Sunday, June 12, 2011


I'm moving back soon so no need for an in-depth update, but here's a quick list of things I've been up to the last few months, not in any particular order:

Hiked up the mountain where the germanic god of thunder was believed to have lived.

Visited Dresden and Berlin and walked through the Ishtar Gate with my mom.

Helped design and build the set for an adaptation of an HP Lovecraft story.

Been hosting a weekly karaoke night.

Built a series of escape pods.

Made some t-shirts based on zen koans.

Played a few shows and wrote a few songs with my wonderful friend Clem.

Celebrated Masopust by following in a parade, dancing, and drinking beer provided by the local gov't for free and indiscriminately on the streets.

Co-organized what I think was a truly bitchin 30th birthday party for said friend Clem.

Ate caviar and drank Chateau Margaux while sitting in the chair usually reserved for Vaclav Havel in the monastery adjoined to a 600 year-old church.

Went to a private music festival in a barn in the middle of nowhere in the czech hills.

Fell in love with an amazing woman.

Participated in this year's Zombie Walk as a tourist zombie.

Did a lot of dancing but still not enough.

Acted in a short student film.

Took part in a small panel discussion about American culture at a sci-fi fantasy convention.

Acted in a play about the dark ages and small-town vampirism.

Spent easter weekend in Cesky Krumlov.

Planned the next phase of my life.

And in between all of that, lots of teaching and having fun with great friends.

{cue dramatic strings}
It will surely be sad to leave Prague behind. It's a beautiful, laid-back, culturally rich city with a lot to offer. I've made some great friends here and hope dearly that I'll be able to keep those connections alive. Maybe I'll live here again some day, maybe just visit from time to time. But life's a wild ride and the world's a big big place and I've got to chase my happiness wherever it will lead me. {end strings}

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Already Fall :(

Let's see if I can remember anything from 2010 thus far.

1) I took part in a joint black light birthday party with 3 friends in the Dungeon. Because of the limited space and number of hosts we had to have trimmed guest lists but it was still a great time. Here's a work of art I made for the invitation:

And here are some shots from the party:

2)So I can basically ice skate now. I'm still pretty wobbly sometimes and need to work on braking/turning, but I can go around a rink pretty quickly several times without stumbling. I really never would've predicted this development in my life.

3) The Saints won the Superbowl!!!!! I caught the game with a bunch of fellow fans at a sportsbar in the center. The moment when Porter pointed to get his blocker in place on his way to the endzone after picking off Manning was probably the happiest moment in my life. Who Dat! I only wish I could've been in the French Quarter with friends and family for the celebration.

4)Marit and I unintentionally developed a new style of travelling that I've since somewhat altered and dubbed "the extended daytrip" when we set out for a nice weekend in Hradec Kralove only to get turned away from every hotel/hostel (on account of bad planning) and find that we'd missed the last train back to town. We decided to make the most of it and spent the night visiting several local bars and stayed out drinking until the first morning train back to Prague departed. When life gives you lemons get out the tequila and salt.

5)I lived the first half of the year in a shared flat in Zizkov and had to move in when I was deathly ill from the flu. This summer I moved into a nice spacious (i.e. unfurnished) flat with my buddy CR (a fellow TEFL-Worldwide grad and a fearsome karaoke performer). He's from Houston but I don't hold it against him. We've been slowly furnishing the place bit by bit and are liking the results thus far. The good thing about starting from scratch is that you get to really personalize your surroundings. For example, here's the wardrobe I've rigged up from a cheap ikea wardrobe, some hinges and zipties and a cardboard standup of Terminator 3: Vzpoura Stroju:

And I've got plans to build some lamps from junk I find at the market and hand-sew my own frankenstein curtains to cover my awesome massive windows.

6)Clem and I now have a name for our band (the Thief and the Cobbler) and enough material (mix of originals and covers) to play a full set. We had a practice show in the dungeon where we played with some friends' band and invited a few friends each to be our audience. It was a lot of fun. But now Clem has moved and we need to find a new practice space before we start scheduling gigs, though we've recorded a lo-fi demo to shop around to venues/promoters once we're ready again. Here's a pic from the show:

7) In May the annual Prague Zombie Walk was held, and considering this is the closest thing to Mardi Gras here in Prague I just had to participate. So I bought some second hand clothes, ripped them up a bit, mixed some sweet drink syrup with red food coloring and join the hordes out in old town square for a nice walk through the center. The confused looks on tourists' faces was my favorite part. You can see video of it here (I'm the cell phone zombie that comes in at about 0:33)

8)In July there was a music festival in Kutna Hora that piqued my interest so I decided to take another extended daytrip, seeing as how the band I most wanted to see didn't hit the stage until after the last train back to town. I couldn't get any friends to go with me so that Saturday morning I set out alone. I had time to visit the bone church, the bobova draha, and the cathedral before the first act played. The festival was a mixed bag. Some pretentious boring chillwave --> a pretty enthusiastic hardcore band --> some great ambient -->boring synthlounge --> a quiet heartbreaking guy on the piano --> These Are Powers, who were my reason for attending. They didn't disappoint. It was some of the most fun and inspiring live music I've seen in a long time. The crowd braved a pretty torrential downpour to dance to these weirdos, who reciprocated by inviting some of the audience (including yours truly) to dance on stage with them for a blistering trance-punk finale. With the festival over, I decided to while away the evening in some of the fine local drinkeries. I was wandering through the historic streets of the old town when I stumbled upon a lit Pilsner Urquell sign with just the word "Discotek" on it. The sign on the door said "Travesti Show" which I assumed meant a post-punk type gloomy dance night. I should've looked a little closer at the cognate that was staring me in the face to see that there were no travesties on the dance floor that night, just some nice small-town drag queens. So I spent the night drinking, dancing and laughing at the over the top drag show until the time came for me to go get lost in the cold rain for an hour before finding my way back to the train station for the 5:30 do Prahy.

9) I've almost got enough solo electronic material written to start playing shows around town. I'm looking forward to that.

10) Unfortunately, my favorite dive bar/karaoke joint, the Blind Eye, closed down a couple months ago. But to keep the karaoke torch lit, CR and I have started co-hosting a weekly Zizkov Karaoke night at various bars around town. We've now been at it for 4 weeks straight and it's been a blast each time.

Gotta go teach!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jeden rok!

As of today I've been here for a year. It seems like just yesterday that I stepped off the plane and onto the blank page. With time going by this fast I must be doing something right.

Sorry about the lack of updates the last couple of months, but my free time in November was spent on the National Solo Album Month challenge, in which I somewhat successfully wrote and recorded an album(-ish thing), and December was, well, you know, December.

Other than the album the only thing I can remember about November is that Marit and I attended a small vegan potluck at Andrea's place for Thanksgiving. It was a workday, so we didn't get started with the feasting until the sun had long been down, but that didn't stop us from pigging out and going into a food-induced coma. I'm not sure if I've fallen asleep so quickly since I was a toddler.

A couple days before Christmas my friend Clementine and I had our first "gig". It was just an unplugged set at a high-quality hole-in-the-wall cafe. It was mainly covers and not really the style that we're aiming for in the long run, but it made for a very nice evening.

I ended up spending my first Christmas away from home in about as wicked sweet a way as possible. I went with Clem and Lukaš (her boyfriend and our band's manager) to Lukaš' family's house in the small Czech village of Řetůvka, not so far from the Polish border. We ate, drank, sang, ate, drank, went to mass, sang, drank, ate, slept, ate, did the gift thing, ate, drank, and then ate. In addition to the delicious smorgasbord with an ever-rotating cast of dishes and sweets provided by Lukaš' dynamo of a mother, I cooked up some Audryburgers (Red Beans n Rice, NOLA-style) to test the Czech tolerance for actual spices, and Clem cooked up some French-style crepes. By the end of the trip I felt like a veal calf. Czech Christmas is very similar to American-style Christmas save a few exceptions:

1)the main celebration is on the 24th (though it definitely doesn't end there)

2)their equivalent of eggnog is stronger and tastier

3)there's more eating and drinking and

4)instead of having their presents delivered by an old bearded man who sneaks in through the chimney, Baby Jesus Himself delivers them (i think so that sins may be forgiven or something). I'm still not sure of which is creepier.

For New Years Eve, I went to a potluck with some friends and had my first authentic Swiss cheese fondue, which as it turns out is sort of like nachos con queso but better (unless we're talking about a really good spicy queso blanco a la Gordo's). After a filling meal, tequila shots, and pea shooter wars, we went to a H.R. Giger-esque club and danced our way to a (disappointingly English-language) countdown.

So I sort of have a 2-part New Years resolution.
1)Learn Czech well-enough so that people don't have to talk to me like I'm a 2-year old. My Christmas experience was comforting in that I realized just how much of the basics I've got down pretty strongly, but it also showed me just how much there is yet left to learn (not that I didn't know, but at least now I have a better idea of what to work on)
2) To make this the best year of my life. Not exactly sure of exactly how to make this work, but it involves some mix of music-making, celebration, learning, exercise, and hopefully travel.

I started to attempt my fulfillment of 2 just this past weekend. On Saturday, Marit returned from a two-week holiday stay back in Sweden. For Christmas, she had given me a pair of ice skates, which I was both very excited and very nervous about. I've never been able to rollerskate, skateboard, or really do anything that requires much balance, so I was expecting to walk away from the experience with a broken coccyx. We went to this free open-air rink in the middle of town. It was tiny and crowded and at first I almost had a panic attack trying to drag myself around the side of the rink, holding desperately onto the railing. But after about an hour of baby steps and saying "oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit" over and over again I pretty much got the hang of it without falling even once. My method of stopping is still of the "run straight into the wall" school but I'd say I'm on my way to fulfilling my dream of Curling championships.

This weekend we're going to attempt round two so I'll let you know if I catch the eye of any figure-skating talent scouts that I just know are lurking around the streets of Old Town looking for the next Kristie Yamaguchi.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Wau! Podzim je mýtus!

Well, I've had a pretty busy but very fulfilling couple of months but now that the summer's over I'm kind of shocked by how happy I am to have the bitter cold back. Don't get me wrong, I don't like being cold. I hate it, in fact. But I really like what the cold does to you. The way it makes your blood race. The slight sting of the frost. I'm looking forward to the snow hiding all of the grays and browns. The cabin-fever-induced productivity. After growing up in a place where you throw a party whenever a hurricane hits I think I've acquired a taste for extreme weather.

Anyway, my busy days all started when I hosted my first visitor from back home:


He was only here for a little over a week but we packed as much bro-ing down as we could into the limited time we had together. In between exploring the city, strolling through parks, and drinking lots of beer, we found the time to take a daytrip to Kutna Hora with my roommate David.
We visited the infamous Sedlec Ossuary (the bone chapel!)...

...where I posed for a picture that now makes me feel obligated to record a death metal album.

Then we went to see St. Barbara's Church but were quickly asked to leave after Derek ate one of the gargoyles.

And before we headed back to Praha we took a couple spins on the local Bobova Draha and unleashed our inner 12 year-olds (who am I kidding, our inner 12 year-olds are never restrained)

As we wandered around Prague I was happy to see how much of an interest Derek took in the city's cultural history, particularly it's sculptures.

As a nice twist of fate, his visit coincided with the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. We celebrated the occasion by treating ourselves to a Leonard Cohen concert. He's now a Buddhist and he's getting up there in age, but he was surprisingly spry, dancing on and off stage between the encores. Even though he's touring to raise money to deal with financial troubles, it seems like his religious path has brought him peace. Of course the downside of this is that you'll never again hear him howl an epic drunken self-loathing performance like "Please Don't Pass Me By". But he's still got plenty of songs of love, loss, and redemption that have a really poignant ring now that he's found peace. I loved the show, as did Derek (despite missing "Hallelujah" on a piss break).

After we had such a great time together, Derek was thinking about skipping his return flight and staying with me here in Prague but that option disappeared when I was eaten by a giant tree, so he went back home.

Having an old friend to talk to in person allowed me a great deal of badly needed self-reflection. Seeing such a familiar face in the streets of my new home allowed me to build a little bit of a bridge back to my life as a whole. For a long time I felt like the plane touching down at Ruzyne Airport was the start of my life. I felt like a recovering amnesiac. I saw my past like it was a dream or something that had happened to somebody else. But having D here to have big "life" conversations with allowed me to reclaim myself and was a fantastic reminder of where I come from.

Speaking of where I come from, with a little luck and a lot of digging I passed through the tree's digestive system just in time to welcome a visit from my mom (Hi Mom!). Though we didn't make it out to Kutna Hora, it was a wonderful visit. It was awesome getting to be the straw that broke the camel's complete lack of trips to Europe. I sort of felt like a 7 year-old again, showing off the picture of an epic dinosaur battle that I drew in art class, only instead of just scribbles of crayons it was actually something almost as cool as a dino-battle. To top it off, while Mom was in town Marit returned from her summer sojourn in Scandinavia.

Since then I've been busy teaching, playing music, hangin' out, and studying Czech. Lately I've been using television as a study aid, particularly a very dubbed Walker: Texas Ranger. Needless to say I revel in the irony of using a 100% flag-wavingly American show to learn a language that most Americans don't know exists.

So this morning we got the first snow of the new winter. Autumn was a short handful of days of very confused weather and it feels like winter following her tail in circles before she lies down and sleeps on the city for the next 6 months. Got no complaints here!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Where is that sound coming from?

Well, it's been a fairly quiet and lazy summer. Between everyone being out of town and a lightened workload, I've had a lot more free time to.... well....what have I been up to again??

Oh yeah.... I guess the big news is that I'm back to playing music, after an almost year-long exile from my oldest dearest friend. I've been practicing weekly with my new french friend Clementine. We're going to start off by playing covers of old standards and early rock music and once we get our sound down we'll starting working on originals. I have a lot of ideas for directions to go with it but the only things I'm sure of is that our music will be 1)synthy 2)noisy 3)fun and 4)good (not sure if I've ever been this confident about future creative output but maybe moving to the other side of the world and starting your life anew does something for your self-confidence). Clementine's got a wonderful voice and I've been finding my voice more and more, thanks in part to the help of karaoke night at the Blind Eye (which I co-hosted for a couple weeks while Noah was out of town). We've been practicing in the centruries-old basement of Clem's apartment building in a space we've dubbed "the Dungeon". During our first practice a man was subdued by heroic firemen while attempting to jump off the roof of the building across the street and since we've moved our operations into the Dungeon it has rained during every practice, so maybe we're fated to be a little goth, too. I also suspect that I'll be starting a solo project at some point in the near future, as an outlet for my even noisier inclinations.

Other than music, the second most exciting part of the summer has been that after a lifetime of slowing down and scanning for shamrocks when walking by clover patches, I've finally found not one, but TWO four-leaf clovers. Not only that, but in the same week that I found the first I saw a full rainbow. I'm not generally superstitious but hopefully this indicates good things to come.

One beautiful Saturday a couple weeks ago, Clementine and I were tempted away from a planned band practice by an offer from a friend of hers to take a daytrip to Český Šternberk, an old majestic castle out in the countryside about 50km from Prague. We drove out there and spent the majority of the day walking around the town, hiking in the woods, and generally soaking in the fresh air and idyllic scenery. It was a perfect break from the bustling city life.

I'm proud to say that I've also managed to spend a lot of my free time studying Czech. I'm still pretty far from being a conversationalist but I've almost learned all of the convoluted case endings and I feel like I'm getting a much better grasp of the language.

Other than that and teaching, I haven't really been doing much. The biggest and most exciting news on the horizon is that Derek is coming to visit me in a week and my mom is following suit a few weeks later! It'll be fantastic to see people that I've known for more than 8 months. And even moreso that I'll be able to show them around this crazy town.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Captain's Log:Stardate 6.7.09

I've officially been in Prague for 6 months and I still don't know what to make of this wondrous multi-headed beast.

What I do know is that beer is best when it's mixed (or řezané).

I know the importance and surprising depth of fleeting friendships.

I know how to say "cheers" in a few more languages.

I know that you actually can get used to walking around in a city full of fairy-tale architecture. But it's not just a simple matter of familiarizing yourself and "getting over it." Something really great happens in your subconscious when you can walk casually past things like this and this without looking up, instead just feeling the details and history of the atmosphere in your bones. It injects a dose of romanticism into your heart. It puts a spring in your step. It gives you back a little bit of your childhood.

But perhaps most relevant of all, I know that despite missing some really amazing people (and food), I won't be coming home any time soon. (even accounting for the shifting nature of the word "home" itself)

Love y'all