Monday, February 22, 2010

A Black Man Takes A Hike

The next time someone here displays surprise that I never took hikes or went "into nature" before I moved here, I am going to send them this video. Too funny!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


After our trip to lovely Murska Sobota, we figured that since it was carnival weekend and since we were passing through Lower Styria, we should stop in Ptuj which is the oldest city in the country (established by Celts!) and also Slovenian Carnival Central. This is the place where they have these awesome kurents (pagan characters that are meant to scare off evil spirits) and I finally got to see them in all their crazy pagan costumed glory.

The carnival was a good time like a mini Mardi Gras and it gave me hope that at least some people in this country know and want to have a good time.

Photo and video evidence follows:

Pippi Longstockings (or Pippi Langestrumpfe in German) was a popular costume

commentary on the economy and the country's (low but slightly increased) birthrate

Some commentary on last year's controversy about whether muslims could build a mosque in Ljubljana

alas carnival seems to be the time for people to really crack out the racism and on top of all the "Indians", "Jamaicans", and even "geishas" that I saw, there was this "gypsy caravan" of people with their faces painted brown. Ay yi yi. Ironically enough, just a few miles away some Roma people were actually having an international conference just a few days before. Here's to their continued struggle in the face of this kinda crap.

Love and Obstacles - the tour

Ever since I read the short story Love and Obstacles by Bosnian writer, Aleksander Hemon, I've been curious to visit Murska Sobota in northeast Slovenia. So this Valentine's/Carnival weekend, The Captain and I headed up there. I really enjoyed myself walking around colorful and sadly sorta abandoned Murska Sobota and we even took a short ride over the border to Hungary where we had (of course) goulash, got shaken down for a few euros by some crossing guard lady who tried to explain stuff to us in Russian, and retreated back over the border after realizing that their language was so incredibly different from the handful that we were familiar with that we might get totally lost.

Here are some images so you get the idea.

Murska Sobota

just across the border (a 20 minute drive or so)

the goulash was eaten

we also had this dödölle (fried potatoes and onions with sour cream) which was excellent along with some yummy meat

too much decoration in hungary

more Murska - this was one of like three diferent "Bar Africa"s that I saw in this region. what gives?

alongside our hotel

Valentine's dinner at the restaurant. It was heinously bad

Murska Sobota, an aerial view

shamefully weird valentine dessert in Murska Sobota

All in all, I am grateful for the opportunity to see more of the country and I am glad I went. Thank you to all the super friendly people of Murska Sobota!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hey Everybody It's....

A Gratuitous Picture Post!

last weekend we went on a walk around Šobec...

at some point we also went to kranjska gora and watched a bit of popular Slovenian rock band Siddhartha. They are really pretty awful.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cities and Ambition


Most of the time when I try to talk about what frustrates me about living in Slovenia, it just comes out in a big blob of anger and resentment towards the country and its inhabitants, but that's not really what I want to say. What I really want to express is what programmer and essayist Paul Graham writes about so eloquently in his piece "Cities and Ambition".


An excerpt:

How much does it matter what message a city sends? Empirically, the answer seems to be: a lot. You might think that if you had enough strength of mind to do great things, you'd be able to transcend your environment. Where you live should make at most a couple percent difference. But if you look at the historical evidence, it seems to matter more than that. Most people who did great things were clumped together in a few places where that sort of thing was done at the time.

You can see how powerful cities are from something I wrote about earlier: the case of the Milanese Leonardo. Practically every fifteenth century Italian painter you've heard of was from Florence, even though Milan was just as big. People in Florence weren't genetically different, so you have to assume there was someone born in Milan with as much natural ability as Leonardo. What happened to him?


No matter how determined you are, it's hard not to be influenced by the people around you. It's not so much that you do whatever a city expects of you, but that you get discouraged when no one around you cares about the same things you do.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Black and On The Sunny Side of the Alps

Just "discovered" this provocative short film while cruising the 'nets. It appears they got an all-black cast to play Slovenians. The director (and local dude), Janez Burger, was trying engage Slovenian people and get a sense of how racist/tolerant people were, so he took money from the national film fund telling them he was making a "promotional movie" for the country and shot this. Too good. Gotta get my hands on it. And this picture kinda needs to be a fixture on this site.


‘ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE ALPS’ used to be the slogan of a promotion campaign of the Slovene Tourist Board, which wanted to present Slovenia in the best possible light – as a beautiful sub-alpine country, full of hospitable and friendly people. However, recent racist and xenophobic events present Slovenia in a far darker light. It is most concerning that racist and xenophobic rhetoric is being used also by political elites, but even more concerning is the fact that their populist tendencies find fertile ground which helps their political credit to grow. This film is a reaction to the increasingly bizarre situation in my country. A film about a typical Slovene family, which would never find shape if finance officials knew that this is the first Slovene black-African film.

ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE ALPS is a film about Slovenia. About a beautiful country where happiness, joy, mutual understanding and tolerance prevail. Nobody ever says anything to hurt anybody. A neighbour is always ready to help his neighbour. Birds sing merrily, red carnations blossom on balconies and there is an inviting smell coming from village kitchens. The sun always shines in this country. The sun also shines from the hearts of the people which makes this country the sunniest in the world. Even sunnier than Africa.