DONNY and VLAD: Post Mortems of Helsinki

Content advisory 18+ The off-the-charts hullabaloo after Helsinki (Donny and Vlad) has gotten so ridiculous that I once more feel compelled to seize my figurative pen and get to work. The problem is that the folks who most need to read what I have to say here simply won’t — because the kind of American trolls who soil cyberspace with their dim-witted posts don’t know how to absorb much beyond … Read the rest

Women in Red. Beggars.

Content advisory 18+ Really? All these years for nothing? You are still looking for the Woman in Red? Man, look out, there are agents Smiths coming!
Welcome to the Matrix… You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit … Read the rest

End of the Rainbow: Glory but no Gold

Content advisory 16+ So Russia's definitely glorious and decidedly improbable run at the World Cup came to an end last night, via the usual route in the later stages of this event: Penalties. But what can we say about it? The way FIFA has it set up, there is no other method available to conclude drawn matches , and, after 120 minutes, who will attest that they want another 30 … Read the rest

Where Champions Are Born

Content advisory 18+ Consumed as I am by my passion for football and the World Cup, I inevitably run into those flustered, exasperated souls who just can't understand what all the fuss is about. Usually, these nay-sayers spill from the ranks of the intellectual elite for whom Sport, like Religion and Victory Gin, is simply opiate for the masses at best, and, at worst, a slavering, blood-spurting reenactment of gladiator-style … Read the rest

World Cup 2018: The Cement Thickens

Content advisory 16+ As I write this blog (Friday 29 June), the World Cup is taking the day off, the round-robin preliminaries having been completed last night. I doubt that any football fan could argue that the action has been less than compelling; I, for one, have enjoyed this World Cup immensely, with the exception of two matches: France-Denmark and England-Belgium. The reason that these two high profile encounters produced … Read the rest

The Table is Set: For Russia, Vodka or Champagne

Content advisory 18+ So, will the REAL Russia stand up and be counted? That is the question to be answered in tonight's Russia-Egypt football match which will likely determine whether or not Putin's boys advance to the next round. I will be watching and pulling for them, anxious to find out if the 5-0 shellacking of Saudi was a fluke.

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Of great interest will be (1) whether or not Mo … Read the rest

1-0 After Penalties. But Who Will Be the World Cup Winner?

Content advisory 16+ So, at last, the long-awaited World Cup kicks off today. In fact, by the time this post hits the board, the Russia-Saudi Arabia match will be underway. Frankly, under normal circumstances, I wouldn't walk across the street to see an encounter between these two worse-than-mediocre sides, but, hey, it IS the World Cup.

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A few observations, based on recent World Cups. Look for the most entertaining football … Read the rest

Victory Day Among the Spoils

Content advisory 18+ Thinking to write about the up-and-coming "Victory Day" in Russia on 9 May (the whole world celebrates it today, 8th May - Artem), I decided to consult Artem regarding the wisdom of saying ANYTHING negative. And since I am not one to mince words whatever the subject, this was quite a concession for me to make.

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The reason for my indecisiveness stems from the enormous … Read the rest

JUST SAY NO ! (to drugs and thugs)

Content advisory 18+ When I used to write a lot for SNOB (a once-promising project that I came to by chance in 2009 or '10), they always wanted me to present the point of view of a foreigner who had been in Russia for a while. Not as some guy who just got off the boat (there are no boats) and looking for polar bears in Red Square, or who … Read the rest

Where Torches Burn

Content advisory 18+ The other day a friend of mine was trying to explain something during a lesson we were having on Skype. He is a 49-year-old Russian businessman who used to live in America. He is very pro-American, or, shall I say, pro-West, in terms of what he considers its more highly evolved way of life. BUT he is Russian at heart, which I can only explain (to myself … Read the rest

March: The Most Human Month

Контент 18+ Astrology has its place, we know, and many people devote much energy and attention to absorbing what their individual sign predicts. I even have a student-friend who is a serious and well-paid journalist, and whose wife is 100% engrossed in astrology, studying it as a future career (though doing exactly what and for how much money I am not sure.) I take it that she has been equally … Read the rest

Forgiveness Sunday

Контент 18+ Although I am in Bulgaria now, I was reminded yesterday of something I always thought was beautiful in Russia -- the part of Maslenitsa, the Sunday of that week, when people are supposed to ask forgiveness from those they feel they have wronged. I don't know how many really put this into practice, nor could I hope to guess if it is always expressed as a sincere sentiment … Read the rest

The Remains Of The Crash

Контент 18+ Once upon a time back in the old days of the Wild West in America, there was a white man and a black man who had been caught while trying to rob a bank. Naturally, according to the judgment of the day, they were sentenced to be hanged. They waited in their cell for the hour of doom. But while the white man grew increasingly agitated, the black … Read the rest

Death of an Ideal

Контент 16+ I have recently heard through a very reliable grapevine of present students and old friends that the long-running 'SNOB Project' is about ready to go down the tubes. For those of you for whom the name does not ring a bell, the idea started about 10 years ago to create an international fraternity of Russian intellectuals (many of them now in America, it would seem) -- with the … Read the rest

Putting Stalin To Rest

Контент 18+ No doubt social media have discussed and dissected all aspects of the latest government act of censorship, in this case, the satirical film "The Death of Stalin." So there is no sense in my following redundancy with more redundancy. I will limit myself therefore to what I hope will be a few more or less original thoughts.


First, I guess it is good that in Russia people … Read the rest