Nov/Dec 2018 Current Moscow Time: 17:58:42
20 November 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.

Births: Modern Russia, baby LSDUZ, and lots of leopards
Births: Modern Russia, baby LSDUZ, and lots of leopards

Russia Day marks the birth of the post-Soviet Russian nation. This week saw some other births too, from literal leopard cubs to figurative names and games. 

Scandals, lies, sci-fi, and other sporting events
Scandals, lies, sci-fi, and other sporting events

Fictional sportscasters, the all-too-real Olympic ban, and the possible reality of teleportation in Russia's future. And don't forget about mind control.

What Brexit means for Russian economic and territorial expansion
What Brexit means for Russian economic and territorial expansion

Britain has voted to leave the European Union. Does that mean a boom for Russia? Or is that title a ploy to get you to read about how Russians go about sunbathing?

Get undressed and read the news till you sweat
Get undressed and read the news till you sweat

Presidential speeches urge disrobing, but it's not what you think. All while laws get passed, politicians play judo, and – wait, is that Leonardo diCaprio?

Ballooning of strict laws, and ballooning of a hot air balloon
Ballooning of strict laws, and ballooning of a hot air balloon

Adventure takes many forms. There's regular travel, round-the-world travel, and navigating the Russian legal system. Also beards. 

Ivan the Terrible and Pokémon the Great
Ivan the Terrible and Pokémon the Great

Pokémon goes to Russia – and so do memories of fallen tsars, athletes, street cleaners, and of course, a kitty cat.

That's not cheese. It's a cyborg.
That's not cheese. It's a cyborg.

A joke-telling Pushkin robot, an unimpressed Putin, and cheese that's as virtual a reality as Pokémon. 

Fake elections, real Cossacks, and how to do yoga in prison
Fake elections, real Cossacks, and how to do yoga in prison

Why some Russians would rather vote for a fictional candidate, the importance of a Cossack education, and some artsy graffiti along the way.