Seriously Geeky Sundays – Around the World in 8 Sundays – Eastern Europe

Welcome back to Seriously Geeky Sundays, everyone!

It’s been a hot month since we talked about our favourite characters and fandoms from Western Europe, a part of the world steeped with culture, tradition and, historically, lots unpleasant wars!

This month we will hop across the border (indeed, what was once dubbed the Iron Curtain) to Eastern Europe. This part of the world is fascinating, full of exotic cultures, fascinating places and, of course, was once the seat of the USSR.

Let’s get the briefing, shall we?

Question 1 – Who is your favourite character of Eastern European heritage?

I’m sure I’ve never mentioned my love for Sergei Lukyanenko’s Night Watch books before (yeah right), so this may come as a bit of a shocker…

Can’t find you a picture of Zabulon, but maybe he’s walked past St Basil’s… maybe he’s one of those people?

My favourite character from Eastern Europe is Zabulon, leader of the Moscow branch of the Day Watch, aka the antagonist of the series (for the most part). Zabulon is a massively powerful mage and has fought off many assassins and enemies over his long career. Whilst the Day Watch are more geared toward acts of evil, they are overall commited to keeping the balance, working both alongside and, subtly, against their Night Watch counterparts. This leads to some excellent chapters where the heroes are forced to work alongside Zabulon, and I love it!

So, it’s all about Zabulon! He can even turn into a demon!

The movie version sucked though!

Question 2 – What is your favourite film set in this region?

So I’m gonna cheat just a little here, and go with a miniseries instead of a movie! Sneaky, I know!

Yep, 2019’s award winning Chernobyl will be my choice here! Whilst I’m sure the subject needs no introduction, I’ll tell you anyway. The series follows the events occuring after the infamous 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Brought about by arrogance, incompetence and a terrifying lack of safety precautions, the actions of a few resulted in deaths of thousands (or 31, if the official figures are to be believed).

The series follows several characters (all real people from the disaster) as they respond to ad try to contain the disaster. Such heavyweights as Stellan Skaarsgard and Jared Harris give the performance of a lifetime, with special props to Paul Ritter as the truly unpleasant plant supervisor, Dyatlov.

A masterclass in tension and grimness, Chernobyl is well worth checking out.

Question 3 – In Hollywood characters of Eastern European descent are often e cast as the villain, can you think of a hero instead?

I’ve watched a movie very recently that had just such a heroic Russian, played by the ever amazing Arnold Schwarzenegger (so I’m fanboying, what of it?). That movie was Red Heat, in which Arnie plays Moscow copper Ivan Danko, sent to Chicago to track down a no good baddie. During his quest he teams up with Jim Belushi, another cop, and take down the big bad, with much action and many one liners!

Seriously, it’s amazing!

Question 4 – Greek mythology frequently features in pop culture, which appearance has interested you the most?

There’s been many excursions into Greek mythology in geek culture, but only one will ever be in the top slot for me…

Yes, the mighty 300! The tale of Thermopylae as told by a massively exaggerating survivor (a point many seem to miss when complaining about how over-the-top it all is!)

Our hero is the mighty King Leonidas of SPARTA!!! (you have to shout it), leading the titular amount of Spartan warriors against the amassed forces of Persia. It’s stylish, exciting and full of ridiculousness, and you need to watch it!

Question 5 – Which Eastern European country or location do you feel is overused in pop  culture and which is underutilised?

Easily Eastern Europe’s most overused nation in stories is good old Mother Russia! Why? Because it’s the biggest and maybe most famously stories of the Eastern European nations – the Russian Revolution, Rasputin, it’s role in the Second World War and Cold War… There’s a lot going on!

As for underutilised, well I’d like to see the really underrepresented nations like the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Belarus, Slovakia, Georgia… There’s actually tons of little countries dripping in culture and stories to be explored, people!

And that’s another edition of Seriously Geeky Sundays wrapped up, folks! I hope you enjoyed this little foray into Eastern Europe and, as always, please do check out the work from all of the other authors writing under the #SeriouslyGeekySundays hashtag!

Farewell, comrades!

30 thoughts on “Seriously Geeky Sundays – Around the World in 8 Sundays – Eastern Europe

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  1. That was a fascinating list. I’m a geography nerd, so it’s cool that you did something involving a specific region of the world. I guess my favorite movie that takes place in Eastern Europe would be the Serbian film The Trap. There’s also an anime called Yugo the Negotiator that has an entire arc in Siberia, Russia which is really good. One Eastern European hero that would be obvious even though she doesn’t sound like it is Black Widow since she’s Russian.

    Great call with those countries being underutilized. I’ve actually seen movies from some of those countries and I reviewed a Netflix documentary called The Trader which is a Georgian feature. However, if you’re talking to most Americans, they’ll think of the state before they think of the Republic of Georgia. Tblisi, not Atlanta!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, a lot of people think about the state more than the country. Haha! The country where Tbilisi is the capital could use more attention. Interestingly enough, Georgia is technically transcontinental since part of it is in Asia. No problem about anime sci-fi. That’s right. Of course in the MCU, Black Widow talks in an American accent, and even I forget that she’s Russian unless she mentions her nationality or the times where she speaks the language.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s a good point. I’m not too familiar with modern Eastern European works, but sure there would’ve been talented actresses who could’ve been shoo-ins for the role. Scarlet Johansson did a good job as Black Widow which I don’t have an issue with, but the possibilities did make me wonder a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Definitely. Olga Kurylenko is actually from Ukraine, but she is of partial Russian and Belarusian descent. Then again, both Ukraine and Russia are both Slavic-majority countries and have some similarities with their respective languages.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. No problem. It happens to everyone. Geography has always been fascinating to me, but then again, I grew up watching Carmen Sandiego when I was a child. Hahaha! I actually saw a short film from a former Soviet nation the other day and it was from Armenia of all places.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I wasn’t sure what was going on at first in that country until I saw current events in that part of world. It’s so saddening especially with the previous bad blood with them and Azerbaijan.

        Awesome! Did you see the cartoon, game show, or both? That’s great about you being interested in different nations. We need more people like that who know things about various nations and cultures.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I believe it was the cartoon, maaaaany years ago now! And yeah, the war over there at the moment is getting very, very minimal coverage! I believe that knowledge on other countries and cultures is absolutely empowering and maybe even essential these days!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Nice! I watched it when I was younger, but I was a HUGE fan of the game show. It also has one of the best theme songs ever with Rockapella and it didn’t insult the viewer’s intelligence.

        I agree and I certainly know American media isn’t talking about it. Granted, we have a ton of insanity going on and the election happens in a few days, but they could at least talk about it at some point.

        I wholeheartedly agree when it comes to learning about other cultures and countries. I’ve had conversations from people outside of America offline and online and they appreciated it when I knew things about the world. It’s also great having friends from other countries. Even when I review international movies or work on fiction projects, I felt enlightened knowing about various facets of different countries. After finding out my DNA results about my ethnic samples, I felt compelled to learn about the heritage I didn’t know about on my mom’s side and the ones I did know about on my dad’s even though those percentages weren’t what I expected.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. No problem. I’ve actually mentioned the four biggest results of my DNA on two of my blogs in separate posts. Not sure if I mentioned this, but I’m from an interracial family. My dad is Caucasian and my mom is Black, so all my results are split between Europe and Africa. My paternal side is mostly of English and Welsh descent (fun fact: my great-grandparents on that side of the family were from Lancashire and parts of Scotland). On my maternal side, the biggest ethnic samples were Congolese and Cameroonian which I would’ve never guessed. This was huge because most people in the African-American community don’t know what country or countries their ancestors came from after the slave trade happened when names were changed and native languages were forced to be forgotten. It’s been amazing learning about these examples and the smaller samples.

        The Congolese aspect was fascinating with lots of history and the music. One of the first calculators known as the Ishango bone was invented in what’s now the DRC and it was a baboon’s bone with tally notches. They even have robots who direct traffic in that country! I’ve been liking musicians such as Papa Wemba, Alesh, and Kasai Allstars among others. Even learning the some of the languages was amazing such as Lingala even though I wouldn’t call myself fluent. Swahili also has official language status there. Not going to lie, I found out about the infamous “Hakuna Matata” trademark weeks after finding my results which infuriated me since I saw it as Disney appropriating part of MY culture. I also learned to make fufu which is a dish in the Congo as well as multiple African nations.

        I do kind of wonder about being more English than I thought on my dad’s side. Even he was surprised that he didn’t have as much Scottish DNA. Maybe that explains why I can do some British accents, covered more documentaries from England than any other country on my film review site, or how I unexpectedly got into indie BritWres stuff after reviewing the Eddie Dennis doc (Okay, he’s Welsh, but that’s besides the point). I even learned how to make a egg and crisp (or [potato] chip as we Americans say) butty when I looked at Mancunian cuisine.

        That’s cool with you learning about other cultures even if you think your family just being in England isn’t that exiting. I guess it could be exciting for me learning about the different cities, film scenes, and especially the different accents. For NaNoWriMo, I’m working on a cell phone novel and one of the characters is going to be British-American with a lot of her family being Scousers. Haha!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Ah that’s fantastic, I’m about a half hour drive from Lancashire so hi there ancestral neighbour! Very interesting insight into your African ancestry too, lots of amazing cultures out that way and robotic traffic directors into the mix too!

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Nice! Hello to you, too! Hahaha! Does this make me a Yonner or Lanc (I heard that term in a Lancashire vs. Yorkshire accent video) by ancestry then?

        Yes. It was amazing learning about the various cultures in my heritage. Cameroon has fascinating things about it. There was a jazz musician named Manu Dibango (RIP) who did a song called “Soul Makossa” which has the famous “Mama-say-mama-sa-ma-makossa” line that Michael Jack and Rihanna would use later on. I first saw the robot traffic directors in the Congolese movie Felicite in a scene where someone is driving one of the main characters around Kinshasa, DRC. Yes, there are some issues in some of the countries and some of the history was heartbreaking like Leopold’s reign of the Congo for example, but there was so much that people don’t even realize with tourist spots, modern cities, nature, and different innovations in a lot of these countries.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Okay. I didn’t want to say anything bad by using a slang term I just heard of. It certainly doesn’t apply to you, but I’ll be sure to be careful. Now I know and knowing is half the battle.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Yeah true, it’s easy to misstep with things like that! A classic example over here is northeast England, you have the people of Newcastle, Geordies, and the people of Sunderland, maccams. They sound similar but not wise to mix them up lol

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Of course and thank you. I’ve seen Sunderland ‘Til I Die, so I definitely know not to call a Geordie a Mackem/Maccam or vice versa since I heard there’s an intense rivalry with both cities and it’s not just about their soccer teams.


      14. No way, so that’s where that line came from, I know exactly the one you mean! People dismiss the African countries but yeah, so much flavour and dynamism there! Daft as it sounds, Black Panther probably opened a lot of people’s minds to African culture! As for lancs or yonners, I’m ashamed to admit I’m not sure!

        Liked by 1 person

      15. That’s right! It came from that Cameroonian song! There’s a blogger I follow from that country who did posts on popular songs in the West that actually plagiarized Cameroonian music like Shakira’s song “Waka Waka” legit stealing from a song from the 80s or early 90s called “Zangelewa” for example. It was mind blowing as much as finding out that “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” stole “Mbube” note for note but with gibberish sounding like Zulu for the “Winoway” backup vocals (The Lion’s Share was one eye opening documentary).

        Sure thing about that. Even Black Panther has influences from the continent like the female guards referencing the Dahomey Amazons of Benin or the women with red clay braids referencing one of the tribes in Namibia. The Wakanda alphabet is based on Ge’ez script which is one of the oldest surviving writing forms that came from Ethiopia and Eritrea.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Sweet! Don’t feel bad. I’ve got a ton of stuff to learn, too. Even before I took a DNA test, I read some books about African history and different cultures. I certainly didn’t learn about most of that topic in all my years of school from elementary to university. Watching African cinema had been fascinating. Just this year, I watch movies from Gabon, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Botswana, and Mauritania for the first time ever. I like some of the neorealism in those movies, but I’ve also seen some of the Nollywood (Nigeria) scene as well as some of those movies have been showing up on Netflix over the past few years.

        Yeah, it’s quite insane when people steal music, art, and other things from other countries. I even heard that a luxury clothing company (I think it was Louis Vuitton or Gucci?) even made designer Masai clothes worth a fortune which is beyond stupid as well as it being clear appropriation.

        Anyways, I do appreciate you being interested in learning about cultures all over the world. I don’t get to have these kinds of conversations with most people and I greatly respect that. Geography can be fun to talk about.

        Liked by 1 person

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