30 May 2011

Monday Book Review

I read Crumbling Walls and Tarnished Ideals: An Ethnography of East Germany Before and After Unification by Hans Baer during my research in 2009.  I was under the false impression that the book was about East Germany in general, though given the title, it was a reasonable expectation.  It was after reading the first few chapters that I realized why academics give very dry and specific titles to their books and articles: you want to know exactly what you're reading about without heavy browsing.  I wanted a more general treatise on East Germany and ended up with a book largely about the SED (the political party of East Germany during Comunism) and education system in East Germany.*

26 May 2011

Big News for Serbia

I read Eastern Approaches this morning to come across this article.  When I read the rest of my European RSS feeds, about half of the press releases were about the arrest of Ratko Mladić, the haunting general of Bosnian Serb forces.  He ordered the killing of 8,000 Bosniaks in Srebrenica and was the commanding officer in the Siege of Sarajevo––in other words, he is the big fish.  As the article points out, this opens up the discussion for Serbia's EU ascension, but it also allows for the nation to lustrate its past.  The lessons of The Haunted Land seem just as poignant now as they were in the early 90s.  The big question now is the same one that Rosenberg writes about, "How do we purge the past to move forward?"

With the possibility of EU ascension on the line, Serbia will be more closely watched as they lustrate one of their biggest and meanest ghosts of a bloody, post-Communist war.  I hope that Serbia is able to do so and move forward to a much brighter future.

24 May 2011

FEMEN and Feminism

Ever since I heard about this group, I was intrigued.  No, it was not because they were protesting topless.  My fascination stemmed from the visibility of a Ukrainian feminist group.  It's not like Eastern European feminist groups make many headlines, so FEMEN's prominence is not to be taken for granted.  It must be noted that bare breasts do make great news, though that's not why FEMEN bares them publicly.  This article on the Eastern Perspectives is well written and covers all the bases necessary for discussion, but I have used quotes from the Der Spiegel article linked at the end.

23 May 2011

Russian Lessons

Christine Armbruster, who has appeared on my blog before with her Sarajevo project, is once again making me jealous.  She is currently living in Russia taking pictures and maybe learning Russian while doing a trans-Russian trek with her friend Tree Gore.  Their project is being documented on the blog, Крыша.  She doesn't know she's being featured today, so it will be a pleasant surprise.  This is my thanks for her sharing her Sarajevo project and being a visible follower on my blog (and a kick-ass fellow ECE enthusiast).

19 May 2011

American Culture, Imported

Instead of actual writing, I will just share The Simpsons in various Eastern European languages. It was fun listening to the various languages with such a familiar show.  Hope you enjoy!

18 May 2011

Russia Lays Down the Law

I have been busy trying to get myself a better job, so this blog has unfortunately suffered.  So it goes.  However, I could hardly contain myself when I found this article on my EU News feed.

16 May 2011

Monday Book Review

Another week, another book review.  Today's book is The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism by Tina Rosenberg.  Published in 1995, the book won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1996 and the National Book Award in 1995.  If those two awards don't recommend this book already, I hope my raving review will soften your jaded soul.  For those jaded souls who are wondering, "What's the fuss all about?" this book is an in-depth and complicated foray into Eastern Europe's reconstruction period.  No, this is not how governments shifted, who won elections, or the dismantling of socialist industry.  This is about the cultural revolution and the can of worms known as "lustrace" in the wake of Berlin's tumbling concrete walls.

12 May 2011

Iryna Krasnianska

Today is a more contemporary gymnast, hailing from the great Ukrainian nation.  I picked Iryna/Irina (however you choose to transliterate the Cyrillic) because of her completely bad ass balance beam mount.  She is well known for it and I have to say, it's something.  After watching her mount, you can understand why this photo via Couch Gymnast (which proclaimed her to have a 12 pack) is not a surprise.  With that being said, she has beautiful lines.  Speaking of balance beam, she won a gold medal at the 2006 World Championships.  She deserved it because it's real, real purdy.

11 May 2011

Henrietta Ónodi

Today's gymnast is Henrietta Ónodi of Hungary.  She is probably the most famous female gymnast of that small Ugric nation because she was the first gymnast to win a gold medal at a major competition since 1956.  She even has two moves named after her on the balance beam.  Fun fact about Henni (as she is sometimes called): she made her first appearance at the American Cup when she was 12 years old, but a mere 4 feet tall.  This made her the smallest competitor in AmCup's history.  This video of her beam routine at Kraft Invitational was from the same year and you can see that she's as tall as the beam itself.  So cute.  You can see more videos of her routines as a twelve year old if you browse related videos from that link.

10 May 2011

Věra Čáslavská

I promised to do Female Gymnasts to complete the highlight of gymnastics.  It's here.  The reason I chose Věra is because as I watched a video about the development of the uneven bars, I was enamored with her hair and leotard.  Lucky for me, she turned out to be Czech.  But honestly, look at that coiffure!  It's phenomenal!  Granted, gymnastics wasn't as acrobatic in 1968, but it's lovely.  I did notice that USSR gymnast Larisa Petrik had the same 'do, but I saw Věra first.  The leotard looks like a navy uniform with the cute little lapel detail (see videos linked below).  I want to eat her up.

09 May 2011

Monday Book Review

I can't believe it's been three weeks since I posted.  The hiatus is over so I'm back and running the blog again.  As usual, I am beginning the week with a book review.

The book being reviewed today is Tolstoy's short story, How Much Land Does A Man Need.  This was another Calypso book that was generously offered to me.  This was the first published book by Calypso and it received rave reviews.  When I was originally contacted, I browsed the reviews linked from their website.  I became curious about this mysterious short story by Tolstoy.  I was a late blooming lover of Russian literature.  It was not until I had read four novels between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky that I appreciated the meticulous layering of the main characters and the novel's inwardly piercing trajectory.  As I had mentioned in another book review post, the concept of "dusha" very clearly explained the plot development of every novel I had read.  The outward events and background were set very carefully and almost excruciatingly in the first and largest portion of the book, but then rapidly zoomed into the interior of the character, where the story exploded with velocity.