Friday, April 25, 2003

Look, it's official: Terry Gilliam is coming to Prague to shoot Brothers Grimm this summer. Also, note that producers are currently talking to Nicole Kidman for a bit part in this film. This is a genuine scoop. You won't find that non-news anywhere else. (I can't stand Nicole Kidman, for the record.) And if you really have nothing better to do, keep clicking on this page at the Terry Gilliam online fanzine to see how soon they pick this up.

Pupendo: A short review
Went to see Pupendo last night. It's well worth seeing, even if it wasn't the greatest film ever. But it's not going to travel very well, as there's so much "inside" Czech humor. Many of the jokes I didn't even get, having lived here for six years. Bolek Polivka is always good to have around, even if he always plays the same sot. (The Jester and the Queen or Šašek a kralovna is one of the best Czech movies I've ever seen.) The first half is the film is a bit plodding, but be patient; towards the end, it really opens up and somehow becomes "big." I can't think of any other way to describe it. Also, the character of the doofus Czech boyfriend is simply hilarious and worth the ticket price by itself.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Here's more on the Czech movie Pupendo, which looks set to become the most lucrative Czech film of all time.

UPDATE: I just spent 20 minutes on hold with Palace Cinema to bring you this important news: Pupendo plays at Slovansky Dum daily with English subtitles at 14:10, 16:50, 19:40, plus Saturdays and Sundays at 22:20.

Amuse yourselves with this in the meantime: Lazy gardeners in Czech town face heavy fines. Where does Ananova get this stuff?
A blow to the Czech Republic.

Eva Herzigova has been axed as the face of fashion house Louis Vuitton - and will be replaced by Jennifer Lopez.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Here are a few notes on what I’ve been doing the last few days, should you care. On Friday, we enjoyed Doug Arellanes’s set DJing at Akropolis (he writes about his bad self here). Doug plays what he calls "modern Latin music that combines elements of electronica with pieces of the past." The music was tremendously good, and moreover, it really looked like Doug was having a regular blast playing it, which somehow makes a huge difference.

On Saturday, we attended what turned out to be an engagement party for two friends. We went to the tapas bar in Holešovice and drank sangria, and then retired to their kitchen. It seems getting married is quite the thing these days.

On Sunday, three of us went to the cottage. Made tomato-bean soup, tomato risotto and avocado-spinach salad with polenta croutons. Note the full protein. Here’s the weird thing about this risotto recipe which I found online: You make it backwards. It should actually be called ottosir, or maybe Sir Otto. Generally with risotto, you sauté some onions, add the rice, get it really hot, and then add the liquid and the vegetables. And you get this really cool steaming sound. With this recipe, you sauté the onions, then add water and garlic, simmer it for a while, then add the rice, stir it for ten minutes while cooking, and then add the tomatoes, cook a bit longer, then add the green onions, cream, Parmesan, etc. Totally wack.

Oh yes, we read from the Bible. Started with Mark, but then when it ended before Jesus actually came back to life (weird), we had to skip over to Luke. The funniest part is when Jesus rises from the dead, shows up at the apostles' place, and while they’re all oooing and ahhing, he finally blurts out, “Have you here anything to eat?” Like, people, hello, stop touching the stigmata and gimme some food! For me-sake I’ve been dead for like three days!

On Monday (a day off, because of Jesus) we hiked over the hill into Sedlec-Prèice, had a beer at the local pub, and then hitchhiked back. A woman stopped for us, and we told her Kvasejovice (the name of the next village). She asked us where exactly in Kvasejovice -- as though it's big place. I told her the first corner. She asked which side of the road. Good God, I said on the right. She said, “Oh, that big white house, the former schoolhouse.” Yep, she knew exactly where we were staying.

On Tuesday, back to work, although I didn’t get much done. Evening saw the premiere of Jazz Tuesdays at Tulip. Now I normally am not a huge fan of jazz, but these guys were really good, especially the surprise chanteuse in the last set. The crowd was small but very appreciative. Hopefully word will get out. Problem is, I drank too much again and in the morning, stayed in bed much later than is normal or healthy.

Today is Wednesday. It looks like I’ll be doing some more work for the Czech & Slovak Construction Journal. And we interviewed a possible new chef at Tulip, a young American from the Boston area. I hope he takes the job.
If you read this post before 7:23 CET on the 23rd, please note that I made some tweaks and clarifications. It's sooo much better now.

Here are two stories to follow in tandem... (The first brought to my attention by PragueBlog, which has a funky new template.)

Andrew Sullivan offers this baffling comment regarding the affair of the Labour backbencher found, according to the Daily Telegraph, to be in the pay of Saddam Hussein: "[T]he full implications of this story for the anti-war movement are epic." The intellectual sloppiness in that statement is pretty astounding. Is he saying that this guy's actions discredit anybody that opposed the war? Sounds like it. Or is he just talking about the anti-war segment of the British Labour Party led by Galloway? Cuz that's not quite what it says.

The problem isn't that Sullivan overstates the case here; the problem is that there is no case. The undeniably traitorous actions of an individual MP, one that most non-Brits (and probably many Brits?) have never even heard of, have absolutely no implications for the anti-war movement, let alone "epic" ones. And just so you know where I'm coming from, although I was and remain skeptical of a unilateral invasion of Iraq, I've never had much sympathy for the anti-war movement -- and loads and loads of contempt for it. But this Galloway affair should not change anybody's opinion (except for your opinion about Mr. Galloway, if you had one previously).

Meanwhile, Sullivan gets justifiably outraged at the anti-homosexual rantings of Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. We'll see how the Republican Party deals with this nutcase, or whether they consider him a nutcase at all. Indeed, the full implications of this story for the Republican movement really are epic -- he's the #3 in the Party heirarchy, after all.

P.S. You should read all of Santorum's comments, given to an AP reporter. They're amazing. Here's one bit, funny in a very un-funny sort of way:

SEN. SANTORUM: In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality --

AP: I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about "man on dog" with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out.
Bush crony and Czech ambassador Craig Stapleton sure hits the nail on the head: "Anytime anyone questions American motives, we get offended." This was not a self criticism, but a statement of fact.
From my friend Dan:

Walking in Their Shoes
A: Before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
B: Why?
A: That way, when you criticise them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

While it's common knowledge that Saddam Hussein was involved with U.S. intelligence agencies during the 1980s, this exclusive UPI story reports that Saddam and the CIA go back to 1959, when "when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim."

The assassination was set for Oct. 7, 1959, but it was completely botched. Accounts differ. One former CIA official said that the 22-year-old Saddam lost his nerve and began firing too soon, killing Qasim's driver and only wounding Qasim in the shoulder and arm. Darwish told UPI that one of the assassins had bullets that did not fit his gun and that another had a hand grenade that got stuck in the lining of his coat.

"It bordered on farce," a former senior U.S. intelligence official said.
Read the whole thing. There's lot's more, but the slice-of-life details, such as Saddam's favorite cafes in Cairo, are especially good:
One former senior U.S. government official said: "In Cairo, I often went to Groppie Café at Emad Eldine Pasha Street, which was very posh, very upper class. Saddam would not have fit in there. The Indiana [Saddam's favorite] was your basic dive."