• Merry Christmas, Babushka!

    Today is the Russian Orthodox Christmas. Due to some calendar shenanigans Jesus gets to celebrate his birthday again. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate today!

    A Russian believer crosses herself during an Orthodox Christmas service at Christ The Savior Cathedral in Moscow, early Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010. Christmas falls on Jan. 7 for Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land, Russia and other Orthodox churches that use the old Julian calendar instead of the 16th-century Gregorian calendar adopted by Catholics and Protestants and commonly used in secular life around the world.

    Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, center, attends an Orthodox Christmas service in Moscow's Christ The Savior Cathedral, in Moscow, Russia, late Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010.

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  • Furious Fatties Fattack™ Ferruzza

    A vicious ham-handed attack was recently perpetrated on the troubadour of the knife and fork and minstrel of all things food – Charles Ferruzza by the humorless militant organized fat people.

    I hate to break it to the fat people, but sitting around and reading the Pitch in search of things to be offended at is not a healthy activity you should be engaging in to become less fat.
    I don’t have any use for organized anything – labor, religion or fat people. No matter how many politically correct titles you invent for yourselves or how much you lobby to be considered normal size, all you have managed to do so far is to take the livelihood away from the people who made a living working for freak shows.

    Lottie Grant, Circus Fat Lady, now considered size 4

    There are two kinds of fat people – the ones who have a sense of humor about their size and the ones who are angry and bitter. The ones who can laugh at “yo mama” joke and the ones who are offended at a drop of a cupcake. I belong to and know plenty of the former but have no desire to associate with any of the latter.

    So the next time you are sitting with another chubby young woman “who seems mortified at having to spend another Friday night with (you) instead of being on a real date”, don’t blame Ferruzza for noticing, with this attitude you’ll spend every Friday night there for the rest of your sad life.

    Order some broccoli and lighten up.

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  • Olympics America Didn’t Get To See

    30 years ago today 10-year-old me was sitting in front of our 12-inch black-and-white TV watching the opening ceremonies of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. It’s safe to say that everyone else in the country was doing the same. Even though we had only 3 TV channels at that time and many shows enjoyed close to 100 percent rating, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Moscow Olympics were probably some of the most watched events in the Soviet TV history. Unfortunately outside of the Socialist-friendly countries not too many people had a chance to see any of the 1980 Summer Olympics and it’s a shame because the USSR, anxious to show the triumph of the socialist system made them some of the most enjoyable and sincere ceremonies in the Olympic history. Since then many countries used complex scenarios and spectacular special effects but none has achieved the level of pure joy and emotional connection the Soviet people managed to build into their Olympiad.

    Even today, so many years later, it’s one of the most nostalgic moments in the lives of my generation. Many people remember the games, beautiful opening ceremony and a tearful closing, a rare glimpse into Western life, with the first Soviet-made Pepsi, never-before-seen imported foods, crowds of foreigners, new construction in Moscow. Others talk about the measures the government took to round up and deport the homeless (and prostitutes) out of the city for the duration of the games, or how many parents received heavy-handed suggestions to send their kids to the out-of-town summer camps away from the “danger”. I didn’t know any of that at the time, and probably didn’t care being 10. All I remember is the summer, beach, friends, little cabin we rented near the sea, and a small TV. A happy place, long time ago, far away from here.

    Olympic Presentation:

    Athletes entering the stadium:

    Views of Moscow:

    Moscow getting ready for the Olympics:

    A 25-minute video of the Olympic torch and the Opening ceremonies.

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  • Behind The Iron Curtain: Sputnik

    On October 4, 1957 the first artificial satellite Sputnik-1 acted as the starter pistol for the space race.

    Cover of LIFE magazine dated 10-21-1957 of Smithsonian Observatory scientists working at M.I.T. in Cambridge to try to calculate Sputnik's orbit; © Time Inc. Dmitri Kessel

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  • Behind The Iron Curtain: Outdoor Propaganda In The USSR

    I wrote previously the propaganda surrounding the Soviet people at all the usual and unusual places. People nostalgically musing about the “olden days” when there was practically no outdoor advertisement in the USSR, forget about all the hammers and sickles, red banners, communist party slogans and whatever else was supposed to inspire us to keep building, fulfilling, laboring and rejoicing.
    A recently posted set of photos taken by a Western tourist in the 1984 USSR has some great examples of the ubiquitous outdoor propaganda in Moscow and Leningrad. I added some translations to the photos that needed explanation and I recommend you take a minute to flip through the rest of the set in the slide-show at the end of this post.

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