The Full Monty

Tensions in the Euro have eased, now the final verdict is in: the PIIGS have won. The Portuguese took care of Holland, and Thursday, in what amounted to a Teutonic national tragedy, Italy waved goodbye to Germany.

Like the tale of three little pigs, Italians, Spanish, and Portuguese were thrown into a pile with the big bad wolf. And in a soccer remake of the story, two of the little pigs made it though to the end. The wolf fell along the way.

German fans must have identified with some of the verses published by Alan Dundes in his ‘Life Is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder’. I promised I would search for the primary source after reading the controversy surrounding Michael Lewis’s latest book, and assess the supporting evidence for German fascination with things anal. It does appear to be substantial, although I believe several other cultures readily identify with some of the material.

Das Leben ist ‘ne Hühnerleiter
vor lauter Dreck kommt man nicht weiter
und wenn man endlich oben ist
dann steckt man drin im tiefsten Mist

I thought this would be a great test for Google translate, which renders thus:

Life is’ ne ladder
sheer filth comes not man
and when you finally top
then you put in there in the deepest shit

Not fantastic, given it fails to detect that is is a chicken coop ladder, and the key element of the second verse, i.e. ‘with so much shit one can’t get ahead’. But I suspect you get the gist. Speaking of which, the German word Mist apparently means manure, which presumably casts a shadow on such titles as ‘Gorillas in the mist‘. Nice to see that ‘false friends’ don’t only exist in Latin languages.

Encouraged by all this, and by the fact that I got very little sleep last night and am incapable of addressing serious issues this morning, I went on to translate another limerick, this one an old favorite from junior high school, extracted I believe from a rugby song.

The sexual life of the camel
Is stranger than anyone thinks
At the height of the mating season
It will try to bugger the sphynx

But the sphynx’s posterior sphincter
Has been blocked by the sands of the Nile
Which accounts for the hump on the camel
And the sphynx’s inscrutable smile

I used the England group draw in the Euro2012 to Google translate first into Swedish, then from that to Ukrainian, and finally to French. For those of you steeped in the art, here is the final product:

Chameau sexuelle
Il ya plus surprenant qu’on ne le pense
Au milieu de la saison des amours
Je vais essayer de sphinx trou du cul

Mais l’arrière du sphincter sphinx
A été bloqué par les sables du Nil
Qui est derrière la bosse sur un chameau
Sourire Sphinx et impénétrable

If Gallic is not your game, then you can always retro that into English. I particularly like the Chameau sexuelle, sounds like the launch of an exciting new perfume for niche markets. And although the mating season becomes the most romantic ‘saison des amours’, there is something quintessentially French about its practical application in the ensuing line.

But sticking (sorry) briefly to the subject of manure, Samuel Clemens apparently discovered while traveling in the German Black Forest area that wealth was manifest by the dimensions of the pile of manure displayed at the front of each house. This fact so interested him that he drafted a book plan centered around a romantic love tale with a fecal twist.

Of course in many cultures, a stockpile of dung is considered a precious commodity, and even in the banking sector of today, great value is attributed to such assets. But displaying your wealth in pyramids on your front garden, well that’s just plain shitty.

A perplexed teenager at a concert last night celebrating St. Peter’s Day. A quandary of our times: do I go for enthusiastic analog sex, the old fashioned way, or digitally liquidate my position?

So one of the two piggiest PIIGS, Italy or Spain, will tomorrow evening become European soccer champion for the next four years. For those of you who feel that soccer is a sport best consigned to grade-school kids, before puberty takes them to the exalted heights of baseball, please understand that in Europe tomorrow’s outcome is the equivalent of winning the Hundred Years War.

Of course this Euro comes at a time when Europe is hot under the collar about the other euro, and when austerity is finally becoming a dirty word. Mario Monti (who the Italian anti-austerity politician Beppe Grillo jokingly calls Rigor Monti) teamed up with Spain to put pressure on Germany, to the extent that Frau Merkel was forced into the impolitic statement “Eurobonds, not in my lifetime.”

This kind of comment is doomsday talk, particularly in politics, where a week is a long time.

The requirement for some kind of EU Minister of Finance, or Budget Controller, to which Member States submit annual budget plans for approval, falls woefully short of any notion of federalism. The US still behaves as one with respect to bonds and currency, but individual states certainly do not submit state budgets for federal approval. Let’s wait for the end game.

One of my Italian friends has already advised that what the Spanish did to the Portuguese was unforgivable (wasn’t it always?) and that the Azzurri plan to rectify that on Portugal’s behalf tomorrow.

For the moment, Europe belongs to the three Marios: Monti, Draghi, and Balotelli.

The India Road QR links for smartphones: point your camera and click.

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