• Ebertskiy: Soviet Movie Critic Reviews Star Wars

    UPDATE: My Facebook conversation with Alan Scherstuhl inspired The Joys of Russian Star Wars: Meet Tripeo, Erdva Dedva, and Obi-Wan Knob

    I had this article saved up for some time but only now got around to translating it.

    To the best of my knowledge, the Star Wars were never shown in the Soviet Union, at least not in the wide distribution. Certain people always had access to the Western movies, the legendary uncensored versions, which included sex and violence and images of the Western lifestyles that were so detrimental to the psychological well-being of the Soviet people. For the rest of us, the press published articles like this, to nip the desire to see the banned movie in the bud. Even though some people could have read a much better review (links to the Google-translated version) in the limited distribution of the Amerika Magazine, in the pre-VCR era there just were no other options for and average Soviet Citizen to see the movie an decide for himself.

    Published under the heading “Mass Culture -77” in the box tiled “Their Sensations”

    Cosmic Movie Horrors*

    by Yulia Warshavskaya

    This summer a new wave of the movie mania washed over the American movie theaters. As reported in the press, the movie Star Wars directed by an American director George Lucas beat all the box office records: it made sixty million dollars just in its first month of release. From morning to midnight the Star Wars is being shown in the crowed theaters. To get in, one either needs to stand in line for several hours, or buy a  ticket from a scalper for an unheard price of $50.

    Following the monsters, mass catastrophes and giant sharks, American movie screens are overtaken by the horrors on a truly cosmic scale – terrifying tyrants terrorizing our Galaxy. They are being fought by the characters of the movie, a round-faced princess, a country boy, an old knight of the Round Table, an ape-man and two robots. One of them – huge and gilded Tripio possesses human speech, the other one – Artwo-Detwo – looks like an automobile and communicates with the “star signals”.

    The plot, as reported by the French weekly “Express”, is fairly primitive.**

    But to further terrify the audiences the creators of the movie employ the most menacing weapon ever – the laser beam – which the movie characters use to fight like a rapier. The screen is constantly filled with horrifying monsters – a lizard-man, faceless gnomes, a live mummy, whose head is covered with rubber tubes, fantastic animals…

    Along with this blood-curdling “masterpiece” which director George Lucas calls a “Western of the future”, several parallel commercial operations were undertaken. Ballantine Books published a novel with the same title; Marvel Comics, a publisher specializing in comic books, divided the screenplay into six parts and started publishing a million copies every month. Other classic attributes of mass culture followed – pins, shirts, promotional posters, soundtrack. And closer to the New Year the stores will be filled with toys – miniature Artwo-Detwo making the same noises as its prototype, as well as the gilded Tripio. The famous laser sword is not invented yet, but it’s in the works.

    In the near future the next episode of the Star Wars will be released, but, most likely, it will be as mediocre as it will be profitable. It’s not surprising at all. Mass viewer often “bites” on these “pieces of art”, so the life outside of the theater walls feels a lot safer…

    * amateur translation mine
    **obviously the author did not see the movie and has to cite another publication

  • DOur United Citizens Hoping to Eradicate Breast And Genitalia in Sculpture

    Fellow Citizens (and Permanent Residents) of Kansas City and beyond!

    Time has come to stand up against over-saturation of our visual space with penises, breasts and other dirty, dirty genitals. Everywhere we look, everywhere we turn, we cannot avoid being confronted with genitalia and/or breasts. Some may call it art, but we know better – it’s pornography, a mere glimpse of which leads to lust, perversion and, dare I say, fornication.

    Accidental breast and penis sightings ruin our children. We all know who else loved art in all of its nakedness – people like Hitler, Charles Manson, and, I assume, Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy. One day little Hitler was looking at some shameful works of art and the next thing anyone knew….well, we all know what happened next. On the other hand, George W. Bush didn’t like art, especially the obscene kind, and he grew up to be an American President.

    It’s for the well-being of the children that I call upon you to join the new organization – DOur United Citizens Hoping to Eradicate Breast And Genitalia in Sculpture. Let’s prevent the next tyrant or a murdering cannibal from growing up in our communities. Let’s raise our children to be American Presidents like George W. Bush.

    Of course, we denounce any censorship, this is not Soviet Russia after all. Everyone is free to express their opinion and artistry on public property as long as it doesn’t harm the children* and/or biblical in nature. You might have heard of a whorish sculpture which every one of our children is forced to walk by on their way to and from school. Thousands of them come home in tears,embarrassed, shocked and even (god forbid) aroused! They want to know why the photos sent to them by their classmates feature a lot smaller breasts. They want to ask questions like where they can see more art like this. They spend a long time alone in their rooms and hide things hastily (probably art) when we come in unannounced.

    DOur United Citizens Hoping to Eradicate Breast And Genitalia in Sculpture are here to save your children. When the offending sculpture will be finally removed from our sights and melted into something they could sell at Crate and Barrel (or at least ammo), we will all as one call on the Kansas City Administration to

    Remove An Offensive Penis From Its City Hall.

    Yes, your children wandering around the City Hall are confronted with a penis and it hurts them now and for the rest of their lives.

    Click to enlarge the offending penis

    Fellow Citizens (and Permanent Residents) of Kansas City and beyond! DOur United Citizens Hoping to Eradicate Breast And Genitalia in Sculpture have a lot of work ahead of us. This Metro Area is literally stuffed with thousands of penises and boobs.

    We need to move fast before it’s too late and we have another Hitler on our hands.

    Email all the (sculptural) penis and boob sightings to douchebags@gmail.com

    *Everything hurts the children.

  • Old Photos:National Independence Day of Israel

    Yom Ha’atzmaut – national independence day of Israel is celebrated in April.

    Prime Minister Dave Ben-Gurion (6L), Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett (4R) and Labor Minister Moshe Ben-Tov (2R) at Proclamation of nationhood of Israel.

    Prime Minister Dave Ben-Gurion (6L), Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett (4R) and Labor Minister Moshe Ben-Tov (2R) at Proclamation of nationhood of Israel.©Time Inc.Frank Scherschel

    Establishment of Israel had important connections to the city where I was born and the city where I live now.
    Odessa became the home of a large Jewish community during the 19th century, and by 1897 Jews were estimated to comprise some 37% of the population. They were, however, repeatedly subjected to severe persecution. Pogroms were carried out in 1821, 1859, 1871, 1881, and 1905. Many Odessan Jews fled abroad, particularly to Palestine after 1882, and the city became an important base of support for Zionism.

    The Kansas City connection is through the President Truman and Eddie Jacobson who influenced Truman’s pro-Israely stance. A recent play at the Lewis and Shirley White Theatre at the Jewish Community Center covered the subject of their friendship. Truman library also has a collection dedicated to the recognition of the State of Israel. Then:

    Areal view of Tel Aviv. 1948

    Areal view of Tel Aviv. 1948 © Time Inc.Dmitri Kessel


  • Old Newspapers: Red Satellite Up With Dog

    On November 3, 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik II timed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. Sputnik II was bigger and better than Sputnik I and carried a dog Laika – the first animal to orbit the Earth.

    The American headlines did not suffer from subtlety and political correctness at that time:

    Kansas City Star coverage of Sputnik II

    *closeup of the article.

    Continue reading →

  • German Photos From the Eastern Front

    All soldiers take photos, some of them are not pretty. If I said that only Germans enjoyed taking especially cruel and gruesome photos, I would not be very honest, having seen some of the images from the wars that followed, including Iraq. When I saw a link to an expired Ebay auction where these photos were sold for over a $1000, I just thought I’ll do my part of posting them for nothing. No matter how ugly, they have some historic value and for many people in them, these photos may have been their one chance to be seen by the future generations.

    Caution: Some of the photos below are gruesome, it’s your choice to look at them. Continue reading →