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2014 Winter Olympics Countdown

The first ever Russian Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will take place from February 7 to February 23, 2014.

http://www.sochi2014.com/en

There’ll be 98 sets of medals played at the Games. It’s a dozen more than in 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.

Say Hello to 2014 Winter Games Mascots: White Bear, Leopard, and Bunny.

Sochi 2014 Mascots

Sochi 2014 Mascots

Bosco Sport signed up as leading domestic sponsor: 

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=oly&id=4601581

Olympic Gloves with colored fingers BOSCO Sochi 2014

GLOVES SOCHI 2014Support Your Team at the Games with Your Both Hands!

Manga – Comics Made In Japan.

The word ‘manga’ (漫画, マンガ)  was invented in 1814 by a famous artist Hokusai (self-portret below).

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He used two Chinese hieroglyphs – “man” (“sloppy”) and “go” (“Image”) to describe his funny drawings – meaning grotesque, strange or funny pictures. However, Manga-like sketches existed in Japan thousand years before Hokusai. According to Will Eisner, the first medieval Japanese scrolls can be considered to be the first mango samples, in which the pictures were interspersed with the text. Early rolls (such as the rollout of the 12th century in the 1st picture or the rollout of the 13th century in the next picture below) were only meant for the elite, and only later have they gone to the masses.

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In the late 18th century throbbing consumer culture of the middle class urban population produced the manga-like entertainment that was more mainstream. Printed on wooden tablets stories with narration, dialogue and images quickly erased the line between text and pictures. Just like the manga, they were portraying humor, drama, fantasy and even pornography. Due to the fact that in the late 19th century Japan was aggressively invaded by Western culture and technology, ‘Manga’ appeared as a hybrid of Japanese and Western satirical publications. And in the first half of the 20th century, Japanese and American comics were approximately similar in style and popularity till the Japanese had flourished wildly, crowding out the U.S.’s ‘Mango’.

Anime – from animation.

There’s one particular artist – Osamu Tezuka (https://www.facebook.com/fanpage.tezuka) – who is responsible for all the modern manga industry, and even considered to be “God of Manga’. The most famous Tezuka’s creation ‘Mighty Atom’, is well known around the world, and even has an animated version titles “Astro-Boy’ or ‘Star-Boy’, which was running in USA in 1960 («Star Boy”). In his autobiography, Tezuka said, than his manga is different from the work of predecessors:

“Most of the manga was drawn in two-dimensional projection, as a play on stage. Cast out on the left and right, and play in the center. I realized that there is no way to make a psychological impression in this way, and I was trying to incorporate “cinematic” tricks of the German and French films my student years. I juggled with the close-ups and different angles of view and tried to use a lot of pictures or even a few pages to catch the true dynamics of the movements and facial expressions that were previously limited to a single panel (“Panel” – a picture in the comic – shareable.) My Work eventually began to exceed 1,000 pages. The potential of the manga – it’s more than just humor, using themes of tears, sorrow, anger and hatred, I was creating stories that do not always have a happy ending … ”

After creating a four-panel manga for newspapers, Tezuka had made his debut in 1947 with the comic book ‘New Treasure Island’ («New Treasure Island”), the history that was published as akanon («red book” – picture below), a cheap comic book, named so because of gaudily-bright red ink on the cover. Akahon was a small niche of modest entertainment for children, who lived a difficult life of poverty in postwar Japan.

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“New Treasure Island” had abruptly turned all the manga upside down when it sold 400,000 copies. Tezuka moved to squalid apartment building in Tokyo just to be closer to the publishers, and quickly produced several aspiring manga artists, some of whom had even moved into the same house. Innovations of Tezuka’s manga had transformed the entire market: the children could not stop reading his manga even when they went to high school, and then to College.

Manga is Not a Fruit. Enter ‘Social Kingdom’ Now! – Comics Sketches Competition

Are you comics artist dreaming of your picture making history of Manga? This day has come.

Back in May,  Japan has launched online contest “Social Kingdom” for mass drawing of manga based on the series of Hara Yasuhisa “Kingdom” (http://www.tenmanga.com/book/KINGDOM.html)  . The project is devoted to the future adaptation of the popular historical manga, consisting of 26 volumes. Anybody registered with Twitter or Facebook can take a part in the drawing. Winners will be awarded prizes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hff24zBWKws

All 1153 pages of manga are displayed at the project’s site. The available pages, for which no one had started drawing yet, have only text with no images on them. Anybody who wants to participate, can choose any empty page and reserve it for 24 hours, in which period the drawing has to be made and picture uploaded. Participants are free to choose whether to paint on paper or using graphics editors, in color or black and white.

This Manga is a story of two boys living in an era of 500 year of war. Despite the fact that both of them are slaves, they seek to fulfill their dream of becoming “World’s Greatest Generals”.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_(manga) )

Famous Japanese mangaka artists such as Takehiki Inoue (Vagabond) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takehiko_Inoue) and Hirohiki Araki (JoJo’s Bizarree Adventure) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirohiko_Arakiare ) are among other well known artists, who also taking part in this project, making their own illustrations.

Participants and spectators of the contest can vote for their favorite pictures, Most popular authors of the works will receive a specially made prize – “Tankobon” (a book of manga).

The winner of the first price will receive a magnified image of his drawings in a frame with  the manga author Yasuhisa Hara’s signature, as well as a bag of rice from his home prefecture of Saga.

To vote for the participants, as well as to monitor possible rating on this page, access by selecting the middle button on the bottom row.

Take part in the competition on the official site – http://socialkingdom.jp/

Hurry up! The contest will only run until August 1st,  2012.

Russian Billionaire Prokhorov is Cooking a New Russian Electro Mobile

Vladimir Putin (on the left), Mikhail Prokhorov (on the right)

Russian self-made billionaire and once an officially registered presidential candidate, 46-year-old, 6’7” bachelor Mikhail Prokhorov, also well known as the owner of the NBA Team – New Jersey Nets, has a new exciting project he and his company ONEXIM working on – it’s a so-called ‘City Car’ – the official brand name is ёМобиль (Yo-Mobile) – Electro-Mobile based on Russian Technology, and made almost solely from Russian components.

Yo-Mobile at Auto Show in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Technical solutions, which formed the basis of the car, helped to create a common platform for all models, which can be easily applied to cars for various purposes. Versatile platform allows implementing any design up to the totally futuristic looking vehicles. Like this one below that most likely will never be mass-produced.

In the first stage it was decided to stick to more conventional car design. So, the first “Prokhorov’s” or “Misha’s Car” (those are a couple of nicknames this hybrid car has been called unofficially) will be the urban compact van and a small crossover for youth, for which the company invented a new class of vehicle “Cross-Coupe.”

Although both cars have the same platform and headlights, the rest of the design for these two vehicles is completely different and they are not identified as members of the same brand.

Although the car’s design does not look too original, and has no “own” distinctive features, it might be just the right move for the mass production targeting Russian – extremely conservative – buyers. Any car that is pushing it a bid beyond of the usual and accepted forms maybe doomed to failure.  I personally have very conflicting feelings abut cars being painted in brown, green or blue mixed with beige, but hey, I could be just color blind.

Italian Pininfarina B0

Incidentally, a year ago, similar in technology, design and dimensions to Yo-Mobile’s platform electric car was produced by Italian Studio Pininfarina B0. We have the opportunity to compare the Russian and Italian designs.

ONEXIM promises to begin mass production of its vehicles in 2012. There are 158,000 orders have been placed through official web-site so far. ( http: //www.yo-auto.ru/yo-mobile/pre-order/ )

Would you consider joining the waiting list?

Good Humor Me, Classical Music – Little Nightmare Concert.

Life is made of tragicomically controversial moments. One man’s painful fall may cause a bystander to burst into an inappropriate laugh. While in stitches ridiculing the clumsiness of a stranger, the bystander himself may slip on a banana skin and fall hard… Though hurting really badly – through all the moaning – he’d start laughing even harder. Why? Because he sees the irony in what happened to him.

Seeing the funny side of life and things is a gift. The ability to help others not to take themselves too seriously, to make them lighten up and make a light out of sometimes less than perfect situations, is a talent.

Concerts of a duo of a violinist and singer Aleksey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-Ki Joo (http://www.igudesmanandjoo.com/biography/) are full of unexpected twists and turns, as they don’t just deliver a professional performance of musical pieces, but also offer their own theatrical interpretation of each composition. There’s a humor and story in every note and step they take on stage.

Famous ‘I Will Survive’ had never sounded so lighthearted before:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odhDJiRys6U

Most of people like to have fun and be entertained. When I feel like inviting some extra silliness into my life, I go to a Comedy Club or choose to watch a comedy movie. But Comedy and Classical Music didn’t exactly go hand in hand in my mind until I saw a performance of Alexsey and Joo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkNBWeWzha4&feature=related

I think, Mozart would be proud: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Psazw6xsMFs&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2nRMrDYdyg

After rocking New York’s Carnegie Hall back in April, Aleksey and Joo are now on their way to you, so you might just see their performances in person. Check out their touring schedule.  http://www.igudesmanandjoo.com/#

Former Soviet Union’s Got Talent & Eagle’s Song ‘Hotel California’ Got a New Life

Chances are you’ve never heard of ‘Buranovskiye Babushki’) before. Let me get you up to speed – ‘Бурановские Бабушки’ (in Russian), or in English – ‘Buranovo’s Grandmas’ is a music folklore sextet from the village Buranovo of Udmurt Republic, which was formed 40 years ago. The oldest of six “girls” in the group is 77 now, which means she was born in 1935 – before World War II. The youngest grandma is 44. So, it’s safe to say that all the ladies in the band were born way before Perestroika, and thus clearly represent children of the Soviet Union Era – a former one as for now.

If you don’t know what and where Udmurtia is  – it’s an ethnically unique region in Russia more known for the names Kalashnikov and Chaikovsky than for their distinct culture – very different from what you may think the culture of Russia is (say, borsh, balalaikas and bliny is not exactly the Udmurt thing). Udmurtia is exercising a certain degree of independence from the central government in Moscow. The autonomy goes back to the Soviet times when a few regions across the USSR were delegated a couple of extra rights, most of which were related to the people’s traditions and language. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udmurtia).

‘Buranovsky Grandmas’ perform variety of Russian and Foreign hits in Udmurtian language, which, by the way, is more similar to the Finnish than Russian.

Here’s their soul-piercing rendition of Eagle’s famous song ‘Hotel California’ in Udmurtian:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK_4MMShIzY

This year the team of singing grannies was chosen to represent Russia at the prestigious contest “Eurovision 2012”. This competition is held annually and broadcast live among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurovision_Song_Contest)

Baku Cristal Hall

Azerbaijani duet won at Eurovision 2011, that’s why Eurovision 2012 took place in Baku  – the capital and largest City of Azerbaijan, which also used to be a part of USSR. The contest was watched by 125 million people from all over the world. Completely make-up free and dressed in patchwork uniforms – traditional red smocks, headscarves and woolly boots, ‘Buranovskiye Babushki’ danced around the kiln and even baked bread on-stage while belting out their now-famous hit ‘Party for Everybody’. These six newly discovered sensations won audience’s hearts and took a second place with the above mentioned song, which they sang in their language. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKNRGc71hjc

If you wonder who won Eurovision 2012, it’s a beautiful singer from Sweden Loreen with a song ‘Euphoria’. Here’s her final performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqYtlpZ-9N4&feature=related

Life in the Russian province has never been easy. You might find it hard to believe, but residents of Buranovo are still obtaining water from the well, and stoke their houses with the firewood, keeping domestic animals, and taking care of their gardens in the summer…

But Eurovision 2012’s runner-ups  are only happy to go back to their amenities-free life  in a tiny  village Buranovo with a population of only 650.

In fact, they will be investing their prize winnings into in their beloved home village to rebuild an Orthodox Church, which was destroyed during Second War II and was never restored. And, of course, they’ll be also touring non-stop internationally.

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