10:29 pm

Jára Cimrman lezící, spící

The Globe Bookstore, an English-language bookstore and café in Prague, recently started a (free) Sunday evening movie series in which they show "classic" Czech movies subtitled in English.

A few weeks ago, they showed Postriziny, which was charming, although much of the humor was seemingly lost in translation. (After the movie, the Czech waitresses were surprised and a little disappointed that the English-speaking customers failed to appreciate how funny it had been.)

This week’s movie was Jára Cimrman lezící, spící, about that great Czech polymath, Jára Cimrman. The movie presents key episodes from his life:

  • His parents brought him up as a girl, so that he could wear his older sister’s hand-me downs.
  • His tampering with Marconi’s telegraph lines prompted him to suggest to Marconi that he try transmitting wirelessly, thereby prompting the invention of the radio. He improved upon Eiffel’s prototype for the Eiffel tower by splaying the supports which Eiffel originally had straight and perpendicular to the ground. He suggested to Chekhov that "Two Sisters" sounded a little skimpy.
  • In his own career as an inventor, he always showed up to the Patent Office just a little late. He presented the telephone just after Alexander Graham Bell had showed up; similarly, Edison got in with the electric light bulb (and various other electrical devices) just before he did. Alfred Nobel was sitting in the Patent Office at the very instant that Cimrman discovered dynamite.
  • His career as a tutor to the children of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand, was cut short when he was caught trying to use the Duke’s double to force the Emperor to grant further recognition to the Czech nation.
  • His career as a school teacher, replacing his recently deceased sister, came to an end when he went off to war, and he was never seen again. Or was he…?

Cimrman is a great hero to the Czechs, and the movie makes it clear why. I just wished I understood Czech better: I’m sure I missed a great deal.

12:31 pm

Time for an Evita Remake?

The subhead to the article Mean Girl by David Talbot of reads "Sarah Palin has a way of using ‘old boys’ — then dumping them when they become inconvenient". As I read the article, it called to mind the song Good Night and Thank You from Evita.

Now understand, I am not for one single moment suggesting that Governor Palin has been trading sexual favors for advancement. (No. Seriously. Not at all. Ewww. Ick.) However, other parallels do spring to mind. And so now I’m thinking: isn’t it time for a remake of Evita? Sarah Palin as Evita, of course, John McCain as Colonel Peron, and Barack Obama can play Che.

Think they can spare time from their busy campaign schedules for rehearsals?

8:45 pm


I saw WALL·E today, and I have to say that I didn’t think that it was all that, though I think it was just a matter of my expectations being too high.

I have two specific thoughts to share, though:

  1. I thought that the choice of Hello Dolly to establish WALL·E’s model for romance was somewhat arbitrary. So I put it to the reader: how would the movie have been different if the tape that WALL·E had found had been Grease? Can we all picture EVE in black leather and with big hair? 🙂
  2. The humans have spent 700 years on a cruise that was supposed to have lasted only five years, and they’ve had no opportunity for planet-fall to restock. So, while we don’t see them eating (only drinking), they’re getting their sustenance from somewhere, but where? There is one inescapable answer: Soylent Green anyone?
10:43 am


This movie, reportedly the most expensive Czech movie to date, seems to have polarized opinion here. Some people, particularly English-speaking men, assure me that "Oh, it’s terrible. Don’t bother". Others, mostly Czech women, enthusiastically endorse it. So, since the English language version is showing in Prague, I had to go see it for myself.

Elizabeth Báthory is described as "possibly the most prolific serial killer in history". Director Juraj Jakubisko, however, takes the stance that she was, in effect, framed by a neighboring noble who lusted after her and her lands (not necessarily in that order).

Some of his attempts to explain away charges made against Báthory were a little forced, and the whole Catholic monk subplot was particularly ludicrous. Nonetheless, I’m now willing to believe that Báthory’s charaterization as the "Blood Countess" may indeed have be overstating the case.

My favorite line from the movie arises after the (Protestant) pastor of Báthory’s parish meets the (Catholic) monks sent by the bishop to investigate allegations. Walking away from their meeting, the pastor mutters, "Anywhere the Devil can’t go, he sends Catholics".

1:19 pm

Everyone: Send Stan Lee $1

IMDB reported today that Paris Hilton is working with Stan Lee to create a superhero based on Hilton. One can only hope that this isn’t true. Just in case Stan Lee really is that hard up for money, though, everyone send him $1, okay?

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