June 13, 2019

Diving and Driving into Summer Holidays


Diving and Driving into Summer Holidays
Best low-budget suspense thriller of the year. Lilu Dallas

Throwback Thursday

Mikhail Alexandrovich, last tsar of Russia
Mikhail Alexandrovich, last tsar of Russia. / Wikimedia Commons

One hundred and one years ago, the real last tsar of Russia — not Nicholas II — was assassinated by the Bolsheviks. He had only been tsar for one day and never wanted the job. Learn more about Mikhail Alexandrovich, last Emperor of All the Russias, on Russian Life {digital subscription required}.

A Holiday for Patriots, A Game for Anti-Patriots

1. An odd Russia Day. On Tuesday, Meduza journalist Ivan Golunov, who was arrested last week on trumped-up charges, was freed after public backlash. The next day was Russia Day, and things proceeded weirdly normally. Cities all around Russia put on historical exhibits, parades, outdoor concerts, and festivals celebrating indigenous traditions. In St. Petersburg, 500 military brass band players got together to put on the world’s largest ever performance of “Flight of the Bumblebee.” The only sign of the previous week’s unrest was the arrest of over 500 protestors in Moscow. On the one hand, you want to say “С Днем России”…but on the other hand, you really can’t.

World's largest performance of "Flight of the Bumblebee"
A giant brass band honors a tiny bee. / Elena Kalinina

2. Driving under the sea. On Sakhalin Island, a truck driver needed to get across a strip of beach, but he missed the low tide. So what did he do? Simple: he drove into the sea (the action starts 30 seconds in). At various times it looked like the truck was going to get drawn in, but slowly but surely, the driver navigated his way out. Once he drove onshore, he opened the door to let the water out, wiped the inside of the windshield, and calmly drove away. So the next time you feel all at sea, take a cue from this guy and just ride the wave.

3. Fifty shades of Stalin? This October sees the debut of a video game self-explanatorily entitled “Sex with Stalin.” If that sounds outrageous, check out some of the reactions: One Communist Party official demanded a police investigation, but stopped short of calling for a ban, because “If we reacted to the breath of every idiot…” But maybe there’s a deeper meaning behind this. One researcher on Soviet culture sees the game as “evidence of how post-Soviet masculinity fantasizes about the overthrow of the symbolic father while still being inside the original phallic structure.” We think the developers are just trolling… but we are glad someone is trying to sort through the fray.

Screencap from forthcoming "Sex with Stalin" game
Our reaction exactly. / Steam

Blog Spotlight

Scoot on over and read Katrina Keegan’s story on scooters in Russia.

In Odder News

Bear strolling into Kamchatka airport
He doesn’t need security because he is the security. / Kamchatka Info
  • Welcome to Kamchatka Bearport! A bear strolled through a security gate onto the tarmac of a Kamchatka airport. (Pun credits to the Siberian Times.)
  • Ahead of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, workers painted the grass along a highway green. Now the grass will always be greener on the other side.
  • How many words does Russian have for drunkenness? A Soviet-born sports writer reveals all in this epic thread of 25 tweets.

Quote of the Week

“Yay, it’s summer!”

— A Norilsk resident running out into the snow in short sleeves and shorts

Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week.

Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

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.
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.
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.
Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
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 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.  
Dostoyevsky Bilingual

Dostoyevsky Bilingual

Bilingual series of short, lesser known, but highly significant works that show the traditional view of Dostoyevsky as a dour, intense, philosophical writer to be unnecessarily one-sided. 
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.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955