Monday, March 13, 2006

From Russia With Hamantashen

Happy Purim!

Tonight I went to Mar Gavriel's (ignore the haters in that comment thread) Megilla reading. It was in-sayn! Ma‘ariv went fine, and then I ran out to the batmobile room after Shemoneh ‘Esreih, and when I get back I get suddenly drafted to be gabbai and doublecheck The Mar's reading! Seemingly because I was one of the few people there familiar enough with the pronunciations he uses in order to tell what's a mistake and what's just funny-sounding.

The reading was fun, and I eventually got used to the hot overhead lights pointed at the bima. Mar Gavriel used a lot of entertaining megilla shtick (voices and sound effects), although I almost FOTBL (fell off the bima laughing) by the extreme neigh-sounding way he was cantillating the word sus (horse) whenever it appeared.

After the reading, we all (that's him, me, and a bunch of people you've probably heard of from his blog) went back to his place for food and Purim silliness. Once there, I finished putting on my costume, because I didn't want to freak people out in public.

Why would my costume freak people out?

For Purim night I dressed up as Антон Городецкий (Anton Gorodyetskiy), the main character of the movie Ночной Дозор (Nochnoy Dozor = Night Watch). Btw, for those of you who don't read Cyrillic, the ch in Nochnoy is pronounced like in chomp, not Chanukka. Anyway, Anton is one of the Others (supernatural creatures), who are divided between Light (good) and Dark (evil). He's a vampire who works for the Night Watch — the Light organization that makes sure the Dark Others don't break the Treaty that exists between the factions.

Anton looks like this:
(riding the subway in Москва — Moscow)

Let's zoom in a little:
(he wears sunglasses inside at night because he's a vampire)

And here's a shot with one of his gloves:
(the red fingerless gloves are probably just to look badass)

He fights other vampires with an ultraviolet flashlight:
(and scares normal people on the subway)

During the course of the movie he gets a charm
that he has to wear around his neck in order to
protect him from the head of the Dark Others.
It looks like this:
(the chain-looking thing)

I wore black pants and boots, borrowed a hooded sweatshirt from an apartmentmate and wore a long black coat over it, bought red gloves and cut the fingers off of them, wore sunglasses [at night and inside], and made a neck charm out of paperclips. Oh and I was carrying around a flashlight that I shone in people's faces to make sure they're not vampires ;-) . And on the way home I reenacted that exact badass "I own the subway" pose on the 1 train.

Night Watch is an amazing modern-fantasy/horror/action movie that just happens to have been made in Russia. Don't fear the subtitles. Go out and see it (assuming you see movies at all)! There's only one very short and easily-avoided "not safe for frummies" scene with a woman covered in feathers and slime taking a bath.

Most of the pictures above are from the trailer.
Go see it, and have an evil-vanquishing Purim!


(less than a month later)

11 Nisan, 5766 / April 8, 2006

More pictures from Purim, taken by Taylweaver:


Blogger The back of the hill said...

Would that be a voimpir oyf loshen-baalteshuvish?

3/14/2006 9:49 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Or, alternatively, a dam-trinker?

3/14/2006 9:50 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

maybe somewhere, but i prefer to avoid stereotypes like that.

Although there was a lot of pig blood in the movie. Very unkosher vampires.

3/15/2006 7:36 AM  
Blogger Elie said...

Sounds like you had a blast! Happy shoeshine Purim.

On another note, I would have pegged you as someone else who didn't care for the funny-voices style of megila reading. I can't stand it, I actually go to a different shul Purim night than the rest of the year, just to avoid it. I love shtick and goofing around in every other aspect of Purim except the megilla reading; that I like straight up.

3/15/2006 9:11 AM  
Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

The book on which this movie is based is SO much better. Try to find a copy if you can! : )

3/15/2006 6:09 PM  
Anonymous brother kayin said...

do they have the book in english translation?

3/15/2006 6:37 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

They'd better!
Or is this like The Black Book of Arda, where it's only in pycckuù and they refuse to share? :-P

3/15/2006 11:33 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

So eet syeems time khes come fuorr you to lyorrn Rrussian ivyenshyllyi.

3/16/2006 7:26 AM  
Anonymous jdub said...

The book is coming out July this year in English. No need to learn Russkiy.

3/16/2006 11:24 AM  
Blogger Minor Fast Days said...

I've never seen Night Watch, but I'll check it out. By the way, you are one interesting guy. Keep up the esoterica!

3/16/2006 11:45 AM  
Blogger heccy said...

The subtitles in the movie were almost as good as the rest of the movie itself. The translations were also pretty on with a few puzzlings changes from the actual russian.

i went to a conservative student minyan in Cambridge for the megillah reading. some of people doing the reading did voices, some didnt. I didnt really care for the voices. However, there were some interesting pirate-themed haman jeers. Also some hissing for zeresh, neighs for the horses and serious boos for Xerxes' tax at the end. Who says liberals are solidly pro-taxation?

3/16/2006 4:27 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...




thanks for the news!


thanks a lot!


any details about strange subtitling you could give us?

3/17/2006 12:50 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Or is this like The Black Book of Arda, where it's only in pycckuù and they refuse to share? :-P

What do you mean 'they'? Just translate it yourself. That's what I did for Gorkiy :)

PS I'm sure I'll be quickly educated on the proper transliteration of Gorkiy :)

3/17/2006 1:18 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Just because i know the alphabet doesn't change the fact that я не говорю по-русский (except for a few phrases, of course). :-P

Proper, shmoper. Transliterate it however you feel like. How do you spell it in Cyrillic?

3/17/2006 2:04 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...


be surprised: Your transliteration makes much sense! (And transliterations as well as transcription are arbitrary in principle, meaning you make the rules, but keep to them.)

3/19/2006 6:15 AM  
Blogger heccy said...


near the end when the vampiress is on the roof holding the child and talking about her recently ceased-to-be lover, she says a line whose order is flipped about in the subtitle. I dont remember the original order so lets just say she actually said "he loved me" but it was subtitled "I loved him" (or vice versa).

If you want to learn russian, just stop on by my old stomping grounds in brighton beach. With all the cheating and mockery that goes on with regards to non-russian speakers, youll be forced to pick it up quickly.

3/19/2006 5:30 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Benshis were the Japanese performers who stood next to the screen during silent films and explained the plot to the audience. If ever a benshi were needed in a modern movie, Night Watch is that film.
-Roger Ebert

Anyone agree with Roger's take? Is it just a language/culture thing?

3/20/2006 3:49 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


thanks for the tip!

I definitely do not agree with Roger Ebert. Nochnoy Dozor was definitely not that incomprehensible. Syriana, on the other hand, hurt my head.

3/20/2006 3:56 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Speaking of transliteration, I just found out about

You type transliterated english characters and it renders them into Russian in real time.

That would be a cool concept if we could have others develop it for a whole bunch of non-Latin languages.

3/22/2006 5:27 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Foounny sooite, but eet doezyen't do dyee ektzent!

3/23/2006 10:04 AM  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

truly frightening

4/09/2006 12:13 AM  

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