The Stupid 365 Project, Day 64: Czechs and Balances

December 3rd, 2010

This is the flag of the Czech Republic, which is refreshingly free of symbolism

The colors, according to one website, have no significance whatsoever.  I like that.  They’re nice colors, if a trifle familiar, and it’s energizing to see them free of any saber-rattling meaning.

The choice of design, however, was packed with the kind of diplomatic chicanery that gives WikiLeaks its best material. When Czechoslovakia agreed to the 1993 separation that produced the Czech Republic and the state of Slovakia, the big issue was not (as you might have expected) over who got to use the front part of the name, but over the flag. Czechoslovakia and the incipient country of Slovakia finally agreed that neither of them would use elements of the old Czechoslovakian flag in designing their new banners.  They shook hands on it and retired to their respective portions of the map.

But the Czech Republic promptly adopted the entire Czechoslovakian flag, reasoning that since the country of Czechoslovakia, which had been a party to the agreement, no longer existed, the agreement was null and void.  Ah, politicians.

I didn’t know any of this until about 25 minutes ago.  I was looking for a visual for this blog and found the flag and read all of this stuff and came right back and shoveled it at you.  I’m nowhere near as smart as I pretend.

And all of this is by way of an overture to my news of the day:  A Nail Through the Heart is going to be translated into Czech. This fulfills me in some obscure way that’s impossible for me to describe.  It just feels great to know that Poke and Rose and Miaow will be speaking Czech, in addition to Italian, Spanish, Finnish, and English.  I can’t wait for the cover design and the moment when I get to read the first paragraph.

I’ve been getting a lot of effusive fan mail from Italy lately, much of which I can’t read, although the Italians’ English is much, much better than my Italian. Enthusiasm in Italian is so filigreed. Makes the book sound like something I’d like to read.

I have no idea what Czech fan mail will be like or, indeed, whether I’ll get any.  But in advance, to all the Czechs who will follow Poke’s little family through the streets and alleys of Bangkok, a resounding sawatdee khrap and also  dobrý den.

And please pass the goulash.  (Don’t write to tell me goulash is Hungarian.  They’ve got in in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, too.  I czeched.)

15 Responses to “The Stupid 365 Project, Day 64: Czechs and Balances”

  1. Laren Bright Says:

    The opportunity for puns is so overwhelming that I estimate there are not enough bits & bytes to hold them all. Therefore, I refuse to participate.

  2. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Awwww — I aimed this whole thing at you. Wasn’t my parting shot smashing? “I czeched!!!” HaaHAAAhaaaHAAAA. No, it’s all right, I’m okay now.

  3. Gary Says:

    And you have the hide – the absolute hide – to stony face my jokes!

  4. Suzanna Says:

    Good morning, Tim.

    I’m sure the people of Czechoslovakia will be very pleased with THE FOURTH WATCHER.

    Here’s a little Czech to warm you up for the fan mail that will surely follow:

    Radši české sebe, než mi zničíte sám.

    A rough translation of: you betta czech yo self, before you wreck yo self!

    Sorry. Just wanted to go along with the pun fest. Silliness intended.

  5. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Gary, this this kind of recrimination leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Excuse me for a moment. Ptui. Much better. You are going to be SO EMBARRASSED when I tell you that YOU were my model for this post — YOU were the reader whose sophisticated sense of humor I was trying so desperately to emulate, YOU were the reason I asked my publishers to make a special effort to get me published in the Czech Republic and/or Slovakia in the first place, just so I could make those puns in a pathetic, transparent attempt to win your esteem. I mean, really, Charlie — what? This isn’t Charlie? Oh. Well, thank you for writing.

    Zanna — Wow, Czech in da hood??? Who but someone from Oakland could bring those two particular battery cables together? Where’s you get the Czech, which seems suspiciously authentic, and what does it actually mean? Probably “Close cover before striking.”

  6. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Nothing edifying here. I’m too busy laughing with good tears today.

  7. Phil Hanson Says:

    Your Czech is in the mail, Tim.

  8. Suzanna Says:

    Yo, I’s from B-Town, but I hangs wid all kindza peeps from all ovah da Bay. Dats how come I can weave all kindsa tings tagettah, know wat I’m sayin’, yo?

    ‘N, hey, dat translation da real deal, yo.

    Czech it out:

    http://translation.babylon.com/english/to-czech/

    Only ting is dey got da last “yo self” all messed up and call it “himself.” Why dey gotta go do dat? Whatevah.

    Anyways, it ain’t all dat all da time but y’all may wanna use dat site when ya start ta get dem Czech onvelopes.

    Czech ya lattah, T.

  9. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Wooo, girl. Where Dexter when I need him?

    Near ‘z I kin figger, you is talking bout some webb sight whut turns real talk into foreign boooshiit. Huh. Got one maybe can help me talk to da copz?

  10. Jaden Says:

    Congratulations on your Czech translation, Tim. I know whoever translates Poke and his family will convey the poetry of your language as well as the heart of your novels.

    I would join in the pun fun. but alas, I’m not clever enough to make puns, except, occasionally by accident.

  11. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Lil — really glad the tears are from laughter. Life is too short to weep for any other reason. (“Life is too short” is an old person’s sentiment, I’ve just realized.)

    Phil, you get Pun of the Week. I’ve had time to think about it, but you also couls have suggested, “The Czech is in the NAIL.” No? Well, maybe not.

    Hi, Jaden — thanks for the congrats. You’re right, of course, the translation could be awful. The good news is that I’m unlikely ever to be able to tell the difference. I’m inclined to believe my Italian translator did a good job, though, because the notes to my site from Italy are full of Romance-language enthusiasm.

  12. Larissa Says:

    Wow…I don’t even know what to respond to first. I think I’m just going to sit here and grin. Yup. That seems about right. hehe.

    Congratulations!

  13. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks, Riss. Being translated is a great, if slightly strange, feeling.

  14. Paul D. Brazill Says:

    They make the best beer.

  15. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    The Czechs? Are you serious?

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