The Sense of Beauty

(one minute read)


The pearls were creamy white, with tiny golden spots of reflected light dancing on them with every turn of Carla’s soft, silky neck. They glittered so seductively in the dimmed light of the lamp that Dustin could not drive his eyes away from them. He kept watching the dance of the sparkles, thinking that, apparently, those pearls were also craving to do their passionate dance, but could not because of the tiny white thread running through them, which kept them sitting motionlessly in a perfectly straight, milky line.

No, he could not resist it. Having struggled with temptation for a minute, he gave up. He approached Carla from behind, the tender scent of her perfume reached his nose… ooh, it was fabulous!

He pulled the thread, quite gently. Immediately, hundreds of pearls spurted out in all directions, jumping all over the room, scattering myriads of light splashes, bringing joy and excitement into Dustin’s mischievous mind!

Oh yes, it was worth it! He admired watching the motion of Carla’s shoulders, he enjoyed the dance of pearls in the air. He relished the scene until the last moment, when Carla’s cry cut the air:

“Dustin! You, bloody parrot! What have you done to my necklace?!


What Distinguishes a Successful Blogger in 2017?


As I have been learning how to blog, I never miss publications on the newest tendencies in the world of blogging. It goes without saying that every beginner must find a niche and identify a group of ideal readers for their blog, but then… what else? According to my research of publications authored by well-recognized bloggers, the following features will become a must for every successful blogger in 2017:

  • compelling content that adds value to readers;
  • preferably short articles and posts;
  • attractive illustrations, at least one for each post (I have no doubt that in 2017, visualization will become No1 factor of success for bloggers);
  • simplicity and preciseness of all information;
  • an easily identified, unique feel (or a unique author’s voice) of the blog to attract repeated visitors;
  • clearly displayed personality of the blogger;
  • positive general mood of the posts;
  • rational use of social media, (the bloggers should not focus too much on them, they should rather focus on writing);
  • ongoing research related to the main blog topics;
  • regularly appearing video and audio content.

Please, add your ideas in the comments below if you can think of more items. Thank you! Wishing you all the best with your blog!

Some Facts from the Life of Fedor Shalyapin

Opera Singer, born Feb. 13, 1873 in Kazan, Russia. Died April 12, 1938 of kidney complications ichaliapin_portrait-by-boris_kustodievn Paris, France.

Feodor Shalyapin (or: Chaliapin) was born into a peasant family in Kazan in 1873. At the age of 9 the boy, who had admired choir singing in a local church, was accepted into the choir and immediately displayed a wonderful voice and a perfect ear for music. The boy studied passionately and was given a scholarship for singing in the church. Later, he was sent to continue musical education in a private school of Vedernikova, but was excluded for kissing his class-mate.

His family did not see Fedor’s future as a singer, though. His father wanted him to become a shoemaker and young Shalyapin had to apprentice in his older brother’s shop for a few years, until he finally escaped to the capital and started building a career in singing and theatre acting.


At the age of 17, in Russian Ufa, while performing his role in the opera “Halka”, Shalyapin accidentally missed the chair and fell on the stage. Since then, all his life long, he kept a sharp eye on every object on the stage, wherever he performed. After a few years of circuitous search of his own artistic personality, he finally acquired success in the Russian capital.


Shalyapin’s personal life was quite complicated. He was married twice. He met his first wife, Italian ballerina Iola Tornagi (1873–1965), in Nizhny Novgorod. They married in Russia in 1898 and had six children. While married to Tornagi, Shalyapin lived with Marina Petsold (1882–1964), a widow who already had two children from her first marriage. She had three daughters with Shalyapin. His two families lived separately, one in Moscow and the other in Saint Petersburg, and did not interact. Shalyapin married Petsold in 1927 in Paris.


Shalyapin was a very tall and strong man. Many of the singer’s contemporaries also noted the unprecedented power of voice. Once, after a performance, Leo Tolstoy shared his impressions about Shalyapin’s singing: “His singing is too loud.” Semyon Budyonny (the bolshevik cavalry commander and later and Soviet General in World War II), who met Shaliapin in a train once and had a bottle of champagne with him, remembered: “The car shuddered from his mighty bass.”


In 1918, soon after the Bolshevik revolution, Shalyapin took the position of artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre (do do this, he had to refuse a similar position at the Bolshoi Theatre) and received the first and the highest Soviet-time title of “People’s Artist of the Republic”. Though in his young years Shalyapin sympathized with the revolution, the bolsheviks were not very supportive of his unique talent. The new revolutionary authorities confiscated his house, his car, and his bank savings; there were numerous attempts to accuse his theater colleagues and his family members of not being loyal to revolution. Trying to protect the family and colleagues, Shalyapin met the highest leaders of the country, including Lenin and Stalin, but those meetings only brought a temporary relief. Finally, in 1922 the family decided to immigrate. Shalyapin with family left Russia and took a number of highly successful projects in Europe and America. In 1927, the Soviet authorities deprived him of the title of People’s Artist and of the right to return home.

Shalyapin was known as a very good painter and sculptor, as well. Many of his drawings were preserved to our time, including his self-portrait.


Shalyapin used to collect old weapons – pistols, rifles, spears. Many of them were presented to him by his friend A.Gorky (famous Russian – Soviet writer), who was a highly respected figure among the Soviet authorities. This friendship helped Shaliapin to keep his collection through a few attempts of local housing office to confiscate it.

In memory of his talent, a star with his name was installed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

A recording of Shalyapin’s singing:


and Wikipedia

Brief History of Russian Tea


Tea has been the most popular drink in Russia for nearly five centuries now. Due in part to Russia’s cold northern climate, it is today considered the de facto national beverage, and is closely associated with traditional Russian culture. Centuries ago, it was drunk at afternoon tea, but has since spread as an all day drink, especially at the end of meals served with dessert. An important aspect of the Russian tea culture is the ubiquitous Russian tea brewing device known as a samovar, which has become a symbol of hospitality and comfort.

Tea in Russia was introduced in 1638, when a Mongolian ruler donated to Tsar Michael I four poods (65–70kg) of tea. Around 1636, Russian merchant Vassili Starkov was sent as envoy to Altyn Khan. The Khan offered him a to take 250 pounds of tea as a gift for the Russian tsar. Seeing no use for a load of dead leaves, Starkov was about to refuse, but the Khan insisted. Thus was tea introduced to Russia.


In 1679, Russia concluded a treaty on regular tea supplies from China via camel caravan in exchange for furs. The Chinese ambassador to Moscow made a gift of several chests of tea to Alexis I. However, the difficult trade route made the cost of tea extremely high, so that the beverage became available only to royalty and the very wealthy of Russia.

In 1689, the Treaty of Nerchinsk was signed that formalized Russia’s sovereignty over Siberia, and also marked the creation of the Tea Road that traders used between Russia and China.


Between the Treaty of Nerchinsk and the Treaty of Kyakhta (1727), Russia would increase its caravans going to China for tea, but only through state dealers. In 1706, Peter the Great made it illegal for any merchants to trade in Beijing. Only by 1736, Catherine the Great established regular imports of tea. By the time of Catherine’s death in 1796, Russia was importing more than 3 million pounds by camel caravan in the form of loose tea and tea bricks, enough tea to considerably lower the price so that middle and lower class Russians could afford the beverage.

The peak year for the Kiakhta tea trade was in 1824, and the peak year for the tea caravans was 1860. From then, they started to decline when the first leg of the Trans-Siberian Railway was completed in 1880. Faster train service allowed for tea to be imported from nearly a year and a half to eventually just over a week.


In the mid 19th century the decline in Chinese tea production made it difficult to satisfy Russia’s demand in tea, so it began to import more tea from Odessa, and London. By 1905, horse drawn tea transport had ended, and by 1925 caravan as the sole means of transport for tea had ended, too.

In 2002, Russia imported some 162,000 metric tons of tea.


Alexander Pushkin’s Duels


Every high school kid today knows that Alexander Pushkin was shot at a duel and died in 1837, at the age of 37. Dueling was a sign of that generation, but studying the full list of Pushkin’s duels, strikes me with awareness of how incredibly reckless were men at that time. Here is the list of Alexander Pushkin’s duels.

1816. Pushkin (aged 17) summoned his uncle Paul Hannibal to a duel.
The cause: during a ball, Paul lugged away Pushkin’s girlfriend, miss Loshakova.
The result: duel canceled.

1817. Pushkin summoned his friend Pyotr Kaverin to a duel.
The cause: Kaverin’s facetious poems.
The result: duel canceled.

1819. Pushkin summoned a poet Kondratiy Ryleev to a duel.
The cause: Ryleev told a joke about Pushkin at a high society gathering.
The result: duel canceled.


1819. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by his friend Wilhelm Küchelbecker.
The cause: funny verses about Küchelbecker, namely the passage about «feeling Küchelbeckery and sickening».
The result: Wilhelm shot at Alexander, but missed, Alexander refused to shoot.

1819. Pushkin summoned Modest Korf, a Ministry of justice worker, to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin’s drunk manservant pestered Korf’s servant, who finally beat Pushkin’s servant up.
Result: duel canceled.

1819. Pushkin summoned Major Denisecich to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin behaved provocatively in theater: he yelled at actors, so Denisevich reprimanded Pushkin.
The result: duel canceled.

1820. Pushkin summoned Fedor Orlov and Alexey Alexeev to a duel.
The cause: Orlov and Alexeev reprimanded Pushkin for being drunk and trying to play pool, which disturbed the others.
The result: duel canceled.

1821. Pushkin summoned Deguilly, a French military officer, to a duel.
The cause: An argument, and a quarrel under unclear circumstances.
The result: duel canceled.


1822. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by lieutenant colonel Semyon Starov.
The cause: a conflict occurred because of a restaurant orchestra at a casino, where both indulged in gambling.
The result: each of them shot the other, but both missed.

1822. Pushkin summoned a 65-year-old state councilor Ivan Lanov to a duel.
The cause: a quarrel during a holiday dinner.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin summoned a Moldavian nobleman Todor Balsh, the host of the house where Pushkin was staying during his Moldavia trip.
The cause: Maria, Balsh’s wife, responded to Pushkin’s question in an impolite manner.
The result: both shot, but missed.

1822. Pushkin summons a Bessarabian landowner Skartla Pruncul to a duel.
The cause: Prunkul, as well as Pushkin, were seconds at someone else’s duel; they could not agree upon the rules of the duel.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin summons Severin Pototsky to a duel.
The cause: discussion about serfdom at the dinner table.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by a captain Rutkowski.
The cause: Alexander Pushkin did not believe that a hailstone can weigh up to 3 pounds (which is possible) and made fun of the retired captain.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin summoned a Chisinau tycoon Inglezi to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin coveted his wife, a gypsy woman Ludmila Shekora.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by a General Staff warrant officer Alexander Zubov. The cause: Pushkin had caught Zubov on cheating during a game of cards.
The result: Zubov shot but missed Pushkin, then Pushkin refused to shoot.

1823. Pushkin summoned a young writer Ivan Rousseau to a duel.  The cause: Pushkin’s personal dislike for this person.
The result: duel canceled.

1826. Pushkin summoned Nikolay Turgenev, one of the leaders of the Union of Welfare, a member of the Northern Society, to a duel.
The cause: Tugrenev did not approve of Pushkin’s poems, especially, his epigrams.
The result: duel canceled.

1827. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by an artillery officer Vladimir Solomirskiy
The cause: the officer’s female friend, a Sofia, to whom Pushkin was personally attracted.
The result: duel canceled.


1828. Pushkin summoned the Minister of Education Alexander Golitsyn to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin wrote a bold epigram, so the Minister arranged a rough interrogation, which Pushkin found humiliating.
The result: duel canceled.

1828. Pushkin summoned Lagrenée, a French Embassy Secretary in St.Petersburg.
The cause: an unknown girl at a ball.
The result: duel canceled.

1829. Pushkin summoned a Foreign Office worker, Mr. Hvostov to a duel.
The cause: Hvostov was dissatisfied by Pushkin’s epigrams, in particular, by the fact that Pushkin compared Khvostov with a pig.
The result: duel canceled.

1836. Pushkin summoned Nikolay Repin to a duel.
The cause: Repin was dissatisfied with Pushkin’s poems about him.  The result: duel canceled.


1836. Pushkin summoned a Foreign Office worker Semyon Hlustin to a duel.
The cause: Hlustin did not approve of Pushkin’s poetry.
The result: duel canceled.

1836. Pushkin summoned Vladimir Sologub to a duel.
The cause: Sologub’s unflattering remarks about the poet’s wife, Natalia.
The result: duel canceled.

1836-37. Pushkin summoned a French officer George d’Anthès.
The cause: an anonymous letter, which stated that Pushkin’s wife had been cheating on her husband with d’Anthès.
The result: Pushkin wounded by d’Anthès, and died two days later, on January 29, 1837.



Вадим Алёшин. Список дуэлей Пушкина, ЖЖ.

George Steiner. Pushkin’s date with death.


Writing Fiction Is an Art


To me, writing fiction has always been equivalent to creating artwork, because it is the art of influencing the personality of your reader, and reading fiction is nothing else but an acquaintance with a new world – the world as it is seen by the author.

Secondly, writing fiction means sharing your vision with others, and sharing is also an art. Like every other art, fiction writing is not supposed to share information – let us leave this to press, television and journalists – it is supposed to provoke emotional reactions, to make the reader feel and suffer.

Gustav Flaubert wrote that the art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. To me, it is also the art of sharing your vision so masterfully that others could see it your way.

Fiction writing is also the art of working with other people’s imagination, which is a lot more difficult than just working with someone’s logics. To master the art, a good writer must be a little of everything: an artist, a linguist, a psychologist, a philosoper, and just an inspired individual who sees the unique sides of this world and can convey his vision to others.

The Best Passages From The Great Gatsby

Just another reminder of the wonderful book which I have read many times and am going to read again soon.

101 Books

If Fitzgerald’s prose is like butter, then The Great Gatsby is like bathing in a giant vat of delicious, theater popcorn.

I’ve read this novel multiple times, and I’m always struck by how I never grow tired of reading it. Every single passage lives and breathes and just jumps of the page. Fitzgerald wrote with such a purpose.

With my review coming on Monday, I thought I’d share some of my favorite passages and quotes from The Great Gatsby today.

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The Life Behind Russian Sayings

pogovorkiRussian popular sayings – поговорки [pagavOrki] – were developed through centuries and of course, like everywhere else in the world, are reflections of traditional lifestyle. If you write about Russian life you may need to use some, but they will hardly help unless you understand the “story” behind every saying. Here are a few examples.

Не имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей. Friendship is better than money.

Literaly, it is translated like “Don’t have 100 rubles, but have 100 friends”. Friendship is very important to Russians, because to them, it is an equivalent of ability to survive. Many animals prefer to live in pecks, or flocks, or herds, and so do Russians. They believe that if you have a lot of friends, you are garanteed against trouble. If you were poor and hungry, your friends would pitch in and help you get what you need. If you feel depressed, you don’t need a councelor – just visit your friend and let him listen to you (you have probably heard about Russian overnight sittings with vodka in kitchens). If you need motivation, go to your female friend (each Russian man tends to have one) and sob out your sorrows to her: she will always know what to say to support you. This is why, if you ask a Russian what is most important in life, the answer will not be “having money”, it will be: “having many good friends”.

С мира по нитке – голому рубашка. If everyone pitches in and helps, you’ll have what you need.

This saying is a follow up to the previous paragraph. It literally says: “take a little thread from the world and a poor (naked) man will have a shirt.” Again, it confirms that Russians have a great love of community, The belief is strong that they can succeed together, while a lonely man is doomed to fail.

Два сапога пара. Two peas in a pod.

The saying “two boots are a pair” does not only remind you about cold Russian winters, it is used to describe two people who are compatible and close. Behind these words, there may be an implication that you’ve got to expect the same behavior from the people who have been friends for a very long time. People learn from each other, they share experiences and opinions, and as Russians prefer communal life to individualistic lifestyle, many have similar looks on life. Honestly, for many people these are not even looks on life, they are just imprints of other people’s opinions, which got stuck to one’s memory and became their views, too. This is why many Russians seem alike in their approaches to life. Two peas in a pod!

В тихом болоте черти водятся Still waters run deep

This is a rough equivalent to the English saying, meaning literally: “in quiet swamp, demons can be found”. The Russian saying is somewhat darker and may imply that the person being described may display unexpected behavior. This saying is always uttered as a warning. Russian history is filled with stories of betrayal: each generation can recall numerous examples of detecting  informants, squeals, snitches, and spies in communities which had seemed to be quite supportive and friendly (there are numerous examples of this in literature, too), so this phrase remains popular through centuries. Every child can hear it from mother now and then, from a very early age. I think this may be the reason of the Russians’ odd behavior: with all their openheartedness, they remain a bit suspicious about everyone they deal with, because… who knows? Still waters run deep… In quiet swamp, demons can be found!

Баба с воза – кобыле легче It will be easier without him/her.

“When a woman gets off the carriage, it is a relief for the horse”. This saying is not really a complaint about a woman’s weight (though sometimes this may be the case, too), but a note that it is relieving for the whole company when someone undesired has finally left.

I think it might also be a metaphor to women’s love to talk. If she speaks a lot and then finally leaves, it is a relief!

Нашла коса на камень. He ran into a brick wall.

In Russia, this saying is interpreted like “the scythe found a rock” refers to a common problem that makes you stop what you are doing. Usually, the saying means that some event has interrupted a process, so it must be fixed now. In past, it was often related to farm works. Today, you can hear this phrase during working discussions in offices, when someone repeatedly refuses to agree with common opinion and this hampers the whole working process.


There are hundreds of idioms in Russian language, and really many of them are widely used in everyday life situations. I will share more some day, If you like.


About some odd Russian traditions


As I am partially Russian and write about Russians (and Ukrainians), I love sharing about peculiarities of Russian language, culture and lifestyle. Here are a few specific Russian traditions which look quite unusual to English-speakers. The following things are common for all regions of Russia and to some areas of Ukraine:

  • Not smiling at people with whom you randomly make eye contact. According to Russian logic, a smile is supposed to be genuine and should only be shared with friends;
  • Dressing up to go to the store or anywhere else, even if you are going out just for one moment. This “rule” is observed by women in the first place, but men in cities and towns also tend to follow it;
  • Sitting down for a minute before heading on a trip. This is an old tradition that is believed to keep bad luck away from the traveler. Once the suitcases are packed, most Russians will typically pause and sit quietly for a minute before leaving;
  • Making really long and complicated toasts. Russians also like telling anecdotes as often as possible. When in Russia, expect to hear lots of toasts, lengthy anecdotes, and too much of explaining of every joke;
  • Answering “how are you?” honestly and fully. Russian logic goes like this: “Once you have asked it, you really want to know the answer, so I am going to give you all the details now”;
  • Celebrating New Year’s more enthusiastically than Christmas. Even the Christmas tree is traditionally called the New Year tree. Presents are purchased for the New Year celebration. Christmas is good, too, but it is celebrates on January, 7, and feels like the New Year’s aftertaste;
  • Calling all females “girl”: девушка [dEvushka]. To call up a female waitress, you yell, “Девушка!” (Girl!), no matter how old she is;
  • Sitting down at the table for a meal and staying there for hours. When groups of Russians get together for dinner, they will sit down, have dinner, and talk. Then they will talk some more;
  • Always keeping your bags. Russians never throw away any bags, just because you never know when you might need one;
  • Preparing way more food than is necessary for when friends come over;
  • Living with their parents. It is quite a common thing that an entire Russian family – parents, children, grandparents – will live together in one apartment;
  • Meeting complete strangers and then becoming friends with them immediately… especially if there is something to drink, and there is always an abyss of topics to discuss. So don’t be surprised if you are invited over for “some tea” after only 10 minutes of conversation; and
  • Russians never show up to someone’s house without a gift in hand. It can be a dessert or a bottle of wine if it’s dinner, or it can be chocolates or flowers (never bring an even number of flowers – that would be a funeral tradition). It’s not really important what it is, as long as you bring something.

Reading Catch 22… once again


I have read this book so many times that it seems I can start reading a random sentence and finish it from my memory. This is one of those books which do not need being reviewed. Ii is absolutely enough to simply list a few quotes from it instead of a review and people will know everything about the book, like these, for example:

“mankind is resilient: the atrocities that horrified us a week ago become acceptable tomorrow.”

“It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead.”

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”

“Prostitution gives her an opportunity to meet people. It provides fresh air and wholesome exercise, and it keeps her out of trouble.”

“The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on.”

“He knew everything there was to know about literature, except how to enjoy it.”

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.”

“He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.”

“What do you do when it rains?”
The captain answered frankly. “I get wet.”

“When people disagreed with him he urged them to be objective.”

Brilliant, aren’t they?

(This last line was mine.) I say, this is a good book to take on a trip with you. It gives you optimism if you are afraid to fly, it keeps you alert if you listen to it while driving, it just keeps you thinking that you are smart, too, as long as you understand the humor. And this in itself is very encouraging, isn’t it?

Criminal Indent

on writing about thrillers

~ dreams to remember ~

Willie Gordon Suting | poet | writer | freelancer | bibliophile | crooner | fashionista | Shillong,Meghalaya,Northeast India

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