Sunday, May 27, 2007

Spelling bee

The Squid and the Whale

I had some shopping to do as I am flying to visit my parents on Wednesday. I got few CDs for my little brother and I also bought a DVD of a movie that I wanted to see for a long time. "The Squid and the Whale" is a divorce story from New York in 1980s. Incredible acting + convincing script = highly recommended. Unfortunately, the Spanish booklet is very misleading: I wouldn't call that movie "an extravagant black comedy" under any circumstances.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Black forest

My new Cercanías companion is "The Dante Club" by Matthew Pearl now. I found this sentence so haunting and eternally beautiful that I am sharing it here:
>> Lowell said, "Dante writes like Rembrandt, with a brush dipped in darkness and a gleam of hellfire as his light."<<

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Trail mix

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the US farmers faced serious issues with the raising price of corn because it was increasingly used to produce so-called biofuels. As a solution, their hogs feed on a trail mix, chocolate and cookies. Apparently, this was going on for years in some areas, but it became widespread now. What kind of a sick world we live in when imported Brazilian nuts, Vietnamese cashews and Nigerian cocoa are cheaper than home-produced corn? I am sick and tired of a global economy.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Lillywhite Sessions

LWS was a recording made by Dave Matthews Band in 2000 and produced by Steve Lillywhite. The material was never officially released and later labelled as "sad bastard songs" by Dave Matthews himself, but it leaked on the P2P networks that became the usual source of the recording, unfortunately. These deeply depressive and ultimately dark songs are the highlights of the DMB work for me. Sadly, some of them later received a modified lyrics and a more upbeat sound and were released as the Busted Stuff album in 2002. Just to compare the original depth and the subsequent banality, I am posting two verses from "Captain", a song dealing originally with suicide thoughts and which later transformed into a shallow lust song on the BS:

... I don't want your pity,
Just the promise that I'll be alright...
...I don’t want your pity
Only the promise that you’ll stay with me tonight...
...Why should I be hypnotized,
By the promise of a long life?...
...Oh how could I even try
to fight after falling into your arms?...

The whole LWS story, written in a pretty thrilling way, can be found here.


Herzog & de Meuron Architekten for Hamburg, Germany (ca. 2009)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Laughing out loud

Couple of days ago, I was searching my bookmarks for a website with protocols that was run by a former colleague of mine from Michigan. Originally, his website was hosted by the MSU servers, but I shortly realized that my browser was redirected to another website: his first name dot com. He posted some details of his life that was pretty stormy since we met and later departed, so it felt right to write him a short e-mail. He replied: "To be honest, I can't remember you." I thought he was joking, because we worked in the same lab for about seven months, but as it turned out he wasn't. I find it extremely funny and it also illustrates the shallowness of the US social skills that I am so happy to leave behind.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Moneo Yeah

After having a great time with "El Pintor" in the bar yesterday night, I decided to make a traditional check on the botanical gardens today. Passing by the Prado gallery, I remembered that they had recently opened an extension, currently without any exhibits but to appreciate the architecture. The project was initially very controversial. Designed by Rafael Moneo, who was awarded the Pritzker Price in 1996, the building is utilizing a former monastery of the Jerónimos, which ignited many protests from the residents of Madrid for violating the national heritage. Ironically, the most stunning part is a hall that is built from the cloister and which brings daylight to the three floors below. Unfortunately, the project needed 3 more years to finish and its price increased of 50%. Nevertheless, in my opinion it was worth waiting and worth the money. Totally in love with that place, I wanted to take many pictures there but my camera battery drained and I forgot to take a spare one, but I am positive I will visit La Ampliación del Museo del Prado pretty soon.

Friday, May 11, 2007


To entertain the tourists in Brno, a historic tram service was resumed on one short line, connecting the railway station and the St. Jacob's church through the main square. The cars, leased from a museum, are from 1940s. To compare the past and the present, I am posting another picture from the same city:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Guerra por el comedor

The cafeteria/dining room in our institute is a battlefield now. On the 1st of May, a contract with a private (!) company was renewed and immediately followed by a price increase. A cup of coffee is now 75c (previously 62) and the lunch price went up for the whole 1 euro. This move immediately ignited a response from the syndicate and also from the graduate students. Today, we've boycotted the comedor to support the syndicate. The trigger was the letter from the director - I think that to be in charge of such an institution should require some social skills, but what this guy replied to the open letter of the syndicate was outrageous. What is completely ridiculous is that our institute is in the middle of nowhere (40 minutes by train from the centre of Madrid) and the CSIC doesn't even subsidize the price of the lunch for its own employees.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Greatest Bands, Pt.1: Suede

Suede was the brightest diamond of the Britpop movement. The first success came in 1989, when Suede won Gary Crowley's GLR "Demo Clash" competition with "Wonderful sometimes":
"I've heard of happy ever after
It was just a joke, but you could die laughing".

In 1993, they recorded their debut album with cryptic tracks such as "The Drowners", followed by "Dog Man Star" in 1994, the last record with Bernard Butler, including two beautiful ballads: "The Wild Ones" and "Still Life". The following album is my all-time favourite, "Coming Up" was released in 1996 and each song was so good that it could be easily a single. This video promotes "Positivity", the first single from their last album, named "A New Morning", which was released in 2002 when nobody cared about Britpop anymore.

This song came to my mind when I was walking from the train station through campus full of beautiful green trees. Spring is so beautiful.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Fortress Europe (2003)

While reading more details about the French désastre, I suddenly remembered this song by the Asian Dub Foundation.

A fragment of the lyrics:
2022 -A new European order
Robot guards patrolling the border
Cybernetic dogs are getting closer and closer
Armoured cars and immigration officers
A burning village in Kosovo
You bombed it out now you're telling us go home
Machine guns strut on the cliffs of Dover
Heads down people look out! we're going over
Burnin up! can we survive re-entry
Past the mines and the cybernetic sentries
Safe european homes built on wars

You don't like the effect don't produce the cause
The chip is in your head not on my shoulder
Total control just around the corner


Sunday, May 6, 2007


Why is it so great to live in Spain? This video will be my answer next time somebody asks me why I moved here from the Land of Opportunities (and Freedom for All?). I know the music is pretty bad and the video itself is kind of amateurish, but as long as something like this can be made and aired nationwide here, there is a hope for this little part of the world.

Mucho más...

... allá de mi ventana. Today I woke up with some filmmakers yelling under my window. My street is a movie star!

Saturday, May 5, 2007


These ads make me sick to my stomach. Yes, the boys are hot and the photographer did a good job, but c'mon, "Global warming ready"? Diesel, Diesel... you have to be kidding me. What we will really encounter are weather extremes and a spread of diseases that we don't want to hear about such as malaria and dengue fever. Yeah... cool stuff, indeed.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Tuesday, May 1, 2007