Prague Dog Eat Blog

One Day Out-of-Prague Train Trip

Dec 10, 13:38 (Filed under: Other )

Swimming on the roof in Karlovy Vary The time has come when I wished to swap city rush for calmness out in the country. I agree there are many quiet and nice places in Prague, too, but I just wanted to see something else. It has been already two times that i used special weekend train offer, first time to spa town Karlovy Vary, the other time to German town Dresden.

Let me familiarize you with the details. There is a promotion ticket from Czech Railways called SONE+. This ticket allows you (actually, it allows two adults plus up to three children under 15 years) to travel during one day, either Saturday or Sunday, anywhere within Czech Republic, and also in all border areas, that is Polish, Slovakian, German, and Austrian. You can buy it either for 160 CZK (for all five persons), that is valid for the second class of ordinary trains, or for 360 CZK, which is valid for second class of all trains except EC and IC trains. Quite a bargain, isn’t it?

I enjoyed both of my trips, Karlovy Vary is a beautiful town located in a splendid scenery. It was my first time there, we tried swimming pool built on the roof of a building with great view of the town, houses and their architecture. We went to luxurious Grand Hotel (where recently part of new Bond movie Casino Royale was filmed), too, but only for a toilet :-).

Near spa, in the centre of the town, we experienced one marvelous small shop where they make almost like home-made pancakes with up to twenty fillings to choose from, fruits, different creams, chocolates, etc. We tasted the hot spring water, sent postcards home, and bought traditional Czech jewel – spa wafers.

It was late afternoon already, so we decided to go home. The other trip – Dresden was at least as good as this one. Now I realize I could write much more about these two trips, maybe I will write a new article about it soon.

Anyway, there are many nice places too see around, In haste, I can mention historical centre of Ceske Budejovice, medieval stone bridge and royal castle in Pisek, another spa Marianske Lazne, Austrian Regensburg, etc., but I think the good way if you are not sure where to go yet is to take a guide or map and look up something interesting.

Here you can fined a useful map of all possible destinations.

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Prague Church Services in English

Nov 14, 09:15 (Filed under: Other )

Infant Jesus of Prague altar I’ve made up a short list of worship services in English language, of course, it is not complete, but I hope it might be useful for someone.

Church of England, St Clement’s Church – located on the street Klimentska 18 (near Namesti Republiky), the English service takes place each Sunday at 11 am.

Roman Catholic Church, Church of Our Lady Victorious – the address is Karmelitska 9 (near Ujezd, where is the Funicular Railway to Petrin), service every Sunday at 12 am.

Roman Catholic Church, St. Thomas` Church – Josefska 8 (at Malostranske Namesti, over the Charles Bridge), Sunday 11 am, and Saturday 6 pm.

Baptists, International Baptist Church of Prague, Vinohradska 68 (near metro A stop Jiriho z Podebrad), Sunday 11 am.

Prague Christian Fellowship, Jecna 19 (near metro B stop Karlovo Namesti), Sunday 3 pm.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Milady Horakove 85/95 (near metro C stop Hradcanska), Sunday 9 am.

Czech Brethren, International Church, Peroutkova 57 (it is quite off the centre, near metro line B stop Radlicka), Sunday 10.30 am.

Protestant (Evangelical) Church, St. Michal`s Church- V Jircharich 14 (quite near Tesco at Narodni Trida, or maybe better landmark is Dog’s Bollocks bar), takes place each Sunday at 11 am. – The English service was abandoned due to the return of pastor to Canada. (thank you Bas).

If you know any other interesting services in English or other international languages, or if you have any experience with these services, please let me know. Thank you.

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Autoshow Prague 2006

Oct 23, 16:02 (Filed under: Prague events, Other )

Autoshow in Prague Exhibition centre We’ve just arrived from this year’s car show at Prague Exhibition Grounds, and I must say, I expected more. Or maybe I’m too mardy from AMI (Auto Mobil International) show in Leipzig, which I visited three times over last years. Well, this Autoshow Prague is said to be the biggest motor fair in Prague, but it is not even listed in OICA calendar.

Several quick facts. This exhibition ground is located just one stop by tram from Nadrazi Holesovice to Vystaviste. The car show is still running until Sunday Oct 22, when it will be opened from 9:30 to 17:00. Entrance fee is 120 CZK for adults, 60 CZK reduced.

The organization comittee is trying hard, and to make it more attractive, they hooked it up with other exhibitions at the same time, more precisely, it is Car & Audio Show, Tuning & Racing, Allroad Show, and Veteran Car Show. This tuning meeting was quite interesting, besides having the best looking car, these guys competed in having the most powerful audio system in the trunk as well. Utility vehicles’ performance on artificial course full of ups and downs was attractive, too. Visiting these kinds of fairs makes me imagine my dream car and consider my chances how to gain it.

Skoda Joyster - Prague autoshow Another spectacular masterpiece for me was the new design study of Skoda Joyster (three doors sporty designed car with glassed-in roof, very impressive, I hope they will decide to produce it) and Skoda Octavia Scout (sport utility version of Octavia). Plus seeing Bentley GT Continental cabrio, couple of Lamborghinis, and hostess girls next to them was an adventure itself.

What I really missed was impossibility of test driving. Well, ok, I’m not planning to buy a car in the nearest future, but come on, that’s not the condition. I think I must visit Leipzig again next year, that is for me something like test driving marathon. My closing? Autoshow Prague 2006 is the best car show Prague currently offers, but if you are a motor addict, you better visit Autotec in Brno on June 7-14 2007.

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Poutine (no jokes about Russian presidents, please)

May 24, 20:23 (Filed under: Personal, Other )

Let??s leave Prague for a while today. I want to get a little Canadian on you. Make that French Canadian, as in Quebecois (minus the language complex).

Every now and again I get an overwhelming urge to get back to my roots any way I can here. Blasting out my eardrums with the Tragically Hip doesn??t really count as I find myself doing that pretty much every time I listen to my mp3 player, in spite of the fact that I??ve got tons more music to choose from. The CBC archives are good for nostalgia and then some. Strange Brew still makes me smile, but it hasn??t really aged all that well. Thanks to YouTube I can get fixes of classic Kids in the Hall, catch up on Canuck politics through This Hour has 22 Minutes sketches, satisfy the brute in me with hockey brawls, and get re-acquainted with the hottest of Pepsi chanteuses, Mitsou, over and over and over again, oh yeah.

And the list goes on. But this is all multimedia, stuff for the ears and the eyes. Sometimes I??ve got to satisfy the other senses with some Canadiana as well. And poutine is exactly what the doctor ordered ?? at least for my nose and my taste buds.

( Homeresque voice ) Mmmm?? poutine?? droolslobbersmackgulpdrool…

Poutine is simple on paper, but difficult to get right – like pretty much any meal. I still have yet to top the poutine that my high school canteen used to serve (oddly enough I went to a preppy school where I was one of the very few lower-middle class Pepsis), though I came pretty damn close tonight.

For those of you who think I??m talking about a meal named after (or made of) Russia??s current president, let me break it down for you. French fries, topped with cheese curds (ideally St. Albert??s) or grated cheese (eidam, cheddar, gouda, mozzarella the more fat the better ?? don??t bother with that lousy 20% eidam, use the 45% stuff, and forget about those pungent or aromatic cheeses, unless you want to get really experimental; I??m talking about classic Quebecois poutine here), smothered in gravy (I also like to have a bit of ketchup on the side, which is acceptable; mayo and tartar sauce, on the other hand, border on sacrelige).

Easy-peasy right? Well, yes, like most cooking it is, but get the wrong kind of cheese or gravy and you’re in for a world of disappointment. Too much gravy makes for a lousy soup. If the gravy’s too cold, then the cheese won’t melt, but if the gravy’s too hot and the cheese isn’t cool enough to compensate, you lose the cheese and end up with a cheese-flavoured quagmire – you might as well go dip your fries in cheese soup. See what I’m getting at here? If you’ve ever had poutine, I’m sure you do.

( leaning back, looking up wistfully, stroking chin ) Ah-yup, I remember my first poutine. I was fourteen years old, on a SEVEC cultural exchange. It was my first night with my host family in Rimouski, Quebec. While it seemed like everyone else had cool partners, I knew right from the start that I wasn??t going to get on with mine. Tall, gangly, a little thuggish, a little sullen, very white trash. And hoo-boy, did I call that one properly.

He lived with his mother, her boyfriend and his sisters in an unfinished bungalow in one of the town??s poorer areas, one of those hoods where no house is finished and every yard is a junkyard. I don??t even know if this guy??s place had a yard. I do remember that the roof was missing a lot of shingles, and that siding had not been put on one side of the house (or perhaps it had come off).

This was starting to get long-winded, so I should cut it short now and skip the bits about the host??s cute younger sister, how an eleven or twelve year-old boy taught me how to smoke cigarettes, getting drunk on Laurentide beer and dancing my ass off with the cute younger sister, being eaten alive by Rimouski blackflies?? yeah, that trip sucked mainly because of the people (except for that cute younger sister), but it had its moments.

See what poutine does to me? Now, where was I?? oh, yes, my first poutine.

In that ramshackle hut somewhere in Rimouski??s bunghole, I was greeted with a pie tin full of French fries, cheese curds and Bolognese sauce. My initial reaction was one of surprise mixed with curiosity. It smelled good, it looked good and it made sense, it didn??t seem like that crazy a combination. And it tasted fantastic.

To my recollection poutine didn??t really hit Ottawa until about a year after that. Or maybe I had never noticed it before (though I doubt that ?? McDonald??s didn??t start offering their lame-ass version until something like five years later, and ketchup, salt and white vinegar were the only toppings of choice at your average chip truck). In any case, it was kind of fun to be a little bit ahead of the craze when my friends got into it.

Well, that was fun?? I was going to get into beavertails as well, about how when I first moved here I was kind of shocked to find out that they are not Canadian but in fact of Hungarian origin and called ?Langosh? (beavertails is hands-down a cooler name), but, as they say on the riverbank, that??s another story??

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Czech Republic vs. Canada: visa spat

May 4, 07:48 (Filed under: Personal, Other )

I’ve been kind of coasting on that big beefy posting below, partly because I’ve been working more or less non-stop on those dreadful history essays, and partly because it’s so big and beefy that I reckoned I could get a few days’ milage out of it. I pretty much got my gripes re. the Czech Foreign Police out of my system, but I can’t let this go by without a comment.

The Canadian government, well at least the Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry, is way out of order in this visa issue. The “visa stalemate is not a political issue but a technical one,” the Canucks tell the Czechs. I would expect a bullshit excuse like that from the Czech Foreign Ministry, not the other way around.

Of course I’m being self-centred in my outrage, but it seems that whenever it comes time for me to get my visa renewed, external forces conspire to make the process a complete mess. Ok, now I’m being melodramatic , but in such matters all these government officials ever see are statistics, articles, maybe some news footage or videos of the visa-processing hovels they force foreigners to stew in, perhaps they actually visit them for a little bit of easy PR, I dunno. When it comes to getting travel documents themselves, they undoubtedly have some intern/university co-op student/peon deal with all the legwork and waiting around. I’d like to see Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay last a day trying to deal with the shit that us foreigners have to take at the Czech Foreign Police offices on Olsanska, only to be told that, well, as a Canadian you need a visitor’s visa to come into the country in the first place, you’re here illegally, so it’s off to the holding cell with you. Then maybe he’ll re-consider my home and native land’s jackass visa policy vis-a-vis the Czechs.

Question: since when has immigration been a crime? The robots on Olsanska sure as hell make it seem that way, and from the sounds of it it’s probably worse in Canada. I’d really like to hear more about the Czech experience of getting a Canadian visa. I remember Jitka had a hell of a time getting a Canadian visitor’s visa in 1999 – she had to deal with a rude clerk who made her feel like she was being interrogated. One thing she said about the experience pretty much summed it all up: “The only thing missing was a big bright light for the clerk to shine in my face.”

Ah, well, in two months all this nonsense will be behind me… I hope.

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Robots: mo' Prague popo

Apr 27, 03:00 (Filed under: Other, Personal )

If you decide to stick with me on this one, more power to you. It’s mighty long, but I felt it shouldn’t be broken up into a series of bite-sized posts. Here goes…

Now I understand why Josef Capek muttered the word robot to his brother Karel, when the latter sought advice while developing a new play. Standing before an easel rattling with the strokes of his paintbrush, the elder Capek muttered the word to describe artificial workers that would appear in his younger brother??s work. This gave rise to Karel Capek??s RUR, a piece of literatrure I have yet to read.

For this word to come to his mind after hearing his brother’s description of the character that was stumping him, Josef Capek must have met people that radiated its then-new meaning in real life. Like when Karel said to him, Josef, I have these characters in my book and I don??t know what to name them. They??re not townsfolk, youth, elderly, aristocratic, students, cousins, patriots, or anything exceptional. They??re peasants, they??re serfs, labourers. And they??re artificial.

Pausing between strokes with the brush clenched between his teeth like a pirate assassin artist, the word connects with a certain kind of people he knows and probably does not think much of.

Robots.

Karel thanks his brother and goes off to write his masterpiece, while Josef tackles his own.

That??s a big part of what I got out of today ?? only in the Czech Republic could you find the progeny of those who inspired Josef Capek to derive that magic word for artificial worker.

I went to the foreign police on Olsanska to apply for my business visa. I??ve been experiencing delays, some external and some of my own device, but in total, I??d been in the Czech Republic for two months without a valid visa. I??d done this before, it was no big deal, everybody in Prague, both inside and out of those wretched Interior Ministry buildings, knows how chaotic the offices at the Czech foreign fuzz can get.

Yesterday I went to get some information at Office 10 in building B. After waiting thirty minutes I get a sullen greeting from an Insolent Bitch, whom I??ll refer to henceforth as IB. Every word a cold sneer, every glare a blunt threat. Really unpleasant, that IB.

Anyway, after getting no answers and trying to get her to talk on the phone with Jitka, I hand her my passport. She clocks the expiry date on my visa. Checks for stamps. Stands up, tells me to wait right there. Leaves the room. Locks the door.

An office in the Olsanska buildings is a filthy purgatory of stained whitewash and a bilious beige, stifled vegetation, old typewriters, and drawn shades . The rustle of file folders prompted by wimpy gusts of recycled air, and the buzz and whirr of old computers struggling to keep Word and Outlook up and running, the system facing a total collapse should the screensaver kick in.

As a foreigner in any country I would expect a somewhat warmer greeting, embrace, or adoption than this. Nobody should be treated like this. Especially those of us making an honest living, busting our asses, paying our fucking taxes, giving to charity, promoting local businesses, contributing to the population growth?? and this is your motherfucking welcome basket?

It gets better.

Shit. I wish.

The door unlocks, IB furies into the room, I??m wondering if this makes her feel good, doing this for a living, fucking innocent people up.

I know I crossed a line. I then see what??s coming and resign myself to it, more or less. I??m going to be spending a while here.

I make a frantic call to Jitka. She grabs a cab, cancels a meeting with her mother and hauls ass to save my ass.

Well, I didn??t know about the cab bit till later, so I??m thinking, shit, it??s gonna take her an hour to get here from Blackbridge.

The cop comes over, has something like a mugshot in between the pages of my passport. Fuck.

Could you stand up, sir?

I can??t believe I say this: Is there a problem officer?

Please stand up and empty your pockets.

Shit. Wh?? I??m getting married here in July, July 15.

Do you have some kind of document stating this?

Well, I??

Damn. Jitka??s been taking care of all that.

??suppose??

Please put everything in your bag.

I put my lighter, gum and mobile in my bag. Get led to a cell.

Fucking??

The cell has a surface area of just over 4 square metres. Two small benches. A view into part of a parking lot and a bunch of Interior Ministry offices across the backstreet.

You??ve got to be joking.

He says nothing just waves me in with a mechanical gesture.

What the?? can I at least make a call?

Up til now this guy??s been a perfect police robot. Not a Robocop, mind you, just a regular guy, blankly following orders, strictly by the book, doesn??t get off the page, just gets off on the page. A fucking robot that happens to be a policeman.

Pats me down then locks me in. Then he lets me make a call, waits for me to finish, then takes my phone and puts it in my bag. In an odd sort of way, I find it to his credit that he didn??t look all that pleased, proud or angry about having to do this; rather, it was like he was resigned to it, perhaps was even trying to understand why. At least, that??s what I??d like to think he was thinking. That maybe he??s not such a robot after all.

Yeah, prison makes you think some stupid shit.

Christ.

This is fucking ridiculous.

I??m in fucking jail.

I lie back and take a nap. Spend a long time thinking about what it??ll be like to have children, and that feels pretty good, but then I think about spitting in IB??s face and everything goes downhill. Cow. Thinking I can??t believe I can??t even listen to my mp3 player in here. This is fucking ridiculous. Look at all the scuff marks from the toes of so many disgruntled shoes. A man could go really fucking nuts in here. Later Jitka tells me, I asked a policewoman if they fed you or at least gave you a glass of water, it was a really hot day. The policewoman asked me if you??d been there six hours, I said, Why the fuck would that matter?

Later the first robot goes over to her. All I hear is her voice, her fucking glorious Amazonian voice putting this little robot bitch in line. And all I can do is listen, though I really want to rattle my cage – literally. This guy??s trying to get words in, and whenever he does, Jitka tells him, Stop talking to me like that, talk to me in a way I understand. I want to talk to the head of the department, she sent us this letter.

The letter was a response to a letter Jitka and I had sen to the Czech foreign popo, explaining that I would be delayed in submitting my visa prolongation request. The reason for this was that I was still waiting for my birth certificate from the province of Quebec. I??m not going to get into that. The Quebecers were friendly enough, though I had to spam the hell out of them with demands for responses during the last days of my visa??s validity.

I consider reaching for the strap of my bag to get my mobile, but there??s a camera monitoring the cell and chances are my notebook would take some damage from falling off the shelf it’s lying on.

I develop this Pavlovian response to the sound of approaching footsteps, especially those that give rhythm to the jingle-jangle of keys. I bolt upright and can almost feel my ears twitch at the sound, desperate hope rushes through me.

The head comes down. Her voice booms with a warrior’s brute force, but Jitka??s is right in there, steady, swift and sharp, like the blades of a dual-wielding rogue. The head is slugging away with heavy-duty rounds of bullshit about an assortment of laws and requirements, punctuated with code numbers and paragraphs. Jitka’s countering and jabbing, slicing away with rapid-fire precise questions. The head informs her that There??s an information line, Jitka counters with They don??t give the right information when you can get through to them, and the clerks, whether on the phone or in person, are rude. The head tries giving her answers, but going strictly by the book, throwing out expressions and terms to overwhelm Jitka with confusion and thus conclude the argument with one mighty blow.

Jitka??s not buying it. Why don??t you say it to me in a way I can understand? I have a Master??s degree in Czech language and literature and if I can??t understand you how do you expect a foreigner to understand you? It would be like if I asked you to translate a work of Czech literature by, say, Bohumil Hrabal into English. You wouldn’t be able to do it because you wouldn’t be able to understand.

Bam.

The head??s tone changes, goes down a few decibels from booming.

And I wait. And I twitch, head bolting up like a cat’s at the sound of a can being opened, whenever I hear the clinking of keys and/or the heavy authoritative thumps of cop boots on linoleum.

That scuffed linoleum in the cell, splattered in paint. No English grafitti, I suppose it??s Ukranian. One phone number seems important, I see it written in triplicate on the same wall.

What did the people who left these messages here use to write? I sure as hell wasn’t allowed to bring anything in. Belt buckles? Rings? Watchbands? Fingernails?

Damn.

Jitka??s talking to the cop who brought me in again. He asks her for some kind of official document that states we are going to get married in the Czech Republic.

Jitka’s verbal blades snikkity-snik out of their scabards. Cool and firm, she says, Why are you talking to me like this? How can you ask me such a question? You know that there is no such document. How can you ask me a question for which you know I have no answer? Why are you wasting my time with this nonsense?

The cop backpedals a bit after that then I can only assume he made a hasty retreat. I didn??t see him at all after that.

Ah, that??s my Supergirl?? I feel blessed, and rather undeserving.

And then I don??t hear much else other than my phone vibrating in my bag every now and again.

Eventually, I prick up my ears to the sound of more than one set of footsteps coming my way. They have keys. There are two of them. Both bigger than the first robot. The tallest of the two tells me we??re going to the station at Florenc, in Karlin.

The cops have been cool about the mobile so far. I call Jitka, she??s at Florenc with her mom.

When we get there, I??m kind of rushed along ahead of them. My thumbprints are scanned. Jitka gave me a bottle of coke, and damn does it taste good. But I feel like I??m going to need to piss soon.

Well, at least I??ll have a bottle.

Back at Olsanska, I thought I was going to have a cellmate for a while. They brought what I gathered was a Russian in. They kept him in the pre-cell, which is just inside Office 11. When I had first entered this part of Building B, there was this nervous looking old geezer who had obviously been in the pre-cell for some time before me and who looked really fucking relieved when he was told he could leave. Lucky bastard.

That cell was small for one person, putting two in there would be really fucking uncomfortable. Three or four? And why?

Florenc is worse. I get a choice of two cells, I blankly choose the one with the dirtier, stickier floor. Makes no difference I guess, chuckles one of the cops as he usheres me in. The source of that dirt and stickiness is certainly linked to the fact that there’s nowhere to piss, shit or puke in. Come to think of it, the benches are rather sticky as well…

I pay taxes and social insurance and I can??t fucking vote and where the fuck is the humanity and why did I show that IB my passport and why can??t I at least sit with my fiancee and fucking hell, they??re bringing a bum in here. He sits in the cell to the right of mine. The stench is caustic, corrosive and explosive.

Two fucking months of overdue stamps and papers and more fucking stamps.

I huff a little, I sigh a little, I veg and think and nap. The bum slouches perfectly still. The two cops who brought me in are now off-duty, they stare and nod something like a good-bye at me on their way out.

Half an hour later, I get led into yet another whitewashed office. Like pretty much all the foreign police offices, it??s like something out of THX 1138, and even that world was cooler compared to this one. Their gasping, beige computers and eye-crippling screens ablaze with oversized icons, templates, and forms.

This time we get a human. A real live down to earth human being, not another motherfucking robot or IB. He guides us through the report we??ve got to submit, Jitka??s got all the originals, copies, registered mail receipts, envelopes ?? this dude sees the pile of paperwork Jitka??s got. No one in their right mind would take on that much work if they had to.

The solution: a thirty-day visa coupled with strong motivation to take a trip outside the Czech Republic, if only for a weekend or a day. Jitka??s thinking Slovak spa town. I??m thinking Budapest, which deserves a week, and as Jitka??s starting a new job next Tuesday, we??ll have to wait a while for that.

Jitka??s mom was waiting for us outside and the three of us went off for a meal at Charleston??s, just up the road from Karlinske Namesti. Borscht and lasagna never tasted so good. Coming home never felt so good, though I still had to translate a press release for Cesky Telecom??s general meeting, which I have to be at in about ten hours.

Plus all the usual day to day rush. It feels better to be a part of it today.

So, while it wasn??t exactly hard time, it certainly wasn??t time well spent.

Now remember, when dealing with the foreign police:

1.never show documents that you??re not asked to show
2.keep copies of every single document and receipt involved in the process of getting your visa
3.have a very strong Czech in your corner
and, stating the obvious,
4.get everything in on time

Like some loathe the dentist and others loathe the proctologist, I loathe the offices of the foreign police. For all their ill will, sick walls aghast with dust and grime-filtered lighting, the cobwebs, the dead insects between the windowpanes, the thick huffing malaise, the angry eyes and (again) Pavlovian responses to opening doors and foreign fuzz staff footsteps (they all walk swiftly, avoiding eye contact at all costs), the greasy voices and uneasy movements, queasy moments, cheap-ass coffee machines, the queue jumping go-betweens, the sitting still, the fidgeting, smoking away the ennuie, grumbling crowds and fumbling applicants, all of us guilty, guilty of wanting to live in this fine country. Not all of us are running away, not all of us want to fuck the state over or hide from past crimes or plot new capers. Many of us decide to stay here to raise families, others bring in investments, still others culture and education.

I??m not saying that the holding cell in either Olsanska or Florenc, or any cop shop should be superbly appointed with furniture and accessories by Ligne Roset, a crapper, a sink and a minibar. But that shit they got there will fuck a person??s day right up. Hearing Daniel Powter??s ?Had a Bad Day? made me smile. Just because it was that cheesy and ridiculous and seemed like such an obvious understatement.

As a word, robot was born of familiarity. Josef Capek knew such people in his time, and almost everyone who ever deals with the Czech foreign police also comes to know them. Of course, this can be avoided, but usually at a price ?? through agents that deal with all this bullshit on your behalf. They can jump queues, have all the right papers, are in and out and it??s good for the client (no waiting at the Czech foreign police offices, visa is issued faster, all for what is usually a reasonable price), the agent (cash, bonuses, always have work), and the foreign police ?? I assume that an agent with a good rep requires no paperwork, just a flurry of stamps, some scanning, printing, peeling, sticking, boom, next! We??re talking Czech foreign police officers and clerks. Less work good, you can see it branded into so many of their eyes. Glazed over and so mechanical, all ROM and no RAM. Robots, like I??m talking I, Robot shit, but in the flesh. Damn, they must be real fun around the house.

I??ve had enough of thinking about it, I just had to get that shit off my chest. RUR is definitely next on the reading list. Hopefully some day in Czech as well.

I am not a number, I am a free man!

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Cool ad

Feb 23, 10:01 (Filed under: Prague media, Other )

A very brief entry today: why don’t Czech ad agencies make advertisements that are as cool as this one? This is not a matter of budgets, it’s a matter of imagination.

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Babybox

Nov 22, 06:00 (Filed under: Other, Prague media )

About a month ago, Jitka and I were taking a stroll in the area near Hloubetin and while passing a gynecological institute we spied something that looked somewhat like the opening to a dumbwaiter or a garbage chute with a sign that read “Babybox” above it. “Is that what I think it is?” I asked.

Jitka shrugged her shoulders and said she thought it was. We both thought it seemed like a good idea, though rather odd. By way of the Prague Monitor, the Taipei Times has a little something about the Babybox debate in Brno.

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Former Mayor Jan Kasl kicks ass

Sep 14, 14:13 (Filed under: Prague media, Other )

In a letter to Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan, former Prague Mayor Jan Kasl demands to know “when the Interior Ministry will prepare an amendment to the law on foreigners that will abolish the “nonsensical, humiliating and repeated” registration of foreigners who live in the Czech Republic.”

Nonsensical? That ain’t the half of it. Humiliating? Not really, more like infuriating. Repeated? See nonsensical. I hope that as Chairman of the European Democrats Kasl has some sway.

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COPS - Czech-style

Aug 20, 06:00 (Filed under: People, Other )

Scott already posted this on his blog, but this is so good that I’ve got to include the link in mine as well.

First Radovan Krejcir’s getaway, then Operation “Crustystomp” at Czech Tek 2005, and now this story straight outta Mosnov. PR-wise, this has been one hell of a crap summer for the cops not to mention those who they are supposed to, ahem, serve and, yeah right, protect.

My father is a retired policeman; when he was a member of the Ottawa Police Service” I met all types of fuzz, from paper-pushers to undercover cops. Like in any line of work, you’ve got your credits and disgraces to the profession. I’m sure my dad was no saint when he was working the beat, but I’m also sure he was one hell of a cop. And I had the pleasure of meeting and hoisting a few quarts of beer with many of the finest of Ottawa’s Finest in the Keystone Stop, the OPS private club.

To sum up, I dig cops – at least I dig Ottawa cops. I’ve got no respect for the Czech fuzz, however. Hopefully it’s just a minority that’s making everybody else look bad.

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I don't know whether to puke or cry

Aug 9, 06:00 (Filed under: Prague media, Other )

I just came across this at The Real Scott MacMillan’s blog.

I still firmly believe that Czech Tek organisers should sit down and talk with those who ordered the police intervention at Czech Tek 2005, no matter how much shit has been flung between the two sides, in order to sort things out for future parties.

However, I have absolutely no sympathy for the cops any more. Not after seeing this Quicktime clip. Their behaviour was simply sadistic.

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Villa Incognito website; Suite: coyotes/Summer/DESTROY/coyotes

Aug 3, 07:45 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes, Other )

Yesterday I spent another very pleasant afternoon at Villa Incognito and found out that the cafe has a web site. There will also be weekly movie and baseball screenings. This place is quickly becoming one of my favourite Prague hangouts.

And now for something completely different – a sequence of poems I wrote years ago, back when the Czech house scene started getting banal in terms of music, people and drugs.

This is one of my favorite performance pieces; it’s also been the most challenging one to do with music. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with folks who have come up with really imaginative and groovy accompaniment. Jeff Stroud (of Fictioneering) and I worked on this a little; I’m looking forward to getting something fleshed out for this (and hopefully for some new stuff as well).

them coyotes

clinging to the creation
that slinks along our trade routes.
devoting their spirited sonics
to extensive night-time
ramblings. quiet. harmless. now,
desperate for success
they slap neutered coyote songs
onto crumbling walls.

Summer’s complaint

Summer came by, blame
the headlines, blame
the videos
scared up noises in
her box, caught fresh tunes
off the coast of her hips, her
teeth humming, Summer:
blues, reds, yellows, scenes
from a night-time lifetime
“Sure gets better than this,”
said Summer in a
slow drawl wrapped in codeine, and
it made my head ache
to see her sitting
too pretty to whine, like her
LA Daddy and her
NYC Mum
it happens every New Year’s
each holiday
a bit bluer
than the last
come down
to see her see me
groping through all the volume
of Summer’s complaint

DESTROY THEM WITH SOUND

The lines on her face read: DESTROY THEM WITH SOUND. The SOUND of boys’ skirts ruffling in the aggression of nonstop strobelights. The SOUND of smoky breath tasting and embracing all that smooth young girlflesh. Fresh SOUND. DESTROY the commonlaw rhythms. Fold up the pattern and fall out of the worship of all those gods we’ve constructed in the epileptic blue halflight of our union. Then DESTROY THEM WITH SOUND.

She was black-and-white, nameless and smiling. Smiling in a way that suggested she was well-fed and in touch with herself. Perhaps a little too frequently for her lover’s tastes. I found her beside a tobacconist’s, five minutes or so up the street from my current address.

The SOUND of deception. The SOUND of illusion. The SOUND of social penetration, of social permutation. DESTROY the clearest targets. It was such an obvious problem. Why hadn’t I seen it coming? I tore her off the space she was in and burned her up before the authorities realised she was gone. The silence was absolutely fantastic.

we coyotes

chewing on the wilderness
that blazes through our veins.
attention spanned/sprawled
across expansive superhighway
rage. still. calmer. now,
bored with excess,
we shove rabid coyote songs
into stiffening arms.

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Cyril & Methodius, Dell, Time-killers

Jul 5, 13:01 (Filed under: Other, Personal )

One of the downsides of freelancing is the feeling that you’re sort of missing out on state holidays, especially when you’ve got a colossal workload (I won’t get into paid holidays – that’s just too depressing). Not until I noticed all the pouting princesses and gay heroes on TV today did it dawn on me that most of the CR’s workforce is off enjoying St. Cyril and Methodius day. And tomorrow the Czechs will be celebrating (i.e. exerting little effort and/or getting hammered) the life of the country’s greatest burnout, Jan Hus.

Of course, explains why I wasn’t able to get any response from the folks at the Prague branch of Dell yesterday – of course everyone took yesterday off to extend their weekends over a five-day stretch. Feeling like an eight-year-old on a never-ending Christmas Eve, I’m anxiously awaiting a very souped-up Inspiron 6000 notebook (1.6 GHz Pentium M 730 processor, 128 MB ATI Radeon x300 graphics card, 1 GB DDR 400 MHz RAM, 60 GB 7,200 rpm Hard Drive?? yes, I’ve gotten back into gaming?? sigh). The only way to get one of these babies here is by ordering it online, paying upfront, and waiting for your order to go through logistics in Holland, then assembly and configuration in Ireland. Once I have the thing I’ll consider writing about the experience of buying from Dell in the Czech Republic – so far my feeling towards their customer service people is lukewarm.

Anyway, it’s a holiday here in the Czech Republic today, and the weather really sucks, and I’m working and doing a bit of casual surfing. I found a great little extension for Firefox (if you don’t have Firefox yet definitely check it out, and get Thunderbird while you’re at it) – called StumbleUpon. It’s sort of like hitting “I’m feeling lucky” on google after typing in something that you’re interested in. So far so good – from the procrastination aids I’ve come across today, here is time-killer number one, and here is time-killer number two. Enjoy!

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Update: Cesko Hleda Superstar 2005

Jun 17, 13:04 (Filed under: Other )

Why can’t I shake what I suppose is an obssession with Superstar? Following a nice comment on my review of this season’s finale, I ended up checking out what people around the world have been saying about the Czech Pop Idol, and subsequently updating my entry.

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