Necrophilia we know – but pseudo-necrophilia? Where’s Sigmund Freud when you need to be laid across a chaise longue and have such complicated matters of the heart and mind explained to you.

He — Sigmund — might be able to get to the bottom of the curious tale regarding Le Van, the 55-year old farmer, who hails from Ha Nam town in Thang Binh district of Quang Nam province.

You see old Van has apparently been sleeping on or with his wife’s remains for nigh on five years now. Yup, the header Corpse Bride suddenly seems rather inspired, non?

This poor widower lives at home with his three younger children and next door to his two eldest children and their families. Word eventually got out about the Corpse Bride and left town spreading from one bia hoi or tea stall to the next across the land until a reporter from VietNamNet tracked him down and now Le Van is a wee sensation (apparently he gets out of town visitors).

He told the reporter that although her body was dead her “soul is still alive.” Fair enough. But disturbingly, the man’s youngest son also shares the bed with the statue, though the 12-year old seems unconcerned.

“My father and I hold my mother while we sleep every night,” he told the reporter. “My mother didn’t die. She was reincarnated!”

Reincarnated as her own bones in a statue?

It could, perhaps, have been worse. Le Van had slept on top of his wife’s tomb every night for nearly 20 months. Then — perhaps on a really cold rainy night, but, hey, I’m speculating here — he decided to dig a tunnel in the ground to sleep next to her. His children drew the line so instead he dug up the coffin and brought his wife’s remains home.

End of story? Never. His older children were old enough to be highly concerned and decided to alert the local authorities. Officials and police officers came to his house and insisted that Van re-bury the coffin. But four months later, Van disinterred her tomb, removed the bones and placed them inside a statue he made in the image of his  — [cue creepy music] – wife. He even dressed the statue in her clothes and apparently placed it on his bed, proudly telling the reporter how he hugged his wife every night before sleeping.

What would the neighbours think? Well, yes, needless to say his odd behaviour — or stories of his odd behaviour — have ostracized him somewhat from the community. His neighbours certainly aren’t popping over for tea and asking, “How’s Mrs. L doing? She’s looking a bit stiff there.”

In fact, apparently some of them are plain terrified of him. Though I think the community needs to play some cunning reverse psychology, much like in one of my favourite films of the last 18 months or so, Lars and The Real Girl, in which Ryan Gosling plays a lonely, plastic-girl-philia in the arse end of Canada, who really believes his plastic girlfriend is real. The community at first is aghast and agog and it all looks bleak for Lars — read: destined for a padded cell in a funny farm. But eventually everyone rallies together and embraces Lars’ delusional feelings for this doll-woman, who’s called Bianca. People invite her out to lunch and offer her part-time work and yadda-yadda-yadda [plot spoiler ahoy] eventually Lars gets pissed off with her and dumps her and gets with a real woman. Moral of the story: He’s probably still mad, but at least he got conventional.  Okay, maybe that’s not the point of the story. Perhaps, it’s about community spirit and perhaps that’s what Le Van needs [eat that Sigmund].

The reporter who visited Van claimed he got the sense that the perpetually grieving widower was simply trying to be faithful. Really, really faithful. Til death do us part just wasn’t good enough, like our old pal Heathcliff of Yorkshire.

The local police have apparently decided to pay Van another visit and he admitted to a “breach of environmental regulations” — eh? — and agreed it was wrong to bring his wife’s remains home – okay… — but he put it all down to “the depth of his love for his wife” and it seems the police can’t really do anything about it anyway.

At the time of writing the authorities haven’t reached an official judgment on whether the statue contains the remains of Van’s wife or not, and if so, what to do, and if not… um… well, what to do. Van has also made veiled threats, claiming he would “live or die” with the statue so obviously nobody wants to see the poor old pseudo-necrophiliac pop his clogs…

Who’d take care of his wife?


There I was twittering away this morning when I stumbled on an ode to Vietnam’s prized noodle soup pho (fuh) by a teenager named Pho (pho^) over at the ultra-prolific VietnamTweets (also blogging here). Sounds cute enough but it’s actually an ode to himself and his sexual prowess. You see Pho is a rapper from Boston.

It’s still an unusual opening gambit for a rapper to promise that he’ll compare himself to a bowl of noodle soup — “Pho“. But that’s what he does. You see it’s not just “the letters in [his] name”, the similarities are multiple and it’s all very SEXUAL (or just crude and lewd, if you like): “I can see it on your face you want me in your mouth, you wanna see how I taste, I’ll have you sweatin’ profusely tryin’ to take it down, my meat is so juicy…”

He confesses he likes to be “slurped” towards the end and that he’s full of “white stuff”. Later he pleads for his woman not to leave so soon [that accursed post-coital vulnerability, like], ‘cos “I’m no homo but I like to get spooned…” He runs out of juice in the second verse and starts to make little sensetelling us, “You loving this bean sprout…”, “One things for certain you want me all the time, you’re gonna be squirting, ‘cos I gotta lot of lime…”

He cranks out the un-pho-gettable word play with a few shout outs towards the end, “Pho-ever, pho-sho‘, pho-real, pho-nomenal, pho-geddaboutit!”

He clearly seems to have forgotten “What the PHO?” Perhaps he can save that one for his next Youtube vid. He could go to a Bun Cha joint and get irate with the owner…  “Yo! What is this? Little-bitty pork patties in a luke warm vinegary broth? What the pho!? I’m gonna knock yo block off…” before popping a cap in the barbecuing bitch’s ass.

Now that would be pho-nomenal…


Google searches eh? It leads the horses to the water — just not necessarily the right water. Take the Comical Hat. Non-regular readers come here via various searches. I have the stats to prove it and thanks to my penchant to dropping popular culture references from time to time we have lured the likes of Gene Wilder fans, people who want to know more about Lenny Kravitz’s straight hair phase, Miss Afghanistan 2009, Anthony Bourdain and alcohol, and the film Glen Garry Glen Ross, to name but a few.

We have also had one person google “مباني” and end up on the Comical Hat. Not sure what it means mind you but we’re not afraid to repeat it once more. We’ve also had people google “who invented wasabi?’ and “a vomit diagram” and end up on this page.

Despite the fact that we’re inclusive folk and fond of seeing towering figures in the stats department, I — Teddy de Burca Jnr, director of The Comical Hat Inc. — do feel we have to delete one post which has somehow got too popular and has led, since the inception of this wee blog, nearly 2,000 google-mongers here and of late an average of 35+ readers per day are coming because of this same post.

The main culprit involved is Owen Wilson and the story was about how Rolex the company claimed his Rolex saved his life when he was contemplating suicide (it “inspired” him to go on living or something like that). Nothing to do with Vietnam, correct. It was a “slow blog day” and yup, we thought it was funny. Yet people — Owen Wilson fans — obviously kept on finding the post while scouring the interweb for news on their blonde-haired hero… and now if you google images for Owen Wilson The Comical Hat is the 22nd recommended page — not quite on the first page but nearly. If you type in “Owen Wilson Rolex”, it’s first.

So enough is enough. We’re sick of misleading these poor people and the thought that we’re possibly being labelled as a Perez Hilton-styled blog that’s obsessed with Owen Wilson. The post is heading for the underworld where all the unwanted and deleted internet crap resides.

Fare thee well Mr Wilson and if forever, then forever fare the well…

In the meantime, as ever, we’d like to welcome all the Gene Wilder fans to the house. He’s the best isn’t he? And did I mention that he lives in Vietnam in the town of ___ ___ in ____ ___ province?


The stalker

26Sep09

In tribute to an old friend returning to Hanoi, I’ll post the below flash-fiction story which is actually more accurately described as a flash-non-fiction piece as it’s pretty much a highly exaggerated and slightly embellished “true” account of how he ended up stalking his own stalker when he was living here back in 2004-5.

None of the actual people’s names have been changed to protect their identity.

Daniel’s stalker


Daniel closed the menu after ordering his beefsteak, and looked up, only to see that man again, the one that kept turning up in the same places that Daniel did. He was staring at Daniel with a lascivious smile and a gamey air, as though, Daniel felt, he was trying to say, “I want you like I know you want me, anytime, anywhere, right now if you like, in the toilets or in the cheap hotel across the road, I’m yours”. Daniel had a strong suspicion this oddball was following him and found his presence completely off-putting. He cursed himself for not bringing a book, or anything to divert his attention, as he waited for his lunch. Between fiddling with his napkin and cutlery, stirring his coke with a straw and smoking cigarettes, no matter how hard he tried not to, he kept catching the man’s eyes, no doubt giving the wrong impression every time, as if he were replying, “Yes, me too, I want you like I know you want me, right after I finish my beefsteak.” Eventually he became so unsettled he stood up, thinking he’d have a leak, wash his hands and kill a few more minutes before his food arrived. He bounded across the restaurant towards the restroom, making sure this time he didn’t catch the man’s eyes, or even glance in his direction, as one more mixed message might end in some embarrassing scene.

Inside the toilets, when he pushed the cubicle door open, there, once again, was that man, sitting on the cistern in the middle of having a number two, with his hands covering his balls. Daniel froze for a moment with his hand on the door, staring in horror, until the man shrieked – “Stop following me you freak!”

2006 or 2007 Hanoi


The Wall

24Sep09

The mural that runs along the Dike Road (Tran Nhat Duat, Yen Phu, Nghi Tam, Au Co…) has been a controversial topic of late. You would have thought that anything would have won the love of the people considering the previous incarnation – a drab, unlovely, grey façade – but it seems plenty of folk are none too happy with the whole affair.

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For those interested there’s some criticism from a historian and an artist from this interview here and the woman, who came up with the idea, defends the mural here. The main gripe is the ugly logos — they funded it mostly through corporate sponsorship. The other complaint is that it’s plain bad. Or at least in some places.

Regarding complaints that there’s no continuity, one artist working on the project responded brilliantly, “nobody could stand at one place and see the entire 6km-long painting.”

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It’s been a quiet week for Hatted Comicality but what are you going do about it? Sometimes things are oh-too-serious, if not, dare I say it, a tad dull. Thankfully as the week draws to a close photoman Julian Wainwright nips in with some downright fascinating shots taken at a recent wedding fashion show held in Hanoi, Vietnam. By the looks of things plenty of girls could be vamping it up for the next wedding season — or in Julian’s words: “if the designers are to be believed, Vietnamese brides will be walking down the aisle wearing rhinestone-studded bustiers and feathered skirts.”

Seriously — brilliant stuff. It’s as if some of them are designing dresses for the Bride of Slash from Guns & Roses. I love picture number four as well — reminds me of the barperson from Shrek.


Bits and bobs

15Sep09
  • Did Tiger-Heineken a.k.a. Asia-Pacific Breweries Ltd. really contemplate making bia hoi back in the 1990s?
  • Previously mentioned here, the art house Vietnamese phim Choi Voi” won an award at Venice Film Festival — the international film critic association’s choice no less. The director is interviewed here – poor fella could hardly afford to be there by the sounds of it but you have to suffer for your art house phims I suppose.
  • LISTEN TO ME LOUD AND CLEAR: JETSTAR ANNOUNCES NEW DEAF-FRIENDLY POLICIES. Huzzah for that but does that mean they had an unfriendly to deaf people policy before? Well, kinda, sorta, maybe, um… yes. I believe they did. Two deaf people were prohibited from flying as they couldn’t hear the safety instructions.
  • The so-called Safari Park at Dai Nam in Binh Duong province had bragged about its animal enclosures that were safe and allowed for up-nice-and-close ogling for guests. But a tiger figured out how to jump the 2.5m electric fence and ate killed one poor park attendant and mauled another. This inspired Vietnam News to run an article with a corker of a headline “Tigers in captivity must be controlled.” A smart tactic if e’er there was one. The immediate reaction was to shut the “animal displays”. One of our readers Senor Santos suggests in the meantime the tiger will have some time to think long and hard about what it did. I expect a public apology a la Serena Williams or Kanye West — two very naughty individuals of late  — to be forthcoming.



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