August 08, 2019

Missing Lakes, Concert Mistakes, and Séances with Darwin


Missing Lakes, Concert Mistakes, and Séances with Darwin
A reservoir of photo ops. smoke316 via Instagram

Quote of the Week

“The [Moscow] police’s actions, I think, have been pretty lenient…”

— An opponent of the Moscow protests, moments before his arrest

Free Food for Moscow, Free Advice for Darwin

1. Welcome to Dead Sea, St. Petersburg. Normally, Lazurnoye Lake is right what it says on the tin: an azure lake. However, this summer the lake has evaporated, and along with it some Petersburgers’ hopes for a picturesque weekend getaway. Still, one man’s missing lake is another man’s sea of opportunities. Instagrammers are flocking to the former lake, posing with clever captions like “At the bottom of the lake.” And plenty of visitors come to admire the sky, which, unlike the nonexistent lake, is still very much azure.

The priest who got Darwin to repent (allegedly)
On the origins of bad jokes. / Telekanal “SPAS”

2. Charles Darwin repents! While in London, a Russian priest visited Darwin’s grave. He asked Darwin’s tombstone if he still believed in evolution. To the priest’s shock, Darwin replied: “Father, do not be tempted by my theory… I put forward this hypothesis, which I now repent.” If this were true, Darwin would have joined the ranks of those spiritually reborn after talking to Russian priests. But as it happens, this is not true. The priest drew raised eyebrows and eventually had to clarify that he was joking. Can jokes win Darwin Awards?

Shashlyk Live promo pic
Shashlyki and rock: the new bread and circuses? / Medialeaks

3. Where there’s (barbeque) smoke… August 3 and 4 saw the “Shashlyk Live” rock festival in Moscow’s Gorky Park. Attendees heard legendary rockstars for free, while local restaurants served up a whopping 12,500 portions of shashlyki. But despite the meat, there was something fishy about it all. None of the headliners knew they were invited. The city claimed afterwards it had more attendees than Coachella. Most importantly, “Shashlik Live” was announced just two days before a planned protest, eliciting suspicion it was grilled up to lure away potential protestors. As they say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.


In Odder News

  • A dedicated fisherman caught a 4-foot-long pike (that’s 130 cm for you non-Americans) in the Ob River. This 30-pound (13.5 kilo) fish isn’t fishing for compliments.
Big pike fish
We like pike. / Dmitri Giss
  • The saddest cat in Moscow needs a home! He sure has a home in our hearts.
Filya, the saddest cat in Moscow
Mood after a long day at work. / zverikivdar
  • Tank man, meet Olga. Meduza profiles the 17-year-old girl who made headlines reading the Russian constitution to riot police in Moscow. (Headline credits to David Edwards.)
Olga Misik
Olga Misik in the now-iconic photo. / Alexei Abanin

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Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
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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.  
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Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

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The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
The Moscow Eccentric

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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.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.

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