Prague Dog Eat Blog

Back to school; Keith Armstrong vs. Alchemy

Sep 6, 09:03 (Filed under: Personal, People )

It‚??s a beautiful morning. The sky is clear and the sun is preparing to beat some serious heat into Prague, though at the moment it is a little chilly. While indulging in a corrosive breakfast of nicotine and caffeine out on the balcony, I watched scores of Czech kids clad in their freshly pressed back-to-school clothes, hauling their sharp and shiny back-to-school gear and virgin notebooks in their crisp and clean back-to-school bags.

Ha-ha, suckers, I thought, dragging contentedly on an L&M blue.

Man, am I ever glad that part of my life is over. School is something I would never do over again. Well, that‚??s not entirely true. I would do university over and would take English lit instead of civil engineering. I‚??m glad I did one year of English after getting my engineering degree; I re-discovered the joys of having hot classmates, and the stuff I learned in English was far more practical, not to mention enjoyable, than the knowledge I acquired (and swiftly jettisoned out of even my subconscious) in engineering. For instance, while I can draw on Faulkner for inspiration and enlightenment, I don‚??t see myself ever needing to put the Fellenius Method of Slope Stability Analysis to use.

I disliked Dr. Fellenius as a person. The man used to (and probably still does) throw chalk at inattentive students ‚?? third-year, i.e. senior, university students. But, to his credit, he never actually hit anybody, and I believe he had excellent aim. In spite of my opinion about his personality, he was (and probably still is) one hell of a teacher. No engineering prof made me work so hard. It certainly wasn‚??t out of love for soil stability, but because the man and his exams were so goddamn intense.

Another thing that sucked about civil engineering were my classmates. Most of them were dicks. There were only three that I got on with ‚?? an alcoholic pothead I had known in elementary school, and a couple of cute petite Lebanese girls. The four of us would get stoned before doing laboratory classes and trip on all the equipment and laugh a lot, jotting down figures in shifts.

Ok, so engineering had its moments. But, I am soooooo glad that is no longer part of my life.

Stepping into the present, I got a wake-up call this morning from Newcastle poet Keith Armstrong. He and fellow Newcastle poet Kevin Cadwallender read at Alchemy last night. I missed out because of work, which is a pity, because I missed out on Keith heckling a time-limit abuser by yelling out, ‚?úThis isn‚??t poetry, it‚??s a fucking speech!‚?Ě (well, that‚??s what Keith told me ‚?? eyewitnesses can feel free to verify or correct this by posting a comment)

Harsh, maybe, but Keith was probably voicing what everybody else in the room (except for the speaker) was thinking. I‚??ve never been able to fathom why people think that other people want to listen to them spew prose in a monotone for more than five minutes. Steven Wright is the only person who should be allowed to do this. I‚??ve seen so many excellent open mics marred by self-indulgent ‚?úartistes‚?Ě who take the spotlight to hurl a bag of words at the audience, and of course we here in Prague are far to polite to tell them their time‚??s up (actually, I‚??ve done this a few times as MC, and have hurt a couple of crybabies‚?? feelings by doing so. When I asked one of them why she stopped coming to Alchemy, she told me, ‚?úI know who my audience is.‚?Ě Whatever that‚??s supposed to mean, good fucking riddance, I thought).

Anyway, Keith and Kevin are reading at the Globe at 6 pm, then at Shakespeare & Sons‚?? Krymska location at 8 (I assume). Seeing as I don‚??t have school tomorrow, I believe I‚??ll join them on their tour (as an audience member ‚?? though I wouldn‚??t say no to dusting off a couple of pieces from the Drift days).

Spot-on comments

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Czechlist gathering

Aug 23, 11:54 (Filed under: Prague events, People )

Czechlist is a discussion forum for Czech-English (and vice-versa) translators and interpreters. It’s probably one of Prague’s friendliest discussion forums.

I don’t actually visit or participate in the forum, but I keep up with what’s going on through email. Members are always quick to help out their peers with difficult terminology and are happy to give a hand to those starting out in the field. This forum is a valuable resource to CZ-EN translators, no matter what level they’re at.

I met a few of the Czechlisters at a small gathering last year and had a great time. Melvyn Clarke, the man who maintains Czechlist, as well as the extremely handy, has asked me to pass the following invitation on to all who are interested in joining us translators and interpreters for drinks tomorrow:

We are getting together again with some translator friends at Rezava Kotva off Janackovo nabrezi, this coming Wednesday, 24th August, from 6.00 pm.

We will be enjoying the sunshine at a table outdoors. Unless it is raining, of course, in which case we will be :-( at a table indoors.

Do come and join us for some language fun and games (exchanging tips about language problems, translation issues, Internet resources, travel resources, etc etc etc), if you are into that kind of thing.

We have some pictures from our last gathering at Rezava Kotva towards the end of the first page of the “Members” section of the Czechlist photos:

Very pleasant place for a summer outing. They have some “90s music” =:-O later on (from 9 pm) if anybody wants to make an evening of it.

Our table will have the old CZECHLIST sign on it.



It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree. – Charles Baudelaire

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COPS - Czech-style

Aug 20, 07:00 (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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"Krejcir associates disappearing and being killed";

Jul 28, 10:24 (Filed under: People, Prague media )

I wonder who’s got the movie rights to billionaire-cum-prisoner-cum-fugitive Radovan Krejcir’s story? Now he’s also a murder suspect (“suspect”? [rolleyes] Oh please…). However, the way CTK has translated the headline to the related story (and part of the headline to today’s entry), one would think that Krejcir is now on a killing spree.

But today was supposed to be about the little Prague dot-com that could – but unfortunately did not. For those who were either a part of it or were (and still are) sick of hearing about it, you may want to move along to the Dog Eat Blog archives, or perhaps to a few of Dr. Vladimir Czumalo’s excellent articles about Prague.

Founded by former Globe Cafe & Bookstore owner Scott Rogers in December 1999, was an online city guide to Central and Eastern European (CEE) capitols. Much to the Czech business community’s surprise it managed to secure 6 million USD in investment capital – one of the biggest investments into a CEE Internet start-up.

Rather than bog this down with a bunch more facts (here’s the googlage), it’s enough to say that got into the game just as the dot-com bubble was on the verge of bursting. By the time I joined, the dot-compost was already beginning to pile up stateside. But Globopolis had yet to ripen, let alone decompose.

It was a fast and fun ride. Fed up with teaching English, I interned for about a month and a half, doing data entry and editing copy. Then I got hired on as a copywriter, and soon became responsible for marketing a G-bop product called Boparrazi, which was something like the stupid party pictures that Think Again prints in the back of its magazine, the difference being that I had very talented photographers working for me.

So, I got experience and had fun, as did pretty much everybody else there. And I’m sure we were (and probably still are to a degree) a source of envy among the expat community. And who could blame them? Of that 6 million USD, Globopolis got 3 million up front, and man did we ever enjoy it.

3 million American bucks. Goddamn, today’s exchange rate puts that at over 75 million Czech korunas. You’d better believe we were living large, burning through that cash like our American peers: a foosball table in the break room, Free Beer Fridays, trips not only to the other CEE capitals, but also to other major European cities for research purposes (not that I got to go on any of those), the inevitable “team-building” weekend‚?? there were more extravagant expenditures (not counting rent and high-end computing equipment), I’m sure, but I was thrilled not to be teaching any more after 4 years. I was learning new things and (ack!) networking. I was also making decent money – not much more than what I was making teaching, but, hey, I’ll say it again – I wasn’t teaching.

(Note: that’s not a diss against the noble profession of teaching English as a Second language. All I’m saying is that I taught for a while and found it wasn’t for me but found myself stuck in it. So of course I was overjoyed to be offered a way out of doing something I felt trapped doing for a living)

One expense that I can’t let go without a comment was the godawful advertising campaign that MarkBBDO whipped up for Globopolis. It was lazy shitty work that did the company no favours, and a lot of the team voiced that opinion.

Nevertheless, the management stuck with the garbage that BBDO’s account managers presented to us in an utterly imbecilic manner. Example: in his preamble to the presentation, one of the account managers actually said, “You are a very big client and we want your money.” Well fucking d-uh‚??

It was around this time that things started to feel a bit amiss. Then in January 2001, the good ship Globopolis went down. And, after pretty much ignoring us for a year, every unclefucking media outlet in Prague sent their cubs and hacks a-swarming to the G-bop offices on Hybernska. I can take defeat, but the Prague Post’s glee-trimmed feature on Globopolis’ demise was putting salt in the wound purely out of spite.

However, for many a former G-bopper, the experience led to bigger and better things. From the ashes sprung (btw, its City Beat blog has a slick new look that’s worth a look-see). Prague’s IT and telecommunications firms and ad agencies opened their doors to us. Speaking for myself, I have to say that the full-time jobs I’ve had since Globopolis haven’t been as fun (though Cesky Telecom certainly had its moments), but they opened more doors that have taken me to exactly where I want to be – self-employed, working when I want, and now where I want. For that reason I will always be grateful to Scott Rogers, Dan Mucha, Chip Schenck and all the great people I had the pleasure of working with at Globopolis.

So, in spite of the fact that the quality of their paper has actually improved over the years, the Prague Posties can stick that in their pipes and smoke it – if their lungs and brains can handle it, which I sincerely doubt.

Spot-on comments

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At (and in) the movies I.

Jul 8, 09:45 (Filed under: People, Personal )

Once again, I’ve written way too much. I’m going to break this entry into two parts.

It’s always kind of cool to see Prague used as a setting in a movie (especially when the city is not playing itself), whether the flick is as enjoyable as Mission: Impossible or as godawful as Bad Company. It’s even cooler to see people you know acting in movies. So, when Josh, the owner of Movie Star – my local DVD rental shop – recommended EuroTrip last night I figured I might as well check it out. I was in need of a laugh and I remembered that a few expat acquaintances are extras in one segment.

The segment takes place in London, the first stop on a trip to Berlin, where the main character’s “true love” (an online penpal) awaits. The premise is, “What happens when you take two American backpackers and put them in a pub full of football (soccer) hooligans?” In reality, probably two severely battered and shattered seppos. However, in the movie’s bid to keep American movie-goers stunningly ignorant of all things Euro, you get a sing-along. No, not the thinly-veiled Sieg Heiling of hooligan chants, but Sheena Easton’s Morning Train.

I could go on about how way off the mark the flick is when it comes to European, and to a certain extent American, stereotypes (the Bratislava segment is beyond retarded), but no, this was supposed to be about seeing people you know in movies. Mike (U Zpevacku barman extraordinaire), Mad Chris (Mr. Mojo Risin of Prague’s Doors revival band), and Jeff Smith (the tall cool Texan of fame) all play hooligans led by Vinnie Jones (who is the highlight of the movie‚?? well, next to all the nice tits). Mike and Chris are in the accompanying still – Mike’s on the left and Chris is on the right of the film’s star, whatsisname‚?? um‚?? hell, he sucked so bad that I can’t remember his name and I can’t be arsed to look it up.

EuroTrip is one of those crap films that makes you laugh in spite of yourself. Seeing Mike and Chris (you only catch a glimpse of Jeff – he has another “blink and you’ll miss it” moment in Hellboy) made it a bit better if only because I’m looking forward to singing the chorus to Ms. Easton’s 1981 chart-topper the next time I see them. I’ve never actually talked about the movie with them, so it’ll be interesting to hear what it was like on the set.

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Vlastimil Horvath, continued...

Jun 21, 13:46 (Filed under: Culture, People )

Ok, I know I’m carrying on about Cesko Hleda Superstar these days, but this is about something bigger – Vlastik Horvath’s impending responsibility to represent his roots. As the country’s brand new instant king of pop, Horvath has the potential to do something great for Czech-Roma relations.

However, it seems that certain members of the Czech government’s council for Roma community affairs doubt he’ll bother with activism according to this article by Peter Kononczuk in the Prague Post.

Personally, I believe he’ll whore go the way that Lucie Bila has whored gone.

Alright, enough on the Superstar… coming up later (hopefully later today) a look at my first festival of the summer season. There are some aspects of the Czechs’ disorganisational talents that need mentioning.

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100 Greatest Czechs

May 6, 09:55 (Filed under: People, Culture )

I hadn’t planned on watching any tube last night, but as soon as CT1’s 100 Greatest Czechs (100 Nejvetsi Cech) show started up, I decided to call it a day. Hosted by Marek Eben (who said that he ranked 30th, but as host, he wasn’t allowed to accept the position – apparently this freed up the 100th spot for my favourite Czech politician), it was pretty engaging television. Should it come out on DVD, it’s perfect for anybody looking to get a crash course in Czech history, as well as the nation’s current zeitgeist.

On a somewhat surprising note, last year’s Cesko Hleda Superstar champ, 18 (or is she still 17?) year-old Aneta Langerova made number 70, just under America’s 64th Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and three spots higher than goaltending god Dominic Hasek.

I’ve got Aneta’s CD and I like it. I’m looking forward to seeing her play Mezi Ploty. But one of the 100 Greatest Czechs of all time? I don’t know – it’s been less than a year since she was catapulted into the limelight, and in that time she’s been winning awards normally reserved (and I mean that literally) for lip-synching TV Nova whores Lucie Bila (who ranked 60th and, judging from her appearance on the show, finally got her teeth straightened and whitened) and Iveta Bartosova (a very pretty woman who’s got that strange Sandra Bullock-like non-sex appeal – the visual equivalent of power-chugging corn syrup).

Holy crap, this translation job is provoking me to write looooong sentences‚??

Anyway, one can’t help but admire how Langerova has been taking this all in stride – she is one class act. And none of this year’s Superstar contenders can touch her. No personality, too much bravado, all purveyors of gutless pop. Aneta flat out straight up full on rocks.

Even more curious than Aneta making the list is the Jara Cimrman phenomenon. This fictional Czech renaissance man was one of the nation’s “greatest playwrights, poets, composers, teachers, travellers, philosophers, inventors, detectives and sportsmen”. So great that he may have made number 1 had CT1’s organisers not disqualified him for never having existed. To make up for this, the show featured the Top 10 non-existent Czechs, and will devote an entire show to Jara Cimrman’s “genius” on June 9.

Of course there is a booby prize – a Top 10 Czech Rogues’ Gallery. Arrogant twat President Vaclav Klaus made both lists, as a 3rd-place rogue and the 18th Greatest Czech. Stalin’s bitch President Klement Gottwald managed to do the same – the public consideres him the 92nd Greatest Czech, and the All-time Worst Czech Rogue. Former Prime Minister Stanislav Gross ranked 2nd here, which, IMO, is a sign of just how pissy Czechs can be – I mean, come on, the guy’s, what, thirty-five, and told a fib about a loan on a flat, which is far from the nastiest shit going down in the CR’s corridors of power. But just because he’s the Prime Minister, he gets crucified for it.

I’ll bet more than half the people who took him to task for it (and not just political opponents, but everyone else, from barstool political commentators to “proper” journalists) have done far worse. One television journalist was actually making references to Watergate while wanking talking about how shit-hot the Czech press was while dealing with this scandal‚?? for Chrissake, I know it’s a long way down cowboy, but just step off the horse, nice and easy does it‚??

Digressing again‚?? here’s a .pdf of the 11th to 100th Greatest Czechs. The Top 10 were also listed last night – it’s now up to the public once again to choose who number 1 will be. I can’t seem to find a link for these 10, though I expect the show’s official site will have it posted sometime very soon. The five (only five – what a shame!) that come immediately to mind are Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, former President Vaclav Havel, First President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, actor Jan Werich, and writer Bozena Nemcova. The results will be broadcast on June 10. Jitka and I agree in our guessing that the country’s first president, Masaryk, will make number 1. I see Charles IV coming a close second, with Havel not far behind.

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The Return of Milos Zeman

Mar 29, 10:10 (Filed under: People )

I don’t like to get political here, but when it comes to former Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, I can’t resist. Whether or not Zeman placed the interests of his fellow countrymen above his own is questionable – just as it is with nearly all Czech politicians (or practically any politician, for that matter) – but I’m not talking about his abilities as a a Prime Minister. This is all about personality, superficial stuff. Leave the political analysis to the pros.

Milos Zeman at work
Urp… no, I believe it’s your round

Just as American politics scare the shit out of me, Czech politics make me laugh (Canadian politics don’t really do anything for me simply because I’m completely out of the loop). I watch a fair amount of political commentary and debate on Czech TV, and Jitka fills me in on major issues. However, overall, I don’t pay domestic politics all that much mind. Perhaps if I could vote (and as a payer of taxes and social insurance here I goddamn well should have that right) I would read into Czech parliamentary hijinx more deeply.

I tend to scan articles with headlines that catch my eye while going through the Prague Monitor. This one is a gem: Zeman behaved like pig, deserves slaps in the face, Buzkova says

To me, Zeman was the ideal representative of the stereotypical working-class, suburban (or small town or village), Czech man. A chauvinistic, Becherovka-swilling, chain smoking, mumbling, bumbling, yet oddly intelligent (say what you will, but for all their flaws, the Czechs have never had a truly stupid Prime Minister in the time I’ve been living here), strangely likeable boor. I’m not saying he was the ideal representative of his country, but the man has a certain flair about him that no recent leader can touch.

I’ve never trusted Klaus, and I sincerely hope that someday his sneering arrogance provokes a journalist to bitchslap that smugly squinting lipless Hitler-esque mug of his. Spidla strikes me as a spineless little background prop, a barely discernible footnote in the annals of Czech history. And Gross is simply ridiculous – he’s too young and inept at covering his ass; a perfect patsy, puppet and whipping boy.

But Zeman, ah, Zeman‚?? he’s so direct and pig-headed. He has never given a shit about what anybody thinks and how his words and actions could affect his career. So as PM he said exactly what was on his mind, and continues to do so. In a way, in high politics Milos Zeman was like a dark version of Josef Svejk, stumbling his way through and along the front lines of Czech politics, somehow ending up as the country’s PM.

I can see how he could strike a lot of people as arrogant. Not a Klausian arrogance, but the arrogance of a high-ranking NO MA’AM officer. But the title of his political memoirs, How I Erred in Politics, may suggest a trace of humility in the bleary eyed former PM. In any case, Zeman is making headlines in the political pages again (here’s another beauty: Election of Gross as chairman is path to political suicide, Zeman says) and I for one, as a casual observer of punchline-rich Czech politics, am glad.

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Jeff Koyen leaves the New York Press

Mar 21, 21:51 (Filed under: People )

The former editor of the Prague Pill is now the former editor of the New York Press. I’ve enjoyed and admired Jeff Koyen’s volatile in-yer-face take-no-prisoners style ever since I stumbled across his online version of Crank years ago and I’m glad to see that he hasn’t changed a bit.

In fact, he’s hardened to the point of being able to go toe-to-toe with Howard Stern. You can listen to the discussion here, courtesy of the WFMU blog. Personally, I feel that Stern comes across as a goddamn whinger, supported by his crew of shirt-lifting Yes-folk.

This week Jeff is guest-editing urban travel guide Gridskipper, where he’ll be covering such topics as Prague, drug use, drug use in Prague, cheap hostels, cheap transportation, offbeat art projects, why the Pope is a bad old man‚?? and lots more.

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Miss Czech (Ceska Miss) 2005

Mar 9, 21:26 (Filed under: People )

This is slightly dated, but in light of something I mentioned earlier today about Czech women (and to satisfy any Maxim readers I may have), I reckoned I’d post these pix:

Katerina Smejkalova
Miss Czech 2005: Katerina Smejkalova

Zuzana Stepanovska
1st Vice-Miss: Zuzana Stepanovska

Michaela Stoudkova
2nd Vice-Miss: Michaela Stoudkova

Simona Borikova
Personal Fave Miss: Simona Borikova


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Prague's expat critics

Mar 9, 11:29 (Filed under: Culture, People )

Yesterday, the Real Scott MacMillan posted a link to Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K (STACK), a blog from Cairo. It is indeed “highly readable,” though I’m not all that interested in what’s going on in that part of the world (for one thing the women here are WAY hotter than the femmes over there). Nevertheless, I found this introduction to this post pretty much nail-on-the-head. STACK’s Jeff writes about critiques of books written by Americans who were in Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism:

‚??nearly every review [is] filled with jealousy and endless statements about how many who were in Prague or Budapest in those days could have been much better.

Unfortunately this is a trend that continues to this day, especially in the Prague Post. Even one-hit wonders like Gary Shteyngart continue to dis the efforts of expat writers. He should know how difficult it is to write a novel, especially a good one (which, admittedly, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook is): it’s been three years and rising since his debut. One critic has actually compared him to Martin Amis. Now, Shteyngart’s good, but not that good – if he were Amisesque, he’d certainly be a hell of a lot more prolific in his writing and doing more than just cruising through writers’ festivals on the strength of his debut.

But I digress. I thought we expats were done with all this pissing and moaning about other people’s efforts to move beyond just getting by, to do something they love. Unfortunately the flames still burn eternal.

On the upside, that hasn’t stopped anyone from taking chances and exploring new creative avenues. Prague has always been very kind to avant-garde artists – the city embraced Mozart when his compositions got too adventurous for the Viennese, and to this day is very generous to pretty much anyone who’s got the balls to step outside the mainstream, beyond the borders of the alternative and into a space that is resolutely unique.

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David Kraus at the Concert for Asia

Feb 14, 13:37 (Filed under: Culture, People )

I watched a bit of the Benefit Concert for Asia on Ocko yesterday. It took place at Lucerna (Vodickova 36, Prague 1) and Ondrej Havelka and his Melody Makers (a swing orchestra) hosted it, providing accompaniment for several top Czech singers and actors. The show was fairly entertaining until the end, when David Kraus and his band took the stage.

David Kraus is the son of actor and talk show host Jan Kraus. The only reason David’s getting any TV time and stage time at major events is clearly because of his dad. The first time I saw and heard him was on his pop’s TV show Break Free Please (Uvolnete se, prosim). He and his band hacked and stumbled a godawful version of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun. To his credit, at least he didn’t muff the lyrics.

Last night they closed the benefit show with a song called Pateticka (Pathetic). By way of introduction, David mumbled that the band had debated whether or not the song was too dark for the event, decided it was, but then decided to perform it anyway. He apologised to the crowd and the band launched into the song. The song lived up to its title, as David growled and pouted and snarled his way through it, looking as if his pop had forced him to be a part of the benefit.

David can sing fairly well, but has almost no stage presence. The meagre drop of presence that he’s got comes from the strain of giving the impression that he’s only happy when it rains. David Kraus actually looks and sounds like he could be a very interesting performer. however, he’s got to drop the so-hard-done-by act. Perhaps he could take a hint from his band’s drummer, who looked absolutely thrilled to be playing the benefit last night. Then again, most rock drummers make goofy faces when they’re banging the skins – Charlie Watts being the first exception that comes to mind.


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Oklahomo Trio comes to Prague

Feb 9, 11:45 (Filed under: Culture, People )

The highlight of this Monday’s Alchemy was definitely the Oklahomo Trio. OT is actually a duo consisting of Swedes Ida and Henrik. They bill themselves as “Sweden’s best acoustic heartbreakers.” Their songs are sparse and simple; Ida projects quirky lyrics in a voice vaguely reminiscent of Bjork in her quieter moments, a voice full of conflict: both haunted and haunting, always on the verge of breaking down yet consistently uplifting. Henrik’s guitar provides Ida’s voice with a suitably bittersweet landscape to roam in. The OT website has a generous selection of their work available for streaming and/or downloading.

No worries if you missed out on Monday – OT is the latest addition to Prague’s expat community and has been working on setting up gigs around town in the near future. They also plan on being regular contributors to Alchemy’s open mic segment.

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Czech ads: Budvar, Mountfield, He's a Lady

Feb 7, 10:06 (Filed under: Culture, People )

While in Janske Lazne this weekend, I was introduced to Budvar’s latest advertising campaign. You can see the ten rules for Preserving the Integrity of Czech Beer at Everything is in Czech and you will need to fill in a short registration form, but visually the campaign is worth a peep. Each rule first presents a brewer or publican messing with the processes of brewing or serving beer. A few clicks later, a new scene unfolds, depicting beer-loving puritans going medieval on the offending brewer or publican’s ass.

The last of the ten rules is on the verge of being offensive to Africans, but considering the entire context of the campaign, it’s nowhere near as ignorant as the Mountfield ad that has the Czech Jewish community up in arms. This ad definitely crosses lines, especially considering the fact that it was first aired just in time to “help” celebrate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. I sincerely hope that every member of the crackerjackass “creative” team that came up with this concept is out of work.

Something to look forward to, based on its way cool ad, is (gasp!) TV Nova’s He’s a Lady (On je Zena), which starts on February 14. The series will be like Tootsie in reverse, set in a TV news studio and starring foxy (well, when not in drag) Ivana Chylkova.

Ivana Chylkova as a man Ivana Chylkova as a fox
Lady looks like a dude: Ivana Chylkova exposes her animus

And speaking of Nova, last night’s Cesko Hleda Superstar was a treat – female trios sang Helena Vondrackova’s Proc me nikdo nema rad? (Why Doesn’t Anybody Like Me? – a Czech version of Dionne Warwick’s I Say a Little Prayer), while the guys did Karel Gott’s Lady Karneval. Considering the fact that the groups had very little time to rehearse, the results were often incredible, sometimes amusing, rarely pathetic.

Judge Michal Horacek is proving to be the panel’s token arsehole (last year it was Zluty Pes frontman Ondrej Hejma). After one particularly entertaining rendition of Lady Karneval, Horacek asked one of the guys in the trio (a rather skinny Slovak boy wearing a tank top) if he worked out. When the singer answered no, Horacek told him he shouldn’t be wearing tank tops. The rest of the panel seemed as shocked as the Slovak that Horacek asked such an asinine question.


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