Disclosure (because I guess we are supposed to be more forthright about this): I have connections with the Russians
I visited the Soviet Union in 1991. It was a school field trip. I traded rubles on the black market. I traded a Metallica t-shirt for a Red Army belt. I drank a lot of vodka. I bought a little pin of Lenin which I wore on my jacket in college, but I’m not sure what happened to it, darn it. I do still have a pin with the Bronze Horseman on it. It says Ленинград. I thought that city was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in my life.
I fell in love with Russian literature. Poetry. Short stories. Science fiction.
I read everything by Tolstoy. I named my son after him. I sent some of Tolstoy’s pacifist writings to my little brother in an attempt to get him to drop out of the Air Force Academy.
I tried learning Russian in graduate school. I say “tried” because while I can still decipher the Cyrillic alphabet, it’s not a language that “stuck.”
I’ve watched The Irony of Fate only twice, but I think about it every New Year’s Eve.
The work of Viktor Shklovsky was fairly influential on the shape my dissertation was taking. But since I dropped out of grad school, I have not had any communication with Russian Formalists.