Captions are needed

Posted August 29, 2010 by Homo Post-Sovieticus
Categories: Culture and History, Uncategorized

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Chekhov and dogs

Posted July 18, 2010 by Homo Post-Sovieticus
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International writers, when asked to name authors whose books everyone must have in the home library, inevitably include Anton Chekhov in their list. I would recommend his short stories as an excellent introductory point to Russian literature at large. Answers to “life’s persistent questions” are in Chekhov’s oeuvre. I will even use fashionable pedagogical terminology – research-based approach – to show overwhelming response to this author. “Chekhov!” was the first command I taught my dog. Ever since, Bolshaya has never failed to respond.

Большая и Чехов

A bit of history: Bolshaya (Большая) is a two-year old Great Dane (датский дог) and my first pet adopted five months ago. I knew nothing about dogs beyond the childhood story of Каштанка. While looking for a trainer for the official canine education, I relied on my Russian library and was rewarded beyond expectations when I taught my dog to respond to the command “Чехов!” by joining me -and a Russian tome – on the sofa.
The Chekhovian trick proved to be a solid foundation for learning. Yesterday Bolshaya graduated from a training program with Rachel at Petsmart.

The Russian expression “собачья жизнь” (a dog’s life) refers to a life of hardships. None of them seem to apply to Bol’shaya. A closer study of her lifestyle will bring to memory the composition of the portrait of Meyerhold by Konchalovsky.

You will find Boshaya in the reclining position any time, so that a literary parallel with Oblomov comes to mind. “Обломовщина” is her chosen modus vivendi, and the family gladly join in.


Two Oblomovs:

Web Resources on Russia

Posted May 8, 2010 by Homo Post-Sovieticus
Categories: Culture and History, Uncategorized
I rediscovered this site while trying to access a long-forgotten link to lectures on Russian history:
“Petrovich Lectures on Russian History
Professor Michael B. Petrovich taught Russian and Balkan history at UW-Madison for 39 years. A series of his lectures on Russian history, which made a lasting impact on generations of students and public radio listeners, were made available online by CREECA in 1997.”
Radio Liberty features 12 video clips “A Discovery of Russia” (in Russian), in which cartoon characters investigate the past via talk -show interviews with historical figures as an attempt to avoid falsification of history:

Easter Scene in Tolstoy

Posted April 4, 2010 by Homo Post-Sovieticus
Categories: Uncategorized

Chapter XV in Tolstoy’s Resurrection is set in a church on the Esater Day.
See Mashkov’s library for the Russian text and Project Gutenberg for the English version.

Пасхальный кулич

Onion shells are used as a natural egg dye.

Orthodox Christmas

Posted January 9, 2010 by Homo Post-Sovieticus
Categories: Uncategorized

BBC picture gallery:

Russian Tongue Twisters

Posted January 3, 2010 by Homo Post-Sovieticus
Categories: Language

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The Russian word for tongue twisters is СKOРОГОВОРКИ (скоро=быстро + говор-ить).
My picks from the word of the year collection are
ВАМПЬЮТЕР – компьютер + вампир
БРЕХЛАМА – брехать – to tell lies, хлам – rubbish, реклама – advertising, commercial
МЕДВЕПУТИЯ – Медведев + Путин, a new name of the country otherwise known as Russia
New Year’s Greetings from Putin and Medvedev
НЕХОТЬ – не хотеть, a noun with a negative connotation indicating the absence of desire to do anything at all
More about Russian neologisms at

Season’s Greetings!

Posted December 25, 2009 by Homo Post-Sovieticus
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Writing on the snow –

The sound track is my rendering of Маленькой елочке, and I asure you that I treated the material with more respect to the tradition than modernized Youtube versions. This song was performed as a хоровод (a dance performed by a choir moving around the tree in a circle).

Saint Nickolas, Russian dolls, and evergreen branches with callas. Although the Russians call him Father Frost (Дед Мороз), this particular Santa evokes the most beloved Orthodox saint – Николай-Чудотворец. Porcelain-faced dolls in traditional costumes are more elegant than chubby Matreshkas (this vendor has posted a good catalog: The white callas are a tribute to my parents. My father always brought a fresh bouquet of calla lilies for my mother for the New Year. Crisp fresh callas were hard to get in the middle of Russian winter. They were a conjunction of hope between compound and complex sentences of winter and spring in the story of seasons.

Seasonal vocabulary:
Snow – снег
Blizzard, snow storm – буран, метель (You may enjoy reading Pushkin’s “Blizzard” from Belkin’s Tales, as well as follow other links related to Russian Lit on this blog:
A clip from the famous film with Sviridov’s score:
Snowman – снеговик, снежная баба
Snowdrift – сугроб
Frost – мороз
Icicle – сосулька
Christmas ornaments – ёлочные игрушки
Winter – зима
Spring – весна
Fall – осень (which was missed on this blog)

Морозко (Morozko) is a winter tale with a full cast of archetypal characters: magnificent Father Frost – Moroz with an array of snow tricks, evil witch Baba Yaga, cruel stepmother, powerless father, poor female orphan, rich fiance, simple villager.
If you like the trailer, you may search for more episodes typing Морозко in the search box.