The Foot of the Ladder


Well my friends, this is it. We are here at the foot of the ladder, the very last day of 2011. Whether good, bad or something in between, this year is just about over.

Whether you’re new to my website or been here with me all year, it’s time now to look back at all the things I’ve done and written about over the year. Technically I started this blog in April 2010 so this is now our first full calendar year together.

We started off the year with some predictions and observations, especially this:

It’s a new year and there’s going to be some new changes around here. I’ll get into this in more detail soon because I want to briefly talk about one project in particular.

It’s obvious that the most effective way to change the wider world’s perspective on Romania is through English-language footage. What do I mean? I mean a TV show (Rom: film serial) in English (or primarily in English) that’s about Romania. No starving orphans, no gymnastics – something entirely new.

Many years ago I had the good fortune to study film and television, up to and including how to storyboard, how to frame camera angles, how to rig sound and lights and how to edit. A local television station allowed us to use their equipment and we shot and produced several pieces.

I understand what makes “good television”. I know that there’s an incredible gulf between a Romanian who has seen images and footage of America (and England, etc) for years and an American who literally has never seen a single image from Romania. The field is wide open.

When the weather gets warmer, I plan on shooting some good television. Depending on resources, it may be a rather simple affair that ends up getting broadcast on YouTube (or something similar). I’m an ambitious SOB so I’d like to produce a “real” television show for a major network but hey, one step at a time.

Well after a long and convoluted process, six episodes of that documentary did get produced and published on YouTube. The links to them can be found on the right-hand side of this blog. I have hundreds of more hours of footage still “in the can” so hang on for 2012 as when I get more time I will be releasing more of them.

I then began 2011 with a Scolding of Righteousness. Interestingly, about two weeks ago I did something similar concerning unplugged refrigerators. I later returned to that shop about a week later (through sheer coincidence) and met the owner and it turns out he’s a great fan of mine, etc, so that worked out surprisingly well.

In 2011 I wrote many, many articles on Romanian words and how to use them and what they mean. One of my favorite of these was When a kiss is just a kiss. I also liked Double Plus Ungood and pusy, a favorite amongst English speakers for obvious reasons. To see the entire list of these, click here. Interestingly, a lot of Romanians wrote me about some of these words because they did not know about them. Cool eh?

Starting in December, I also began a new series called English for Romanians, which I look forward to writing many more articles on this topic.

I also had a lot of fun with the Romanian language in other ways, including my post on lexical doublets. I also wrote a number of technical pieces on the Romanian language, including The impersonal construction with the dative, indicating a state of being and When less is more less. I also wrote Fun with adjectives, one of my personal favorites. Another one I really had fun writing was A conversation with a cunning linguist.

Later I got angry about all the attention given to the Witch Tax, followed up by this piece and finally Casting the Purple Stone. It was as a result of this that I began my obsession with Alison “Click!” Mutler, starting with my post Racism in Romania and continuing here and here. This led to the First Annual Alison Mutler Parody Contest. The submitted entries can be found here and the winner was announced here. I also got a nice letter from an anonymous person, which you can read here hehehe.

I also ranted against other idiots who portray Romania in a bad light, including Michael Noer, the arrogant assholes of World Vision, talking about profiteers and dilettantes in The Compleat Angler and my definitive article on the subject, The Misery Pimp. I also discussed the asshole Serban Huidu and just why I hate the show Cronica Carcotasilor.

I also explained why The Economist is my nemesis, starting with The Heavy Heart of Betrayal and also mentioned many others times, including in God Bless All The Universe.

In May I went to the TEDx conference. Strangely enough, one of my friends (whom I saw yesterday actually) is related to one of the people who spoke on stage and it’s kind of cool I got to know them through this conference. Less nice was this exchange I had with one of the “ambassadors” of the conference, who completely missed the point of the thing.

I began writing about the mayor of Cluj, first ranting about him here and then dissecting the incoherent ramblings of Radu Moisin, then “vice” or deputy mayor and now the interim mayor. I then met some of his minions in the Hall of Glass and ended up meeting Sorin Apostu personally as described here. I then got to celebrate on the day he did the perp walk in the local courthouse.

I also took a lot of pictures, my favorite probably being Ben 10 Alien Force. So darn cute! I also finally got a video camera and posted several clips.

Due to my book, I started making appearances in public, leaving my relative isolation from my fellow foreigners and coming in from the cold.

I began writing a series of articles that focus on money and exploring how we got to live in the modern society that we have now, starting with Going Hungry So a Banker May Eat Caviar, talking about Romania’s crippling debt, and A Short History of Capitalism, understanding how probability is calculated with Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics and Am venit sa dau drumu lumina and Misguided and Dangerous. I explored how this mentality got to be so pervasive in The Cult of the Bottle Shakers. I discussed how journalism really works in The Brass Check. I explored these topics further with A Handful of Dust. I wrote extensively about advertising and propaganda, starting with That Righteous Indignation Dollar and The “Secret” History of Advertising, Part 1 and Part 2.

Depending on my mood, I also had a lot of fun with Tongue Twister Thursdays, which the title in and of itself is difficult for many Romanians to pronounce.

In April a tide of gay baby panic swept over Timisoara, which led me to write an article on homosexuality in the Bible. That led me to write a follow-up article on the Bible, this time describing in a few paragraphs exactly what’s in the book that nobody reads :)

I wrote about a woman I met (whom I had the pleasure of speaking with again here on Christmas Day) and all the memories it brought back of my first trip to Romania. Great piece.

Even though Romanians universally hate me for it, I also spent some time deconstructing manele videos, including Vreau barbate silicoane. If you’ve been around with me since the beginning, you know about my tremendous fondness for Roxana Printesa Ardealului, who will be the subject of a future book I shall write :P I also covered a few other kinds of Romanian music, including this nice piece in honor of Dragobete.

I wrote extensively on my beliefs and (largely) positive attitude, comparing and contrasting it with that of Romanians in a number of posts, including What’s the difference between me and you? (Romanian translation here) and a bit of a scolding towards my own readers during a fireside chat. One of my favorite pieces on the topic is Through a Glass, Darkly. I also wrote about this in FAQ part 42 and 20 Million Snowdrops and On the Kindness of Strangers.

I wrote several more somber or “serious” pieces, including When The Tigers Broke Free on September 11, Look Homeward, Angel about a Romanian who finally came home, No Pit, All Pendulum about a life I saved and The Tolling of The Bell about a life that came to an end.

It didn’t end up working out but I had a lot of fun getting drunk with a would-be publisher here in Romania of my book Balada Supravietuitorului. Finding a publisher (perhaps in a more traditional way hehe) is definitely on my list of things to do for 2012. Also on the list for next year is to finally get my English book in Romanian bookstores as well. I’m actually waiting on a call from someone today to get that in motion here next week.

For the first time in years, I had a proper vacation, this time to Sinaia and Busteni. And while it wasn’t quite a vacation as I was there to film the documentary, I also had a great time in Sibiu.

Of course I had a number of media appearances. I wrote about what this was like here. My most famous and well-known appearance was on ProTV, which I wrote about here (full video here and promo clip here). That was actually kind of a dream come true for me on many levels.

I was also interviewed on the radio, featured in Business Review and Gandul (which features video of me) as well as a wonderful article on Impact News. I also appeared on Realitatea as well as local Cluj TV stations NCN and Alpha TV. On Antena 1, Mircea Badea insulted me and I had fun drinking beers with local blogger Groparu. No video or links exist to an article about me in Servus Cluj, a second appearance on Realitatea as well as a lost radio interview with a journalism student here in Cluj.

And last but definitely not least, I posted lots and lots of pictures of my cats.

Wow what a year! And I am very excited about 2012. Who knows where we’ll be a year from now, looking back at all the crazy adventures I had :)

LA MULTI TUTUTOR – Happy New Year to one and all of you, I really couldn’t have done it without you!

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