Old Oak and its ilk
Well, a major read of Tūla is coming to a close, and I must admit, I feel rather sorry; it’s been so much fun. An aspect of Kunčinas’s writing that I really love is the changes of register and tone; sometimes he’s lyrical, sometimes he’s reflective, and sometimes he’s just plain chatty. And then there’s all the details, everything from the devil-shaped door handle on St. Anne’s Church (above) to the names of the Soviet-era alcoholic drinks (and quite an extensive list it is, too). I particularly liked “Senasis Ąžuolas,” which translates to “Old Oak.” An evocative name! First it brings to mind our American variants on this theme, for example, “Southern Comfort” and “Wild Turkey.” But of course, for Lithuanians it would be an oak, given their reverence for oaks, this leftover from their pagan days. What is the human urge to give sweet, strong liquors these types of names? Ethnolinguistic study, anyone?
Hmm. The results of an internet search? In English, I turn up a rather obscure rum from Trinidad & Tobago, mostly available on British web sites. In Lithuanian, a 2009 story about police arresting someone with a trunk full of bottles of it with obvious counterfeit labels (in Russian!) and a government website listing liquor standards, which makes it look like the Lithuanians stopped manufacturing it in 1996. Bummer!