May 01, 2010

"Balkan Beetle!"

Tintin. I came across this a while back and saved it because I knew that a day was going to come when it would be good to have it up my sleeve. And now that the recent investiture of Peter Jackson has Tintin once again in the news ("Arise, Sir Peter, and get that Tintin movie finished already!") I think this might be the moment to play my card.

Well, David’s card actually.

According to the website www3.sympatico, which I like to think is intended to be pronounced "Très simpatico", David Brooks is an arts consultant and Van Gogh specialist who lives in Toronto. He is also the creator of a wonderful Captain Haddock webpage, featuring a long list of his favourite Captain Haddock insults, or curses, as he quaintly calls them.

You will say, perhaps, oh yeah, we’ve seen those. But David’s is better. First, it’s not alphabetized. Alphabetising the insults, which every other list compiler seems to do, absolutely countermands their genius which of course lies in the unexpectedness of the absurdity. It's just not fair to present “Fancy-dress Freebooter!” right after “Fancy-dress Fatima!”.

Not to mention the problem with runs, as when the letter 'n' seems to have all the words for stupidity (do we know why, I wonder):  numbskulls, nitwits (and nitwitted ninepins), nincompoops etc etc. How you pine for a good “Ectoplasmic by-product!” or “Mineral water drinkers!”.

Secondly, David doesn’t try to explain the curses. You’d be surprised how many people are out there providing definitions of Captain Haddock’s terminology. This gives rise to such gems as (my favourite, from a site with the rather didactic name, harbinger of things to come, "language in tintin"):

"Balkan Beetle! --  a type of insect from eastern Europe."

Just after I saw that, a scream rang out. It was my daughter who had picked up her scarf and found a cockroach underneath. My husband grabbed two of the many remote controls which hang out in our living room (they are never there when you want to watch TV but apparently they do have some uses after all) and gave it a left and a right which put it out of action long enough for me grab it in a paper towel and drop it into our insinkerator. Just as I hit the switch -- it was my Fargo moment --  he said “Do you think it really was a cockroach? It looked different, somehow.”

And I thought,  Balkan Beetle!

Raising my glass to Tintin, one of the greatest literary creations of all time.

Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 03:30


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