September 13, 2018

Life, Death, and Pizza


Life, Death, and Pizza
Predictions, Pistols, and Pizza Pies

1. Russia has seen its (environmental) future, and it doesn’t look good. The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has released a report detailing the effect it foresees for Russia from climate change. Although many have theorized that warmer temperatures, more land, and Arctic shipping access would make climate change beneficial for the country, the report paints a much darker picture. The 900-page document highlights the potential for increased incidence of heat waves, forest fires, floods, and diseases, and it also highlights the fact that Russia is one of the top producers of greenhouse gases.

2. The Russian duel is an age-old tradition: just ask Pushkin or Lermontov. It’s a tradition that continues to this day, or at least the appeal of it sometimes does. Engaging in this tradition, Viktor Zolotov, head of Russia’s National Guard, recently challenged Alexei Navalny, prominent opposition leader, to a duel. The impetus for this challenge was a Navalny video that alleged that the leaders of the National Guard were corrupt. The only bright spot in this story may be our opportunity to draw a comparison to Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, sir.

3. What would you do for pizza? If you’re like hundreds of Russians this week, you may be willing to do just about anything, including getting a tattoo. At the beginning of September, Domino’s Pizza launched a promotion in Russia that offered participants 100 free pizzas per year for up to 100 years if they got the Domino’s logo tattooed on their body. The offer was originally meant to run for two months, but as pictures of Domino’s-themed tattoos came flooding in, Domino’s quickly realized their error and the offer was limited to the first 350 entrants. This ink-fuelled spectacle may be over, but we sure are looking forward to whatever pie-in-the-sky advertising plan a Russian company cooks up next.

pizza tattoos

Photo: Red Rum Tattoo

In Odder News:
  • Wild goose chase: in the video above, a man shows off his hilarious command over his golden geese (thanks to reader Matthew for sending this our way!)

  • War and Inner Peace: the Russian Armed forces is collecting money to build a military-themed cathedral

  • Story update: American mixed martial artist Jeff Monson is now a city councilman in Krasnogorsk

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Quote of the Week:

“I promise to turn you into a juicy pounded steak in a few minutes”

— Viktor Zolotov, Putin’s former bodyguard and the head of Russia’s National Guard, challenging Alexei Navalny to a duel

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Some of Our Books

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.
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

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.
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.
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.
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
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.
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.
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.
Steppe / Степь (bilingual)

Steppe / Степь (bilingual)

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
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. 

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