Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Corina Chiriac se lupta cu o farsa!

Nu numai ca cantareata (cacofonie intentionata, by all means!) a fost suficient de naiva sa creada un mail scris de catre un necunoscut glumet (sau, mai degraba, rau intentionat) acum mai bine de 10 ani, dar mai si da forward la mailul ala in disperare la toate bisericile, manastirile si ziarele din Romania! Iar natafletii o cred, ca deh, e Corina Chiriac!

De exemplu, il avem pe domnul Pompiliu Comsa, mare jurnalist mare, si colaborator la ziare.ro, unde a si publicat un articol intreg pe tema protestului Corinei Chiriac la adresa unui film care nu exista, respectiv Corpus Cristi, despre care, mailul cu pricina spunea ca ii va infatisa pe Iisus si Apostoli drept homosexuali. Iata si link-ul la minunatul articol al dlui Comsa: http://m.ziare.com/weekend/corina-chiriac-cere-interzicerea-difuzarii-peliculei-corpus-cristi-1015936

Oricine poate cauta pe Google (la mintea cocosului, nu? dar trebuie sa te si duca mintea pana la cea a cocosului!) si sa afle in 10 secunde ca aceasta este o farsa veche, mai exact o campanie de discreditare a comunitatii gay: http://www.hoax-slayer.com/corpus-christi-gay-jesus-movie-hoax.shtml

Inteleg in oarecare masura naivitatea doamnei Corina Chiriac (care ar trebui sa se rezume la cantat, se pare!) care a luat de bun textul unui e-mail scris de un necunoscut – dar pe domnul Pompiliu Comsa, presupus jurnalist, nu avem cum sa-l intelegem sau sa-l iertam pentru gafa de a fi publicat un articol bazat pe nimic. Unde ne precizeaza sursele (excluzand-o pe diva naiva?) Unde mentioneaza regizorul, casa de productie, distributia, scenaristul, ceva care sa dea o urma de credibilitate raportarii? Sunt curioasa pe la ce publicatii mai colaboreaza si daca isi incanta cititorii cu articole la fel de bine documentate.

Cat despre Diva Naiva, cum imi permit sa o alint de acum inainte, as putea sa ii amintesc doar ca anul trecut la Festivalul Mamaia il/o lauda pe Naomi si ii oferea sfaturi vestimentare pentru a il/o feminiza/decentiza: http://www.cancan.ro/showbiz/showbiz-intern/corina-chiriac-vrea-sa-l-imbrace-in-rochie-lunga-pe-travestitul-naomi-53060.html

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

‘70s Russian Retard


Remixed (brilliantly)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Under the Radar…

… is one of the worst books I have ever had the misfortune Under the Radarto waste my time reading. I don’t know what Mary Ruth Kuczkir (pen name: Fern Michaels) could have possibly written in the other 98 ‘bestselling’ novels she has published so far, but if it weren’t for my unhealthy compulsion to actually finish every single book I start, no matter how hard I struggle not to throw it out a window or stab it repeatedly with the sharpest knife in my kitchen, I would have certainly spent my precious tube-riding-and-sitting-on-the-toilet reading time on a more worthwhile, even if equally brainless literary endeavor.

I have read a fair share of the written word, good and bad, but this is down there with the worst of them. I can’t even allow it the benefit of potential postmodern gibberish, like I did another of my least favourites (He Who Searches by Luisa Valenzuela – avoid this one too!). No, Under the Radar lacks style, skill, intelligence, spark, everything. It lacks the reason for having been written. The worst thing is Fern Michaels has published 18 novels in the ‘Sisterhood’ series alone!

However, if we look closely to her literary spree, we will probably find at least part of the reason why these novels are so incredibly lacking in everything writing should be about: Under the Radar was published in 2009, along with another 7 books, 3 of which aren’t even in the same series!!! Most (real) writers take years to document and write one book alone. So… what can I say of someone who calls themselves ‘a scribbler and story-teller’, but rolls out so-called novels faster than she finishes a roll of toilet paper?

What with her ‘#1 New York Times Bestselling Author’ title, you will ask!? Well… taking that for granted would be like assuming that all the people who buy books actually read them, or that The New York Times is published in the most culturally aware country on the planet, with the highest literacy rates and the highest percentage of people who can actually spell their own language.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Orange Complaint Strikes Again





Dear Ramona,

Further to the many, many emails between me and your department, countless phone calls and the agreement I made with your department before Christmas, I am now totally confused by all the bills I have received from you that seem to contradict our agreement. The 25+ SMS messages I have received from Orange in the last 3 weeks have contributed only to complicate matters more and generally cause me, in equal measure, lots of laughter and much inconvenience. My account is a complete mess and I have no intention of paying anything until this has been finally resolved (I have been trying since November to resolve this but to no avail).

  1. On or around 17th December in a telephone call with your department we agreed that the second contract is suspended without fees. Yet (and somewhat predictably) I still have received a bill for the second number – I will NOT pay it!! I don’t want or need a second number!! We have been through this 100 times already!!
  2. I advised your office that I would be out of Romania until 11th or 12th January and would pay the bill when I returned – yet (and somewhat predictably) still I was disconnected while I was away and this caused me enormous problems especially with business and which resulted in a loss of income for me. Thanks for that! There is no incentive for me to try and cooperate with Orange when they behave like this and to place their customers in a situation like you placed me in for the last week of my business trip in London is again an atrocious display from a “caring customer services department” of an international telecommunications company. We had an agreement and Orange broke it NOT me.
  3. I said I would pay the bill BEFORE I left Romania on the 19th December IF I received a bill and IF it was for the amended amount. I DID NOT RECEIVE THE BILL so I telephoned your department and asked them to keep me connected until I returned. Your department agreed but (somewhat predictably) STILL DISCONNECTED my service on 7th January.
  4. Whilst I was away I received about 28 SMS messages from Orange (I assume these are free??!!) Some were reminding me that my bill is Ron 51.15, some were reminding me my bill is Ron 728.66, some were reminding me my bill is Ron 397.58 and some were reminding me my bill is Ron 185.40!!!! I had messages informing me I had 9 days to pay and I had messages telling me I had until 8th January to pay (even though I had agreed with your department to pay after the 11th!!!!). I had messages asking me to send you faxes!!! I had messages from you telling me to call you on *131# – which despite my 100 requests STILL does not work on my phone AFTER IT HAS BEEN DISCONNECTED! I had messages from you asking me to call you on 021 203 3838 AFTER you had disconnected my phone and knowing that I was on roaming and out of Romania!!!
  5. I have messages from you confirming that I have Euro 36 credit for December, messages from you saying I have no credit, messages from you saying I have $90.72!!!! Dollars, Euros AND Ron??
  6. I have an SMS from you that says, and I quote, “In 06.01, ora 09:54 mai aveati 90.72 EUR credit, echivalentul a 1008’06”min Orange sau 697’54” min nat. Cost suplim 26.17 EUR….”
  7. What I do NOT have are any messages that say the same thing!! What I do NOT have is a clear and concise breakdown of what I owe you!!! What WE have is a complete mess!!!
  8. I returned home yesterday and found a bill from Orange. Actually I had 4 bills all in the same envelope!!! One bill is for Ron 728.66, one bill is for Ron 85.93, one bill is for Ron 245.15 and yet another bill is a credit note for Ron –145.68!!!! I threw all 4 bills in the trash bin!
  9. MY understanding is that December I owe nothing and in fact have a credit (but whether that credit is $36, Euro 90 or Ron 145 I have absolutely no idea and suspect you also have no idea!). I owe you money for November BUT until you have suspended/cancelled the second contract (0752xxxxxx) and removed ALL the charges and fees for that number I will NOT pay it. My January bill is not yet due but in the unlikely event that I receive it and it’s actually correct I will pay it.
  10. So, dear Orange, I have no idea what you expect me to do about it but I will inform you now that I am going to do absolutely nothing about it until I receive a full and acceptable WRITTEN and POSTED summary and explanation. As far as I can ascertain from the 100’s of bills, emails and SMS’s I owe you approximately Ron 400 for November and that you owe me approximately Ron 200.
  11. All you need to do is calculate what the balance outstanding is for November and December and send me an amended bill covering both periods. It really is not very difficult in this day and age of computer technology. Honestly, it isn’t! But…PLEASE remember to deduct the costs and charges for the second number!!
  12. Since the January bill will soon be due you can also include that amount on the same bill (invoice) and I will then know exactly what I owe you and will pay the bill in installments as and when I have time and available funds. Given the appalling service I am continuing to receive from Orange please do not expect me to make it my number one priority now to pay you. I have better and more important matters to deal with than waste time trying to get a correct bill from you!!
  13. You can reconnect my number (0748xxxxxx) if you want to but I am no longer interested in being a client of Orange and have opened a Vodafone account. They at least seem to know what they are doing and talking about – plus it is far less expensive than Orange and their network in the UK is a good one (in the UK Orange is a waste of time as outside London its virtually impossible to obtain a clear signal or no signal at all – not that I needed one because you DISCONNECTED me!!!)

I look forward with much anticipation and pending amusement to receiving your (probably somewhat predictable) reply whenever you have time to deal with it. Trust me, I am in no hurry!

Kind regards and best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2010 to you and all your colleagues at Orange Romania.


Monday, 4 January 2010

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

I’m puzzled. I have read a book. I enjoyed it. I thought I knew where it was heading to. But then it ended. All reviews talked about the author leading us ‘toward an uncertain yet ominous conclusion’ or announced that the Fundamentalistpurpose of the monologue (that is what the book is, in fact) was to become obvious in the end. It didn’t. So what on Earth is the conclusion here, folks? Somebody enlighten me!

According to my records, this was the 666th book I have read, and although I am not superstitious, I would like to sort this dilemma out. Help, anyone? I need closure!!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Did you know that there is a large global community of people who travel and use each-other’s couches and accommodation for free? Talk about budget accommodation! This beats it all, theoretically.


My only concern is who checks these people up before they are allowed to host strangers, or how do you, as a traveler, know who can be trusted and who cannot?

Obviously, the website (www.couchsurfing.org) specifies that this is no dating website, but how seriously do all users take this? It seems to have worked out well for over 1 million users and adventurers, but I saw no negative statistics. Who keeps track of those?

Monday, 21 December 2009

Ho Sentito gli Angeli in Dolby Surround – Romanian Style (or: Yet Another One of those Things that Can only Happen to Me!)

I was planning to stage a massively funny, witty and spectacular comeback for this blog, after having abandoned it (for lack of time, not inspiration!) for so long. However, what happened to me on a Thursday night in Palermo surpasses any fictional effort I could make. Isn’t always life stranger than fiction?!

I was flying back home on Friday, so two friends took me out on Thursday night. We had a couple of unrepeatable cocktails in a student bar (unrepeatable because we didn’t know what to ask for – there was no menu or price list – and the bartender didn’t know or care what he was pouring into the glasses – apart from the fact that he was missing one eye and would have probably felt more comfortable in a Johnny Depp pirate movie than in the ChampagneriaChampagneria of Palermo!). The dubious elixirs did their job, whatever was in them, and we were soon merry and gay (hm… actually, one of the girls was actually called Mary and both were gay), ready to party all night long.

We were searching for a karaoke club on one of the main avenues in Palermo, when I remembered I had bought some underwear that evening, and it struck me how funny it would be to wear it on my head or over my clothes. I equipped the girls and myself with colourful thongs and bras, and we were messing about, taking photos of each-other, Palermo Nunwhen I spotted a huge poster across the street depicting a Catholic nun who was proclaiming she had heard the angels in Dolby surround. We crossed the street and started taking photos of the nun with my newly bought knickers.

As we expected, this turned some heads and prompted some comments from passers-by, some even stopped to take photos themselves. But one particular individual looked at us disapprovingly, walked on, then stopped and turned around to give us a piece of his mind IN ROMANIAN!!!!!

He started swearing at us in Romanian and calling us whores and prostitutes, not expecting for a second that one of us could actually understand and reply in the same language. I politely asked him if, by any chance, he was Romanian (although I already knew even the region where he came from, judging by his strong Moldavian accent). He was taken aback, but only for a few seconds, after which he launched the same verbal attack in broken Italian, obviously thinking all three of us were Romanian and therefore he was safe swearing in Italian. Wrong again! My two friends replied, still in a polite tone, that we were not mocking a nun, but an advertisement for which a model was used to pose in a nun’s clothes, and that it was none of his business anyway.

By now he was somewhat confused, so, to fully understand his situation and to plan his next move, he needed to make sure who was what nationality… obviously. He pointed at one of the girls and asked: ‘are you Italian?’ She answered ‘yes’. He pointed at the other one and asked the same thing. She said ‘yes’. He pointed at me and asked if I was Romanian. I said ‘yes’. So, to be absolutely crystal clear, he pointed at the girls again and asked: ‘so you two are Italian and she (me) is Romanian?’ Again the answer was ‘yes’. He politely told the two girls he had no problem with them in that case, but turned towards me and informed me once again I was ‘a whore’ and that ‘God would help me with his dick’ for the rest of my life as punishment for mocking a nun, and, just to make his point even more clear, he struck me with the rolled-up Giornale delle Pulci he was carrying with him, and walked away, quite content with himself.

I was obviously shocked for the first few moments. I couldn’t believe that on the main street of Palermo this could happen to me, and that the low-life who would do it had to be Romanian!!! What are the chances of that?!

However, I quickly snapped out of shock when I tasted blood in my mouth, from the blow I received. I had one of the girls phone the carabinieri immediately. As we didn’t know the guy’s name and he had wandered away, we gave the police an approximate location and went searching for him. We found the guy strolling happily, gazing in shop-windows, having a relaxing evening on Palermo. So we followed him for about 7-10 minutes until we could flag down the 3 police cars that arrived to deal with the situation.

Did you think he would try to run? Or that he was at least trying to seems like he hadn’t done anything? No! He animatedly explained to the carabinieri that we were whores mocking God and he punished us in order to defend the good name of the Catholic Church. He was taken to the section because he had no ID on him (although there was a slight commotion over both of us being Romanian and the carabinieri just couldn’t understand how it was that we didn’t actually know each-other).

I was determined to press charges against the Neanderthal Moldavian, but when I got to the pronto socorso to obtain an official medical certificate to use against him in the trial and realised I would be there until 6 in the morning waiting my turn to be seen by a doctor, I gave up.

My only hope is that he idiot was overstaying the 90 legal days he is allowed in Italy without a residency permit, and that he was sent home the next day and will never again exit his cave in order to defend the ‘good name’ of anything else than his chicken and geese in front of his den.

And still, the whole country wonders why on Earth do Romanians have such a bad name outside the country’s borders. That’s why! They give themselves the bad name!

And just to make my point, I will delight you with yet another photo of us staining the good name of the Catholic Church and mocking God Himself!

Palermo Nun1

Monday, 14 December 2009

Reply from the UK

Dear D.,
Thank you for your email regarding making a complaint to Orange.
I am extremely sorry to learn that you are unhappy at the level of customer service you have received and wish to make a complaint.
May I apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment caused.
Unfortunately, we are unable to deal with your complaint via email. Whilst we can address and relate to events that may have occurred, we are unable to access vital account systems to resolve or amend accounts for security reasons.
I appreciate your frustration and can assure you that all complaints are dealt with in a professional manner.
I have included the relevant information below to assist you with your complaint and trust this will be of assistance to you.
I can advise that Orange do have an escalation procedure. You are first required to call the Helpdesk and speak with a Customer Services Representative. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of this conversation, you can request to speak to a Team Manager. If again you feel that your issue is not being dealt with as you would expect, you can then request to speak with an Operations Manager.
If a Team Manager or Operations Manager is not available, a call back will be arranged for a convenient time for them to contact you.
If you are still not happy with the resolution offered our Operations Manager will be able to inform you of the next action that can be offered.
To make a complaint, may I please ask you to call our Customer Services on 150 from your Orange phone or 07973 100 150 from any other phone. Our Customer Service Representative is available 08:00-22:00 hours GMT, 7 days a week.
I trust the above information is of assistance and once again apologise that we are unable to assist you further via email.
Kind regards
Orange Online Services

(At which D. said to me: I don't know whether to laugh or cry! I mean, seriously, this has got to be a joke, no? No procedure invented by man could be quite as obtuse and ludicrous as the "instructions" below! Surely! My head hurts now!)

Friday, 11 December 2009

Reply to the Problem Solving Executive

Dear R.,

Thank you for your email, the contents of which I have noted with interest and appreciation. However, they do NOT address the points and my complaints sufficiently.

Having just in the last few minutes sent an email to Georgiana at your Problem Solving Executive Department, I suspect that your reply below is coincidental and simply crossed at the same time as mine.

I copy below the email I have just sent and kindly ask that you study it and respond according to each and every point.

I stress my objection to the having the secondary contract and will NOT settle for anything less than the complete cancellation of it and a full and complete refund of the cost of the telephone. Had this issue been handled correctly and efficiently by your department when I first contacted you with my complaint a month ago, I may have been more willing to negotiate, but given the time it has taken and the frustration and distress that I have had to endure as a result of the poor services provided my Orange I am no longer able to accept anything but complete cooperation with my requests.

I look forward to your reply.

D. R.

Reply from the Problem Solving Executive

Dear Mr. R.,

Please allow me to provide you with an explanation regarding the situation that you have brought to our attention.

First of all, according to our Orange Thank You programme, if you have been with Orange more than one year, you can pay for service plans and Orange options by calling 434 (free of charge). You need to provide your customer number (it can be found on your bill), your password and the number of points you want to use. Please note that the payment should be registered at least 5 days before the issuing date of the bill which you want to pay for.

Due to the fact that we want to simplify this process for you, we paid for your next bill with all the points you have earned since March 2008. Therefore, you will find a discount on your December invoice, in the amount of  34.30 Euro (VAT included). Nonetheless, the invoice issued on November 12th 2009 needs to be paid for in full, in order for your subscription not to be suspended. Any further discounts will be applied to invoices to be issued only.

Then, in what concerns the fact that you don’t receive your printed format bills in due time for you to make the payment, I suggest that you use our electronic invoice service. The issuing of Orange invoices in electronic format is free of charge and it gives you the possibility to access your monthly bill via www.orange.ro/factura in the first 5 days after the issuing date.

Another matter that you addressed to us refers to the unilateral cancellation of the Service Agreement for the new 0752xxxxxx subscription. According to the article 1.17 of the “General terms and conditions for the use of Orange service plans” that you agreed on, upon signing the contract of your new subscription, “The Service Agreement may be cancelled unilaterally, without intervention by a court of law and without no additional formalities other than those provided below, as follows:

a)At the initiative of the Customer, in the following situations:


  ii) during the Minimum Service Agreement Period, by means of written notice sent to Orange Romania at least 30 (thirty) calendar days prior to the date when the cancellation is due to take effect and following the payment of a sum of money comprising the Amount of the Service Plan multiplied by the number of months remaining until the expiration of the Minimum Service Agreement Period. “

Taking into account those mentioned above, I regret to inform you that the unilateral cancellation requested by you is possible at the end of the Minimum Service Agreement Period of the 0752xxxxxx subscription (this is on the 10th of November 2011) or before that term with the payment of the “Amount of the Service Plan” multiplied by 23 months.

I may suggest to you, though, the suspension of services for a limited amount of time. This is possible up to 3 months per year and it can be reckoned from the time of the request, but not retroactively.

Hoping that this response will be clarifying any obscure points from your complaint we remain at your service through the dedicated line for Customer Service, 456.

Best Regards,

R. D.

Problem Solving Executive

Orange Complaint

orangeBelow is a genuine complaint to Orange Romania. If an answer is ever received by my friend who made the complaint, I will post it here as well. 

Dear Georgiana,

Many thanks for all your professional help and invaluable cooperation in getting this issued resolved for me! For some reason I was under the impression that a “Problem Solving Executive” was somebody that “helped customers resolve problems”! Obviously I was mistaken and in fact your job is clearly to CREATE problems for the customer. In that case you have done an excellent job as this morning my phone was disconnected! Thank you again for all your help!!!!

Despite your advice to write to your department in the event that I wanted an extension of time to pay – this morning my phone has been disconnected!

Despite my ongoing and still unanswered complaint – this morning my phone was disconnected!

Despite my request for an amended bill – no bill has been sent and this morning my phone was disconnected!

Despite my appeal for somebody to contact me and answer my simple questions – I have not been contacted but instead this morning my phone was disconnected!

Despite Orange being a major European company with a reputation for “Excellent Customer Services” and “Satisfaction” – I have been completely overlooked and my “Excellent Customer Service” has resulted in this morning my phone being disconnected!

Despite informing you three days ago that I am traveling abroad in a couple of days and wanted to resolve this issue before I left – no response has been received from you but….this morning my phone was disconnected.

I have repeated 5 times my complaints and questions and instead of receiving a professional, acceptable and comprehensive reply from anyone at Orange this morning my phone was disconnected.

I am well aware after all the years I have been here that Romania’s reputation for appalling customer service and a total absence of interest in being anywhere close to the services offered elsewhere in the civilized world is indeed a reputation correctly conferred, but I never truly believed it could be as bad as the dreadful service I am now receiving from Orange. There is no other word for it but “reprehensible”.

I fail to understand why there is NOBODY at Orange that can answer my simple complaints and questions! They are not difficult and all Orange is doing now is demonstrating a complete inability to perform or function as a 21st century telecommunications company with international shareholders and responsibilities toward their clients.

However, for the sixth time I will repeat my complaints and questions. Perhaps, just maybe, somebody at Orange will understand them and, if they are not too busy or occupied with “Solving Problems Executively” might actually send me a reply (don’t bother calling me……THIS MORNING MY PHONE WAS DISCONNECTED!!!!!!)

  1. The day before I was due to travel to London in mid-November, my Blackberry handset broke
  2. I went to Orange in Calea Victoriei and was told the guarantee covers everything….except if the phone breaks!
  3. I was told I had no option but to buy a new phone. So I did – a new Blackberry at a cost of Euro 279
  4. I was told though that in order to be able to use it and despite having a contract with you already for the last 20 months, I had no choice but to have an additional contract and pay double! I have absolutely no idea how this can possibly be the case but given that I was traveling a few hours later I had no time to object because I urgently needed a telephone!
  5. Upon returning to Romania and receiving the next Orange invoice, I wrote to object to the fact that I now have two contracts and two telephone numbers and as a result was paying for an additional service I neither want, need or requested.
  6. I disputed the bill and asked that you amend it sufficiently to include the removal of the additional contract charges
  7. I requested that you use my accumulated Thank You points to offset the balance of the bill and send me a bill for any outstanding money I owe.
  8. At no time have I objected to paying for the charges accrued on my original number
  9. To date, I have received nothing but feeble explanations which have included the accusation that it is my fault for having signed the contract!!! In other words and in normal Romanian fashion “the customer is always WRONG”!!
  10. To date I have not received an amended bill – indeed I was even told that it’s impossible to issue an amended bill!!!!
  11. To date I have received no satisfactory response or reply from Orange whatsoever and earlier this week was told that my case has been referred to a department that deals with complaints, which does rather beg the question of what exactly a “Problem Solving Executive” does if not solve customer’s problems!!??
  12. To date I have not been telephoned, received an explanation, been offered an apology nor have received an answer to my basic and original question/complaint that I have been forced to enter into a secondary contract and pay double – instead (and in case you overlooked my comments above) this morning my phone was disconnected!
  13. I HAVE however continued to receive SMS messages demanding that I give you money!

Orange Shop

It is patently clear that Orange no longer require me as a client. This does not bother me in the slightest and I am happy to declare to the world from this point on that I am indeed NOT an Orange customer. However, I rather suspect that you will still feel entitled to chase me for payment and continue sending me reminders that I have not paid my bill! Please be assured that I have NO INTENTION whatsoever of paying the bill until I receive the amended and correct one. Also be assured that I will have no hesitation at all in referring this whole comedy of errors to the national press and TV networks as well as the European Ombudsman for Telecommunications if I do not receive complete resolution to this by lunchtime today.

In summation, let me highlight as a customer for almost 2 years of a Top 500 European Company exactly what it is I am requesting:

  1. Reconnect my telephone immediately
  2. Cancel the secondary contract and number
  3. Use all my Thank You points to offset the bill for my call charges from my number 0745 xxxxxxx
  4. Issue a new bill for the correct amount (i.e. minus the charges for the second contract and number and after the deduction of the Thank You points etc)
  5. Reimburse me for the cost of the new phone as a display of your best intentions and regret at the disgraceful service I have received and as a genuine effort to retain me as a valued customer

Once this is done, I will pay the bill when I return from my trip abroad.

Ever the optimist, I look forward to your prompt reply but cant help having this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that my request will again be completely ignored, my complaint will remain unaddressed and my questions unanswered. Before writing this latest email, I conducted a Google search in order to try and find an email address of somebody in a senior position at Orange capable, perhaps, of dealing with my complaints – I was horrified to find page after page of various online forums dedicated entirely to complaints concerning Orange (in all countries!) and the biggest compliant they all had? Inability to get a response from Orange in response to their complaints! Page after page of comments from disappointed and upset customers all frustrated by being unable to get any kind of good service from Orange and unable to even find somebody willing to help. The only time Orange seem to be proactive is when its time to collect money from customers. And that would most certainly appear to be the case here: You are not interested in handling my complaint but ARE interested in extorting money from me.

Best regards,

D. R.

C.C.:      Orange Head Office, France

            Orange Executive Office, UK


Monday, 13 July 2009

One Day, Huh?

The following is an edited part of an email I received earlier today from a friend. The thoughts concern another good friend who is now going through a rough patch and who has lately started to see only the cloud, and no longer the silver lining around it. However, it applies to more than one person that I know of. Maybe even more will take a minute to look in the mirror, remember who they are, how unimportant some things that we strive for are and how important those that we already have, but often forget about.

Let’s hope that ‘the depression will begin to lift and he will be able to see more clearly and eventually be able to review the vicious circle he is trapped in and try to change his objectives and stop chasing impossible dreams. […] He never stayed in today, but was always running as fast as he could towards tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. He is someone […] who never stopped to smell the roses and one day he will be dead and sitting on a cloud wondering what it was all about!’ He is […] ‘looking in all the wrong directions, putting his faith in all the wrong people and making the same mistake over and over again. I wonder if he will ever learn that happiness is now, within, and waiting to be allowed to emerge, not somewhere beyond, with a label on it. Until he allows his brain to disconnect from the futility and rejoin his spirit he will go on in the same downward self-destructive spiral. He is so open to spiritual (and I don't mean religious) ideas, healing thoughts, and ideas unconnected to materialism...that it would only take a small step or a few small steps to break free of the trap he is in and begin again. […] He takes on board enough garbage and waffle from those people he thinks are so wonderful, yet turns away from those of us who really care about him. One day, huh?’

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Darts in Romania

Darts is played in Romania, but don't think for a second that it is 'just a game' for the people who play it!IMG_1357

A few years ago, you could hardly find an electronic dartboard in the corner of some dingy pub in a basement somewhere, nor could you obtain an answer if you asked any of the regulars there what 'darts' was. However, over the last 3-4 years, this has changed dramatically.

The BTDL (Bucharest Thursday Darts League - Steel Darts only), has grown from a handful of people looking for an excuse to socialise and have a pint, into a competitive League where a number of 20 teams (over 150 players in total) meet every Thursday (BTDL season: September to May) to win points or defend titles.

A growing number of pub owners have realised the benefits of accommodating darts teams and becoming League venues. Some of the most famous (or infamous!) are: Dreamers (27 Plevnei St), O'Hara Irish Pub (13 Franceza St.), The Dubliner Irish Pub (18 Titulescu Blvd.), Terasa Florilor - Tati Bar (42 Ion Maiorescu St.), The White Horse (4A George Calinescu St.), Whispers (4 Brezoianu St.). It is highly unlikely that you'll walk into any of the above and not find a darts partner (if the boards are free, that is!). You will find that most darts players in Bucharest will be eager to challenge or be challenged by a new player, as they've been playing against each-other for so long that they're starting to get bored already! Although few pubs will have a spare set of darts behind the bar for the occasional chance challenger, people will be more than happy to lend you their own if you show an interest.

The Romanian Darts Federation (www.frdarts.ro) has just disputed its National Title in its second year of existence. Rumour has it that it will affiliate itself to the World Darts Federation, and several Romanian players have already participated in international Darts Competitions with remarkable results. The Federation has turned darts into a nation-wide endeavour, with regional clubs and competitions sprouting and flourishing in Timisoara, Oradea, Odorhei, Tg. Mures, Brasov, Pitesti and other cities and towns. Players will travel as much as 800 km to attend a competition and win the sought-after Federation points throughout the season, which would enable a player to participate in the end of season Masters Tournament and hence have a chance at the National Title, as well as the motivating prizes (mostly money and booze offered by the sponsors).

A Bucharest Tuesday Darts League is now being brewed by several of the players who no longer fit into the already crowded Thursday League, as well as by those who would like to spend two rather than just one day a week battling on the dartboard.

Many pubs are now organising their own small-scale darts competitions (Terasa Florilor-Tati Bar is the most perseverant), specialised darts clubs are being opened (La Sageti, on 30A Liviu Rebreanu Bvd. is the latest one), darts and accessories are being imported and sold by more and IMG_2142more companies and enthusiasts (www.dartsgames.ro, www.dartsromania.ro, www.dartsbar.ro), TV stations have become interested in broadcasting international competitions, as well as news of local darts events, and more and more people are buying and installing dartboards in their own home.

If you are as passionate about darts as we are, come and give us a challenge and we promise you a good time, whoever wins (normally the player who doesn't collapse first after as many pints of beer as winning doubles missed).

First published on: http://www.earth.org/travel-guide/Romania/darts

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Beauty Spa My Ass!

silhouette I told this story to a friend the other day (in order to prevent her from going through the same trauma herself!) and after sounding like choking in a fit of laughter on the phone, she asked me why I hadn’t posted it on my blog yet. Well, to tell the truth, to me, it had seemed rather more traumatising than hilarious until then, but indeed, why not judge for yourselves!?


The Marketing Trap

(or: ‘Why Reading Shit While Shitting Can Be Dangerous’)

More than a month ago, while reading a silly magazine on the toilet, I fell into the marketing/advertising trap (metaphorically speaking). I picked up the phone (after exiting the bathroom, of course!) and dialed the number at the bottom of the full page ad announcing that ‘the slimming and beauty spa’, could make you lose 7 kilograms (1 stone and 1.43 lb, that is! No more, no less!) in 2 weeks and all you’d have to do is pay them 150 Euro and let their specialists relax and reshape you with their cutting edge technology. What can I say? I fell for it. But here’s a warning to you all: be afraid! Be very afraid!

The Prep Meeting – Part 1

(or: ‘How a Beauty Spa Can Make You Feel Ugly’)

I made an appointment for what the extremely polite, pleasant and patient receptionist (faced with my obvious ignorance of the ‘beauty jargon’) called the ‘prep meeting’. She explained that a doctor would see me and discuss whether I indeed needed to lose all that weight and what the best ways to do that would be. I showed up for my appointment the next afternoon and my first compelling desire after closing the door behind me was to jerk it open again and run as fast as I could. I should listen to my instincts more often! The waiting area was filled with women who could have easily been mistaken for models at a D&G, Chanel or Versace presentation, had they not been sagging middle-aged hags in search for their long lost, dead and buried youth and beauty. Faced with their sparkling jewelry, shiny bags and shoes and ostentatious designer clothes, I suddenly felt like the cleaning lady (and the way they were eyeing me up and down with disgust and contempt did nothing to change that).

I said my name in a whispering voice over the marble counter laden with tiny boxes of face cream which cost more than my gas bill in a winter month. A pompous usher in a white coat appeared and took me to the doctor’s office, with a fake smile and a marketing slogan for every step she took.

The doctor shook my hand and invited me to take my shoes off (and your socks, please!) and place my bare feet on a shiny (and cold) steel plated device, which, it turned out, was nothing more fancy than some scales. After the minor inconvenience that my feet seemed to be too small compared to the Yetis the scales had been designed for, the doctor shook her head, indicated that I should ‘hop off’ and take off my trousers this time, as well as lift my blouse. She started coiling a measuring tape around my thighs, stomach, breasts, arms, jotting down my obviously alarming measures. She then picked up from her desk what I had mistook, until then, for a mouse pad. She started applying it to various parts of my body, where, to my horror, the almost transparent ‘mouse pad’ changed colour dramatically going from dark brown to deep, depressing black. I was about to run for my life when the doctor explained it was not voodoo, nor a mouse pad, but a cellulite measuring device. My worst fears came true: black was bad – the worst. What worried me more was that I had never even considered if I displayed signs of cellulite, never mind worry about it’s stages, aspect, treatment, etc. Suddenly, my whole perception about myself changed. I felt exposed, ugly, unworthy of calling myself a woman. She gave me a pitying look, as if she had just informed I had a rapidly advancing brain tumor and would be dead within 1 week, and sent me to the next room, for counseling.

The Prep Meeting – Part 2

(or: ‘Where the Truly Great Salespeople Are Hiding’)

The next room had no scales, mouse pads, measuring tapes or other scary devices. Or so I thought. But the hidden weapon was the doctor clicking nervously at the mouse and trying to smile politely but vaguely in my direction at the same time. ‘Right’ she said – and I almost expected her to roll up her sleeves and start the difficult job of making me beautiful – ‘I see your biggest problem is cellulite. We have to do something about that immediately, or it will be too late’. It sounded like a curse, a bad omen, a verdict, a death threat, my worst nightmare come true. By the time she started looking at ‘the most efficient method’ of improving my condition even a little bit, I had completely forgotten that I had never, in my entire adult life, thought of cellulite, noticed it or considered ‘doing something about it’. I forgot I was there because I saw an ad in a glossy magazine while I was sitting on the toilet the previous morning, obviously unaware of the cunning cellulite creeping up the very behind I was sitting on. And most of all, I forgot that I had made the appointment because I gullibly fell for the 7 kilos in 14 days trick, that I was there because I wanted to lose weight, not destroy some ‘orange peel’ aspect of which I hadn’t even been aware of until then. She was probably used to the panic in my eyes, and, as a skilled salesperson (why did she have to be a doctor too?), tried to sell me the most expensive series of ‘cutting edge technology’ to help me fight my newly discovered parasite monster. Everything sounded extremely convincing, to the point where I was asking myself how I could have lived so long without all that. I finally had an explanation to offer my mother for not having married until now! It all seemed to make sense and this woman was showing me the light, my salvation!

Until she calculated a total cost for my beautification, remodeling, slimming, toning,  tanning and indeed tuning! If she hadn’t been so serious and professional until then, I would have been sure it was a joke. In fact, I could see, just outside the window on a billboard, an advertisement for the latest SUV, which had the same price tag and I even considered she may not have calculated anything at all, but noticed the same billboard and read out the price of the SUV. Needless to say, she was dead serious, and almost insulted that I hadn’t jumped up with joy and gratitude at the huge discount and the obvious value for money deal.

After a long debate over which treatment I should do first, which I would never do (in spite of all the disapproving looks she was giving me) and which I ‘absolutely had to do’ in her opinion (those seemed to be the most expensive, by some strange coincidence!), I managed to emerge from the saleswoman’s claws with just about enough money left in my account to allow me to buy some soda bread and rashers on my birthday trip to Ireland in a couple of weeks.

The Treatment

or: ‘Be Careful What You Wish For! (In My Case: Pay For!)

1. Warm Blanket (also known as Revolting Stinking Slime)

My first treatment session was the next morning. It was deceitfully called ‘Warm Blanket’. You would expect some comfy duvet in which to wrap yourself and continue your interrupted sleep. How awfully wrong would you be!

I was given a bathrobe and a pair of disposable paper G-Strings, and thus clad, I was led to a room with a bed (actually, more like an operation theatre piece of furniture, obviously designed for torturing naive individuals like me) and a guy in a white coat with a broad grin on his face. As soon as my chaperone had pulled the curtains and left me with the grinning fool, the latter put on a serious face and invited me to take off my robe. ‘OK’, I thought to myself! ‘I’ve taken my clothes off in front of worse people! What the heck!’ and hung the bathrobe on a peg. What really worried me most was neither the chrome bed, nor the grinning fool, but the awful smell, which I dared not think which part of his body was coming from. Wrong again! For as soon as I was naked, he turned around and lifted a bowl containing the most repulsive concoction I ever had the misfortune of seeing, smelling and being covered in from head to toe! Yep! You guessed! He picked up a brush and started covering me in that shit! (which turned out to be algae paste!).  algaeI was quite speechless for a couple of minutes. I must confess I took into account the possibility of this being just a bad, absurd dream, then I thought the guy was not actually meant to do that at all, that he was just a pervert who was taking advantage of my obvious ignorance regarding the ‘beauty industry’.

But then he surprised me by politely asking is it was OK for him to touch my bottom with the brush, because he didn’t want to make me feel uncomfortable! I just had to burst out laughing (sprinkling fine droplets of spit all over the glass wall, but thanking heaven I was still young enough to control all my other sphincters, as the guy was kneeling right behind me, with his nose only a couple of inches from my yet un-brushed bottom). When I calmed down enough to talk, I explained that if he didn’t want me to be uncomfortable, he should have abstained from covering me in some stinking shit while staring at my naked body the very day after I had been made aware of its unsuspected imperfections, but if it had to be done, he should have at least been a woman and considerate enough to wear a blindfold while doing it! ‘So’, I continued, ‘you think that I have been extremely comfortable the last 10 minutes, taking my clothes off in front of a complete (male) stranger who then rubs all my body (except my ass, of course!) with a brush, while I try to hold my breath for minutes at a time, for fear I will throw up from the smell? Well, in this case, I assure you that rubbing my bottom with the wonderful hi-tech algae vomit will do nothing, whatsoever, to spoil my comfort! Knock yourself out!’(‘And may you one day fall head first in a pool of algae paste and may the only way to save yourself be swallowing it!’ I added quietly, almost adding an ‘Amen.’)

Needless to say, my outburst drew another 3 or 4 employees who all stuck their heads in through the curtains to see what was going on, to give advice, offer to rub me with the brush instead of the guy and, the most annoying of all, to calmly and politely explain that most people enjoy this procedure so much that they ask to spend more time glazed with the beneficial green ‘gift of nature’ and wrapped in the ‘warm blanket’ than they had actually paid for. They were all extremely puzzled that I did not fall in the category of masochistic freaks who enjoyed that shit!

Yes, eventually they managed to spread the last bit of ‘green gift’ on my ass, to wrap me in cling film and then lift me on the morgue trolley wrapped in an electric duvet which made me feel like a sweating pig in a pool of horse dung for 30 minutes, during which they checked on me every 3-5 minutes, whispering ‘enjoy your relaxation’ every time they existed! They then caught me in time when I slid on the slimy cling film and nearly broke my neck trying to get up from that torture bed. I was led to the shower and encouraged to ‘rub it all off thoroughly’. Just in case I had grown so fond of the ‘green gift’ and its delightful perfume, especially in combination with my sweat, that I was tempted to skip the shower and bolt down the street wearing nothing but their precious slime! Of course, if they had known me at all, they wouldn’t have worried about that, because I had taken my pink bag with me in the morning and it would have clashed terribly with the green!

2. Biostimulation (also known as Death by Electrocution in Small, Perverse Doses)

As soon as I got away from the Stinking Spa (although I swore I would not go anywhere near it again), I started convincing myself that the other ‘procedures’ cannot all be that bad, and that I had paid much too much for this, not to go through with it. So sure enough, there I was again the next day, ready (or so I thought) for my next adventure in the world of beauty. My appointment said Biostimulation, so I (naively, again!) expected a soothing, relaxing experience by which some ‘vital energy’ expert would wave her/his hands over my ‘problematic bits’ and convince all that fat and cellulite to go away and leave me in peace. The truth it, nothing I could have imagined would have prepared me for what happened next.

I was already having nightmarish déjà-vu’s when they handed me the robe and disposable paper G-strings and led me to another tiny room with another chrome bed and (thank God!) this time a woman. I cheerfully took off my robe and was about to relax on the bed, when I saw her approaching with a bunch of cables hanging on her arm.  She methodically stuck a wire to the main sets of muscles along my body and announced I would have to tell her when to stop. ‘Stop what?’ I wanted to ask, but before I could utter the words, my whole body started shaking like mad, electricity contracting my every muscle, making it close to impossible to say anything without sounding like a squeaking castrated mouse. So I took the first opportunity to nod convincingly when she asked if it was enough.

I don’t think she caught my desperate, pleading look as she walked out, wishing me ‘pleasant relaxation’ and electrocutedannouncing she would be back in 45 minutes to help me up. Relaxation? How the hell was I supposed to relax when my whole body was contracting like I was having an epileptic fit, my breasts flopping about like jelly, with extremely hard nipples, starting to hurt from the freezing breeze blown down on me by a merciless air conditioning unit. I will never know how I lasted 45 minutes in there. I probably passed out at some point, because when the blessed end-of-session-beeping woke me up, everything had stopped and the sadistic-devil-turned-angel was handing me my robe and making sure my still twitching legs could carry me back to the changing rooms. All I could do was smile feebly and swear, once again, that I would never set foot in that place, for it was sure to kill me a third time!

3. Cellusculpture (also knows and the Sucking Monster)

Needless to say, I went a third (and a fourth and an umpteenth) time, and will continue to subject myself to humiliation and torture until the paid sessions are over and I will finally be able to wish them all, in my turn, a most pleasant relaxation in the fires of hell, where they will, no doubt, be delighted to listen to their own cellulite and fat sizzling away for eternity.

The third, and most spectacular method of beautification, is, no doubt, the Cellusculpture. For this ‘cutting edge’ technique of ‘combating stubborn cellulite’, I had paid extra, to buy a ‘special suit’ on which the Cellusculpting device would ‘glide’. I was not expecting a three-piece groom’s suit complete with bowtie, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the tiny white plastic bag the receptionist handed over the marble counter, into which you could barely fit a pair of socks and a bra if you wanted to use it as a laundry bag. I took it up to the changing room and assured the ever-present usher/chaperone I would be out in 5 minutes or so. She almost snorted, but caught herself in time to pretend she was coughing. I was about to find out why.

The tiny white bag seemed to contain only a pair of white tights, probably belonging to a 10 to 12 year old girl, judging by their size. I was about to go give them back and take the suit I had paid for, when I unfolded what I had mistook for girls’ tights. To my astonishment and subsequent horror, it was in fact a one piece elastic suit, extremely transparent when stretched (as I found out after 45 minutes of struggling to fit my generously built figure into it), covering everything from wrists to toes, except the neck and head. I started laughing with relief when I noticed that the only way to get into it was through the hole at the neck, which was big enough to fit over my head, with a bit of effort, but obviously not over my thighs, hips, breasts, shoulders. I went out into the hallway, where my chaperone raised her eyebrows disapprovingly, having noticed that I was still wearing my clothes. I explained politely that I was given the wrong suit by mistake, and that was probably just a miniature version, for demonstration purposes only.

She frowned and pointed at the label, which, to my surprise, said ‘size M’. She quickly waved me back inside, assuring me that ‘it stretches’. I spent the next 30 minutes or more huffing and puffing, stretching and bending, rolling and pulling, swearing and sweating, hopping around like an insane bunny, banging into lockers, pirouetting like an oversized and deranged ballerina in a very sick pervert’s sexual fantasy, cursing the day I sat on that bloody toilet reading that bloody magazine, and trying to make as little noise as possible in the process, Michelinfor fear someone might walk in and call a mental institution to come pick me up, the way I was behaving!  I eventually emerged like a defeated and exhausted version of the Michelin man, only to find out that the worst was yet to come!

The chaperone herself was to take care of me, as it seemed, because she invited me to ‘make myself comfortable’ on yet another chrome bed, and probably took pity and offered me a glass of water. She then picked up this threateningly looking device , pushed some buttons, turned some knobs, and, while I was looking to see where all that deafening noise was coming from, applied that thing to my stomach, in contact with which it seemed to turn into a hungry monster, sucking the life out of me through my navel.

I was taken by surprise and forgot to breathe for half a minute, but soon got used to the oversized fat-sucking vacuum cleaner, the noise, the clinging insane cosmonaut suit, and abandoned my exhausted body in the hands of the fat-sucking-monster tamer and fell asleep as she roller and rolled and rolled the vacuum ‘chamber’ over my tight suit, and she kneaded and kneaded and kneaded away at my collagen fibers, cellulite, fat, skin and other parts of my body which had been plagued with imperfection.suction_danger 

I dreamt I was being swallowed whole by a tiny household vacuum cleaner, which could not be emptied of dust and other crap collected in its paper bag, unless the bag was completely filled up with garbage. So it chased me around a table (not unlike the chrome beds in the Crappy Spa) and just as it was directing it’s threateningly powerful sucking device towards me, the chaperone-turned-operator gently shook me and informed me I was free. She was confident I would come back the next week, because, she said, these things were addictive. She was right.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Hilarious TV

If anything remotely so funny would indeed be broadcasted on TV, I think I would actually buy myself a TV, pay for cable and take the time to watch it every once in a while. Check this out:


However, at the moment, absolutely nothing is worth trading a quiet house and my reading time for. What would I watch?

Well, let’s look at the possibilities:

1. Allegedly clairvoyant ignoramuses on OTV or DDTV – fascinating, really! But I had the privilege of the clairvoyant taxi driver with her own show on TV predicting my future one-to-one, while driving me around in a taxi, and without charging me an extra ‘live clairvoyant fee’! (http://andreeatan.blogspot.com/2009/05/clairvoyant-taxi-driver.html)

2. Basketball, football and handball matches played by obscure teams I haven’t heard about, just because the commentator’s voice turns me on – yes, but I am not interested in football, basketball, handball and all that, and I can hear his voice if I just pick up the phone and call him instead. 

3. Criminal Minds – well… that would certainly be worth owning a TV and turning it on! But the downside is that AXN only runs Criminal Minds on Saturday nights - when I really should be out dancing the night away instead of watching TV - and only one episode at a time!!! So instead I watch 3-4 episodes at a time on www.surfthechannel.com

4. Seeing myself on TV, bellowing into a microphone, too drunk to realize my voice really isn’t that enchanting as it sounds in my head? It could be a possibility… except the damn embarrassing video is already on the Internet (http://andreeatan.blogspot.com/2009/05/whats-up-doc.html)

Well… really, there’s a pro and a con to anything. Bottom line: I continue to be TVless, but I will be on the lookout for funny little videos like the ones on www.happyfish.ro

Monday, 18 May 2009

2009 Eurovision Song Contest Results and Short History of Romanian Participation

I found myself humming Romania’s entry song this morning around 6.30 am. It is now 12.30 pm and I’m still humming it obsessively. I am actually starting to like it. Too bad that people have to like the song upon hearing it for the first time in the contest, in order to award it any significant number of points…

So here’s Elena Gheorghe’s ‘Balkan Girls’:

However, I recommend you search for the actual live performance video, because, although the English accent will be just as bad and some false notes are unmistakable here and there, the erratic body-movements will be visibly reduced and the stage outfits, although nothing special, will certainly not poke you in the eye like the ugly garments and makeup in the video. What were they thinking?!

All in all, Elena deserved to be awarded more points than she was. This may not have been the best song in the contest, but certainly among the 5-7 most ‘catchy’ ones.

Of course the Eurovision Contest has turned political a long time ago, with neighboring countries awarding each-other the highest number of points; of course the Turks in Germany will always vote for Turkey; the Moldavians in Romania will vote for Moldova; the Romanians in Spain and Italy will vote for Romania, and so on. Regardless of how good or bad the performance is.

But let’s take a look at a couple of Romania’s entry songs over the last few years, and compare them to the winners those same years. Could we honestly claim we were better?

Eurovision 2008 – Romania (Beautiful song… for a romantic movie soundtrack!!! Not for the Eurovision contest!!! Romania just doesn’t seem to understand that you have to adapt to the occasion, and insists on sending the likes of Nico, Monica Anghel and Marcel Pavel to make fools of themselves among all the beautiful, crazy, young and original people who get on that stage. See for yourself below)

Eurovision 2007 – Romanian entry song (I loved this song at the time. It deserved to win the national competition. The lyrics, the idea of the song, the rhythm, the funny dance… they’re all perfect. Even the guys are all cute. Too bad none of them can really sing. See below)

Eurovision 2006 – Tornero (This song already gets on my nerves after the zillions of times I’ve heard it broadcasted since 2006. However, it is one of the most suitable entry songs we’ve ever had for this contest. And apart from the awful dancers and Mihai Treistariu’s extremely questionable sense of fashion, it was probably the year when we were proudest of our participation in the Eurovision. See video below)

Eurovision 2005 – Romania’s entry song was ‘Let Me Try’ - probably the closest we came to winning: 3rd place. Luminita’s voice is perfect for the song, the guys banging on barrels in the background are a wonderful addition to the sound, everything is perfect.

Except… Let’s also take a look at the winning songs over the last few years.

2005 (Greece – ‘My Number One’):

2006 (Finland - ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ – surprising entry, surprising winner, but great song! Hard rock rules!!!!!)

However, the winner should have been Russia in 2006, because I think Dima Bilan’s ‘Never Let You Go’ is one of the greatest songs ever written, let alone heard in the Eurovision contest. Convince yourself by watching the video below (which is much better than the song he actually won the contest with last year!)

2007 (Serbia – ‘Molitva’) I’m not sure what the real reason for this win was, but the song grows on you after the first few baffling seconds…

2008 (Russia – ‘Believe’) – I’m glad Dima Bilan won in the end, but it’s too bad he didn’t win with the song that was really worth it, in 2006 – ‘Never Let You Go’. I’m pretty sure it’s more of Evgeni Plushenko’s involvement in Bilan’s performances that got him to number one in 2008, but whatever the reason… here’s the actual song:

2009 – Norway is the winner this year, with an entertaining and extremely cute song, but a smug Alexander Rybak who almost ruins the whole song with his alternation of talking/shouting/talking/shouting instead of singing (when he does try, poor thing, it all comes out wrong!). The two wannabe fairies in pink dresses aren’t helping at all either! I’ll give him this: he can play that violin while hopping around in bouts of enthusiasm!

According to the official Eurovision Song Contest History website (www.esc-history.com), Romania first entered the contest in 1994. In the last 15 years, it has had 11 songs in the finals, and ranked between 22 and 3 in the stats, as follows:

1994 – Dincolo de Nori – Dan Bittman (21st place out of 25)

1998 – Eu Cred – Malina Olinescu (22nd place out of 25)

2000 – The Moon – Taxi (17th place out of 24)

2002 – Tell Me Why – Monica Anghel & Marcel Pavel (9th/24)

2003 – Don’t Break My Heart – Nicola (10th/26)

2004 – I Admit – Sanda Ladosi (18th/24)

2005 – Let Me Try – Luminita Anghel & Sistem (3rd/24)

2006 – Tornero – Mihai Traistariu (4th/24)

2007 – Liubi, Liubi, I Love You – Todomondo (13th/24)

2008 – Pe-o Margine de Lume – Nico & Vlad Mirita (20th/25)

2009 – The Balkan Girls – Elena Gheorghe (19th/25)

Thursday, 14 May 2009

What’s Up Doc?

Background info: 1) I am obsessive compulsive; 2) One of my compulsive obsessions is matching outfits with accessories (earrings, shoes, glasses, watches, bags, hairpins, even lighters and pens for god’s sake!); 3) Although I must be close to the number of glasses Elton John has (but not quite there yet, as mine fit in only one suitcase!), I still feel compelled to renew my colourful glassescollection with yet another shade of this or that colour, which will obviously match this or that outfit even better than any of the other ones.

This having been said, the story goes like this:

Last week I walked into my regular optician’s, to have her take a look at the last pair of glasses I had bought from her (I bought them because I wanted olive-green frames, but since then, everybody had been commenting on my mustard glasses. I could have blamed that on my failing eyesight, but they were rubbing against my right ear rather painfully after a few days, so they had to be bent a bit, whatever their true colour). As soon as the blond shop assistant saw me walking towards the entrance to the shop, she started hopping up and down, pulling the other woman’s sleeve and squeaking: ‘It’s her! It’s her!’ I looked behind and around me, but I was the only one in sight, so I shrugged and asked: ‘I’m me?

Almost out of breath with excitement, Blondie explained that she had been trying to explain to her boss for weeks which of their clients she had seen on TV, and just couldn’t make her understand it was me. ‘Anyway, you have a lovely voice, Miss’, she concluded. I mumbled some words of thanks to her compliment, but actually thought to myself ‘Oh shit! Not another one!

At the end of March I went to Opium Studio (a club in the vicinity of Opiumthe ProTV building - which explains why they were filming there in the first place!). We were quite a big gang, booked 2 tables and made a lot of noise, drank a lot of alcohol and generally had a smashing time, never once caring about what anyone else in there thought about us (or our voices, as it turned out!).

Just after 10 pm, to get the karaoke atmosphere started, the DJ made the huge mistake of randomly giving out two microphones. I grabbed one and didn’t let go of it until after 3 am, when (against my will) my friends dragged me out of the place and the DJ snatched the mic from my clutching talons. I was having a great time (as I later saw myself confessing on TV!!). Of course, the flowing Bacardi and Coke helped relax me and even induced this confidence-boosting illusion that I could actually sing and that everyone in the club was delighted (and certainly honoured) to have the privilege of listening to me bellowing into that Karaokemicrophone for hours on end. Whatever the song, whichever the lyrics, whatever the language, regardless of whether I had ever heard the song before or if some poor clubber had requested it and was trying hard to scream even louder into their microphone, so they could cover me.

I had been mildly aware that a bright light was constantly shining in my face and that someone had been filming the whole evening, but I just supposed the club owners were making a video to post on the club website. Towards morning, this little lady with a microphone of her own (!!!) came up to me and asked if she could interview me for her show on ProTV – What’s Up Doc? It turns out she was doing an episode on how people lose weight while singing, by exercising their face and stomach muscles. So, still clutching the microphone and swinging my Bacardi glass, I explained to her about singing and other important aspects of life. However, she only chose to insert two of my words of wisdom in the broadcasted footage (probably because they had been the only two intelligible phrases I uttered in my respective state of advanced lack of sobriety). See for yourselves: http://www.protv.ro/emisiuni/shows/ce-se-intampla-doctore/video-cantati-cantati-cantati/20682/pagina-1.html

Now, coming back to the Blondie optician, I wonder if it was a new sales technique, to persuade me to buy a bigger pair of sun-glasses, just in case I do become a celebrity and people start recognizing me on the street… It worked! Which reminds me… I have to rush over to collect my new glasses! Ta!

Happy Birthday Darling!

I will not post a photo (not because I want to protect his identity, but because he is so devastatingly gorgeous, sexy and desirable –even at his age! –, that I do fear someone else will snatch him!) but today (actually, yesterday, 13 May, but since I haven’t yet gone to bed, it’s still ‘today’ although it’s technically ‘tomorrow’, got it?!) is (was) my best friend’s birthday.

Due to free radicals, pollution and probably some advanced degree of short-sight – as well as the small impediment of his sexual orientation and preference for men -, I will never have his babies (except ‘by IVF from a test tube’, he said! How generous! Thanks, darling! Thanks for being selfish and keeping all those wonderful genes to yourself and not giving the world the chance to benefit from the product of our combined genes, which would obviously produce nothing but gorgeous prodigies, cute little geniuses who can save humanity, the planet, the Universe – because they will know, a priori, that the answer is 42. And mice.). However, that will not prevent me from loving him eternally (and secretly plotting to get him drunk enough one night and rape him. If that doesn’t work, I have Plan B, where I flatten out my breasts, grow hairs on my legs and pretend to be a 19 year old male virgin).

Anyway, I had been preparing to celebrate his birthday since… his last birthday, really, only to find out today that he had decided to cancel it altogether and pretend it wasn’t happening at all. Like that was going to happen! I quickly ran a search for last minute entertainment inspiration in Bucharest on a Wednesday evening. I luckily found the most appropriate option: a musical. And not just any musical, but an ambitious project of the Bucharest Operetta House: Broadway Bucharest.


Now don’t get me wrong. I said the project was ambitious. Not that its ambition was attained. Yes, for an expat or a tourist in Bucharest, it would be a good alternative to lingering in an Irish pub on a rainy Wednesday evening. And if it weren’t for the lack of dance synchronization, the appalling English accents of the cast, the poor sound quality or the lack of voice of some of the artists (or maybe their microphones had been cut off to spare our ears of the even more terrible effect of their singing… Who knows?), the selection of scenes from famous Broadway shows (Cats, Evita, Phantom of the Opera, Cabaret, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, etc.) would have been extremely entertaining and well chosen. However, if you managed to ignore the orchestra conductor’s erratic and unnecessarily ample arm movements and focus on the actual stage, the costumes were probably the best part of the show. Except the well chosen and exceedingly beautiful costumes, the main merit of the production is the fact that no translation was attempted and the whole show was in English. Well… Sort of… I’m pretty sure the guy who sang ‘Maria’ from West Side Story sang the word ‘fart’ instead of ‘found’.

As in:

‘I've just kissed a girl named Maria,
And suddenly I fart, 
How wonderful a sound
Can be!’

And I actually thought he was the best-looking guy on the stage tonight, too. But somehow, after this song, I had this picture in my mind of him farting while kissing, and therefore abstained from running down the hallways of the Operetta theatre, hungry for an autograph and – God forbid! – a kiss. I therefore retreated with birthday-boy to the restaurant next door where we continued our never-ending conversation about Life, the Universe and Everything (although we both know – and our prodigy children would too – that the answer to all that is actually 42. And Mice.)

My darling, I hope tonight eased your passage into the 45th year of your life. May it be better than your 44th, may you read many more books than in your 44th year (and may you give them all to me afterwards!), may you finally open your eyes and see me for the incredibly sexy human being I really am (regardless of the fact that I don’t have hairy legs or a penis!) and offer me your babies, may you finally accomplish your dream of moving back to Africa (and maybe take me with you to fan you with a huge leaf on the beach while a cute black boy is lovingly rubbing your aching joints and muscles), may you always remain the wonderful person you are and may you love me forever, as I will you.

Happy birthday my darling!