Thursday, September 15, 2016

Another quotable, for election season

Don't you just LOVE quotes that start with "There is an ancient [exotic culture] saying..."? And don't you just hate it when you find out that they have absolutely nothing to do with [said culture]?

Well, I am here to solve your problem!

Here is a 100% certified Hungarian saying that you can quote all over the Internet in a nice cozy bubble of authenticity. I am posting it now because the USA elections are getting into the "silly season" where accusations of lizard aliens and conspiracy theories of Illuminati from Atlantis are flying all over the news feeds.

The saying goes thus:

Amíg lószar van, veréb is van.

which translates into:

As long as there is horseshit, there will be sparrows.

The most convenient explanation of this saying is that as long as there are stupid things to be consumed, someone out there will definitely be up to consuming them, no matter how untrue, ridiculous, or useless they are. Or you can flip it to the other side: As long as there are rotten things in the world, there will also be individuals who make a living from them. 

There is a lot to unpack in this one bit of condensed wisdom - and it is very much quotable in our day and age of hoaxes, fake news, and urban legends. 

(And in case you were wondering: Yes, sparrows do eat horse manure. Or rather, bits of oats encased in it. This is so common that it was even included in my all-time favorite Hungarian children's cartoon.)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Comrade, that skirt is too short!

Given all the recent media debate over what women should and should not wear in public, surrounded by clashing ideologies, I decided it was time to post another classic Hungarian pop culture reference that is both quotable, relevant, and completely unknown outside of Hungary.

This scene is from the classic movie A tanú (The witness, 1969), which is pretty much the Communist Era in a nutshell. It would take too long to explain all the thinly veiled criticism and biting sarcasm crammed into the film; you can purchase it on DVD with English subtitles, so I suggest you watch it instead.
The conversation, happening between Comrade Virág (a communist official) and his secretary, translates as follows:

"Comrade Gogolák, a moment please! That is a new skirt on you isn't it?"

"It is new, comrade Virág."

"It is brief. Let's leave sexuality to be the opium of the declining West! We don't need this."

The irony in the conversation, of course, is Gogolák's none-too-sexy knee-length skirt, that is being labeled "too sexual" by the man staring at it up close.

"Comrade! That skirt is brief!" is often quoted by people who have seen the movie. And "let's leave sexuality to be the opium of the declining West" also has a hipsterific ring to it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Pokémon grew on his WHAT NOW?!

I have been contemplating whether or not to share this, and I'll probably have to post something decent and culturally sensitive to cover up this post, but it has been stuck in my ears since Pokémon Go came out, and I can't resist the temptation anymore.

It is just too relevant.

Here is a classic Hungarian song titled "Birthday Party" - most commonly known by the chorus line: "A Pokémon grew on my weewee at my birthday party."


(Warning: Anatomical drawings of male genitalia in the video)

Created and performed by the brilliantly insane satire band Malacka és a Tahó (Piglet and the Asshole). Rough translation of lyrics:

When I turned thirteen
I wanted a great big party
So that all my classmates could be there;

All my little friends attended
They came by bus, and they
Played on the Commodore 64
With great enthusiasm

I thought this was gonna be
The greatest party of my life,
But a few minutes before 9
Tragedy struck:

A Pokémon grew on my weewee
At my birthday party!
A Pokémon grew on my weewee 
At my birthday party!!!

A Pokémon grew on on his weewee
At his birthday party!
A Pokémon grew on his weewee
At his birthday party!

(Repeat until dead)

Monday, May 30, 2016

All the Game of Thrones puns that only work in Hungarian


Most puns can't be translated. Which is really sad, when you think about it, since they seem to be humanity's shared, universal language. Everybody puns, one way or another.
And since Game of Thrones is also becoming a shared, universal language (at least for geeks), I decided to impart some punworthy Hungarian slang that works great in pirate subtitles, but is lost on English-speaking audiences.

Ever since Season 1, Hungarians have been describing Danaerys as "tűzrőlpattant," which literally translates into "jumped out of a fire." It is an archaic term mostly applied to fierce maidens. It is also probably what GRRM was copying when he invented "kissed by fire." An alternate version is "tüzes menyecske," which translates into "fiery maiden."

And while on the topic of fire: Another archaic term, "háztűznéző," refers to visiting a house with the intent of looking for a girl to marry. It literally translates into "watching the house fire," and while originally probably referred to the hearth, it fits Danaerys' latest antics quite perfectly and hilariously.

Still on the same side of the Narrow Sea, "pofám leszakad" is Hungarian slang for "I can't believe this bullshit." Incidentally, it literally translates into "my face rips off." You may apply that as you will. Taking it one step further, "pofátlan" ("faceless" or "mugless") is the adjective we use for shameless, nosy people.

Following the theme of missing body parts: "Szemtelen" also means shameless or nosy, and also translates into "eyeless," while the verb "lábatlankodik" ("goes around legless") is how we describe someone being in the way, annoying, or... under foot.

This should hold you over till Season 7.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zéró

Last day of the 2016 A to Z Challenge! Thank you all for visiting and leaving comments! Come back on May 9th for the Reflections!

When legendary criminal cat Zéró decides to sell a national park forest (and gated community) for profit, he can only be stopped by a Captain on the verge of retirement, the forest president's little granddaughter, and a handful of enthusiastic friends.
Az Erdő Kapitánya (Captain of the Forest, 1988) is a feature length animated movie that promotes the importance of the environment (among other things). It plays a lot on police movie tropes, such as "two weeks from retirement."

Once again, the cats are the bad guys: Zéró is the head of a crime network, and keeps evading capture by the upstanding members of the Police: The Captain (a dog), Ede the Corporal (a mouse), and the Emergency Signal (an owl). This formidable team is aided by Goliath, a flea, who is supposed to spy on the cats, but gets himself captured and sent back to the police under a stamp on an envelope. He finds out enough, however, to know that Zéró's aim is the Forest, so the Captain fakes retirement to get temporary housing in the gated community (since they are outside the city's jurisdiction).

At the forest, Captain makes friends with the granddaughter of the Forest President (an old and strong bear lady). Dorka is super excited about being friends with a real life cop. He also befriends Dini, the Bat, who helps him build a house on the island assigned to him - and obviously he builds it upside-down, but the good-natured Captain doesn't complain. We also get to encounter Pimpike, the Blue Bird of Happiness (a former wolf who ate a whole lot of poisonous shrooms and got an identity crisis).

All kinds of excitement ensue - chases on land and water, kidnappings, mayhem. Zéró almost succeeds at selling the entire forest to a landscaping company for immediate demolition... but in the end, the Captain stops him. After the excitement is over, the Captain decides to actually retire, and move into the Forest permanently.

This is a very adorable movie, and one of my favorites. I wish there was an English dubbed version...