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After our long, challenging train journey from Uzbekistan, we arrived in the city of Volgograd, in the southwest of Russia, I mean it's roughly in that blobular section of the biggest most endless landmass that is old country. That's right, after almost three months, after traveling through Mongolia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, we made our way back to Mother Russia. And we were overjoyed to be back in a place where we sort of knew the language, and where we could reunite with the trappings of modernity, and where I could eat at an actual vegan restaurant. But I didn't realize how important a city Volgograd is, in critical and meaningful ways far beyond its current offerings of comfort for my spoiled behind, and I was and remain in awe of its history. I initially wanted to come here just to see the incredible, enormous statue pictured at left (or above if you're on your phone), but there's so, so much more to Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad. We had a lovely few days here, learning more than I ever learned in school about World War II, exploring what the city has to offer today, and finding all the vegan food for me to eat.
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It's Theatre Thursday! Today we are talking about the best ballet ever, 'Onegin' at the Bolshoi. We're back in Russia all over this website!
With all the theatre I see, I don’t have much time for ballets. I see them every once in a while but usually I’m like “this would be so much better if you were singing toooooo!” That’s why ‘An American in Paris’ is so good. And usually the plots are so alarmingly sexist that I just roll my eyes the entire time so as not to actually scream. I saw ‘Giselle’ last year the English National Opera. Do you know what that’s about? A peasant girl dies of a broken heart because her lover is a cheatin fool and then her ghost joins a ghost troop of all virgin girls who died before they were married and they dance/kill men who go through their forest. It’s forked up. Luckily, ‘Onegin’ is not actively offensive; in fact, it’s a pretty good tale of a woman actually standing up for herself, sort of, as much as you can expect in old-timey stories. More importantly, it’s the most gorgeous dancing I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’m including the ending of ‘Center Stage’ can you believe it? even the part where the camera pans down and then when it goes back up Jody is all of a sudden in a red leotard and she pushes everyone away and Jamiroquai goes ‘DANCE!’ and it’s the best. I was naively a little upset that the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow wasn’t playing something I was more familiar with while we were there, but I can’t imagine ‘Swan Lake’ or ‘The Nutcracker’ (now I’m out of ballets I know) being nearly as spectacular as ‘Onegin’ was. And since this week on the travel blog we are back in Russia, it’s time to talk about this Bolshoi production.
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Dear little baby laptop diary,
The day has arrived! We are finally leaving Uzbekistan! Who would have thought we would be so happy to return to Russia? We feel a little bit like traitors to our country (obviously not as much as our government heyooo) but we really loved Russia and the thought of soon returning to a more modern place is exciting! But first we have to get through this train journey, crossing two borders. First we will go back through Kazakhstan, around the north part of the Caspian Sea (maybe we will see Ursula!), and then into Russia to Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad. They changed the name from honoring the scary man to honoring the river! I like! What I don’t like is that this will be our second longest train journey of the entire epic adventure, and I believe our third longest ever. Two nights and parts of three different days! Ahhh! Luckily we bought the entire 4-person cabin so we can relax without scary strangers.
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It's Theatre Thursday y'all! Today we are talking about Glengarry Glen Ross at London's Playhouse Theatre, which runs until February 3.
I don’t really like David Mamet. Don’t get me wrong, I like him more than I like Pinter, but still, he’s not my cup of playwright tea. (I don’t really like any tea!). But I went to see the new London production of his eminent work “Glengarry Glen Ross” because Christian Slater was in it. I mean also because I like to see all the theatre but mainly because Christian Slater was in it and I thought if I got to meet him then I could be friends with Cher Horowitz in both of their primes. Also he’s a good actor. I am familiar with the movie, and I don’t love it but I understand that it’s important and worthy of others’ adoration. I was skeptical of how such an American play would do with British audiences, but fun fact, “Glengarry Glen Ross” (GGGR) had its world premiere in London! Who knew! (Another fun fact, Mamet dedicated the play to Pinter, because he helped make that OG production happen. What a small world of playwrights I don’t enjoy!)
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After our time in Khiva, we decided to stop in the tiny town of Nukus, Uzbekistan for one purpose: to see its art museum. Now, you might be wondering what kind of art a museum in the middle of nowhere might have to bring a person so out of their way. A rare Picasso? A beautiful Monet? (I know only the most famous artmakers apparently.) You crazy if you thought that; this is the middle of nowhere Uzbekistan. No, the Nukus Museum of Art houses the second largest collection of Russian avant-garde art in the world. I know it doesn't sound great, but it's a very cool thing and I'll tell you why.
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It's Theatre Thursday y'all! Today we are talking about "The Twilight Zone" at London's Almeida Theatre, which is playing until January 27.
I cannot do scary stuff. I don’t mean horror movies; that’s a whole other level of scary that isn’t even on my radar. I mean like, anything dark or kind of about death. The Good Place is an exception because it’s the best show ever and you kind of forget they’re dead because they do such normal things and have such normal lives, kind of. Normal not-lives, I guess. But I hate Halloween, mostly because there are skeletons around. That’s the kind of thing I mean. I’m currently writing this from Paris and I don’t know what to do tomorrow because I think I’ve gone to every tourist attraction in the city - except the Catacombs, because no way jose! It’s Halloweeny down there. So what I’m saying is, I wouldn’t necessarily be the first person to go to a theatrical adaptation of The Twilight Zone, because scary and dark and not full of rainbows. But the operative word in there is theatrical, and so I had to. And guess what - while it wasn’t great, parts of it were very good and I enjoyed it a lot despite the skirr.
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After our lovely time in Samarkand, we ventured to our next Uzbek stop of Khiva. Khiva would resemble Bukhara more than the others, in that it's a contained little ancient town full of minarets and mosques and the whole damn thing is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Also, it was similarly dusty and dry and boring for modern travelers but interesting to see for history purposes. It's unclear when exactly Khiva was established, but historians say it probably came about after Jesus was born like as a birthday present for him maybe. (Not that last part.) But in the past thousand or so years, the town has gone through several different ruling classes from various cultures. I guess they all kept thinking like I did, going 'hmm this place seems interesting let's rule it up oh wait everyone here is mean and it's kind of blah let's bounce.'
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It's Theatre Thursday y'all! Today we are talking about Hamilton: An American Musical now at London's Victoria Palace Theatre until probably the end of time!
BUM BUM BA DA BUM BUM BUM OO-OO-OOH. Hamilton may not have an overture, as few modern shows do, but you really can’t beat those opening notes for getting your blood pumping and your excitement levels through the roof. I was pretty calm in the weeks leading up to seeing the new London production of Hammertime. Maybe because we bought our tickets literally a year ago so my excitement waned after the first few months; maybe I couldn’t be excited because I was too nervous that the delay in opening (our tickets were now the week of opening instead of weeks after it) was due to quality concerns and not just because the theatre refurbishment wasn’t ready; maybe it’s because I saw the original cast and didn’t have high hopes for how London would measure up or maybe I was just worried that British accents would seep through. (American accents are notoriously bad here. I feel probably how british people feel watching Broadway actors do british accents.) Regardless of the reason, I was trying to be chill aquafaba and not get my hopes up too much. It’s just another show, right? But those opening notes, man alive, I DARE you to try to stay calm when they thump through. It’s impossible and I immediately smiled the biggest smile I ever have smiled and let myself be as excited as I ought to have been. It’s not just another show; we all know that by now. It had the fastest transfer to the West End ever (and had two tours start in the meantime) for a reason. It is the best, and no matter what issues this production has, it’s still the best thing over here.
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I hope you enjoy Laughfrodisiac! Click on the pictures to get to full articles, or navigate using the headers at the top. Or just do what your heart tells you.
Laughfrodisiac is attempting to complete another month of VeganMOFO in September 2014! Read about the plan here and stay tuned every day in September!
In September 2013, Laughfrodisiac participated in VEGANMOFO! Read about this awesome month-long vegan blogging challenge! And read all the posts I wrote during VeganMofo here!
If you like the Veganizing "Friends", check out more of my veganization of TV food on HelloGiggles!
Click on the Michelin Restaurants link for an ever-growing review collection for fancy restaurants that can accommodate vegans!