Friday, July 29, 2005

Plink Plink Fizz

Alka-Seltzer is my saviour today. I have great faith in it even though it let me down last weekend. This time it's going to work.

Drank a mixture of margeritas, tequila, unicum and beer. So much alcohol I can actually feel it seeping out of the pores of my skin.

Went to Iguana's, then to Bed Beach (which would have been great if the doormen hadn't been such idiots), then back to the comfort of Szimpla kert.

It's going to be a slow day today. Not just from the hangover, but it looks like the soaring temperatures (currently 36C) is melting time.

Serious Music

Komoly zene translates to serious music but it's really talking about the classical stuff. Not really my cup of tea though I would like to see my friend performing in Pluck.

If you're into the fine sounds then why not check out the 14th Budapest Summer festival (XIV. Budafest Nyári Zenei Fesztivál). I caught them doing a concert in front of the basilica.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Call Now!

If you can work out the word on the screen, call now! It's easy, come on, just call. I'm waiting here for you with lots of cash, you just have to call in and say the word. Call now!

I don't think it's limited to Hungary but I haven't experienced it elsewhere. These phone-in games on TV drive me nuts. Hosted by desperate young starlets pleading (and they really do beg) for viewers to pick up the phone and call the (premium) number and solve the puzzle.

Read moreThe puzzles tend to fall into two extremes. The dead easy ones as shown in the pic and the "you'll never get it" variety that would be easy to solve if you just knew what rules were applied.

As far as I can tell, the easy puzzles bring in the money by people calling in then being held in a queue while the call is "processed". The caller will wait because they know they have the right answer, but so do the other 10 people in the queue. In this case it's more of a phone lottery than anything else.

The tough puzzles are sneaky. They go along the lines of "How many lines / circles / triangles / squares do you see in the picture?" or "Add up all the numbers you see and tell the total." Sounds simple enough but should the dates of "July 25-27" be treated as "25+27 = 52" or "25-27=-2"? Are they counting the phone number? Are those numbers together or is there a small space between them? And so on. People call in with wildly different answers thinking they have the right one but hardly anyone does. Except for the producer's friend who calls in at the last minute.

The puzzles sometimes are amusing to try to figure out but they're getting more and more intrusive. Before they were on the cheap channels and out of hours but I've noticed them on mainstream VIVA during my regular viewing times. Soon there will be no escape.

There's something unnerving about these shows. The viewers calling in are probably related to the breed that have phoned into radio quizes and requests for many years. The presenters on the other hand just seem to be youngsters trying to break into showbiz and being exploited during their efforts. I guess there's nothing new there, but when you see them have to speak non-stop, imploring in vain for viewers to call in, it makes my skin creep. Though if you want to give it a go yourself, they're advertising here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Kert Krawl Update

Understandably with my hazy head, I completely forgot about the extra pics on my phone from the Kert Krawl. Not sure why I took photos with my phone when I had the proper camera with me but hey, logic gets a bit warped after a few beers.

See pics 
To get to Szimpla kert, you now have to walk through the 1950s.

I must have known it was a bad idea, otherwise why did I take a picture of the goodbye palinka? I think it could have been good if it was served crisp, ice-cold and in a glass. That plastic cup is not good news.

Death of Basil

While some people celebrate the life of a chilli, I'm getting ready to mourn the death of Basil. No daft foxes or over-stressed hotel owners here, just a simple plant living out his last.

Read moreI doubt he'll make the Doctor's obituary column but if it did, I'm sure he'd mention his birth somewhere in the greenhouse plains of Hungary. After a troubled childhood being moved from shelf to shelf at Tesco's he finally put down roots in an apartment in Budapest.

The rest of his life was a give-and-take affair with his flatmate who after many days of care and attention would demand payment of several leaves in order to make delicious bruschetta. These ordeals took their toll on Basil and his once big, green, healthy leaves gave way to dark, yellowing, runts of foliage.

Basil is not quite dead as a parrot yet but there is only one certain thing in life and that's death.

Oh, and taxes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Load of Rubbish

This is rubbish, but it's Budapest rubbish and more importantly it's recycling rubbish. Finally the recycling bins re-appeared in the 5th district.

Read moreWe're normally quite good at recycling our bottles. Our basic recycling is more a form of stinginess as we take our glass bottles back to the Kaiser's supermarket at Nyugati to get the deposit back. There's often a queue outside the little room on the corner of Bajcsy and the Korut. It's about half and half, normal shoppers and tramps/alcoholics. You get a slip of paper showing how much you can spend in the supermarket below and there's a bottle bank outside the shop for the unlucky, unloved uveg that didn't make the grade.

For the plastic variety we even went to the trouble of saving them up until we went down to the home of the almost-mother-in-law. Letting them hitch a lift in the car and unloading them at the recycling bins in Várpalota. It was a hassle though and it was strange that after the Budapest councils said they were committed to recycling, they removed the coloured bins at Erzebet ter. The nearest ones I found were over at Klauzal ter in the 7th district.

But no more worries. They've reappeared in almost the same spot, just a bit shorter and squatter. Also, in some tardis-like way, they've made them bigger on inside than outside. Instead of some unique time-lord trick, I believe, they've just dug a hole into the ground.

No matter, recycling is back in Budapest and my old bottles will be getting a new life. I hope they get cleaned first.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Everyone Knows The Words

Summer in Budapest is great. There's always something going on that surprises you. The other week, I left the flat to find a huge gay parade outside my building. Today we started off to the shops and as soon as we got outside, we saw a huge group of people. Their heads were shaved and they were chanting loudly.

Read moreSounds like I should be afraid but it turned out to be a happy Hare Krsna march. They were dancing down the street, singing songs with those familiar catchy lyrics.


Not sure what the big event was but they were all off to the Tabán which seems to be the fashionable resting point for city centre marches these days.

Seemed like a nice bunch of people but would have been better with an elephant. I guess I should read up about Hare Krsna and what it's all about, perhaps I'll start with learning the words to the songs.

Kert Krawl 3

Seemingly a Budapest phenomenon, the kert is just one item of summer goodness that makes me feel great to live here. "Kert" translates to "Garden" but these drinking establishments are definitely different to the English beer-gardens.

Read moreI think it may have started with the Szimpla kert a few (3 or 4?) years ago. Take a crumbling housing block in the middle of the city (there are still plenty about). Fit out the courtyard with bar, chairs, tables maybe a band. Hey presto Es tessék, one fully fledged kert.

The open-air pubs are devoid of pretension, overpriced drinks (though careful of the special palinka at Szoda which I got burnt on a couple of weeks ago) and surly staff. Leaving just a pleasant outdoor atmosphere where you can drink, chat and leave without your clothes stinking of stale smoke. They're also very well behaved. When they get permission from the council to set up the kert, noise regulations are strict. There's often a couple of bouncers outside the building telling people to be quiet. It's strange to walk down a street then see two huge guys with the finger at their lips going "Shhh.......".

Something becoming the stuff of legends in my circle is the kert krawl. First of all, the kert ferret has to be let out of its cage to sniff out all the kerts of the season. It's not as easy as it sounds as some kerts aren't advertised and they get their custom via word-of-mouth. Also, as buildings and courtyards get renovated, the resident kerts are turfed out and have to find a new home. Once the kert ferret has found all the good locations, a route is planned and a map drawn up. Then someone has to die.

The first kert krawl was held in memory of the great Marlon Brando. Further kert krawls have carried on the tradition by celebrating the life of other worthy people who have popped their clogs in the recent days. This year we thought we were going to be missing the vital corpse until James Doohan was beamed up for good.

So we had a route, a map, a stiff and plenty of people. The krawl started at a "far-too-early" 7.30pm and ended at a "isn't that daylight" hour of 4am. There were seven places in all. I must admit to switching from beer to ice-tea at one kert but made up for it later with a final goodbye palinka at the last. I think that's what took my Sunday away from me.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Fregatt

The Fregatt on the corner of Molnar & Pinter (just off Vaci) was apparently the first "English" pub in Budapest. It's no ex-pat sports bar though with a healthy dose of Hungarian clientel and live music.

Read moreIt's also one of the few places that are prepared to try out new bands and be bit relaxed about the whole thing. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of places with live music around Budapest but when my split personality was punting The Tea Thieves before the death of Your Wife Media, it was maddening.

That was quite a while ago and it was nice to revisit those times last night when Shameless put on a show. I say it was Shameless, and it really was given the fact that their mates played more songs than they did.

I don't even know half the people that stepped up to the mike, but we did have some special star guests of Steve Isaac, Rita and Jamie. The latter being of true Tea Thieves pedigree, though he seemed to be more concerned over his Somloi Galuska than his guitar.

Here's some quick pics. A bit dark, gloomy, smokey etc. The perfect pub atmosphere.

Jon & Gergo? Jon & Unknown Big Smile Mike and Jamie Richie Mike & Steve Mike & Steve Jon, Steve, Mike Unknown Duo Jamie & Rita Unknown Trio

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fight Fight Fight Fight...

Everyone out into the playground, they're scrapping!

Just enjoyed a post over at Varangy's place. He's got some beef with some of the other Bp bloggers out there.

I don't think I'll get involved as I never could throw a decent punch. I'll just stand in the surrounding ring to watch the pushing and shoving.

You can read the rant here.

Who Did That?

Thought I'd use the comment from the Doctor as an excuse for a quick post.

A little bit of Googling and chasing of links took me to the truth. The Chemical Brothers video mentioned earlier was made by Ne-o. Not to be confused with the Hungarian electro-pop band Neo, (I'd direct you to their official site if it was working properly).

The details of the Chemical Brothers video are:

Chemical Brothers "The Boxer"
Album: Push the Button
Label: Astralwerks
Director: Ne-o
Time: 3:22

Ne-o is a two person team of Jake Knight and Ryoko Tanaka. It's worth checking out the Ne-o official site (which does work). You can watch some of their other work for companies such as Volkswagen, SonyEricsson, MTV and Nike.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Filming in Budapest (II)

I've written before about filming in Budapest and I don't think the horse has quite expired so I'm going to flog it some more.

Read moreFirst off, I spotted them filming again on the corner of Nagymezõ and Király. They were shooting a rainy scene with water being pumped into the air around a car on the pavement. I wonder if they had been waiting for the real rain to stop falling before they could get the shot.

Recently, I also saw a music video being filmed next to the opera. There was a small crew working with two sultry actors but the majority of the people were enjoying breakfast (or perhaps lunch) at the impromptu cafe that has spilt out of the crew buses onto the pavement.

I'll have to keep my eye on VIVA (the Hungarian equivalent of MTV) to see who it really was.

Speaking of MTV, I switched over to the channel the other day and watched a new Chemical Brothers video. I realised The Boxer was shot in Budapest. It cuts through the scenes quite smartish so I'm ashamed to say that I can't quite place the places but it's definitely in Hungary.

You can watch the video for yourself off the net. Choose either the Windows Media Player clip or the Real Media clip.

To finish off this old nag, here's a quick link to an ex-Bp-er's guide to films shot in places pretending to be somewhere else.

Cool Sea Breeze

Not exactly a cool sea breeze, but the air down by the Danube on Monday night was considerably more bearable than the general stuffiness that ensconced the rest of the city. We had gone to investigate the Újbuda Part, which seems to be the beach area for this year after the Budapest Plage was cancelled this year (so I hear from the grapevine).

Read more
It's not quite as extensive as the original beach in Ujpest but it's got sand, deckchairs, music, bars and even a lighthouse. What more could you wish for?

Just take the tram to the Buda side of Petőfi Híd and get off with all the far-to-young-to-be-out-this-late people heading to Zöld Pardon. Dodge the cars to get right down to the river. Walk past the great A38 boat and you'll be there.

There was cold beer, a stage, henna tattoos, cold beer, kareoke, hippy stalls, cold beer and plenty of syndicated bars (Zöld Pardon and Darshan where there) selling cold beer.

It's not going to be there long so I recommend you get your flip-flops out and relax on the beach, watching the boats go by and the new national theatre decide which colour to be.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Life in the Fast Lane

Boring bit for non-car fans, but I keep seeing very smart and very expensive cars in Budapest nowadays. Where are they coming from?

Few weeks ago spotted a Lambo Gallardo about town. Italian plates so probably a visiting playboy.

Read moreBut the Ferrari in this pic was definitely Hungarian and it was a proper plate too, meaning they paid all the taxes on it. Gasp!

But to cap that, I was walking along Andrassy yesterday evening and a Ferrari Enzo went past. It was too quick for a pic and even for me to see what country it was from. Now some people may think I'm being silly but seriously, does someone around have that sort of money to drop on a car. But if they do, then respect to them. Definitely not disrespect. I mean, I'd quite like to keep my kneecaps.

War of the Roads

Watched the new War of the Worlds the other day over at MOM Park. It's a bit of a trek from where I live, I mean, it's in Buda for heaven's sake! But when all other cinemas are showing the dubbed version then MOM's the word.

Read moreAll around there are sinister machines that appear to come from another planet wreaking destruction about the planet causing mass upheaval and misery. This isn't about the film, this is real life in Budapest. With the roadworks affecting both vehicles and pedestrians alike.

The latest scene of carnage is at Király utca where the tripods JCBs moved in and tore up the town. Is it just me or do these diggers look like meanacing, alien machines?

Mind Your Head

Not uncommon in Budapest is the sight of scrawled signs warning of death and destruction coming from above.

I'm not talking about the preachers at Nyugati underpass prophesizing the coming of Jesus (Jesus is alive, Jesus loves you, sign up for God's special offer today or there's no saving you).

Read moreArgh! The photo's missing! You'll see it soon. Ahhh.... lovely pics....

I'm refering to the enterprising mountaineering people that dangle from the tops of the buildings and abseil down, cleaning and scrubbing as they go.

I don't think I've seen the phenomenon in the UK where it's probably cheaper to spend thousands of pounds on fancy gizmo robot thingy that cleans them automatically, than pay the window washer blokes their wages.

No real comment on this one, more of an observation. I wonder if they sing when they're cleaning windows.