Underground metro springs a leak in hit Russian film

Updated 09 March 2013
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Underground metro springs a leak in hit Russian film

As Moscow’s legendary chandeliered underground fills with water, thousands of terrified commuters flee through flooded tunnels in a disaster movie that has topped Russia’s box office.
The film, titled simply “Metro”, depicts what might happen if Moscow’s Stalin-era underground system, which last year carried more than two billion passengers, sprung a leak from the Moscow River flowing above it and a speeding train crashed into a wall of water.
Filmed in a genuine metro system — albeit in the Volga city of Samara, not Moscow — the film looks disturbingly realistic, from the boxy blue carriages to the clunky monitoring equipment that simply loses all contact with the train. “Can you imagine what’s going on down there?” asks one petrified employee.
The film topped Russia’s box office in its first weekend, comprehensively beating action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback movie “The Last Stand”. It has now earned $ 9.7 million, according to preliminary figures released by local magazine.
The film’s budget totaled $ 13 million, including a $ 6 million grant from a state fund designed to promote national cinema.
The real Moscow metro is rich with legend, from the giant cockroaches that allegedly roam its tunnels to secret lines said to lead from the Kremlin. Its ornate decor includes talismans such as the bronze dog at the central Revolution Square station whose nose has been rubbed bright by constant pats for luck.
Muscovites associate recent genuine horrors with the metro, including deadly bombings in 2004 and 2010 as well as a harrowing accident in 2006 in which a pile being driven into the ground for an advertising hoarding pierced through a shallow tunnel.
Well-heeled Muscovites make a point of never descending into the metro — even though that means sitting in traffic jams for hours on end.
The film plays on latent fears about the crumbling network, but the director dismissed the idea that it could upset survivors of militant bombings. “You see, if you argue like that, we couldn’t make World War II movies, we couldn’t make any films because they will always somehow touch people who had the experience,” said director Anton Megerdichev at a press conference.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, Moscow metro’s management was not keen on the film, banning the crew from filming in its stations. Undeterred, production was moved to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, only for a deadly metro bombing to strike there in April 2011 as the crew was due to start filming.
Finally they went to Samara, around 1,050 kilometers (652 miles) south of Moscow, whose little-used metro system proved only too authentic. “The most interesting thing is that it’s wet. It drips everywhere, we didn’t need to add any computer graphics. They constantly mop and wipe those stations, so basically it was perfect for us,” the director said jokingly.


Score! Scrabble dictionary adds ‘OK,’ ‘ew’ to official play

Updated 24 September 2018
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Score! Scrabble dictionary adds ‘OK,’ ‘ew’ to official play

  • Among more than 300 additions are yowza, OK and ew
  • There’s another special new entry because it involves use of a q without a u: qapik

NEW YORK: Scrabble players, time to rethink your game because 300 new words are coming your way, including some long-awaited gems: OK and ew, to name a few.
Merriam-Webster released the sixth edition of “The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary” on Monday, four years after the last freshening up. The company, at the behest of Scrabble owner Hasbro Inc., left out one possibility under consideration for a hot minute — RBI — after consulting competitive players who thought it potentially too contentious. There was a remote case to be made since RBI has morphed into an actual word, pronounced rib-ee.
But that’s OK because, “OK.”
“OK is something Scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time,” said lexicographer Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster. “Basically two- and three-letter words are the lifeblood of the game.”
There’s more good news in qapik, adding to an arsenal of 20 playable words beginning with q that don’t need a u. Not that Scrabblers care all that much about definitions, qapik is a unit of currency in Azerbaijan.
“Every time there’s a word with q and no u, it’s a big deal,” Sokolowski said. “Most of these are obscure.”
There are some sweet scorers now eligible for play, including bizjet, and some magical vowel dumps, such as arancini, those Italian balls of cooked rice. Bizjet, meaning — yes — a small plane used for business, would be worth a whopping 120 points on an opening play, but only if it’s made into a plural with an s. That’s due to the 50-point bonus for using all seven tiles and the double word bonus space usually played at the start.
The Springfield, Massachusetts-based dictionary company sought counsel from the North American Scrabble Players Association when updating the book, Sokolowski said, “to make sure that they agree these words are desirable.”
Sokolowski has a favorite among the new words but not, primarily, because of Scrabble scores. “It’s macaron,” he said, referring to the delicate French sandwich cookie featuring different flavors and fillings.
“I just like what it means,” he said.
Merriam-Webster put out the first official Scrabble dictionary in 1976. Before that, the game’s rules called for any desk dictionary to be consulted. Since an official dictionary was created, it has been updated every four to eight years, Sokolowski said.
There are other new entries Sokolowski likes, from a wordsmith’s view.
“I think ew is interesting because it expresses something new about what we’re seeing in language, which is to say that we are now incorporating more of what you might call transcribed speech. Sounds like ew or mm-hmm, or other things like coulda or kinda. Traditionally, they were not in the dictionary but because so much of our communication is texting and social media that is written language, we are finding more transcribed speech and getting a new group of spellings for the dictionary,” he said.
Like ew, there’s another interjection now in play, yowza, along with a word some might have thought was already allowed: zen.
There’s often chatter around Scrabble boards over which foreign words have been accepted into English to the degree they’re playable. Say hello to schneid, another of the new kids, this one with German roots. It’s a sports term for a losing streak. Other foreigners added because they predominantly no longer require linguistic white gloves, such as italics or quotation marks: bibimbap, cotija and sriracha.
Scrabble was first trademarked as such in 1948, after it was thought up under a different name in 1933 by Alfred Mosher Butts, an out-of-work architect in Poughkeepsie, New York. Interest in the game picked up in the early 1950s, according to legend, when the president of Macy’s happened upon it while on vacation.
Now, the official dictionary holds more than 100,000 words. Other newcomers Sokolowski shared are aquafaba, beatdown, zomboid, twerk, sheeple, wayback, bokeh, botnet, emoji, facepalm, frowny, hivemind, puggle and nubber.