Reviewing Bliss Hungarian Style

Pest from the Castle in Buda, featuring Széchenyi lánchid across the river toward our hotel (hiding behind the elegant Four Seasons Gresham Palace)

We returned from Hungary successfully. And our flight home was infinitely less aggravating than our return from Prague two years ago (which does have a downside — I came away from OʼHare two years ago with a story idea, almost completed, for the Tourist; no one annoyed me enough to devise a means to fictitiously kill him or her this time, unlike the pompous slick who mercilessly reclined his seat into my face the entire flight, thus earning an excremental demise by drowning, outside baggage claim, in my short story*).

The recent trip was a lovely experience. I now know what all those items in the image I used from Wikipedia are — namely: an aerial view of Buda Hills across Parliament and the Danube from Pest, the Chain Bridge—south side with one of the lions, Heroes Square at the end of Andrássy út, Parliament viewed from a boat on the Danube, Fishermanʼs Bastion north of the castle in Buda, St. István Bazilika in Pest (quite near our hotel), and finally a view up the river toward Margaret Island from Gellért Hill in Buda. Since I really didnʼt know any of those things before the trip, the awareness now is pleasant.

Anticipating our time this October might be too reminiscent of Prague, we harvested instead an entirely new set of treasured memories along the Danube. Budapest was extraordinary and interesting, lively, and although not as antique as Prague (having suffered destruction repeatedly over its history, particularly in the closing months of World War Two) still romantic and exotic to dulled Midwestern eyes (even if reconstructed recently).

tram tracks and trees along the Danube, Eótvos tér, heading “homeward” toward the hotel

Travel books had warned us that Hungarians might seem stand-offish and remote, even officious (as Czechs had also felt), but we experienced none of that, meeting pleasant people who did their jobs well and folks who spoke with us and helped us out if necessary. Although I did study my Hungarian handbook and memorized important sentences to say in nearly a dozen situations, none of it was necessary. Everyone with whom we spoke or had dealings possessed some level of English sufficient to their and our needs. My feeble pronunciation and probably grammarless constructions earned faint smiles and quick English responses every time, except with our cab driver to the airport on the final morning. The hotel had called to schedule the cab for us the previous morning, and because it is a German chain (Starlight Suiten), the cab company dispatched a driver with German but no English. Even so, we communicated, and he enthusiastically accepted my payment and “Köszönöm”** with an unexpectedly warm handshake.

The city was beautiful, interestingly mixing restoration of past glories (like the Rick-Steves-criticized Royal Palace aloft in hilly Buda or the sturdy Chain Bridge/Széchenyi lánchid over the Duna*** and just across Roosevelt tér [park] near our hotel) with contemporary energy and industry. We loved the food (all except one Rick Steves recommendation that was our worst meal of the trip, ranking below even airline eating — not to ridicule the renowned Rick whose book, along with DK and Fodor, did steer us well usually). The people were wonderful. The sights and experiences were invigorating and vividly memorable. We had a marvelous time.****

(And I have absolutely nothing appropriate to say for this day, Halloween.)

* I guess that the opportunity to review what lies where and in which order in the passport clearance—>baggage claim—>customs experience arriving in Chicago helped with the old tale, however.

** “Thank you,” which I hope I pronounced keu-seu-neum (with those eus like French neuf, accent, as with every Hungarian word, on the first syllable).

*** Danube

**** Yes, we wish we were there… And I will have much more to say about the trip (perhaps in too much detail, again) in days to come.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.


Today, oh my droogies, The Lovely One and I return from our 2011 vacation. And (as todayʼs title has already revealed prematurely) we have been in Budapest.

from Wikipedia (click the image for the link), my only source of photos in advance. By the timethis posts, I hope we haveseen all these sights and I have my own photographs to post in the future.

I am not sure what it is between us and the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire (viz. our trip to Prague two years ago), but we surrendered to that impulse/connection again. Although I am (perhaps not obviously, but I am) writing this post ahead of time (indeed, on the day of our departure, to use a little time while Janet works until noon when weʼll leave for Chicago to fly out the next day/tomorrow-for-me), I hope and intend that weʼll have (will have had, for all of you) a very good experience.

Most of the summer and over the duration of the rehearsals for One Flew over the Cuckooʼs Nest, we had desultorily and sometimes deliberatively discussed a driving vacation (saving money and all that, you know), considering a trip eastward to maybe the Finger Lakes region and Niagara Falls (where I have never been). However, actual investigation revealed that prices werenʼt inexpensive out that way. Both lodging and food were going to run us more than several thousand dollars, we calculated/guessed.

Janet vaguely checked prices to more exotic locales (flying to Albuquerque, Paris…), and just three weeks ago happened on what felt like a good deal for us to visit Budapest. This was the Wednesday right after the show closed, just before her Festivus with her sister in/near Milwaukee (in fact, she was leaving for the annual sistersʼ weekend the very next day). But when she e-mailed me about it, I just jumped on the idea, and by 9:00 PM that very day we were booked. That is the ultimate in quick decisions on vacations for us (usually, we like to book months and months in advance and spend lazy weekends dreaming and learning about our proposed destination — as we did for nearly a year on our November 1999 Ireland trip, which was merely four or five days over my birthday, time I had taken from school, using all my accumulated personal days and a weekend).

Once were committed (again to the tune of several thousand dollars-plus), I drove right down to Barnes & Noble (not a short trip as we have no bookstores in our little anti-intellectual community) for travel guides, acquiring DK and Fodorʼs (and phoning The Lovely One to shop in the big city for Rick Steves). I also picked up a Lonely Planet language book on Hungarian, but precious little has entered my brain at the time of this typing (perhaps deep study on the plane will/in-your-case-has improved that state). My previous knowledge was so vague and uncertain that (although I did know that the city resulted from combing two — actually three — earlier cities, Buda and Pest on separate sides of the Danube) I was unaware that right above Budapest the Danube takes a nearly 90° turn to flow just about directly south…

And I have become aware that Hungarian is not an easy language (not being Indo-European, its closest cousins, distantly, are Finnish and Estonian). But we survived (even almost thrived) during our stay in Prague with a just about equal unfamiliarity with Czech (and I didnʼt have a book on that language two years ago). So…

Once we have returned (within a very brief time from the hour scheduled for this post to appear) and recovered, I must let you all know how the journey turned out.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.


Itʼs quite chilly in Iowa today. I have hauled out my fingerless gloves for the first time since mid-April, and although the wrists and palms of each hand are cozy enough, my fingertips feel cold tapping away at the keys.

Everything is indicating the full arrival of fall. I raked leaves five different days (and hauled away ten truckbed-loads). Furthermore, I am going to have to rake again soon, although our back yard trees and bushes have not let go of their photosynthesis machines yet. I may as well be looking ahead at the last lawn-mowing of the year…

I have also been receiving notifications about the imminence of NaNoWriMo 2011. And, although I have been utterly worthless as a writer this year — probably penning (often literally there) only ten or twenty thousand words outside the wretchedly few blog posts I have uploaded* —, I am intending to use November to (I hope!) finish the Mantorville (Iowa horror) novel. If I actually finish it, that will be considerably more than 100,000 new words (and I do mean “new” — above and beyond what I have already written and posted here).

Last year, I wrote 110,000 words on the planetary fantasy, but it remains incomplete. I havenʼt added word one since the end of 2010.

But back to more positive thoughts. Mantorville and the cesspool of evil behind the incarceration of former teacher Arkham**

I know that the story will fall into three (possibly four) sections. Only the first is the more-or-less formal record of the treatment sessions between Dr. Symonds and legally insane murderer Arkham. Part Two, probably, is the Arkham diary that I had finally gotten introduced toward the end of what is available so far. Part Three… well, some things are about to happen that will, after some delay, turn the tale into Dr. Symondsʼs story (and I may just interweave the diary selections through that portion, which I intend him to be dictating into a cell phone or mini-digital-recorder in more or less present time, early 21st Century). That fourth part? I may need one more major character to resolve the whole thing…

And a whole bunch of people have got to get killed off. (It is a horror story, after all.)

Scrivener is ready to go, announcing on Facebook today that their 2011 NaNoWriMo versions are available. So, having used that wonderful software for last yearʼs (still incomplete) “novel,” I guess/hope I had better be ready and willing as well.

* Incredibly, even without regular posts, the blog has been receving more than a hundred hits a day (mostly folks seeking images to use, just as I borrowed the NaNoWriMo official logo to the left and above).

** Anyone remember his first name? I donʼt without re-reading.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Friday Fuming?*

…and another long span of time has passed without a post. This time, the excuses are few. Our production of One Flew over the Cuckooʼs Nest in Dubuque is over (has been for two weeks now), and I have been ensconced at home, online, at the computer, so I should have written something. I havenʼt, however (clearly). Neither for the blog or for any of my ongoing stories.

I have posted quite a bit on Facebook, sometimes even with lengthy comments. I have found myself stirred by the Occupy Wall Street movement (just now reaching an apparent crisis, along with Occupy Iowaʼs encampment in Des Moines, even as tomorrow the movement goes global). I know that initially the protest was pretty amorphous (still is in population) and vague (I know because FoxNoise tells me so), but it feels like a sign of spring as this years fades into the sere, the yellow leaf (and I know that because I have been raking and removing piles and piles of leaves over five days just lately).

Laughably, the Dextreme has undertaken splattergunning all kinds of falsehood in various flailing attempts to smear this nascent movement. My personal favorite is from The Fat Clownʼs Blaze website (which is chock-a-block full of more nonsensical propagandistic drivel). Attempting to view the video which supposedly supported a very lame “theyʼre all commie-socialists” regurgitation, I get this:

Hereʼs the link for that Blaze story. Maybe youʼll have better luck than I did. (I notice that nothing says what the source for this video, presuming an objective source actually exists, is. How can anyone tell it wasnʼt staged/faked? Is this the kind of nonevidentiary ranting that the average dextremist stooge accepts without thought, without verification? Considering the utterly unsupported [and semiliterate] raving on this site, also encountered today, probably so.)

My issue with the connection was probably not The Blaze itself (I hope), but rather CenturyLink continuing its worse-than-awful DSL nonconnection-to-the-internet disservice. As I was trying to find The Blaze page again, I lost my connection for the tenth time today!

I have been noting the interruptions by time every day for months now, building up to my next big phone call to CenturyLink customer service…

And before I close today, another favorite dextreme effort against the Occupiers is The 53% page (as I pay taxes and therefore belong to their false “majority,” I feel like posting my thoughts there), begun in a foolhardy effort to “counter” We Are the 99 Percent. Why “foolhardy,” you might ask. Because the 53 are merely one subbset of the 99 (a manipulated subset, but they exist). Also, just scroll to the bottom of each of the two sites current page and notice the total page counts respectively…

* Did you catch the link that explains todayʼs title?

What do you know? Letʼs now add 5:45 to that list of times CenturyLink has cut me from my internet connection today.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.