The Original Snakes on a Plane

It may seem tasteless to many of you, but I just had to share it. The lost Malaysian airplane story reminds me of an 1980s Polish-Soviet adventure-sci-fi film “The Curse of Snake Valley”.

It was, without doubt, inspired by Indiana Jones films: a Polish linguistics professor deciphers an ancient manuscript that promises “great power” to anybody who recovers a treasure from South-East Asian temple. He goes to recover it with the help of an aging French tough guy, who turns out to be a villain who wants the power to himself, and a tastelessly sexy female French journalist, who also turns out to be a villain working on behalf of a sinister organization, which – you guessed it – also wants to take over that mysterious power. The treasure turns out to be a biological weapon brought to Earth by aliens who have a thing for snakes (yet another Dr. Jones reference). When the first test of the weapon goes awry and kills the sinister organization’s boss, the new boss sends it for testing in a Pacific atoll, and the airplane that carries it disappears in the sky.

This is the Russian-dubbed version. You can see the airplane scene at 1:31:30.

Don’t have big expectations: The movie was voted in a poll in Poland as one of the worst Polish movies ever. It was, however, a huge hit with Soviet children back in 1988. I went to see it in the neighborhood cinema at least three times, and I had oh so many discussions with my friends about the deep meanings in its plot.

And, well, yes, it reminds of the odd Malaysian story. Can’t help it. At least it’s an opportunity to tell a strange little story from my Soviet childhood.


Pay it Forward Soviet-style

Remember Misha, the Soviet Olympic mascot?

Here’s another example that in the Soviet Union the good things were good: The animated short film “Thank you!” by Vladimir Tarasov.

It’s very Soviet, but in a good way. Three children fly in a plane, enjoy the flight and thank the pilot. The pilot is flattered, but he suggests them to thank the engineer who designed the plane, so they do. The engineer is hinted to be Jewish, and he’s smoking a cigarette while designing the plane—in the 1970s nobody complained that depicting smoking is dangerous to children. The engineer suggests the children to thank the factory workers who built the plane. The factory worker turns out to be Georgian and is depicted as an orchestra conductor; he suggests the children to thank the forgery worker who made the metal for the plane.

The forgery worker, who turns out to be Ukrainian, and even says a couple of Ukrainian words, suggests the children to thank the miner who brought the ore to the forgery. The miner suggests to thank the geologist, who found the ore. And the geologist suggest to thank the pilot, who brought him from to Taiga, where he found the ore.

As with many Soviet animated films, this one is both simple and arty.

Differences Between Things

The search box in Wikipedia suggests auto-completion when you start typing. For example, if you type “je” in the English Wikipedia search box, you’ll get the suggestions “Jews”, “Jewish”, “Jerusalem”, “Jesus”. (Jews kick ass!)

Jews Kick Ass. Henry Winkler, Albert Einstein, Sammy Davis Jr., Jesus, William Shatner, Bob Dylan

If you search for “differences between”, you’ll get this list:

auto-suggestions at Wikipedia for "differences between"

The top spot belongs to “Differences between editions of Dungeons & Dragons” and that shouldn’t be surprising: the article “List of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition monsters” only recently lost its first place in the list of the longest English Wikipedia articles by number of bytes to “‎2011 ITF Men’s Circuit” (it’s something in tennis).

Out of ten suggestions, six are related to languages. American and British English are considered one language, but everybody admits that it has many variations by pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary and many other parameters, and lots of people love to bicker about the spelling of “meter” and “aluminum”. Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian are one language that has different names for reasons that are more political than linguistic. Something similar can probably be said about Malaysian and Indonesian, Norwegian Bokmål and Standard Danish and Scottish Gaelic and Irish, but i know very little about these pairs.

Spanish and Portuguese are related, but definitely separate and mostly mutually unintelligible languages. It’s been said that it is easier for Portuguese speakers to understand Spanish speakers than the other way around, which is interesting, but it doesn’t really justify an encyclopedic article, as in the other cases. In fact, i am somewhat surprised that “Differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese dialects” is not in the list, given the huge number of arguments about it in the Portuguese – sorry, Lusophone – Wikipedia.

“Butterflies and moths” is probably the most serious article in this list, but that’s probably because i’m not a Biologist.

And the last two articles are about movies (James Bond – movies vs. novels) and religion (Codex Sinaiticus vs. Vaticanus), which is also very Wikipedia, the encyclopedia about which someone said that it has more stamp collectors than good writers. (Citation needed; I can’t find the original quote.)


I finally watched “Capturing the Friedmans”. It joins Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “The Banishment” as a misogynistic film that you can proudly love: Both show women who are married to husbands who certainly have problems, but instead of fixing these problems, the women completely ruin the families. And the critics liked them both!

My fake plastic love, part 1

I just watched a WikiMovie. (Read on, this post doesn’t have significant spoilers.)

I watched Cashback once when it came out and enjoyed it immensely.

There was one thing that bugged me though. In a climactic scene towards the end “Power of Love” plays in the background. It is a good song and it is more or less fitting, but there’s one song that would fit much better.

The movie is British. It deals with the subjects of love and reality. Most of the it takes place in a supermarket. A climactic scene.

All this can only mean one thing: “Fake Plastic Trees“, 2:30.

So today i watched it, and at that scene i muted the movie and played it instead. It was perfect.

Seriously, the wiki idea should be enhanced to all things in life.


IMDb listing for Inglourious Basterds has this in the “goofs” part:

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: SPOILER: Though Melanie Laurent’s character’s first name is spelled Shosanna, the various characters throughout the film pronounce her name “Shoshana”. Most notably Col. Landa when he shouts “Au Revoir, Shoshana!” as she runs away after her family is killed. In fact, the character’s name is clearly spelled “Shoshanna” in the portfolio carried by Col. Landa and which he uses for a checklist for the Jews hidden in that home. The discrepancy between the spelling in the film’s credits and the spelling/pronunciation in the film itself can only be explained as deliberate. (One may speculate, considering that the Hebrew name Shoshana is spelled with one ‘n’ while both in the movie and its credits it is spelled with two, that the misspelling in the credits is alluding to the term “hosanna” (what appears after the initial ‘s’) which is a classical religious reference to the concept of salvation and/or the messiah, which may be seen in the culminative role of this character.)

There’s a mistake here. Can anyone spot it?


So what’s the deal about this Avatar thingy? Some people say that it’s amazing and groundbreaking. Some critics say that it is so bad that it can hardly be called “cinema”. Russian paleoconservative communists say that Cameron should be executed for ripping off the plots of classic Soviet science fiction novels, by which they probably want to say that it is good.

All the images that i’ve seen from this movie look like screenshots of an early-00’s 3d video game, such as Black & White. It was a very good game, but it doesn’t convince me that it will work so well as a movie.