February 9, 2005 by AK


I took a sip of Jim Beam on Monday, and it seemed to taste like medicine… Where is this world going? I dropped by one of Moscow’s best record stores that night, and here’s what I saw among the ordered host of albums: a CD whose cover, light-blue-green-grey, read: “L.Lehmann–Merchior–Vienna PO.” All right, I thought, PO stands for Philharmonic Orchestra, and L. is most likely Lotte, which means the mysterious “Merchior” has got to be Lauritz Melchior. Inspecting the disk’s other side confirmed this. But how could a typo crawl onto the front side of the CD cover? I took another look and finally noticed that the singer’s names, and that of Wagner and his operas, and the conductor, were probably the only bits written with the Latin alphabet. The rest was, if I got it right of course, in Japanese. That offered at least an acceptable explanation: speakers of hieroglyphic, as it were, languages have difficulty telling apart “r” and “l.”

Speaking of whiskey again, the “This ain’t Jim Beam” commercial has been now reused in Smirnoff (American or Russian — don’t remember) vodka ads — another reminder that dubbed commercials don’t sound well in Russian, while Russian-made ads come out rather good at times.


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