A Good Book and Good Laughs; How My Belarusian Pen Pal Got Me Hooked on Soviet Comedies

This week, I started reading a new book I’ve been anticipating called Checkpoint Charlie by Iain MacGregor! I’ve wanted to learn more about this famous border crossing of the Cold War era, which was a tense divider between East and West Berlin back in the day. You may or may not be familiar with the famous sign that stood at the checkpoint (and still does, as a tourist attraction in Berlin), and I always thought it was both fascinating and foreboding at the same time:

The stern sign gave you fair warning in English, and it also warned you in Russian, French and German that you were leaving the American sector of West Berlin and about to enter East Berlin territory. It was a crossing point from (I think) 1947-1991.

I’m still in the beginning of the book but I can EASILY SAY I am HOOOOOOOOOKED and it’s a real page turner!!!!

Alongside my exploration of new literature, I’ve also dipped my toe into the world of film from the Soviet era of the 1960’s. I have my Belarusian pen pal to thank for this, as I would have NEVER known what I was missing out on – Soviet comedies!

(My pen pal is in his late forties, lives in Belarus and experienced living in the Soviet Union himself, so I’ve learned a lot from him. I can even understand some Russian phrases now, like basic greetings!) πŸ˜ƒ

I’ve watched a few comedies so far, including Operation Y and Shurik’s Other Adventures (1965), and my favorite is Bootleggers (1961) featured above. It’s a short film at only 18 minutes long, but it’s 18 minutes of pure joy and laughs for me!

It stars (from left to right) Yevgeny Morgunov, Yuri Nikulin and Georgy Vitsin. The three characters star in several movies together and play troublemakers, in which their schemes don’t exactly turn out the way they think it will and they go through hilarious situations that end with them in the back of a police car. Bwahaha!!!

Side note: I fell in love with Georgy Vitsin like, 3 seconds into the film. How could I not fall for a face like this?

I found myself thinking: all three of these actors have been deceased since the late 90’s/early 2000’s. How cool is it that I discovered their films all the way here in the United States, in 2021 no less, long after they’ve been gone, and I get to experience it with fresh eyes?! Their legacy definitely lives on!

So as you can tell, I’ve been enjoying myself immensely in the world of literature and film – the perfect way to kick off the summer. β˜€οΈβ€οΈ I’ll end this post with two photos of me trying to awkwardly take photos of my outfit in my room. I was feeling the orange and purple ensemble, and the pockets? Sewed those bad boys on myself!!!

See yaaaaaaaaaaa!

It’s a Scream, Baby!

I saw Scream the year it came out in 1996, and I was 9 years old. Ironically, my babysitter would play the movie A LOT, so that’s how I first saw the film.

Was it scary to me as a child??!! Of course! I’m actually not a scary movie person at all; I just can’t handle that genre, typically. However, since I saw Scream as a kid so many times and it’s such a classically 90’s film, I still enjoy the movie to this day because of the nostalgia factor, and the fact that it still scares me even at 33 years old! (And I admit, I have always loved Ghostface’s costume!)

My favorite character is Stu, played by Matthew Lillard. He is outrageously hilarious throughout the film and that’s a huge reason why I enjoy it!!! Honestly, the humor is a big win in this movie, and then just as swiftly as it will make me laugh, it will make me clamp my hand over my mouth in fear and insist I turn on every light on my way to my room to go to sleep once the movie’s over.

As an homage to this horror film that is forever etched into my childhood memory, I purchased a Ghostface shirt on Etsy!!! Paired with the hair clips, it’s a total 90’s throwback. And to truly capture the nostalgia, I watched the movie on the original VHS, as I still own an old VHS player!

I was watching the movie and I had to stop and pause it on a particular scene where two girls are gossiping about Sidney (Neve Campbell) in the high school bathroom. WAIT A SECOND, I thought. GIRL, I HAVE THOSE SAME HAIR CLIPS!!! I bought them at Sally Beauty many years ago.

I was ecstatic. That gave me the idea to wear them with my outfit, as it is subtly Scream! I added butterfly clips to the mix for extra flair. Because there’s something so innocently nostalgic about the colorful hair clips of the 90’s. Scream is also nostalgic, even if it’s a not-so-innocent scary movie. Ghostface is my one and only favorite scary dude, and for that, I salute him.

So cheers to the nostalgic things that transport us back to a different time, whether it be a movie or a hair clip!

As Stu would say, “It’s a scream, baby!” πŸ’œ

See ya next time!!!

The Phantom of the Park & Other Things

Hey, all!!! I hope you are healthy and well! πŸ’œ

This past week, given the shelter-in-place policy enforced in my city due to COVID-19, I’ve had an abundance of time at home to create some new artwork, read, watch movies, and tinker around with the clothing in my closet. I created a new bow brooch by using some extra fabric ribbon I had on hand, and attached it to a vintage brooch I own. A nice addition to my beige lace top!

Believe it or not, the black dress is an old Xhilaration dress from Target I’ve had for years. Now it looks totally different!

I really love how old-fashion this dress looks with the modifications I made to it! It proves that all it takes is some accessorizing to totally change the look.

I’ve always loved psychedelic art, so I finally created one of my own. πŸ˜ƒ I titled it: Magical Mystery Dreams (the title was inspired by Magical Mystery Tour (1967) by the Beatles, which is my favorite album of theirs and it paired well while drawing this). πŸ’œ

Last but certainly not least!!! A few weeks ago, I was happy to get my copy of Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978). You can hardly find a copy of it to buy online, so it’s truly a miracle I even own it!

Backstory: This was a made-for-television film that aired around Halloween of 1978. Anything I read about it said it was “super cheesy” and “really out-there”, which made me even more ecstatic to watch it and run to it with open arms. Naturally, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!!!!!

Plot: Kiss battles an evil inventor who has plans for destruction at a California amusement park.

It takes place at Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA (around 3 hours away from where I live – I’ve driven through the area countless times going to L.A.). The acting is adorable and there are a lot of scenes with Kiss playing their songs live in concert. How could I not love it?!

I also love it because, since it was transferred from an original VHS recording to DVD, it’s like watching it through a dream lens. It gives the film a high saturation color-wise and an imperfect quality, which I actually prefer. Visually, it’s like remembering parts of a dream you had, is how I’d best describe it.

I hope you all stay healthy, positive and find creative ways to spend your time as much of the world is on lockdown, it seems. ❀️ Let me know in the comments if you’ve been doing anything interesting!

See you next time!! 🌼