Prague Dog Eat Blog

Free morning press available outside metro stations in Prague

Nov 12, 13:44 (Filed under: Prague media )

'Reading club' in Prague metro Do you sometimes read free morning press? Early this morning, I was given three different free newspaper on my way to university. There are people standing and handing them out at most of the metro stations. And since the first lecture was not that interesting, I could compare these newspapers.

Metropolitni Expres is the name of the first one I got. Most of the articles are about Prague, and the rest of the Czech Republic, and the world news, however, there is nothing really original that one couldn’t read in paid newspaper. There is a proportional number of advertisement in it. What makes it interesting besides being free is the readers’ page that includes a survey, readers’ photos, a crossword puzzle, and English page. Another big part is dedicated to career and employment. The paper also includes TV program, weather forecast, tips for culture, horoscope predictions, and my favourite, two games of Sudoku challenge. Last pages are about sport, mainly football and ice-hockey.

Another paper is called 24 Hodin (24 hours). More or less, it is very similar to the first one mentioned. The sections are arranged differently, of course. There is a section about Prague districts, but the readers’ and English page is missing. It seems to me that Metropolitni Expres is doing slightly better job in approaching people. On the other hand, in 24 Hodin, there is prize competition for e.g. tickets to the Prague Zoo.

The last paper I received was Denik Metro (Metro Daily), which I must say, is my least favourite. Not because it exchanged Sudoku for Kakuro, another brain-teaser, but it is more formal, and a big part of it is about politics. Friday editions are usually thicker, including weekend section, full of tabloid news. But more, it is probably the bad general impression from the setout, that is why I prefer the other two.

I don’t know if there’s any conclusion, but to me, taking these papers makes travelling faster and a bit more interesting.

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Part-time at the Czech Business Weekly. Weird TV. The Hey Clip

May 21, 23:25 (Filed under: Prague media, Personal )

Ugh. This is probably going to go everywhere and nowhere. I??m back into working seven day weeks, devoting most of my time to translating history essays. The last few I did were well-written, which made things a bit easier, but it??s still a grind. Hope the remainder are just as lucid (touch wood).

I took a part-time copy editing job at the Czech Business Weekly. Unfortunately it only lasted a couple of days as I quit on Friday. With the exception of translating executive stroke jobs for the paper??s Whose Move section, the stuff that was coming across my desk was interesting and, for the most part, read well. However, I made a mistake in thinking that I could take care of the essays after a day of editing. I was supposed to work Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the office and a half day from home on Fridays. After giving up two days of translating essays in order to edit, I realized that this just was not going to work. Then there was the money factor ?? it didn??t dawn on me until the day after my second day in the office that the wage I was getting was lower than what a newbie ESL teacher makes. That fact should have been clear to me at the interview, that is to say it should have clicked when I was told what my salary would be. But with the essays, the regular clients, the visa, the wedding and all the chores, tasks and jobs I??m supposed to be doing around the flat (note that I said supposed to), many things have been going in one ear and out the other.

Anyway, I??m going to try to spend the week working primarily on the essays at home, ideally at the pace I worked at this weekend. That means no trips into the centre of Prague, social or otherwise. Lots of English breakfast tea and Red Bulls, a bit of food when Jitka??s around to remind me to eat. Also a bit of Unreal Tournament 2004, Far Cry, Doom 3 or The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion when Jitka??s not around to get on my case about gaming. As well as a fair amount of leisure surfing??

Which leads me to this. Thanks to Think Again magazine I discovered that one of my favourite TV shows of all time has a web presence. Before ebaum??s world, College Humor, YouTube and any other user content based site, there was Weird TV, a show that was exactly what its name said it was. I??m not going to ruin the surprise (if anything surprises you these days, that is), just check it out.

And speaking of YouTube, here??s a little something to put you in the mood for the Pixies’ July 13 gig at Palac Akropolis. Well, maybe it??ll put you in the mood for something else, but whatever kind of mood it puts you in, you can rest assured it will be a good one.

I??m not even going to try and read that back. I??m outtie.

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Cool ad

Feb 23, 11:01 (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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Boys in Action and a sunset question

Jan 10, 00:29 (Filed under: Prague media, Personal )

Boys in Action

I??ve probably taken the piss out of Czech cooking shows on a few occasions here in the blog. Sure the sets look slick enough, and the equipment is all shiny, smooth and scrape-free, but the meals tend to look worse than those leftovers that have been ignored for the last month or two – often justifiably.

Czech TV meals are a little too realistic in treating viewers to the sight of pub lunch?? um?? specials. Plates full of sustenance that is greasy, lumpy, fatty and just plain nasty. And brown. Just like when first-graders mix all their watercolours together, no matter what Czech TV chefs throw into the mix, unless they??re making (lumpy) mashed potatoes, chances are it will turn out brown.

Last week, Jitka and I tuned into this new (at least I think it??s new) show called Boys in Action ( Kluci v Akci – I??ll leave the wisecracks in your hands, dear reader). It seems like a Czech Jamie Oliver knock-off, and it also seems like the show??s Boys, Filip and Ondra, can actually cook. And they??re not afraid of moving outside the brown segment of the colour spectrum.
Czech Television's Boys in Action
The show appears to be a hit with viewers ?? of the 11683 votes that the show has received on its web page, an overwhelming majority (83%) have given it an ?Excellent? rating.

Jitka got inspired by last week??s episode and decided to try her hand at preparing the Boys?? Curry Sauce and Exotic Cous-Cous (the recipe??s in Czech, I??ll translate it on request). The cous-cous kicked ass, even without the maple syrup. The sauce?? well, Czech curry powder leaves a hell of a lot to be desired, but fortunately Jitka managed to save it. Here’s how to make the sauce work – use an imported curry paste instead.

Sunset in July?

Quick question for y??all ?? Jitka and I plan on getting married at Zvikov Chateau at sunset in mid-July. Problem is that neither of us are sure what time the sun goes down in the Czech Republic in mid-July. We reckon around 8-9pm, but one tends to forget things like that at this cold, dark time of the year?? Anyway, any help in this matter will be much appreciated.

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No Smoking in Prague? Yeah, right.

Jan 3, 10:34 (Filed under: Prague media, Out and About in Prague )

So, Prague’s powers that be have apparently started cracking down on smoking in public places. A new law banning smokers from lighting up their cancer sticks at “bus, train and tram stops, schools, cinemas and theatres, sports halls and administrative buildings.”

So, in order to grab a little PR, some cops busted some poor bloke on the outskirts of Prague for lighting up at a bus stop. Wow, that’s pretty Clint Eastwood, innit? Who’s defining exactly where the bus and tram stops begin and end? And does that mean that train stations will no longer have designated smoking areas out on the platforms like they do at the Main Train Station in Prague? I kind of doubt that.

At the same time, the anti-smoking laws are supposedly looser in restaurants as “it allows smoking during main meal times although this was banned under the former no-smoking rules.”

As someone trying to quit, I was really hoping that these laws would be as tight as they are in, say, Ottawa or California, or that they would at least ban smoking in restaurants. I’ve always felt a strong urge to deck people smoking at a table beside mine while I’m eating.

At the same time, I’m enough of a realist to accept the fact that strict anti-smoking laws in Prague, and throughout the Czech Republic, are a pipe dream for at least the next few years.

Added on 04.01.2006
Here’s more on this story. Way to build public awareness! The cops will inevitably get fed up with bothering people at bus and tram stops with warnings and start shaking them down for “fines” of less than the requisite 1000 koruna. Actually, now that I think about it, what am I wasting my time translating for? Jitka and I should just invest in police uniforms and cash in at public transit stops all over town. Or better yet, we’ll just claim to be undercover, so all we’ll need is badges. I can say I’m an expert from Ottawa overseeing the whole non-smoking operation… yeah, that’s the ticket.

Oh, and apparently this, ahem, “law”, chuckle, also “permits the sale of 10 degree bear during sports events”. Are we talking grizzly, kodiak, polar, or just your average brown? (Sorry Prague Monitor and CTK – I couldn’t resist)

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Babybox

Nov 22, 07:00 (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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Czech Sex and What's New at Prague Spot

Nov 11, 10:27 (Filed under: Web watch, Prague media )

Fresh from the Prague Monitor Czechs have more sex than Italians. The article makes no mention of Canada’s screwing stats, while the only thing that’s said about the States is that most Americans have had their cherries popped in the back seats of cars.

And, as the old saying goes, now that I’ve got your attention… if you’re looking for some new desktop wallpaper, Prague Spot now gives you the opportunity to spruce up your desktop background with some top-shelf pictures of Prague. Photos of such attractions as Charles’ Bridge, Old Town Square, and, of course, Prague Castle are all available for downloading in several resolutions. Check out www.prague-spot.com/wallpapers for more details.

Ever frozen your drunken ass off while trying to find a decent park bench to sleep on in the wee hours of an Antarcticly cold January morning in Prague? Neither have I, but if you’re planning on coming to Prague for New Year’s Eve 2005/6 and haven’t booked your accommodation yet, you could find yourself in such a situation—unless you keep reading and act now. Several of Prague’s hotels, hostels and pensions still have vacancies for you last-minute types. You can make your reservations quickly and easily at www.prague-spot.com/new-year. This is rather exceptional, as most places in the Czech capital are usually fully booked for New Year’s Eve by this time. And good bench space can be mighty hard to find.

And finally, we here at Prague Spot are now compiling the cream of the Prague blog crop, along with a few news feeds, at www.prague-blogs.com. Sources include a little something called hot pornstars, which doesn’t exactly deliver what its title promises, but is good for a laugh (and probably very good for traffic). Here’s a sample:

??We adopted Briana Banks last year, not even an entire year after adopting our yellow lab. It was a real labor of love, adopting this dog that we found on petfinder.com, because we had to do a lot of paperwork and agree to drive down to Ft Lauderdale to ‘meet’ Aria Giovanni, with no guarantee that we would be allowed to adopt her at that time.

If you find that confusing, just mosey on over to hot pornstars to get a better idea of what’s going on there (safe for work, though the links at hot pornstars definitely aren’t).

I believe that’s enough copywriting for one day. Now back to translating.

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Reality shows bite. Recycled Rock sucks. Aquattro is so-so

Oct 7, 10:14 (Filed under: Prague media, Out and About in Prague )

Reality shows fined. Yay!

Oh boy oh boy, does this story ever make me happy. I hope this becomes such a big blow to Prima and Nova that they pull their lowest common denominator reality shows off the air.

I watched a bit of Big Brother while I was in Newcastle last year. It made my stomach turn. I caught a glimpse of the Slovak version and was treated to a beer-chugging contest between girls. I find the sight of girls puking incredibly revolting, terribly sad and slightly disturbing. Women are simply supposed to be classier than guys when it comes to drinking.

I don’t know who’s worse: the producers, the prats that “star” in the show, or the idiots that watch it. The whole lot of them should not be allowed to vote, drive cars, work in any position higher than middle management, and, most importantly, procreate

From the sounds of it, a “babyshambles” is a soiled diaper

I consider myself fairly well-versed and very open-minded when it comes to music. But I feel like I need a little guidance right now. Out of all the new stuff I’ve been listening to, I haven’t been all that impressed. It’s a sad state of affairs in the music industry when the most interesting stuff to hit the market over the last few months has come from rock and pop’s most formulaic band and its most derivative band.

With the exception of the White Stripes’ latest album (which I heard for the first time yesterday while playing Scrabble at Villa Incognito), none of the new rock I’ve listened to has lived up to fan and critical hype. I find Babyshambles very boring and can’t for the life of me understand why people are creaming themselves over human chem lab Pete Doherty. The Kaiser Chiefs are hella fun, but their songs all sound the same: like Pulp with a lot of screaming around the bridge. The Zutons are cool, but strike me as White Stripes Lite plus sax. I could go on, but I won’t. Any suggestions for new rock and pop acts to check out will be much appreciated.

Aquattro

Jitka got a bunch of free passes to the Aquattro Fitness Centre from a client. Aquattro is a sizeable complex on Politickych veznu, featuring a fitness and wellness centre, a beauty salon, and a cafe. The fact that it’s free is the only reason either of us would go there. The machines are state-of-the-art and fun to use, and the staff is fairly friendly, but the place is way too tiny for a proper workout. Don’t be fooled by the impressive photo gallery.

The little cardiovascular equipment they have (one cross-trainer, two stairmasters, one treadmill, and two or three exercise bikes) is crammed up beside the gym’s bar. Speaking of the bar, it’s very easy to trip as you’re walking past it owing to the slightly raised surface it is set on.

Then there’s the dry sauna. It’s very nice, new and relaxing, but it’s also a co-ed sauna. The last time I sat in a mixed-gender sauna was at the Factory Pro swimming pool here in Blackbridge. I didn’t take the big towel that I was offered at the cash desk and sat in the sauna on my own little towel buck naked. Two babes walked in. They both had their goodies covered in big cashdesk towels. Then two dudes walked in. Both covered from the waist down in big cashdesk towels. All four were kinda flirting, and looking over at me every now and again – I think I made a good icebreaker.

Now, I certainly have nothing to be ashamed of in the length and girth departments, but I had just been swimming, and everybody knows how that affects length and girth. To make a long story short (no pun intended) I got the hell out of that sauna pretty damn quick.

Nothing like that happened at Aquattro, but I’ll definitely be taking my bathing suit with me when I go there today.

If you’re not the kind of person who goes ballistic when your fitness routine is disrupted by others using the equipment you need, and if you don’t mind cold showers after your workout, then Aquattro may be worth paying for. However, I think I’ll stick with my local mom & pop gym once the freebies run out.

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Czech racism (or "Can Czech cops suck any harder?")

Sep 20, 10:58 (Filed under: Prague media, People )

While I still think that the CzechTek organizers are being drama queens when they rant about a return to totalitarianism and a police state, police inactivity during neo-Nazi rallies and concerts is disgusting and disgraceful. In the latest case, the cops attending monitoring an extremist gig in Krtetice last weekend “did not find that the law was being violated”.

Oh, so it’s legal to dance the Sieg Heil en masse and promote racism here in the Czech Republic? What the fuzz is saying is that they were either in favour of the gathering, indifferent to it, or straight up chickenshit. Yeah, it’s much easier to beat up a bunch of crusties in a field. Just imagine for a moment that those weren’t Czechtekkies, but skins getting gassed, blasted, booted, belted and beaten.

Pretty tough to picture, isn’t it? And now Prime Minister Paroubek is asking Interior Minister Bublan to provide a report on the non-incident in Krtetice. As if Frank’s report is going to make a lick of difference. As if George is going to bother reading the damn thing.

In many ways the Czechs have got the politicians they deserve, especially in cases like this.

Unfortunately, when it comes to racism, your average white Czech is not much better than your average skinhead – any foreigner who has spent more than a day hanging with Czechs knows this. The only thing that separates the attitudes of the skins and those of the average white Czechs is the fact that the skins are more vocal.

It still upsets me when I hear Czechs who are close to me rag on gypsies (as well as Jews and Arabs and Asians, though they’re cool with the brothers). Of course, every Czech knows one token “good” gypsy family – a family in which the parents have jobs, a family that is polite to the neighbours, a family that is quiet and, most importantly, a family that keeps to itself.

Ah, yes, fine, good. But what if an average white Czech boy falls in love with the daughter of token “good” gypsy parents? Will the boy’s average white Czech parents approve?

Damn straight they won’t. Whenever a Czech starts up that nonsense about the token “good” gypsies they know I feel like slapping him/her. Maybe I should start doing just that.

For a very well-written look at Czech racism vs. Western racism, check this article by Christopher Lord in the Think magazine archives. Peace out.

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Former Mayor Jan Kasl kicks ass

Sep 14, 15:13 (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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Killers, Omen, WTF?

Sep 10, 06:40 (Filed under: Personal, Prague media )

Hot Fuss Over Nothing

Yesterday I mentioned that I spent part of Thursday flicking through a copy of Q magazine that I had borrowed from U Zpevacku. The cover story was a feature on flavour-of-the-month upstarts The Killers.

What I’ve heard from them so far hasn’t impressed me. After reading the Q piece, I have only this to say: I hope that someone beats the everloving crap out of 23-year-old poseur frontman Brandon Flowers. Judging from the article, it seems quite likely that his bandmates will be the ones to do so.

Bad Omen

Mike, the UZ barman, told me that he’d been to a casting recently. When I asked him what the movie is going to be about he told me that a remake of The Omen is going to be shot here in Prague.

Oh great, just what the world needs—another shite revamp of a great movie. It’s bloody insulting to movie buffs as much as it is to people who occasionally rent a flick or two. Why don’t the hacks who squeeze these turds out simply pay homage to the classics in their own way? Or at least make sequels—Damien would be in his mid-thirties to forties if I’m not mistaken.

Added on 13.9.2005: man, am I thick – I completely forgot that he’s in his thirties in The Final Conflict.

This Is So Dumb I Can’t Even Think of a Headline For It

The headline in the Prague Monitor read ‘Gross Sings Gangsta Rap’. Ok, I think, I’ll bite. I link to this pile of tripe over at The Fleet Sheet’s Final Word. What the hell inspired the author to write this, and why was it published? I can’t make the connection at all. Considering the probable source material, this could have been something clever, topical, and hip. This is just crap. I mean, I write some stupid shit here sometimes, but I think this is the stupidest shit I’ve read in a hell of a long time. Thanks for the fodder, Fleet Sheet.

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Translation feature in Provokator

Sep 2, 14:01 (Filed under: Web watch, Prague media )

This came as a bit of a surprise – I was just scanning the Prague Monitor and came across the title of a piece I wrote for Provokator.org’s second print issue. Entitled Hardcore Translating, the piece offers a glimpse of my experience translating pornography.

While I’m posting links to news stories, here’s another one worth checking out – it’s a Prague Post article on free WiFi in Prague.

That’s all for today – I got brain cells to recover…

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I don't know whether to puke or cry

Aug 9, 07:00 (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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"Krejcir associates disappearing and being killed"; Globopolis.com

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, Globopolis.com 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 Globopolis.com 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 Prague.tv (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.

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