poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

June 1, 2010

Odds & Ends: Spring Cleaning Edition

While I’ve not been writing about Russia (but instead cleaning, from top to bottom, in a fit of hoardophobia, every square inch of my apartment) a lot of stories have piled up in my bookmarks. Now I’m cleaning out those as well, before you show up one day to find me rotting under a heap of old news items.

THE POLITICAL DISH

~ David Hoffman, author of “The Dead Hand,” asserts that the Prime Minister does not have a nuclear suitcase.

I, author of, “poemless. the blog,” assert that David Hoffman is rather gullible if he believes that. But why on earth didn’t Vova change the law before he switched positions with Medvedev?

~ Russian Democracy: The Game Show!

Seriously. This looks like a scene from a Japanese game show. Whoever fails to cast enough votes for a quorum before the buzzer goes off will be doused with Ready Whip from a fire hose. Go team UR!

I wonder what is to stop the AWOL deputies from having their votes cast, say, against the Kremlin? The lackeys should do that, change the votes. How would the deputies defend themselves? “Prostite, esteemed Vladimir Vladimirovich, but the tool I paid to cast my vote while I was getting drunk pushed the wrong button.”

~ NFTEB on the topic of the vote:

“The law in question is President Medvedev’s pet project to lower the drink-drive limit; effectively reducing the amount of drinking you can do before legally driving to nil. This has created quite a furore. It turns out that Members of Parliament like to have a lunchtime tipple as much as the rest of us. Unlike in Britain, budget cuts won’t be soon forcing them to take platzkart from Krasnoyarsk when parliament is in session (or will they? That would be great). Furthermore, claims that drinking refreshing yet mildly alcoholic kvas or even eating black bread can be enough to push you over the limit have bolstered opposition to the law.

Some of my Russian friends claim that it has been scientifically proven that some people naturally have a certain amount of alcohol in their blood, even if they don’t drink. Naturally, I have had great fun winding them up about this. What was the alcohol level in the blood of the control group? “Are you sure you haven’t been drinking this morning Boris?” “Nyeeeet! Znachit, (hic) – it must be naturally occurring!” Russian scientists have proven a lot of things that my British brain has difficulty accepting.”

Russian scientists would probably find this proves a defect with British brains…

~ The now legendary VVP smackdown of DDT rocker Shevchuk.

Or, a master lesson in how to school your opponent. Looks like this is the new past-time over at Kremlin Inc. Below, Vladik responds to threats that businessmen are ready to flee Russia (“sitting on their suitcases”) by suggesting they should be a little more humble, telling them to unpack and make themselves at home.

~ Garbo, I mean, Surkov, Talks!

It’s not terribly humble of me, but Surkov can unpack and make himself at home here any time. What? It’s no more out of the realm of possibility than Ilya Yashin’s fantasy…

~ …in which Surkov would be thrown in prison for producing sextapes.

You know you want to believe him. Just as one day we will find Putin was indeed behind every journalist’s death in Russia between 1999 and 2029, we will find dear Slava was behind every filmed dissident orgy. It’s not terribly humble of me, but Surkov can … oh, never mind.

THE WORLD IN BRIEF

~ The U.S. ranks 42nd in child mortality, behind the United Arab Emirates, Cuba and Chile.

But we live in a democracy and that’s all that counts.

~ Amnesty International goes after Switzerland for their racism.

Oh, snap!

~ Jane Goodall goes after Switzerland for their materialism.

Double snap!

~ [T]here really is an urgent and perilous threat to Israel. It’s called “the Israeli government.”

No seriously, you guys are making Iran look like the sane ones.

BE AFRAID – VERY AFRAID.

~ Freedom of expression is not dead in Russia. … It is undead!

Apparently Vova isn’t worried about a zombie invasion tying up traffic to hospitals.

~ Chupacabra washes ashore in Canadia.

Even the Chupacabras hate American health care.

~ This is not an Onion story. Gulp.

“Not to be outdone, the owner of a religious museum near Lubbock claims that he has a stuffed chupacabra.
The Independent Creationist Association in Crosbyton is advertising: “See the real chupacabra. … Finally one has been caught.”

Curator Joe Taylor says he has always believed that man walked the earth with dinosaurs.

Now, he believes that both walked with the chupacabra.

“Sure, I believe that,” he said by phone from Crosbyton.

At his Mount Blanco Fossil Museum, he said, he spends a lot of time looking at animal bones.

“This isn’t the mythical chupacabra,” he acknowledged, adding seriously: “There’s two kinds.”

One was more intelligently designed than the other?

~ ” Frogs!”

What is more disturbing, a movie genre called “1970’s B-movie eco-horror” or the fact that it is so very timely in our age of global climate change? This film is like “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Wallstreet” rolled into one, but with scary close ups of frogs! Freaking Brilliant!

THE SOCIETY PAGES

~ Matt Taibbi is leaving True/Slant to devote more time to his Rolling Stone.

Good for him. True/Slant is perhaps the most user-annoying news outlet on the Internet.

~ Lyndon is seriously blogging again.

Just a word of advice: if you have been remiss in your blogging duties for an extended period of time, and then get at it again, please tell everyone! After a while we just stop checking your site, ya know…

~ Get Slavoj Žižek to Host SNL!

Though the collision of the meta and dialectical natures of such a stunt might result in something approximating a nuclear reaction, it would totally be worth it.

~ This Week In Facebook.

Vova writes a poem for his status update. Russia uploads Yanukovich wreath attack video.

WHAT TO READ

~ Orlov: “The Great Unreasoning.”

A reader sent me this. It’s a wonderful piece, pondering upon the whispers of cats, argument v. observation, the perverse role of opinion in political science, the diminishing returns of reason and … Merleau-Ponty.

~ Cohen: “An End to Silence: Uncensored Opinion in the Soviet Union, from Roy Medvedev’s Underground Magazine Political Diary.”

Found it lying on a shelf in the lib. You can’t go wrong with Stephen Cohen and Roy Medvedev, can you?

~ Shkolvsky: “Zoo, or Letters not about love.”

Josephina remarked that, “Russian literature is better than sex.” Russian literature is certainly like sex: When it’s bad, it’s mediocre but still better than most anything else you might have done instead, but when it is good, it blows your freaking mind. It’s a religious experience. Such was the case with “Zoo, or Letters not about love.” From Khlebnikov’s Menagerie, “Where the bats hang suspended, like the heart of a modern Russian,” to Remizov’s secret monkey society and everything in between: sermons disguised as heartache, literary theory disguised as poetry … well, if you are reading my blog you must read this slim tome of genius. It’s a new rule. Like, an initiation rite.

I promise she’ll be one of the best lovers you’ll ever take.

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10 Comments »

  1. Good call on True/Slant. I hate hate hate their interface. Want to kill with fire, rinse, then kill again.

    Comment by A Good Treaty — June 1, 2010 @ 5:42 PM | Reply

    • And as if to illustrate this, the link I provided was to the comments where his new blog is linked, but it only takes you to the “called out” comments.

      Comment by poemless — June 1, 2010 @ 5:46 PM | Reply

    • I second that motion.

      Comment by seansrussiablog — June 2, 2010 @ 12:28 AM | Reply

  2. And how does once romance the lover whose acts of love are in a language far beyond ones ken?

    Im guessing here that using an interpreter [translation] would spoil the mood of the occasion[s].

    Comment by blitzen — June 2, 2010 @ 8:20 AM | Reply

    • Seems narcissistic or solipsistic(?) to respond to oneself, but that should be “one” not “once”

      Comment by blitzen — June 2, 2010 @ 8:20 AM | Reply

    • I’m not sure I understand your question, but Shklovsky’s book is in Russian and in a respectable English translation. So if you can read this blog, you can read that.

      Comment by poemless — June 2, 2010 @ 11:34 AM | Reply

      • Was asking – is it really worth it – do you get the feel of the original? As an example, Asterix comics are brilliant even in the translation…

        Comment by blitzen — June 2, 2010 @ 4:22 PM | Reply

        • Well, I read it in translation, and think it is brilliant, so yes.

          Here is a review.

          I shouldn’t let the language inhibit you. Because it is everything else about the book that I would assume to be intimidating or inaccessible. Formalism? Literary theory? Personal correspondence? Like most people, these things sound pretty tedious to me. I once had a professor who (speaking of Formalism or Futurism or one of their contemporaries) said, “The problem with theory based art is that the theory is usually more interesting than the art.” And this is true. But “Zoo” is the exception that proves the rule. I could -and would love to- go into all of experimental aspects of the work, but why scare anyone away with technique when the work itself is pure poetry? The only person who should fear a souffle is the one making it. But if you are offered one to eat, just eat it.

          Comment by poemless — June 2, 2010 @ 4:55 PM | Reply

          • Thank you.

            Being intimidated isn’t really an issue. Knowing that the magic of the original hasnt been lost in translation is, and thats what you have answered for me.

            Comment by blitzen — June 3, 2010 @ 1:32 AM | Reply

  3. [...] And, finally, if that’s not enough of a roundup for you, check out Poemless’ June spring cleaning edition of Odds and Ends. [...]

    Pingback by Official Russia | Russia Blog Roundup — June 7, 2010 @ 2:08 AM | Reply


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