Mailbag


Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but I’m always getting messages, emails, comments and other forms of communication, so time to address them!

cantfightthesneezer

Sam, I really like what you said/did/wrote this one time about this one thing.

Glad to hear it! It’s always nice to know something I said/did/wrote had a positive impact on someone.

Can I do/say X, Y or Z?

Despite its cutesy sky blue layout, this is actually a huge website with a few million words all told so I don’t blame you for getting a little “lost”.

For frequently asked questions, try the “FAQ” button at the top of this (or any) page.

If you’ve got questions about commenting, re-using any of my material or other general questions, try clicking on the “Policies” at the top of this (or any) page.

You made a mistake when you said X, Y and Z.

Hey, I make mistakes all the time so thanks for pointing that out. I realize the internet is full of sarcasm so really, I do sincerely thank you for catching my errors.

Sometimes they’re quite subtle (I got a lengthy email once about how I incorrectly described the way the Hungarian monarchy evolved, all valid criticisms) and sometimes blatantly stupid – one time I got the entire nation of Belgium backwards. Hey, it happens :)

In your article you mentioned X but you failed to mention Y!

Uh, there’s no program or software out there (I checked) that will tabulate exactly how many total words I’ve published but it’s a hell of a lot. We’re already well past 1,200 articles and most of them are far longer than 1,000 words apiece (many stretching into the three to four thousand territory, with a few even longer (I know, I know!)) so at a minimum that’s over a million total words and probably edging closer to two million.

Long story short, I’m a prolific bastard and chances are that I’ve written something on the topic already elsewhere in another article. Try using the search bar (the one that looks like a little magnifying glass or lupa) on the top right of the page. If that doesn’t work, maybe a little Google-fu will help you find what I’ve already written on the subject.

You say you’re from Bucharest but that’s not true!

Uh, what?

Your servers that host your site are located in Bucharest, liar!

Seriously it might be time to check your meds, no offense. “My servers” are located somewhere in America or maybe in Sweden or maybe South Africa or maybe Botswana or maybe I don’t know where the fuck they’re located, which is irrelevant anyway because it’s this little thing called the internet.

My physical, corporeal body spends most of its time located in sunny Cluj-Napoca, something I’ve made abundantly clear in about a billion TV interviews and documentaries and comments and articles.

My site, on the other hand, is a dot com, which means technically it’s “American” but where the actual machine that holds all this actual data is located, I have no clue. The only thing I care about is writing, not the technical know-how of exactly what makes a website function and so if you told me “my” servers are located on a hidden base on the moon, I’d be half inclined to believe you.

You say your site is so popular but it isn’t, you faker!

Again, what…the…

I guess it’s hard for some people to believe this but my entire interaction with this website goes like this:

1) Write something to be published here
2) Log on to the site, copy paste what I’ve written (on TextEdit), edit it, jigger it, shape it and then hit “publish”
3) Go through the enormous stack of pending comments and weed out the bizarro computer spam crap (about 99% of the comments) and then approve the comments left by actual human beings
4) Go live the rest of my life

Really, that’s it. In fact, I’ve already written all of this before and how I can barely understand the “metrics” that this website tries to tell me, including how many “page views” (which I still have no idea exactly what the hell that is) per hour and other shit like that.

I have literally no earthly idea how many actual human beings (and not “zombie” computers, search engines, advertising “robots” and other internet BS that I don’t understand) come to this website on a daily basis and scan their flesh eyeballs over the words I’ve written and say, “Aha, I have read an article that this guy wrote”.

That being said, WordPress has a little “widget” (again, I don’t even know what that really means) that purportedly shows how many visitors come to this website. I’ve had it on here since DAY 1 and you can see it somewhere at the bottom of the right-hand column (look for the words “hot yummy plates of mamaliga”). That’s the only stats for “popularity” that I know about.

That’s why I pay WordPress 20 bucks a year, precisely so they can handle all the technical wizardry shit and all I have to be concerned about is writing.

But shit is a bad word so why do you use it so much?

Look, I realize in your English class you learned that “shit” only means de cacat so it’s always a “bad” word but in reality, at least in America, it’s lazy slang that just means “stuff” or “things”.

A few examples:

This coffee is delicious, I love this shit!

My girlfriend has a lot of expensive shit that can’t go in the washing machine.

It takes me about two minutes to pack my shit before a flight because I’m a professional traveler.

See? So take a breather and realize I’m just lazy, not excessively negative :)

Hey Sam, can I interview you?

Sure, why not? Although I doubt you’ll ask me anything new or original and so really you ought to just cut and paste some shit from my previous interviews. I won’t mind.

Okay, but do you speak Romanian?

Really? Goddamn, you’re the dictionary definition of “lazy”, aren’t you? Try clicking on “FAQ” and watching the !(!@*!*@! video before asking me that. I mean I realize that you’re making less than the minimum wage due to your excessive “pride” but come on now, doing a TINY bit of research ahead of time won’t kill you.

Can I have your telephone number?

No, you cannot. There are literally at least 1,284 people in this country who have my telephone number, including journalists at every major newspaper and television station, plus god knows how many other people have it including companies, the government and my casual acquaintances, colleagues and stalkers.

If you want to call me, get your ass off the sofa and go find my number. It’s not a state secret. I’m not an Al-Qaeda commander hiding in a cave somewhere. I live in downtown Cluj-Napoca so just hang around Piata Unirii long enough and you’ll probably just run into me.

You’re racist against Romanians!

Yep, you got me. I chose to move here to this land of mud people 10 years ago so that I could exploit these subhumans for my own enormous profit and gain, amassing a vast fortune as I cackle with delight when their cries of suffering fail to pierce the armor of my icy heart.

Really though, you are racist against Romanians because you dare to criticize them

Yep, and if I criticize the United States then I’m “anti-American”. I’m aware of this stupid logic, used by stupid people for centuries, that love to formulate “criticism = hate” in their withered stump of a brain.

Racism means that I seriously believe that an entire group of people is somehow deficient or inferior solely due to their genetic make-up, meaning that the color of your skin or shape of your eyes or some other corporeal aspect has a direct correlation to your lack of ability to do something. That kind of lazy eugenicist thinking might’ve satisfied a Victorian dipshit like Francis Galton but I doubt there are five people alive today who truly believe in that malarkey.

What you really mean is prejudice, not racism, from the Latin to “judge beforehand” based on a set of criteria, in this case the ethnicity (really you mean “culture”) of a group of people. If I say “black people drive too fast” then that’s prejudice because I’m making a judgement about an entire group of people, not that I believe some kind of chromosome in their fucking genetic make-up is prompting them to drive too fast.

So really everyone is prejudiced simply because there’s no other way to be. There are over 20 million Romanians on the planet and I haven’t even met or seen a tiny fraction of them so yes, of course I am taking my experiences with a tiny group and projecting it on the rest. Whether it’s “good” prejudice (Romanians are smart!) or “bad” prejudice (Romanians are lazy!), obviously I’ll never have the chance to meet and get to know all members of the group so ANY judgement is going to be wrong in that sense.

Mind you, if you’re trying to say that I’m sometimes critical of Romanians then yes, you’re right. I’ve written what I’ve written, both positive and negative, and I’ve never deleted any of my articles so if I said it, I said it. But my criticism doesn’t stem from some inherent belief that someone’s cultural identification (Romanian) is inferior simply because it’s different.

I mean there’s no question that gypsy culture is VASTLY different from the rest of Romanian culture, and different from my own upbringing and culture, and yet I’ve written 50 articles (at least, or so it feels) about how I’m perfectly content with them being different and yet I simultaneously have zero fucking desire to live my life like a gypsy.

Being different is not a crime or a threat, just like how two homosexual guys making out at the club (yep, I’ve written about that too) poses exactly zero risk or threat to my heterosexual relationship with the SMG. They do their thing and we do ours, just like how Muslims in this town (yep, there’s a mosque in Cluj) do their thing and the lady delivering the pizza last week blathers on with her (Christian) Orthodox Easter shit that has nothing to do with me and yet we can all live together in harmony while simultaneously being different.

And of course there’s no such thing as a Romanian anyway, at least not in the biological sense. There’s no unique DNA identifier or test you can run that will ever determine who is or isn’t Romanian. Saying someone has a race is just modern mental laziness. I mean Obama has one white mother and one black father, yet we just say Obama is “black” out of adherence to some colonial bullshit.

So what do you call a Lipovan from Tulcea? Is he or she any less Romanian than a guy named Bogdan Farkas who has a Hungarian father and Romanian mother? It’s an exercise in futility to try and identify who is or isn’t any given “race”. Basically you’re Romanian if you say you are.

And in case you forgot, I’m more Romanian than you! *mwahaha*

No you’re not!

I hate to break it to you, Sherlock but I really am.

If I had 5 lei for every “genuine” Romanian who said that to me and then had their mind blown apart as they sank to their knees, ripping their shirt to tatters as they realized all the safe and comfortable conventions that they’d grown up with were now being blasted into smithereens by the mere fact of my existence, then I’d be riding around in a gold-plated limousine as I urge my driver to mow down pedestrians to cajole a mirthless chuckle from my jaded heart.

Every Romanian (and Romanian-speaking Moldovan) I’ve ever met has this tiny black corner of their soul where they collect shame about their culture or upbringing or history or language or music or food or dance or art and I do not. I don’t give a shit because I honestly never swallowed the bullshit that a Big Mac is somehow “better” than sarmale or that a pair of opinci are “inferior” to a pair of Nike shoes.

Shoes are shoes, food is food, culture is culture and they’re each different but there is no one that is better than the other one. Only people who watch a lot of television fall victim to the myth that something glitzy and modern is inherently superior to something else. I’ll milk a flipping cow and herd some fucking sheep and make my own cheese and sing along with some muzica populara without feeling the slightest bit of shame about it, at all, none, zero. Pick the fanciest shopping mall in town and I’ll walk right in there dressed like a cioban and I won’t give a fuck what looks people give me.

And most Romanians get it all backwards anyway because the richest, most sophisticated, most westernized modern people in the world all spend thousands of dollars (or British pounds) to come here precisely because they love and value the old cultural heritage that still exists here, and find it awesome and almost magical that people can still do self-empowering things like sew their own clothes or make furniture or build a house when most citizens of the “amazeball awesome West” are helpless.

I mean any moron can press a button on their shiny iPhone to run an app but it takes some amazing skills to herd a group of stubborn animals across a field. You do realize that, don’t you? No, of course not because iPhones are “cool” and being a shepherd is lame and stupid and too peasant-y.

So yes, let’s all worship a stupid fucking brand-name logo sewn onto a shitty piece of overpriced machine-made clothing assembled by some miserable slave in a factory in Asia instead of wearing a well-made woolen garment hand-sewn by a person with dignity right here in your own fucking country!

Samuel, I’m going to call you Samuel in all of my messages to you as I dress you down for some perceived slights that nobody else has ever mentioned even once.

Really? You realize that not even my own mother does that, right?

But I guess if it makes you feel smug and superior, go right ahead. I mean you’re obviously a genius for figuring out that “Sam” is short for “Samuel”, a name that’s been around so fucking long that it’s in the Bible. *golf clap*

Let me know how that rocket engine you’re designing works out.

Speaking of names, you should’ve used your real name on Kickstarter!

And why exactly is that? I mean you do realize that even if I included my entire legal name, home address, telephone number, height, weight, hair color, eye color, SSN (equivalent to CNP) and blood type that I could still legally take the money, put it in my pocket and laugh as I jet off to a tropical island, right?

Really, read the Kickstarter agreement and you’ll see I’m right. Not a single project on there, whether it’s about $100 or $1 million, is required to do anything for the backers. It’s all about trust.

If you don’t (or didn’t) trust me, then you wisely made the right decision not to back my attempted project. But my legal name on there has nothing to do with anything.

A legal name is just a piece of government bullshit anyway, required for documents. Families regularly call other each other by nicknames or short forms of their names, completely irrespective of what their legal name on paper says.

Celebrities and even “regular” people, even in Romania, commonly use names other than their legal names. I mean you do realize that Radu Mazare (the infamous mayor of Constanta) isn’t actually his legal name, right? And let’s not forget Inna, Teo, Tataee, Smiley and dozens of other celebrities. I’ll reserve my legal name for the government and only for the government, literally the only people on the planet who ever refer to me that way.

Sam, I love your stuff but your articles are way too long.

Then don’t read them :)

It’s been a while since you said something positive about Romania.

It’s just sheer intellectual laziness, really, not because of any lack of examples. But since you asked nicely, I will get my metaphorical grumpy ass off the couch and put on a clean shirt.

Luce the Cat recently decided to be a dumbass and sleep outside all night despite repeated entreaties to get her retarded self in the house. So of course because she’s Romanian, the “evil air” got inside her and she developed pneumonia.

Which sucks, of course.

But the good news is we live in Unicorn City, of so of course we can call a person I’ve known for years, a gentle soul who is kind to animals and gives me free coffee and interacts with me as a human being instead of some corporate “relationship” where they know my name because I’m in a database but has no clue who I am as a person.

And so the vet comes to pick me and Luce up at our house (also not secret information, see above) and then managed to get an incredibly sick and frightened cat to relax and be calm in a strange environment, proof positive beyond any school degree that this is a competent vet.

A few injections later, Luce is peering bright eyed from safely back inside her cage, we humans can get to doing what we do best, talking and interacting with other humans and then me bursting into laughter after I caught the other veterinarian reading “Stiri de Cluj” on his laptop “just for the weather report”. Yeah, right!

After I explained my undying love for “Stiri de Cluj” because of their complete willingness to sensationalize literally anything, it was time for the ride back home on a beautiful spring day and within a few minutes Luce was back home, free to engage in her special skill of laying on the rug like a Sphinx for hours in a row, completely unaware that the vet had just told me she’s a bit underweight and so now she gets to pig out on even more food – doctor’s orders!

Yep, just another “ordinary” day in this awesome country :)

You criticize the government but even when they do things right, you don’t give them credit!

I’d have to write an entire book to flesh out the nuances of exactly why the government of Romania is one of the key reasons I actually live here, because to do so would buck so many ways of conventional thinking that everything I was saying would have to be justified and annotated and cross-referenced, and that’s far too tiresome to contemplate at the moment.

But the short version is – the comic buffoonery and corruption and insular way of thinking and superstitions and sheer incompetence can be quite beneficial. It’s not axiomatic that an ever more efficient and “competent” a government is that everyone living in that society is happier. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite when you bother to actually open your eyes and pay attention to the real examples around you (try googling Somaliland for instance).

A steely-eyed, competent, multilingual, egalitarian (aka German) government would suck the life out of this country. Everything would be sold off and big ass corporations would all be hiring legions of office drones to sit at cubicles and bang away at plastic squares all day long while listening to soft jazz, forced to drape badges around their necks, so broken to the wheel that they forget to remove them even after work, sitting in a smoky bar desperately chugging cheep beer until the sting of the hops and barley wash away the last remnant of their shame at being duped into allowing themselves to become a zombie. And you don’t even have to squint at the pixellated ID photo dangling from their lumpy sweater to know they’re spiritually dead inside.

So yeah, let’s pass more laws! Zam, bow, powie, then things will certainly get better! And then no more retarded grannies will sit on a bench and get drunk as fuck with her fellow alkies at 10 in the morning while her grandson wanders through the bushes and then gets mauled to death by a pack of dogs, only learning about this an hour later because she was too shitfaced to even hear the child scream as the life was torn from his mutilated body.

Jeez, that last paragraph got a little dark.

I know but hey, it really happened. But it’s got nothing to do with laws. You can’t outlaw stupidity.

Wait, I think you’re talking to yourself now.

I know, it’s a bad habit of mine. For some reason I do it in grocery stores a lot. People used to look at me like I was crazy but now they just think I’m talking on the phone, so it’s much less embarrassing these days.

But this was supposed to be a legitimate airing of the grievances, so if you end it on this note people will think you were being comical throughout.

Well that’s up to them :)

Look, Romania’s not a brand. Not everyone has to drink Coca-Cola. If this isn’t the place that’s making you happy, so be it. But I love it here. It’s right for me. I just like to write and Romania’s the central “hub” of what all of my stuff (here) is connected to. It’s just a compass bearing, something to orient towards. If you look closely, I write about everything, which is permissible in this universe so long as I tie it back to Romania somehow, some way.

What’s up with those weird Twitter messages I’ve been seeing lately?

Oh, you mean these?

https://twitter.com/SherlitawpjzyGr/status/458773935429918721

…and literally thousands of others exactly like them?

Yeah, uh that’s classified.

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7 Responses »

  1. Surprisingly this article makes perfect common sense to me,who have thought it !

  2. “the comic buffoonery and corruption and insular way of thinking and superstitions and sheer incompetence can be quite beneficial. It’s not axiomatic that an ever more efficient and “competent” a government is that everyone living in that society is happier. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite…” You really do hit the nail on the head, as the saying goes. Now,if you’re actually trying to get something done, apart from pure art that is… hmmmm… ah yes… millions have answered: Emigrate! And good riddance, the rest will say, with reason. Keepin’ it real; it’s alright.

  3. Esti tare frate!

  4. “awesome and almost magical that people can still do self-empowering things like sew their own clothes or make furniture or build a house when most citizens of the “amazeball awesome West” are helpless.” ……. how true.

  5. Why I don’t tkink you are more romanian than me:
    You say that ” basically you are Romanian if you say you are” -well, i have been saying i am romanian my entire life, you have considered yourself romaninan maybe the last 10 years of your life, and not all the time, and not completely as i always did (even on this blog, you have some places where you say you are an american). I was born in it, molded by it:-p

    Secondlly, even in this post you say several times, romanians do this or that, so even you consider romanians romanians…

    Thirdly, regarding your argument about romanians being ashamed of their culture, or upbringing etc- well, who says being romanian is defined by milking cows, or wearing opinici -even my 90 years old grandmother (who does not have a tv, does not know where is america on the map or romania either and sayes Ghirlanda instead of Irlanda), is not wearing opinici for at least 60 years. Who says that being ashamed of being romanian in not actually something that defines romanians now, so, since you do not feel that, you are not actually romaninan at all. People that find this shit (sic!) “self-empowering” are exactely people that come from the “amazeball awesome West”. The romanians would find milking a cow either peasent-y, or routine( like my grandmother), because they are romanians:-p

    Ps- actually i think you are telling this in order to provoke romanians to think about their romanian-ness, and about how great romania is and that is a very nice thing to do- thank you, by the way. Just in case, i am waiting to have my mind blown apart

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