February 11, 2021

Sputnik Rap, Dolls, and Animal Skulls


Sputnik Rap, Dolls, and Animal Skulls

In this week's Odder News, how one man spent his pandemic, prisoners teach us how to get out of the pandemic, and a new video game connects you to the Russian police.

  • You can talk to a Russian sky policeman with your real voice in a new Russian video game, Militsioner. The sky policeman seems more benevolent than hostile, helping you navigate life as a criminal on the run while slowly getting you to appreciate the counsel of Big Brother. If you talk to him in English, he will reply in Russian – which pretty much sums up foreigners' experience with Russian police officers.

  • To encourage Russians to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a labor colony in the Urals has posted a video of two prisoners performing the rap they wrote about the vaccine, "Goodbye, Coronavirus!" The chorus, which goes "Sputnik V, Sputnik V," is downright catchy. It is actually Corrective Colony #12's second pandemic-era hit under the label 12 Studio Twelfth.
  • A Dagestani woman faked pregnancy – to the point of buying two baby dolls to bury at the end of nine months. Citing COVID-19 restrictions, the woman told her husband and family not to come to the hospital. While her husband was burying his twin "newborns," his cousin suggested that he take a look under the blanket. The resulting video of the dolls went viral on social media, with most Russians taking it to be an amateur horror film. Just... Ewww.
  • A St. Petersburg man has been charged with stealing 50 rare mammal skulls from the Russian Academy of Science's Zoological Institute over several months in 2020 and 2021. His stash is valued at 3.5 million rubles ($47,775). The man spent most of the pandemic collecting skulls, but authorities were only tipped off after the man sold about half of them to a high school student.
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Russia Rules

Russia Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
The Little Humpbacked Horse

The Little Humpbacked Horse

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
Woe From Wit (bilingual)

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

One of the most famous works of Russian literature, the four-act comedy in verse Woe from Wit skewers staid, nineteenth century Russian society, and it positively teems with “winged phrases” that are essential colloquialisms for students of Russian and Russian culture.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
At the Circus

At the Circus

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.

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