Friday, December 05, 2003

Calling all talent.

Together with Prague TV and the Czech chapter of Amnesty International, I'm helping to put together a Christmas benefit party at Tulip Cafe. Mark off Dec. 20 (two weeks from this Saturday) on your calender.

There will be a cover charge of Kc 200, coverning entertainment, food, at least a keg of free beer. Proceeds will go Amnesty, which is launching a campaign against violence against women in the spring. Tell your friends, pets and secretaries about this, mention it on your blogs, etc.

But here's the thing. We're still trying to line up the entertainment, after plans for a funky fusion outfit fell through. We got the DJ (none other than DougieGyro) but we need a live act. Small is good, as they'll be in the newly renovated downstairs. It could be anything. We even discussed a string quartet. Basically, if anybody has any suggestions for musicians (and entertainers -- jugglers, belly dancers, emcee, elves, etc) that would be willing to perform free for a good cause, please send me an email (scott-zavinaè-tulipcafe-dot-CZ) or drop a line in the rarely functional comments bin.

God bless us everyone.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Where is Raed? Right here, unfortunately.

Finally I found Salam, he came back two days ago. The good news that he's going to start writing 'seriously' again :)
welcome back Salooma

Thank God, because it turned out that long lost Raed is a really irritating writer. With all due respect, change that guy's password, please. We want Salam. Accept no substitute!
I was wrong in this post below. Poland and Spain actually want to stick with the more complicated voting system agreed upon in Nice. France and Germany want to stick to it, arguing that it's simpler, more mathematical and less arbitrary. Not vice versa.

It looks like simplicity is not going to win the day, though, since Britain just signed on to Poland and Spain's position:

Few people believe that Mr Straw is actually contemplating a veto, but it is now widely understood that Britain will back Spain and Poland if they insist on getting their way. Warsaw and Madrid - dubbed the EU's new "awkward squad" - are fighting hard in the negotiations to preserve the disproportionate voting weights which they won at the Nice summit three years ago.
So in general, my predication looks like it's coming true even if I got the facts totally wrong. If you're not following, I don't blame you.

To make things more confusing, Britain is actually on the side of France and Germany over their scurrilous ditching of the stability pact holding the euro together (not that it matters too much in the short term, since Britain didn't have a dog in that fight). If one were cynical, one might speculate that it's because the British government secretly wants the euro to fail completely so they don't have to take a stand on whether they're in or out.

Stay tuned for further revisions of this hypothesis.
For some reason my Prague Webwatch column hasn't gone up on Prague TV yet, even though I submitted it yesterday. (I've decided to change it to every Monday so I can write it over the weekend.) It's touches upon a whole bunch of things I noticed on the other Pragueblogs over the past week or two. So here it is, below. The only comment I would like to add is that I was sincerely ready to do a revisionist take on Scott Ritter. Then I heard about his speech. (Couldn't see it myself -- in Berlin doing visa stuff. Wonderful city, as I've said before.) Anyway, that guy's nuts. Yes, I thought the war was a bad idea -- but put the Baathists back in charge? I'm sorry, this guy might be an expert on Iraq's weapons -- and at this point I have no reason to believe he's been wrong about anything so far -- but that's no reason to give control the country back to the totalitarian monsters we shamefully helped keep in power all these years.

Scott Ritter's basically a frat-boy paleoconservative. American Voices Abroad might as well have invited Pat Buchanan or one of his freaky isolationist fellow travelers to speak to them.

By the way, if anybody's in the mood for a really trashy, hokey B movie, I highly recommend Underground. It's basically Blade but with Kate Beckinsale instead of Wesely Snipes (and the amazing Bill Nighy -- he of Love Actually, which really wasn't bad either). And instead of just vampires, it's vampires vs. wereworlves, and instead of Prague, it's Budapest. And such shiny tight pants! And man, those cheekbones! Too bad Beckinsale's apparently your worst nightmare as a human being in real life.

I only just thought of that because I'm listening to T-Rex, and Marc Bolan just came to the line: "Girl I'm just a vampire for your looooove.... and I'm gonna suck ya!" Hee hee hee.

Anyway, here's what you missed if you haven't been reading any Prague blogs recently:

There’s been chatter coming from all directions in the Prague blogosphere the past two weeks. In one corner you have former Iraq weapons inspector and Bush gadfly Scott Ritter arguing that the U.S. should put the Baathists back in power in Iraq. Then there’s the country’s petulant president making unpleasant noises about – surprise, surprise -- the European Union. And those burps and snorts? That’d be the biggest collections of boors outside a junior high school locker room – yes, I’m talking about Czech Parliament – sizing up Social Democrat MP Petra Buzková’s boob job.


Ritter first. Those wowed by his performance at the American Voices Abroad conference Nov. 23 should better themselves by at least reading Steve Hercher’s lengthy but cogent response to Ritter’s speech on Pragueblog. Hercher is a liberal who supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime for all the right reasons. Whether you agree with the pro-war position or not (I don’t), you should read his post. Ritter is apparently pretty amazing speaker (I didn’t see him) but, as Hercher points out, if you take a step back it’s not hard to spot a rather tremendous leap of logic in his argument. (That is, unless you’re a charter member of the choir to which Ritter is evidently preaching.)


Turning to Czceh President Vaclav Klaus: It’s one thing that the man never shuts up. It’s another thing entirely that gullible Western pundits latch on to whatever he says when it suits their anti-European bias, thinking he represents an emboldened Eastern European speaking truth to power in Brussels. Here’s a recent UPI interview in which the interviewer has the temerity to tell the worst crony capitalist this side of Moscow, “As the last Thatcherite in Europe, you cannot be in favor of the political unification of Europe you deem to be inevitable.”

Matt Welch knows a helluva lot more about Klaus than the likes of A-list blogger Andrew Sullivan, whom he lambastes for quoting the president approvingly. Welch was a founder of the first English-language newspaper in Czechoslovakia, Prognosis, pre-cursor to the Post, the Pill, and every other come-and-gone Prague expat publication you can think of. Whatever you might think of Margaret Thatcher, Welch correctly points out “the words ‘Klaus’ and ‘Thatcherite’ ceased having much tangible congruence around about 1992 or so.” The post, titled “Vaclav Klaus -- Still Full of Shit, Still Adored by the Anglo Right,” and the one directly above it are worth reading in their entirely.


Doug Arellanes, meanwhile, took the time to translate some of the comments made by Czech parliamentarians on the occasion of leading Social Democrat Petra Buzková breast reduction surgery. OK, Buzková did have large breasts; that’s – duh – when she had the operation. But if you have a non-chauvinistic bone in your body, you’ll cringe when you read what a few of the more swinish Czech pols had to say about the matter when the trash tabloid Blesk thrust a tape recorder into their faces.

"No, I don't like it. I like women with a more developed bust," said shadow Education Minister Walter Bartoš. (Yes, this guy wants to be in charge of the country’s schools.)

ODS leader Vlastimil Tlustý (yes, that tlustý as in “fat”) said, “Madam Minister lost two of her advantages," a formulation that Blesk stole for its headline. (Here’s the original article.)

“If I had to carry two bricks around my neck and had them cut off, my neck would stop hurting too,” said Petr Bratský, also of ODS. (This MP later apologized, as Arellanes pointed out in a later post.)


KidRadical pointed out that the most recent Joe Millioniare – one of those awful American reality TV shows – chose, as KidRadical put it, “the dumb Czech broad” in the competition to win his heart.

I don’t personally know the winner, whose name is Linda, but in a small-town twist, on Saturday night I talked separately to two people who knew her personally. (Apparently she was partying up at Celnice.) Sounds like she couldn’t be all that dumb; for deciding to stick with Joe after learning he’s actually dirt poor, she herself won $250,000.


Finally, the Prague Post has some (relatively) good news for Žizkov dwellers – at least for the ones who don’t have a car. Rumors have been circulating to the effect that the Bulhar intersection at the bottom of Seifertová will be closed to car and tram traffic for an entire year, which would, well, suck completely. In fact, as the Post reports, the trams will be running again as soon as January. Phew.