Friday, March 27, 2009

Romanian Book of the Undead

A 73-year-old Romanian man has held a dress rehearsal for his funeral, with grieving mourners and a sermon from the village priest. He even tried out his grave for size and found it comfortable. Had he worked in a circus he'd know that a flawless rehearsal is no guarantee of anything. When the fateful day arrives, his bored kinsfolk will probably be picking their noses during his eulogy. As for the priest, he’ll surely want revenge on the silly old git for wasting his time. Fluffing his lines would be too obvious, so maybe he'll sneak a fart into the coffin just before the lid goes on. I bet the slaves who were buried alive with the Pharaohs guffed into the sarcophagus until their gas supply ran out.

Such morbid events do little for the image of Romania, which has been tarnished enough by the vampire legends. It’s about time our friend Gadjo Dilo got off his Balkan backside and did something for his country’s reputation. Having had the good fortune to grow up among the Thames Valley elite, he has a pastoral obligation to the simple folk of his native land. Although he’s too modest to admit it, he’s obviously become something of a local Bwana since his return. I’m sure the Romanian Tourist Board would make him their Czar if he offered to help.

The first thing for Gadjo to sort out would be the behaviour of the peasantry. Garlic and crucifixes would be out, gay dances and motley costumes would be in. The men would be ordered to trim their bushy eyebrows and the women would be asked to remove their facial hair. As a reward for compliance, they’d be given permission to carve wooden hobgoblins and sell them to the tourists at inflated prices.

Work should then begin on a Dracula theme park in Bucharest, emphasising the positive aspects of the Bram Stoker legend. Visiting matrons could re-live their maidenhood by donning virgin costumes and being chased by saturnine gigolos intent on giving them a hickey. The men could take part in an archery tournament involving the firing of wooden stakes into an effigy of Van Helsing (thereby giving the sadistic twerp a belated taste of his own medicine). A special blood-red cherry cola would be served to the kiddies after a ride in the Flying Vampire Bat. The whole experience would put Disneyworld to shame.

The last thing Gadjo should do is make a promotional TV commercial for the tourist market. The tried-and-tested formula is to show a local celebrity enjoying himself in the company of big-breasted models. The obvious star to hire would be Ilie Năstase, the former tennis champion, who bedded the entire ladies’ quarter-final draw of the 1972 French Open. The sight of “Nasty” munching Moldavian meatballs while ogling Transylvanian titties would have the European masses rushing to their travel agents.

The big growth market for the future is archaeology-tourism. In Africa, guests interested in the origins of homo sapiens will pay a substantial fee to dig up bones and artefacts under the supervision of the Big White Professor (honkus americanus). I’m hoping to persuade some of these earnest humans to dig up insects and roots instead, under the supervision of the Big Hairy Gorilla (gorilla gorilla). An imaginative fellow like Gadjo might offer similar activities to people visiting his own country. Provided, of course, there is anything worth digging up in Romania.

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Sweet suffering jaysus.. your Romanian fella would have been better off just burying that awfy jumper.

The last time I saw anything so hideous was when we took a wrang turn in Enger-land, and ended up in Milton Keynes.
Visiting matrons could re-live their maidenhood by donning virgin costumes and being chased by saturnine gigolos intent on giving them a hickey.

I think the matrons would be after a bit more than a hickey, Mr Bananas.
Well, it looks like you dug up Nastase. Btw, what's the difference in status between a gorilla gorilla and a gorilla gorilla gorilla?
An army of gorillas are hiding in a Romanian graveyard.
it would be quite amusing to see. and i'd book a trip right now to romania if they had Draculand.
I am deeply honoured, thank you! The 20,000,000 in used notes (= about 14 euros) and the bottle of ţuica is on it's way to you by mule train.

For those interested, there was indeed a plan to build a Dracula land theme park, but corruption kinda got in the way. A Năstase theme park, with waxwork models of his 2500 conquests, might be better.

"Motley costumes", yes (that jumper is national costume, I'll have you know); "gay dances"? How very dare you.

"Anything worth digging up in Romania"? My friends, our country has been a major source of gold for millenia, and there's still a pile of it under a mountain here. All you have to do is come and remove the mountain (and the attendant ecologists) and it's yours! Direct flights for £60 from Luton. I'll sell you the shovels, beer and dancing girls when you arrive.
Mr Bastard: Maybe it's what the metrosexual man likes to wear. Do you have such people in Scotland?

Scarlet: Not all matrons are that greedy, Miss Scarlet. You'll have to try the hickeys first before I offer you further stimulation.

Inkspot: Two "gorillas" are quite sufficient for most of us, Inkspot. In my experience, the triple fellows are braggadocious mountebanks.

Static: What would gorillas be doing in a graveyard? There's no need to spread disinformation to support your argument.

Sarah: Would you be interested in the hickey?

Lesliey: Thanks Lesliey! Your face is familiar to me.

Gadjo: Gold tourism sounds like a winner, but you'd have to vet the visitors to prevent swarms of unshaven desperadoes turning up. The challenges would be: (a) to make it a family activity and (b) to make sure they spent all their gold before leaving the country.
I'm on my way Gadj - but only if you demonstrate the gay dancing.

Gorilla are you getting a cut from this gold rush that he's setting up?
"Garlic and crucifixes would be out, gay dances and motley costumes would be in."

I'm there. Your vision is awe-inspiring!
I'm impressed by this vision of the future of Eastern Europe. It does sound slightly like 'Westworld', although I suppose it would have to be 'Eastworld'.

Where would the Cheeky Girls fit in? Could they be offered as sacrificial victims in a daily re-enactment of Vlad the Impaler?
So.... you believe the vampires are a - myth - do you? Hmmmm......
"..Maybe it's what the metrosexual man likes to wear. Do you have such people in Scotland?"

No sir.. not since we repaired the hole in Hadrians Wall.
Lulu: I don't need gold, baby, I need entertainment. I want to see you being chased in a virgin costume.

Rachel: Thanks Rach! You'll definitely be in my tour party.

Madame Defarge: I'm not sure about the Cheeky Girls, they seem to have become very anglicised in their habits. On the other hand, that might make ideal victims for the men with fangs.

Lady Macleod: My mind is open on these questions, your ladyship. Are you partial to having your neck bitten?

Mr Bastard: I'm amazed that any had the nerve to sneak through a hole in your wall.
Well if you will let the Irish do your masonry .... how about an Ostalgia type theme park, with the Ceausescus jumping out at you when you least expected it? That would be even scarier than Dracula.

Nastase hasn't aged well, has he? Is that his daughter with him? I do hope so.
'... gay dances and motley costumes would be in'? Hundreds of Romanian village people vogueing YMCA, GB?
This theme park would only be open after dark right?
Will they be serving that corn for dinner? Cause it looks like it's gone over a bit. Also will Daniel Craig be there? In any case, if your going I'm in.
GB: of course!
You're proposing to rid of local flavours, Mr GB, I personally would like to see the Romanian landscape unchanged and progessing slowly. It would make it more interesting to visit, and leave in a hurry.
I would definitely go to a dracula theme park. I'd also leave comments over at gadjo's blog but he doesn't allow us wordpress kids in :-(
Madame DeFarge is right: As well as NăstaseLand lets have Cheeky Girl World as well! I suspect that bottom-pinching would be a feature of both. Most of Romania could still pass for an Ostalgia theme park, Daphers. Lulu, I have diplomas in gay dancing, but don't tell anybody. "Romanian village people vogueing YMCA" would be misunderstood here on every possible level!

Nursey, what's "wordpress"? You'd be more than welcome at my blog - how do I let you in?
Lady Daphne: She's young enough to be his daughter, milady, but there is no shortage of spring chickens willing to consort with a famous old rooster.

Kate: The women would join in too, Kate. I'm racking my brains for a female version of the Village People. Did Dusty Springfield ever belong to a band?

Beverly: Do you prefer to get your hickeys in the dark, Beverly? It's possibly more exciting, but you might not see the man's face.

Sarah: Your enthusiasm is a delight.

Polly: That might be a frightening experience, Polly. I would volunteer to be your chaperone in such an excursion.

Nursemyra: You've certainly got the looks for a female vampire, Nursie. And I'm sure Gadjo didn't mean to exclude you.

Gadjo: The Cheeky Girls may be losing their Romaniosity, but I like the idea of giving Nastase his own theme park. The man was so much more than just tennis.
I would absolutely go to a Dracula themepark. But don't forget to give the Hungarians a cut. I mean, Dracula technically belongs to them, right Gadjo? Isn't there some tiny enclave in Romania where they still speak medieval Hungarian? I bet they could use the cash AND they would make a great source of study for some struggling linguist stuck in his sixteenth year of graduate studies.
We had a guy do the funeral dress-rehearsal thing here recently. Of the joke was on him in the end, because he forgot to bring the cemetery staff up to speed and they completed the job of burying him.
If my memory serves me aright, Romanians have extremely colourful and cheerful cemetaries, complete with pictures of the manner of demise.
I feel I am already dressed for Dracula Land and hereby pledge to dance gaily for the Saturnine Gigolos.
Well, how very nice! So are you trying to get him arrested for digging up in Romania, have I understood you correctly?
Ana: Hungarians? Could be. What about Slovaks? They were always helping Dracula for some reason. All humans look pretty much the same to me anyway.

Kyknoord: You mean he got inside the coffin? What a doofus.

Kevin: They find the manner of demise cheerful? Funny people.

Woman in Black: Don't forget to put on the virgin dress and show them plenty of neck.

J.T.: You don't get arrested for digging in Romania. It's one of their favourite national pastimes.
GB, can you show Gadjo how to fix his commenting section for people who aren't with blogger?

there must be some enabling thing where you choose an identity....
Is not Transylvania the home of the Merry Cemetery?

Perhaps this hayseed was genuinely happy to be moving to a more desirable location than his bemerded hamlet, and with more animated neighbours.
Your post is so interesting that I almost got so carried away reading it. I'll be back for more.
You guys have now made my week.

"Dracula technically belongs to [The Hungarians], right Gadjo?" The character on which he's vaguely based is the very Romanian>Vlad Ţepeş, a national hero and "firm but fair" impaler of Turks.

"Isn't there some tiny enclave in Romania where they still speak medieval Hungarian?" Hungarians now make up about 19% of Transylvania (much fewer in other parts of Romania) - it used to be more, though whether they ever were in a majority is a matter of heated conjecture. There are two other Magyar language groups here which can be distinguished from simply "Hungarian speakers living in what is now Romania": the Székely and the Csángós. I believe that in Bram Stoker's book, Dracula claims to be one of the former.

"I bet they could use the cash AND they would make a great source of study for some struggling linguist stuck in his sixteenth year of graduate studies." I was almost that linguist. Having finished my post-grad studies in computational linguistics I was given some work on a "minority-languages" project. As I was already here I thought I'd go off and study the language of the Csángós, the more linguistically interesting (and elusive) group. I'd still like to, especially as there are now only 1,370 of them.

me, me, me... Sorry, I'll go now.

Yep, Săpânţa, the "Merry Cemetery" - thanks, Boyo.
Hi Gadjo -- Ana here, the writer of the comments that made your week. (Sorry Mr. GB to use your comment space in this manner!)

Thank you for setting me straight on the non-Hungarian roots of Dracula! Those Magyars will tell you anything in a drunken stupor -- or maybe I was in the drunken stupor, I can't remember. But I DO remember a man at Lake Balaton fervently insisting that Dracula was Hungarian.

Thank you also for filling in my spotty knowledge of Hungarian language groups within Romania.

What did you end up doing instead of that linguistic study? And what exactly is computational linguistics?

you, you, you... are damn smart and interesting!
I honestly do not think any
of this is true... really. You are making it all up...
Nursemyra: I have sent you an e-mail, Nursie.

Mr Boyo: I suspect he's quite indifferent about his location as long as the corn is yellow and ripe. He reminds me a little of Lady Penelope's man, Parker.

BG Serpent: I hope you didn't spill anything. If you decide to return you will be welcome.

Gadjo: Thanks for the information. I seem to remember that 'Dracula' was the nickname of a goalkeeper who wasn't good with crosses. He may have been Hungarian.

Ana: That's OK Ana, go ahead and pick his brains!

Mutley: Click on the link, you silly pooch.
"Saturnine gigolos," you say? "Count" me in!
Ha! I reckon The Sun etc used up all the possible cliches when Chelsea came here last year and got thrashed 0-0 by CFR Cluj.

Ana, why thank you. Your Balaton acquaintance is maybe not so wrong. Dracula really is entirely ficticious; he gets little more than his name from Romanian Vlad Ţepeş, and his antics seem to be inspired from many diverse sources. So, if Stoker - who never visited this land - says he's a Székely, than I guess he's a Székely (a Magyar-speaking group, though whether they're ethnically Hungarian has been disputed. They do have great moustaches though.) Computational linguistics is analysing or generating human language using computers: e.g. voice regocnition, automatic translation and deciding whether Francis Bacon or Christopher Marlowe (etc) wrote Shakespeare. Instead of this liguistic study I chose to sit in front of a computer all day long, for money. Thanks for asking :-)
i met with a group from romania a few years back and found them to be a little depressed as a people...all but one woman who was so lovely she stood above them all...and she was the interpreter!
Cow thinks this plan of Gorilla will re-invigorate Romania and prove to be the salvation of not only their country but other, neighboring countries as well.

you know, if i'd had your guidebook instead of the stupid national geographic one i might not have gotten lost so often while there. where were you with this a year ago, man?!
Madam Z: I'll ask Gadjo to let you in free, Madam Z.

Gadjo: We gorillas are well acquainted with Vlad the Impaler. I wrote about him here.

Daisy: Do you suppose being bilingual put a smile on her face?

Topiary Cow: I hope so, Ms Cow. They need a few more attractions in that part of the world.

Kara: You'd wouldn't have listened to me a year ago, Missy. As I recall you were deeply in lurve.
actually gorilla i think it was the control she had over other by being bilingual that put the smile on her was a definite superior smile, of course i recognized it and was drawn to it immediately :)
I went to the official tourism site for Romania (in English, thank God), and their picture of the month is the "Fortified Church of Ilieni," which was built in the 1400s in Transylvania.

It's actually quite a beautiful photograph, and Romania has definitely moved into my top 100 for countries to visit.
Alternative comment: "Bucharest? I thought we were going to Budapest! Son of a bitch!"
Well GB- great post. sorry I have been preoccupied lately and have not dropped by sooner. will make up for it now though.
kara - yeah no, more like "barely holding on".
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