July 11, 2019

Swipe Me! Eat Me! Watch Me!


Swipe Me! Eat Me! Watch Me!
Ukha, of which there was much this week. Wikimedia Commons

Throwback Thursday

Peter Tchaikovsky
Peter Tchaikovsky. / Wikimedia Commons

On July 11, 1877, Peter Tchaikovsky wrote a letter — one that was never published due to the censorship of his personal correspondence. Tchaikovsky’s letters were censored for a variety of reasons, some to eliminate references to his homosexuality, but others for far more mundane reasons, like swearing. Read more about Tchaikovsky’s letters here on Russian Life. {subscription required}


Adventurous Ads and Conspicuous Consumption

1. 1 swipe = 1 vote. One Yabloko Party member running for Petersburg city deputy is literally making himself attractive to voters. He created a Tinder profile where he markets himself as Deputy Charming to voters’ Cinderella. It’s a great publicity stunt, of course, but there’s more to it than that. Most social media platforms, like VKontakte, have strict rules about political campaigns, whereas Tinder provides all the “hyperlocal targeting” and none of the strings (if you’re outside the U.S, that is). Plus, we’re not going to lie — it feels good getting swiped right on Tinder.

Candidate's Tinder profile
But the real question is, why 642 “Earth and Universe”? Earth is already part of the universe. / Tinder

2. Quiet flows the Don, and tasty flows the fish soup. On July 6, fans of fish soup congregated at the Donskaya Ukha Festival, a cultural initiative of the Rostov regional government that marks its twelfth year this year. Ukha, which is claimed as a local invention by Rostov region, is made from freshwater fish, potatoes, tomatoes, and herbs. Sounds simple, right? But don’t be deceived: the festival this year featured no fewer than twenty different kinds of ukha, one of which was cooked with a full liter of vodka. All of them draw on the Don River’s plethora of fish and Cossack culinary traditions. And of course, all of them are equally tasty.

3. Surf’s up! In Petersburg, you can do many things with liquids: You can drink, or if you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can go wakeboarding in the streets. After an evening of unusually heavy rains, one Petersburger hooked himself to the back of a car and performed daring stunts while the car drove him along. Don’t test the waters on your own, though. It turned out that the Petersburger is a professional wakeboarder who did it for an ad. Compared to him, the rest of us are kids in floaties.

Man wakeboarding in Petersburg street
Taming the mythic Petersburg floods. / mike_milenin

Blog Spotlight

Everyone knows Leo Tolstoy was a great writer, but did you know he was also a mediocre biker? Find out more in this blog post from June, and feel better about the fact that you probably bike better than Tolstoy.

In Odder News

Robot waving Tatarstan flag
Welcome to Kazan! / Kazan’ Kriminal’naya
  • Have you ever liked Pushkin’s poetry so much that you wanted to eat it? Then take heart: the Pushkin Museum’s café in Moscow now serves dishes named for Pushkin quotes.

Quote of the Week

“We beg you not to fall into the ash dump in the pursuit of selfies!”

— The Siberian Generating Company, warning tourists not to get too close to a picturesque but mildly toxic turquoise ash-dumping lake

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Some of Our Books

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.
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.
The Best of Russian Life

The Best of Russian Life

We culled through 15 years of Russian Life to select readers’ and editors’ favorite stories and biographies for inclusion in a special two-volume collection. Totalling over 1100 pages, these two volumes encompass some of the best writing we have published over the last two decades, and include the most timeless stories and biographies – those that can be read again and again.
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.
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.

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