alexandral: (Rosseau dream)
This week was half-term school holidays week, one of those "madly busy but happy" school holidays weeks with sleepovers, shopping trips and working from home . I have been also madly obsessed with Danish show "Forbrydelsen" ("The Crime" or "The Killing") , of which I watched 20 one-hour episodes in 4 days (a feat even for me). I am still winding down from the ending, but I am happy to say that I guessed the killer in the first episode. This very intelligent whodunit/cross political shenanigans story is already being re-made by Fox.

I have remembered to look through the Russian holiday pictures. I made some pictures of old churches and buildings in the city where my mum and dad live, Serpuhov (my sister lives in Moscow itself). It was one of those gray winter days when the sky is the same colour as the snow:

More photographs )
alexandral: (Art - Yerko - The Snow Queen)
Lost in RL, I am otherwise happy and well. PHP Zend certification has been successfully passed (but oh my, this was a hard one!), work is as fine as the work gets : there is always a disaster or two, but this is the world of computer programming, nothing to really worry about. Family is doing well, including all the pets.

I am off to Moscow for two weeks on Saturday the 18th. Dear [ profile] rika_66, let's meet again , let's go and eat some Japanese food together! I hope there is plenty of snow and there will be some ice sculptures this year (I promised my daughter ice sculptures, you see).

Speaking of snow, this winter Britain was snowed-over again. And again, I seemed to be the only person who loved it. The photograph below feels me with cold glee:

Speaking of Japanese drama, I am LOVING Nagareboshi. Sometimes I think I like Takenouchi Yutaka more than Takya Kimura, but even more, I adore good old-fashioned sentimental terminal illness + transplant + arranged marriage drama. It feels as if Japanese drama wheels done a full turn : Goodbye dramas about crazy teenagers , Welcome back good old romantic dramas about normal people of normal age!!!!!! An added bonus is gorgeous cinematography and amazing shots of jelly fish.

PS: I promised myself to return to the world of active posting after the New Year, but I am announcing a comment answering amnesty to myself. Thank you so much for the comments!! I know I haven't answered some in the latest posts, but I loved them all!!!!!!!
alexandral: (Art - Yerko - The Snow Queen)
"DDT" group is almost a single exception among the members of Russian rock movement of 80s . These were young groups that made songs of political and social protest at the end of the existence of totalitarian USSR, but after the fall of USSR and the fall of the old communist government almost all of these groups lost their direction - some have been disbanded, some tried to make it singing pop-songs without too much success, some turned way too deeply into religion. "DDT" is may be a single group among them that hasn't lost it's political direction - it's many hits include "Don't shoot", "The White River", "Missing One". "DDT" continue to be very popular in Russia and they continue to be a group that constantly challenges the current Russian government.

For me, the secret of their lasting popularity is in the fact that the group (and especially, the leader, Yuri Shevchuk) have never been paying too much attention to their popularity. They sing because they want to and they sing what they want, never compromise and never give up. And it also helps that Yuri Shevchuk is a very good poet (in Russia, the quality of song lyrics is very important) who writes his songs himself and that he has an exceptional voice (very low and sexy :D).

There are many great protest songs in DDT's repertoire, but my all-time favourite is the song that by the legend Yuri Shevchuk wrote after the death of his young wife, Elmira. The song's title is "Ravens in the sky" and it is very much in tradition of Russian folk songs, very haunting and beautiful.

Ravens in the sky, monks under the sky
And I am in between, a girl in an embroidered shirt
Lying in the vast space , light and comely,
And the Sun is older (than me) and the wind is younger.

alexandral: (Life - Dani shooting things)
I have watched the last episode of "Life". here is where I take it all too seriously )

I guess it didn't help that my daughter said (in passing) last week about the kids in her school "You know, most of them don't like Russians". ** sigh ** Oh, what shall I do? I am thinking about going to a speach coach again, to get rid of my accent. I need to make an effort to fit in.
alexandral: (Life - Dani shooting things)
I have caught up on "Life" viewing!!!! I can't stop but noticing, however, that for some current shows the current season can be named "Evil Russians are coming to get you":

1. "Spooks"/"MI5" - Russians aim to explode a nuclear bomb in the middle of London. I liked "Spooks" in the past for the fact that the show always tried to stay balanced and not to look for an outside enemy to make a scarecrow from. It seems that this has changed , sadly.

2. "Life" - it seems that this season can be classified as evil Russian Roman vs good American Charlie. My prediction is that we will find out eventually that Roman is the driving force behind everything, even Charlie's imprisonment and all the FBI and Police guys - they just were forced into it!

** sigh **
alexandral: (Default)
Something happened to me last week, not a big deal at all, but nonetheless the instance puzzled me greatly (and even amuzed me). I have been chatting away with a lady during my daughter's iceskating lesson. The lady was telling me how the lady and her daughter were in the Guinness book, and then she said "Do you know what the Guinness Book of Records is?". "Of course I do!", I said.

I have been in the UK for 10 years now, but I have a Russian accent. Not too big a deal too – it has been more than 3 years since a stranger kept asking me to repeat what I said and now I get by fine. Previously I had ideas about going to speech therapist and getting rid of my accent, but at some point I decided that it doesn't really matter, that everyone around here has an accent of some sort, that it is a part of what I am, etc. etc.

But some things are puzzling :

1. I almost always get asked by complete strangers "Where are you from, then?" . I usually say "I am from ** city I live in ** " which usually produces quite a funny effect of the person who asked the question trying to think really hard "How come?" at which point they say "oh.. but I mean.. your accent..". I say "Do you mean where I was born?", it amuses me to tease them a bit.

The puzzling part is – I wonder how often other people (not Russian-or-other-accent-bearers) are asked a similar question? Also a puzzling part is – why do people think it is a pleasant question to make a conversation with?

2. I get asked things like "Oh, do you know what the Guinness book of records is?" quite often too. Why?

3. Many times, in all seriousness, people were surprised that Russia doesn't have subzero temperatures all year round, and in fact, has some summer too.
alexandral: (Vrubel Swan Princess - head)
We had wonderful holidays in Moscow. I am still feeling a bit jet-lagged, but happy at the same time.

Major highlights:

- Precious time spent with the family

- Missing you all

- Meeting fabulous [ profile] rika_66 again.

- Much ice-skating done, including Red Square.

- Sasha and I never get tired of the Tretyakovsky art gallery.

- Museum of History in Moscow: Gold Exhibition and a 8 BC boat made out of the whole piece of wood.

- Nutcracker in the Bolshoy theatre was absolutely magical.

- We went to a Cat Theatre. And it was great!

- Moscow is huge, full of MILLIONS of people and has some of the largest shopping malls known to a man. These malls are so huge that they have whole ice-rinks inside.

- Watched Strugatsky's adaptation, The Inhabited Island. Truth to be told, visually the film was a patchwork of shamelessly stolen bits from "Matrix", "Equilibrium" and even "Battlestar Galactica". But I liked it because : 1) Strugatsky!!! 2) Vasiliy Stepanov is jaw-droppingly pretty. He can't act but this doesn't stand on the way of his good looks:

The HUGE version of Vasiliy Stepanov )

I hope you are all well and happy! Please let me know of any news!!!

Happy belated birthday to [ profile] lage_nom_ai!!! I hope all your wishes will come true this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
alexandral: (The Wire - Omar)
This is one of the strangest and also one of the biggest Russian holidays. The history of the holiday itself is interesting. In 23 February 1918, during the First World War, an enrolment into the newly created Soviet "Red" army was announced because of the wide advancement of Kaiser German troops and fleeing of Soviet Russian troops. But this was unsuccessful and on 24 of February Soviets signed German ultimatum.

The holiday itself was introduced in 1923. Later on, a mythical story of the Russian victory over German troops on that day in Narva and Pskov was invented. Stalin himself was responsible for support and propaganda of this myth. I remember being told about the "victory over German troops on 23 February " on my history class.

There are some talks at the present about moving the holiday to a date of some real victory, but I don't really know how this will go.

But not surprisingly, people of Russia over the years widely ignored the propaganda-relatedness of this holiday. By "my time" 23 of February became a Russian version of Father's day when women give presents and cards to the men in their life.

My favourite 23rd of February card is below. And speaking of strong women! The lady wishes good health to all "blokes", by the way..

Some more cards, old and new )
alexandral: (The lives of others - Wiesler Konspirati)
If there is an artist that had the biggest influence in my life it is Russian actor, poet, underground singer and song-writer Vladimir Vysotsky. If there is one Russian artist you want to discover - it will be Vladimir. One of these people who burned so brigth and lived so fast that everything and everyone else in comparison seemed to fade. He only lived 42 years and died in 1980. Almost 1 million people visited his funeral in Moscow, I think it was the biggest funeral Russia have ever seen.

I am listening to his CDs often as I drive and one of the songs that are always on my mind is "I don't like". Mr. Alexander likes this song very much which is unusual as he doesn't like many of the Russian musicians.

I don't make "I don't like" lists, whatever I want to say always feels false.. But I like Vladimir's list, it is mine too.

Vysotsky: I don't like: (in my translation)

I don't like the fatal outcome
I never get tired of life;The rest of the lyrics behind the cut )

Vladimir Vysotsky singing "I don't like", Youtube clip (I love, you, Youtube!)

alexandral: (Vrubel - Demon seating)
Russian folk music: Black Raven

This is a very traditional Russian folk song - I found a beautiful clip of it on Youtube by a group I haven't known before, Hi-Fi. This is one of the songs that reflect the past and present of Russia so well so it is not surprising that the clip uses the theme of World War 2. It is sad and beautiful. It is may be one of the most referenced and frequently sang Russian folk songs.

One of the facts: This song influenced Russian language, it is one of the reasons why black NKVD cars of Stalinist era were nick-named "black ravens".

My very poor translation:

Black raven,
why are you circling
Above my head?

In vain you are waiting
for your pray,
I am not yours.

Please pass a word
To my dear

Tell her that
I am already married,
I have married someone else.

I was married by a bullet
Under a broom** bush,
A Sharp sabre was my matchmaker
And a dun horse was my father-in-law.

Black raven
Black raven
Why are you circling
above my head?

In vain you are waiting
for your pray,
I am not yours.

Note: ** - broom bush is a direct translation of Rassian "rakita" but I am not sure if this is a correct word!!

I know - this is a very sad song but it is so much in my genetic memory that is always with me, I love it. It makes me cry. Many Russian folk singers sing this song but I realliy liked the lead vocal and the interesting anti-war, WW2-themed clip by Hi-Fi.

Black raven

To compare, this song is sang by one of the famous Russian folk singers, Jeanna Bichevskaya )

Hmm, I am getting to obsessed with all things wolf and raven..
alexandral: (Three Colours Red - fraternity)
Today is a birthday of [ profile] baleanoptera whom I "met" less then a year ago I haven't met yet in RL, but in whom from the very beginning I felt you are akindred spirit!

Happy birthday, dear! I hope you are having a wonderful day because you totally deserve it!

In honor of [ profile] baleanoptera this is a musical post. I have acquired quite few CDs with Russian music on my Moscow trip. I don't have an i-pod yet and may be will never will because even though I love i-pods theoretically (shiny!!!!!!!) I find listening to the music whilst having my headphones on quite distracting from the tasks at hand. I usually listen to the music whilst driving or at home on CD player.. I bought CDs of many of my old favourites in Moscow but I also discovered from my sister's recommendation a new obsession with a Russian group whose style is quite an unusual one for me!

Zveri (or "Animals" ) is a rock/rap/pop bad which was organized in 2001 by the lead singer Roman Bilik (who is known under the name of Roman Zver). They are very popular in Russia. It is difficult for me to explain what captivates me personally so much in their sound because it seems that I am getting a little too old for this type of music. :D It just seems that their songs and lyrics are so matching to the present mood and feeling in Russia that it is as almost as if the soul of Moscow's streets, districts and blocks is pouring out in their singing. Plus Roman has a live-wire crazy energy about him that is just so catching! He is not exceptionally good looking but this is never a problem in Russia where everything is about soul and lyrics and always has been.

Videos and pictures this way )
alexandral: (Supernatural - Dean - pondering)
My daughter's sleep-over party extravaganza went much better and easier than I expected. Girls did sleep quite a bit of their sleep-over time (8 hours !!!! Weee!) and the rest of time they were happy without big fall outs or any other drama. May be I can do this again. :D

London trip I am off to London tomorrow. About 2 months ago we applied for Russian citizenship for my daughter and this was successful. Now I need to apply for a Russian passport for her (as in a piece of paper sense). Hopefully this should not take too long. But still Russian embassy in London is on of the most unfriendly places that have ever existed and it's officers like to shout at you unduly. Plus they like to change their rules and make many difficulties for the applicants. I will be glad when it is over.

But because this time I am going on my own and hopefully should have some time to enjoy London.. It would be fantastic if you could recommend some interesting places in London to visit?

Fannish bunch of things: Supernatural and La Femme Nikita

Supernatural finale was great, much better then I expected. the rest of glee is hidden because it is spoilery )
Yes, it was a fabulous end of the season with some very nice special effects. My wish list for the next season – Please, please, please dear creators, can you write some interesting romantic interests for Winchester brothers? Pretty please again..

La Femme Nikita This is absolutely marvellous! I started watching it from [ profile] miss_dian's recommendation and – OMPH! SQUEEE! Why haven't I watched this before????? I really like it. It absolutely deserves it's own post with pictures but for now I am just going to squee some more for a bit. Both Nikita and her handler Michael are very cool and amazingly attractive and they are already prepared for a passionate forbidden love story. He was kissing her hand in the episode 4 !!! And Roy Dupius who is playing Michael has some very sweet accent! I just have read that he was born in Canada. Is this how Canadian accent sounds?? I am moving to Canada ASAP!

Dorama land: This is where I am going to eat my hat. :D I watched some more of "Proposal Daisakusen" and "Sapuri" and I am really liking them both.

In the episode 2 we see more of the inner-world of both Minami and Ishida Yuya and I am starting to like both of these so different individuals. Ishida Yuya seems to have that child-like wonder in him that is very endearing. Also there is something in the tone of the drama that is reminding me of "Anego", it is light and deep at the same time. But feel I am such an old lady because I can't stop thinking that Kame needs a haircut and a big roast dinner. Desperately.

Proposal Daisakusen Second and third episodes were lovely. My eyes went misty a couple of times, especially in the second episode. The story with coffee milk was cute, sweet and wonderful. I think I like the main message of this drama – our destiny isn't ruled by one or two important events but it is built day by day in a chain of daily insignificant occurrences. But again! I am finally turning into an old lady for sure ** weeps ** because I think Yamapi needs a haircut too! Or may be he needs to dye his hair as [ profile] scottishlass suggested. But something is not quite right. ** sigh **

Mawang I can't wait for the new episodes to be subtitled. I scouted in the soompi forums and spoilers are driving me crazy!!

Mawang screencaps and videos. I desperately want to understand what they are saying to each other in these gorgeous scenes! )

Have a good Monday everyone!
alexandral: (Blade Runner - Do androids)
"Day Watch" is the part of the film adaptation of Russian fantasy book series "Words of Watches" ("Night Watch", "Day Watch", "Twilight Watch" and "The Last Watch") . I am full of happiness because I discovered only today that "World Of Watches" is written by one of my favourite Russian fantasy writers, Sergey Lukianenko (with Vladimir Vasiliev). I think Lukianenko's previous book series Labyrinth (Labyrinth of Reflections, False Mirrors and Transparent stained-glass windows) is exceptional among Russian cyberpunk wave.

Oh, I am going to dive into the book-world of Watches starting from today and may be you will never see me again!

There was a battle long time ago between the forces of Light and Darkness. This battle lasted thousands of years and at the end the whole world was in danger of collapsing because the powers of Light and Darkness were equal. At the end they signed a contract of co-existence. In the present day, two guard-forces consisting of people with supernatural abilities (or "Others") exist: Night Watch and Day Watch (Light forces and Dark forces accordingly). These forces try to maintain a balance between Light and Darkness. Others have an ability to access a special time-space continuum, "Twilight".

The first film "Night Watch" left me with the mixed feelings. There were some good ideas as special effects concerned, but these ideas seemed to be repeated so many times.. All originality was lost in repetition and the story was lost in the special effects. Though I loved the Russianness of "Night Watch", it was full of Russian cultural and fairy-tale references that made me feel back home. I also liked the main characters, especially Anton played by Konstatntyn Khabensky for they were complex and non-black-and-white.

BUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "Day Watch" was so much better for me. It was a very very good film. I only have one doubt in recommending it: it was again full of Russian cultural references that could become lost in translation and subtitles.

So many things were good in Day Watch )

Posters )

Screencaps, non-spoilery )

A VERY fabulous trailer in the trailer_spot's LJ

PS: I have heard that the next film, "Twilight Watch" is going to be filmed in America. Oh, I hope not!!!!!!!!!! (Though it might be selfish of me)
alexandral: (Default)
Happy holidays, dear friends!!! Whatever you celebrate, have a good time full of warm family gatherings, nice food, cookies, chocolates and love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because for me Winter holidays must have some snow, I digged out from the Internet few fabulous wintery images of the city I was born in, Omsk (Russia, Siberia).

Omsk: Winter wonderland!!!!!!!!!!! Pictures )
alexandral: (Default)
+ Sasha and I watched "The Idiot’s Lantern" of Dr. Who yesterday. While I still found it very pleasant to watch and TV Lady was suitably scary, I really was not keen at all on Ten’s shouting face and was missing my Nine like mad. I just don’t think David Tennant is as good an actor as CE was, that is all. For me he over-acts and over-shouts. Sorry!! I was trying my best to like him, and at his best, when he is serious, I think "wow", but more and more recently - NO!!! I think I will have to watch “Dr. Who” this year because Sasha adores it, but – it is not my cup of tea entirely. And where all Doctor/Rose furtive glances and their wonderful chemistry gone????

+ I have bought Nick Cave’s "Murder Ballads", I was thinking to acquire it for a while, but now when I am listening to it I remembered that I used to own this exact CD in Russia and I used to be crazy about “Where the Wild Roses Grow”.

+ I don’t know how it is for other people, but my brain has been totally transformed by moving countries/languages so that many things exist for me totally in parallel. Due to some differences in translation of names and titles, I know a number of books, films and music which I used to like in Russia and which I can’t find in England. Names starting with "K" and "C" are difficult because in Russian language the same letter "K" is used for both. Film titles are difficult too, because in Russia films are often dubbed and film titles are translated not directly, but more in touch with Russian culture.

+ I remembered my that long time ago one of my friends was suggesting that part of the “national character” is defined by the national language, the way a person thinks on one language or another, like for example, English is well-structured and the position of the words in a sentence doesn’t change, where in Russian you can put the words in a sentence any way you want, but of course, this changes the meaning.

+VM season 2 beginning )
alexandral: (Happy birthday)
Happy International Women's Day!

It is not celebrated much in UK, but this holiday is a very popular one in Russia and it is a calendar holiday there. In Russia it is a mixture of Valentine's day and Mother's day plus THE DAY OF ALL WOMEN WHATSOEVER.

This is why I personally like it more then Valentine's day and Mother's day : because NOT everybody has partners, and not everybody has children , but it is so lovely to have a day just FOR THE GIRLS , when anybody ( family, work colleagues, friends) can give a card or a present or just say "Happy Women's Day" and give their love to any females, no matter what age or marriage status or anything..

Happy International Women's Day!
alexandral: (Wings)
We all have lost something
In this senseless war

I felt nostalgic and re-watched two Russian films with Sergey Bodrov and Oleg Menshikov at the weekend, both touching the theme of Chechen's war.Thank you very much [ profile] ginger001 for recommending a seller on E-bay who has the good collection of Russian films.

Prisoner of the Mountains I absolutely love this anti-war movie. Very simple, but powerful and moving.
Film’s idea is based on Lev Tolstoy’s story. It tells about Chechens war - a "sore spot" of Russia for about two centuries already. Two Russian soldiers are taken hostage in attempt to exchange them for the son of one of the village elders, Abdul-Murat. Two soldiers are played by Sergey Bodrov Jr. and Oleg Menshikov (my totally favourite pair of Russian actors). Because of non-judgmental way of telling the story and amazing attempt to understand the culture of both Russian people and especially people of Caucasus, film never fails to make me cry. What are we doing in Chechya? What is the purpose of this war? Why soldiers and civilians are dying there for so many years? Why don’t we ever understand each other? If you haven’t seen this film before I can’t recommend it enough.
Screencap of Sergey . Sergey’s nickname is ‘a babe’ – he is so cute )

Brother or 'Brat' in Russian Betrayal and brotherly love, Russian mafia and Sanct Petersburg. Sergey Bodrov plays Danila, a young boy who is freshly demobilized from the Chechen's war.
I love this film because for me it is a story about "Russian national character" (if there is one). I don’t know if I am right but I notice difference in attitudes and approaches between Russian and English people. Saying this I I believe it is totally wrong to measure individuals with prejudice. (Sorry I am running away on a rant)
I like this film also because it shows one of the great movements of Perestroyka - Russian rock music, and in particular one most famous groups, Nautilus Pompilius

Russian rock Voice of change, voice of freedom.. Musically it is not “rock” in a sense this word means in the West, melodies often have Russian influence. The main emphasis is always on lyrics. Russian rock started in the 80-s as half-underground movement in the Sanct Petersburg rock club and lyrics tell stories of that generation. Because many groups are from Sanct Petersburg, music and lyrics often are influenced by this great city, it’s grandeur, history, sadness and strange weather. One of the poets named Sanct Petersburg “The Beast”

Nautilus Pompilius. This group was founded in one of the large cities on Ural mountains, Ekaterinburg, but spend much time in Sanct Petersburg later.Nice melodies. Great lyrics.
I have uploaded two of Nautilus songs and their lyrics to share. It is always so difficult to find good translation for the poetry, [ profile] ginger001 was saying about synergy, poems somehow are more then just straightforward sum of translated phrases.. ;(

I don’t know what you think about downloading music, but it must be not so easy to get Russian music in some of the places in the world you guys live. If we lived in one city, you could have borrowed this music to listen. I guess i am just dying to know what do you think about these songs, that is all;)

1. Wings – this song is from the “Brother” movie. I love this song, and the lyrics just describe the way I feel sometimes. And sometimes i think this song is about Russia and Chechen's war ..

Link for ‘Wings’Wings lyrics )

2. Farewell letter or Good by America – this is probably one of my favourite songs EVER. It describes perfectly how i felt in late 80's early 90’s after the lifting of the iron curtain. Before that time it was almoust impossible for me to go abroad, especially to non-Soviet countries, it was like to go to the moon. (Little did i know of my future! I would have been studing English rather then Computing if I did ;) )

Link for ‘Farewell letter’Farewell letter lyrics )

And also - I aM so glad [ profile] koalathebear is back safely!
alexandral: (Photos - Leeds 1)
I was reading [ profile] koalathebear post and thought if she could like to know about "Holiday season" in Russia.

In Russia Chrismas is not celebrated on December 25. Russian Christmas is celebrated on January 7 in accordance with old Julian calendar, which is still used by Russian Orthodox church. This is mostly religious holiday of birth of Jesus and is called "Rogdestvo", "The Birth" in literal translation. This holiday wasn't a public holiday until few years ago.

The main day of traditional winter holiday season in Russia is The New Year day, which is also celebrated twice - 1 and 13 of January, as according to Julian and Gregorian calendar. This is very winter celebration , and if anything, there is no lack of snow in the most parts of Russia! Santa Claus in called Father Frost and Christmas tree The New Year tree. People buy each other presents for the New Year.

I am always feeling slightly strange in UK during the winter holidays, because THERE IS NO SNOW! I know it is daft, but for me winter holidays without snow is a strange thing! UK's winter feels like a VERY long autumn to me. ;)And the difference in Christmas days and the way of celebration of it..



alexandral: (Default)

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