27 July 2013

Two worlds collided

It's days like today, when one can work up a sweat simply by staying inside and playing "Roller Coaster Tycoon" on the laptop (don't ask), when I yearn for a slightly colder, more wintry and romantic Prague -- like the one you see here:

For the uninitiated, that is Michael Hutchence, the late singer of INXS, strolling along the Vltava River in the late 1980s, before Communism fell. It is here that INXS shot the video for "Never Tear Us Apart," which debuted on the charts 25 years ago next month. (It peaked at No. 7, while songs such as "Monkey" by George Michael and this abomination reached No. 1. Music fans in 1988, you're going to have to do some serious penance.)

The video was shot before Communism ended, which means the police officers you see are dressed as soldiers, the wall at the Old Jewish Cemetery is in disrepair, the Charles Bridge is virtually empty, and Old Town Square has plenty of tourists but no stands geared toward selling substandard crap to tourists. But you still get to see Prague in all its beauty; I'd even argue that the cold, gray skies add to the romance rather than detract from it. Or maybe that's just the pitch-perfect, wouldn't-change-a-note-of-it sax solo.

All of Prague's standard sights are here: the view of Prague Castle looming over Old Town, the walkway leading to the castle where you get a view of St. Nicholas Cathedral and the rest of Mala Strana, Charles Bridge, a night shot of the National Theater, the astronomical clock and Old Town Square, and the banks of the Vltava where one can feed swans, take photos and, apparently, play the violin. I don't have a blow-by-blow account of which landmark appears when, but luckily this map done in 2008 does.

And now, your tour of Prague, courtesy of INXS.

UPDATE: For those who can't see the video, there may be some copyright-country thingy preventing you from seeing it, depending on where you are. Typing "Never Tear Us Apart INXS" into your YouTube browser should do the trick.

23 July 2013

America. Heck yeah.

Ahoj. So, for my first new Czech Republic-based blog entry in about a year, I'd thought I'd write about ... the U.S. Doesn't make sense until you hear this twist: today's thoughts come from the Special Assistant to the Blogger, who a little over a week ago completed her first trip to the States.

There, she enjoyed many firsts: first steps in the U.S., first visits to New York and Boston, first view of Lady Liberty, first kids' baseball game, first professional baseball game, first hike up an American mountain (which would not be a mountain by European standards), first dip in the Atlantic ocean, first No. 9 pokket (her request before I sprinted across the road during a bus rest stop to get mine: "Something American"), first time meeting Your Humble Blogger's family and close friends, and first time in Jack's Hardware. The latter is not really a big deal, but the SAB chose one sunny day to walk roughly 3 miles from our apartment to the Colonial Theater in Keene (coming soon: Gregg Allman) in a country where most people use a scooter to meet the neighbors. And she passed Jack's Hardware, which admittedly has a small town U.S. homey-hunky-dory feel to it.

Special Assistant to the Blogger in Hampton, N.H.,
touching the Atlantic for the first time.