Csíkszereda Musings

My life in and around Csíkszereda, also known as Miercurea Ciuc.

Archive for August, 2004

More Language

Posted by Andy Hockley on 24 August, 2004

I have recently learned that Cseszni (pronounced “Chesney”) is one of a number of Hungarian words that could be translated as “fuck”. Those English readers who remember wonderful one hit wonder Cseszni Hawkes with his hit “I am the One and Only” will realise how apposite this is.

A Romanian word for the same verb sounds a lot like that appendage that you have at the end of your legs. This explains why the national sport is Fotbal (sp?) rather than something more akin to futbol. God only knows what they´d make of the Hogmanay tradition of “First Footing”.

The Catalan word for Octopus (at least on menus) is Pop. This amuses me as I have a very small mind.

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More Language

Posted by Andy Hockley on 24 August, 2004

I have recently learned that Cseszni (pronounced “Chesney”) is one of a number of Hungarian words that could be translated as “fuck”. Those English readers who remember wonderful one hit wonder Cseszni Hawkes with his hit “I am the One and Only” will realise how apposite this is.

A Romanian word for the same verb sounds a lot like that appendage that you have at the end of your legs. This explains why the national sport is Fotbal (sp?) rather than something more akin to futbol. God only knows what they´d make of the Hogmanay tradition of “First Footing”.

The Catalan word for Octopus (at least on menus) is Pop. This amuses me as I have a very small mind.

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Is it busking?

Posted by Andy Hockley on 19 August, 2004

The first time I encountered those people who, ahem, earn money through the practice of standing very still while standing on a box wearing a costume was in Barcelona. I remember being quite stunned to see this guy in a toga raising quite large sums of cash by the simple process of merely standing there. I wouldn´t say I was impressed as such, but I was intrigued by the inventiveness and creativity of his approach. Here was a way of busking that didn´t involve any talent whatsoever. (Hands up all of you who made a mental comment regarding the lack of talent of buskers who play instruments/juggle/dance etc.)

But that was ten years ago, and since that first sighting the practice of dressing up and not moving has spread around the world. While the late 80s and early 90s were characterised by bands of faux-Peruvians playing pan pipes in town squares the length and breadth of the world, the 21st century equivalent is the performance art statue. And once again Barcelona is leading the world. These days the entire length of the Rambla is taken up with elaborately dressed individuals standing shoulder to shoulder competing for smaller and smaller offerings as people become more and more cynical about the practice. A critical mass has been reached and surely the practice must implode or start receiving EU subsidies to survive.

These days, of course, wearing a bed sheet and a crown of olive leaves and standing on a milk crate just does not cut the mustard. With such ferocious competition, today´s hopeful has to look ever more inhuman. These days there are gargoyles rubbing shoulders with Lenins. Cartoon characters and angels. they are covered in some kind of all over body paint and are, it has to be said, pretty amazing creations. It looks horrifically unhealthy, and ridiculously hot. I am sure most of their money is made through sympathy. “Look at that poor bastard wearing a full on suit of armour and covered in gold body paint in this 35° heat. That´s got to be killing him. Maybe he can buy himself a cold drink at the end of the day”. In this way, this modern day phenomenon has moved from busking to a kind of middle class begging. Make yourself as uncomfortable as possible in the hopes of attracting sympathy cash. How long before we get method actors on the streets of popular tourist destinations, slowly starving themselves for their art?

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Is it busking?

Posted by Andy Hockley on 19 August, 2004

The first time I encountered those people who, ahem, earn money through the practice of standing very still while standing on a box wearing a costume was in Barcelona. I remember being quite stunned to see this guy in a toga raising quite large sums of cash by the simple process of merely standing there. I wouldn´t say I was impressed as such, but I was intrigued by the inventiveness and creativity of his approach. Here was a way of busking that didn´t involve any talent whatsoever. (Hands up all of you who made a mental comment regarding the lack of talent of buskers who play instruments/juggle/dance etc.)

But that was ten years ago, and since that first sighting the practice of dressing up and not moving has spread around the world. While the late 80s and early 90s were characterised by bands of faux-Peruvians playing pan pipes in town squares the length and breadth of the world, the 21st century equivalent is the performance art statue. And once again Barcelona is leading the world. These days the entire length of the Rambla is taken up with elaborately dressed individuals standing shoulder to shoulder competing for smaller and smaller offerings as people become more and more cynical about the practice. A critical mass has been reached and surely the practice must implode or start receiving EU subsidies to survive.

These days, of course, wearing a bed sheet and a crown of olive leaves and standing on a milk crate just does not cut the mustard. With such ferocious competition, today´s hopeful has to look ever more inhuman. These days there are gargoyles rubbing shoulders with Lenins. Cartoon characters and angels. they are covered in some kind of all over body paint and are, it has to be said, pretty amazing creations. It looks horrifically unhealthy, and ridiculously hot. I am sure most of their money is made through sympathy. “Look at that poor bastard wearing a full on suit of armour and covered in gold body paint in this 35° heat. That´s got to be killing him. Maybe he can buy himself a cold drink at the end of the day”. In this way, this modern day phenomenon has moved from busking to a kind of middle class begging. Make yourself as uncomfortable as possible in the hopes of attracting sympathy cash. How long before we get method actors on the streets of popular tourist destinations, slowly starving themselves for their art?

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Barcelona

Posted by Andy Hockley on 18 August, 2004

Just a quick post to let people know I am alive, working hard, and enjoying my brief sojourn in Barcelona. It´s more expensive than it used to be here (but perhaps that´s because I´m coming from Romania, where stuff costs nothing), everything now is written in Catalan (much more than I remember), so I have yet another language rattling around my brain. As with Romanian it´s the words that are significantly diferent from the other romance languages I know that stick in my mind. Thus in Romanian the word for ´without` (fara) is memorable to me precisely because it is so unlike sem, sin, sans, senza etc. In Catalan it´s the word for ´with` (amb) that sticks. I haven´t yet been brave enough to go up to someone in a bar and ask “Tens foc?”, but I dream of that day.

The haircut of choice for young Catalan men seems to be a very short cut with this ridiculous little long bit at the back. I have christened it the “mulletito” but it might have a different name.

It´s also ludicrously hot and humid. But we´re having fun.

Hasta Luego

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Barcelona

Posted by Andy Hockley on 18 August, 2004

Just a quick post to let people know I am alive, working hard, and enjoying my brief sojourn in Barcelona. It´s more expensive than it used to be here (but perhaps that´s because I´m coming from Romania, where stuff costs nothing), everything now is written in Catalan (much more than I remember), so I have yet another language rattling around my brain. As with Romanian it´s the words that are significantly diferent from the other romance languages I know that stick in my mind. Thus in Romanian the word for ´without` (fara) is memorable to me precisely because it is so unlike sem, sin, sans, senza etc. In Catalan it´s the word for ´with` (amb) that sticks. I haven´t yet been brave enough to go up to someone in a bar and ask “Tens foc?”, but I dream of that day.

The haircut of choice for young Catalan men seems to be a very short cut with this ridiculous little long bit at the back. I have christened it the “mulletito” but it might have a different name.

It´s also ludicrously hot and humid. But we´re having fun.

Hasta Luego

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Catalan Hiatus

Posted by Andy Hockley on 12 August, 2004

I am off to Barcelona in a couple of hours to spend two weeks + working, hanging out with Erika on the shores of the Meditteranean, visiting friends, eating tapas, and drinking cava and carajillos. This blog will probably remain un-updated for the duration. I know how sad that must make you all.

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My media

Posted by Andy Hockley on 12 August, 2004

Television here is an interesting experience. We have about 4 Hungarian language channels (including “Minimax” the Hungarian cartoon channel, which if Bogi had her way would be on al day long – and as I write is one right now, showing Dr Bubo, a cartoon about an owl who is a Dr.). The majority of the rest are Romanian – including one which shows subtitled soap operas all day long – American in the day, Brazilian in the evening. There are the standard international cable offerings like MTV and Eurosport – both in Romanian, but understandable to the likes of me because of the limited nature of their content. We have two English language channels. Euronews and Animal Planet. The latter is seemingly 24 hour a day programming about Australians capturing snakes and crocodiles. I am not sure quite why anyone would want to watch more than one of these programmes, but presumably they do. The former, Euronews, is a strange one. I am not sure if you’ve ever seen it, but it seems to be a round the clock ad for the European Union with some news thrown in. Each half an hour begins with 10-15 minutes of news, followed by 5 minutes of sport, 10 minutes of something called “le mag” in whi9ch arts and culture are covered, and finishing up with a two minute slot called “no comment” in which pictures from one of the days news stories are shown without any form of commentary, and the weather, in which the entirety of Europe is covered in about 2minutes. And then it all repeats again. It’s bloody awful. I’d actually rather have CNN, and that’s saying something. The best bit is the no comment section when you don’t need to listen to the inane simplified “newsround” style “Japan is a country in East Asia and Oil is black stuff that comes out of the ground and is very important for modern life” interventions of the newsreaders. It’s also depressingly pro-Israel (or at least anit-Palestinian) for some reason. No idea who owns it.

Romanian TV looks very much like the standard southern European fare. Copious amounts of football (after the US, this a great feature), and lots of variety shows in which scantily clad women dance around suggestively and to no apparent purpose as redoubtable post-communist women sing songs from the old country. There are lots of cheap C-movies bought from the US and shown mostly with subtitles but occasionally with dubbing. One channel seems to take such crap US films, dub them into Hungarian and then subtitle them in Romanian. I can’t watch it for fear of upsetting the fragile balance between languages barely holding on inside my addled brain.

So for English language stimulation I have the choices of “the news for simpletons”, “Bruce the snake hunter”, sub Blue-Lagoon 2 movies, and MTV. There is a certain amount of stimulation in watching Kelis sing “trick me once, won’t let you trick me twice”, but it’s not exactly an intellectual stimulation.

In Bucharest airport I have come across an English language newspaper called “The Bucharest Daily News”. It’s fascinating. Fascinatingly bad. It makes Euronews look like it is presented by Umberto Eco. It’s not clear who it is aimed at to be honest. Any native English speaker would have their brains instantly turned into polenta (Romania’s national food – appetisingly translated on one menu I saw as “corn mush”). While any Romanian who wanted to learn about life in his or her own country would only subject himself to this lightweight pap as a method of practising their English. So I have to assume that it’s for the non-English speaking expat community of Bucharest – those who don’t speak Romanian, but who speak some English. But they do cover an inordinate amount of news and sport from the UK (though the focus is primarily Romania), so I can only conclude that either the British expat community of Bucharest is either exceptionally stupid or willing to be patronised beyond any normal level.

Another paper I have seen at the airport is “Gardianul” which appears to be an exact copy of the “The Guradian” in the UK – down to the fonts, the style, the banners, the fowm, everything. It is either a Romanian language version of the original Guardian or such a blatant and extreme rip-off as to be comical.

I am anxious to get a reasonable and failry constant internet connection so that I can actually follow world events

Posted in media | 3 Comments »

Catalan Hiatus

Posted by Andy Hockley on 12 August, 2004

I am off to Barcelona in a couple of hours to spend two weeks + working, hanging out with Erika on the shores of the Meditteranean, visiting friends, eating tapas, and drinking cava and carajillos. This blog will probably remain un-updated for the duration. I know how sad that must make you all.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

My media

Posted by Andy Hockley on 12 August, 2004

Television here is an interesting experience. We have about 4 Hungarian language channels (including “Minimax” the Hungarian cartoon channel, which if Bogi had her way would be on al day long – and as I write is one right now, showing Dr Bubo, a cartoon about an owl who is a Dr.). The majority of the rest are Romanian – including one which shows subtitled soap operas all day long – American in the day, Brazilian in the evening. There are the standard international cable offerings like MTV and Eurosport – both in Romanian, but understandable to the likes of me because of the limited nature of their content. We have two English language channels. Euronews and Animal Planet. The latter is seemingly 24 hour a day programming about Australians capturing snakes and crocodiles. I am not sure quite why anyone would want to watch more than one of these programmes, but presumably they do. The former, Euronews, is a strange one. I am not sure if you’ve ever seen it, but it seems to be a round the clock ad for the European Union with some news thrown in. Each half an hour begins with 10-15 minutes of news, followed by 5 minutes of sport, 10 minutes of something called “le mag” in whi9ch arts and culture are covered, and finishing up with a two minute slot called “no comment” in which pictures from one of the days news stories are shown without any form of commentary, and the weather, in which the entirety of Europe is covered in about 2minutes. And then it all repeats again. It’s bloody awful. I’d actually rather have CNN, and that’s saying something. The best bit is the no comment section when you don’t need to listen to the inane simplified “newsround” style “Japan is a country in East Asia and Oil is black stuff that comes out of the ground and is very important for modern life” interventions of the newsreaders. It’s also depressingly pro-Israel (or at least anit-Palestinian) for some reason. No idea who owns it.

Romanian TV looks very much like the standard southern European fare. Copious amounts of football (after the US, this a great feature), and lots of variety shows in which scantily clad women dance around suggestively and to no apparent purpose as redoubtable post-communist women sing songs from the old country. There are lots of cheap C-movies bought from the US and shown mostly with subtitles but occasionally with dubbing. One channel seems to take such crap US films, dub them into Hungarian and then subtitle them in Romanian. I can’t watch it for fear of upsetting the fragile balance between languages barely holding on inside my addled brain.

So for English language stimulation I have the choices of “the news for simpletons”, “Bruce the snake hunter”, sub Blue-Lagoon 2 movies, and MTV. There is a certain amount of stimulation in watching Kelis sing “trick me once, won’t let you trick me twice”, but it’s not exactly an intellectual stimulation.

In Bucharest airport I have come across an English language newspaper called “The Bucharest Daily News”. It’s fascinating. Fascinatingly bad. It makes Euronews look like it is presented by Umberto Eco. It’s not clear who it is aimed at to be honest. Any native English speaker would have their brains instantly turned into polenta (Romania’s national food – appetisingly translated on one menu I saw as “corn mush”). While any Romanian who wanted to learn about life in his or her own country would only subject himself to this lightweight pap as a method of practising their English. So I have to assume that it’s for the non-English speaking expat community of Bucharest – those who don’t speak Romanian, but who speak some English. But they do cover an inordinate amount of news and sport from the UK (though the focus is primarily Romania), so I can only conclude that either the British expat community of Bucharest is either exceptionally stupid or willing to be patronised beyond any normal level.

Another paper I have seen at the airport is “Gardianul” which appears to be an exact copy of the “The Guradian” in the UK – down to the fonts, the style, the banners, the fowm, everything. It is either a Romanian language version of the original Guardian or such a blatant and extreme rip-off as to be comical.

I am anxious to get a reasonable and failry constant internet connection so that I can actually follow world events

Posted in media | 3 Comments »