May 16, 2019

It's an Animal World After All


It's an Animal World After All
That’s one bold thief right there. Alexander Vorobyov

Throwback Thursday

Maximilian Voloshin
Maximilian Voloshin. / Wikimedia Commons

On May 16, 1877, the poet Maximilian Voloshin was born. He lived through three very different eras: the Russian Silver Age, the 1917 revolutions, and the Russian Civil War. Read some of his poems in translation right here on Russian Life.

Planet of the Free Bees and Bears

1. If you can’t find a honey, then make some honey! Humans and bees don’t have a lot in common, but one thing’s for sure: we all get lonely when we’re single. Luckily, if you’re a bee, the Moscow Zoo has the solution for you. On May 13, the Zoo opened a brand-new “hotel for single bees and wasps.” It’s designed mainly to give single bees a resting place while they pollinate flowers, but if the bees so desire, they can raise bee families there. No wonder these hives are getting so much buzz!

Hotel for single bees and wasps
The swanky new bee hotel. / Photo: Moscow Zoo

2. Freeing the animals, one circus at a time. It’s not just the Moscow Zoo that empathizes with our animal relatives: the mayor of Magas has officially banned the use of wild animals in circuses. “Animals are not entertainment or soulless toys; they are living beings. Cruelty towards them is unacceptable,” he announced in a press release. Before we celebrate, though, we should note that right now, activists are being detained in inhumane conditions for protesting the new border with Chechnya. Ironic, because wasn’t it a wild animal who said, “We are all connected in this great circle of life”?

Horse
Free as a horse. / Photo: Администрация города Магас

3. When a bear (b)ruins your hunting plans. A couple of hunters were driving on Kamchatka peninsula when a bear came over and started raiding their truck. The bear picked up their ration box and absconded in what has to be the heist of the century. Incidentally, the previous day, another driver on the same highway noticed a bear searching for food; some speculate it was the same bear. We usually tell people not to feed the bears, but we can’t always help it if they take matters into their own paws.

Blog Spotlight

Are you a fan of Kidnapping, Caucasus-Style (Кавказская пленница)? Are you just curious about Caucasus culture? Either way, don’t miss Katrina Keegan’s article fact-checking the Caucasus.

In Odder News

Bentley tank
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a Bentley tank! / Photo: Carbuzz
  • A mighty military mashina: Watch this Russian car enthusiast turn a Bentley into a tank.
  • Belgorod, best known for its Star Wars-loving mayor, is getting a major redesign. Check out the details here.
  • During a wrestling match, one fearless babushka intervened to defend her grandson.
Babushka defending grandson in wrestling match
The world needs more heroes like this. / Photo: Soviet Visuals

Quote of the Week

“The dead are burying the dead.”

— One Tweeter commenting on a scandal where Zvezda channel falsely claimed that a deceased opera singer commented on journalist Sergei Dorenko’s death

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.

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Some of Our Books

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
Murder at the Dacha

Murder at the Dacha

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin has a problem. Several, actually. Not the least of them is the fact that a powerful Soviet boss has been murdered, and Matyushkin's surly commander has given him an unreasonably short time frame to close the case.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
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. 
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.

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