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language list

euskara {basque}
magyar {hungarian}
nederlands/vlaams {dutch}
sami
suomi

2004
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December 31st; Pop in at Lilla & Moni's party, visit Scott & Rita, and see in New Year with mother back at Stephen's Liszt-Ferenc-ter flat. On the way out and back nervously dodge teenage boys throwing fireworks in the street. The Guy-Fawkes-Night-ish smell of gunpowder coming off the pavements quite evocative though.

December 30th; Have caught my mother's cough. Sasha's birthday party good though.
December 29th; Peach gin with Esther, port at Stephen's.

December 28th; Cocoa with Terri, beer with Veronica.
December 27th; I shall miss the white fairy lights covering trees down both sides of Andrassy ut when they go.

December 26th; 'Writing the Romantic Comedy' by screenplay analyst Billy Mernit, is a cheerful, helpful, rather badly-written book about writing. Every page bounces with ugly language. Screenplays might not need good prose, but some of it is still a bit cringe-making: "This interesting idiosyncracy (Edward's fear of heights in 'Pretty Woman') is just the kind of psychological nugget that a sodium Pentathol session with your character may unearth." (For anyone not placing plot-payoff bets as soon as Edward's psychological nugget pops up.) Plenty of practical advice, though. He has watched a lot of films, from 'The Lady Eve' to 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', even briefly raising his cap in the direction of the romance subplot within 'Pulp Fiction'. He apologises for introducing it, but the 7-beat model makes its entrance, with various points in the story called things like The Swivel or The Dark Moment. Some handly lists at the back confirm that the almost textbook plot of 'Pretty Woman' made it the highest-grossing movie of this kind in the US. (A film I watched dubbed into Hungarian in the 1990s when the only words I knew were yes+no+thankyou. I was able to follow it effortlessly, so smoothly-oiled was the plot's machinery. (Mernit uses the word 'armature'.)) This should give some idea of the overall approach: "Your protagonists should come equipped - like interlocking puzzle pieces - with just the right-shaped edges to match each other's profile." He praises the (slightly drab) 'Chasing Amy' as a cunning variation on the classic structure, likewise with 'There's something about Mary'. He acknowledges it's harder to write innocently frolicking stories than it was in the era of 'Some Like it Hot' or earlier in the late 30s - his favourite period. 'When Harry Met Sally', 'Sleepless in Seattle' (two others I found a bit dreary) plus 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' (which I never saw) got special mentions: showing romance can still be fresh today. Hmmm. Perhaps I need some romantic comedy in my own life before looking at this genre. Probably mother's real message.
Overall, this left me feeling I should have seen (Andy Bennett at school praised it highly) 'Annie Hall' - in Mernit's view as well as Bennett's, Woody Allen's finest romantic comedy.
Mother and I finish the surprisingly nasty bottle of Villanyi Kekfrankos I bought yesterday. Avoid this wine, citizens.
December 25th; I finish the Mernit book and open a threatening lawyer's letter from RBS about my (now down to) 95-quid debt. Avoid that bank, people.

December 24th; I start Billy Mernit's 'Writing the Romantic Comedy', a present from mother. She still surprises me.
December 23rd; Pick up cold-prone mother from airport. Esther's and Stephen's kindness save Christmas.

December 22nd; 2nd day at the Dunaujvaros paper mill. At home try to switch on heating, finding that Geza the Git installed a hot-water boiler which heats no radiators.
December 21st; With Tim to paper mill for first day of interpreting work. Fascinating to see round a production line with 3-tonne rolls being cut, stacked & wrapped into small packages of photocopy paper. Occasionally someone on a fork-lift truck whizzes past (tight turning circle) the Christmas tree beside the palletising machine & shrink-wrapping oven. Over lunch I rather go on at Tim about local scrip with "demurrage" (not this meaning) for large businesses in small depressed towns.

December 20th; Dubbing 6 German horror-movie trailers. If you know me, please send me your postal address. My address books were stolen in 2002, so I can't reach many people.
December 19th; My Sundays are a bit of a mystery to me. How do I spend them, exactly?

December 18th; Art? Can't get enough of it, mate.
December 17th; Animated drink with Tim - I talk a bit too much. + Dancing with the stylish Kerry & the delightfully dizzy Rita late in some cellar. {Hello Eszter!} Usual Budapest party: dumpy bar hideously full of cigarette smoke, yet, oddly, packed with alluring women.

December 16th; Tea at Carolyn & Gabor's flat. Finished article for Mini.
December 15th; After seeing Ari's flat and meeting Politics Judit & art expert Eva, later to a gallery with Robin to see show about angels with two paintings by Sasha. We meet Sergii and Svetla, while I get rather silly on sweet champagne.

December 14th; Big-Client Architect Norman Foster thrills France, of course.
December 13th; Futures & options for starving people?

December 12th; Letty's homework: ancient India.
December 11th; Robin fixes first photograms.

December 10th; Writers' Group last night at Erik's, where we find writing one-line gags is really quite hard.
Today, a 3-foot-high glowing Santa Claus is plugged in at our end of the office corridor.
December 9th; So it's true. Left-handers are sinister, after all. Bastards.

December 8th; Part-way through lesson with Dusan all the school's lights go out, as a school play starts downstairs. But Marion's computer still works, so he and I finish the tutorial by the light of the glowing grey oblong of my weblog.
Later Robin & I have sausages at Sasha's. Sasha has a couple of exciting new paintings I hadn't seen.
December 7th; On morning 7 bus across Danube a very sleek Cuban girl loaded down with brand-name shopping bags sidles up to me in a thrillingly brazen manner and we have a natter in very basic English until she reaches the Gellert. After lesson with Judit in afternoon about Islamic terrorism, proceed to ELTE, where I give a perhaps rather confusing talk on India. Promised links as follows: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 +... Then later with Esther to Mr Carlson's business event, getting fairly squiffy and chancing on Erik. Esther shows me a photograph of a friend named (oh yes) Yaffa Truelove.

December 6th; Istvan, Jeremy & Robin at the Central Cafe. Jeremy oddly vocal about "shaven-headed, gold-chain-wearing Audi-8 drivers". A type, apparently.
December 5th; Georgina makes fabulous carrot cake, gives me recipe. Chilly fog closes in on Robin's studio. We drive Letty to the convent school in Kecskemet at dusk.

December 4th; Robin's new dog Lupi really is a bit loopy.
December 3rd; Crowded but inspiring train journey into the countryside. Seemed to be able to think clearly, despite lots of distractions. A lad next to me sat with a girl talking to him quite quietly, but nonstop, for at least an hour. He said less than fifty words, she well over a thousand, but they looked quite in love with each other.
Then Robin & I played pool in Lakitelek until midnight.

December 2nd; Mariann makes a fine soup at her flat, then we watch Peter Greenaway's '8 & 1/2 women' on DVD on a computer monitor with her flatmates, albeit in a choking haze of cigarette smoke. Like every other Greenaway film, a mixture of beautifully-framed, symmetrical long shots of grand-looking interiors, stiff-shirted men and women talking with bureaucratic woodenness about their complicated sexual desires, & rather bilious, overexcited use of colour. Creating a mood of pretentious, stagey decadence. Add a dash of cyberpunk fascination with Japanese junk culture [in this case, pachinko parlours], Derek Jarman-ish and Ken Russell-esque penchant for sex, religion & visual loopiness, and a trainspotterish interest in numbers and geometry, and you have a typical Greenaway casserole. The plot of 8 & 1/2 women: a man and his bereaved father fill his expensive Geneva home with a small harem of various women, and get bored. A depressingly English-Catholic feel. Men are made ridiculous and weak by their sexual desires, and it's in vain anyway since women always have the last laugh. Drab outlook, despite the rich colours.
An hour in Mariann's kitchen afterwards listening to a likeable but first-rank drug bore go on about his rather uneventful adventures on K, cocaine, MDMA, acid, etc suddenly helped me see why some men find drugs such a good niche. It offers a kind of experiential machismo for sensitive types: the male can both intrigue women with his keen interest in emotion & mood, yet at the same time show them he likes daring, rebellious adventure and is mysteriously experienced in the ways of the world. All without having to be physically hard.
December 1st; Miklos pops round for an Unicum.

Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact at otherlanguages.org

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