Happy Victory Day! I hope everyone will take a moment today to remember those who died in World War II.
If you’re interested, there’s a video below of the parade at Red Square. As usual, Russia’s leadership wanted to show off its military might. I think my favorite part of the parade was at the end, when the airplanes with colored contrails flew. I have no idea how they color those contrails, but it looks so cool.
Because what else is a person supposed to do after midnight on a Tuesday? Watch random YouTube videos, of course! Here’s one of my favorite recordings of “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s Tosca, sung by Placido Domingo.
I’ve written about Bidzina Ivanishvili, the prime minister of Georgia, before (specifically, here and here). Back when I first found out about him and was following the Georgian elections (that his party won), I looked on YouTube for some interviews with the man. The only ones I could find were originally in Georgian, then dubbed into Russian or English.
Ivanishvili once said that he did not know Russian until he went to do a degree in Moscow. I was surprised to learn this, as I was always taught that everyone in the Soviet Union was forced to learn Russian, whether they liked it or not.
Imagine my surprise when I found this video, posted on January 17 of this year.
That is some beautiful Russian Bidzina speaks. My theory is that he played down his Russian ability before the election, since Georgia has sought to distance itself from Russia. But now that he’s been elected, he has nothing to lose by giving these interviews.
Or maybe Russian was simply the only common language he had with that interviewer (who I think is Armenian).
And now I have a random fantasy of going to Georgia, running into Ivanishvili, and speaking Russian with him.
This song has been stuck in my head for almost twenty-four hours now. I suppose I shouldn’t complain: if I have to have a song stuck in my head, I’d much prefer a Russian one to some annoying (and bad) English-language stuff. (Not that all English-language music is annoying, but most modern music in this country is pretty bad. Just saying.)
The song is called “My Address is the Soviet Union” [Мой адрес Советский Союз] and it was very, very popular back in the day (circa 1972).
I feel such nostalgia with this song, which is ridiculous on so many levels. I don’t even like the Soviet Union. Trust me, I’ve studied Soviet history extensively and it was a horrible place to live (at least compared to the United States – it was much better than modern North Korea, but then again, pretty much any place is preferable to North Korea). I never lived in the Soviet Union. It fell shortly after I was born, so there was no time in my life when I consciously existed and was aware of the country known as the Soviet Union.
Well, it wasn’t for nothing that my second reader for my undergraduate thesis said that I was able to paint a remarkably accurate portrait of life in the Soviet Union, especially considering I never lived there.
Okay people, I just have to share this with you: I just found a YouTube channel devoted entirely to Russian pop music. This is embarrassing, but I’ll say it anyway. I unabashedly love Russian pop. Actually, I love Eastern European music in general. I wish I could find a radio station in the United States that played nothing but Eastern European pop. (This may exist, but not in my town!)
Anyway, the channel is called ELLO and has an impressive number of views, according to YouTube. I’m listening to a Банд’Эрос [Band Eros] song right now.
This is embarrassing. In addition to my other rather, er, esoteric interests, I’ve discovered that I quite enjoy Polish pop music. I don’t speak a word of Polish, but this song (which I found on a friend’s blog) is stuck in my head right now. It’s called “Czy ten pan i pani” by Ania Wyszkoni. Be careful if you listen to it – it’s catchy and will probably stick in your head, too!
Okay, so it’s actually Sunday where I am right now. But it’s still Saturday in other parts of the country, so the title of this post is completely valid.
I have a certain Russian song stuck in my head, and therefore I will do my best to get it stuck in yours as well. Plus I want to talk about this song because it was written one hundred years ago, way back in 1912. In the whole scheme of things, one hundred years is not so long ago, but sometimes it can be interesting to reflect on how much the world has changed since 1912. Just think, in 1912, the two world wars had not happened, the Russian Empire still existed and was ruled by Tsar Nicholas II, the United States was not yet a superpower, and women in the United States were not yet allowed to vote.
But I digress – it’s the historian in me coming out! More about this Russian song below the jump. Continue reading →
Apologies for not posting this earlier, dear readers. You see, on Thursday, around 11 am local time, tragedy struck: a technician working on our neighbor’s TV accidentally cut the cable that gives us internet and landline telephone. Of course, we immediately called the internet and telephone provider and believe it or not, a repairman arrived around two today, worked for twenty minutes, and fixed the internet. (I forgot to check if the phone is fixed or not.) And of course, I could not post without a proper internet connection. (Have you ever tried posting via iPhone 3GS? I assure you, it is most unpleasant.) Without further ado, I present the links for this week.
As a Stalin scholar, this article is so interesting. It is about Putin’s call for a Stalin-style leap forward in the Russian defense industry. And people have the gall to say that Russia is irrelevant after the Cold War. (US intelligence agencies, please hire me to do Russia analysis! I have mad Russian skillz. And pretty good analysis skills, too.)
One aspect of my life I have not talked about very much on this blog is my violin playing. I have been playing since middle school and played in a youth orchestra throughout middle school and high school (youth orchestra was amazing and the only thing that kept me sane – I despised middle school and high school).
I started taking lessons about two months after I started playing and continued doing so until two months ago, when I had my last lesson at my university’s music department a few weeks before graduation. Since starting university, I have played a lot of Mozart. During my final year, we (my teacher and I) worked on Mozart’s Adagio in E major, K. 261. For my jury after second year, I played the slow movement from Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4, K. 218. Continue reading →
This song, Славное море – священный Байкал [Glorious sea – Holy Baikal] has been stuck in my head for the past week and it’s driving me crazy. Therefore I shall attempt to get it stuck in your head as well.
Click here to see on YouTube if embed doesn’t work.
It’s an old Russian folk song from the mid-1800s, based on a poem written at about the same time. Continue reading →
I saw this film yesterday and it was pretty good. In short (I don’t want to give anything away!), it is about a group of young people (I assumed they are recent college graduates) who embark on a European tour. After seeing Kiev for a bit, instead of heading to Moscow as planned, they decide to go to Pripyat, the city that was evacuated after the Chernobyl disaster, for a day. Unfortunately, they get stranded there and realize they are not alone.
I enjoyed the film (there is Ukrainian spoken and I understood it!) though it did have some flaws. There could have been more character development – for example, two of the people traveling are brothers and one of them is living in Kiev, but we are never told why the one brother lives in Ukraine. There also could have been more backstory about what they find in Pripyat.
Overall, Chernobyl Diaries is an entertaining film, and if you like the horror genre, you’ll probably like it. An interest in Eastern Europe doesn’t hurt, either!
When I heard of this film a few months ago, I knew I wanted to see it. It’s called Battle of Warsaw 1920 and is (predictably) about the Battle of Warsaw, a battle in the Polish-Soviet War. The Civil War period after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution is one of my favorite eras to study in history, so I knew I would love this film. Continue reading →