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  •  LOL! (2+ / 0-)
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    Marko the Werelynx, Ahianne

    Do read the Harrigan piece if you want a laugh. He was kin to the people where he visited in the Czech Republic and so got the full kolache treatment, but also found the language difficult. I knew no one, but after a few days in a place, you learn the system and things are a lot easier. I generally did take the Metro, and picked up helpful pronunciation tips from the recorded stop names. (Hůrka = Hoorka or thereabouts) Whereabout do you live? Řeporyje was a sleepy little place, but a nice place to walk around with a head full of novocaine.
    I loved Praha, prettiest city I've seen in Europe, loved it enough to buy the language tapes after I went there. Once I struggled a bit with the phrasebook, and was seen poking empty Gambrinus cans into the recycling bin, folks at the Hotel Inka got a lot friendlier. There was a shop below the hotel, and it turned out the skeptical machinist had lived in DC and spoke a fair amount of English. My dad was a machinist, so some conversation got going there. The gaffer had done prop work (amazing stuff too!) for "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". His wife had numerous sisters, kids, grandkids...
    Lucky you for living there, though I bet the winters are bitter compared with the UK.

    You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

    by northsylvania on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:29:41 AM PDT

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    •  As a transplanted Wisconsinite (2+ / 0-)
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      northsylvania, Ahianne

      I'd say the winters here are sweltering.

      I live in one of the big communist era housing estates, Velká Ohrada. Just about the last one (of that era) built actually-- it was intended originally to be a ghetto for gypsies. It's just to the east of Řeporyje on the map, overlooking the gorgeous gorge, Prokopské údolí which I can walk through to get to Dalejské údolí and thus on to Řeporyje for an ice cream at the local sweets shop. I've lived in three different neighborhoods in far-flung corners of Prague. I have friends who live out in Řeporyje so I'm out there enjoying their garden and fighting their dog for toys a couple of times a year.

      Seems to me I've noticed the hotel Inka-- the gaffer you mentioned got me thinking about all the films that have been made here. In my neighborhood, just a few yards away in fact, I saw Guillermo Del Toro, and met and chatted with his Assistant Director (also a Mark). They were filming a scene from Hellboy that was never used-- rumor has it that the scene was about Hellboy's childhood in a violent inner city slum. Made us proud to be a part of it-- heh.

      Good for you for making the effort to struggle with the language. I've known ex-pats who've lived here nearly as long as I have who don't even try.

      Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

      by Marko the Werelynx on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 03:03:37 AM PDT

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      •  I saw those dudes out the window. (1+ / 0-)
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        Marko the Werelynx

        There seem to be a whole lot more off on the horizon northish of town. I kind of like modernist architecture and thought they were interesting. I also liked that weird Russian radio tower that looks like George Jetson's apartment. The babies crawling up the outside were a nice touch.
        I gather filmakers are quite fond of the Czech Republic, it being gorgeous and inexpensive. My dentist rented out his basement to them for some reason, and a friend of mine who took film making at NYU had a semester's worth of work in Praha.
        I read all your comments and the popsika one made coffee come out my nose. This brings to mind, exactly what is a "non-stop herna"? I had a tourist book that had warnings, but didn't elaborate. My heart sank when I saw the sign outside the hotel, but there were no ladies there I could see, no poker machines, no reckless abandon either.

        You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

        by northsylvania on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 06:26:44 AM PDT

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        •  Non Stop Herna (1+ / 0-)
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          northsylvania

          Well, it should have been packed with poker machines, traditional slots, maybe a roulette wheel ...

          There'll be a bar with cheap drinks-- some offer free drinks to the suckers.

          The Czech word for game is "hra" and a herna is a gaming parlor ... kind of a mini casino. Some of the bigger places and even a few of the smaller ones use the word "casino" in their names.

          "Non Stop" is of course the international jargon for 24 hour fun, fun, fun ... And no, no ladies or laddies are implied in "games". Just slots to feed your paycheck into, one coin at a time. I rarely see more than a couple of people in those places. A few years ago though, a professional cellist and I had a couple of beers in one after the bar we were in (listening to a mutual friend play) closed and we'd missed the last metro trains for the night. Funny thing though, the herna was the cellist's suggestion and later I found out from the mutual friend that I was considered dangerous.

          Ah, the reckless abandon of my youth.

          I lived in one of those concrete pre-fab monstrosities on the north-east horizon. 9th floor of 12. I was just over in that neighborhood on Thursday; painting a tombstone of all things ...

          The Czech film industry has a long, strong tradition. Some countries have managed to undercut the tax breaks offered to film makers bringing their business here and some projects have been enticed away-- like Hellboy 2 was made in Hungary. I have a dancer/actress friend who occasionally gets bit roles in films here. She had a speaking role as a vampire in the opening scenes of Blade 2 and she was a one-line prostitute in Oliver. One big selling point of the Czech Republic's film industry is that Czech stunt performers are world famous for their skill and professionalism; just one reason why the Bond movies keep coming back. I used to know a stuntman when I first moved to Prague, he lived in the apartment below me.

          That television tower with the faceless babies climbing all over it (there's one on display in the park at the bottom which you can see close-up) is generally disliked by the general population (loathed by some) as a horrid eye-sore and an example of communist stupidity ruining the cityscape. It's surrounded by late 19th century early 20th century beautifully ornate buildings. I've been in it once years ago when the babies first appeared and were initially going to be just a temporary exhibit. Here's a link to a website featuring a panoramic view from the tower. And here's a panoramic view from the square where I'd get off the metro and walk past the tower on my way to where my family gets their hair cut (it's a bit out of the way for us but a friend owns the place). The tower is seen in the panoramic view. It's one of the flatter areas of Prague and the tower doesn't exactly blend in, does it?

          Say, I'm going to be posting an open thread for the Street Prophets group in a few hours and I generally write a bit about whatever I'm up to or pondering-- any thoughts on what I should be writing about today?

          Heh, maybe I've done enough writing already ...

          Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

          by Marko the Werelynx on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 08:52:50 AM PDT

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          •  One of the things (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Marko the Werelynx

            that I have noticed in this diary is that experience of the "homeland" becomes more and more attenuated through the generations and yet there is a strong bond. I have seen this personally in the mind set of Americans of Irish descent versus the Irish people. Same thing goes for the Scots. I guess ethnic memory doesn't jibe with the experience of the people who live there presently. One thing I found in the Czech Republic was that many people regard Reagan as a saint, something that might not be true for US people of Czech descent. I don't know if you can do anything with this.
            I know the Czechs hate that Russian radio tower; it does indeed clash with the local architecture, but to this outsider it was amazing, the panorama, the weird interior spaces, and the leap to some other world outside of the existing reality. I didn't see it as an example of Russian hegemony though, and I bet the people who live there do. It certainly looms.
            As an aside, when I was there, the internet speeds were astoundingly fast all over Prague. Neither American nor UK speeds were anything close. I was bowled over by the sheer skill of Czech engineering and craftsmanship, not only on small scale things like film props, but also on systemic things like transport and communication. If I could gamble on stock in a country, I certainly wouldn't sell them short.

            You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

            by northsylvania on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 01:30:23 PM PDT

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            •  My experience with Ronnie is just the opposite (1+ / 0-)
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              northsylvania

              Everyone I know is dumbfounded by the cult of Reagan in the states. But then, I hang out mostly with my fellow artsy-fartsy types and as a group we're remarkably smart and sexy.

              Yet, even among my friends who work in bakeries, sell hydraulic pumping systems, or do masonry for a living, Reagan is thought of as the war-mongering idiot. Folks here may cringe at hearing the word "communism" but they're also generally smart enough to know that Gorbachev had more to do with the remarkable lack of massacres during the Velvet Revolution than Reagan. Seriously, the Reagan and Shrub years were the worst years to be an American living abroad. I do not find myself stopped on the street while walking with my family and forced to defend Obama. I have never been physically threatened for being an American with a Democrat in office.

              Seriously, perhaps you have just been hanging out with a strange crowd of uninformed people. Political conservatives and other such creatures are not unknown in this country but I've never heard of any temples being built to Saint Ronnie here.

              Maybe I'm too sheltered? Could be.

              Anyway, I have something of a soft spot for that television tower too. And I think some Czechs appreciate it more now that it's crawling with creepy faceless babies.

              The Czech Republic tends to be a step ahead of the US in terms of mobile phone, internet and wireless technology. Heavy competition keeps the providers on their game.

              Not all Czech craftsmanship is brilliant. You should see what a plumber managed to do to my toilet-- I'm going to have to take the whole thing out and reset the bolts in my floor. I've had a lot of bad experiences (always reminds me of the Zappa song "Flakes") and the guys that hung my kitchen cabinets should probably let me pull out a few of their fingernails in partial payment for all the headaches they've caused.

              That said, I know many superb craftsmen here-- I just wish they'd done my kitchen and bathroom for me.

              Back to "homeland" for the finish-- About half of my family were from Germany at some point in their ancestry. But I think a couple of world wars ruined their desire to be associated with the old world. My grandfathers both grew up knowing family members that still spoke German but never learned it themselves. By the time my parents came along their families weren't even pronouncing their own names correctly.

              Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

              by Marko the Werelynx on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 03:50:37 PM PDT

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              •  Your comments are hilarious. (1+ / 0-)
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                Marko the Werelynx

                Sorry for your bathroom. I must say that after my stay in the Hotel Inka, certainly not a high class joint, I came back to England furious that the Brits can not and will not design a decent toilet. English plumbing and English dentistry rank right up there with the string and two tin cans they call broadband. So why live here? I suspect it does come down to homeland in a roundabout way. When I moved here, I felt right at home with my passive-aggressive, resentful, stoic, and yet strangely communitarian cohort. It was like finding a pair of shoes in a thrift shop that were worn in by someone with my feet. Gotta love a place where "sorry" actually means "get the f*ck out of my way".
                As to the Reagan thing, it might be generational. The people I talked to extensively were ladies of a certain age such as myself. They would have been around for the Czech Spring and its aftermath. The younger people I met, taxi drivers, dental hygienists, were all about looking forward. If you're running with the art crowd, they would probably be more sensible yet. One of the people I ran into at U London had a lot of connections with a Prague arts collective, and loaned me a notebook full of their projects. They were doing some very intriguing things. I am envious if you get to run with people like that.

                You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

                by northsylvania on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 08:33:44 AM PDT

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                •  Thanks, (0+ / 0-)

                  I've greatly enjoyed your diary and romping through the comments.

                  I thought to check out some Czech online magazine articles about Ronnie and it was like turning over a rock. I guess the fans of the face of the Iran-Contra debacle are out there in greater numbers than I had suspected-- what can I say, my own ignorance of the ignorance of others knows no bounds.

                  Still, most folks entering the fray in the comments section who bothered to post anything really specific, like a fact-- were firmly against the tide of Reagan's admirers. And the majority of comments seemed to be a more reasonable weighing of Reagan's role, intended or not, in bringing the era of the USSR to an end.  

                  I'd doubt that it's entirely a generational thing-- some of my friends were involved in the events of 1968. One of my professors actually had her baby grabbed out of her arms by some idiot Russian soldier riding a tank and she had to chase the tank through the streets to finally get her infant son back-- hours later. She's a very well-read and educated person, an author of several books on art education, and she's got no love for politicians of any stripe or flavor.

                  I think I'll have to take an informal survey of my friends and ask them more directly what their opinions are of the US Presidents whose terms of office they've lived through.

                  I might be surprised.

                  Czech politics is at an interesting point these days. Disenchantment, despair, anger, apathy, and a few grumbles for sweeping changes. The old communists have had a surge in popularity and the once optimistic energy of the revolution seems to have been entirely stifled by the seemingly endless parade of corruption scandals. Living in interesting times ...

                  Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

                  by Marko the Werelynx on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 02:38:36 AM PDT

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    •  Just now reading the Harrigan piece ... (2+ / 0-)
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      northsylvania, Ahianne

      I kinda bruised my poor nose on the word "popsika" which I've never heard before-- and my dictionary doesn't acknowledge. I wouldn't recommend looking for it too carefully on the internet because most of the search hits I got are for Hungarian porn sites-- it may possibly be Hungarian slang for "vagina."

      It makes the article hard to read ... "... interesting popsika ..."-- here I am giggling like a twelve-year-old.

      The word for the crumbled mixture of flour, butter and sugar (vanilla and or cinnamon optional) that is found sprinkled on some varieties of Czech pastry is "drobenka."

      Odd how Harrigan keeps leaving off the hook over the 'c' (č) in koláč . In fact, almost all of his Czech is just that little bit off that makes it wonderful. Like that little sausage roll of his (klobasniki) would actually be "klobasnicky" and no, you will not find it in Prague by that name. I tried just looking up the word and got pages and pages of recipes for it-- none of them in Czech.

      Just to toss out some pedantic fluff:

      Sausage = Klobása, plural = Klobásy
      Little sausage = Klobáska, plural = Klobásky
      It was a very charming bit of writing though and I'm glad you pointed it out to me. Thanks!

      It reminded me of when my Czech/American step-mother visited a Czech festival in Wisconsin and she told me about how it was for her to listen to the people there speak Czech. It makes me wonder about how both the living language and the bottled language maintained by people who have emigrated and their descendants will change over time. Perhaps 150 years ago "popsika" was the word used by Czechs for drobenka ... I wonder if it couldn't be a word carried over a border and only used in a particular region. The area the author visited, near Moravia, is full of linguistic surprises like that.    

      Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

      by Marko the Werelynx on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 04:23:40 AM PDT

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      •  To be really pedantic (1+ / 0-)
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        northsylvania

        if there was a Czech word like "klobasnicky" I've managed to leave all the diacritical marks off of it.

        "Klobásníčky" -- I think, would be correct and HA! a search came up with some results! Using Bing!('ol Google is occasionally painfully slow to use) I got one Czech hit and two Slovak. And the Slovak sites seem to prefer "Klobásniky"!

        Mmm, linguistic stew!

        Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

        by Marko the Werelynx on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 04:39:28 AM PDT

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