Watch Live Russian TV On YouTube!

All these years of studying Russian, dear readers, and how could I have forgotten this amazing resource: live Russian TV on YouTube. Both Russia 24 and NTV have live streams.

I haven’t found any other Russian channels with live streaming (yet), but there is a ton of other Russian content on YouTube as well. I haven’t actually watched a lot of Russian stuff on YouTube as of late, so I’ve been rediscovering all sorts of Russian goodies on there. I’m rather partial to Russian documentaries, too, and there are a ton of those on YouTube.

I put a red box around it just because. Click to see larger.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the nasty little notice YouTube tacked on below the Russia 24 live stream. In fact, I think it’s below all Russia 24 videos. It reads “VGTRK is funded in whole or in part by the Russian government” and includes a link to Wikipedia about VGTRK (VGTRK is the abbreviation of the holding company of Russia 24). Thanks a lot, YouTube. I wonder if they put a notice below videos from leftist American media outlets that says “this company is a mouthpiece of the Democratic Party.” Somehow, I think not, and that’s too bad because such information is more valid and relevant than what is provided on the Russia-24 video.

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Charlotte’s Biggest Fan

No, I’m not talking about a little green parakeet named Charlotte—I’m talking about the British author Charlotte Brontë, who is one of my favorite writers.

Thanks to me, two of my coworkers are now reading Jane Eyre (it’s only the best book ever). I’m happy that I had a long, extended conversation with these two coworkers about the merits of the Brontë sisters and their work. We came to the conclusion that Charlotte is our favorite sister and that the Brontë sisters’ work is much easier to read than Jane Austen’s. Not that I don’t love Jane Austen, but sometimes I do find her prose a little… turgid.

Unmotivated & Demoralized

I have something to confess to you, dear readers. Going to work has been a real struggle recently.

It’s going to sound like I’m dwelling and obsessing, which probably is true, but I have felt so, so, so unmotivated ever since a very undeserving person received a promotion back in April. Seriously, just getting up in time to get to work has been such a struggle. I mean, why rush if she barely shows up and gets promoted anyway, right?

It’s also frustrating because I’m getting a bit bored with my position. I’ve been doing it long enough that I’ve got things down. I’ve improved so, so much since starting at this job. I’m ready for the next level. I’m also not expecting it to happen. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it’s just so… frustrating.

Remember the undeserving person in question who managed to get that promotion? (I don’t know if I’ve ever said this, but she started at the company around the same time I did and until the promotion this April, we were at the same level.) Guess how much she worked last week, the week of July 23? Have a number in your head? Maybe you’re thinking 5 days, like a normal work week?

Well, dear reader, you would be wrong. She worked a grand total of 1.5 days. Yes, you read that right. One-and-a-half days. Yet she gets promoted to the next level up. If I don’t deserve a promotion, she definitely doesn’t.

Okay, rant over. I promise we’ll return to regularly scheduled programming concerning books I’ve read, writing projects I’m working on, and random fun things from my life next time I write a blog post. I just had to vent about this and get it off my chest.

(Unless you like reading about work drama. If you like posts like this, I can definitely oblige and give you more. Believe me, there’s more where it came from… 😉 )

Spoilerific Review of ‘Thrawn: Alliances’

You guys, I wrote my Goodreads review, as promised! It is full of spoilers—seriously, if you don’t want to know a lot about the story, don’t read this! I’ll say it again: there are a ton of spoilers in this review! Proceed with caution! 🙂

Thrawn:  AlliancesThrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been waiting for this book for a very long time. (Anticipation tends to make time drag out.) It did not disappoint.

Even though this book is a sequel to Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn, you really don’t need to have read the first one to understand this. (You should read it, though, because it’s AMAZING. Seriously, Thrawn single-handedly turned me into a Star Wars fan.) Eli Vanto is mentioned once, and Commodore Faro showed up at the end of the previous book, but that’s about it. Instead, this book has references to some of the prequel trilogy, to other books, and to the TV shows Clone Wars and Rebels (I haven’t seen the shows, so I discovered that by looking up a few things I didn’t understand).

Random obscure references can be frustrating, but don’t let that stop you from reading this book. It’s excellent. I really enjoyed the interactions between Thrawn and his crew—he really is a good leader, so much so that I wish managers at work would emulate him more—as well as Thrawn and Vader, past and present. Yes, dear readers, it’s true: Darth Vader is in this book (he is a main character, as you can probably tell from the cover) and Zahn writes him well. I could hear all of his blunt, pithy statements being said in James Earl Jones’ voice from the movies.

I really enjoyed how Vader didn’t want to reveal his past. A few times, Thrawn makes reference to the fact that they met before, which Vader denies. By the end of the book, Thrawn knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Vader is Anakin Skywalker. Of course, the two of them don’t have some heart-to-heart about this. But I still enjoyed seeing this mystery play out.

Another unexpected part of this book was the inclusion of Padmé. I love Padmé! Unfortunately, her sections were the weakest, mainly because Zahn had so little to work with concerning her. The Star Wars canon has never done her justice, unfortunately. The good news is Zahn did the best he could with what he had—you’ve got to start somewhere.

By the end of the book, we discover a big secret about the Chiss—they navigate through hyperspace using Force-sensitive kids, whose strength in the Force diminishes as they grow older. These children, some of whom were kidnapped by the Grysk, a new species of alien, were the source of the disturbance Palpatine felt at the beginning of the novel. Thrawn and Vader have completed their mission and developed a grudging respect for each other. (Seriously, one of the most entertaining aspects of the this book is seeing Vader snipe at poor Thrawn for almost the entire time.) Vader promises to back Thrawn’s TIE Defender project. Thrawn says the emperor is interested in expanding the Empire to the Unknown Regions, something Thrawn is an expert in. The threads are all wrapped up by the end of this book, unlike in the prior one. I’m not sure where Zahn will go with a third book, if there is one (and I dearly hope there will be because MORE THRAWN).

Final verdict: if you’re a Star Wars fan, a Thrawn fan, a Vader fan, or all of the above, you will enjoy this. I wasn’t very happy with some of the references I didn’t understand, but those are few and far between and do not take away from the story.

View all my reviews

‘Thrawn: Alliances’ Was As Good As I Expected

Cue the music, everyone. Perhaps the Imperial March from Star Wars is appropriate, because the book I’ve been waiting for since last October is here.

At long last, Thrawn: Alliances was released into the world this past Tuesday (four days ago). The library copies arrived and were processed into the system, so on Thursday morning, I went to the library to collect the copy I’d reserved.

Here it is sitting on my coffee table!

I read it and finished it already! I’ll probably write a spoilerific review on Goodreads at some point, but my overall impression is that it’s decent. Timothy Zahn took the story in a direction I didn’t expect, but that’s not a bad thing.

I expected the book to be a direct sequel to Zahn’s prior book Thrawn, but that wasn’t really the case. In fact, I think you could easily read Thrawn: Alliances without having read Thrawn, which I find very odd. I was hoping some of the unresolved problems from Thrawn would be explained, but that didn’t happen. Perhaps there will be a third book to tie it all together. (We can hope!)

Edited to add: According to this interview, Zahn has pitched two sequels! Thrawn: Alliances was one of them, so there could be a third book in the future!

Another thing that was unexpected about Thrawn: Alliances is it’s not a very good entry point into the Star Wars universe. I read Thrawn without ever having read a Star Wars book. I hadn’t seen most of the movies, either, but it still made perfect sense. I didn’t get that same feeling with Thrawn: Alliances. If you try to jump into the Star Wars universe with this one, you’ll probably be confused. I was confused about some references, to be honest.

So was it worth the wait? I’d say yes. Seeing Thrawn and Darth Vader sniping at each other (okay, let’s be honest, most of the sniping is coming from Darth Vader’s side) was pretty funny. And this dedication is priceless. I even took a picture of it because it made me laugh.

I’m so glad Timothy Zahn has a sense of humor!.

As scary as this sounds, I’ve worked with people more horrible than Darth Vader was in this book. Just pointing that out, in case anyone was wondering. There was a reason I left my previous toxic job…

The Romanovs

Well, everyone, late last night/early this morning was the big anniversary. One hundred years ago, the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, was murdered in a cellar along with his wife, children, and some of their loyal servants. Paul over at Royal Russia has a nice tribute. This post I wrote back in 2016 remains one of my favorites (and relates to Tsar Nicholas). You can see some photos of Nicholas I posted both here and here.

And I shall leave you with the national anthem of the Russian Empire, “God Save the Tsar.” It’s been one of my favorite national anthems ever since I heard it years ago. I remembered to embed a version with English subtitles this year. I’m pretty sure the version I used last year had only Russian subtitles!

A hundred years is a long time to be gone. I wonder what their lives would have been like if they hadn’t been murdered in a basement that night.

Writing Woes

You guys, writing is not for the faint of heart. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I’ve spent the past week or so struggling with a book that just wasn’t working. It was an old idea I was trying to outline and brainstorm. It involved vampires and Moscow and was supposed to be awesome, in theory.

Unfortunately, in practice, it was not so great. Maybe it’s a bad idea, or just not the right idea for me right now, but it was totally not working. I saved my notes, but put them aside. Now I’m back to working on a second round of edits on the novel I was working on before. I think I’ll have to redo a lot of the first act of that book. Better to discover that now than later, I suppose. I am also the world’s slowest editor, so this is going to be very slow going. Maybe I’ll write some short stories in order to take short breaks during my editing…

Happy July!

Can you believe it’s July already? The year is half over now!

Anyway, I have some excellent news. Remember that graduate program I was talking about? Well, I got in! And I got a fellowship! Now I need to pay a deposit to reserve my place because I’ve decided I’m going to go for it. Next year at this time, I’ll probably be questioning my judgment since I’ll have to balance working and studying. 🙂 But I have my fingers crossed that some of the accounting concepts will be a bit easier this time around since I’ve done a lot of accounting at work in the last four years.

What else is new? Well, I’m scaling back on social media use this month so that I can get some work done on a fun novel I’ve outlined. It’s urban fantasy and it takes place in Moscow. And there are vampires. I’ve been looking forward to doing this idea for a while now, so it should hopefully be fun to write.

ONE MONTH!

One month, dear readers! Actually, as of today, June 25, less than a month remains until this book is released!

I found it on Star Wars Wiki here.

And in case you haven’t noticed, I can’t wait! Not even joking, I may have to call in sick on Tuesday, July 24, so I can stay home and read. 😉

(Okay, I am kidding… I’m on a massive project that will still be going on at the end of July, so I’ll probably dutifully end up going to work anyway. But the temptation to just not go in will be strong.)

The Purple Cactus

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while now, but I kept forgetting. While browsing on Twitter last month, I spotted this incredible photo posted by an author I’ve followed for a while.

I love this thing so much.

Yes, my friends, that is a purple cactus. I love cacti and I love the color purple (though not as much as my friend Ruth!), so I am really thrilled by this plant. Some brief internet research reveals that it’s a purple pricklypear (Opuntia macrocentra, for the more botanically-minded out there), I think. Whatever it is, I think it’s great. I want one outside my house. Alas, I don’t live in the southwest, which is why I need to make a move to the southwest happen. Anyone want to hire a hardworking finance/accounting person out in Arizona? (Not even joking here, you guys! 🙂 The purple cactus is but one reason I need to move out west.)