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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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.
Turgenev Bilingual

Turgenev Bilingual

A sampling of Ivan Turgenev's masterful short stories, plays, novellas and novels. Bilingual, with English and accented Russian texts running side by side on adjoining pages.
The Little Humpbacked Horse (bilingual)

The Little Humpbacked Horse (bilingual)

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.
Russian Rules

Russian Rules

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Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
Okudzhava Bilingual

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Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
Chekhov Bilingual

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Some of Chekhov's most beloved stories, with English and accented Russian on facing pages throughout. 
At the Circus (bilingual)

At the Circus (bilingual)

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.
White Magic

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.
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.

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