Saturday, December 4, 2010

2010 12 04 - Ya Mascovich: Kyltyra - B Teatr

The Russian word for Theater is TEATP - the P is an R and it is pronounced TEE-A-Ter.

We went to an extremely nice theater to see a play titled "Journey into the Whirlwind" based upon a auto-biographical account written by Eugenia Ginzburg.

The play was in Russian and I understood very little of it. Here is what I can tell you - it was set in a Stalinist Era Womens Prison or Gulag. Plotwise that is about what I got - Ginzburg served 18 years for Treason. Her book was smuggled out of Russia and published (in English) in 1967. It was not published in Russia until 1990.

The production was very impressive with large moving sets that had a very industrial feel, perhaps alluding to the automation and mechanization which developed and thrived during the era. We have seen a few excellent productions at the Wilma in Philadelphia the past couple of years and I would definitely classify the Ginzburg play in the same category as those shows.

As part of the show the lobby of the theater was decorated in with Communist era slogans. A prop statue of Stalin Rested near the entrance to the theater. These props actually served a dual purpose, when you exited the theater following the performance the banners were removed revealing 8x11 B&W head shots of the artists and performers involved in the play.

Language Lesson

You may notice prior to Theater or TEATR in the title above I have a Capital "B". As noted previously the B is actually a V or Vah sounds in Russian. VLAD is actually Spelled BLAD - the L and D are goofy non-english characters. The standalone B means (at least in this context) to go somewhere. B TEATR - going to the Theater. B Restauran - Going to the Restaurant. B KENO, going to the Cinema B PARK - Going to the Park.

GULAG is actually an Acronym - Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies - I have no idea how the letters match up but you get the idea.

Chistii Prudi

The Moscow Theater District resides near a park named Chistii Prudii. When we left the play we were able to "Walk" on one of the iced over ponds that is part of the park.
Jo Walks on Water

If you look over Billie Jo's Right Shoulder you can see a girl ice skating on the bond. If you enlarge the photo you can make out a small white light in front of the skater - that is a cell phone - she is texting. The Skating Texter did eventually fall on her butt.

Pond in Summer

This the Pond under warmer conditions.


Saw a Girl wearing a Celtics Hoodie near the Mall and a Dolphins Fan on the Metro. Good to see the Miami logo - helped make me feel a little warmer in the Moscow Winter.

New York Yankees 9
Boston Celtics 3
Los Angeles Dodgers 2
Solchi 2014 2

U of Michigan 2
Elliot Sadler 1
Atlanta Braves 1
Chicago Bulls 1

Oregon U 1
Denver Broncos 1
Miami Dolphins 1

Friday, December 3, 2010

2010 12 03 - Ya Moscovich: Kyltyra - Myzika

My father asked me what radio is like in Moscow - To which I replied what's a Radio. Indeed the last time I lived at home, I was in my teens, it was maybe 10 yrs ago (perhaps a bit longer) and Radio was a big part of my life and American Culture. Well times have changed. Nobody gets there music from a radio anymore. In fact people don't get their music via CD either. I am not even sure if mp3 remains a growing format.

Alas, they do have Radio and Music in Russia. The word for Radio is...Radio and the word for Music is Muzika.

I have always been fascinated by pop music. With Globalization and the shrinking of the world it has become even more interesting to me which artists manage to crossover into other cultures.

The Moscow and Petersburg areas have hosted the following acts either prior to my arrival, during my stay or in the near future:

ZZ Top - Played the weekend after I arrived - They are in their 6th decade of playing together and this was is their first trip to Moscow.
Toni Braxton
Deep Purple
The Residents
Iron Maiden
Elton John
Diana Krall - We looked into this and I think her show was equal to a Months Rent
Tatu - Attractive Russian Lesbian group who made a bit of a dent in the US scene maybe 7-8 years ago.
Skid Row

Concert Billboards

I am really not sure who Toni Braxton is but she has always had great legs. And I have no clue who the other woman is, but I think this ad could have saved Arnold Schwarzenegger a great deal of trouble 25 years ago.

There are numerous references to current pop stars through the paper. Lady Gaga is particularly noteworthy.

On the other end of the spectrum, during our visit to Petersburg I saw an add for an upcoming exhibition inspired by the work of legendary albeit enigmatic producer, Brian Eno.

Returning to Radio there is radio here and our Satellite systems picks it up. While in Petersburg I asked a waitress about he Music being played and she said that it was from 90.1 the Hermitage - likely inspired or produced by the Museum. I couldn't get the link to work, perhaps when I get back home.

Pop Quiz - anybody know who this is??

Thursday, December 2, 2010

2010 12 02 - We Win!!

On the Second of December, Russia was awarded the World Cup for the Year 2018. I was sitting in our apartment in Moscow, but because of the electronic age we live in I got the news via a Baseball Blog that originates out of Atlanta. This may say more about my strange life then it says about the electronic media.

Still an event that is almost 8 years away is cause for great excitement in Moscow and was trumpeted via all of the major papers. The 2014 Winter Olympics will also be hosted by Russia in the resort town of Sochi which is located on the Black Sea.

Moscow Times WC 2018 Story - Don't bother going to the Link, I didn't read the story either.

Zenit Logo

The Russian Cup or Rambler Cup in 2010 was awarded to Club Zenit from St Petersburg - They won the championship game by a score of 1-nil (Shocking).

I know virtually nothing about soccer/futbol, but I do enjoy having a favorite team so Club Zenit has joined the foray of favorite teams in the Ember household - This deicision was base on two factors: They are from St Petersburg and Billie Jo found one of the players attractive.

If you look at the above logo (click to enlarge). Zenit (pronounced Zen-Neet) is in the circle. The Top Left of the circle (9 - 12 o'clock) says "Futbol-Nee". The Top Right area (1 o'clock) specifies KLYB pronounced CLOOB - with a long U for Club. Finally the balance of the circle says Saint Petersburg.

The big letters at the bottom tell us that this is a bag from the OFFICIAL MAGAZINE - Magazine is the Russian word for store or shop. And indeed Zenit has it's own stores. The stores are fully stocked in apparel and other merchandise. Uniforms and Tees are available for the entire Zenit roster, both home and away colors, in shirts sponsored by Nike - the Goddess of Shoe Branding.

I stuck to US teams in my Branding Survey - pretty much because that is what I know. I am sure that we have crossed paths with Man U shirts and caps at some point but I have no idea what any of the Futbol Logos look like. I am pretty sure I also noticed some Formula 1 Jackets. F1 is pretty popular throughout Europe and while we were here the championship drew a fair amount of coverage.

I do now Know Zenit's logo but will not be counting it in the branding survey.

I did come across someone wearing a Broncos Sweatshirt today - Who would have guessed that the first NFL logo I would spot would belong to the Broncos?

New York Yankees 9
Los Angeles Dodgers 2
Solchi 2014 2
Boston Celtics 2
U of Michigan 2
Elliot Sadler 1
Atlanta Braves 1
Chicago Bulls 1

Oregon U 1
Denver Broncos 1

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2010 12 01 - Ya Moscovich: The Big Freeze

I would like to let you know that the AM temp in Moscow on November 12th is -9F. That is Farenheit not Celsius. The Wind Chill an astounding -27F. I should have done a screen capture from, but I was to stunned to do anything. And of course this means it is a school day which involves at least 30 minutes of walking at an extremely brisk pace in this cold.

On the plus side - I have lost an incredible amount of weight since arriving in Russia - I may have lost 20 lbs. This happens when you live somewhere where you cannot order any food. You walk and climb stairs for a couple of miles each day and subsist on a slightly higher quality of junkfood (No HFCs here).

At any rate I am down 2 to 3 notches on my belt. Luckily this allows me enough room to place my sweat pants on under my jeans - I am serious. I am going to school everyday wearing my sweat pants underneath my jeans. Remember that several Stages of Cold Post from a few weeks ago. Well I have needed to add another stage today.

We got onto the metro and there was a young man passed out on one of the benches. He was wearing an knit cap bearing the NHL logo. I explained to Billie Jo this is a Hockey thing.

Since the weather has gotten colder there are a lot more folks passed out on the metro and in metro stations. And, you can smell a lot booze on the breaths of the metro patrons. Stray dogs and homeless folks are also more present in metro stations, but are not really a significant problem.

New York Yankees 9
Los Angeles Dodgers 2
Solchi 2014 2
Boston Celtics 2
U of Michigan 2
Elliot Sadler 1
Atlanta Braves 1
Chicago Bulls 1
Oregon U 1


A dollar will get you 31.5 Rubles today.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2010 11 30 - Ya Mosovich: Kyltyra - Televisor

The Russian word for Culture is Kultura. This week I plan to look at some of the cultural phenomena in Moscow - which since I am the author here means Pop Culture. A few days ago I alluded to a conversation in my textbook regarding American Football - I will start my TV Discussion by mentioning that there is no American Football on TV here.

Actually, I am not sure if there is an American Football broadcast here - I have not watched my TV. Partially because our reception via satellite is sketchy. We have maybe a dozen to 20 channels depending on the day. And I don't understand most of it - this takes a lot of fun out of surfing TV - which is the only thing I use a TV for. Like most men, I don't really care whats on, I only care what else is on.

OH before I forget the Russian word for Television is Televisor.

They broadcast many American shows here in one of two forms A) Dubbed or B) Translated.

The dubbed shows are American Shows with all the dialogue translated into Russian. There is no rhyme or reason to the shows - Among them are Sex & the City, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dharma and Greg I think, ,Several MTV Reality Shows (Next..., Top Model etc), and Many Animated Series: The Simpsons, Family Guy, Sponge Bob, and we just recently spotted that show with the pixared Lions, which Eddie Murphy did a voice for - it was on for roughly a moment back home.

The shows which I refer to as translated are ones where they take an American Show and put in an entirely Russian cast but use the themes from the American Show. Among the shows which can be seen here that have their roots in American TV are ...Everybody Loves Raymond, CSI, and the Bundys.

We watched an episode of the Bundys and I am pretty sure they lifted the script directly from the American show. Peg Slips on a Banana, hits her head, and loses her memory. When she awakes she is a model wife and mom. The rest of the Bundy clan keeps her in the dark about her condition and enjoys having the new Peg around etc.

There is also a Translation of the dreadful "What not to Wear". Very bizarre - Billie Jo would have to explain you the nuances of this show. I am embarrassed to bring up that I even know the show exists.

There are three basic Russian channels I have Identified Russia 1, Russia 2 (Sport), Russia K (Kultural). 1 is your general entertainment, We get this at home - it has CSI, and the Russian version of Who wants to Be a Millioinarie etc. Sport is sort of like ESPN, except they have a lot of Steven Seagull/Van Damme flicks on when there are no sports - so it is sort of like Spike when it isn't ESPN. and Russia K is their PBS. Lots of Documentries and weird Music Programming.

TV News
I don't know about the rest of the newscast but they are very specific with their weather graphs. The temperature is given to the 1/10th of a degree and the Time is ticked off by the second. I think the Barometric Pressure is also part of the graph, but I have no clue when it's good bad or otherwise.

One other thing - the chic that gives the newscast has the worst haircut ever. I think she is Spock's mother.

November 30th

Speaking of weather , it is the coldest day so far in Moscow. They are calling for colder weather tomorrow. Ugh. Of course it is a School day so I will be traveling in the wonderful weather.

The Dollar is trading at 31.35 R/Dollar.

Monday, November 29, 2010

2010 11 29 - Are Moscovich Men Often in Trouble?

On the day I arrived in Moscow, I asked Billie Jo what the Hell UBETies were because they had signs for them EVERYWHERE. Every Metro Stop has at least one and many times more. And if you look at the top of the Photo above you can see as sign that specifies 24 with the word below shielded by yet another UBETbl Sign - well the hidden sign is for the Hours they are open.

Language Lesson
If you haven't guessed this is a flower stand - check the pic on the stand between the Red Signs - And this is a pretty modest one - I pass it everyday on the way to school. The UBET word is pronounced something like TSVETTY - it makes me think of a certain sketch on SNL with Alec Baldwin. The U like character with the tail makes a TS sound (as in TSAR). The B is a a V - E and T are the same the lower case b and l are actually part of a single character (sometimes referred to by outsiders as the 61 character) the "bl" character is the long E sounds as in frEEzing.

I am not exaggerating when I state that the stands are all over the city. And every one of them is 24 Hours.

This is what has led me to the Question in the title of this Post. I mean why else would you need so many flower stands, and why would they need to be 24 hours?

I mean if your running out to get flowers at 4am, my guess is a bouquet of roses lined with gemstones ain't gonna solve your relationship issues!!

Now if we're dealing with some clown that just made some sort of sexist blog posting he is probably ok - First off - He can probably convince the young lady that he was only joking, and secondly, He can hopefully fallback on his Extremely Good Looks and Infinite Charm.

Turns out the joke is likely on the Author of the blog posting - Sasha is one of those unisex nicknames in Russian (it is short for both Alexandra (f) and Alexander(m) - Like Chris/Christine/Christopher). Imagine a certain students dismay when he was listening to the mp3 of this particular exercise and Sasha turned out to be an Alexander and not an Alexandra.


Maybe this is a me from hickville thing - Moscow is a Gihugic city and it runs 24/7. Perhaps in New York they have these 24 hour Flower stands on every corner, Is Duane Reade some fancy French Phrase for Flower Shop that I am unaware of?

Flowers in Moscow are serious business and there are customs related to them. You are to give flowers only in Odd Numbers (3,5,7 etc) - A single flower can be given, but this is rarely done. Even numbers considered bad luck and are only given for funerals.

The Russian words for Flower and Color carry the same root and are quite similar. This makes sense, The flower stands across the city are very colorful and do help to brighten up the dreary winter days in Moscow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

2010 11 28 - Moscovich Women

This is a Sunday during Football season and I would like to quickly draw your attention to one of the early lessons in my Russian Language Textbook that references American Football.

Russian Telephone Language Lesson

You will likely need to enlarge the photo (by clicking) to read the text above.  You need not read the Left Side (unless you would like to pick up some Russian Vocabulary).  I am primarily interested in the English translation of the conversation that is occurring. 

Go Ahead Read It, I'll wait.

Did anyone notice anything about Ivan and Sasha? 

Sasha had the good sense to:

A) Let Ivan return to watching the Football Game
B) Apologize to Ivan for interrupting.