poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

August 24, 2009

Odds & Ends: Wild Kingdom Edition

Filed under: Odds & Ends — poemless @ 4:55 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Contents: Putin’s zoophilia, Moscow’s hobo dogs, Nazi Pooh bears and Zombies. And other gems.

It’s quite difficult to write a proper Odds & Ends these days. Ames got himself into a mess of money trouble and had to flee Moscow, leaving me eXile-less. MosNews has been unable to report anything but “hosting suspended for non-payment” for weeks. Capitalism has not been kind to the news of the perverse. Russians need to learn from America how to continue doing things they really can’t afford to do. I get the suspicion that they are taking this market economy idea too literally. It’s kabuki, people. Have you turned on the news recently? There is no money left here. I read the FDIC is broke. You don’t see Americans up and leaving to look for work in Canada to pay off their mortgages, do you? No. They’re gonna sit in their big fat houses in front of their big fat tvs until someone comes to drag them out kicking and screaming. They’re hedging their bets, assuming the people who get paid to drag people out of their homes kicking and screaming are also recently laid off and sitting in their big fat houses in front of their big fat tvs until someone comes to drag them out. Anyway, power-mad Capitalism has shut down the interesting journamalism in Moscow. The only insanity I can report on is American public policy, and that’s not funny ha-ha insane, that’s Alzheimer’s insane. Horrific, sad, embarrassing, makes you just want it to be over with soon so they’re out of their misery insane. So I’m avoiding U.S. news like I used to avoid grandma’s phone calls. Vovka at least is still romping around without half his clothes, but I can’t report on that every week. Unless the other half are shed, I can’t justify this behavior as “news.” He does seem to be flying through the Handbook of Bizarre Antics for Elected Officials at lightning speed, so I do look forward to the day when he gets to this entry. I wonder if it will be in Berlusconi’s bed…

And yet, August is upon us. What a morose bloody month it’s been. Even Russia Today’s supermodelanchors can’t pretend to be quirky and oblivious this week. People think the Russian news is all shiny happy neo-Soviets propaganda all the time. It’s not. It’s the airshow was a big effing failure, the whole entire effing North Caucasus has gone South Central L.A. on militant Islam and a whole entire effing dam collapsed and killed so many people that even the Prime Minster refuses to be “It sunk” snarky about it. Outside of Russia, it is famine, natural disasters, economic crisis and, to top it all off, even Obama is unpopular. He’s so unpopular people are coming to town halls armed. That’s how terrible everything is. Things weren’t even this terrible at the height of the Bush regime. That is what the news tells me. And there’s a new holiday to celebrate the twin evils of Nazism and Stalinism. When I say “Merkel is not appeasing anyone. The President of Ukraine has a 4% approval rating. Things weren’t even that terrible at the height of the Bush regime,” the news tells me, “Molotov–Ribbentrop,” like some fucking parrot with a history degree. Not because they have any idea what the hell it means in today’s geo-political climate. But because it’s a big word and they want you to know they know it. This explains why each time I read “Molotov–Ribbentrop” in the news, I hear it being said by the voice of Ricky Gervais’ character on The Office. It also explains why there wasn’t such hoopla on the anniversary of the Munich agreement…

Ack. All too depressing! Let’s talk about something else!

I. Tandemenagerie.

~ Here is a video of Putin kissing animals and children. Some people might think it is disturbing. I, however, like animals, Putin and kissing. Each in and of itself is something enjoyable, but put them all together, and it’s … well, ok, it’s disturbing, but in a charming way.

(Hat tip to False Dmitri.)

A while back I wrote about Sergeeva. Poor Masha, I said; she needs a makeover. If she was on the Kremlin dole, or wanted to be, she needed to invest in a hair brush and an ensemble that doesn’t look like it was shoplifted from Wet Seal. I think she took my advice! Molodets! Masha – you are looking quite smart these days! And what’s the story with the Kremlin School of Bloggers? Is this like a nefarious Russian version of OfA? And do they offer a degree program?

~ Also care of the unofficial Russian President, a list of words forbidden when one addresses Putin:

Medvedev, money, president, bad, developing, going down, give, want, help, government spending.

Bah. I guess this means I’m not allowed to say things like, “Medvedev kind of looks like Dracula with his hair like that, huh?” or “FWIW, I thought you were a pretty good president, all things considered. My own president was a hack by comparison,” or “I want some government spending money for developing bad ideas,” or “Help!” (<– What would one scream while drowning if Putin were there?) or anything about … going down. Good to know. A bit disappointing, but good to know.

The Daily Mail recently wondered: Has somebody told Mr Putin that badminton is not very macho? Has someone told the Daily Mail that standing next to Medvedev could make anyone appear macho by comparison? Even if all you do is pet puppies and take walks on the beach? Poor Dima, it’s a tough act to follow. So maybe ignoring the Rules of the Road is his attempt to emulate his predecessor’s bad boy image? Don’t misunderstand, I sympathize, I do. But when nerds try to be rebels, it usually just ends up in humiliation and fines.

~ Kommersant: Дмитрия Медведева попрекнули ремнем Граждане жалуются на президента в ГИБДД

What? Can’t read Russian? Can you use a computer?

Российские граждане пожаловались в ГИБДД на Дмитрия Медведева. 12 августа в программе “Вести” был показан сюжет, в котором президент России сел за руль автомобиля и поехал, не пристегнув ремень безопасности. Законодательство предусматривает за такое нарушение штраф в размере 500 руб., но представители ГИБДД заявляют, что за безопасность президента отвечает Федеральная служба охраны (ФСО), а ФСО настаивает на том, что президент все-таки пристегнулся, но “уже после начала движения”.

I would have imagined that there are some impossibly strict safety protocols for world leaders, such as people hired exclusivley to make sure drinks aren’t poisoned and everyone is buckled up. Maybe he was just shooting a legal nihilism PSA. Damn, I should be Medvedev’s spin doctor. Why didn’t they think of that? Shouldn’t the Kremlin School of Bloggers be coming up with this stuff? “Oh, he puts on the seatbelt after the car starts moving,” is they best they’ve got? I can’t wait to see how they explain the following.

~ Reuters: Russian government looks to buy golden bed.

That has to be for Berlusconi! Everyone knows Putin prefers cute ones with ruffles, and I’m pretty sure Dima sleeps in a coffin. Or will, if he doesn’t start wearing that seatbelt!

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s government has issued a tender for luxury furniture, including a gilded bed, triggering an outcry Wednesday in a country where the economy shrank 10.9 percent in the last quarter.

The interior ministry said it wanted a cherry wood bed and that the “the decorative elements of the head and footboards must be covered with a thin layer of 24 carat gold.”

The total value of the furniture tender was 24.4 million roubles ($755,900), according to the procurement agency’s site zakupki.gov.ru. […]

The publication of the tenders comes as part of Russian efforts to improve transparency and boost public confidence in efforts to cut corruption by holding public competitions for state purchases.

Let this be a lesson to would-be revolutionaries, you, over there, with the Lenin cap and too much free time: When you ransack the palaces of the bourgeoisie, don’t destroy everything in a big raid or hack it all up for firewood for the freezing peasants. The day will come when you will think, “I could really use a golden bed.” No, listen. It will. You have to trust me on this. And why rob your constituents blind when someone else has already done it for you?

II. Crimes of Anthropomorphism.

The MT has a brilliant piece [did I just write that? pause, mark your calendars] about the dogs of Moscow, who do things like ride the subway, survive the cold and chase terrified American girls through the woods, nipping at her ankles, the rabid little beasts. The MT doesn’t mention that last claim, but I can personally confirm its veracity.

Many of you have already seen this, but just in case…

~ Moscow Times: The Dogs of Moscow.

c. Oksana Onipko / MT

The photos are accompanied by some insightful captions. A selection:

-Moscow’s homeless canine population is full of savvy dogs; they ride the metro, they cross the street when the light changes (even though dogs are colorblind) and most impressive of all, they can survive the harsh winters.

-Officials at the Mendeleyevskaya metro station erected a bronze statue in 2007 of Malchik, or Boy, a dog who lived in the subway for three years before being stabbed to death by a female fashion model after her dog attacked the stray.

-In Soviet times, homeless animals were shot, but Mayor Yury Luzhkov did away with this procedure in 2002 under pressure from animal rights groups.

-This dog on Tverskaya Ulitsa is accompanying a person begging for change. The hat it is wearing expresses support for United Russia, the ruling political party that is headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Apparently the Moskovskie sobaki can not only decipher a Metro map and obey traffic laws, but can be partisan! Now, if they can get the dogs to vote! Or run! I mean for office. There were a lot of write-ins for Koni in the last election. I’m serious. The scans of the ballots are on English Russia.

Robert Amsterdam has video about the metro-riding dogs on this blog: Stephen Colbert Against Russia’s Commuting Dogs. Funny stuff. After enlisting me as his guniea pig, I think Bob’s comments are alive, if in a somewhat Frankensteinish way, so go over there and talk to him. Find out what he’s doing to get Misha outta the slammer.

~ Chicago Tribune: Dolphins blamed in suit against Brookfield Zoo.

I think they’re getting tired of being taken for granted as the benevolent beasts who swoop in to save ungrateful humans when they stupidly swim out too far. I think they have a dark side.

A woman has sued the Brookfield Zoo in a slip and fall case that she claims started with the dolphins.

Allecyn Edwards contends the zoo “recklessly and willfully trained and encouraged the dolphins to throw water at the spectators in the stands making the floor wet and slippery.”

Edwards says she suffered injuries when she fell on the wet floor.

Oh, if only we could sue animals! My cat has caused me serious physical injury throughout years of grooming, baths and “playing,” and I have incurred financial damages as a result of her being a picky eater. The only problem is that she has no money, so I’d have to sue myself. Oh, isn’t that sneaky. Fascist cats, rigging the justice system. Maybe UR wants to register dogs to vote, but I’d be wary of extending the same rights to cats. Unless Lavrenti Beria in a kitty cat body is your idea of a good time.

~Moscow Times: Winnie the Pooh Debuts on Extremism List.

Moscow Times will do anything for a click through. This article is really about the perennial comedy of errors that is provincial governments trying to apply laws handed down by Moscow. While I have to wonder if they don’t have more pressing items on their agenda, like inspecting old dams or something, I must agree that depicting Winnie the Pooh as a Nazi is sick and wrong.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Winnie the Pooh share a dubious honor: Anyone who depicts either of them with a swastika can be punished under the law.

The Justice Ministry published the latest — and biggest — update to its list of extremist materials on its web site this week, and many of the 414 new entries are so vague or controversial that analysts say they threaten to discredit the list all together.

The list is important because police officers and other law enforcement officials use it in street checks, apartment searches and criminal cases.

Among the new entries, extremist material is identified as “a picture of Winnie the Pooh wearing a swastika,” “a self-made template for a future newspaper, comic or other print materials,” and “a flag with a cross.” […]

The appearance of Winnie the Pooh on the list this week is not surprising given his popularity, Kryukova said. Jokes about the honey-obsessed bear are plentiful and have entered modern Russian folklore after Winnie the Pooh made his Russian debut in a well-known Soviet cartoon.

A picture depicting Putin in a Nazi uniform with a swastika armband was published in 2007 by the Saratovsky Reporter newspaper, and resulted in a criminal case against its editor for insulting a state official and another case in which the government sought to close the newspaper for extremism. Courts threw out both cases.

Wow. You always read about the brave martyrs who are arrested for insulting Putin, but you never read about courts throwing out those cases. Geez, I wonder what that’s all about. It’s almost like they wouldn’t want you to know about it. The question is, who benefits more from the belief that these things are prosecuted: Putin or his opposition? I honestly don’t know the answer.

III. Cabinet of Curiosities.

~ Chicago Tribune: Naked signed picture of Jackie Kennedy, old wedding cake, what is this? Andy Warhol’s junk.

Warhol. Wasn’t he the fellow who made you believe junk was art?

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A cardboard lid is lifted and four archivists peer inside. A postal box from Paris. Who sent it? A piece of crusty wedding cake. Whose? Another box: $17,000 in cash. Yet another: An autographed picture of a naked Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

These are some of the many items workers have uncovered as they sift through 610 cardboard boxes, filing cabinets and even a shipping container filled with what would be considered junk by most people but has a whole different meaning since it was collected by pop artist Andy Warhol. […]

However, there was no rhyme or reason to the collecting until about 1973. That’s when a Warhol associate suggested the artist carry a box around to dump things inside. Each “time capsule” was filled, taped shut, dated and sent to a New Jersey storage facility.

In the 18 months since the project began, the archivists have opened 177 boxes — each with an average of 400 items, some with as many as 1,200. Today, Wrbican said, just one of the boxes is insured for the amount of money the time capsule collection was appraised at a few years after Warhol’s death.

In September, the archivists will begin blogging about the “Object of the Week.”

What could appear: Wrbican’s favorite, a mummified human foot belonging to an ancient Egyptian; a Ramones’ 45 record signed by the punk rock band’s lead singer Joey Ramone, found by cataloger Marie Elia; or the orange nutbread cataloger Liz Scott discovered — sent to Warhol by one of his Pittsburgh-area cousins with a note telling him to enjoy it with a cup of coffee.

And curtains laced with diamonds dear for you
And all the Roman Noblemen for you
And kingdom’s Christian Soldiers dear for you
And melting ice cap mountain tops for you
And knights in flamming silver robes for you
And bats that with a kiss turn prince for you
Swoop, Swoop
oh baby,
Rock Rock (lyrics, “Andy’s Chest” by Lou Reed)

~ BBC: Science ponders zombie attack.

Because solving global cimate change is like so 2008.

Professor Robert Smith? (the question mark is part of his surname and not a typographical mistake) and colleagues wrote: “We model a zombie attack using biological assumptions based on popular zombie movies.

“We introduce a basic model for zombie infection and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions.”

To give the living a fighting chance, the researchers chose “classic” slow-moving zombies as our opponents rather than the nimble, intelligent creatures portrayed in some recent films.

“While we are trying to be as broad as possible in modelling zombies – especially as there are many variables – we have decided not to consider these individuals,” the researchers said.

Even so, their analysis revealed that a strategy of capturing or curing the zombies would only put off the inevitable.

In their scientific paper, the authors conclude that humanity’s only hope is to “hit them [the undead] hard and hit them often”.

They added: “It’s imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly or else… we are all in a great deal of trouble.”

Whoa, there! Back up a moment… Professor Robert Smith? I mean, Professor Robert Smith?? How does one go about getting a question mark on the end of one’s surname? When people pronounce his name, do they raise an eyebrow or tilt their head? This is just like that RT story about the car dealers giving away Kalashnikovs. You’d think the story is bizarre enough, but I get hung up on one seemingly tangential perverse detail. In the RT story it was that damn baby kangaroo. Now I’m really unable to care less about my scientific odds of surviving a zombie invasion. All I can think about is getting a question mark added to my name. Why are these broadly perverse items filled with smaller perversions upon close inspection? Perversion fractals.

If a scientist can’t even be sure of his own last name, how can he be sure of his own findings? Maybe? next? time? he? should? get? a? grant? to? do? some? genealogy? to? find? out? if? his? last? name? is? Smith or? not?

~ BBC: German Borat shakes up election.

If this is what awaits nations who get their acts together enough to provide basic modern services, I’m not feeling very motivated.

A fictional candidate “campaigning” for Germany’s parliamentary elections next month would win 18% of the votes if he stood, an opinion poll suggests.
Horst Schlaemmer is not even a real person, let alone a real candidate.

Played by comedian Hape Kerkeling, the spoof would-be chancellor has spiced up a campaign criticised as dreary.

His campaign slogan “Yes weekend” is inspired by Barack Obama, and he has pledged to replace Germany’s national emblem – the eagle – with a bunny. […]

Describing his fake party as “conservative, liberal, left-wing and a bit ecological”, Mr Schlaemmer’s manifesto includes proposals like securing a 2,500 euro (£2,160) monthly salary for all Germans, public funding for sunbeds and more cash for cosmetic surgery.

Apparently shit is so peachy keen in Western Europe these days, they have to make up their idiot candidates and mockeries of democracy. This is why I like America and Russia. Their insanity and incompetence is 100% certified organic and locally grown. Although I suppose we should be relieved that Germany is going for make-believe wackos these days. … On that note, “Molotov-Ribbentrop” “Polly wanna cracker?” and Good day!

Thanks for reading,



  1. Someone thought the blog was down. It wasn’t! I was just busy with that real life thing…

    Comment by poemless — August 24, 2009 @ 5:55 PM | Reply

  2. When I think of dolphins, I think of two things: their depiction in THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY as benevolent creatures desperately attempting to tell us that Earth was in the path of an intergalactic throughway and set up for imminent destruction who kept getting ignored by trainers (the dolphin’s last words to humanity being “So long, and thanks for all the fish!”) … and one of my favorite ONION headlines: DOLPHINS EVOLVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS – “OH, SHIT!” SAYS HUMANITY. I keep debating which depiction is truer or, more horrifically, if they are in fact intertwined.

    On the golden bed: no, that has to be for Sarkozy.

    And it’s happy to see that Moscow is basically a dog city. As a dog owner, it confirms my belief that dog owners are superior people.

    So long and thanks for all the fish!

    Comment by EdgewaterJoe — August 25, 2009 @ 12:06 PM | Reply

    • Watch it; you’re talking to a cat owner. I think St. Petersburg has a cat city. The sad moral of the dog story is that many of them don’t have owners. I would be open to the suggestion that dogs are superior to people, however. 🙂

      The Berlusconi reference is to this story:

      The Prime Minister, Patrizia the prostitute – and Putin’s bed.

      Silvio Berlusconi was facing fresh embarrassment last night after audio tapes surfaced of a supposed dalliance with a high-end prostitute at his Rome residence. “I’m going to take a shower too. If you finish before me, wait for me on the big bed,” a man purported to be the Italian Prime Minister can be heard saying. “Which bed? Putin’s?” queries his companion, Patrizia D’Addario. “Oh, how cute, the one with the curtains.”


      Comment by poemless — August 25, 2009 @ 12:14 PM | Reply

  3. I, too, am a cat owner. (Bi-pet?) And the plight of abandoned animals of any kind is scary, especially these days. Just two weeks ago someone left a Sharpei loose at the high school across the street; happily, a neighbor adopted her and she’s doing well. Moscow is certainly not the only place where animals are being left astray en masse. I suspect it’s a sign of the times.

    And I had to divert my attention from Berlusconi because I’ve seen the reports of the villa where he and his sixtysomething buddies frolicking around in Speedos with twentysomething … companions. It’s just too horrible a vision to purge.

    But isn’t it sort of reassuring to realize Berlusconi has so many levels of personal and professional corruption surrounding his being that both Putin and our own Mayor Daley look like FDR in comparison?

    Comment by EdgewaterJoe — August 25, 2009 @ 8:57 PM | Reply

  4. I have actually been tying my brain in knots trying to figure out how the dogs learned to take the metro. My most plausible hypothesis is this began with abandoned dogs who had previously been taken on the metro by their owners, who remembered that this moving box thingy could take you places. Which would then be copied by other dogs.

    Comment by DOOM!!!! — September 1, 2009 @ 3:50 AM | Reply

    • Dogs go where there are people and there is food and it is warm. Also, I don’t know if they still do this, but pensioners and such used to sell puppies in the metro. There may be entire families of dogs born and raised underground! So it’s no surprise that they’re in the stations. We’re assuming they’re on the train going somewhere, knowing their destination. Well, dogs have shown they can find their way home over hundreds of miles when their owners move, etc. It’s probably not difficult for them to remember routes on the train. But they might just like going for the ride.

      I never saw a dog riding the train by itself. There were cats, though. We found a baby kitten abandoned at a Taco Bell in the Park Kultury station & some fellow students adopted it.

      Comment by poemless — September 1, 2009 @ 11:15 AM | Reply

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