Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dmitry Kabalevsky

Well Dr. Denner, you asked and here it is!

Kabalevsky (1904-1987) was a prominent Soviet composer. He was on faculty at the Moscow Conservatory of Music composition department from 1932 until he died. He was an acclaimed music educator, and several of the pieces he wrote were for advancing students. 

Here is a recording of me playing the Kabalevsky Violin Concerto in C, 1st Movement. This was the first full concerto I learned by memory for violin.

Friday, April 17, 2015

*repost* The Battle of Stalingrad

By far the most pivotal and important battle of WW2 was the battle of Stalingrad. Here, the Soviet forces held off and eventually defeated the Nazi 6th Army. The battle ensured for a prolonged 5 months of constant close quarters combat and air raids. The defeat of Nazi forces here marked the beginning of the end for Germany. The battle began what would seemingly be a German Victory. A 3 month push yielded the Nazi's almost 90% of the city and its limits. This advance, although slow, split the Russian forces in half and seemingly secured the city for Nazi control. The Axis forces, however, made a huge mistake. They never set up a very defensible position and pressed heavily upon retaining the city. This opened the door for Russian counter-attacks. Operation Uranus was a counter-assault launched acting upon the key weaknesses of the Axis lines. The Russians crossed the Don river and attacked the weakest points of Axis control, easily breaking the front line. Once through, Russian forces made mince meat of the few defenders the axis forces had stationed. At the end of autumn, the 6th army was surrounded. The next few weeks were brutal. German air support bombarded Russian forces as the 6th army attempted to regain position for an all out defensive. The fault however, was in the axis defenses. Operation little Saturn, launched by the Soviets, attempted to break through enemy lines and push into Stalingrad, the attempt was successful. After Little Saturn, the Axis forces were too far beyond enemy lines to receive support. After retreating from inner-city Stalingrad, Axis forces found themselves starving and without munitions. German generals preceded to slow one by one surrender and in the end, 91,000 prisoners including 22 generals, were captured. The battle was the decisive victory needed by the Allies to beat back Hitler and win the war.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Putin answers all life's questions

Recently on April 16th Putin answered questions live on a four hour live television show. This allows the President to portray himself as the answer to all of Russia’s difficulties, and allows him to connect with all the people and help them solve their problems. He does need to be careful with how he answers questions though. This phone in session has become an annual tradition, with questions coming from emails, videos, phone calls, and the audience. There had been over 3 million questions received. Most of the questions were pertaining to the economy, foreign policy, or the war in Ukraine, but there were some funny questions as well. Questions like…

Why hasn't the government kept the price of apples down?
Would you like to be the head of the United Nations?

Is it hard being president? How many hours do you sleep a night? Because actually I do love to sleep.

Russian Voting

         So get this. According to various sources, there isn't a great disparity in voting by income in Russia. Whaaaaa? That doesn't make sense! That's right it doesn't! Take the United States for instance. We have a massive gap by income in our voting. That is, lower income voters tend to vote democrat, while higher income voters tend to vote Republican. There are a ton of micro and macro reasons for this, but the fact is it happens. However, in Russia, there is an even greater disparity by income in society. They have a huge gap between classes. However, that is not reflected in their voting. Some possible reasons for this is that there is no real political ideology by party. Therefore, there is no party that backs ideas of income redistribution to vote for. The options are few and far between. In the end there are many options for the reasons, so we should probably just let me write a research paper on it for another class. Till that's released check the link.

Caucasian Shepherd

Also known as Caucasian Ovcharka, this dog is native and popular in Russia. Caucasian shepherd dogs are strongly-boned, muscular, and even-tempered. Plain dogs have a shorter coat and appear taller as they are more lightly built. Mountain dog-types have a heavier coat and are more muscularly built. Caucasian shepherds are large dogs; however, there is no recorded maximum height or weight. The ears of the Caucasian shepherd are traditionally cropped, although some modern dogs are unaltered as many people believe this practice to be cruel, and as it is no longer considered a necessary attribute for the dog's traditional working conditions. The preferred show-types are the long-coated grey dogs with some white markings. The Caucasian is rather well lived averaging 10–12 years.

Russian Economy

We all know the monetary system in Russian has bottomed out. Their ruble is worth a fraction of what it once was, and it doesn't seem to be ready to boost back to where it was anytime soon. However, Putin seems optimistic. Even though the ruble fell 40% last year versus the dollar, it has strengthened in recent weeks as the oil price has changed. The Central Bank expects that the economy will sill contract both this year and the next, but Putin believes the economy will start to grow again by 2017. He mentioned that despite the recent low oil prices, he believes Russia will stand tall and return to power in the coming year. We'll see about that.

Russian Ballerinas

Russian ballet is probably the place to be for ballet. In almost no country, there are more theatres, ballet academies and more talented dancers than in Russia. For some reason, Russians have a very strong relationship to ballet. Little girls watch dancing movies on television and try to imitate the moves. Many of them decide before elementary school that they want to be the new “Swan.” Having made that decision, a long and hard way to the top lays ahead of them. Most kids are sent to ballet academies,
where they receive education, as well as excellent ballet training. Kids need to grow up really fast, when they realize how much potential competition there is; only the best “survive.” A few extra pounds or a couple of unaccomplished moves can be the end. In the past, girls and boys were beaten up when they failed to carry out moves or choreographies. I really hope this is not a standard measure anymore, but I doubt it. Children at ballet academies basically have a fulltime job; they lack free time. Sometimes kids do not even want to live such a life, but they do not want to destroy the dreams of their parents. Many parents envision their children on the great stages of “Bolshoi” and do not accept the “quitting” of their children. Life is tough as a ballerina!   

Work cited
"Sacrificing Childhood to Ballet | Russia Beyond The Headlines." Sacrificing Childhood to Ballet | Russia Beyond The Headlines. 14 Feb. 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Red October

The Hunt for Red October is a 1984 novel written by the late Tom Clancy, a famed author specializing in realistic military fiction. The reason I find this particular story interesting as opposed to all the others (many of which involve both Russia and its people) is the thrilling film made in 1990. The plot details an advanced submarine leaving Russia during the height of tensions between Russia and the United States. Through three points of view (in Russian, on the submarine, and in America), Clancy expertly reveals the story of a defective Russian submarine.

The commander of the submarine, a certain Marko Ramius, decides to defect on the Red October's debut mission due to both personal and political factors which began influencing him far before the submarine leaves Russian soil (or water, I suppose). Once both Russians and Americans hear of Ramius' plan to defect from Russia to America with a state-of-the-art nuclear submarine, the race to find the submarine is on. There's only one problem - Ramius' sub includes a new propulsion system, making the underwater machine virtually undetectable to current technology.

Throughout this exceptional page-turner, Clancy brings us less into a world of weapons and violence, but more so into the world of politics, where often times the obvious choice is never the right one. I won't spoil the rest of the story for anyone who has actually read this far into my blog post, but if you haven't read this, I certainly recommend it.

Unit 9: Kozinaki

1 pound total of shelled sunflower seeds, shelled walnuts, shelled almonds or shelled peanuts, all together or singularly,  all finely chopped…
2 cups (16 ounces) of pure honey…
6 tablespoons of sugar beet sugar or what ever sugar you have…
Lets make kozinaki:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread the chopped nuts in a single layer on a sheet pan and toast them in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, stire them occasionally to get browned evenly. I like to get them very brown and almost burnt, many just like to heat them up. The idea is to get them toasted real well…
Put a 2-quart sauce pan on the stove top to heat the syrup in. Put the honey and sugar in the sauce pan and stirring constantly, while bringing to a boil. When the syrup reaches 220 F. (Remember the set point is 220 and go a little higher to set harder or go less and set softer!) on a thermometer, lower the heat and stir in the nuts. Stirring often, cook for 15 minutes at medium heat…

Kazimir Malevich's Suprematism

Suprematism is an art movement and style that was founded by the Russian artist Kazimir Malevich in 1913. The basis behind this particular style of art is emotion, or as stated by Malevich, "the supremacy of pure artistic feeling." Suprematism emphasizes an empathetic approach to art, and these works are often not seen as distinct visual images. Pieces from this movement tend to portray geometric shapes-- squares, circles, lines, etc.--often in various colors. The Suprematism art movement first came into being when revealed in 1915. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Intrastellar Blaze

Beginning on Sunday, raging wildfires have been sweeping through Siberia in a destructive rampage, resulting in 26 deaths, 1000 plus injured, 700 cattle and roughly 3000 sheep dead and immense damage rendered to the region of Khakassia in south-eastern Siberia where the fires have mostly been isolated. The inferno was the reportedly so intense the flames rose 3 meters tall and could even be seen from space. The fire is suspected to be caused by mere human carelessness.

Сегодня в кабинете... Unit 10 Week 1

Привет! Салют! Welcome back to the Language Lab. Today it's all about preparing for the oral examination in a couple weeks... Не парься! Будь спок, не волнуйся! Chill!

(The word спокойно means calm.. Будь спок! Be calm... you know, like Спок!)

Anyway, read along while listening to dialogues three and five. The word 
Назад means "ago"... The first question in dialogue three is kinda stupid... Whose on the picture? I'm on the picture. 

Answer the questions on your lab worksheet and have me or the tutor check them. 


The question На когО вы похОжи (ты похОж/ты похОжа)? means Who do you look like? Literally, "Whom do you go after?" (Похож comes from the verb ходить, to go.) 

It uses the accusative case Она похожа на меня, на маму, на Ивана... 

For your "little composition" answer in complete sentences the following questions... Remember, truth telling isn't that important... If you write the answers out now, the tutors can check them. Otherwise, they are due on Tuesday. 

Come to the tables for some further work! 
Присоединяйтесь к нам за стол!

The Representation of the Bronze Horseman, Peter the Great

The Bronze Horseman is a famous statue of Peter the Great in St. Petersburg. It represents Russia's history. Referring to the statue as the Bronze Horseman reflects its importance to Russian culture and literature. In 1833, Pushkin wrote the poem "The Bronze Horseman" which cast the monument into a mythical view. According to the analysis on the Mapping St. Petersburg website, "The statue comes to life in Pushkin's if to suggest the unleashing of this power beneath the confines of civilized reason."

Furthermore, the article points out that late twentieth century guidebooks for tourists have begun referring to the monument as the Bronze Horseman and Peter the Great. Going further they state that the monument is "an ambivalent marker of East and West". Since the statue is of Peter, it represents his goals of westernization in the eastern world.

To read more of the ideas and questions presented in the article, Visit:

Unit 8 - The Modernity of Anna Karenina: Tolstoy's Fascination (and revulsion) with Trains

Noted historian, literary scholar, and Anna Karenina translator Rosamund Bartlett's lecture on the Modernity of Anna Karenina was one of the best events I've ever attended at Stetson. I've not yet read Anna Karenina but I've seen the 1935 film starring Greta Garbo. After attending Dr. Bartlett's lecture, Tolstoy is at the top of my summer reading list.

One of the aspects of her brilliant talk that captivated me the most was her focus on the railways as Tolstoy's commentary on modernity. Throughout the story, the train station provides a key setting in the relationship between Anna and Vronsky. It is where they meet throughout the story. It is the setting of infidelity and the breakdown of the family - key themes in Tolstoy's modernity. Trains are a literal representation of the iron and artifice that represent everything Tolstoy thinks is wrong with the modern world. Yet, while clearly repulsed by trains, Tolstoy cannot help by fascinated by them and the possibilities and changes they bring. Anna's ultimate suicide by train symbolizes Tolstoy's fear that society will suffer the same fate; modernize itself to death and degradation.

Having Dr. Bartlett speak at Stetson was truly a memorable experience and one that makes me pause and reconsider the brilliance of Tolstoy.

Unit 7 - Illegal to drive Transgender?

Evoking comparisons to Saudi Arabia's policies against women, back in January the Russian government listed transgender and transexual people among those who would have their driving privileges revoked for "mental disorders" and specifically "sex disorders".

This move was supported by the Professional Drivers Union who wanted to crack down on the numbers of deaths on the road by eliminating those with "serious medical conditions."

BBC - Russia says drivers must not have " sex disorders"

After pressure from the international community and the World Health Organization, Russia ultimately rescinded their implication and specified that only those suffering prolonged health and mental conditions would be banned from driving, giving transgender persons the green light to stay on the road.

Reuters - Russia gives green light for transgender drivers to stay on the road

This is just one more notch in the fervent anti-LGBTQ sentiment that has been building in Russia in recent years. As a transgender American woman, I know I won't be visiting Russia anytime soon, if ever. Which is really a shame because there is much about Russian culture, history, art, and food that I really like and enjoy.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Unit 9 - Kholodets

I asked my brother’s fencing coach who is Russian but spent her childhood in Ukraine what her favorite regional dish was and I decided to make it. The dish she recommended was kholodets, which is basically soup in jello form. The word kholodets comes from the Russian word for cold, as the dish is chilled in order for it to set. People in Russia usually make it as a festive dish for Christmas. It’s made by boiling meat and bones (pigs’ feet, chicken, and beef bones for the normal variety or just beef bones and chicken for the kosher variety) and then adding spices. Carrots, parsnips, and boiled eggs are usually added as decorations. It has to be put in a mold, much like jello, and chilled overnight either in a refrigerator or if you’re in Russia during the winter, outside. It was really weird for me to imagine a savory gelatin dish, but I tried it and it wasn’t that bad. I made the Kosher variety because I couldn’t find pigs feet, but I’m curious what the normal variety with pigs feet is like.

                                           Beef bones, chicken legs, and special kholodets spice

                                                  One of the batches of kholodets in the pan

                                                    One of the finished batches of kholodets

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ethnic Diversity in Russia

Most people have a very specific vision when they think of a typical Russian person. While many Russians may fit this bill, it is surprising to know that most people in Russia today are not ethnically Russian. The Russian Empire, spanning from 1721 to 1971, covered a large amount of the Eurasian area and, therefore, included many different nationalities of people. In fact, during the height of the Empire, less than 50% of its people were ethnically Russian. The rest were a scattered combination of Jews, Poles, Germans, along with countless more nationalities. While the Russian Empire did dissolve during the 1970s, many of the people residing in the Soviet Union then, and Russia today, still bear some ancestry to the non-ethnic citizens of the Russian Empire.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Сегодня в лингафонном кабинете... Unit 9, Week 3

Доброе утро! Сегодня 8-ое апреля. Среда. Значит, мы в лингафонном кабинете! 

LET ME KNOW if you have had trouble enrolling in Second-Year Russian next semester. There's something wrong with the registration process (sigh). Let me know, also, if you have any questions, concerns, conflicts, конфликты, проблемы, заботы...

Сначала, вам надо написать контрольную. First, take the grammar quiz! On the back, you'll find the worksheet to accompany the listening exercise below.

Слушание... We did this exercise last week... But I think it was very difficult for many of you, and that it deserves a little more time... Redo this exercise and prepare it for inclusion in your Portfolio next week

If you need help, ask me or one of the tutors! Answer as best you can the questions based on these Давайте послушаем recordings:

Реклама 1
Реклама 2
Реклама 3.

Be sure to read the questions first. Then, listen to the recordings no fewer than two times. Remember: The point isn't to get them all right (that would be nice....), but to listen carefully and analytically for what you can understand. In particular, spend the time to complete the last exercise (the new vocabulary fill-in). 

Take a few minutes and re-review the Power Point on verbal aspect. Download it here and watch it before you come to the tables. Будем работать над аскпект глагола--какой вид нужен? What aspect do you need? 

Remember: Imperfective aspect expresses all three tenses. The imperfective past is formed with the Л-rule. The present tense is formed by "just conjugate the darn thing" rule. And the imperfective future is formed by combining a form of быть (буду, будешь...) and the infinitive. 

Он смотрел. Он смотрит. Он будет смотреть.

Perfective can only express the past and the future. Formation is simple: To form the perfective past, use the Л-rule. And to form the perfective future, "just conjugate the darn thing." 

Он посмотрел фильм. Он посмотрит фильм. 

And... big news, big deal... NO ELEMENTARY RUSSIAN CLASS TOMORROW (Thursday, April 9)... Instead, you're invited to drop by and chat with the preeminent historian of Eastern Europe, Jan Gross... You should attend tomorrow evening's lecture, too!
Jan Gross, the Norman B. Tomlinson '16 and '48 Professor of War and Society and Professor of History at Princeton University and Stetson's 2015 Bernard Weiner Holocaust Memorial Lecturer, will spend an hour at the SPREES Center this Thursday from 1-2pm.
We hope you can find a moment to stop by for an informal chat and nosh--tea, lox, bagels... and conversation! ​

​From his Princeton University profile:​

Jan T. Gross studies modern Europe, focusing on comparative politics, totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, Soviet and East European politics, and the Holocaust. After growing up in Poland and attending Warsaw University, he immigrated to the United States in 1969 and earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University (1975). His first book, Polish Society under German Occupation, appeared in 1979. Revolution from Abroad (1988) analyzes how the Soviet regime was imposed in Poland and the Baltic states between 1939 and 1941. Neighbors (2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, reconstructs the events that took place in July 1941 in the small Polish town of Jedwabne, where virtually every one of the town’s 1,600 Jewish residents was killed in a single day. Using eyewitness testimony Professor Gross demonstrates that the Jews of Jedwabne were murdered by their Polish neighbors "not by the German occupiers, as previously assumed. The shocking story occasioned an unprecedented reevaluation of Jewish-Polish relations during World War II and touched off passionate debate. In 2004 many of the Polish voices in this debate were published in translation in a collection, The Neighbors Respond. Professor Gross is also the author of several books in Polish, the coeditor of The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath (2000), and the coeditor with Irena Grudzinska-Gross of War Through Children’s Eyes (1981), which uses school compositions and other documents written by children to study how children experience war and deportation. He joined the Princeton History Department in 2003 after teaching at New York University, Emory, Yale, and universities in Paris, Vienna, and Krakow. Professor Gross is the Norman B. Tomlinson ‘16 and ‘48 Professor of War and Society.​