March 07, 2019

Absence (of Sugar and Corgis) Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


Absence (of Sugar and Corgis) Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
It’ll be tricky sweetening this rocky deal. Elena Silich

Throwback Thursday

Nutcracker dance
The Nutcracker. / La Russ Restaurant and Show

Are you a Nutcracker fan? Then this day’s for you. Today in 1892, the suite from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker premiered in St. Petersburg.


Excesses of TV References, Dearth of Movies

1. Did someone say rock candy? A Tyumen resident was making herself tea and decided to add sugar. She opened the box of sugar she had recently purchased (photo at top of post), only to find…rocks. And she wasn’t alone: when she went to the store to complain, they told her that many others had found rocks in their sugar boxes. No one knows how the rocks got in the box; the only clue is that all boxes with rocks have a cross on the back. Stay tuned… We expect the investigators to leave no stone unturned.

2. They killed Kenny, in Kazan! If someone names their new apartment complex “South Park,” there’s only one thing you can do: make an in-joke. When a Kazan builder put up a “South Park” sign, someone took the opportunity to install a gravestone to Kenny McCormick, alluding to a running gag on South Park where a character named Kenny dies every episode and is inexplicably resurrected. Some people were happier than others; eventually the builder took down the grave. Even so, in its announcement, it made one last wisecrack about South Park, demonstrating how hard it is to resist making in-jokes.

Kenny's grave Kazan South Park
Kenny's grave. / overhearkazan

3. A dog’s life for corgi fans. Russian movie theaters were looking forward to showing the Belgian animated flick The Queen’s Corgi on March 7. However, at the last minute, the Ministry of Culture postponed the premiere until late March. As it happens, March 7 is the day a cartoon co-funded by a Russian company is slated to air, and God forbid it should share theater space with a Western cartoon. Movie theater owners are threatening to boycott the Ministry’s movie if they can’t run The Queen’s Corgi, but the Ministry is digging in its heels. It seems the dog days of cinema are nigh.

Blog spotlight

Mark the fourth day of Maslenitsa with Alisa Goz’s analysis of Maslenitsa paintings, from the realist to the postmodern.

In Odder News

  • Well, I’ll be @#$%ed! A new VTsIOM (Russian Public Opinion Research Center) survey reveals that 60% of Russians use mat, or profanity, in their daily lives.
  • Rise and shine! Just in time for spring, groundhogs are coming out of hibernation at the Moscow Zoo.

    Groundhog in spring
    Wakey wakey. / @moscowzoo
  • Ever wondered what Pushkin would do if he lived in the twenty-first century? Thanks to an upcoming exhibition of speculative Pushkin drawings, you need wonder no more.

Pushkin with computer
"It's cold, but I still need to work." Me too, dude. / Evgenia Dvoskina

Quote of the Week

“At this moment, [they] have taken producers, distributors of a domestic film, and children — who will have to survive without fresh cartoons this coming weekend — hostage.”

Russian media company MVK commenting on boycott of the movie they co-funded, whose premiere conflicts with The Queen’s Corgi

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Some of Our Books

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White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
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.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
Steppe / Степь

Steppe / Степь

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
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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.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

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Jews in Service to the Tsar

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Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
The Latchkey Murders

The Latchkey Murders

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