Friday, February 11, 2005

Somebody help us out, because us dumb foreigners residing in the Czech Republic are all tearing our hair out trying to understand this story. No, no, I'm not talking about Mlada fronta's reporting on Prime Minister Stanislav Gross getting a loan from his poor and disabled Uncle Franta who in turn got the money from a nutty ex-reporter for (and owner of) Mlada fronta. That one I think pretty clear.

Rather, I'm talking about Czech President Vaclav Klaus, whom we foreign investors fervently commend as a crusader against crony capitalistm, vetoing the proposed conflict of interest law "to avoid conflicts whether the bill was or was not passed." Come again?

While I'm not tuned into the details, it seems the gist of the law is that it would require elected officials at the local and regional level (thankfully not the prime minister -- that would be taking things way too far) to let us know (just in case we're interested, not that most of us care, it's just that some people are overly curious) how much money they're making on the side, and from whom.

Apparently the lower house of Parliament passed the bill, but the Senate rejected it. The rejection, mind you, was spearheaded by opposition from Klaus's own Civic Democrats (ODS). I have no idea why they didn't the bill, but in any case, the problem is they didn't reject it fast enough. The Senate "did not discuss the bill in time," say the bills author. Lazy bastards! What were they doing that was so important they did couldn't debate and vote down the bill in time?

And so it passed. Or did it? Klaus says he's not so sure!

Says Czech News Agency:

Klaus wanted to prevent controversy over the possible validity of the bill's passage. He therefore decided to return the bill to allow the Chamber to vote on it again.
Got that? He just wants to make sure everything is done all clean and proper!


Today's quote of the day comes from Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, via Doug Arellanes: "[Prague] is where I am connecting with the darkness. Some days are explosive, others just plain heavy from the gothic aesthetic of this city in general. We have gone to the other side a few times with absinthe to discover the unknown."

As Theo would say: Jesus Herbert Walker Christ! Connecting with the darkness -- what, at Chateau?

That reminds me of the time I interviewed Thora Birch -- yes that Thora Birch -- at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Shortly after she starred in American Beauty, Birch played the role Empress Savina in the timeless classic Dungeons & Dragons, which was filmed here in Prague. So she'd spent a bit of time here.

Birch struck me as an excessively precious 19-year-old, in that way that 19-year-olds tend to think they're finished growing up, when they clearly aren't. And the interview was a bit testy, as I started off asking her questions like, "So what's it like being so famous?"

I am quoting from memory, not notes:

THORA BIRCH: "Being in Prague was just, like, so totally perfect for that film."
ME: "What?! You think living in Prague is like Dungeons & Dragons?"
THORA BIRCH: "No, no, it was just, well, I just meant..."

That's the thing: We know what you meant!

Admit it -- you were connecting with the darkness!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Some of you might know my friend Vladan. He's quite famous, you know. To see the utterly blasphemous invitation to his 33rd birthday party, click here. There will be free sushi nibbles and beer, and reduced price cocktails.
Dig it: "An unnamed source from Rod's Prague house has confirmed that Rod's behaviour is sometimes 'odd.' 'He pretended to be phoning, but he has no mobile in his hand or a hands free in his ear. But he claimed to his 'phone' that he will arrange something in the government,' the source added. "

An unnamed source from Rod's house? Read more here and here.