Prague Dog Eat Blog

Well it's about bloody time!

May 24, 08:00 (Filed under: Other, Personal )

Looks like the folks at the Czech foreign police have finally got their shit together:

As of the beginning of next week, the office in Prague’s Olsanska street will be open for the public from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m, Monday to Thursday, until further notice.

Staff handling non-EU visa applications will also work weekends. So, I guess I’ll be back at Olsanska in the next couple of days…

source: Prague Daily Monitor

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Czechs rule hockey... for now

May 16, 20:51 (Filed under: Personal, Other )

It didn’t take long for the “Hoorah” and “We are the champions” and “Great game, eh?” smses to start pouring in last night after last night’s big game. I caught a bit of the second period, but spent most of the night working. In retrospect, I have no regrets. One mate told me that it felt like the metro was going to come off the rails, and Jitka got smacked by what she said was a billboard (I think she meant a metro advert) being wielded by jubilant teenagers as they bellowed Czech hockey chants. Whatever it was the kids were wielding, Jitka said that she unwielded them of it pretty damn fast….

Ok, so maybe I took it a bit hard, even though I didn’t watch the match. Unfortunately this year I can’t fall back on the excuse that I could when the Czechs beat Canada in Nagano: A shootout ain’t hockey, it’s figure skating. In REAL hockey, a tie is settled in sudden-death overtime, no ifs, ands, buts, or candy-ass shootouts.

But, that’s obviously not an issue this time around. I was ashamed to hear that, as expected, the Canucks supposedly pitched their traditional swan song tantrum. Fighting certainly has its place in hockey, but not in international tournaments.

So, I suppose this means a year of grinning and bearing the wisecracks about my native land’s silver-coated hockey program. Easy enough, but the whole You’re from Canada? So, I guess you like‚?? ice hockey? / what do you think about‚??ice hockey? / how do you like‚?? ice hockey? Hahaha routine gets really tired really fast.

Maybe I’ll just start telling them I’m into figure skating, for the soapy intrigue and spectacular falls, natch.

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Czenglish

Apr 6, 09:29 (Filed under: Other, Personal )

After dinner last night Jitka asked me, “Patrick, what is a ‘limp biscuit’?”

Jitka teaches English to a group of military policemen and one of them had asked her for the definition of said expression. Knowing that it’s not just the source of a name of a lame-ass rap-rawk band that has long overstayed its welcome (along with another bottom-of-the-dung-heap baby-rawk band Good Charlotte), I had to look the term up at urbandictionary.com.

When I found the definition (which, apparently, was not Fred Durst’s inspiration to call his band Limp Bizkit‚?? uh-huh, sure, right), I can’t say I was all that surprised. I certainly hope it doesn’t inspire her students to implement the ritual (or anything involving circle jerks – another new expression for her soldiers) while initiating new recruits.

I get a kick out of the way Czechs use English slang sometimes. A few days ago, the editor of the book I’m translating used an expression that was also new to me: ‘crash the air,’ as in “It’s kinda stuffy in here, I’m gonna crash the air,” which apparently means to open a window to air out a room. My friend Robert Juracka from Strelice U Brna improved a classic one night many years ago when, in an effort to boost my spirits, insisted that I “Fuck off it and smoke the joint!” This order alone perked me right up and I’ve adopted it myself.

Of course, in the seven-plus years that Jitka and I have been together, she has picked up a hell of a lot of choice slang from me – to the point where a British friend of mine told her that her language had gotten mighty salty (we were playing billiards and she was using the f- and c- words consecutively after missing shots; she cut down considerably on her cussing after that night). I’m sometimes tempted to correct her when she says things like “Thanks God!” but I find little mistakes like that, as well as her gradually diminishing Czech accent, adorable (it was even better when she used to say “Thanks the God!”).

Yesterday, Scott wrote an amusing piece about the way Czechs, particularly those using business-speak, have been “Czechifying” English words – e.g. apgrejdovat (upgrade) and klosovat (close a deal). I remember the first time I encountered this kind of Czenglish – it was at Cesky Telecom about six years ago, when I heard a student tell somebody, “Nemuzu, mam meeting.” (I can’t, I have a meeting), or something to that effect. While I don’t find this all that charming, it doesn’t make me cringe half as much as some of the Czenglish we foreigners use.

Having said that, there are some Czech words that are quite appropriate to use while speaking English, even with other expats. For instance potraviny and vecerka (convenience store and late-night convenience store), herna and non-stop (gambling bar and a 24-hour gambling bar), along with several foods and dishes (knedliky, svickova, vepro-knedlo-zelo, etc.), or even an exasperated Ach jo, just flow naturally, and unpretentiously, as one is speaking.

However, I have serious issues with people who scatter Czech words into their English gratuitously. Phrases like “Let’s hook up for a pivo,” or, “Day-um, check the nohy on that holka!” or “Ty vole!” (Ooooo, I fucking LOATHE the word vole! Especially when women use it. Perhaps I’ll elaborate some other time) give me a rash. It’s never a good idea to use Czech while speaking English when a perfectly good English word will do.

A final (for now) note on this: poetess and Provokator editrix Bethany Shaffer recently told me that she’s been familiarising her students with the word and concept of ‘rad’ (among other slang words), which has a pretty cool retro feel to it, and sounds a bit like an abbreviated version of parada (somewhat like ‘Excellent!’): “Jezisi, clovece, to je rad!”

Jesus, dude, this is rad! Hm… sounds, like, way better in Czech, ze jo?

Spot-on comments [5]

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Dog Eat Blog learns a few new tricks

Mar 11, 10:06 (Filed under: Other, Web watch )

Anybody who’s been stopping by on a regular basis may have noticed that I’ve been pumping up DEB’s right-hand column over the last few days.

I’ve added a handy Bravenet calendar to the blog. The public can post to this calendar, so I invite and encourage anyone who has an upcoming concert, performance, party, speech, demonstration, meeting, etc. in Prague to make use of it.

Under this, fellow bookworms can see what I’ve been taking out of the Prague City Library (for those interested, you need a visa to get a card). It’s fairly well-stocked with English-language books (almost entirely fiction and poetry) so I’m pretty happy with it. However, I really miss all the variety of big city libraries, like the ones in Ottawa, especially the University of Ottawa. To me, buying books in Prague is a luxury, in spite of the good selection and prices offered at the Globe, Shakespeare & Son’s, Big Ben, and Anagram. But I digress‚??

If you check the buttons below my list of links, you’ll see that I’ve joined a few blog rings. So far, the most interesting of these has been Expat Express. When I clicked the arrows beside the EE button, I was pleased to discover that I’ve got a cool neighbour to the right at Bob’s yer uncle. Definitely worth a read, and be sure to check BYU’s links as well – Glitter for Brains is a riot!

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Bear-prov English Theatre; Marijuana chicken

Feb 22, 10:12 (Filed under: Culture, Other )

Last night’s Alchemy was a blast. There was a great variety of performers during a very lively open mic and the Bear-prov English Theatre did an excellent job of setting the evening’s high-energy pace and tone. The Bear-prov crew will be performing every Saturday night at the Kava Kava Kava at Lidicka 42 (near Andel metro station) from March 19 onward.

In other news, some kid in Prague decided to treat his mom to some of his stash by seasoning her chicken with it. His secret blend of chronic and spices landed ma in the hospital. This little prank could get him five years in prison for illegal possession and production of drugs. Is the guilt that he’s probably feeling right now not punishment enough? There’s been more than enough legislative blah-blah and dull Czech reggae songs about marijuana in this country: legalise it already, for Chrissake!

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Learning to snowboard in Janske Lazne. Get me offline now!

Feb 19, 19:13 (Filed under: Road tripping, Other )

I’m in Trutnov, chilling at a friend’s place after a great day of snowboarding with Jitka up in Janske Lazne. We’re both beginners, but I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on it, especially since I’m using a much better, shorter and lighter board than I was during my first attempt at the sport two weeks ago.

I’ve spent many wonderful weekends in the Krkonose mountains, especially Janske Lazne, over the last seven years. Every time I come up here in the winter, for some reason I feel more Canadian than usual. Sounds strange, perhaps, but it’s true. I believe it has something to do with all the snow – of course, all we get in Prague these days are relatively light dustings that quickly turn to slush.

The only reason I’m online is due to a few fairly important emails that I had to send out, and I figured why not throw up a blog entry as well. Important emails to send on a Saturday? Well, actually, the most important will probably end up getting sent on Monday morning. I’ve really got to stop working on weekends.

I’ll sign off with a couple of great articles concerning our too-much-information era. I got the links from Richard Body’s blog. Here’s the first. And here’s the second.

Enough – the local pub awaits…

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Changes at expats.cz; tips on getting a zivnostensky list

Jan 25, 12:38 (Filed under: Web watch, Other )

Expats.cz got a very nice facelift. My only complaint is that all the html is exposed in the signatures. Other than that, Martin Howlings – the hardest-working man in the .cz business – has given his baby a wicked upgrade.

While going through old threads that I’ve been a part of (a great new feature – makes finding a member’s posting history dead simple), I came across one that should be of use to anybody who is thinking about getting their Czech business license – that is, a “zivnostensky list” (never ever EVER call it a “zivno” around Czechs, it seems to give them a rash). My contribution is lengthy and somewhat dated as things are different for us Canucks now that the Czech Republic is an EU country, but it is supplemented very nicely by several helpful posters (plus one wee troll).

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Cerna Hora Radio offers free plastic surgery

Jan 19, 13:23 (Filed under: Other )

Eastern Bohemia radio station Cerna Hora has jumped on the reality show bandwagon. In a contest that offers to “change your life forever,” contestants are competing for a grand prize of CZK 80 000 worth of plastic surgery.

Shocking change within reach

In the great Czech tradition of revival bands and copping game and reality shows, Cerna Hora’s publicity stunt is based on a couple of American programs, namely The Swan and I Want a Famous Face. In both shows makeover recipients need nothing more than a healthy diet, a good fitness program, some make-up, hair-styling and fashion tips, and perhaps a little counseling to boost their self-confidence. I don’t understand the appeal of watching spoiled brats and insecure frumps getting makeovers and going under the plastic surgeon’s knife. None of them appeared to have been suffering from disfiguring accidents or birth defects – I suppose burn victims and severe harelips are bad TV. Though perhaps they could make for good radio.

But seeing as radio is not, if I’m not mistaken, a visual medium, it will be interesting to see, I mean hear, how Cerna Hora will present the contestants and the results. Of course, it’s also worth keeping in mind that plastic surgery can go horribly wrong. For Chrissake, is NAMBLA mascot Michael Jackson not argument enough against getting it if you don’t need it?

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It's alright, it's just the end of the world...

Jan 6, 11:00 (Filed under: Other )

While refining my English-language skills over at urbandictionary.com, I came across this pretty sweet Flash animation.

AAAAHHHHH MOTHERLAND! indeed…

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Banished words

Jan 4, 07:00 (Filed under: Other )

Lake Superior State University has published its 2005 list of banished words. My personal favourite is POCKETS OF RESISTANCE, about which one man from West Sussex, UK said, Are we talking about someone not buying a round of drinks or people shooting at each other?

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