March 21, 2019

A Dog and a Muscovite Come In from the Cold


A Dog and a Muscovite Come In from the Cold
No guns, fast driving, or killing in this new video game. Ilya Mazo, Alexander Ignatov

Throwback Thursday

Today in 1839, the composer of Boris Godunov, Pictures at an Exhibition, and Night on Bald Mountain was born. Happy 180th birthday, Mussorgsky!

Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Mussorgsky. / Wikimedia Commons

It’s Snowing (Wholesome) Cat and Dog (Stories)

1. “It’s Winter”: the coolest new game on the block. Produced by Moscow-based poet Ilya Mazo, “It’s Winter” is an avant-garde video game where all you do is make tea and watch TV in a suburban Russian apartment. And while most English-speakers only know about the game, “It’s Winter” is just one part of a multimedia digital opera. Fans of the game’s timeless yet uniquely post-Soviet feel can read an ebook or watch “It’s Winter: The Movie,” an eight-minute film where ordinary people intone everyday phrases to the accompaniment of buzzing lights and humming washing machines. We think it’s weirdly creepy, but chillingly beautiful.

2. Stop kitty, go kitty. Since the last time we wrote about Zelenogradsk, the city’s love of cats hasn’t lessened. On the contrary, Zelenogradsk has installed a new traffic light eschewing the traditional walking man for images of cats. There is some controversy over whether it’s a good idea. Some believe it is “simply super!”, while others lament that at this rate, Zelenogradsk might as well be renamed “Zelenokots.” Regardless, kitties are here to stay. Even if the traffic light goes, the new sculpture of cats at Zelenogradsk’s entrance isn’t leaving anytime soon.

Cat stoplight
Go kitty go! / overhear_zlk

3. Siberians to the rescue…in America! Two dogs fell into an icy pond in Yonkers, New York, but luckily, a Siberian-raised swimmer just happened to see them. Russian immigrant Timofey Yuriev thought of calling an ambulance, but “I was looking at them and I realized […] the rescuer, they will come maybe in 10, 15 minutes,” he said. So summoning the wisdom of his grandfather, a hunter who had taught him to swim in icy waters, Yuriev took off his shirt and dove in to save them. His loyal golden retriever Kira followed him in, nudging along the two dogs until everyone made it back, safe and sound. The pond may have been icy, but this story has a heartwarming ending.

Yuriev, Kira, and one of the dogs brave the chilly swim back. / Melissa Kho

Blog Spotlight

Robert Blaisdell reviewed Friedrich Gorenstein’s Redemption, a novel about a young woman who betrays her mother and courts a Jewish lieutenant in a town recently liberated from the Nazis. Read his review here.

In Odder News

Slapping championship
Aftermath of the winning blow in Tuesday’s slapping contest. / NTV
  • If you slap someone hard enough, you might just win $500. In Krasnoyarsk, one man won 30,000 rubles ($465) in a slapping championship.
  • Being vegan in Russia can be tough, but it’s worth it. Just ask these five people.
  • In the Novosibirsk Zoo, a polar bear gave birth to twin cubs. The men in the slapping championship may want to learn from the bear mother’s tenderness.
Polar bear cubs

Twin polar bear cubs. / V. Shadrin

 

Quote of the Week

“There’s a point on our arms that you can push, and suddenly, your nervous system gets reactivated. My grandfather, a hunter from Siberia, taught me this.”

— Timofey Yuriev, explaining how he braved the cold of an icy pond to rescue two drowning dogs

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Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

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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.
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Dostoyevsky Bilingual

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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.
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.
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.
Tolstoy Bilingual

Tolstoy Bilingual

This compact, yet surprisingly broad look at the life and work of Tolstoy spans from one of his earliest stories to one of his last, looking at works that made him famous and others that made him notorious. 
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.
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.
Russian Rules

Russian Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

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.  
Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.

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