February 11, 2021

Sputnik Rap, Dolls, and Animal Skulls


Sputnik Rap, Dolls, and Animal Skulls

In this week's Odder News, how one man spent his pandemic, prisoners teach us how to get out of the pandemic, and a new video game connects you to the Russian police.

  • You can talk to a Russian sky policeman with your real voice in a new Russian video game, Militsioner. The sky policeman seems more benevolent than hostile, helping you navigate life as a criminal on the run while slowly getting you to appreciate the counsel of Big Brother. If you talk to him in English, he will reply in Russian – which pretty much sums up foreigners' experience with Russian police officers.

  • To encourage Russians to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a labor colony in the Urals has posted a video of two prisoners performing the rap they wrote about the vaccine, "Goodbye, Coronavirus!" The chorus, which goes "Sputnik V, Sputnik V," is downright catchy. It is actually Corrective Colony #12's second pandemic-era hit under the label 12 Studio Twelfth.
  • A Dagestani woman faked pregnancy – to the point of buying two baby dolls to bury at the end of nine months. Citing COVID-19 restrictions, the woman told her husband and family not to come to the hospital. While her husband was burying his twin "newborns," his cousin suggested that he take a look under the blanket. The resulting video of the dolls went viral on social media, with most Russians taking it to be an amateur horror film. Just... Ewww.
  • A St. Petersburg man has been charged with stealing 50 rare mammal skulls from the Russian Academy of Science's Zoological Institute over several months in 2020 and 2021. His stash is valued at 3.5 million rubles ($47,775). The man spent most of the pandemic collecting skulls, but authorities were only tipped off after the man sold about half of them to a high school student.
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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.  
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

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White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

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Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

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Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.
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. 
At the Circus

At the Circus

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.
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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