Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Groundhog Day 2012: Behind Phil’s Immortal Allure

February 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Now in its 126th year, the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is still going strong and even attracting a growing overseas crowd.

“I’ve met people here from Russia, Germany, and the U.K.,” said Tom Chapin, editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper. “People can’t believe we do this every year. They can’t believe we stand out in the cold and wait for a marmot to emerge from a stump. Some of this stuff you can’t make up.”

(See “Groundhog Day Pictures: Punxsutawney Phil, Now and Then.”)

The famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil will make his much anticipated prognostication this Thursday on Groundhog Day 2012. According to legend, the rodent will predict whether spring will arrive early this year.

(Watch a groundhog video.)

“The event actually goes from February 1st to the 4th,” said Groundhog Day event coordinator Katie Donald.

On years when Groundhog Day falls on a weekday, such as this year, about 10 to 15 thousand tourists attend the event, Donald said.

Many tourists are already trickling into town and many will stay for the weekend. When the event falls on a weekend, the crowd can easily be twice as big.

via Groundhog Day 2012: Behind Phil’s Immortal Allure.

Strange Random Groundhog Day Quote:

The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.
Patrick Young






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Doll ‘protesters’ present small problem for Russian police | World news |

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Russian police don’t take kindly to opposition protesters – even if they’re 5cm high and made of plastic.

Police in the Siberian city of Barnaul have asked prosecutors to investigate the legality of a recent protest that saw dozens of small dolls – teddy bears, Lego men, South Park figurines – arranged to mimic a protest, complete with signs reading: “I’m for clean elections” and “A thief should sit in jail, not in the Kremlin“.

“Political opposition forces are using new technologies to carry out public events – using toys with placards at mini-protests,” Andrei Mulintsev, the city’s deputy police chief, said at a press conference this week, according to local media. “In our opinion, this is still an unsanctioned public event.”

Activists set up the display after authorities repeatedly rejected their request to hold a sanctioned demonstration of the kind held in Moscow to protest disputed parliamentary elections results and Vladimir Putin‘s expected return to the presidency in a March vote.

Passersby admired the display with giggles, but police took it more seriously, examining its details and writing down each placard.

“The authorities’ attempt to limit citizens’ rights to express their position has become absurd,” said Lyudmila Alexandrova, a 26-year-old graduate student and protest organiser. “We wanted to hyperbolise this attempt and show the absurdity and farce of officials’ struggle with their own people.”

They are not the first. Russia‘s Blue Buckets group, formed to protest officials’ wanton flouting of traffic rules, have run across government cars while wearing buckets on their heads, drawing the state’s ire.

via Doll ‘protesters’ present small problem for Russian police | World news |

Strange Random Doll Quote:

“You know you’ve made it when you’ve been moulded in miniature plastic. But you know what children do with Barbie dolls – it’s a bit scary, actually.” – Cate Blanchett (Australian Actress. b.1969 Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)

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Siberia home to yeti, bigfoot enthusiasts insist | Environment | The Guardian

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment
illustration of a yeti by Philippe Semeria.

Image via Wikipedia

The vast Siberian tundra holds untold mysteries, from once-secret nuclear installations to alleged UFO crash sites.

Now, a team of scientists insist they are “95%” sure that Russia‘s wintry expanse is home to the mythical yeti, otherwise known as the abominable snowman.

More than a dozen scientists and yeti enthusiasts flew in from Canada, Estonia, Sweden and the US to exchange findings with their Russian counterparts at a day-long conference in the town of Tashtagol, some 2,000 miles east of Moscow in the Kemerovo region. Locals there have reported an increase in sightings of a creature in recent years.

A subsequent two-day expedition to the region’s Azassky cave and Karatag peak over the weekend “collected irrefutable evidence” of the yeti’s existence there, the Kemerovo government said in a statement. “In one of the detected tracks, Russian scientist Anatoly Fokin noted several hairs that might belong to the yeti,” it added. Scientists also found footprints, a presumed bed and various other markers.”

Conference participants came to the conclusion that the artefacts found give 95% evidence of the habitation of the ‘snow man’ on Kemerovo region territory,” the statement said.

via Siberia home to yeti, bigfoot enthusiasts insist | Environment | The Guardian.

Strange Random Yeti Quote:

“There is precious little in civilization to appeal to a Yeti.” – Edmund Hillary (New Zealander mountain climber and Antarctic Explorer Famous for being first to successfully climb Mount Everest b.1919)

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The view from a broad: how to marry a billionaire


Image by TW Collins via Flickr

It is not often that one is delivered a press release quite so dispiriting as last week’s little number for a flight comparison site that had thoughtfully “mapped out exactly where to find the world’s richest people in order for women to know where to bag a billionaire”. If you can hear a distant thud, don’t worry, it is only me bashing my head against my desk. Said website apparently pooled the recent Forbes Billionaire List and a map, to produce every woman’s indispensable guide to hunting down a rich husband if that’s not attractive, I don’t know what is.

via The view from a broad: how to marry a billionaire | Life and style | The Guardian.

Strange Random Money Quote:

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to shop. — Bo Derek

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Russian invasion scare sweeps Georgia after TV hoax

Orson Welles

Image by andy z via Flickr

Switching on their TV sets at 8pm on Saturday, Georgians were greeted with incredible news – Russia had invaded. The pro-government Imedi TV station reported that Russian tanks were once more trundling into Georgia. Not only that, but the country’s pro-western leader Mikheil Saakashvili had been murdered, the station said.

For the next half an hour there were scenes of absolute panic, as the mobile network collapsed, Georgians spilled on to the streets, and friends and relatives desperately tried to reach each other and seek out information. In fact, they needn’t have bothered.The report, it turned out, was a hoax. The Kremlin hadn’t invaded and Saakashvili, it emerged, was very much alive.

Not since Orson Welles persuaded Americans that the Martians had landed, during his hysteria-sparking War of the Worlds radio broadcast, had a whole nation been so duped.

via Russian invasion scare sweeps Georgia after TV hoax | World news |

Strange Random Orson Welles Quote:

Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch – Orson Welles

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Putin, put out by the Samsonadzes

January 17, 2010 Leave a comment

They’re yellow, they’re a dysfunctional family and they star in their own series with a very catchy theme tune. Of course, we’re talking about the Samsonadzes, Georgia‘s own lovable television stars.

The series’ creator, Shalva Ramishvili, says he would be proud if The Samsonadzes were compared to The Simpsons, but claims it is a purely Georgian programme, with all the preoccupations of a typical Georgian family. See more of the interview here, including a guest appearance by Vladimir Putin, speaking Georgian.

You can find many clips of The Samsonadzes on YouTube, but here’s the title sequence to the series:

Strange Random Simpsons Quote:

Dr. Nick: Inflammable means flammable? What a country.

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Spitting Image, global-style (II)

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment
The music video for "Land of Confusion&qu...
Image via Wikipedia

In the first part of this look at satirical TV shows based on the style of the famous UK programme Spitting Image, we talked about how the idea was taking root in Africa with The XYZ Show in Kenya and the internet-only ZA News in South Africa. Let’s go back now and see where the idea began.


(In)famous for their treatment of the world leaders of the time (Ronald Reagan & Margaret Thatcher above all), the show also made fun of the British Royal Family in a way that few people, if anyone, had dared to do before. As an example, this version of Blur’s hit Park Life.

There are too many great moments to mention here, but you can find a lot of videos on YouTube and this article from Wikipedia has a great deal of information about the show. Personal favourite musical moments have to be Michael Jackson‘s “MAD” and the video made for the Genesis song LAND OF CONFUSION.

A guiñol of Michael Robinson, a former show host

Image via Wikipedia


One of the most famous programmes to come from the part-encrypted Canal+, although it ended its days on the free-to-air Cuatro channel. The daily 10-minute  programme focused on politicians and sporting figures (perhaps not surprising if you live here) and included memorable puppets ranging from Felipe González, Zapatero (Superhero ZP), Rajoy, Berlusconi or Putin to Joan Laporta, Louis Van Gaal, David Beckham or Raúl.

Here’s a selection of items from the day Pope Benedict XVI was appointed:

KUKLY 1995 (?) – 2002

I know very little about this, so here’s some info from Wikipedia:

Puppet of Putin which appeared on the TV show ...

Image via Wikipedia

Kukly (Russian: Куклы, lit. “puppets”) was a weekly Russian TV show of political satire, produced by Vasily Grigoryev and shown on Saturdays on the TV channel NTV. It used puppets to represent celebrities, mainly the major politicians.

The show was well-loved in Russia and has inspired spinoffs in other countries. President Vladimir Putin was frequently represented in the show and NTV was forced to close it down in 2002 after pressure from the Kremlin.

In this sketch, the Prince / King (Putin) has gathered his friends and allies (Bill Clinton and many others) around him to celebrate his wedding to a mysterious woman who we only find out more about at the end. That’s about as much as I can tell you – can anyone else help me out with a short summary of what they’re actually saying?


Jacques Chirac, during his mandates as Preside...

Image via Wikipedia

The sole survivor of the European series in this article, the programme started life as the News Arena, but only became popular after the start of the first Gulf War, when it began to follow the news stories of the moment. Given that the show was broadcast on Canal + in France, the format is clearly very similar to what would be the Notícias del Guiñol, including a puppet version of a famous newsreader. In this episode  we see Sarko and Bruni enjoying the simple life in the country …

So that’s it – go to You Tube and have a search around for more episodes of all of these series (and no doubt many others I didn’t have the space to cover)!


Strange Random Language Fact:

The language in which a government conducts business is the official language of that country.

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