Marketa Lazarová

At its core, Marketa Lazarová is the story of two rival clans in early 13th century Bohemia: the primitive Pagan raiders the Kozlíks, lorded over by a brutal patriarch; and the slightly more civilized Lazars, led by an opportunistic father who, while unwilling to participate in the bloody raids perpetrated by the Kozlíks, is more than happy to swoop in after the fact and scavenge for anything he might think could be of value.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

A fairytale about a young girl attempting to navigate the many predators surrounding her becomes an allegory for the challenges of womanhood and the trials faced by then Czechoslovakia in the face of Soviet aggression.

Speculum Alchemiae

When it comes to spooks and spectres and things that go bump in the night, Prague is undeniably one of the richest towns in the world. Its bizarre history, winding streets, and jumble of architecture spanning centuries’ worth of styles make it the perfect setting for tales of the macabre and unexplained. On these streets…

Cultural Gutter: Einstein and the Bearded Lady

Time for another Frolic Afield over at The Cultural Gutter, where I am writing Einstein and the Bearded Lady, about the Czech science fiction comedy I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen (Zabil jsem Einsteina, panove) from 1970. The film asks the question, “What would men of the future be willing to risk to make sure women don’t…

I Am Iron Man

In our recent article about the Rabbi Loew/Golem trail in Prague, we mentioned the statue of the Iron Knight (or Iron Man) that stands vigil over Prague’s Old Town from a corner in the city hall building. Because the other corner is occupied by a statue of Rabbi Loew himself, and because the legend of…

On the Trail of the Golem

The history of Prague seems tailor-made to appeal to a vast number of my personal obsessions, among them my fascination with the history of magic and alchemy and the story of Rabbi Loew and the golem. Modern Prague has not failed to capitalize on this history of mystery and magic, as places like the Museum…

Alcohol Professor: On the Prowl in Prague for Czech Whisky

It’s an amazing testament to my willpower that on my latest Frolic Afield over at Alcohol Professor, I did not title the article “Czeching out Czech Whisky” or “The Head of the Cock.” Anyway, On the Prowl for Czech Whisky is my look at two Czech single malts, the low-end Gold Cock and much higher…

Alcohol Professor: Czech Craft Beer & the Prague Beer Museum

Everyone knows the Czech Republic is the beer capital of the world, but as I discovered for my latest Frolic Afield to Alcohol Professor, the way bars and restaurants contract with breweries means you often can only get one type of beer at a location, and then only one of the macro-brews. But the Prague…

Karel Zeman Galleries

Recently, we posted a look at the films of Czech animator and filmmaker Karel Zeman. Since basically every frame of each of his films is an amazing screencap, we went a little overboard. However, in an effort to keep the article itself from reaching epic lengths and load times, it included only a limited number…

The Fabulous World of Karel Zeman

If you took special effects film pioneer Georges Melies and combined him with stop motion animation genius Ray Harryhausen and surreal fantasist Terry Gilliam, then taught him to speak Czech, you’d have a film maker very close to Karel Zeman. I was strolling across Prague’s Karluv Most, as is the way of a jetsetting international…

Prague Museum of Communism

Nestled with irony between a McDonald’s and a casino is Prague’s Museum of Communism (only the KGB Museum has a more deliciously ironic location, next door to the heavily guarded U.S. embassy). It walks the thin line between being another tacky tourist trap museum (which I love) and an actual educational experience (which I also…