Friday, June 10, 2005

This just in, from our correspondent in Munich:

The Chamber Pot Museum is closing down. And there's a fire sale on old potties!

Munich's Chamber Pot Museum is located in a complex alongside the a handful of other oddball museums, including the Empress Sisi Museum -- dedicated to Empress Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary, who like her nephew Franz Ferdinand was murdered in a rather grisly fashion (with a "sharpened triangular file").

Other museums in the group include the Easter Bunny Museum and the Bourdalou Museum.

The what?

The Bourdalou is a receptacle which served the needs of society ladies in the 18th and 19th centuries and enjoyed great popularity. This was a luxury item on which its makers lavished their most sumptuous decoration and intricate detail.
The Bourdalou Museum is connected with the Chamber Pot Museum, and that's closing down, too. And yes, I'm serious, the stuff's for sale.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

An approximate account of a recent exchange...

Two nights ago, I was standing at the Narodni tram stop in front of Tesco with a friend of mine. A rather natty-looking young female individual approached and asked, in good old Standard American Mid-West English, if we could spare some change so she could find a hostel.

"I don't have any money and I'm desperate," she said. "I couldn't find any place that would change my Irish pounds."

I reached into my pocket and came up with a ten crown piece. I held it up for her to see and handed it to her, saying, "Well, here's ten crowns. I'm not exactly sure how much that is in IRISH POUNDS, though."

The girl had braces.

My friend, sympathetic, began to make recommendations for cheap hostels. But it was late, and I think the trams may have stopped running at that point, and it was looking problematic.

"Oh well," I said. "Sounds like you're screwed. I guess you'll just have to sleep on the street. Good luck!"

The girl sort of looked at me funny and laughed nervously before moving on.

My friend said, "Wow, you're Mr. Optimism. Why so negative?"

"Why so negative?" I yelled. "She couldn't find any place that would change her Irish pounds?! No, of course she couldn't -- that's because they use the fucking euro in Ireland!"

The girl with the braces wasn't far off -- indeed, she was still standing right behind me still -- and overheard. She came back.

"I hope you're kidding," she said. "You know they still use the pound in the UK, are you aware of that?"

"Yes, in fact, I'm aware of that," I said. "I'm also aware of the fact that the Republic of Ireland has been independent of the United Kingdom for some time know -- almost a hundred years in fact -- and that they use the euro."

"Yeah, but what about Northern Ireland??" she said.

I'm not not exactly sure how it petered off at this point, so I'll cut the story short.

I suppose, in hindsight, it's possible this poor American teenager with braces had been galavanting around the streets of Belfast -- maybe busking in a juggling show or something, and doing that thing with the sticks -- and picked up some UK pounds that did, actually, say "Northern Ireland" on them (as many of them do, just as in Scotland they say "Bank of Scotland") and assumed that these were "Irish pounds" -- which, depending on how you view things, I suppose in a sense they are -- and that I was needlessly being a jerk.

On the other hand, I did give her ten crowns.

I hope the "slumming in Eastern Europe" experience is enriching her in some way.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Some wacky Polish programmers have replicated an old Communist-era Game-Boy-type handheld game in which -- get this -- you're a (rather drunk-looking) wolf trying to catch eggs falling out of the shutes in a henhouse.

Click here. Eyewitnesses tell me (OK, one tells me) the game really looked exactly like this.

Thank you, Eastern Europe, for sharing your rich culture and history! You crazy peasants.
Klaus fears NGOs, same as Putin

Well, that pretty much says its all.

Klaus warned the Council of Europe (CE) last week against the very dangerous activities of NGOs which, he said, try to influence society without having a democratic mandate.
What a terribly peculiar and creepy view of the world, but what else is new?

I suppose next he'll be railing against the dangerous activities of newspapers, or blogs, who try to influence society without having a democratic mandate. Or private citizens in general, for that matter, who try to influence societies (via so-called "elections") without having a democratic mandate.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Czech contemporary art star David Cerny's latest work, on display at the Prague Biennale in Karlin, is a take-off on Damien Hirst's famous 1991 shark in formaldahyde, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.

You don't have to get the reference to appreciate Cerny's new piece, and because there are some things you really shouldn't bother putting into words, just go look at it.

From the blog archives: "I stuck my head inside a bum on Friday...."
From the Prague Pill: "David Cerny - Sculpted Rebellion"