Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Where's the Beef?

A 2nd division soccer team sold one of its players to a 4th division side for 15 kilograms (33 lbs) of meat. Pro Sport, a national sports newspaper, reported that UT Arad sold defender Marius Cioara to Regal Horia, but while Arad feasted, Horia was left with nothing. Apparently Cioara decided to retire and move to Spain to find a job in agriculture or construction.

"We are upset because we lost twice - firstly because we lost a good player and secondly because we lost our team's food for a whole week," a Regal Horia said. Cioara countered by saying, "What am I? Chopped liver...or hamburger? Perhaps a nice flank steak? Really I want to know?" Actually we made that last bit up.

Killer Dog Update

If there is one thing a killer dog needs, it's a lawyer. Having been hired by a animal rights group, Paula Iacob, apparently one of Romania's finest lawyers, is representing Coco the killer. "I have asked for a forensic report about the incident. It seems that the Japanese man died of a heart attack and not due to the bite," said Iacob. "If the bite marks don't fit, you must acquit," she may or may not have added. A judge recently turned down a request by Cutu-Cutu, the animal rights group, to adopt the dog. While Cutu-Cutu's name, which translates to 'Doggy-Doggy', doesn't have quite the gravitas that PETA or SCPA does, that doesn't mean they're going down quietly. "The authorities are just using her as a scapegoat," said a Cutu-Cutu suit, but the OMI think it's more like a scapedog (rimshot).
Idiot animal rights activists, pain in the ass lawyers, inept bureacracy...who said Romania isn't a Western country.

story from Reuters

Friday, February 24, 2006

No More Beat the Gypsy

Running with the minority theme, the One Man Invasion is currently commemorating 150 years of Gypsy freedom. For about 500 years, Gypsies, or Roma, were forced to work for the Orthodox Church and for local princes, and during WWII Romania supplied the Germans with thousands of Gypsies to work to death, burn or gas.
Gypsy activists have called for an official day to recognize the thousands of Gypsies that died under the yoke of slavery. Nicolae Paun, a Gypsy MP, said, the government has not done enough to help Gypsies integrate into society. "We are not slaves anymore legally, but we are still in a state of 'social slavery,'" he said. "After 150 years the state has still to recognize its wrongdoing."
The Romanian-Gypsy population numbers about half a million but realistically it is over a million. Many Gypsies live a nomadic existence on the fringes of society without any forms of identification or stable jobs.
The OMI has several colleagues that work with Gypsies and while many Gypsies are a bit rough around the edges, they are not the scourge that many Romanians see them as. They are treated as second class citizens and are subjected to a lot of racism. On the other hand, Romanians somewhat rightly claim that Gypsies have given them a bad reputation in the West. In the years immediately following the fall of communism, Romanians were frequently arrested in Germany for an assortment of crimes and the Romanians were inevitably Gypsies.
With that said, we here at the Invasion are lovers not fighters, so we say the government needs to do a bit more to help out the Gypsies, but we're also unabashedly reasonable too, so we say the Gypsies need to stop being so shady and embrace modern Romania.

Gypsy/Roma Wikipedia Page

Thanks to Alexe Alexandru of the AP for doing most of the real reporting.

A nevem Istvan. Amerikai vagyok

That's 'My name is Stephen. I am American' in Hungarian. Hungarian is a great mess of a language and is super hard to learn (a few colleagues of the Invasion have tried). In the Finno-Ugric language family, Hungarian is related to only Estonian, Finnish, and Mongolian. When the Huns came maraudering across Europe, a few decided to stay in Hungary while others trekked up to Estonia and, no points for guessing this one, Finland.
Why Hungarian, you ask? Hungarians, counting for about 7% of the population, are Romania's largest minority group. Most live in Transylvania which was once part of Hungary. Romania was given Transylvania after WWII because the Hungarians fought alongside the Nazis. Romania fought with the Germans at first and made a sizeable contribution to the Holocaust to boot, but they changed their minds in the middle of the war and came over to our side (smart move, eh?).
The Hungarians are like the Quebecois of Romania. In certain cities and counties all signs have to be in Romanian and Hungarian b/c Hungarians make up at least 40% of the population. They have their own political party that is represented in Parliament and they're an all-around good group of peeps. The OMI has spent time with plenty of Hungarian-Romanians and they've been more than nice, but, then again, when they don't speak English I don't understand a single word they're saying so they might be secretly hating.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mihai Eminescu

Romania's greatest poet and favorite son, Mihai Eminescu, is everywhere in this country. He was a romantic poet that celebrated the beauty of Romania in his many poems. He studied in Iasi (Yash) and wrote most of his poetry while he lived there. No matter where you go in Romania, you're guaranteed to see a bust, statue or some kind of monument to Eminescu. Students learn his poetry nonstop from grade school through college. Even the communist dictatorship didn't ban this guy's stuff since it celebrates the beauty of Romania. The OMI was recently in Iasi and after touring Eminescu Square, the Invasion headed to Copou Park to sit, meditate and receive inspiration under Eminescu's linden tree, just like Mihai used to (see tree above). Unfortunately, Eminescu's other form of inspiration, his lover Veronica Micle, brought about his early death. Micle was quite the muse since she was not only 'inspriring' Mihai, but also his playwright friend. Oh yeah, she was married too. Not unsurprisingly Micle gave Eminescu and his buddy syphilis. Eminescu bit the dust, but the friend survived. I don't think this part of the story is told to the grade schoolers.
the Romanian literary groupie

The World's Second Biggest Building

The People's Palace in downtown Bucharest is not just the world's second biggest building (we have the first, natch, The Pentagon), but it's also a monument to megalomaniac dictatorial madness. Currently housing the Romanian Parliament as well as a museum, the People's Palace was built by commie dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Ceaucescu razed 1/6 of Bucharest and displaced thousands of people in order to clear land to build this monstrosity. Hailed by the US and British during the Cold War for going against the Soviets, Ceausescu's story is pretty interesting and pretty typical. Crazy dictator uses secret police to crack down on population. Propped up by the other countries who don't realize the horrors he is committing at home, the dictator sets his country back a decade or so before the citizenry revolt. The dictator is tried by a secret court and shot with his shockingly materialistic wife.
yeah, it's that big

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Lords of Romania

So you've been told plenty about the strays that roam this country and to assure you that this is no lie, the Invasion has caught some of these carnivorous canines in action. Look on the dogs, ye mighty, and despair.
resting after a kill

this dog makes the kid play the flute and beg

This kid was bit by a dog and now has rabies

International Art Dealer

So my neighbor knocks on my door the other day, walks in and starts asking me if I'm interested in buying some picture she has. Well, it's not really a picture, she says, apparently it's like a picture and I should just come in and look at it. Here at the OMI, we're always up for an adventure, so confused and admittedly intrigued, I follow her to see this thing. She shows it to me and it's more like a stitching (which is what it will be called henceforth) and she asks me if I want to buy it or if I know anyone that does. The story is that since she and her husband are retired, they would like some extra cash and figured that they'd sell the stitching. Being a good neighbor, I said I'd see if I could find anyone who is interested. It's an Austrian stitching from the 1860's (47mm x 47mm) and although a local museum said it was worth more, my neighbor only wants 400 Euros. If you buy this, you will also get a direct pass to heaven for helping out a retired Romanian couple.
what do you think these guys are talking about?

Je ne sais quoi

A few months ago I was in Focsani (Foc-shan) and decided to take a walk around town. To be honest, there wasn't much to see but walking through the main park in town I came across a grade school favorite of mine. Why he was there, I don't think I'll ever know.
He best be in X3

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

I do and I am.

Teddy Roosevelt is the most popular president amongst Romanians

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Up For Some Air

After spending the past several months laying low in the Romanian underground, the One Man Invasion has returned! Top secret updates with photos will soon follow. Bookmark this one because we're back in action here at the OMI. We're hooked up and online at our secret base (also known as Dragos Voda Colegiul National), so prepare yourself for a barrage of info direct from behind the Iron Curtain.