Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 12:01:45
20 September 2018


  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Bread and Circuses. And Tetris.

by Alice E.M. Underwood
Fun Things in Unexpected Places

1. Tetris in cars. Getting falling geometric shapes to settle into place was already fun, but it’s a whole new level when you put it in a vehicle. The Russian van company GAZelle has installed the beloved arcade game on the dashboard of some of the vans produced this year. You might only find it by accident: the steps to initiate include the right indicator, the left indicator, flicking the lights, and more. To prevent accidents, game mode only works when the car is parked.

2. Patriotic films at the circus. Send in the clowns, and then make them sing the national anthem? Not quite. The Omsk Circus has already started to use its venue to screen patriotic films for school children, and the ringmaster – er, head – of the Ministry of Culture supports the idea of spreading the practice. The main goal would be better acquainting students with Russian history. If a clown or an animal act shows up for a performance after the film, all the more reason to love Russia.

3. Freedom in jail. Or at least, amnesty from prosecution for specific crimes. Russia’s Human Rights Council has proposed an amnesty for misdemeanor offenses like traffic violations and incorrectly registered immigrants. The amnesty would also apply to mothers, some pensioners, and veterans. And as an added bonus, unpaid fines would be written off. Administrative amnesty may be less grand than a parade or a festival, but as far as celebrating anniversaries goes, for many it’ll be just as welcome.

In Odder News
  • Is graffiti a scourge on urban spaces? Or a way for art to blossom? Krasnodar’s commissioned street art stakes a claim for the latter.

  • Construction has transformed a lot of Moscow in recent years. Observe the befores and afters.
  • Peter the Great was tall, liked ships, and founded St. Petersburg. But there’s more to him than that. Including these three lurking mysteries.

Quote of the Week

“The game, in which geometric figures move around the screen, allows you to quickly and with maximum accuracy check both the operation of the processor and the functionality of the display.”
—The press service of GAZelle, assuring consumers that the installation of Tetris on dashboards is to check functionality, rather than a driving hazard.

Icebergs and tigers and starships, oh my!
Icebergs and tigers and starships, oh my!

Which would you rather: be trapped in the Arctic or accused of treason? Okay, not a fun game. But a worthwhile read about the latest in Russian news. 

Prizes, spies, and kasha for all
Prizes, spies, and kasha for all

This week was full of wins for Russia: a famous photographer, everyone who watched Putin's call-in, and lawmakers making it harder to get foreign aid. So, a loss for Russians getting foreign aid. 

A Very Russki Cinco de Mayo
A Very Russki Cinco de Mayo

Or, whatever the Russian version of margaritas, mariachis, and misunderstood military history might involve.

Baby bears, cats in debt, and other fuzzy victories
Baby bears, cats in debt, and other fuzzy victories

Victory Day, marking the 71st anniversary of the end of WWII, was celebrated this Monday. Here are the ups, downs, and nonsequiturs of the occasion.

Catchy beats and milk-soaked scuffles
Catchy beats and milk-soaked scuffles

Russia's physics-defying display at Eurovision. Bullying via dairy products. Plus some saucy presidential pecking – on the lips. 

Dancing diplomats and dictators' cats
Dancing diplomats and dictators' cats

Politicians are people just like us. They get millions of Instagram responses for a lost pet and do folkdances in front of world leaders. Just a day in the life.

Elton John Crocodile Rocks the Kremlin
Elton John Crocodile Rocks the Kremlin

Sir Elton John's much-vaunted visit with Putin, Eurovision for kids, setting doors on fire, and other great performances – all in one little week.

Russians don't need principles. Just submarines
Russians don't need principles. Just submarines

The British are out to get Russian values and Russian naval vessels alike this week. Scroll down enough and there's also a cat pic.