Archive for the 'Russia' Category

Apr 19 2010

Say that again?

Published by under Comms,Media,Russia

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I must be slacking.

I’d missed, until today, the announcement a couple of months ago that Ketchum had fused with Pleon. I’d probably still not have noticed it, but for receiving an email from someone there today.

All good mergers involve a bit of rebranding. So the new firm is called, perhaps understandably, Ketchum Pleon. Except that the email I got today wasn’t from Ketchum Pleon.

It was from (anonymised to protect the sender) ineedafavour@ketchumpleon.com. Let’s look at that again:

ketchumpleon.com

How’d you pronounce that?

Why, it’s

ketch-UMP-lee-on,

of course.

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Feb 08 2010

Compare and contrast

Published by under Media,Misc,Music,Russia

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Moscow, January 13, 2010: My pal Luke Harding reports that James Cameron stands accused of ‘borrowing’ from Russian Sci Fi author brothers Boris and Arkady Shrugatsky in creating the world of ‘Avatar’.

Luke further tells us that the sole surviving Shrugatsky, Boris, ‘shrugged off’ the suggestion, denied accusing Cameron of plagiarism. No harm done. And in a delicious potentially plagiaristic sub-plot, numerous other outlets play the same obvious ‘shrug’ gag the following day.

Sydney, February 5, 2010: The Australian Federal Court rules that an incidental flute riff in Men at Work’s ‘Down Under’ bears too much of a resemblance to the old girl scout refrain, Kookaburra, penned by one Marion Sinclair in 1934. That, when our heroes weren’t busy buying bread from men in Brussels, their dastardly deeds included stealing tunes off of Aussie schoolgirls.

The contrast? Boris Shrugatsky, 76-year-old niche sci-fi writer appears, as we’ve said, unfazed by Avatar’s resemblance to his work – and perhaps, justifiably, even a little flattered by the comparison. No accusations made, no damages sought.

Kookaburra’s owner, however, is Larrikin music, who bought the rights from Marion Sinclair’s estate 56 years after she wrote it, and shortly after her death. Larrikin is seeking substantial damages from the boys in the fried-out Kombi. Says Larrikin’s MD, Norman Lurie, of Kookaburra:

“It’s earned a hell of a lot of money for us since we’ve bought it.”

Moral high ground’s all yours, Boris. Vegemite sandwich?

Kook.gif

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Jan 27 2010

Oh, the weather outside is frightful …

Published by under Misc,Russia

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… but everything works.

It’s minus 25 out there today. Rumour has it that this is the coldest Winter Russia’s seen since 1942. Well Leningrad’s no longer under blockade, but it’s definitely pretty chilly.

Your face starts to go numb after a few minutes outside. The skating rink on Red Square is practically deserted, because it’s too cold. The new ice-breaking party boats on the river haven’t been seen for a while. We’re freezing Lt Blender’s Margaritas on the balcony. But everything works.

The streets are clear of snow, barring the light dusting of powder which has been gently falling all day. The commuter trains and the metro all work. Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports are as busy as ever. The trams and trolleybuses are all still doing their thing.

Just saying.

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Sep 12 2009

Just another Friday night in Moscow

Published by under Misc,Russia

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Moscow never ceases to surprise. This was the scene at McDonald’s on Old Arbat late yesterday evening.

horses

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May 24 2009

In search of the perfect brunch

Published by under Misc,Russia

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It’s hard to overstate the importance of a good brunch. It sets you up for the rest of the day, particularly after a heavy night the night before. It’s what’s on the collective minds of our friends at Gecko 3 when they entreat us to join them for a Jazz Breakfast.

Wherever you live, you need ‘places. And so we’ve always had our habitual brunch venues. Edinburgh spoils you for choice; Ryan’s, Indigo Yard or the City Cafe will all sort you out. In Cape Town it was either the Barnyard Farm Stall or the River Cafe at Uitsig. Twickenham? Arthurs on the Green, converted from an old Victorian toilet. Wimbledon? Tootsies, of course. But here in Moscow, we’ve struggled a bit.

Hemingways was the obvious choice for a while, until its sad demise. Same goes for Volkonskiy Kaiser on the old Arbat. The Starlite is pretty good, and LPQ’s great for pastries and pretending you’re in Europe. But nowhere’s quite hit the spot yet.

Until, perhaps, today.

Enter Kitch Kock – ??? ??? – on Petrovka. Achingly trendy bar / club by evening (David Lee Roth/British anarchist punk/80′s late night MTV goes velvet rope exclusive, says BlackBook), unlikely brunch venue by day? Perhaps. But the new ‘New York-style Brunch’ came highly recommended, so nothing ventured …

And it works. Comfy sofas, good staff, superb decor, and Cuban jazz playing as we arrived. You couldn’t be anywhere else but Moscow. In a good way. Oh, and the food? If the rest of the menu’s as good as the breakfast burritos, you’ll know where to find me on a Sunday afternoon.

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May 01 2009

Cultural learnings of fast food for make benefit beautiful nation of Russian Federation

Published by under Misc,Russia

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DOMODEDOVO AIRPORT – I remember when my hometown in Surrey got its first MacDonalds. I must have been about twelve or thirteen. No-one really knew how it worked, so they had staff on hand to explain the simple three-stage concept of fast food:

1 – Go to counter, get your food.
2 – Sit at a table.
3 – Eat your food.

Not all that difficult once you’ve got the hang of it.

Unfortunately, here at Domodedovo Airport – and in the burgeoning Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Mickey D’s all over Russia, the order appears to be 2, 1, 3. Which just doesn’t work.

Right now, for example, half the tables here at CoffeMania are occupied by people with no food (or coffee). Including several where children have been left, bereft of both company and sustinence, to mind the bags while their parents go to the Duty Free.

Half the customers with coffee, on the other hand, are standing around or squishing, like us, four people onto two chairs, because there aren’t enough free tables.

Do the math, people. It takes roughly as long to queue for your food as it does to eat your food. There’s enough tables for everyone, if only you’d stop occupying them for twice as long as you have to.

Ah well. I’m off to Barcelona for a week.

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Apr 13 2009

A change is as good as a rest

Published by under Misc,Russia

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Eliteniy.jpgPlease don’t take this the wrong way. I like Moscow very much, I really do. This past week has been Easter holiday for the children but, while many of the city’s expats (at least those who still have jobs) flew to London, Frankfurt, New York etc I chose to stay here. And we’ve spent a fantastic week enjoying Moscow’s hidden (and not so hidden) gems. According to the kids, the Darwin Museum has been the highlight. I’m inclined to agree (although our youngest learning to ride his bike without stabilisers has to come a close second).

The weather’s been exceptionally pleasant, so there’s been much strolling around the Boulevard Ring and discovering endless stunning back-street architecture. And of course at this time of year the city emerges, bleary-eyed, from its long, grey Winter, shakes off the last of the slush, and starts to beautify itself again. Everywhere you look there are people painting, planting, sprucing the place up for Summer.

The city’s elite, too, are swapping Winter fur for Summer Gucci, garaging the American 4×4 and breaking out the European sports car. From where I’m sitting now (the same place I took the photo at the top of the screen, unless you’re following via RSS) I can hear the howl of Italian V8s and German flat-sixes tearing around the city to blow out the cobwebs.

But sometimes, you do need a break. Perhaps you just need to see a Tesco, or eat a sandwich that doesn’t have smetana on it. It’s not so much a case of being tired of London = being tired of life, but that being a little Moscow weary = need a few days in a cleaner, less frenetic environment, to come back refreshed and ready to deal with the unique, brutal and unpredictable combination of pace, beauty and excitement. Even the medical professionals here acknowledge this – come down with a cold and you’re as likely to be prescribed a week in Sochi as a dose of antibiotics.

So in a couple of weeks’ time, when tax filing season is over (the joys of twin careers), we’re off to Spain forr a week. Nice little villa just outside Barcelona, tapas, aqua-park not far away, a stack of paperbacks and some cheap neckable red wine by the pool … bliss.

Which is why I find it just a little disconcerting that one of the advertisers on Facebook has, this evening, entreated me to book myself one of its

Elite-niy Russian flats and villas in the best locations, for my next trip to Barcelona

By the way, apologies for the long silence. I wish I could put my hand up and say yes, Simon was right, two blogs is too difficult. But it’s not even that – I’ve just been too crazy busy lately for even one of them. Sorry. New leaf duly turned over …

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Mar 03 2009

Save XH558!

Published by under Misc,Russia,Tech

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Around the time I arrived in Moscow, in mid-2007, Russia resumed long-range patrol flights by its fleet of strategic bombers. For a few months we had fairly regular media excitement as the Tu-95s embarked on a tour of the Frozen North – Scotland, Norway, Canada, Alaska.

Around the same time, thanks to the heroic efforts of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, Avro Vulcan XH558 took to the skies for the first time in fifteen years. XH558 is a truly special aircraft, the last airworthy reminder of a force which once threatened some sixteen million Soviet citizens.

Both Vulcan and Tu-95 were technologically impressive. The Vulcan, with its delta wings and four Olympus engines, was hailed as being decades ahead of its time. And its Cold War rival, the ‘Bear’, remains the fastest propeller-driven aircraft nearly 50 years after its introduction.

Here, though, the similarities end. Russia currently has 64 Tu-95s in service, and expects to keep the type operational until at least 2040. India has another ten. The UK has one flying Vulcan, XH558. And if the Vulcan to the Sky Trust can’t raise £500,000 in the next three days, XH558 may never fly again.

Even in the current global economic gloom, there must be someone out there with a spare half-mil. And hey, the pound’s cheap at the mo.

via Theo

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Nov 04 2008

Some election-day links

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Yes, it’s that election today. I’ll be off to the Election Night Party at the US Embassy in just under 24 hours.

In the meantime, some links to amuse and / or take your mind off the waiting.

Solve the Italian Job cliffhanger once and for all – RSC puts up a prize for the best entry. C’mon, we know they got away with it.

What’s wrong with Neil’s new MacBook?

Cool, we made Sky’s caption competition. You’d all have got better photos if you’d backed off like I asked …

See Obama, Hook Up! h/t Wonkette. Really?

Large Hadron Colliderscope – h/t Theo

President Medvedev and I share the same taste in hardware – according to TUAW

… and finally, some Plinkety Palin (and McCain), via Tim Ireland. Brilliant.

PS not entirely sure what happened to the ‘Scouting for Girls’ post – it was there, and then it wasn’t, and now it’s back again. Odd.

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Oct 23 2008

Quantum of record sales

Published by under Digital,Media,Music,Russia,Tech

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… or ‘Scouting for Audiences’

Thanks to a pair of HomePlugs, an AppleTV and a bargain Samsung LCD that no-one wanted because it’s last year’s model (and it’s white), we can now enjoy all manner of digital media in the bedroom. Including – and arguably the main reason for this technological extravagance – what I shall nostalgically refer to as Virgin Radio.

[They're 'Absolute Radio' these days, apparently, which has already upset the vodka people. I assume whatever's behind this change in nomenclature is related to the appearance of those gaudily flourescent 'Zavvi' places where the good old Virgin Megastore used to be. Progress, I guess.]

But I digress. The other morning on Absolute Virgin Radio I was delighted to learn that Scouting for Girls will be releasing ‘I Wish I Was James Bond‘ as a single on November 3rd. Excellent timing – and deliberate, no doubt, coincident as it is with the UK release of Quantum of Solace on 31 October.

Fair play, chaps. I hope it sells you some records. And if you need a venue for the single’s launch party, give me a yell.

Gives me an excuse to play you the song again, too, complete with new video …

Hello Mr Bond, I’ve been expecting you.
Martini in your hand, and that eyebrow that you move.

Scouting For Girls – I Wish I Was James bond

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