One Month: Nuts and Bolts and Entertainment

We have been in our new Prague apartment for four weeks now and I have been negligent in posting, as usual.  We have been on the go a lot but mostly to uninteresting places to shop for our apartment or ourselves.

April on Petrin

April Blossoms on Petrin Hill above Prague Castle

Yet, Prague being such an interesting city we have been out to some entertainment, including–and certainly not limited to– the European Film Festival, concert by Italian Choir at the Music Museum (free!) and English language theater.  We highly recommend The Prague Playhouse production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.  It is the best play we have been to in years.

Our first major outing was to Alfons Mucha’s The Slave Epic.  But you will have to wait for Karin’s update to read about that.  However, if you are in Prague, don’t wait to go; it is a unique lifetime experience.

Here is an excerpt from my Greek island blog that I intend to put in the side bar here:

“I recommend this book for the same reason that I publish personalized travel guides:  not so the reader can repeat the same journey, rather to serve as a stimulus to choose your own course and pursue it with confidence you can leap over, or at least get around, the inevitable hurdles.”

The book I am referring to is One Year Lived by Adam Shepard.  In it a young man tells about his incredibly full and rewarding year travelling around the world.  Read more about the book on that blog or I will send you a free copy (PDF) if you comment on this post telling me why you would like to read the book.  Be sure your email address is included.



David Cerny in London

Cerny art in London, busAs I have written before, I was rather surprised to find that David Cerny is not world-famous since one sees his work everywhere in Prague. However, his fame may be in the ascent as he now has a very visible installation in London during the Olympics.


London bus doing push-up by David CernyHis work, titled London Booster, takes the London symbol of the red double-decker bus and makes it do push-ups like any athlete.  It is part of a major exhibition promoting all things Czech at the Business Design Centre in the Borough of Islington.  Also included are large screen projections, fantastic music, futuristic design, celebrations with athletes, exhibitions and more.

All Czech mates in or near London should check it out.

Pig and Masopust in Prague

Masopust like Carnival means good-bye meat.  Perhaps more it means another excuse to party in the winter time.  I know Prague makes the most of it with a whole series of local festivals only loosely connected to the upcoming Lent.  In our research, however, we learned that the charm of a public Pig Slaughter Festival is now an event of the past.

In January I happened to see an announcement of a “Pork Festival” at Namesti Miru near us.  Always up for good street food I put it on my calendar for Saturday lunch. That day appeared with very iffy weather but the square was only two tram stops away so we went. By the time we arrived it was snowing, which added to the charm. Despite the weather there was a good crowd that seemed to be enjoying themselves.

winter pork festival, Prague We did a circle of the booths to pick something to buy. As usual there were no signs in English so we chose a sausage that we could point to rather than pronounce. There was a large selection of pork dishes as well as a beer tent and a small stage with musicians.

Sausage making at Prague festivalThe most popular booth had two pig carcasses hanging and sausage stuffing going on.  Here is a quote from the news report: “We’re making jtrnice – mainly from pork entrails – bits of liver, lungs and pork stock with bread, onions, garlic and other seasoning. We mince it and press it into casings made from pork guts.”


Two days later we happened to spot another news article that announced the centuries old tradition of pig slaughtering feasts were now considered outlawed by new European hygiene standards. Farmers can only butcher for their own home consumption; sharing with friends and neighbours would be subject to a huge fine ($16,000).  The fest that we went to was sponsored by the city government and was a sanitized version with no slaughtering on the premises. This type of event especially appeals to the older generation now living in the city. It brings back memories of their youth in the villages. The true winter pig/pork, bacon/ham festivals are declining but still popular through most countries of Europe. They pre-date Christianity, going back to pagan fertility rites.  In Czech villages they act as a family home-coming celebration, much like the American Thanksgiving.

Czech folk art by Josef Lada: Hog slaughter This painting is by Josef Lada, the Czech Norman Rockwell.

It starts with a squealing pig strung up by its hind legs and dispatched by the butcher. Next the women wade in for the ingredients to blood soup, goulash with entrails, head cheese and, of course sausages. Finally different cuts are taken for curing and preserving and the best pieces are roasted for that day of partying.

I have written a great deal about the benefits of eating locally produced meat and vegetables.  Now Brussels bureaucrats are forcing their point of view that pork produced in large factories is better for you than that raised in the field next door.  Our experience watching lambs and kids grow and frolic from our veranda in Paros and then later in the year buying the meat from our neighbor proves this wrong in our mind.  One often reads in the news of recall of contaminated meat from factories or warehouses but not any accounts of bad food that has personally passed the inspection of a local farmer and that you buy in a local market.

I give a lot of travel advice and right now I strongly urge people to look for local festivals and events and participate before they are legislated out of existence or are smothered by worry-wart do-gooders who take the fun out of life.  Another example is greased pig chases. I remember them fondly at the “Aloha Daze” events of my childhood community in Oregon, USA. Today doing a Google search everything I find is past tense from years ago.

I think all travelers enjoy reading travel adventures written during a past era when every where was more interesting than today. Tomorrow may be more sanitary and “correct” than today but will probably be less interesting and exciting. We used to say we want to travel while we are young enough to enjoy it, now we say get out and travel before the bureaucrats homogenize all culture.

butcher with pig slaughter: folk art at Prague festivalNow back to Masopust and Prague:  each neighborhood has its own version of the pig festival and masked parade.  The first one we went to was on a VERY cold day in Karlin.  I am hoping the effigy shown in the left photo was a dig at the EU regulations.

Since then we have seen many roasted pig heads used as decoration and many people in costumes drinking as they walk down the street.  Karin was even accosted on Mostecka street by  Charles Bridge.  It’s all good fun.


The short version was originally published as Are We Losing The Charm of Pig Slaughter? on Blogcritics.

Pig's head decoration roast in PragueMasopast parade old town PragueHearted in parade, Prague

Source of News Report quote

Fame and Fortune: Hollywood on the Vltava

This week I received an interesting email about casting for an English language film being shot by a Korean director and based on a French graphic novel*.  Then by a “coincidence” I happened to see an ad on Craig’s List for casting a shoot in Columbus, Ohio, USA as well as a Squidoo lens about being an extra in Atlanta, GA, USA, all within the course of two days.

Prague and its Barrandov Studios has long been the center of central European film making.  That and its old time beauty have led to many Hollywood style films being shot all or in part in Prague.  In the widget below I listed just a few of the more well known; the older are better in my opinion.  Conspicuously missing is Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol shot in 2011 and not on DVD yet.  See update below.

My point today is not to watch these movies for the few background scenes of Prague and the Czech Republic but to suggest that appearing in film and commercial video is another arrow in the quiver for supporting the expat lifestyle.  A little networking and a little schmoozing can get your name and number in front of the right people for when a project comes up in your city or country.

Children, especially with stage presence, are frequently needed for filming.  Here in Prague we have expat James Bridekirk and his StageStars  They teach theater at several English language schools as well as open Saturday sessions as well as act as agents for casting.  They also produced the Christmas Pantomime that Karin and I greatly enjoyed.  Hopefully I will get around to writing about it.

So whatever your skill or talent there is a way to earn an exciting experience, if not a living.  What ideas do you have?  Please comment.

*Feature Film: Snow Piercer; Writer/Director: Bong Joon-ho

Prague shoot dates: Jan- June, 2012

Update:  Here is a link for Amazon USA.  You can also get the above films from there.  That is, please use my Amazon U.K link for Europe and for USA.  Cheers.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...