Thursday, July 08, 2004

I didn't get to the opera until Tuesday night after all, and Wednesday morning I didn't have a chance to write the promised mini-review, and now the show's over. Sorry if you missed it. I fell asleep during parts, but that was only because of the two strong drinks I had previously that afternoon and the fact that Philip Glass is like a lullabye to me... The sets were cool, as was the fact that the Beast "escaped" midway through and ate the director of the National Theatre.
Free beer!

I knew that would get your attention.

Please come out tomorrow night to Tulip for the return of "Sofistica: A Night For Grown-Ups."

Regular readers of my and Doug Arellanes' blog should know what this is about. "Sofistica" is a night of music, food, drinks and overall good times featuring the exquisite aural selection skills of DJ DougieGyro (that's Doug) playing Latin electronica, good old bossa nova standards, and other swank stuff with a laid-back (and grown-up) West Coast vibe -- whatever suits the mood.

The idea is that if you want to make a night of it, but your time's too precious to spend in a sweaty club alongside a crowd of teenagers, come to Tulip on a Friday night. Music starts around 10 p.m. UPDATE: Prague.tv could not have put it any better.

We launched this a couple months ago but with the football championships combined with bad weather and a few cancellations, it sort of petered out. Now we're back with a vengeance.

Anyway, about that free beer. The code word is "blog." If you say "blog" to the staff, they've been instructed to give you one free beer. (Just so this doesn't get out of control, I reserve the right to quiz any blog-sayers on what the hell they're talking about, i.e. to make sure they actually read this blog.) UPDATE: If you actually have a blog, I'll give you two free beers, three if you mention it on your blog. That's how corrupt I am.

More immediately -- if you can't make it tomorrow, and even if you can, come tonight. There's a rising talent named Vasek Havelka, performing under the name Selfbrush. He's been making the rounds playing alt-country and indie-rock -styled originals and he'll be strumming away at Tulip tonight.

By the way, if you have trouble getting through for reservations on the Tulip land line, call the mobile at 775 224 930. Cesky Telecom says there was an "error" in the line somewhere, resulting in a phone that never rings and can't call out. Just what a restaurant needs, I know.

The address is Opatovicka 3, a couple blocks south of the National Theatre.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Fighting back over shrimp: The Mississippi Press writes, "The Bush administration, specifically the Commerce Department, did right by Gulf Coast shrimpers Tuesday when it approved tariffs against China and Vietnam. These nations clearly violate international trade law by dumping their shrimp in the United States at rock-bottom prices, lower even than what they charge in their own countries. "

What a load of hooey.

The textbook definition of "dumping" is selling goods below cost. It's generally thought of as an unfair way for big companies to force smaller companies out of the market, selling goods at a loss in order to prevent new competition. The big companies will absorb the loss in the short term and then raise the price once it's driven all the competitors out of business.

Yet when I began covering foreign trade for the late Prague Business Journal several years back, I learned that in international trade lingo, "dumping" means something completely different: Selling goods at "rock-bottom" prices, or below the price charged in the producers' home market. The is a sketchy definition and it usually refers to foreigners (Chinese and Vietnamese shrimp producers, in this case) selling goods for prices that domestic producers (the readers of The Mississippi Press) don't like very much. By this definition, McDonalds should be taken to court for unfairly "dumping" hamburgers in most the world.

Truth is, due to an old-fashioned concept called supply and demand, different markets demand different prices. Even assuming the beef, pickles, onions, lettuce, special sauce and sesame seed bun were all imported from Iowa, a Big Mac would probably have to cost less in Prague than in New York, because the Czechs have less purchasing power and are less likely to buy expensive hamburgers.

And by the way, the U.S. is the number-one culprit in leveling bullshit "dumping charges" at foreign companies. It's a cheap shot and the worst form of protectionism, because it masquarades as the opposite: promoting free and fair competition.

Then again, I never buy Big Macs, so I could be way off on my Czech Big Mac example. Insert Beijing for Prague and Chinese for Czechs. For all I know, Big Macs could actually cost 70 crowns in Prague-- in fact, they probably do -- or about the same price as in New York. I do recall being shocked at the price of a fried cheese sandwich as McDonalds recently: sixty-something crowns.

Yes, did I mention McDonalds finally sells a McSmazak? After this long wait, I must say it's overpriced and thoroughly disappointing. Probably the best fried cheese sandwich in Prague can be found across from the new Palac Flora shopping mall, at a little shack on the corner of Vinohradská. Crispy deep fried cheesy goodness with a glob of tartar sauce. Last I checked the price was 18 crowns.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

You Say Tomato is blogging again after a long hiatus! Hurrah.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Verbatim Translation of Ansar al-Sunnah Army's "Banners of Truth": "To all the Mujahdeen, continue and we are with you until we get back Al-Aqsa and Andalusia and know that victory comes with patience and the jihad in the cause of Allah."

Yep, apparently they won't settle for Jerusalem. They want Spain as well.

"But my father is old and I... I long for the vanished gardens of Cordoba. However, before the gardens must come the fighting." - Alec Guinness as Prince Feisal

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Fifth Victim Dies of Injuries In Kansas Factory Shooting: "'It's a complex situation,' he told reporters. Then, in the next breath, Chief Miller seemingly reversed himself. 'It's really a pretty straightforward situation,' he said."

How not to deal with the press!
Senator Joe Biden::
So if I say, if there's ten people in the room and there's a guy out in the hall screaming and he's bothering us and I say "We ought to stop that guy. We ought to stop that guy." And everyone says, "Oh no, no. This guy's a bad guy and this guy's gonna cause real problems and there'll be dah dah dah dah dah." And if I say, "I don't care what the hell all of you think." And I get up and I go beat the shit out of the guy out there. And I come back in and sit down. You're all going to look around, and when you misbehave ... And I say, "Hey man!" You're going to go "Whoa whoa whoa..."
I couldn't have explained it better myself!