Bear
Bear

It's funny that during the last 200 years, two empires — the Napoleon one and the Nazi one — came to bad ends inside Russia.

And now you can make it three. You'd also think the United States wouldn't have tried because they knew what happened to Napoleon and then the Nazis — icy ruin and angry Russians.

But you'd be wrong, and here I am, toiling in a bootleg DVD gulag somewhere in Siberia. I'm glad I read "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" in school, because it gave me a primer on how much this sucks. We work 18 hours a day, six days a week dubbing copies of "Iron Man," "The Avengers," "The X-Men" and any other bad, blockbuster Hollywood trash imaginable. (It's ironic how much everyone hates the United States but loves our pop culture.) The good news: If it gets colder than 40 below zero, we get to take the day off. The bad news: Everything else.

I'm pretty sure that it's 2022, although it's hard to be certain. All of this started about two years ago when the bromance between Presidents Trump and Putin suddenly imploded. Trump made fun of Putin's latest shirtless bear-wrestling Instagram photo. Putin bombed Trump's golf resort, and Trump responded with the ill-fated full-on invasion of Russia.

I was conscripted into the infantry and — being utterly unfit for any sort of combat whatsoever — was captured about a week after arriving in the Volgograd Oblast, outside of a city called Volgograd that was once called Stalingrad. For all you history buffs, that's where things went south for the Third Reich, and the rifle butt scar on my forehead is good evidence that it's where things went south for me. Quick social studies lesson: It's very cold in Russia, and although your equipment freezes up at about 30 below zero, the Russians' does not. They aren't taking the winter off, either.


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Although the soldiers who caught me were mean bastards, the guards here at the gulag aren't that bad. They like movies. I like movies.

Average conversation:

Guard: "I am telling you, 'Armageddon' is better movie than 'Starship Troopers.'"

Me: "Sergei, you're crazy. 'Armageddon,' for one thing, is totally sexist. It's like Liv Tyler's character is just there to act hysterically. It offended me."

"Yes, this is true. I find Liv Tyler sexy."

"Yeah, but one thing has nothing to do with the other."

"I can't believe you think 'Starship Troopers' is better movie. Why wouldn't they just spray bugs with poison? The whole thing is ridiculous."

"But that's the beauty. 'Starship Troopers' isn't trying to be anything it's not. It's completely aware of how dumb it is. 'Armageddon' thinks it's a serious movie."

"And Denise Richards is terrible actress. When she was counting down for rocketship to blast off, it seemed like she read numbers from cue card."

"Did you know she was married to Charlie Sheen?"

"This I did not know. ..."

And so on.

Read more Bear: coloradodaily.com/columnists. Stalk him: twitter.com/johnbearwithme