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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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. 
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At the Circus (bilingual)

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.
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.
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.
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.

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