September 25th, 2015

In the City of Brides - Ivanovo, Russia


When I think of brides, I envision romance, passion and vivid images. Ivanovo has long been known as the "city of brides" due to its historic textile industry, which brought 100's of thousands of female workers to the region. Yet all of these flowery, descriptive terms don't describe the emotions I felt in this city. Perhaps for men there's some intrigue in visiting a place that has a reputation for being filled with beautiful women yearning for male attention, who smile and flirt at the drop of a coin, or are more easily seduced by male charms. I think these stereotypes of the city are a bit outdated, and I read that the male/female ratio is now almost equal, especially for those under 30. Ivanovo to me is not really distinguishable from other larger cities we visited in March, except that the Soviet legacy seemed stronger here than in places like Vologda or Ples, which I'll write about next week. In some ways, it's a city of contrasts - the old, Soviet style mixed with more modern landscapes. Let's take a look.Collapse )

Какой мультфильм был лучшим в СССР?


It was a Saturday morning tradition in my youth. My sister and I would awake early, run to the couch, and sit there for hours in our pajamas watching cartoons. What a relief for our parents! We were quiet, and they could sleep in. :) My favorite was "The Smurfs." These blue creatures were always on some spooky adventure, and I loved it. There was mystery, humor, intrigue, and even a female vixen who constantly distracted the male Smurfs. Feminists hate this imaginary blue seductress, and they created a popular theory called "The Smurfette Principle," which criticizes the way females are typically portrayed in cartoons. You can read about it here. To some extent I agree. I strongly dislike the classic Disney princess stories, where the helpless female is sitting around waiting for an imaginary prince to rescue her. Modern day Disney cartoons are much better, and the idea of a "princess" has evolved to include not only a beautiful woman, but a smart one also, with strong, charismatic personality traits.

Today, a reader sent me a Ukrainian folk cartoon, and I remember watching clips of Soviet cartoons on YouTube with macos during his first visit to the U.S. He introduced me to "Hedgehog in the Fog" and others. I fell in love with this adorable, fluffy character "Чебура́шка." :)

What's your favorite Soviet cartoon?