Island Packet – As a proud Slovak-American with a cumbersome, consonant-heavy surname, I must take issue with “Hostel Part II,” a torture-horror movie released last weekend and the sequel to the 2005 hit, “Porky’s.”
“Hostel Part II” is a wildly gruesome flick about cold-eyed businessmen who pay to inflict torture on highly nubile teens in a moldy-looking Eastern European hotel. It apparently sets new standards in cinematic bloodletting; needless to say, we rounded up the whole gang and piled into the minivan to catch “Hostel Part II” on Father’s Day.
But here’s the thing — the film is set in the country of Slovakia, which is my homeland, the land from which my great-grandfather traveled in the early 1900s to forge a livelihood in the coal mines, start his own life in America and help pave the way for his eventual descendants to write questionably valid columns and giggle like a third-grader every time they type the word “nubile.”
Some background: Slovakia is a country located in Europe, which has many countries, all of which you hear about more than Slovakia. Part of this is because Slovakia used to be Czechoslovakia before the Great European Consonant Shortage of The Mid-1990s; prior to that, it was Austria-Hungary, at least until the Great European Shortening of Overhyphenated Country Names of The Mid-1940s, which was a little hypocritical because there was a hyphen in the name, but whatever, that’s how they rolled in the ’40s. These days, Slovakia exists in a state of pleasant anonymity, much like that “Fantastic Four” movie and people who once supported George W. Bush, and is primarily known for:
- Not being the country that Borat was from, and stop asking already.
- Winning the gold in the 2004 Olympics in the Canoeing Slalom event (Pavol Hochschorner and Peter Hochschorner, you guys ROCK!)
Unless you are my grandmother, you probably don’t often make pierogies, which are dumplings of unleavened dough that can be filled with traditional Slovak delicacies like cheese, sauerkraut, cabbage and meat of dog (Kidding! I’m kidding!). Like all Slovak foods, they essentially are food clumps that have been encased in other, more durable food clumps. They are available in the Ethnic Section of your local grocery store, are best when sauteed in butter and onions and make your entire house smell like the Carpathian Mountains.
In my family’s hometown of Whiting, Ind., there is an annual Pierogi Fest, which celebrates the pierogi, featured Crystal Gayle one year (she is OBSESSED with unleavened dumplings) and helps occasionally distract the citizenry from the metric tons of repulsive dust they inhale from the steel mills that have driven the town’s economy for a hundred years. The skies of Whiting are brownish-gold much of the time, except at night, when they’re basketball-orange, lit by dozens of tongues of flame that regularly erupt into the sky. We’re pretty certain the One Ring is in there somewhere.
Anyway, thanks to Google Earth, my cousin and I have discovered the very village that we Vrabels come from, which is called Carne Polo and appears to consist of about seven houses, one road and a goat; not much seems to happen there, except when the Von Trapp kids wander over. But here’s the thing: there’s not a single horror hostel to be found. We looked. Google Earth has a totally awesome horror-hostel search feature, and it turned up jack.
So, I say to the citizens of Earth: You have nothing to fear from Slovakia! Ours are a kind, forgiving people who aren’t nearly as cruel as Hollywood would have you believe, unless you meet us on the Canoeing Slalom course, where we will absolutely eat you alive.