An End-of-Year Special: The 9 unsung Maltese heroes of 2013

Keeping with tradition, the last day of 2013 is all about recounting the year gone by. The major newspapers all came out with their most read stories and their reviews but I feel like something is missing. No media outlet is singing the praises of the 2013 Maltese heroes. Those people who in the past year have motivated us, made us smile, helped us get through those boring days at work, made us proud to be Maltese and those who put Malta on the map. So here, with the help of Neil, owner of the blog we make a list of these people who we think deserve to be mentioned one last time before the year’s end.

Yanagi Yukinori - The world Flag Ant Farm

Yanagi Yukinori – The World Flag Ant Farm

The Malta Potatoes Dude
I have already sang many praises for the Malta Potatoes Dude but I thought he deserves another mention. He warmed the hearts of many of us who watched this clip on YouTube and through his words felt the warmth of the Maltese sun in our hearts.

Pole dude
Or to be more correct, Mr Daniel Caruana photographed by the insanely talented Darrin Zammit Lupi, whose photo has made the world rounds and has been featured in every photographic blog on the face of this earth.

Toni Sant
For every Muzika Mod Ieħor podcast. Thank you for taking the time to beautifully craft every single one of them and showcase Malta’s local musical talent (even it was only germinated locally).

Alex Vella Gera
The author of one of the most talked about books in the past few years, Is-Sriep Reġgħu Saru Velenużi, nowadays he is probably most known for turning down a national honor. He is basically the one who said a big FU to the political system in Malta when he wrote “I cannot accept an honour from the Maltese political class which, apart from some exception, has been causing so much damage to my country“. In an interview with Raphael Vassallo, one of the best, most interesting interviews of the year on MaltaToday, he explains his reasoning.

Michael Spagnol
Creator of the Facebook page Kelma Kelma, for making us fall back in love with the Maltese language and at the same time offering some fun education.

The Maltese bus driver
Narrow roads and disrespectful drivers, the Maltese bus drivers have one tough job and I don’t think we sing their praises enough. A lot is said about Arriva but only little is said about the drivers and the improved service they give.  Yes there are exceptions but driving around Malta I have been pleasantly surprised by their courteousness.

Every single person who signed the anti spring hunting referendum petition
Yes you all deserve a mention. You are awesome!

The guys at Merlin Publishers
We know we are not a nation of readers. Just look at the appalling results in the EU Cultural Access and Participation (opens up a PDF). But for some time the guys over at Merlin Publishers have been working relentlessly to produce books by Maltese authors which actually sell. So much thought is poured into every book and thanks to them Maltese authored books are being talked about and read. Everything from the amazing covers to their marketing strategies is creating this buzz for local wordsmiths which is very much welcome. Claire Azzopardi’s Frejp, Carmel Scicluna’s Ossessjoni and of course Ġużè Stagno’s explosive new book What Happens in Brussels Stays in Brussels just to name a few of their amazing books.

The Maltese passport
Maybe not a real person but the Maltese passport has definitely put Malta on the map. But not just that, our passport proved one very important thing: discussions in parliament are actually useless. The Maltese Government decided to go back to the drawing board only after the negative backlash on international media and not when the Opposition put forward arguments about the International Investment Program.

Did we miss anyone in particular? Let us know in the comments section below. Happy New Year!


What Happens in Brussels Stays in Brussels – Ġuże Stagno style

What happens in Brussels stays in Brussels by Guze StagnoIt was the sweet irony of life that I received the book that same day I had a shocking encounter at the local courier office. I’m mentioning this because the racist idiot who I met there could have well been one of the characters in the story (Commander and Co, for those who have already read the book), one of a colorful lot of canvassers visiting the Belgian capital and meeting the famed Labour MEP Charlo Pulis.

What happens in Brussels stays in Brussels, published by Merlin Publishers, is a colorful prism of stereotypes which we all meet in our daily lives. From the know it all rampant racist to the sleazy politician to the good intentioned journo.

There is much to be admired in Stagno’s new book. Firstly, and unequivocally, is the effortless read. Few local writers are able to drive the story along in such a smooth way. The lists and the dialogue are just a few techniques Stagno uses to achieve this, and it really takes great skill. I managed to gobble up the book up in around 7 hours collectively. The pop references also aid in placing the story in a specific time and place and give it a zesty gossipy feel, making it even harder to put down.

The social commentary is fascinating and at times I yearned for more characters rather than the development of the story. This possibly happens because the linear nature of the narrative doesn’t leave the reader guessing as to how things will eventually unfold. This is not in any way a criticism, it’s probably more about me being greedy and wanting more of such a brilliant book. This sheer brilliance can be found in Stagno’s attention to detail, that same detail that slaps us straight in the face in the book but in real life goes by unnoticed. Well known characters we meet in our every day life our colleagues, family members, neighbors, they are all there being scrutinized by Gustav’s judgmental eye and Stagno’s discerning pen.

The book is also quite funny and also has a few laugh out loud moments. One of my favorite passages describes the frenzy locals in Brussels get into whenever Twistees are available.

Another favorite moment is the kinetic sexual scene. With a very apt chapter title – is-sexy – whetting the readers appetite for the much anticipated action. Some cunnilingus and messy descriptions later – this is not your average 50 shades of grey sex, this is raw, testosterone filled, male perspective sex – I did get myself all hot and bothered. And finally, some description of oral sex. I am 30 years old and this is the first time I read anything of this nature in Maltese literature. Who knows, maybe Stagno will tempt some men out there to learn more about the allusive clitoris (and for that, the female race thanks you dear Ġuże Stagno).

The illustrations by Jimmy Grima also complement the narrative. Most of these are drawn in first person perspective, aiding the reader to better see the protagonist’s point of view.

My take on this one? Read it! No honestly, either click on this link and order it online or get yourself to your nearest bookstore and buy it. It’s a very enjoyable read, it will make you laugh but it will also make you think. Stagno definitely hit a few good sweet spots with this one.

And finally to all those who have read the book… Cesspit? Any thoughts?