May 30, 2019

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Fire/Lightning?


Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Fire/Lightning?
Blast off at the speed of light! @Rogozin

Throwback Thursday

Boris Pasternak painted in 1910 by father Leonid
Boris Pasternak, painted in 1910 by father Leonid Pasternak. / Wikimedia Commons

On this day in 1960, Boris Pasternak, one of Russia’s most famous dissident writers, poets, and translators, died in the Soviet Union. He was fondly remembered not just in the West, where he received a Nobel Prize, but also by his Russian literary peers, including Mandelstam and Akhmatova. Read some of their reminiscences here on Russian Life.

Avengerful Pomp and Fiery Circumstance

1. Avengers Endgame 2: Graduation Boogaloo. In Russia, as in the US, it’s high school graduation season. Some teachers at a Murmansk high school decided to send off their graduates in style. The graduating students were big fans of the Avengers, so the teachers filmed a 2-minute video of themselves as Marvel and DC superheroes (be sure to keep watching, the vid takes an unexpected turn at about 40 seconds). “We decided to be on the same wavelength as them,” said one teacher. Needless to say, the students loved it. It was a heroic way to end the heroic feat of school.

Teachers in Avengers costume
The Avengers return to say farewell. / 360tv

2. Onwards and upwards! The Plesetsk Cosmodrome launched a rocket on a cloudy Monday morning. About fourteen seconds in, a bolt of lightning hit the rocket. Nevertheless, the rocket continued its intrepid launch into the sky, prompting a major general at the cosmodrome to quip, “We’re all-weather forces.” As it turns out, the engineers usually anticipate such situations, even though they are rare. Let’s hope that next time around, lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice.

3. Keep calm and swing on. In Yamal, a boy was swinging cheerily in a playground. This would not be news if it weren’t for the fact that there was a huge fire burning right behind him. The short video has gone viral on social media and sparked comparisons to the popular “This is fine” meme. One commentator, however, admonishes us for taking this video too seriously: “What did you want from the kid?…He had already seen enough of the fire.” Honestly, that’s a fair point. Still, we can’t help marvelling at how he could keep his cool in such heated circumstances.

Boy swinging in front of fire
He didn’t start the fire. It was always burning since the world was turning / Vkontakte

Blog Spotlight

Tired of hearing about Americans going to Russia for the first time? Then read Victor Pogostin’s story about visiting an American subway (Subway) for the first time.

In Odder News

Swan father and baby
Father and baby. / 47channel
  • After the untimely death of his swan partner, one swan father in Gatchina took it on himself to raise their sole surviving swan baby. The elder swan is teaching the hatchling to nip at the grass and clean its feathers.
  • Make way for utkas! In St. Petersburg, drivers on a busy street stopped for two ducks crossing the road — in the crosswalk of course, these are clearly very law-abiding ducks.
Ducks crossing the road
Bon quackage! / Serg Mikerov

Quote of the Week

“Because of the abundance of expletives in the video, the audio had to be turned off.”

— A news website regarding a (terrifying) video of a tourist who got too close to a bear and just barely managed to escape

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

The Little Humpbacked Horse

The Little Humpbacked Horse

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.
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.
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.
Russia Rules

Russia Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
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.
22 Russian Crosswords

22 Russian Crosswords

Test your knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and society with these 22 challenging puzzles taken from the pages of Russian Life magazine. Most all the clues are in English, but you must fill in the answers in Russian. If you get stumped, of course all the puzzles have answers printed at the back of the book.
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.
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.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
The Latchkey Murders

The Latchkey Murders

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin is back on the case in this prequel to the popular mystery Murder at the Dacha, in which a serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow...
The Best of Russian Life

The Best of Russian Life

We culled through 15 years of Russian Life to select readers’ and editors’ favorite stories and biographies for inclusion in a special two-volume collection. Totalling over 1100 pages, these two volumes encompass some of the best writing we have published over the last two decades, and include the most timeless stories and biographies – those that can be read again and again.

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
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

802-223-4955