Russians use insane squirrel as mascot for anti-alcohol campaign

Trying to get Russians to stop drinking is one of the few things more doomed to failure than trying to get The Cubs to win the The World Series. Still, in both cases, you have to try – right? The Russians have purposefully turned this job over to one of the least appealing mascots ever – an insane squirrel with a terrifying case of mange. This is not as bizarre as it sounds. According to The Telegraph:

In Russian slang, delirium tremens, the moment of inebriation when people start to get the shakes and to hallucinate, is known as “belochka” or “a little squirrel.” The squirrel in the video, who is red-eyed and bedraggled, is therefore shown ranting, singing, and delivering a nonsensical monologue.

That’s kind of how I imagine Glenn Beck is when he first gets out of bed.

He talks about “chasing spiders up the walls” and finishes up by offering to kill his neighbour’s wife because she is “the devil.” “Are you a boozer?” the deranged squirrel asks in the finale. “Then I am coming around to your place.”

Just replace “spiders” with “Nazis” and “his Neighbor’s wife” with “Democrats,” and it’s practically a transcript of Mr. Beck’s show.

Demon squirrel wants you!

To say Russia has a severe problem with alcoholism is to dangerously understate the case

Alcohol is to Russians what coals are to Newcastle. Russians drink more than 32 pints of pure alcohol per capita per year, more than double the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum. During the Cold War, the Soviet Army was constantly having to guard against its soldiers drinking the brake fluid from vehicles. In his great book Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of The Soviet Empire, David Remnick expressed his total amazement at a Soviet general being sacked for drunkenness this way: “I’m not sure it is possible to describe just how hard it is to acquire a reputation as a drunk in Russia.” At the start of World War I, Czar Nicholas threw a bone to the serfs and got rid of the government tax on vodka. This cut the government’s budget in half.

This ad campaign follows a decision to reduce the amount of alcohol permissible in motorists’ blood to 0 and the introduction of a minimum price for a half-litre bottle of vodka of 89 roubles ($2.80). To put the price issue into context consider that a Russian airline pilot has a net average monthly salary of $864 and a bus driver nets $242.

It also suggests the Russian economy is doing better. In November 2008 stockpiles of Russia’s national drink were six times higher at the start of the month than the same time a year ago because factories were producing vodka faster than they could sell it.

US candy chain sells commemorative Barack Obama chocolates

obamachocolate

(Pic via ace marketer/stand-up comedian Nathan Hartswick. Follow him on Twitter!)

CandyExpress claims these commemorative Barack Obama heads are available for a limited time only. Not limited enough, unfortunately.  Off the top of my head I would thought of three things Mr. Obama should not be used to advertise: Chocolate, fried chicken (as a German company did), watermelon (that’s a yet).  The Russians are clearly out-thinking me on this: I didn’t even consider someone would use President O for a tanning salon. They did.

OBAMA ICE CREAM

The president is apparently quiet the commercial draw in Mother Russia. In addition to the tanning salon and he has also been featured in an ad forthe MeraDent chain of dental clinics with the slogan "Full Dental Democracy!"And of course for this wonderful ice cream treat.

In case you don’t read Russian the slogan says: "Everyone’s talking about it: dark inside white!" The bars have a chocolate-flavored center embedded in a layer of vanilla.

As Russia used home grown slaves instead of importing them as the US did people of African heritage are quite rare. Worth noting: Alexander Pushkin – the nation’s first great poet – was one of those few African-Russians.

End times alert: Russians buying less vodka

Ruh-roh.

Ruh-roh.

As economic indicators go this is pretty much all four of the horsemen of the apocalypse and the opening of the Seventh Seal all in one:

The global financial crisis has grown so bad that Russians are cutting back on vodka. Stockpiles of Russia’s national drink were six times higher at the start of the month than the same time a year ago because factories are producing vodka faster than they can sell it.

Alcohol is to Russians what coals are to Newcastle. During the Cold War, the Soviet Army was constantly having to guard against its soldiers drinking the brake fluid from vehicles. As David Remnick puts it in the great Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of The Soviet Empire, ” I’m not sure it is possible to describe just how hard it is to acquire a reputation as a drunk in Russia.” The phrase “too much vodka in Russia” is like the phrase “Cubs win the World Series”: a linguistically logical construct with (until now) no chance of ever happening.

Russia wants to ban “extremist” South Park

Prosecutors in Russia want to ban the award-winning satirical U.S. cartoon South Park, calling the series “extremist” after receiving viewer complaints, a spokeswoman said Monday.

I felt the exact same way after I saw the Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo episode. However I felt better following the “Blame Canada” part of the South Park Movie.

I miss Chef.

Russia uses smiling kids in tourism ad for war zone

Hey, they originated the Potemkin Village, right?

Russia’s southern region of Ingushetia is trying to overcome its reputation for bombs, murders and shootouts by paying for a glossy supplement featuring strutting dancers and smiling mothers. The eight-page, full colour supplement entitled “My Favourite Republic” appeared inside copies of the popular Moscow newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda on Tuesday. … “Ingushetia, it is an amazing, beautiful region,” the supplement said on its front page. “You could talk about it endlessly.”

Or you can believe what the US State Department says about Inqushetia and the rest of the Caucasus:

Throughout the region, local criminal gangs have kidnapped foreigners, including Americans, for ransom. U.S. citizens have disappeared in Chechnya and remain missing. Close contacts with the local population do not guarantee safety. There have been several kidnappings of foreigners and Russians working for media and non-governmental organizations in the region. Due to the ongoing security concerns, U.S. Government travel to the area is very limited. American citizens residing in these areas should depart immediately as the safety of Americans and other foreigners cannot be effectively guaranteed.

I went to ComeBackAlive.com, the website for Robert Young Pelton who writes The World’s Most Dangerous Places and was very disappointed to find only very dated material on Russia and its dangerous places. Tsk, Tsk, Robert. CLARIFICATION: Actually the site does have more recent info, it’s just that when I used the search function the first page and a half or so of results were all for the site’s DangerFinder archives. Once I did a search for Chechnya -DangerFinder, I got the new stuff. Now I’m just disappointed with the site’s search function, not its actual content.

Headline of the day: “Russian rat shortage on eve of Year of the Rat”

RatMOSCOW (AFP) – Moscow pet shops are reporting a run on rats, as keen astrologically-minded Russians snap them up ahead of the New Year, which is the Chinese Year of the Rat, Interfax news agency reported Monday. Desperate shoppers are even resorting to buying mice, hamsters or gerbils in lieu of a real, domestic rat, according to one shop in the capital.Chinese astrology is closely followed in Russia, which shares a long border with China, and where many newspapers deliver daily horoscopes — and advice on how to care for new pet rats given as presents on December 31.

Oddly, they had the same problem in the year of the dragon.

(Happy 1st Headline of the Day for 2008)

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