>Russian Karaoke


I love presents in the mail. This Thursday, we welcomed packages from Seattle and Russia. The Seattle package was mailed by my good buddy ; he sent me two DVD-Rs of splendid screen caps. Whee! I hope to reply in kind with some unusual screen-savers, non-blurry icons, or even a few screen-caps of my own. If I find a movie featuring toads, I will dispatch a DVD-R full of toad-caps, plus my most elegant toad inspired poetry and prose. Yay!

DVD title: Drunken Fun

The Russian package which arrived for contained three DVDs of Russian Karaoke hand picked by his mom. Tennis Fiend was as thrilled as a ten year old boy, complete with jumping and hand waving. He tore the wrapping off the most colorful DVD, popped it in the player and ratcheted up the volume. Immediately, I recalled the difference between American karaoke and Russian karaoke: accordions. DVD one was folk music, which primarily consisted of accordion music, with a balalaika (lap harp) and a synthesizer.

 Happily and heartily, E sang along. Misty accompanied him with her squeaky toy since accordions put her in a crazy killer-dog frenzy. Thirty minutes later, the dog exhausted herself and Tennis Fiend frowned at the television.

He paused the DVD and called me over, “Watch this.” The sad melody of a classic Russian song about a deadly winter quivered through the speakers. Lyrics describing endless despair and suffering flickered across the bottom of a screen featuring… a sandy beach and frolicking sunbathers! My jaw dropped. We spent the next twenty minutes searching for tragic songs and watching their cheerful accompanying video.

It was as if the video tech had a perverse sense of humor, deliberately showing couples as the lyrics expressed heartbreak and loneliness and pairing themes of wartime suffering with splendid Mediterranean villas. Eventually Tennis Fiend concluded that no such conspiracy existed, since the video was uniformly merry throughout all 120 karaoke songs. He theorized that the karaoke audience must be drunken middle-class Russians who frequent Mediterranean cruise ships while on vacation. Thus, tipsy revelers could enjoy their karaoke even more by shouting out, “I’ve been there!” when they identify a Greek island or “Hey, that’s me!” when they recognize their sunburned self at St. Tropez. Personally, I prefer believing that some wry, sardonic person is out there, poking a bit of fun at us all.

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