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    Jacques’s Book Corner

    Wherein Jacques reviews a Russian classic, weighs in on the sociopolitical factors governing the climate of modern-day Russia, and solves all of Russia’s problems simultaneously.

    And now, a discussion upon an object that has recently changed my life and the manner in which I view the world. What I, of course, refer to, is the cover of this Russian book upon which a man is attempting to hypnotize a bear:

    From Russia With Bear

    Artist’s rendering of book Jacques saw at gym.

    I first stumbled upon this book in the gym I go to. I’m not really there to work out as much as I’m there to drink the free tap water (though, it should be noted, the fountain has been broken for some time now). In any case, it was there that I stumbled upon this amazing book. I later gathered that a Russian girl at the gym was reading the book in its entirety. At least I think she’s Russian. She could just be crazy. Or perhaps she’s just a little of both. Anyhow...

    Crazy, or just very Russian?  Russian, or just very crazy?

    Artist’s rendering of girl Jacques saw at gym who may or may not be Russian and/or crazy. Despite this ambiguity, she is quite fashionable and appears to comb her hair on a daily basis.

    Examining the Russian book closely, I immediately noted an ax in a tree and much plaid, leading me to assume that a lumberjack was somehow involved. As a perceptive enough individual, I was immediately able to realize that this book was about a lumberjack with “magical” powers: the ability to hypnotize bears. Hypnotism is indicated by lines coming out of the man’s eyes. Now, in actuality, squiggly lines only come out of people’s eyes when they’re engaged in the kind of concentration necessary to hypnotize a bear. It has something to do with the retina, cones, and rods.

    You are getting sleepy comrade bear

    Bear hypnosis used to be quite common in Russia, first practiced by Rasputin in 1912 and later perfected by the Russian cosmonaut Smzzeeniee (sociological note: roughly 1/3 of Russia’s current population consists of cosmonauts).

    Not all bears can be hypnotized though. Only those most conducive to it. Thus, hypnotizing bears is a dying art form. Literally. Because there’s always the chance the bear will not properly respond to it and maul you in confusion. There is also always the danger that the bear will mistakenly assume that you’re making some manner of homosexual advance on it and, thinking you gay, either commit some manner of heinous hate crime, or act of lovemaking.

    In any case, the book is about a man who travels the forests of Russia, hypnotizing bears to put in Russian circuses where the bears dance on those little red balls. Unfortunately, those little red balls are very soft and pop easily, so many bears fall off and then (out of sheer anger and frustration) begin killing people. This man has the ability to heal people, cure illness, shoot fireballs out of his hand, suppress the forces of evil, and hypnotize bears. So, of course, he spends his entire life traveling the countryside hypnotizing bears for no apparent reason.

    Now, the interesting thing about this is that, when I read this book, I knew no Russian myself. So it was an utterly fascinating and unique experience. I tried to learn Russian once, but they’ve got all of these stupid symbols all over the place. Why do they do that? Why can’t they just have a normal alphabet that makes sense, like ours? What the hell’s with that backwards “R”? I’ve watched every episode of Sesame Street and there’s no such thing as a backwards “R”. Give me a good old “D” anytime. And “CCP”.... What the hell?... do they think we’re idiots? They think they can just put that on all their submarines and planes and they’ve got us fooled? We’ve got radars man; you ain’t going nowhere. And as far as the language overall is concerned, most of the time they’re just making it up as they go along.

    They'll never figure out we're Russian in this thing!

    Russian spy plane designed by idiots.

    If movies about Russians have taught me anything (and I think they have), it’s that Russians actually speak to each other in English, tinged with a poor Russian accent. For some reason, they don’t really seem to know any Russian themselves, even when they’re in Russia.

    Everything I know about Russia I learned from James Bond and Rocky IV (or V?... no IV, I think). Rocky IV is the only movie that actually makes me feel a bit ashamed to be an American. Not because of its portrayal of Russians which all seemed fairly accurate. But rather just because (in retrospect) it was such a bad, bad movie. What the hell was Rocky doing at the end? Talking to the Russians? They’re evil, he shouldn’t be talking to them. And what the hell was he talking about? Mutual respect and camaraderie can’t be achieved through peace and understanding. As President Reagan demonstrated, it can only be achieved by demonizing and outspending the Russians, causing utter political chaos and economic collapse, plunging them into the beginnings of an inevitable slide toward 3rd world status. Now we can all be happy, and both countries (except maybe Russia) are certainly better off for it.

    I wish I’d had the opportunity to write a screenplay like Rocky IV. If I had, it would have had something to do with a man trying to hypnotize a bear in a Russian forest. How does one learn to hypnotize a bear? You’d kind of have to get it right the first time around. Unless, of course, everyone just practiced on one really stupid bear. Then they could work their way up. Imagine hearing “Eye of the Tiger” as Rocky reluctantly attempts to hypnotize a bear because it killed his black friend, who’d also tried to hypnotize him.

    Why would some American idiot try to hypnotize a bear in Russia though? Russian bears wouldn’t know any English. That’s just stupid. They’d just know Russian. Except for those bears that learn English for tourists. But they keep those in the zoos.

    In fact, if Russians did indeed hypnotize bears on a continuous basis, there would be no limits to what they could accomplish. They could simply hypnotize bears to work in factories, act in movies, work as crossing guards, etc... And while all this time man has been leaning more and more toward machines, they’ve simply overlooked their single most important natural resource already at hand: Bears!

    It would be a genuine utopia. Though who’d clean up all that bear shit?... I know! Hypnotized Bears!!!

    *

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