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.

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.

Marketers love putting booze into guns

Apparently the hot idea in niche alcohol sales is to put your product into a package that looks like a weapon of personal destruction.

The tequila company Hijos de Villa offers both a sidearm and a long-gun.

There’s also a choice vodka in two different iconic machine guns: The Tommy or the AK-47. Or it you want to better target your vodka, there’s also a Sniper version.

Sadly you have far fewer choices if you don’t drink the hard stuff. Wine drinkers are all liberals, right? So the best you can do is a bottle opener for your Beaujolais. And beer drinkers don’t even get that. Yep, despite its claims to be the Silver Bullet — there’s nothing from Coors (or any other brewer I could find) that had any trace of verisimilitude on the topic.

Of course you can put whatever substance you want in one of these flasks. You have a choice of one that looks like a pistol or looks like it saved you from a pistol. (If we ever become really good friends I’ll tell you the story of why I drove a bayonet through a silver flask.)

And fear not if your taste for mood altering substances run to something less potable: