Gear Review: Scandal Shaft by Gait Lacrosse
Company: Gait Lacrosse / Product: Scandal Shaft / Price: $84.99
Editor’s Note: Please welcome Jon Mundy to our Gear Reviews. Jon is the owner of Elite Lacrosse, a local lacrosse training facility and still plays lacrosse way more than any of us wish we could – he actually even balled it up with us during Lax Vegas last fall.
I was approached by LAS to do the gear review because I run a local lacrosse player training business, called Elite Lacrosse. As a personal coach/trainer I have a stick in my hand at least 40hrs/week.
I really liked the shaft from the start. It is really light, has a good feel, and I prefer a smooth finish rather than grippy. I tested it out during training sessions at the gym, passing, catching, shooting, and playing defense our clients. We also play indoor box lacrosse twice a week so I was able to play very physical lacrosse with the shaft.
I really like the overall appearance of the shaft. It is the classic octagon shape, the 45 degree angles are concave rather than flat, and the shaft as mentioned earlier, has a smooth finish. I personally prefer a flat 45 degree angle on my shaft. I feel like it is more durable and has a better feel in your fingers. The shaft got dinged up pretty quickly and easily too, I feel like this was partially due to the concave 45’s.
This shaft also comes in a few different colors and personally, I love the classic look of just the logo and a one color shaft.
Photo by Lacrosse.com
I am partial to a smooth stick rather than all the new grippy sticks out there today. I feel like the smooth shaft is significantly faster in your hands than the shafts littered with grip. I don’t like any drag or friction in my hands when I dodge other than the tape I put on my stick.
While the Scandal has a smooth finish, I’m not a fan of the concave edges. As I mentioned before, I think it messes with the structural integrity of the shaft and makes it easier to ding up and break.
At 5.3 ounces even with the trademark Gait end cap on, it’s SUPER light. I was even surprised with how light it was. As you will see though, this super light weight may come at the sacrifice of the durability.
That said, this could be a great stick for someone a little younger who would like a little lighter shaft. I was able to dodge, switch hands and fire off shots without even a second thought of how much the shaft weighed.
For a scandium shaft, this wasn’t anywhere near as durable as you’d expect. From everything I’ve heard, Scandium shafts are harder, and therefore a little more brittle. This seemed to dent as easily as an aluminum shaft and the wear and tear is very apparent if you simply give it a once over.
While this one didn’t break, we had one break during a 3v3 Men’s Chumash Tournament held in our gym over Christmas break. Not a very good start to a review to see someone break the same shaft you are about to test out. The next three images are all close-ups of some of the checks and dings (EN: beauty marks!) left on the shaft.
At $84.99, it is actually fairly well priced, as sad as that is to say, I probably wouldn’t pay more than $50 for this shaft if it was for my own use. You still have to weigh in the fact that it isn’t very durable for higher level players.
For a youngster though, it’s not that bad. $85 is a solid price for a shaft when you look at others on the market priced upwards of $200.
I think a 6.2 is pretty misleading with this shaft. Yes, it’s not that durable and we’ve even had one break in our gym, but I would still say this is a great shaft for younger players. Youth and even most high school players won’t be playing as rough as I did with the shaft or even just see as hard of checks as I saw.
Combine that with a fairly low-priced shaft, and you have yourself a great set-up for well-priced stick.
Revolutions by Hannah Ross review – the story of women on two wheels | Sport and leisure books
I’ve been cycling for decades – as a student, commuter and partygoer. I’ve sallied forth in strappy heels and dorky helmet: returning home late, I’ve dodged foxes while flying drunk and euphoric down deserted streets. I’ve cycled with one hand holding closed my wrap dress, and with skirt tucked into tights, or tied in a knot. I’ve fallen over at the lights, slowly and to the side, because my skirt has been hooked over the back of the seat. I’ve cycled into a lamppost at the side of the road while admiring spring trees in bloom. I’ve carried a boxed trumpet and a large houseplant in my basket, and flashing bike lights in my mouth. I’ve balanced a week’s shopping on handlebars, and kneed myself in the bump when pregnant. And many journeys have been spent furiously pondering esprit de l’escalier retorts following altercations with taxi drivers.
Cycling for me has never been boring or neutral. A male cyclist is just a bloke on a bike, but a woman appears political, independent, a bluestocking, egregiously sporty, or suspiciously saucy. In this likable, informative and barnstorming book, Hannah Ross tells the story of how such meanings – sometimes eagerly adopted, sometimes patriarchally imposed – have become attached to what is often just the most efficient way of getting from A to B.
The historical sections are the most eye-opening. The invention of the boneshakers of the 1860s and penny farthings of the 1870s opened up new vistas of transport and recreation: sociologists credit the bicycle with a decrease in genetic faults associated with inbreeding. The late 19th century witnessed a global “bike boom”: there were weddings on wheels; even a christening with baby and nurse arriving on a tandem.
Women were active participants in the new cyclomania: the American feminist Susan B Anthony called bicycles “freedom machines” that did “more to emancipate women than anything else in the world”. Enthusiasts were often well-heeled: the Duchess of Somerset and friends enjoyed night rides through London, Chinese lanterns lighting the way. Women-only cycling clubs sprang up around the UK and US for fun and philanthropy: the Mowbray House Cycling Association, set up in 1892, provided bicycles to working women.
Cyclists in the early 1900s. Photograph: KGPA Ltd/Alamy
There was resistance. Pioneers were pelted with bricks, eggs and rotten vegetables as they rode. Opponents claimed cycling led to infertility, a manly gait, or promiscuity: Robert Dickinson, an American gynaecologist, suggested women positioned their saddles so as to “bring about constant friction over the clitoris and labia”. The sit up and beg position – hardly aerodynamic – was designed to avoid women developing a “bicycle hump”. Puck magazine depicted a stern-looking woman riding with a man half her size perched on her handlebars; the heading: “New Woman takes her husband for a ride”.
The campaign for acceptance was vocal on the right to wear trousers. The Rational Dress Society cited the dangers of skirts being set on fire or pulling their wearers under carts. During the 1850s, Amelia Jenks Bloomer took to wearing billowy Turkish-style trousers known as “freedom dress”. One outraged woman wrote to the Daily Telegraph to denounce those who “in addition to the degradation of riding a bicycle, have further unsexed themselves by doing so in man’s attire”.
Clarion cycling clubs, linked to the socialist weekly newspaper of the same name, admitted women from the start. Christabel and Sylvia Pankhurst were Clarionettes, and they rode around distributing newsletters and holding rallies. The Women’s Social and Political Union’s arson attacks were also administered on wheels, including the so-called “pillar-box outrages” of 1913, when suffragettes poured ink and flammable liquids – sometimes using an inner tube – into post boxes.
Cycling liberated women to become explorers as well as activists. In 1894, Annie Kopchovsky, a Latvian Jewish immigrant, set off from Boston on a round-the-world trip. She worked for a newspaper selling advertising space, and funded her adventure by loading her bike with ad boards. She attracted considerable censure – both for leaving her husband and children behind, and for catching a few trains along the way – but she became a worldwide sensation under her acquired name, Annie Londonderry. In 1963, just as cycle touring was falling out of fashion, the travel writer Dervla Murphy embarked on a solo trip from Dunkirk to Delhi.
Then there are the racers such as Tessie Reynolds who, in 1893, aged 16, broke the Brighton-London-Brighton record in her wool knickerbockers; or Beryl Burton, dubbed the “Yorkshire housewife”. In a 1967 mixed race, Burton was up against the men’s favourite Mike McNamara – a man on course to set a new record – or so he thought. In one of the most legendary moments in cycling history, Beryl overtook him and as she did so offered him a Liquorice Allsort (he took it and thanked her). The record was hers.
Colourful characters populate this book: in the 1990s, the American mountain biker Missy Giove was notable not only for her doughty off-roading – she endured an estimated 38 broken bones during her career – but also for her tattoos, piercings and lucky charms, including the desiccated body of a pet piranha that hung from a necklace, and the ashes of a beloved dog that she sprinkled in her bra before each race.
A women’s elite arrival sprint at the Road World Championships. Photograph: Tim de Waele/Corbis/Getty Images
Reading these stories juxtaposed with those of 19th-century trailblazers reminded me that where gender equality is concerned, society has done some back-pedaling. We’re familiar with the restrictions of the past, but not how they produced vibrant acts of defiance. Women’s cycling today is marked by many achievements, but also by sexist neglect and body-image fuelled inhibition.
In the 1880s, around a third of British and American bike owners were female. That proportion is lower today. According to a 2017 Department for Transport study, men make three times as many trips as women and travel four times as far. As a sport, women’s cycling is marred by fewer racing opportunities and less prize money, sponsorship and coverage. Women’s participation in the Tour de France is limited to a one-day event. Even the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, supposedly the most gender-equal games yet, still has far fewer women racers. In 2017, the former Olympic cyclist Nicole Cooke bemoaned “a sport run by men, for men”.
Ross highlights inspiring attempts to challenge the under-representation of women – from Mexican-American women reclaiming their LA neighbourhood on wheels, to efforts to set up a women’s racing team in Saudi Arabia, to a Rwandan non-profit (Africa Rising) recruiting black women from across the continent into the sport. But there’s still a long road ahead.
Revolutions: How Women Changed the World on Two Wheels is published by Orion (£16.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply.
Cardinal on trial as Vatican financial scandal case resumes
The trial of a once powerful Catholic cardinal and nine others resumes Tuesday at the Vatican over alleged financial fraud and a disastrous London property deal paid for with charity funds.
Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who served as the equivalent of chief of staff for Pope Francis at the time of the deal and was later fired from another post, is being tried alongside high-rolling London-based financiers and other Church employees.
They are accused of crimes including embezzlement, fraud and corruption relating to the Church’s loss-making purchase of a luxury property in London’s upscale Chelsea district.
Becciu was at the time number two at the Secretariat of State, the most powerful department in the Vatican’s central administration.
The case against the 73-year-old, which carries charges of embezzlement, abuse of office and witness tampering, also includes separate allegations over hundreds of thousands of euros of Church funds paid to his brother’s charity.
The trial is unprecedented in going before a Vatican tribunal of three lay magistrates rather than a religious court, after Francis changed the law to strip cardinals and bishops of legal privileges.
Becciu, one of only two defendants who attended a preliminary hearing in July in the temporary courtroom at the Vatican Museums, insists he will prove his innocence “with respect to every charge”.
The trial, which is expected to last months, follows a two-year probe into how the Secretariat of State managed its vast asset portfolio and, in particular, who knew what about the disastrous 350-million-euro (now $407-million) London investment.
Since becoming pope in 2013, Francis has vowed to clean up the Church’s finances.
The scandal is particularly embarrassing because funds used for risky ventures like the London one came from the Peter’s Pence, money donated by churchgoers for the pope’s charities.
– Risky investments –
Ahead of the trial, prosecutors painted a picture of risky investments with little or no oversight, and double-dealing by outside consultants and insiders trusted with the financial interests of the Secretariat of State.
The primary defendants are “actors in a rotten predatory and lucrative system, sometimes made possible thanks to limited, but very incisive, complicity and internal connivance,” they argued.
The current case dates from 2013, when the Secretariat borrowed more than $200 million, mainly from Credit Suisse, to invest in a Luxembourg fund managed by an Italian-Swiss businessman, Raffaele Mincione.
Half was intended for stock market purchases and the rest for part of the building in London’s Sloane Avenue.
Prosecutors allege Mincione used the money to invest in high-risk ventures over which the Church had no control. By 2018, the Secretariat had already lost millions and tried to pull out of the deal.
Another London-based financier, Gianluigi Torzi, was brought in to broker the purchase of the rest of the building and cut ties with Mincione. But he is accused of instead joining forces with him.
Torzi allegedly inserted a clause into the sale deal that gave himself control of the building through voting rights. He is accused of demanding 15 million euros to relinquish control.
Mincione and Torzi were helped, prosecutors claim, by Enrico Crasso, a former financial consultant to the Secretariat, and employee Fabrizio Tirabassi, both of whom face charges including fraud.
Also implicated are two former top officials within the Vatican’s financial affairs watchdog, including its ex-president, Swiss lawyer Rene Bruelhart, who prosecutors say did not do enough to protect the Secretariat’s interests.
Impeachment: American Crime Story Premiere Review: “Exiles”
Impeachment: American Crime Story premieres Sept. 7, 2021 at 10pm ET/PT on FX.
Impeachment: American Crime Story revisits the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal 23 years after President Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice in a 10-hour limited series with a distinct point of view. Regardless of your personal politics, the case itself was an absolute media circus that dominated the news cycle for months and helped launch partisan politics into a new stratosphere of divisiveness. It also made Monica Lewinsky a national mockery and the subject of intense victim-shaming derision that, in hindsight, is beyond appalling and misogynist. But the male point of view dominated coverage at the time, reducing the women involved to cartoon pawns that fit the stereotypes desired by everything from cable news shows to late-night staples.
What Impeachment: American Crime Story, the third in executive producer Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, and Brad Simpson’s sporadic limited series concept for FX, does right from the pilot episode, “Exiles,” is make it clear that the story everyone remembers most as a prurient political punchline is actually an intensely personal one for the people at its center. Based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President and Lewinsky’s own autobiography, the narrative is led by the perspectives of Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein), Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson), and Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford).
In the pilot, it’s these three disparate women who provide the primary perspectives. In January 1998, Lewinsky opens the series as the soft-spoken young woman sadly packing mementos in her D.C. apartment for an impending move to New York City. A call from her Pentagon friend/colleague Tripp, suggesting a lunch meeting to “solve” Monica’s problem, sets the stage for the FBI to bring Lewinsky into custody for questioning regarding the ongoing investigation of President Bill Clinton. Livid at Tripp’s participation, Lewinsky calls her friend a “treacherous bitch,” and the series is off and running.
The narrative then jumps back in time to 1993 and sets up Tripp’s life and career as the secretary to Deputy White House Council Vince Foster. In a stunning transformation, Paulson is almost unrecognizable as Tripp, changing her look and physical gait to embody the middle-aged career civil servant. We get a taste of where Tripp is currently: a single parent, partial to the politics of the prior administration and upset about her overall station in life. The show contextualizes her bitterness at losing agency in her own career based on uncontrollable circumstances and partisan whims, and makes her more of a human, flaws and all.
Every TV Show Cancelled or Announced to Be Ending in 2021
The series even dips into comedy with its portrayal of Paula Jones and her out-of-work actor husband, Steve (Taran Killam). He sees fit to leverage the embarrassment of an article that mentions his wife in a sexual harassment incident with then Governor Clinton as the path to his potential casting in Designing Women. His opportunism is ridiculous and bordering on parody, in terms of the “stupid Southerners” trope, but Ashford manages to makes Jones sympathetic as a woman, not unlike Lewinsky, thrust into a situation she severely underestimated.
Paulson is almost unrecognizable as Tripp.
All three women, in fact, are not cast as just one thing, which history at the time deigned to do. Instead, they are introduced as complex participants in their lives, orchestrators and partial victims to their situations and choices, which already makes the series and its approach an inherently interesting one.
Joaquin Phoenix goes full Taxi Driver
One of the more fiendishly clever choices Christopher Nolan made in his magisterial middle Batman movie, The Dark Knight, was to clown on the very idea of “motivation.” Heath Ledger’s unforgettable version of The Joker, a prowling nihilistic terrorist in rotting makeup, kept offering different explanations for the grotesque scar-tissue grin cut across his face—and it’s only on the second time around, when his story changes completely, that we realize he’s improvising, not unburdening. Nolan may have lifted the idea from Alan Moore’s seminal The Killing Joke, which cooked up a tragic backstory for the Clown Prince Of Crime, then hedged it with a wink: “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it be multiple choice,” the villain quipped. But in The Dark Knight, this slipperiness becomes a joke at the expense of origin stories themselves—including, most irreverently, the one Nolan had just told with the previous film in his series. Batman, in this movie world, is a product of trauma and loss, a hero born from his issues. The Joker just is.
Todd Phillips’ Joker, an R-rated comic book psychodrama arriving today on a wave of scandal and hype, has other ideas. It plays like a feature-length version of one of those sob-story monologues the Ledger incarnation of the character tosses out before putting a knife in someone’s mouth, except that the irreverent punch line never comes. This Joker, played by Joaquin Phoenix, really is a melancholy misfit, a guy so damaged that his signature cackle is actually involuntary: a Tourette-like response to emotional duress. His sad-clown origin story is so morosely serious that it flirts with self-parody, like Frank Miller doing Pagliacci. The film wouldn’t exist without Nolan’s ambitiously bleak take on the DC universe, yet it makes those operatic caped-crusader adventures look breezy by comparison. And though it chronicles the formative years of a homicidal prankster, Joker is almost entirely humorless. Which might seem surprising, given that it’s been directed by the guy who made the Hangover trilogy and Due Date. To be fair, those movies weren’t funny either.
Joaquin Phoenix, Frances Conroy, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz
Theaters everywhere October 4
Joker is set in 1981, in a Gotham City as unreal—in its grimy, gritty way—as Tim Burton’s. If the 1989 Batman city-planned from a blueprint of German silent classics, the model this time is the mean streets of a New Hollywood New York, a beautiful reconstruction of a chaotic Nixon-to-Reagan-era metropolis. Our larval-state Joker, meanwhile, is Arthur Fleck, who doesn’t much resemble archenemy material. Like Joe, the hulking vigilante Phoenix played in You Were Never Really Here, Arthur lives with his elderly, ailing mother (Frances Conroy) in a rat-nest apartment. Although he makes ends meet as a rent-a-clown, what he really wants to be is a stand-up comedian. It’s a goal that seems a little out of reach, given his rather crippling mental illness; he’s on seven different medications, none of them much helping. Plus, as his mother asks, “Don’t you have to be funny to do that?” (Okay, there are a few laughs.)
Phoenix, that reliably riveting Method changeling, isn’t the first great actor to take on the role of the most iconic bad guy in all of comics. (Ledger’s brainy, menacing interpretation may be the gold standard, though don’t count out the magnificently hammy voice work of Mark Hamill.) But we’ve never seen a Joker quite like this. Early into the film, Arthur sits in the audience of a comedy show, giggling randomly and off-cue at the routine he’s watching (this is his other laugh, a phony high-pitched one he forces out to prove that he gets a joke when he doesn’t), and you realize that this take on the character is a man totally disconnected from the world, doing a very unconvincing imitation of an adjusted person. Almost inhumanly gaunt, skin pulled tightly over the bony ridges of his spine and ribcage, Phoenix offers a theatricality more alien, and more accidental, than the character usually possesses. The film’s most indelible image is the repeated spectacle of him dancing on a staircase or just behind a curtain, jutting and swaying to the private opera or rock concert in his head.
Photo: Warner Bros.
How will this meek, broken man become the flamboyant, big-top crime boss to rule them all? The question looms over Joker’s slow-burn character study, which does eventually get around to tying itself into the larger DC mythos, and to linking the title character to his masked adversary, in a way not so different than Burton’s Batman. Mostly, though, Joker feels insulated from franchise master plans—and from the general way superhero pictures, our most dominant big-screen entertainments, tend to operate. There are no bam-pow fisticuffs, and no CGI fireworks either; the only special effect is Phoenix, twisting his limbs and soul into nightmarish new shapes. Phillips builds the whole movie around his powerhouse lead performance. This may be the first ripped-from-the-comics spectacle that’s also, essentially, a one-man show.
Yet for all its novelty and craft, Joker is more of a stylish stunt than anything else. It pantomimes ’70s grit, wearing it like an extravagant vintage suit. Phillips, one-time frat-comedy specialist, aped Martin Scorsese’s style in his last movie, War Dogs. This time, he’s performing something closer to a ritualistic tribute. How else does one account for the casting of the Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin, Arthur’s talk-show host hero—a role that’s basically a mirror reflection of the one De Niro played against in The King Of Comedy? Or the moment when Phillips films Phoenix from behind as he staggers down a sidewalk, and we can see in the actor’s gait the unmistakable phantom of Travis Bickle, that seething rat in the big-city cage? Look, even, at Arthur’s meet-cute with Sophie (Zazie Beetz), the single mother who lives down the hall and offers him a faint chance at real connection; it hinges on the finger-gun-to-temple gesture from Taxi Driver. Phillips skillfully mimics the look and vibe of these classics of alienation, but he doesn’t really key into their insight, their personality, their worldview. He’s made a dorm-room homage, a comic-con cosplay of Marty’s best.
Photo: Warner Bros.
Joker, which inevitably earns the MPAA rating it courted, is very much a story of self-actualization through violence. That lends it a certain, undeniable topicality; maybe that’s what the jury at Venice, who handed the film the coveted Golden Lion, saw in it: a cracked-mirror reflection of the hostility and resentment that colors so much American horror, the massacres committed by armed young men. Phillips and his co-writer, Scott Silver, are making a valid point about the way our culture ignores mental illness and those living with it. (It’s after Gotham cuts social services, severing Arthur’s access to medication and counseling, that things get bloody.) But there’s no denying that by adopting the perspective of its budding killer, Joker risks making his rise to notoriety look triumphant—like a rebirth, the outcast getting over on a world that’s abused and neglected him. By the finale, when Arthur’s cresting madness begins to dovetail with a revolt against the 1% (including a certain familiar, wealthy family), one can at least grasp why the film has some spooked.
Of course, real Scorsese movies have been appealing to the “wrong” crowd since Taxi Driver, a film so vivid on the mind of a psychotic wannabe assassin that it spoke deeply to an actual psychotic wannabe assassin. Joker, a bastard offspring whose supposed irresponsibility feels like just another element lifted from Marty’s playbook, deserves to be judged outside of the controversy that’s sprung up around it. Which is to say, the film’s sins are mostly dramatic. It’s striking and almost touchingly well-acted (Phoenix commits inside and out to the role, as he always does), and though its whole style and attitude is borrowed, both almost look distinctive when applied to a genre not exactly filthy with commanding visions, even derivative ones. Yet there’s also, in the end, something disappointingly one-note about Phillips’ portrait of madness and despair in a fictional city that never sleeps. Maybe it’s that Arthur, literally and figuratively beaten into the pavement, never really has a shot; we know from the first moment we see him, tugging his lips into an artificial smile, that he’s lost, and nothing more than a spot in the Gotham rogues’ gallery awaits him. Maybe that other Joker had it right: Origin stories are a joke.
Note: This is an expanded version of the review The A.V. Club ran from the Toronto International Film Festival.
CORRECTION: This review previously stated that the man behind the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting “donned the costume of The Joker” a rumor that has since been debunked.
Madame Claude review – an interminable true story
Madame Claude works as a study of a highly contradictory figure, but it falls down badly as a dramatic narrative.
The smartest decision of Sylvie Verheyde’s Madame Claude, a telling of the rise and fall of Fernande Grudet, the owner of an influential brothel during the politically tumultuous Paris of 1968, is to embrace the contradictions of its title character rather than play them down. Far from a squeaky-clean biography of the woman who basically ran the sex lives of France’s most notable dignitaries and civil servants, this is instead a muddy portrait of a largely self-serving woman who held the fates of many others in her hands and didn’t always know what to do with them.
That’s the smart bit. The problem with Madame Claude is that it’s absolutely interminable as a work of entertainment, stretching scenes of sex and snarky conversation across almost two hours with very little concern for a dramatic through-line. Karole Rocher, who plays the madame, spends most of her time verbosely narrating her circumstances, displaying an attitude that it’s difficult to empathize with as her empire becomes complicated by the high-profile Markovi? scandal and the demands of the Intelligence Services. As the stakes ostensibly rise the film somehow gets less interesting, losing some of its intriguing scene-setting details and shifting focus away from the most interesting character in Garance Marillier’s atypical hooker Sidonie.
Madame Claude works best when it’s depicting the brothel’s power and influence in the politics of France; how deals are made, friendships are struck up, and information about sexual preferences is exchanged. Likewise, a funny, nothing scene like Grudet declaring that Marlon Brando is five minutes away works as a joke but also a telling reminder of the kind of clients who frequented the brothel in Paris’s swanky 16th arrondissement. It’s Grudet’s attempts at rationalizing her own flaws where the film’s intentions become difficult to parse; is her contradictory, hypocritical nature highlighted as a critique, or are we supposed to delight in her pithy remarks about her own independence, power, and influence?
I suspect it’s the former. Her rags to riches story might get the audience on her side, but she has embraced high society and retains almost nothing from her provincial background. She’s a mother but treats her daughter with complete disinterest all throughout. The women who work for her, who are closer to a family than her biological relations, are nonetheless grilled endlessly about their appearance, hygiene, and sexual technique, and are expected to take all manner of physical abuses from the clientele if needs be. By the time the state is putting Grudet in increasingly risky positions, it is difficult to care what happens to her either way.
And the pacing! In some ways, Madame Claude has the opposite problem but the same outcome as Sky High, which debuted on the same platform on the same day. The former has a glacial gait and the latter moves like greased lightning, but neither manages to tell a particularly coherent story as a result. This film is arguably worse in how it cycles through genres – biography, character study, elaborate fiction – as well as disjointed scenes. Some stylish cinematography and the odd cutting line aren’t enough to elevate Madame Claude beyond just a cliff notes version of a remarkable real life.
The Athens Affair – IEEE Spectrum
On 9 March 2005, a 38-year-old Greek electrical engineer named Costas Tsalikidis was found hanged in his Athens loft apartment, an apparent suicide. It would prove to be merely the first public news of a scandal that would roil Greece for months.
The next day, the prime minister of Greece was told that his cellphone was being bugged, as were those of the mayor of Athens and at least 100 other high-ranking dignitaries, including an employee of the U.S. embassy [see sidebar “CEOs, MPs, & a PM.”]
The victims were customers of Athens-based Vodafone-Panafon, generally known as Vodafone Greece, the country’s largest cellular service provider; Tsalikidis was in charge of network planning at the company. A connection seemed obvious. Given the list of people and their positions at the time of the tapping, we can only imagine the sensitive political and diplomatic discussions, high-stakes business deals, or even marital indiscretions that may have been routinely overheard and, quite possibly, recorded.
Even before Tsalikidis’s death, investigators had found rogue software installed on the Vodafone Greece phone network by parties unknown. Some extraordinarily knowledgeable people either penetrated the network from outside or subverted it from within, aided by an agent or mole. In either case, the software at the heart of the phone system, investigators later discovered, was reprogrammed with a finesse and sophistication rarely seen before or since.
A study of the Athens affair, surely the most bizarre and embarrassing scandal ever to engulf a major cellphone service provider, sheds considerable light on the measures networks can and should take to reduce their vulnerability to hackers and moles.
It’s also a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of one of the most elusive of cybercrimes. Major network penetrations of any kind are exceedingly uncommon. They are hard to pull off, and equally hard to investigate.
Even among major criminal infiltrations, the Athens affair stands out because it may have involved state secrets, and it targeted individuals—a combination that, if it had ever occurred before, was not disclosed publicly. The most notorious penetration to compromise state secrets was that of the “Cuckoo’s Egg,” a name bestowed by the wily network administrator who successfully pursued a German programmer in 1986. The programmer had been selling secrets about the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) to the Soviet KGB.
But unlike the Cuckoo’s Egg, the Athens affair targeted the conversations of specific, highly placed government and military officials. Given the ease with which the conversations could have been recorded, it is generally believed that they were. But no one has found any recordings, and we don’t know how many of the calls were recorded, or even listened to, by the perpetrators. Though the scope of the activity is to a large extent unknown, it’s fair to say that no other computer crime on record has had the same potential for capturing information about affairs of state.
While this is the first major infiltration to involve cellphones, the scheme did not depend on the wireless nature of the network. Basically, the hackers broke into a telephone network and subverted its built-in wiretapping features for their own purposes. That could have been done with any phone account, not just cellular ones. Nevertheless, there are some elements of the Vodafone Greece system that were unique and crucial to the way the crime was pulled off.
We still don’t know who committed this crime. A big reason is that the UK-based Vodafone Group, one of the largest cellular providers in the world, bobbled its handling of some key log files. It also reflexively removed the rogue software, instead of letting it continue to run, tipping off the perpetrators that their intrusion had been detected and giving them a chance to run for cover. The company was fined 76 million this past December. (For a timeline of events from January 2002 through December 2006, see “Alpha to Omega” [PDF].)
To piece together this story, we have pored through hundreds of pages of depositions, taken by the Greek parliamentary committee investigating the affair, obtained through a freedom of information request filed with the Greek Parliament. We also read through hundreds of pages of documentation and other records, supplemented by publicly available information and interviews with independent experts and sources associated with the case. What emerges are the technical details, if not the motivation, of a devilishly clever and complicated computer infiltration.
The cellphone bugging began sometime during the fevered run-up to the August 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. It remained undetected until 24 January 2005, when one of Vodafone’s telephone switches generated a sequence of error messages indicating that text messages originating from another cellphone operator had gone undelivered. The switch is a computer-controlled component of a phone network that connects two telephone lines to complete a telephone call. To diagnose the failures, which seemed highly unusual but reasonably innocuous at the time, Vodafone contacted the maker of the switches, the Swedish telecommunications equipment manufacturer Ericsson.
We now know that the illegally implanted software, which was eventually found in a total of four of Vodafone’s Greek switches, created parallel streams of digitized voice for the tapped phone calls. One stream was the ordinary one, between the two calling parties. The other stream, an exact copy, was directed to other cellphones, allowing the tappers to listen in on the conversations on the cellphones, and probably also to record them. The software also routed location and other information about those phone calls to these shadow handsets via automated text messages.
Five weeks after the first messaging failures, on 4 March 2005, Ericsson alerted Vodafone that unauthorized software had been installed in two of Vodafone’s central offices. Three days later, Vodafone technicians isolated the rogue code. The next day, 8 March, the CEO of Vodafone Greece, Giorgos Koronias, ordered technicians to remove the software.
Then events took a deadly turn. On 9 March, Tsalikidis, who was to be married in three months, was found hanged in his apartment. No one knows whether his apparent suicide was related to the case, but many observers have speculated that it was.
The day after Tsalikidis’s body was discovered, CEO Koronias met with the director of the Greek prime minister’s political office. Yiannis Angelou, and the minister of public order, Giorgos Voulgarakis. Koronias told them that rogue software used the lawful wiretapping mechanisms of Vodafone’s digital switches to tap about 100 phones and handed over a list of bugged numbers. Besides the prime minister and his wife, phones belonging to the ministers of national defense, foreign affairs, and justice, the mayor of Athens, and the Greek European Union commissioner were all compromised. Others belonged to members of civil rights organizations, peace activists, and antiglobalization groups; senior staff at the ministries of National Defense, Public Order, Merchant Marine, and Foreign Affairs; the New Democracy ruling party; the Hellenic Navy general staff; and a Greek-American employee at the United States Embassy in Athens.
Within weeks of the initial discovery of the tapping scheme, Greek government and independent authorities launched five different investigations aimed at answering three main questions: Who was responsible for the bugging? Was Tsalikidis’s death related to the scandal? And how did the perpetrators pull off this audacious scheme?
To understand how someone could secretly listen to the conversations of Greece’s most senior officials, we have to look at the infrastructure that makes it possible.
First, consider how a phone call, yours or a prime minister’s, gets completed. Long before you dial a number on your handset, your cellphone has been communicating with nearby cellular base stations. One of those stations, usually the nearest, has agreed to be the intermediary between your phone and the network as a whole. Your telephone handset converts your words into a stream of digital data that is sent to a transceiver at the base station.
The base station’s activities are governed by a base station controller, a special-purpose computer within the station that allocates radio channels and helps coordinate handovers between the transceivers under its control.
This controller in turn communicates with a mobile switching center that takes phone calls and connects them to call recipients within the same switching center, other switching centers within the company, or special exchanges that act as gateways to foreign networks, routing calls to other telephone networks (mobile or landline). The mobile switching centers are particularly important to the Athens affair because they hosted the rogue phone-tapping software, and it is there that the eavesdropping originated. They were the logical choice, because they are at the heart of the network; the intruders needed to take over only a few of them in order to carry out their attack.
Both the base station controllers and the switching centers are built around a large computer, known as a switch, capable of creating a dedicated communications path between a phone within its network and, in principle, any other phone in the world. Switches are holdovers from the 1970s, an era when powerful computers filled rooms and were built around proprietary hardware and software. Though these computers are smaller nowadays, the system’s basic architecture remains largely unchanged.
Like most phone companies, Vodafone Greece uses the same kind of computer for both its mobile switching centers and its base station controllers—Ericsson’s AXE line of switches. A central processor coordinates the switch’s operations and directs the switch to set up a speech or data path from one phone to another and then routes a call through it. Logs of network activity and billing records are stored on disk by a separate unit, called a management processor.
The key to understanding the hack at the heart of the Athens affair is knowing how the Ericsson AXE allows lawful intercepts—what are popularly called “wiretaps.” Though the details differ from country to country, in Greece, as in most places, the process starts when a law enforcement official goes to a court and obtains a warrant, which is then presented to the phone company whose customer is to be tapped.
Illustration: Bryan Christie Design
Nowadays, all wiretaps are carried out at the central office. In AXE exchanges a remote-control equipment subsystem, or RES, carries out the phone tap by monitoring the speech and data streams of switched calls. It is a software subsystem typically used for setting up wiretaps, which only law officers are supposed to have access to. When the wiretapped phone makes a call, the RES copies the conversation into a second data stream and diverts that copy to a phone line used by law enforcement officials.
Ericsson optionally provides an interception management system (IMS), through which lawful call intercepts are set up and managed. When a court order is presented to the phone company, its operators initiate an intercept by filling out a dialog box in the IMS software. The optional IMS in the operator interface and the RES in the exchange each contain a list of wiretaps: wiretap requests in the case of the IMS, actual taps in the RES. Only IMS-initiated wiretaps should be active in the RES, so a wiretap in the RES without a request for a tap in the IMS is a pretty good indicator that an unauthorized tap has occurred. An audit procedure can be used to find any discrepancies between them.
It turns out Vodafone had not purchased the lawful intercept option at the time of the illegal wiretaps, and the IMS phone-tapping management software was not installed on Vodafone’s systems. But in early 2003, Vodafone technicians upgraded the Greek switches to release R9.1 of the AXE software suite. That upgrade included the RES software, according to a letter from Ericsson that accompanied the upgrade. So after the upgrade, the Vodafone system contained the software code necessary to intercept calls using the RES, even though it lacked the high-level user interface in the IMS normally used to facilitate such intercepts.
That odd circumstance would turn out to play a role in letting the Athens hackers illegally listen in on calls and yet escape detection for months and months.
It took guile and some serious programming chops to manipulate the lawful call-intercept functions in Vodafone’s mobile switching centers. The intruders’ task was particularly complicated because they needed to install and operate the wiretapping software on the exchanges without being detected by Vodafone or Ericsson system administrators. From time to time the intruders needed access to the rogue software to update the lists of monitored numbers and shadow phones. These activities had to be kept off all logs, while the software itself had to be invisible to the system administrators conducting routine maintenance activities. The intruders achieved all these objectives.
They took advantage of the fact that the AXE allows new software to be installed without rebooting the system, an important feature when any interruption would disconnect phone calls, lose text messages, and render emergency services unreachable. To let an AXE exchange run continuously for decades, as many of them do, Ericsson’s software uses several techniques for handling failures and upgrading an exchange’s software without suspending its operation. These techniques allow the direct patching of code loaded in the central processor, in effect altering the operating system on the fly.
Modern GSM systems, such as Vodafone’s, secure the wireless links with a sophisticated encryption mechanism. A call to another cellphone will be re-encrypted between the remote cellphone and its closest base station, but it is not protected while it transits the provider’s core network. For this reason—and for the ease of monitoring calls from the comfort of their lair—the perpetrators of the Vodafone wiretaps attacked the core switches of the Vodafone network. Encrypting communications from the start of the chain to its end—as banks, for example, do—makes it very difficult to implement legal wiretaps.
To simplify software maintenance, the AXE has detailed rules for directly patching software running on its central processor. The AXE’s existing code is structured around independent blocks, or program modules, which are stored in the central processor’s memory. The release being used in 2004 consisted of about 1760 blocks. Each contains a small “correction area,” used whenever software is updated with a patch.
Let’s say you’re patching in code to force the computer to do a new function, Z, in situations where it has been doing a different function, Y. So, for example, where the original software had an instruction, “If X, then do Y” the patched software says, in effect, “If X, then go to the correction area location L.” The software goes to location L and executes the instructions it finds there, that is, Z. In other words, a software patch works by replacing an instruction at the area of the code to be fixed with an instruction that diverts the program to a memory location in the correction area containing the new version of the code.
The challenge faced by the intruders was to use the RES’s capabilities to duplicate and divert the bits of a call stream without using the dialog-box interface to the IMS, which would create auditable logs of their activities. The intruders pulled this off by installing a series of patches to 29 separate blocks of code, according to Ericsson officials who testified before the Greek parliamentary committee that investigated the wiretaps. This rogue software modified the central processor’s software to directly initiate a wiretap, using the RES’s capabilities. Best of all, for them, the taps were not visible to the operators, because the IMS and its user interface weren’t used.
The full version of the software would have recorded the phone numbers being tapped in an official registry within the exchange. And, as we noted, an audit could then find a discrepancy between the numbers monitored by the exchange and the warrants active in the IMS. But the rogue software bypassed the IMS. Instead, it cleverly stored the bugged numbers in two data areas that were part of the rogue software’s own memory space, which was within the switch’s memory but isolated and not made known to the rest of the switch.
That by itself put the rogue software a long way toward escaping detection. But the perpetrators hid their own tracks in a number of other ways as well. There were a variety of circumstances by which Vodafone technicians could have discovered the alterations to the AXE’s software blocks. For example, they could have taken a listing of all the blocks, which would show all the active processes running within the AXE—similar to the task manager output in Microsoft Windows or the process status (ps) output in Unix. They then would have seen that some processes were active, though they shouldn’t have been. But the rogue software apparently modified the commands that list the active blocks in a way that omitted certain blocks—the ones that related to intercepts—from any such listing.
The rogue software stored bugged phone numbers in its own memory space.
In addition, the rogue software might have been discovered during a software upgrade or even when Vodafone technicians installed a minor patch. It is standard practice in the telecommunications industry for technicians to verify the existing block contents before performing an upgrade or patch. We don’t know why the rogue software was not detected in this way, but we suspect that the software also modified the operation of the command used to print the checksums—codes that create a kind of signature against which the integrity of the existing blocks can be validated. One way or another, the blocks appeared unaltered to the operators.
Finally, the software included a back door to allow the perpetrators to control it in the future. This, too, was cleverly constructed to avoid detection. A report by the Hellenic Authority for the Information and Communication Security and Privacy (the Greek abbreviation is ADAE) indicates that the rogue software modified the exchange’s command parser—a routine that accepts commands from a person with system administrator status—so that innocuous commands followed by six spaces would deactivate the exchange’s transaction log and the alarm associated with its deactivation, and allow the execution of commands associated with the lawful interception subsystem. In effect, it was a signal to allow operations associated with the wiretaps but leave no trace of them. It also added a new user name and password to the system, which could be used to obtain access to the exchange.
Software that not only alters operating system code but also hides its tracks is called a “rootkit.” The term is known to the public—if at all—because of one that the record label Sony BMG Music Entertainment included on some music CDs released in 2005. The Sony rootkit restricted copying of CDs; it burrowed into the Windows operating system on PCs and then hid its existence from the owner. (Sony stopped using rootkits because of a general public outcry.) Security experts have also discovered other rootkits for general-purpose operating systems, such as Linux, Windows, and Solaris, but to our knowledge this is the first time a rootkit has been observed on a special-purpose system, in this case an Ericsson telephone switch.
With all of this sophisticated subterfuge, how then was the rogue software finally discovered? On 24 January 2005, the perpetrators updated their planted software. That upgrade interfered with the forwarding of text messages, which went undelivered. These undelivered text messages, in turn, triggered an automated failure report.
At this point, the hackers’ abilities to keep their modifications to the switch’s AXE software suite secret met their limits, as it’s almost impossible to hide secrets in somebody else’s system.
The AXE, like most large software systems, logs all manner of network activity. System administrators can review the log files, and any events they can’t account for as ordinary usage can be investigated.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of logging. For example, in the 1986 Cuckoo’s Egg intrusion, the wily network administrator, Clifford Stoll, was asked to investigate a 75 U.S. cents accounting error. Stoll spent 10 months looking for the hacker, who had penetrated deep into the networks of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a U.S. nuclear weapons lab in California. Much of that time he spent poring over thousands of log report pages.
The AXE, like most sophisticated systems nowadays, can help operators find the nuggets of useful information within the voluminous logs it generates. It is programmed to report anomalous activity on its own, in the form of error or failure reports. In addition, at regular intervals the switching center generates a snapshot of itself—a copy, or dump, of all its programs and data.
Dumps are most commonly consulted for recovery and diagnostic purposes, but they can be used in security investigations. So when Ericsson’s investigators were called in because of the undelivered text messages, the first thing they did was look closely at the periodic dumps. They found two areas containing all the phone numbers being monitored and retrieved a list of them.
The investigators examined the dumps more thoroughly and found the rogue programs. What they found though, was in the form of executable code—in other words, code in the binary language that microprocessors directly execute. Executable code is what results when a software compiler turns source code—in the case of the AXE, programs written in the PLEX language—into the binary machine code that a computer processor executes. So the investigators painstakingly reconstructed an approximation of the original PLEX source files that the intruders developed. It turned out to be the equivalent of about 6500 lines of code, a surprisingly substantial piece of software.
The investigators ran the modules in simulated environments to better understand their behavior. The result of all this investigative effort was the discovery of the data areas holding the tapped numbers and the time stamps of recent intercepts.
With this information on hand, the investigators could go back and look at earlier dumps to establish the time interval during which the wiretaps were in effect and to get the full list of intercepted numbers and call data for the tapped conversations—who called whom, when, and for how long. (The actual conversations were not stored in the logs.)
While the hack was complex, the taps themselves were straightforward. When the prime minister, for example, initiated or received a call on his cellphone, the exchange would establish the same kind of connection used in a lawful wiretap—a connection to a shadow number allowing it to listen in on the conversation.
Creating the rogue software so that it would remain undetected required a lot of expertise in writing AXE code, an esoteric competency that isn’t readily available in most places. But as it happens, for the past 15 years, a considerable part of Ericsson’s software development for the AXE has been done under contract by a Greek company based in Athens, Intracom Telecom, part of Intracom Holdings. The necessary know-how was available locally and was spread over a large number of present and past Intracom developers. So could this have been an inside job?
The early stages of the infiltration would have been much easier to pull off with the assistance of someone inside Vodafone, but there is no conclusive evidence to support that scenario. The infiltration could have been carried out remotely and, indeed, according to a state report, in the case of the failed text messages where the exact time of the event is known, the last person to access the exchange had been issued a visitor’s badge.
Similarly, we may never know whether Tsalikidis had anything to do with the wiretaps. Many observers have found the timing of his death highly suggestive, but to this day no connection has been uncovered. Nor can observers do more than speculate as to the motives of the infiltrators. [See the sidebar, “An Inside Job?” for a summary of the leading speculation; we can neither endorse nor refute the theories presented.]
Just as we cannot now know for certain who was behind the Athens affair or what their motives were, we can only speculate about various approaches that the intruders may have followed to carry out their attack. That’s because key material has been lost or was never collected. For instance, in July 2005, while the investigation was taking place, Vodafone upgraded two of the three servers used for accessing the exchange management system. This upgrade wiped out the access logs and, contrary to company policy, no backups were retained. Some time later a six-month retention period for visitor sign-in books lapsed, and Vodafone destroyed the books corresponding to the period where the rogue software was modified, triggering the text-message errors.
Traces of the rogue software installation might have been recorded on the exchange’s transaction logs. However, due to a paucity of storage space in the exchange’s management systems, the logs were retained for only five days, because Vodafone considers billing data, which competes for the same space, a lot more important. Most crucially, Vodafone’s deactivation of the rogue software on 7 March 2005 almost certainly alerted the conspirators, giving them a chance to switch off the shadow phones. As a result investigators missed the opportunity of triangulating the location of the shadow phones and catching the perpetrators in the act.
So what can this affair teach us about how to protect phone networks?
Once the infiltration was discovered, Vodafone had to balance the need for the continued operation of the network with the discovery and prosecution of the guilty parties. Unfortunately, the responses of Vodafone and that of Greek law enforcement were both inadequate. Through Vodafone’s actions, critical data were lost or destroyed, while the perpetrators not only received a warning that their scheme had been discovered but also had sufficient time to disappear.
In the telecommunications industry, prevailing best practices require that the operator’s policies include procedures for responding to an infiltration, such as a virus attack: retain all data, isolate the part of the system that’s been broken into as much as possible, coordinate activities with law enforcement.
Greek federal telecom regulations also specify that operators have security policies that detail the measures they will take to ensure the confidentiality of customer communications and the privacy of network users. However, Vodafone’s response indicates that such policies, if they existed, were ignored. If not for press conferences and public investigations, law enforcement could have watched the behavior of the shadow cellphones surreptitiously. Physical logbooks of visitors were lost and data logs were destroyed. In addition, neither law enforcement authorities nor the ADAE, the independent security and privacy authority, was contacted directly. Instead, Vodafone Greece communicated through a political channel—the prime minister’s office. It should be noted the ADAE was a fairly new organization at the time, formed in 2003.
The response of Greek law enforcement officials also left a lot to be desired. Police could have secured evidence by impounding all of Vodafone’s telecommunications and computer equipment involved in the incident. Instead it appears that concerns about disruption to the operation of the mobile telephone network led the authorities to take a more light-handed approach—essentially interviewing employees and collecting information provided by Vodafone—that ultimately led to the loss of forensic evidence. They eventually started leveling accusations at both the operator (Vodafone) and the vendor (Ericsson), turning the victims into defendants and losing their good will, which further hampered their investigation.
Of course, in countries where such high-tech crimes are rare, it is unreasonable to expect to find a crack team of investigators. Could a rapid deployment force be set up to handle such high-profile and highly technical incidents? We’d like to see the international police organization Interpol create a cyberforensics response team that countries could call on to handle such incidents.
Physical logbooks of visitors were lost and data logs were destroyed.
Telephone exchanges have evolved over the decades into software-based systems, and therefore the task of analyzing them for vulnerabilities has become very difficult. Even as new software features, such as conferencing, number portability, and caller identification, have been loaded onto the exchanges, the old software remains in place. Complex interactions between subsystems and baroque coding styles (some of them remnants of programs written 20 or 30 years ago) confound developers and auditors alike.
Yet an effective defense against viruses, worms, and rootkits depends crucially on in-depth analysis that can penetrate source code in all its baroque heterogeneity. For example, a statistical analysis of the call logs might have revealed a correlation between the calls to the shadow numbers and calls to the monitored numbers. Telephone companies already carry out extensive analysis on these sorts of data to spot customer trends. But from the security perspective, this analysis is done for the wrong reasons and by the wrong people—marketing as opposed to security. By training security personnel to use these tools and allowing them access to these data, customer trend analysis can become an effective countermeasure against rogue software.
Additional clues could be uncovered by merging call records generated by the exchange with billing and accounting information. Doing so, though, involves consolidating distinct data sets currently owned by different entities within the telecom organization.
Another defense is regular auditing of the type that allowed Ericsson to discover the rogue software by scrutinizing the off-line dumps. However, in this case, as well as in the data analysis case, we have to be sure that any rogue software cannot modify the information stored in the logs or the dumps, such as by using a separate monitoring computer running its own software.
Digital systems generate enormous volumes of information. Ericsson and Vodafone Greece had at their fingertips all the information they needed to discover the penetration of Vodafone’s network long before an undelivered text message sent them looking. As in other industries, the challenge now is to come up with ways to use this information. If one company’s technicians and one country’s police force cannot meet this challenge, a response team that can needs to be created.
It is particularly important not to turn the investigation into a witch hunt. Especially in cases where the perpetrators are unlikely to be identified, it is often politically expedient to use the telecom operator as a convenient scapegoat. This only encourages operators and their employees to brush incidents under the carpet, and turns them into adversaries of law enforcement. Rather than looking for someone to blame (and punish), it is far better to determine exactly what went wrong and how it can be fixed, not only for that particular operator, but for the industry as a whole.
Merely saying—or even legislating—that system vendors and network operators should not allow something like this to occur is pointless, because there is little that can be done to these companies after the fact. Instead, proactive measures should be taken to ensure that such systems are developed and operated safely. Perhaps we can borrow a few pages from aviation safety, where both aircraft manufacturers and airline companies are closely monitored by national and international agencies to ensure the safety of airline passengers.
About the Authors
VASSILIS PREVELAKIS, an IEEE member, is an assistant professor of computer science at Drexel University, in Philadelphia. His current research is on automation network security and secure software design. He has published widely in these areas and is actively involved in standards bodies such as the Internet Engineering Task Force.
DIOMIDIS SPINELLIS, an IEEE member, is an associate professor in the department of management science and technology at the Athens University of Economics and Business and the author of Code Quality: The Open Source Perspective (Addison-Wesley, 2006). He blogs at http://www.spinellis.gr/blog.
To Probe Further
The Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_telephone_tapping_case_2004-2005 contains additional links to press stories and background material.
Ericsson’s Interception Management System user manual (marked confidential) is available on the Web through a Google search: http://www.google.com/search?q=IMS+ericsson+manual or at http://cryptome.org/ericsson-ims.htm.
Documentary series “Cover, Scandals with the Servant” – watch the schedule of broadcasting on TV channels on Online TV NTV-PLUS
One quick glance, and the cover of the magazine takes you to another era, involves you in some events. It seems to open the door to human drama or the secrets of history.
At the end of the 60s, a spectacular photograph of the “Soviet Twiggy” – the fashion model Galina Milovskaya – appeared in Vogue magazine. The beauty was sitting in a trouser suit on the paving stones of Red Square, her back to the Kremlin wall, her long legs spread wide. .. It would seem that Galina was lucky – the whole world recognized her. But this photo broke her destiny. As soon as the photo was reprinted by the magazine America, published in the USSR, Milovskaya was accused of dishonoring the country: she sits in an inappropriate position with her back to the Kremlin, almost on the ashes of Stalin! “You would have walked naked across Red Square!” – the Deputy Minister of Light Industry of the USSR shouted at the girl. Milovskaya was expelled from the country. How was her future life?
Nikita Khrushchev has appeared on the cover of TIME magazine 12 times.A photo collage was made for his first visit to the United States. But even he could not fully reflect the multifaceted nature of the Soviet leader: Khrushchev taught the Americans to plant corn, became indignant at the cancan, refused to kiss Marilyn Monroe and opposed the exquisite Jacqueline Kennedy with his first lady, who looked like a housekeeper …
And why did Michael Jackson appear on the cover of a magazine in Soviet military uniform, and even commanding some kind of parade? It turned out that the world pop idol came to Moscow in 1993 with one dream – to greet Muscovites from the rostrum of the Mausoleum together with Yeltsin. Celebrities could not refuse – and they staged a parade, but in the Taman division. Millions of fans dreamed of hearing Michael Jackson, seeing the famous “moonwalk”, but due to various intrigues, the idol’s performance in Moscow was practically disrupted.
Russian soldier in Muslim clothes … Alexey Olenin repeated the fate of the hero of the film “Muslim”. He survived the horrors of Afghan captivity, was forced to convert to Islam and marry a local girl. How does the hero of this picture live after returning home, where his new life and Afghan family are not accepted by his relatives and friends?
Haute couture: a 17-year-old schoolgirl from Russia dreamed of conquering the Parisian catwalk.Here’s what came of it
- Alina Isachenko
Photo author, Direct Scouting
Every year thousands of models come to Paris Fashion Week. They are driven by a single goal: to walk the catwalk at the show of a famous designer.
“I’m looking for the ideal”
Every minute at the Louvre-Rivoli metro station in Paris you can meet a long-legged girl with a heavy bag.
A few steps from the station, in a semi-basement damp room, casting for Fashion Week is taking place.
One of the most difficult tests at Fashion Week – standing in long lines at the auditions.
Skinny, shivering from the cold models, each at least 175 centimeters, crowd in front of a closed iron door. They are wearing only tight jeans and thin tank tops with straps, their faces – a mixture of confusion and hope. Each compositor holds a card with a photo and model parameters.
Among them – 17-year-old Anna Vasilyeva from Nizhny Novgorod. For her, as well as for others, the path to the coveted podium begins with an endless queue.
Casting Director Michelle Mode has to select 30 models for her show. In less than an hour, she watched 250 girls, but she was unhappy with the result.
“I’m looking for perfect models,” the casting director decisively declares. “Perfect body, perfect skin, perfect gait – not for life, but for the catwalk – that’s what I need.”
All day long Anya disappears at castings, which end closer to the night.
From the room is heard: “Next”!
Anya disappears behind the door, from behind which only the clatter of heels is heard. But a moment later he returns, quickly changes shoes into boots and runs out into the street.
The casting, which Anya patiently waited for an hour, lasted only ten seconds for her. Today she needs to defend in nine more such lines.
I carefully ask Michelle what was wrong with Anya.
The casting director gives me a condescending look and quickly says: “Do you want me to tell you? Okay. The body is imperfect. The legs are imperfect. And I need the girls taller.”
Buckwheat and podium
17-year-old Anya flew to France with a package of buckwheat and a firm intention to enter the major league of the modeling business.
She dreams of taking part in the fashion show of her favorite brand, Saint Laurent.
As a child, Anya went to a regular school and was engaged in water polo.From a long stay in the water, she often hurt, and had to quit polo. After some time, she took up oriental dances, but this lesson did not fascinate me too much.
Photo author, Direct Scouting, Anya Vasilyeva’s archive
Working as a model not only allows you to travel, but also gives you the opportunity to live life more interesting than in Russia, says Anya
Therefore, when Anya received an offer to work as a model abroad , agreed without much hesitation.
“A scout from a modeling agency in Nizhny Novgorod wrote to me on Vkontakte,” Anya recalls.“She was interested in my photos, and my mother and I were invited for an interview.”
Fashion experts liked young Anya, and a month later she received a plane ticket and an invitation to work in South Korea. The parents were very worried, but the director of the agency and my booker Ravida talked with them for a long time, explaining that it was completely safe. Once a 12-year-old girl was sent to work, so my case was not unique, “says Anya.
For three years she has visited five countries. Working as a model allows you not only to travel, but also gives you the opportunity to live your life more interesting than in Russia, says Anya.
In parallel with her travels, Anya is finishing 11th grade. Like many of her peers, she sees no reason to continue her studies in her hometown, where there are too few prospects for the future.
Photo author, Getty Images
According to fashion industry expert Eric Dubois, the secret of a model’s success is not in looks, but in self-confidence
“I dream of going to Parsons School of Design in New York.But it is very expensive, there are no free courses there, “says Anya.
The path to the desired goal begins with an empty and cold Parisian apartment provided by the agency, in which Anya is forced to share shelter with other models like her.
Six hungry, constantly chilly girls share the only shower and toilet. The kitchen shelves and the refrigerator are empty. There are no mugs, and the girls have to drink tea from deep plates.
Scanty furnishings, bare walls and a lonely electric lamp in Anya’s room evoke melancholy.
There are no cups in Anya’s “model apartment”, she has to drink tea from deep bowls.
The worst thing for every girl is to remain unselected. Unworthy podium. To be the worst of all. Stay at home alone when others shine in the glory at the show of the famous designer’s collection.
Each of them is afraid of such a denouement, but is silent about it.
“An extra centimeter on the reputation”
Like thousands of other models in Paris, Anya is completely dependent on her modeling agency.
The agency pays for air tickets, housing, gives out pocket money and is looking for work.
All expenses, including printed portfolio photos and catwalk lessons, are deducted from the model’s future earnings.
The setting in a modeling agency is like a stock exchange.
The competition begins with a modeling agency.
At a long table, ten people endlessly call on the phone and loudly discuss something among themselves.The girls who do not know the language shudder when they hear their name in a long stream of French speech. At the same time, the participants in the conversation do not even look in their direction.
The walls in the office are densely hung with photographs of models. Nearly every photo is marked with IN – “in the city”. Every girl knows that in the event of a casting fiasco, an ominous OUT sign will appear under her photograph.
The office is saturated with indifference to the models themselves.
Every girl knows that in the event of a fiasco at the casting, an ominous inscription OUT will appear under her photograph.
The girls themselves feel this.Their more experienced colleagues are not embarrassed by this attitude: they imposingly enter the office, chirp friendly with bookers and go to smoke with them, while young job seekers shyly wait for someone to pay attention to them.
Anya is here to go through the weekly measurement of parameters and get some pocket money for the week. Most of those present do not seem to notice her presence, continuing to go about their business.
Every Monday an employee of the agency Tatiana measures the model’s chest, hips and waist with a centimeter.Measurement is not a whim of the agency, but a kind of aptitude test.
“I am almost their age, but I feel like their mother,” says 19-year-old Tanya, who came to Paris from Ukraine. “When they have no work, they come to me. When they do not have castings, they come to me again. These girls are just kids, I really care about them. ”
“The main thing in this business is narrow hips. They should not be wider than 89 centimeters, otherwise the girl runs the risk of leaving Paris without work,” explains Tanya.
“If the customer finds an extra centimeter, the girl will be kicked out, and they will stop working with us,” she adds.
In the morning, Anya ate two apples and an omelet. Now she is worried that she will not fit into the required parameters.
Measurement of model parameters
Survive 80 euros
Every week Anya receives 80 euros of pocket money.
About 30 euros is spent on a travel card, 50 is left for food and mobile phone bills (about seven euros per day).
Anya’s expenses for a week in Paris
When asked how to survive on such an amount, agency workers shrug their shoulders and advise to ask the models themselves.
“You need to buy food in a cheap supermarket, cook at home. Restaurants? – Anya grins sadly. – This is out of the question.”
Buckwheat, dry noodles and honey – the minimum survival kit in Paris
For most models, the only way not to stay hungry in Paris is to bring food with you.This is exactly what Anya did. Half of her large travel bag was occupied by food: oatmeal, buckwheat, tea, pasta – the minimum set for survival in the French capital.
“Thank you, bye”
In February, in Paris, nothing reminds of the existing image of the city of lovers. A chilly wind from the Atlantic carries fine icy drops. Hands freeze from the cold.
The weather does not affect Anya’s determination in any way. On the route laid out in the phone, she diligently goes to the next casting.
“I am almost their age, but I feel like their mother. These girls are just children, I am very worried about them,” says Tatiana, an employee of the modeling agency.
Finding the required address in the maze of Parisian streets is not easy. Finally she knocks on the right door.
It is lively in a warm room. Several makeup artists surround the model, who can hardly contain her emotions – she has just been selected from hundreds of applicants for a runway makeup test.
There is no usual line of models, this gives Anya confidence.With a smile, she steps towards the designer.
“If asked to try on clothes, I will have time to warm up,” she says to herself.
Without really looking at Anya, the designer throws her: “Thank you, bye”.
“Apparently, I didn’t like it,” she tells me with doom in her voice, casting a quick glance at the wall hung with pictures.
In the photographs, faces are familiar to Anya: neighbors in a model apartment. “Perhaps they will be invited to a fitting. They have a chance to participate in the show,” Anya says cautiously as she runs back into the cold Parisian February.
Only thinness for sale
On Rue Pontu, two middle-aged Frenchmen have been trying to predict the future for the last 30 years.
The co-founders of the Silent modeling agency, Vincent Peter and Eric Dubois, introduce new faces from all over the world to the discerning Parisian client every year. They believe they can predict the trend, and they know what will “shoot” next year.
Photo author, Direct Scouting
“The task of the model is to show clothes in the most attractive way.To do this, you have to be thin and long “, – says Vincent Peter, co-founder of the agency SILENT MODELS
Eric is convinced that the key to success at Paris Fashion Week lies in the strength of the model’s character:” You need to radiate self-confidence. The way you hold a cigarette, your posture, gait, look – no one should admit the thought that behind a flashy appearance a fragile and insecure girl can be hidden. “
According to Vincent, the fashion market is open only for slim and tall : “The task of the model is to show the clothes in the most attractive way.To do this, you have to be thin and long. “
Can plus-size girls be as successful on the podium?
” I doubt it, “Vincent shakes his head. plus size. To win a medal, an athlete must be tall and slender. It’s the same in the fashion industry, “he adds.
” This is a modeling business “
” When you come to Paris, you think – now I’ll go to the casting and everyone will like it, “says Anya.
“But you come to the first, second, tenth selection, and they don’t notice you. Self-esteem falls, you start to doubt yourself,” she adds.
Anya continues to go to all auditions just as diligently, which is getting smaller every day. She begins to realize that the moment seems to be lost, and this holiday is not for her.
None of Anya’s neighbors in the “model apartment” managed to perform at the show.
None of Anya’s flatmates were able to perform at Fashion Week
The small kitchen, where they used to cook together and discuss their plans, is now empty and quiet.The girls went to their rooms.
In a cold, semi-dark corridor, I meet 17-year-old Alice. When asked how she’s doing, she shrugs vaguely.
“A casting director should wake up in a good mood, have a cup of delicious coffee. If you catch your eye at the right time, be lucky,” says Alice. – It’s a shame, because your efforts remain underestimated, but this is life. This is a modeling business. “
” Make a showroom and go home, finish school.And then – I don’t know yet how the card will go “, – Alice answers indifferently.
Dummy in the showroom
For a couple of weeks spent in Paris, Anya’s debt to the agency reached two thousand euros.
” You come to the first, second, tenth selection, and they don’t notice you. Self-esteem falls, you start to doubt yourself “
To pay off debts, Anya is forced to work as a” hanger in a store “- this is how she describes a working day in a showroom.
” You come, try on clothes, show them to customers.You walk between the tables, they look at you, sometimes they can touch you, “she says. up to 300 outfits Her job is to stand still and turn around on command
It is strictly forbidden to speak, ask questions.You must constantly smile and pretend to be interested in what is happening, otherwise a fastidious buyer may complain about an overly “phlegmatic” model.
According to Ani, the hardest part of work is boredom. Indifference of others. You are selling clothes from the show that you dreamed of getting to. But I ended up here, between clothes hangers and bored customers.
Anya will not earn anything
For models, success at Fashion Week is determined by the number of shows. For the agency – the amount of money earned from these impressions.
Manager Roman from Anya’s agency is dissatisfied with the results: “We earned about 100 thousand euros, it could have been more.”
I carefully ask if Anya will earn anything on this trip.
The novel, who has been working in this industry for 20 years, does not have particularly tender feelings for the modeling business: “Excuse my French, but modeling agencies are complete assholes. The girl comes, works, and in the end the agency takes everything for herself.”
“Most likely, Anya will not earn anything. And I assure you, she is not the only one like that,” he sums up.
However, the fate of Anya, like a dozen other models that did not succeed at Fashion Week, does not care much for Roman.
Having already forgotten about Anya, he proudly tells me about an albino girl who has become the star of the Paris catwalk this season and will now be able to bring considerable profit to the agency.
Anya will be sent home in just a couple of days.
Tit in hands
The last time I meet with Anya is late Monday night. For a long time they do not let her work, I wait under the windows of the showroom for several hours.
“I was very tired, after lunch I didn’t even have time to sit down, I changed my clothes an unimaginable number of times,” says Anya.“But they fed deliciously.” This advertisement hangs on the front of a store in the heart of the city. So I also have something to be proud of. “
On the way to the” model apartment “Anya tells me that the director of the agency forbade giving out pocket money to models who performed poorly at fashion week.
” Some girls have five euros left in their pockets, they you need to look for options on how to feed yourself, “Anya shrugs.
However, after a couple of days, yielding to the pressure of model agents, the director of Anya’s agency will nevertheless agree to give the girls some pocket money – but no more than 40 euros each.
At the exit from the metro, Anya notices a lonely advertising sign – in the light of the night lights, a girl is posing for an advertisement for Chanel perfume.
“It would be great to be in her place one day,” Anya says with fragile hope in her voice.
“In Nizhny I was shot to advertise a fashionable shopping center.This advertisement hangs on the front of a store in the heart of the city. So I also have something to be proud of, “she smiles.
The audio version of the material in English can be listened to at this link.
A week and a half before the Russian-American summit in Geneva at the highest level, Vladimir Putin talks about where the United States is going and can come. “What is the problem with empires? They think they are so powerful that they can afford small errors and mistakes.We will buy these, we will scare these, we will come to an agreement with these, we will give beads with this, we will threaten them with warships. And that will solve the problem. But the number of problems is growing. There comes a time when you can no longer cope with them. And the United States, with a confident gait, a confident gait, a firm step, is walking straight along the path of the Soviet Union. “
What are the moods in America itself on the eve of the Russian-American summit?
Almost two weeks before the meeting in Geneva, and anxiety is growing in the White House pool, which he shares with Press Secretary Jen Psaki.Will Joe Biden pass before Vladimir Putin? Will it give itself to be overplayed?
“President Biden, as you know, has interacted with President Putin in the past. He has always acted decisively, especially on issues of concern to him, in areas where he feels the actions of the Russian leadership harm the interests of the United States. President Biden , of course, he will act decisively at this meeting too, “Psaki assured.
There are many problems. Rake and rake.Sixty-three former American military leaders give Biden another topic. In an open letter posted on the Council for a Sustainable Peace website, they urge the US President to slow down the development of missile defense: “It is possible to stop the ongoing arms race between the US missile defense system and new systems being developed by Russia and China to overcome American defenses.”
Whether Biden listens or shrugs it off, he alone knows. It also depends on the changeable mood, as happened the day before in Delaware, where the US President first literally avoided the question, and then literally returned to it.
Dr. Anthony Fauci (by the way, the highest paid American official from among those who are not elected, with a salary of under half a million dollars a year) during the pandemic became the chief specialist on coronavirus in the United States. Now he is at the center of a scandal. Published emails indicate that Fauci, despite warnings from colleagues, from the beginning brushed off the laboratory version of the origin of covid.
“The emails paint a disturbing picture of how Dr. Fauci worried from the start that he was funding research on amplified mutation.Fauci knows this today, but he never admitted it, “said Senator Rand Paul.
One of those who argued with Fauci was the then head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield. “I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan is a laboratory leak. Others don’t believe it. It’s okay, science will figure it out eventually,” Redfield said.
He had to resign. The scientific world crushed with authority. The letter, which was signed by 27 prominent scientists and published by the respectable edition of the Lancet, said: the opinion that the virus could escape from the laboratory can only be shared by obscurantists.The famous British virologist Peter Dassak collected signatures.
“The emails show that Peter Dasszak carefully selected other signatures for the letter to The Lancet to keep his apparently disqualifying conflict of interest a secret. At one point, Dasszak wrote to another scientist, Ralph Barick, who was also working in China to get the new features. , with a request not to sign the letter, “write the American media.
39 million dollars for research, which were carried out in the Wuhan laboratory, supervised by the nongovernmental organization EcoHealth Alliance (she was led by Dassak) received from the Pentagon.Back in April, Republican congressmen compiled a list of 34 questions to which Daszak has not yet answered. Well, as usual, everything is clear to Donald Trump. He attacks both strangers (demanding that Beijing pay the United States and the world $ 10 trillion in compensation for the pandemic), and his own – on social networks. On Facebook and Instagram, Trump remains banned for another two years. Last time, it was the activity on the Internet that helped Trump get into the White House. Now, on Twitter, messages with his statement are published by strangers, but people who sympathize with Trump.He can’t be on Twitter either.
Accounts on YouTube, Snapchat, Twitch and other platforms remain inaccessible to the former US President. His own website is said to have taken off, too. The resource called “From Donald Trump’s Desk” was closed by Trump’s order less than a month after the start of work, so as not to disgrace due to the small number of subscribers.
90,000 Brigitte Bardot and the scandal that made Saint-Tropez famous
“The most beautiful woman in the world” may have decided to leave the spotlight in 1973, at the height of her fame and beauty, to devote her life to animals, but Brigitte Bardot never stopped to be an iconic figure on the French Riviera….
Unlike other on-screen goddesses of the time, such as Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot was not a working-class girl. She came from a very bourgeois, devout Catholic family, living in a seven-bedroom apartment in the chic 16th arrondissement of Paris, not far from the Eiffel Tower.
Studying ballet for three years from 13 at the Paris Conservatory (her dance colleague, Leslie Caron, was later selected by Gene Kelly to play alongside him in the Technicolor masterpiece. American in Paris ), she developed an elegant poise and gait that soon captivated the world.
In March 1950, at the age of 15, Brigitte Bardot appeared on the cover of a magazine. it is log, and the axis of the earth has shifted. It was the epitome of grace and style. She was modest, Catholic, she had a full figure, but still her body was fit and strong; athlete’s physique, shaped by intense sessions antrehi . She was wearing cotton dresses without a corset without intricate lining and bikinis with bright patterns.
With Françoise Sagan, who wrote the best-selling Bonjour Tristesse at 17, she shared a cheeky smile, smart look and barefoot summer in Saint-Tropez. They were the flamboyant child prodigies of France. After Bardo’s early “departure” from the cinema, Sagan wrote a book about her in 1975, both a celebration and a panegyric: “Bardo did not apologize for her absolute triumph, while many others apologized for their halves.”
Actors Alain Delon and Brigitte Bardot at dinner in Saint-Tropez
Innocent Jeune Fille has become a sex symbol in just a few years.In 1957, at the age of 23, she made film history in And God Made Woman , her husband Roger Vadim’s seminal film, in which her explosive sensuality is as graceful as ever and never obscene. In a famous scene, she dances barefoot, as if in a trance, her skin glows with sweat, her body is tanned in good shape, and her hair is loose and loose.
She was so far removed from the neat and constructed image of Hollywood stars of the day that when the film was released in America, it caused outrage on a continental scale.Seeing these pearls of sweat made American men go berserk. Filmmakers who dared to show such a film were prosecuted, the film was banned in some states, and the viciousness of it all was denounced in newspaper articles. As a result, the film was even more successful at the box office, and the furor returned to Europe.
“Pan Bardo!” defended the morality league as if she were an illegal drug. In fact, Bardo’s appeal is unlike anything else.Based on her incredible beauty, her combination of insatiable sensuality and great style, she has captivated at least two generations with her lifestyle. Indeed, in her personal life, Bardo behaved like a man. She had no limits; she felt alienated from convention. She was neither a wife nor a mother. She tried both, was married four times, gave birth to a child and decided that she was not fit for this.
She showed no rebellion, she was just herself. In the 50s, 15 years before events In May 1968, this behavior was both a scandal and a secret aspiration of many other women.In a study by Bardot published in 1959, another French woman who lived outside the bourgeois tradition, Simone de Beauvoir, recognized Bardot as “absolute freedom.” Her lifestyle has become a philosophical manifesto for many fans.
Brigitte Bardot often sunbathed topless in Saint-Tropez
Serial biographer Marie-Dominique Lelievre says that of all the stars she turned her attention to, from Yves Saint Laurent to Coco Chanel through Serge Gainsbourg and Françoise Sagan, Bardot is the most difficult the person she encountered, her celebrity worked as a smokescreen….
“She is the first woman to publicly demonstrate her sexual freedom,” Lelievre said. “Before Bardo, a woman who changes her lover at the slightest whim was called a bitch, a bitch. salope . After the Bardo, such a woman was seen simply as issued by . Unlike Hollywood actresses playing by the rules, Bardot has set her own. She attracted women who wanted to do what she did and men who just wanted her. ”
Brigitte Bardot helped make Saint-Tropez a popular tourist destination
Unfortunately, Brigitte Bardot had a tumultuous personal life of unsuccessful marriages, depression and suicide attempts.She hated general attention and, after being surrounded by fans while shopping in Saint-Tropez, she stepped back from the public eye at the height of her career, no longer wanting to be famous. Despite this, Bardo remains an icon today.
Statue of Brigitte Bardot on the square in Saint-Tropez
Her parents already had a house in Saint-Tropez, and in 1958 Brigitte Bardot bought an estate next to the farm where she still lives: Madrag. Since then, she has become a relative recluse, advocating only for animal rights.
Bardot is rarely seen in Saint-Tropez these days, but many celebrities have taken her place, enjoying wild champagne splash parties and sunbathing on the beach, where young Brigitte Bardot once posed for cameras and changed the Riviera forever.
Can’t get enough of Brigitte Bardot? We can’t either! Here is her life story to satisfy your desires:
base model position and turns
Each model should have a beautiful and graceful gait, because no matter how attractive the face is, and no matter how sexy the figure is, a sloppy gait can ruin the whole first impression.
Of course, the ability to walk femininely is useful for any girl and woman, but for a model it is a very necessary and important “accessory” that can reveal her individuality and give a ticket to the world of haute couture.
Having once excellently defiled at one minor show, you can immediately expect new offers, because if you are the best at the catwalk, for fashion designers it becomes completely unimportant how you look. Learning to do this is not so difficult, but it still requires certain skills and time.
Previously, the film stars of the time were an example to follow. Their graceful and feminine gait drove all men crazy.
The unsurpassed Mereline Monroe also had this skill. However, later the girls chose a new ideal for themselves – a model, and to this day, the catwalk gait of the model is an example to follow.
Irina Shayk at the 2015 show
Define the style
As you know, each designer has personal preferences about models and their gait, so you should choose either a universal one, or train until the most basic and common types of fashion shows are obtained.
For example, the famous fashion house Louis Vuitton selects for its shows only those models that are able to defile without moving their eyes
The models seem to walk exactly along the line, fixing their hands in a certain position, while keeping focused and noble. In narrow circles, this type of defile is called classic and it is mainly taught.
There is another look that can be found at Versace shows or, for example, Victoria’s Secret.This is a freer and even more expressive style of defile, which is characterized by a smooth gait, not fixed hands, as well as active hips, which visually outline the figure 8.
The designers chose just such a fashion show to show all the lightness and ease of the image and focus on the new collection and its features.
Basic rules for a perfect catwalk
A home workout will require a lot of space, such as a long hallway with a large full-length mirror at the end.It is very difficult to learn the perfect fashion show without a mirror, because you need to see your shortcomings and know what exactly needs to be corrected.
It is advisable to train in tight-fitting clothes, black leggings and an ordinary T-shirt, as well as in shoes with medium heels (about 7 cm), are ideal.
Do not put on high-heeled shoes right away, because inexperience will be very dangerous.
First, you should mentally draw a straight line and strictly follow it.The most important thing in any fashion show, regardless of its style, is an even posture: the back should be straight, the shoulders should be lowered, and the crown of the head should stretch slightly upward.
You can check whether your posture is even by standing against the wall, while the heels, buttocks, shoulder blades and head should touch it, having fixed in this position, you need to train to walk in a straight line, and then on the world podium. At first it may seem that it is difficult and inconvenient, but after practicing for at least 10-20 minutes a day you can get used to this position and believe me, you will not be able to return to the stoop and you will not want to.
Another common problem for beginner models is the position of the foot. Many do not attach much importance to this, but it is the direction of the foot that is a very important nuance during an ideal gait. Each step must begin with the toe, and they should be slightly turned in opposite directions, while the heels should go along the same imaginary line one after the other.
The stride length is also quite an important feature, it should not be too wide, ideally – the stride is equal to the length of the foot.
Hands should not be too tense, let alone bend at the elbow. In a classic fashion show, hands swing loosely behind the back.
Also, you should always remember three cherished rules that will help you walk perfectly on the podium.
- go tediously strictly along a straight line;
- step must start from the toe;
- at the end of the runway, it is imperative to stop for exactly three seconds to give photographers the opportunity to capture a fashionable look.
These rules were unrivaled, and to this day no one has challenged them.
The stop at the end of the podium may vary. The position of the hands depends only on your imagination or the wishes of the designer, but there are two types of fixation of the legs: classic and standard.
Classic looks like this:
The left supporting leg is straight, and the right leg is slightly bent at the knee, placed in front of the left. This position is mainly used for dress and lingerie displays.
At standard position
right and left legs are parallel to each other, one of which is the support leg. During the show, during this position, you can change the supporting leg, thereby moving the hips from one side to the other.
Of course, an even posture, the position of the foot and the posture at the end of the podium are important, but muscles play an important role in the ability to correctly defile. You need to keep your body in shape and exercise regularly.
An excellent example for many novice models can be a beauty who, thanks to swimming and cycling, was able to become a real queen of the podium, and then the highest paid model of our time.
You also need to remember that not all models were born with the skill to skillfully defile on the catwalk. Even the most famous models had gaps during the show. The main thing is not to withdraw into yourself after an unsuccessful attempt, but treats everything with a smile and if some doors close, then knock on others.
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Charity is the most popular activity among models, and, to their credit, their influence helps to make life easier for people from all over the world.Coco Rocha works with Senhoa, a charity that advocates for the rights of Cambodians. She donates the proceeds from the sale of her Coco Rocha for Senhoa jewelry to charity.
Natalia Vodianova, founded her own Naked Heart Foundation, went even further. The Foundation finances the construction of playgrounds in Russia and abroad. He already has more than 100 playgrounds and parks, including for children with mental disabilities.
But some models outside the catwalk have quite real and, moreover, very difficult professions.Amanda Murphy is an American top model, a favorite of Miucci Prada and … a technologist at the Department of Radiology. Shooting in advertising does not prevent her from giving up to work 4 days a week, and if her career in the industry comes to an end, she will continue to develop in medicine, since she considers the profession she has received to be her main achievement.
And Karlie Kloss graduated from a two-week programming course at Flatiron School a few years ago, and was so successful in this that she decided to make full-fledged courses for girls out of her hobby.
However, Lindsey Scott excelled at programming much more. She not only graces the runways of Victoria’s Secret and Prada, but also holds a degree in computer science from Amherst College. Lindsay combined her programming skills with modeling to create an app called iPort, which is a virtual portfolio of the model.
Models often walk from the catwalk to the big screen, but not everyone manages to get really good roles.So, Brooke Shields after “Blue Lagoon” for a long time stuck in very mediocre films and TV shows. But Mile Jovovich and Cameron Diaz were much more fortunate. Many do not even suspect that their career began with magazine covers. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Lily Cole today also conquer the Hollywood Olympus not without success, but their best roles are obviously still ahead.
e, at the level with the appearance, the gait of the model is estimated. The model’s gait will determine her future career.
Walking on the catwalk is most of all paid attention to in modeling schools, it is there that girls are forced to walk in high heels on the drawn lines and constantly smile.
There are several types of gaits on the podium and all of them are used by different TOP models, the main thing is to bring your skills to perfection.
More than a hundred years ago, in 1910, the designer Paul Poiret was the first to talk about the gait of models, as he invented a dress that was very narrow and could not be shown in the usual walking way.
The designer explained to the models how they should move and called this gait Humpelrock (lame skirt). Despite the fact that the fashion for such tight dresses and skirts has long passed, the gait is still often used by models.
There are 4 main types of gait that models use most often: Criss-cross, like heron, clubfoot and classic. Each gait has its own unique characteristics.
Every gait is based on an even posture, because how straight the model holds the back will affect how it walks.
The secret of the classic gait lies in the legs. The model should keep the leg straight and only when it touches the floor to relax the muscles and bend the knee.
If the model, moving on the catwalk, puts the socks too close to each other, this gait seems to be clubfoot and is called accordingly.
Heron gait is very popular among models. It is not by chance that she bears this name, because the girl, while moving, raises her bent leg by 45 degrees and only then, straightening it, takes a step forward.
The criss-cross walk is also often used in the modeling world. Following from the name, during the defile, the girl puts her legs behind her legs, while taking small steps of 15-20 cm.
Hip walk is very popular with many models. It was invented by Marilyn Monroe, who could drive men crazy by walking alone. Her hips were painted in “eights” so gracefully that almost all women in the world tried to repeat it.
Naomi Campbell invented her unusual graceful gait.She walks like a real panther, and the model’s gait has become her hallmark from the very first exit.
Tyra Banks strikes everyone not only with her smile with her eyes, but also with an incendiary gait, which is unique to her.
Among modern models, there is even a rating of the most beautiful gaits:
- Natasha Poly
- Isabel Fountain
- Dasha Verbova
- Carmen Cass
- Mariacarla Boscono
- Caroline Trentini
- Coco Rocha
- Snezhana Onopko
- Vlada Roslyakova
- Flavia Oliveira
After the Paris Victoria’s Secret 2016 show, the world press does not stop talking about the fact that sexy Irina Shayk boldly conquered the catwalk, not being afraid that she is in an interesting position.We decided to recall other models who violated the usual concept of fashion shows, going out to the catwalk with rounded tummies.
At the Victoria’s Secret 2016 large-scale show in Paris, everyone’s attention was focused on Irina Shayk, who was showing her underwear. Despite the fact that about 50 more models participated in the show with her, it was Shayk who became the most talked about beauty of this evening. And all because Irina shone with happiness and did not hide her interesting position. Under the lacy underwear one could see the slightly rounded belly of the supermodel, but this did not prevent Irina Shayk from defiling on an equal footing with her colleagues.
It is worth noting that the appearance of a pregnant model on Victoria’s Secret is more an exception to the rule than a good old tradition. It was rumored that the official “angels” Candice Swanepoel and Behati Prinsloo did not refuse to participate in the show at all, but simply could not go to the podium, since they had not yet gotten into proper shape after giving birth. The Victoria’s Secret brand has repeatedly got into high-profile scandals because of its requirements for fashion models, whose body must be fit and perfect. Therefore, it is possible that inviting Irina Shayk to the show, the organizers did not know that in the future she would appear there as a “surprise” – a belly in the first months of pregnancy.But, be that as it may, pregnant Irina Shayk managed to outshine many by taking part in the Victoria’s Secret show for the first time at the age of 30.
Designer Karl Lagerfeld does not shy away from pregnant models, and even makes them a highlight of his shows. Two years ago, Lagerfeld invited Ashley Goode, who was in her last months of pregnancy, to close the Chanel couture show. The girl put on a snow-white dress, and Karl proudly walked with her on the catwalk, holding her hand.
For some designers, the family, the birth of a new life became the inspiration and even the main concept of the collection.Dolce & Gabbana released models on the catwalk who paraded with children, and Bianca Balti showed clothes when she was 6 months pregnant.
One of the most famous Victoria’s Secret “angels” Alessandra Ambrosio worked actively during pregnancy and did not plan to give up shows at all. She became one of the most striking examples of the fact that a model does not fall out of order if it is in an interesting position.
Look in the gallery for photos of other popular models who took to the podium in an interesting position.
Today, models with a non-standard appearance are increasingly appearing on the world catwalks. The era of perfectly beautiful girls is over, and designers are giving preference to models with a twist. Unusual beauty is a new trend that not only sells great products, but also inspires millions of people with similar flaws. In this review, we have collected the stories of 7 models who, despite their physiological characteristics, were able to conquer the world catwalks.
Brunett Moffy made a real discovery in 2013.She is an unusual model. The fact is that Brunett suffers from a pronounced strabismus since childhood. However, this flaw, which can cause many complexes in its owners, did not prevent Moffy from signing a very lucrative contract with the eminent modeling agency Storm Models, with which such famous models as Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford worked.
Lily has a completely inappropriate beauty for the modeling business: a large mouth, large teeth, a protruding nose and drooping eyelids.To put it mildly, not a beauty. However, this did not stop the girl from becoming a successful model. True, her mother, the famous supermodel Kristen McMenami, helped her a lot.
Velvet D’Amour is the most complete supermodel. Her weight is 136 kilograms. The girl is very proud of her body and is careful not to lose weight. It is thanks to her confidence and perseverance that Velvet has conquered the world catwalks. She is the muse of Jean Paul Gaultier, who entrusted her to close his shows.
Melanie is a girl with a very non-standard appearance that does not correspond to any canon of beauty. Gaidos suffers from a rare genetic disease – ectodermal dysplasia – a disorder that is accompanied by underdevelopment of teeth, hair, nails and other ectodermal derivatives. But, despite the criticism and ridicule of others, she still managed to achieve success. Today Melanie is one of the most sought-after models in the world.
Diandra Forrest is an African American albino.Her appearance is typical of her nationality (full lips, wide nose, high forehead), but her skin color is snow-white. Having endured a lot of bullying from peers during her school years, Diandra did not break down and since 2009 has become one of the most famous models in the world. She has successful contracts with brands such as MAC, Jean Paul Gaultier and many others.
Chantelle Brown Young
Since the age of three, Chantelle has been suffering from an incurable disease – vitiligo – a violation of skin pigmentation.As a child, she was often teased by a cow, but despite the mockery of others, Chantelle was able to achieve success and became a very popular model. Popularity came to her after participating in the show “America’s Next Top Model.” Today Winnie Harlow (pseudonym Chantal) represents Desigual clothing, and her shoot for fashion magazines is scheduled for several months in advance.
Victoria Modesta is a British woman of Latvian origin. She spent all her childhood in hospitals, as she was born with a sore leg.At the age of 19, the girl made a fateful decision – she agreed to amputate her sore leg. In her place, the doctors put her a prosthesis, but this decision did not affect her modeling career. One can only envy the courage and courage of Victoria.
Continuing the theme
How do the girls from the “Boys” show live
Since September 24, the Friday TV channel has been running the fifth season of the “Boys” reality show. This year the project has moved to a new house and has become an analogue of the blogging house from tiktok.The author of “Afisha Daily” Lyubava Zaitseva went to visit the boys to find out how they live without the Internet, with the same impudent girls and under the constant supervision of cameras.
The show began in 2016 and since then has remained one of the most popular on the Friday TV channel. Every season girls with a difficult, sometimes tragic and even criminal past come to it in order to change for the sake of a new, comfortable and harmonious life.Psychologists, etiquette teachers, stylists and other professionals work with them to help them become new people.
Lost girls are trying to reflect on the past. Psychological traumas are worked out with psychologists who provoke them to show emotions. Many boys are used to hiding feelings, therefore, the creators say, tests help them to know themselves from the inside, get rid of complexes, tightness and rudeness. Some tasks reveal children’s fears, others – problems in relations with parents, and others teach a model gait or etiquette.
“During trials, you let what is happening through yourself. I analyze them for a long time in order to understand exactly how they influenced us, – says Anastasia Petrova, known for her aggressiveness. – Self-analysis helps to understand yourself, to understand where aggression and resentment towards people come from. I’m sure all the girls will remember this for many years to come. ” Many have already changed. Ksenia Prokofieva didn’t put on makeup before “Boys”, but on the show, inspired by the example of other girls, she began. Kostya Cooper first walked in heels – before that she considered herself a guy in someone else’s body.
Anastasia Petrova. From the age of eight she has been engaged in MMA fights / At an early age she had to survive in an orphanage – this is how she got acquainted with martial arts. “The feeling that I was strong, that I could hurt or beat, gave me authority. Nobody approached me, they stopped offending me ”. On the project, not a single fight on the show takes place without her, and she herself tries to overcome aggression and hear people. Like her mother, who went to prison, she is fond of photography.After that, she plans to retire from the fighting, study to be a photographer and work in films.
1 out of 9
Natalia Goncharova. Former webcam model. Lives attention, loves to be looked at. She graduated from the magistracy of the law faculty, but it did not work out with work – her mother fell ill with cancer, and it was necessary to find money for treatment. Soon, her mother found out about her earnings, and Natasha promised that after her recovery she would put an end to eroticism.On “Boys” she is trying to take off her mask, put on seven years ago after a series of betrayals, and return to singing, which she quit due to depression. After the show, she will go towards her dream and learn to sing.
2 out of 9
Angelica Luzhanskaya. I came to the project because I was afraid to end up like her relatives. She is the youngest child in a large family with seven brothers and sisters. But only four survived: someone committed suicide, someone died due to an accident; parents also died, and Lika was sheltered by her friend’s family.Because of the tragic past, she began to drink heavily, as she herself admits, literally to the point of losing my pulse: “I never had a proper upbringing, hence all the problems.” The show had already taught her to express her thoughts in words, not fists.
3 out of 9
Tina Frank. A girl with Nigerian roots before the project was engaged in striptease and sex work. “When I was 18, I started drinking, I got in touch with the wrong company. I realized that if I stay in Moscow, with these people, I simply won’t be. “After two years of study as a costume designer at the Kosygin Russian State University, she moved to her native Ivanovo, where she began working as a hostess. Tina plans to become a singer – she likes Alisha Keys and George Smith. “I’ll go to a music school, because I don’t want, like Morgenstern, to sing through autotune.”
4 out of 9
Ekaterina Vanysheva. In her native village in the Perm region, she is known as the main ringleader: at village parties, she plays the button accordion, drinks with the boys, and sometimes steals scrap metal from neighbors.She worked as a seamstress at a factory, but realized that she did not want to spend the rest of her life like that, and left for St. Petersburg, where she spent the entire quarantine without work and money. Relatives took her decision to go to the show negatively, the only person who supported her was her mother.
5 out of 9
Ksenia Prokofieva. She studied at a music school, lived on the stage, dreamed of becoming an actress or singer. The parents did not like the hobby, and without their support, self-doubt appeared.”They said, if I don’t do as they say, they will stop providing and will be kicked out of the house.” Instead of acting, she went to the aviation school, and from lack of fulfillment began to drink. The parents made a negative decision to come to the show, and the father demanded to change his surname, because “they won’t understand at work.” But recently he asked her to tell her that he was proud of his daughter.
6 out of 9
Bella Kuznetsova. She took up boxing after being beaten by peers – at the age of 12 she even broke her jaw.Bella believes that she was offended because she said what she thought. After boxing, I became more confident and “gave ***** [punches]” to all the offenders. Now she is respected in her native area. Due to a difficult childhood – a mother is in prison for drug trafficking, an orphanage – it is difficult for her to communicate and express emotions. On the project, Bella wants to win the respect of her grandmother so that she begins to trust her.
7 out of 9
Kostya Cooper.Her old name remained in the past – she didn’t want something to connect with the old, “female” life. “I called myself a guy for several years, a lot of sidekicks really thought I was a boy.” And I still haven’t figured out how to call myself more comfortable, and one of the reasons for participating in the show is to understand who she is. Kostya spent four years in an orphanage: his father sat down for murder, and his mother called only for drinking. “I just don’t want to have a mom.” Within a few weeks in the house, she began to speak of herself in a feminine manner and for the first time in many years she put on a skirt.
8 out of 9
Veronica Zhukova. He saves an unsuccessful marriage and is looking for his life’s work. There were endless scandals in the family of a 22-year-old girl, so she began to abuse alcohol and drugs. But on the show she wanted “everything to be like people”: a wedding, a good relationship with her husband, children. Veronica has already agreed with her husband to replay the wedding “in a normal way” – for the first time she got married in shorts, sneakers and a T-shirt.Nika finished only 10 classes, so after she is going to get an education. Her dream is to become a journalist and write books and articles.
9 out of 9
The girls do not have internet and telephones in the house, they cannot leave the territory without the knowledge of their teachers. It seems that they live almost in barracks conditions. However, the project participants admit that they like such rules. “This is a kind of digital detox,” says Tina.”You take a break from the information field, and all the news is brought by people who come to shoot or interview.” But even guests are not allowed to show them the number of followers on Instagram, tiktok and other social networks – the manager is closely monitoring this.
With food, everything is also strict: the boys eat steamed chicken breast, protein-rich food, vegetables, but almost never use sugar. According to the girls, on such a diet, they threw off up to ten kilograms. “It’s very hard without sweets,” adds Prokofieva.- Usually the production of “Friday” brings us sweets, so we look forward to shooting tiktoks. They usually bring a lot – we have enough for a few days. ” Natasha Goncharova notes that she lacks fast food. In one episode, she spent a wish ordering food from McDonald’s – nine shrimp with 1000 Islands sauce, fries and Mcflurries.
“There have always been people around me, I have lived alone for three years of my life.”
There is no cleaner in the house.The girls keep order themselves, but there is always a small mess in their rooms. “We can throw panties, bras, socks here – no one cares. We can even poop with the door open or walk around the house naked – we are not at all embarrassed by this, ”says Natasha. Along the way, she lifts her skirt, as if to prove that she really has nothing to be ashamed of. Many have long been accustomed to living in a large team, because, like Nastya Petrova, they were brought up in an orphanage.
At the time of the recording of the interview, the girls had been in the house for several weeks.Despite the difficult relationship with family, they still yearn for them. “When my mother came to my parents’ day, I cried like a bitch,” says Ksenia, who before the show had a difficult relationship with both her mother and father. Nika, during her husband’s arrival, realized how much she values their relationship, and offered to replay the unsuccessful wedding. Before the show, their union suffered from constant quarrels.
Girls without relatives on the project have it easier, but they yearn for a normal life. “Sometimes you just want a simple human can of beer,” says Nika.In order to somehow cheer themselves up and not get discouraged, they write songs that they plan to release after the end of the show, and sing them in the evening with a guitar.
The heroines constantly get involved in troubles – they fight, break their noses, quarrel, make peace, cry, and then drink together at a weekly party. According to the girls, the hostility and friendship in the frame is real – someone does not like someone, someone is afraid and someone is trusted. For example, Nastya Petrova has an unspoken status of the main brawler, so they try not to anger her.And Lika is not given their things – she can steal them.
“Haight is always grounded. We hate someone only if the person does real shit, says Tina. – We must already learn to filter the bazaar, we still came here to change, and not bullshit against each other. Someone has not yet learned this. Ksyusha and Natasha and I organized the Rat Council, or the Conspiracy of Buns, where we discuss the rest of the girls.We have our own signs and sounds, which we call each other to meetings, where we think how to further relate to this or that person. ”
According to some girls, not everyone deserves victory, because they do not work on themselves. For example, Natasha believes that girls who still condemn other participants for their appearance or can beat them without reason have no place in the finals. “We came here to change, and not to shine with our faces. Unfortunately, some came just to show themselves, ”she says.
The shooting of “Boys” lasts almost round the clock, but the girls still have days off: sometimes it’s Saturday and Sunday, sometimes only one day.On Sundays, the production of “Friday” comes to the house and shoots content in tiktok for the whole next week. “At first it was difficult to get used to constant filming,” says Goncharova, who loves attention to herself very much. – After a few weeks, you no longer notice the operators with tripods. The camera for us is just a fly that flew into the room. ”
The most difficult thing, according to the girls, is not to play for the camera, but to pretend that it does not exist.According to the rules of the show, they should not look into the lens, so that the audience does not have any doubts about the realism of what is happening. There are problems with this: “Sometimes we understand that we need to squeeze out more emotions, more expression in order to hook the viewer. But you get so tired during the day that you don’t want anything at all and you have to reshoot some scenes several times. ” This rarely happens – almost everything that gets into the show is filmed from the first take.
“If we drink, then this is for real.If we fight, then so that already sparks from the eyes. If we love or hate, then seriously. It’s such a busy life here that you don’t have time to think about cameras or acting. More has happened here than in my entire life. ”
Participants of previous seasons have become media personalities, leading their blogs.More than 157 thousand people have subscribed to the winner of the first season, Yulia Kovaleva, on Instagram, now she writes books and lectures on knowing herself. 254 thousand people have signed up for the winner of the third season, Anna Gorokhova, she became the most successful participant in the show: she is engaged in tiktok and YouTube, and records tracks. Other, no less charismatic participants in “Boys” also found an audience and received recognition – for example, Ksenia Milas, who reached the final of the third season, replaced Elena Letuchaya in the “Revizorro” show.
Many girls started participating in the show because of the opportunity to become a popular person. “When we passed the casting, the managers said they would support our media image,” says Natasha. “It was in order for the audience to perceive us as bloggers that the show was made into a tiktok house.” Just a month in the account “Boys-House” gathered 630 thousand.subscribers.
Almost all girls after the finals want to do music and blogging. Natasha and Ksyusha dream of a music group or a joint YouTube channel, Lika and Tina dream of a solo career in music, other girls just dream of a blog and the opportunity to simply figure out themselves. Some of the participants are already realizing their dream of becoming a famous person in the media – Alina Gorb, who left at the very beginning of the season, has already become the most popular tomboy on Instagram.
90,000 Published materials on the site of the media “Sunlight”.Article Review of the work of V.V. Nabokov. Author: Sokhina Natalia Borisovna.
Artist: Sokhina Natalya Borisovna
Review of V.V. Nabokov on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of his birth. The legacy is extensive, so I plan to continue.
Review of V.V. Nabokov (To the 120th anniversary of his birth)
Sokhina Natalya Borisovna
teacher of Russian language and literature of the highest category
The personality of V.V. Nabokov, despite his rather lengthy “rehabilitation”, is still mentioned with caution. This is due to the scandalous popularity of his “Lolita”, although there is not so much eroticism there. Especially at the end of the novel, when, despite her youthful hobbies, the heroine plunges into prosaic family life. I would like to draw the attention of readers to some of his works, which are completely different from Lolita, so that it is clear that this is a versatile writer.Finally, his work was introduced into the school curriculum. For a student to be able to read Nabokov’s work, it must be prepared. The purpose of my review is to acquaint readers with several novels and poems of the writer, to draw attention to the originality of his language.
Keywords: poetry, novel, literature, poetry, work, homeland.
There is a wide range of material on the Internet dedicated to the 120th anniversary of the birth of V.V. Nabokov, the great scandalous writer.To this date can be added the centenary of the departure of the entire Nabokov family abroad. The writer himself was proud that he was born a hundred years after his idol A.S. Pushkin. The writer’s father did not believe in the Bolshevik regime, so he left Russia much later than his family, hoping for the return of the old order, which was in vain.
I would like to dwell on a few fairly well-known works
V.V. Nabokov, who was also a first-class translator of both his works, since he wrote in English, and of English classics.(“Alice in Wonderland” by L. Carroll). In Paris, he taught Russian and French literature.
So, Mashenka (1926) is Nabokov’s first novel. We read about the hero’s feelings, thoughts about the homeland, learn about the life of emigrants, their hardships and joys, sufferings, memories of a past life. He learns from his friend that he is married. And soon it turns out that Mashenka is the storyteller’s first love, which we learn from the hero himself, his friends and acquaintances. Mashenka herself did not appear to the end.
Perhaps, it never occurred to any other writer to construct a work in such a way that the reader does not wait and does not wonder, where is the heroine? Or maybe the other way around? This is truly an author’s find. The author writes: “The affair with Mashenka lasted only four days – these four days were, perhaps, the happiest time of his life.” Without waiting for her, he leaves. It is quite possible that if the meeting took place, there would be no delight.
“Luzhin’s Defense” is an original novel already in that it describes chess games in detail.Moreover, the hero’s hobby begins from early childhood. Autobiographical facts are intertwined with fiction. The father is a writer, a nervous sick mother who soon dies. At the beginning of the novel, the parents are very concerned about the fate of their son, who showed early chess talent due to a chance acquaintance with his aunt. In the future, this became the meaning of his life, led to loneliness, despite his marriage. The wife devoted her whole life to her husband, creating conditions for preparing for the games. Luzhin plays in all major cities of Russia and Europe with the best chess players.But after the match with his main rival, Luzhin fell seriously ill from a strong overexertion, but did not give up hope to continue playing. He “freaks out with horror at the inevitability of the next repetition of the game” and thinks over the defense. The main method of defense consisted in voluntarily, deliberately performing some unexpected action and thus confusing the combination of moves planned by the opponent. “We need to drop out of the game,” – the last words of the hero. He locks himself in the bathroom, breaks the window and throws himself down.”Luzhin, Luzhin,” his wife’s voice is heard. The door was knocked down. “Alexander Ivanovich, Alexander Ivanovich?” roared several voices. But there was no Alexander Ivanovich.
By virtue of his passion, Luzhin is a collective image of a chess player, since Nabokov knew many grandmasters. Some of Luzhin’s features are recognized in the biography of the famous Russian chess player Alexander Alekhin. If in “Mashenka” we know the name of the heroine, but never met her, then in this novel only the surname of the grandmaster sounds, even in relations with his wife.And only in the last sentences does his name sound – Alexander Ivanovich. That was the name of Alekhine. Another author’s find.
“Camera Obscura” is another original novel by V.V. Nabokov. This is a novel about love in all its manifestations. Like the previous heroes of the writer, they are restless personalities, each in his own element. Devotion to his wife at first keeps Kretschmar from connecting with Magda, a girl who is not burdened with special moral principles. “Unbreakable affection” for his wife weakens, and he begins to date a girl who is only sixteen years old.Nabokov is true to himself: after all, the most scandalous novel “Lolita” is also about a young nymphet. Everything is more tragic in “Camera Obscura”. The hero is married, hides his relationship with his mistress. One day at a party, Magda meets her first lover. Passion returns. Despite love, Magda does not leave the thought of marrying Kretschmar. But he learns about Magda’s betrayal. But nevertheless, the three of them go on a trip: Magda, her lover and Kretschmar. An accident occurs. Magda and Horn (Magda’s lover) remain unharmed, and Kretschmar loses his sight.Lovers want to take possession of his condition, inventing more and more bullying. His friend Max comes to the rescue. He brings him to his wife, who still loves him. One day he is left alone in the apartment, Magda arrives. Blind Kerchmar tried to kill Magda by touch, but as a result she kills him. A sad sight, but after all, everything is not without sin!
The greatest impression is made by the language of Nabokov, in which you swim, drown, which you enjoy. Here are some examples.
“What impressed him most was that from Monday he would be Luzhin. His father – a real Luzhin, an elderly Luzhin, Luzhin, who wrote books – came out from him, smiling, rubbing his hands, already smeared with transparent English cream for the night, and with his evening suede gait returned to his bedroom.
“From minute to minute, the chess thickets could cordon off him again, while there was twilight turbidity all around, the dull cotton air.” (“Luzhin’s Defense”).
“How scared I am, how sick I am, but no one will take me away from me” (“Invitation to Execution”).
“Suede gait”, “twilight haze”, “dull cotton air”, “chess thickets could cordon off” … This list can be continued with pleasure, admiring the imagination and extraordinary language skills. Translators accomplish the feat of translating Nabokov with his epithets and other figurative expressions.
In my review, I want to give examples of the poetry of this original writer. Poem “Happiness”. Happiness is the abyss in which the heart sinks:
And the day sinks in the rays, and the heart sinks in happiness ….
I know I’m in love and glad to wander with you.
Happiness to be close to your beloved:
Closing his gaze and looking into the eyes of passion,
We will sit on a bench in thick acacia.
But the highest point of happiness is the possession of a loved one:
Deep kiss … You are happiness … You are mine
You hardly need comments on such a work?
Another poem reminiscent of A.Blok, imbued with pessimism:.
Let all the sorrows and wilderness
The world goes into steel dreams …
We are alone here, and our souls
Whitewashed in one spring.
And together, together, and forever,
Let’s build a world – our invisible;
I created forests and rivers in it,
You will create stars and flowers.
Faith in the future sounds at the end of the poem:
And only the grandchildren of our grandchildren –
love my verse in spring –
through the shadow and light of air sounds
will see white – you …
And here is how the image of freedom is depicted in the poem “Towards Freedom” (1917):
You slowly wander through the streets sleepless;
There is no previous ray on the woeful brow,
Calling for love and illuminated heights.
An extinguished candle trembles in one hand.
Wing lined over corpses dragging
And blocking his gaze with a bloody elbow,
Deceived again, you leave again,
And behind you, alas, is still the same night.
The poem was written after the Bolsheviks came to power.Referring to freedom as a living being, the poet depicts a creature with a blackened wing, a deceived creature, leaving into the night, into the unknown. In this small poem, all objects are symbolic: a woeful brow, a padded wing, illuminated heights – all these images personify the image of lost Russia from which the writer and poet parted forever, who stopped writing in Russian, but occasionally translated his works into his native language.
It is gratifying that V.V.Nabokov is included in the school curriculum.Our task is to bring the works of this unique writer to the consciousness of modern schoolchildren and students. I have only briefly outlined an overview of his work, so to be continued.
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