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Monday, October 22, 2007

The Soviet Animal

posted by on October 22 at 11:55 AM

A week or so ago, I’m having lunch with Paul Giamatti, his wife, two of their associates, and my associate. We are in Manhattan, in a Chinese restaurant not far from the
General Theological Seminary. Food is on its way and I’m telling Giamatti about the great Soviet biochemist Alexander Oparin, about his important work, about the Oparin ocean, and the materialist origins he developed to fit the ideology of a godless state. Just as I’m about to reach the most profound point of Oparin’s theory, Giamatti interrupts: “Does this scientist have anything to do with the Soviet Ape Man?”

I have no idea what Giamatti is talking about.

Paul: “Stalin tried to develop an army of ape men. Did Oparin have anything to do with that?”
Me: “I’m certain he didn’t.”
Paul (excitement growing on his face): “Do you know about the Soviet Ape Man?”
Me: “I really don’t. I’m in the dark about this thing.”
Paul: “Read about it and tell me what you think. It’s really fascinating.” A steaming plate of dumplings is placed between us, and we begin to eat and talk of other things.

Today, I google the Soviet Ape Man and find this story in the Scotsman:

THE Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents.

Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia’s top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior.

According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: “I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat.”


Giamatti’s head is filled with this type of information, odd information.

RSS icon Comments


This is an incredibly bad idea.

Good thing you didn't realize Paul was pulling your leg ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 22, 2007 11:56 AM

Soviet science suffered from the beginning from politics. It ended up teaching Lamarckian evolution, and had to rely largely on foreign technology and espionage for their advances.

Posted by Gitai | October 22, 2007 11:59 AM

so to stop chaz from going on about stupid crap, just bring up a hilarious half truth about silly commies and eat dumplings. I love this.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 22, 2007 12:03 PM

"I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat"

What? The Soviet Union didn't have a Fraternity system?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | October 22, 2007 12:05 PM

I don't blame him. All these stories sound like b.s. though, what Chinese restaurant is near Madison park? You can't tell me that you were eating with Paul Giamatti at that awful place on 21st Street.

Posted by left coast | October 22, 2007 12:06 PM

Agreed @3.

Posted by Phelix | October 22, 2007 12:07 PM

I wonder if Giamatti reads Slog...

And to you, Bellevue Ave... I want.

Posted by Amelia | October 22, 2007 12:13 PM

left coast, a lack of sleep resulted in some loss of memory. the chinese place was actually near the General Theological Seminary. i don't recall its name, but the food was great.

Posted by charles mudede | October 22, 2007 12:13 PM

Charles finally got out-weirded by somebody. How about that.

Posted by Greg | October 22, 2007 12:15 PM

name dropper.

Posted by michael strangeways | October 22, 2007 12:32 PM

Dinner, Dinner, Dinner, Dinner With, Giamatti Giamatti Giamatti Giamatti Big Time movie writer, big time movie writer,Big time movie Writer

oh bother

Posted by Tost | October 22, 2007 12:50 PM

strangeways, don't blame the player, blame the game.

Posted by charles | October 22, 2007 12:54 PM

you're playing the game by yourself in a crowd of people that you either annoy or entertain, but that you never actually enlighten.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 22, 2007 12:57 PM

@11...continued, my associate, his associates, my associate...his people, my people, let's do a power lunch.

Posted by key grip | October 22, 2007 12:58 PM

Come on Bellevue Ave... give me a little time?

Posted by Amelia | October 22, 2007 1:07 PM

"Human-animal hybrids" Just saying, like minds think alike.....

Posted by Just Me | October 22, 2007 1:18 PM

Amelia, check your email.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 22, 2007 1:29 PM

Charles, another erudite post. I didn't know you were close personal friends with Paul Giamatti! Do you know any more famous people? I hope you told him about your films. Somebody like Paul Giamatti could really help you with your career.

Posted by Issur | October 22, 2007 1:50 PM

All you Chaz haters don't appreciate the man's contributions! I'm always pleased to see his posts - they add a certain peculiar but pleasant something to an otherwise homogenized (saving your presence, Adrian!) blog....

Posted by Mike L | October 22, 2007 1:52 PM

A quick Google supports the history of Russians trying to hybridize man and ape. Ilya Ivanov, the father (pun intended) of practical artificial insemination, presented the idea at a major scientific conference in 1910. He later got permission from the Pasteur Institute to use their research facilities in Africa to study primates. He successfully created many mammal hybrids, but apparently, no apemen.

Posted by inkweary | October 22, 2007 1:57 PM

well, sure, at least Charles writes interesting stuff.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 22, 2007 1:57 PM

Say what you want about Charles, but I have never seen him post a Chris Crocker update.

Posted by Clint | October 22, 2007 2:02 PM

true, chaz hasnt done chris crocker updates, but eli's own failures as a journalist arent valid criteria to evaluate in chaz's defense.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 22, 2007 2:30 PM

How about Erica Barnett's failures as a journalist? Compared to her, I think Eli should be up for some major awards and by that measure, I think Charles should be running The Stranger.

Posted by Clint | October 22, 2007 2:42 PM

clint, you think that to get a rise out of people, not because you actually believe it.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 22, 2007 3:03 PM

Yes, Erica Barnett is a failure! Thank you!

Posted by Amelia | October 22, 2007 3:14 PM

Charles should be editor of The Stranger. I for one was frustrated he didn't get promoted. Charles is the only writer to consistently call Seattle racist. We need that perspective. Coming from Manhattan I can't stand boring white Seattle. Charles and the other Jewish writers in The Stranger are the only thing that makes Seattle bearable.

Posted by Issur | October 22, 2007 4:53 PM

Stalin would've loved Planet of the Apes. He was a huge movie fan--he used to make everyone stay up all night drinking mass vodka watching movies, then ask henchmen how they liked the show. He loved to see them squirm, knowing a wrong answer could get them dragged out of the room and tortured to death. When one guy got dragged away from the table to be murdered, another guy said, "What's the matter, Ivan, can't stay for dessert?" That guy later got dragged off too. Stalin was not an uncritical fan. Despite his love of John Wayne films, Wayne's anticommunism so upset him, he sent an assassin to Hollywood to kill him. The assassin landed in L.A. and promptly vanished--maybe he got a development deal. When Khrushchev visited Hollywood, he told John Wayne that the hit remained in effect for decades after Stalin's death, until he, Nikita, personally cancelled it. Strangely, this did not make Wayne more pro-Soviet.

Posted by Tim Appelo | October 22, 2007 5:16 PM

It doesn't count as name dropping when it's obvious that the name being dropped wanted to change the conversation as soon as possible. (With a ridiculous topic no less.) Then it's just plain funny.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 22, 2007 5:27 PM

Talk about already being post-human...

Posted by treacle | October 22, 2007 6:51 PM


If you think ECB is a failure, you're reading the wrong paper. I don't know much about you--aside from your widely spaced comments before you widely spaced posts in Freaky Friday II, and your "blog"--but from what I've seen, you aren't the odd simpleton that comes by Slog to drop a few daffy words. In fact, you're actually somewhat bright. At least you're not nonsensical, or worse, ignorant and derisive (like me), but still...

How can you farm so much contempt for ECB when you have Annie Wagner right smack in the middle of the field? This is the Stranger. We expect and want to hear closed-minded blunt opinions--especially if they're inappropriate and/or controversial. It's our break away from the news' boilerplate. Some of us have gone so far as to completely replace that news with what the Stranger has to offer. Naturally we'll call them out here on Slog when they fuck up, and if they don't fuck up, we'll find a way to express that they fucked up. That's half the fun. We still love them all. (Excluding Annie, of course. And I'd possibly excuse her coma-inducing movie reviews if it weren't for her two (that I've witnessed) haywire posts regarding our situation in Iraq.)

But ECB's demeanor checks out. At least she does for me. I'd like to see where and why you've grown such a distaste for her.

Annie Wagner, on the other hand, has no sense of personality. I can't even compare her articles/posts to anybody at the Seattle Times, or any news source for that matter. Fuckin' Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid writes better movie reviews than she does. At least I have something to keep me going while I trail the words...even if it's mental retardation.

Just sayin'.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 22, 2007 7:22 PM

What? No one immediately thought of Uruk-Hai when they read this?

Posted by Sachi | October 22, 2007 9:22 PM

Mr. Poe, you have to admit that ECB has had a bad week, what with the Venus "let's all drink and drive!" thing and also singlehandedly (well, with Josh's help) attempting to destroy the entire Seattle Combined Statistical Area.

But your love for her makes me feel better about my fellow man, so, well, thanks for that.

Posted by Big Sven | October 22, 2007 11:31 PM

31 and 33:
she had a hangover or somethin' earlier this week... after writing that scathing/insightful article that showed us how politicians and journalists are just so hardcore and imbibe the drinkys out of some sort of genetic fault...damn who woulda thunk it, people under pressure drink. ecb did a bang up job, for a lightweight hack.

Posted by pissy mcslogbot | October 23, 2007 3:58 AM

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