they have an interesting form of salted animal fat called "Salo", and they can claim their heritage as that of the mighty Cossack.

Cossacks were nomadic horsemen who formed the first Ukrainian state. The website posted tells you all you would want to know about these people (though it is focused a bit more on the later Cossacks, go to if you want more on them) but in short, they were generally awesome dudes who fought Poles, Tatars, and Russians at different times and resisted rule by all three for a few hundred years until they were absorbed into Russia and used by the Russians for all sorts of things.

That, and they also had cool songs, funny pants, and crazy hairstyles:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Russian Dialogue pg 54

Ezri and Stephan speakin' da Russian :D