Allergic to . . . Laško? Oh no!

The other night we went for drinks with friends, and ended up in a bar to keep out of the cold. I ordered a Laško and sat back in my chair to enjoy my drink. Minutes later, my face became red and swollen, which was immediately noticed by everyone. I had to reassure them I wasn't going to fall unconscious or anything.

Great, I thought, my bloody English-Scottish genes are really kicking in. I'm a red-faced drunk. Wonderful.

Anyway, we later walked home and my face returned to normal. I also drank Union that night, and I racked my brain trying to figure out if it was Union or Laško that caused my reaction. When I got home I cracked open another Laško to experiment. I got halfway through the can and my face became puffy and red once again.

This is kind of unsettling. Am I allergic to Laško, or Union, or both? Or maybe I'm developing an allergy to beer? Or alcohol? That could pretty much end my life right there. I mean, I'm still cutting out cigarettes, but now I can't drink? Can't a man have any vices?

Of course, it could have been an off night for me, and by New Year's Eve I'll be back in shape.

Remnants of future past.

Jan Kempenaers has an exhibit on ex-Yugoslavian public monuments, some of which are absolutely spectacular (pic on the right is unrelated). These massive structures are both eerie and magnificent: eerie because of their sheer size and isolation, and magnificent because they really embody the "forward-thinking," post-modern Communist aesthetic that dominated architecture and design for years. The forms these structures take are almost alien, both symmetrical and unbalanced like a curious musical piece.

Searching for these monuments would make an interesting field trip.


After the fact.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and to get back into my routine I discovered some interesting cultural differences between Slovenian and Canadian Christmas traditions. Of course, this little blurb is more for our (few) Canadian readers, but our Slovenian readers might find this interesting as well.

Okay, I focused more on mythological figures rather than actual cultural practices, but I did notice one thing: I found that Slovenians tend to celebrate more on Christmas Eve than on Christmas Day. Some felt it was "too late" to wish us Merry Christmas on the actual day.

St. Nicholas, or Miklavž, is accompanied by Krampus, a devilish character brandishing a length of chain. Krampus is disciplinary in nature, punishing children who misbehave during the year. He is Miklavž's foil - one rewards, and the other . . . well, not so much. In North America, kids get coal in their stocking rather than receive a lashing from a demonic apparition. Personally, I'm partial to Krampus. Mixing terror and treats is more interesting than saccharine sentimentalism.

Dedek Mraz
, otherwise known as Grandpa Frost, is another figure who appears during the holidays. Dedek Mraz has some significant differences from St. Nicholas: he's thinner, wears a grey coat and dormouse cap, and delivers presents on New Year's Eve.

There you have it.


Vesel božič!

Merry Christmas to all!

And to all a good night.

If you are in the neighbourhood . . .

Dear blog and 'real world' friends,

If you are in our general vicinity, please feel free to drop by for a visit and festive drink today or tomorrow. Our lovely Dolenski landlords just dropped by and brought us a tray of pršut and cheese, so we (vegetarians) need your help! We also have more Christmas cookies, chocolate and wine then we know what to do with. The door is open!



Christmas Eve and it's snowing in our neighbourhood. We've been a bit out of commission the last couple of weeks, me with a cold from hell, Jay with school work and projects. As Pengovsky points out, I'm not the only one to have caught the bug: half of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the mayor and several members of the Slovenian blogging community were down for the count. Thanks to a certain Medicine Fairy who loaded me up with Paracetamol and Vitamin C, I managed to stop wandering around in a fevered daze. Mostly I feel better, though I'm still only sleeping an hour or two each night because of the coughing. I'm sure Jay and the neighbours appreciate that. For now, we're decorating and cleaning up Casa Canadiens in preparation for the Big Day. I'll post some more after the decorations are up.


Christmas in Ljubljana.

I was chatting with a friend on MSN and she jokingly suggested I write a short story entitled "A Child's Christmas in Ljubljana," a series of vignettes about a man recollecting his childhood memories of spending the holidays in Slovenia. Of course, the narrative would be an utter lie but I suspect I'll make millions before the public catches on. Watch for it in your local bookstore!

But, the holiday is encroaching on us and as usual everyone we know, and ourselves included, are incredibly busy preparing for the Big Day. That doesn't just mean buying decorations and presents and other sundry items. No, like all responsible adults we are desperately finishing projects so we have little to do while we nurse our holiday hangovers. Lisa and I made it to the Lighting Ceremony awhile back and we've been taking in the local ambiance as much as possible (read: mulled wine and roasted chestnuts). First, some gratuitous cat-blogging:

As you can see, our cat adores Slovenia. We discovered he's fond of Italian cuisine.

The giant Christmas tree in Prešernov trg.

This year's theme is Macrocosms and Microcosms, hence the massive floating DNA and galaxy.

Vendors line the sidewalks along the Ljubljanica River.

Lighting up Kongresni trg.

We had some snowfall last night and we're expecting a little more in the coming week. I think that's all I got at the moment. More later, I'm sure. All photos by Lisa!


Can anyone recommend an electronics store in Ljubljana that would sell decent (and hopefully decently priced) headphones?


I am looking for a job.

This afternoon I'm going to a talk on how to find work in the EU, hosted at my faculty. I'll file a report on my impressions when I get back.

UPDATE: I went to my faculty and looked for the event but couldn't find anything even remotely looking like a seminar or workshop or whatever. The person working behind the information desk had no idea what I was talking about when I asked about it. Oh, well. I'm still looking.


30 Years of Slovenian Punk Rock.

Last night was the sold out reunion show for the first major punk band in Yugoslavia, Pankrti ("The Bastards"). Before fans of Paraf jump all over me, I should acknowledge that there is some debate as to who came first. Pankrti had the first album out though, and it was their 30th birthday as a band, so I think it's fair to accord them the title for now.

The crowd was a mix of old and young (some so much so that they probably weren't born before Pankrti stopped performing together), and everyone went nuts when the band came on. Peter Lovšin may look like a middle aged guy, but he rocked out nonstop like a teenager during the set and two encores, at one point doing a backwards summersault while keeping time with a tambourine.

Contrary to rumours, Niet didn't play last night, due to some dispute or demand that couldn't be met. On the other hand, as Iva pointed out, Ivan Kral (guitarist for Patti Smith and Iggy Pop) played with the band as a special guest.

For those of you who didn't make it, I've dug up some old Yugoslav punk clips. Enjoy!

Bandiera Rossa, the song that had all of Hala tivoli pogoing like mad.

Album version of Bandiera, with still shots of Communist parades and demonstrations from around the world. Bandiera rossa la trionferà! Prešeren square makes a quick cameo.

Niet, the no-shows, playing Lep dan za smrt.

Niet, Ritem človeštva.

Vintage concert footage of Pankrti and others from Kongresni trg. This is how young Slovenians rolled in 1988.

A clip from the film Outsider. Bosnian band Zabranjeno pušenje does a great version of Anarhija, called "Anarhija all over Baščaršija" but I can't seem to find it online.

Just so Rijekans wouldn't feel left out, some footage of Paraf (also rumoured to play with Pankrti, possibly on a reunion tour through ex-Yu countries) set to one of their songs.


If you're looking for something to do in Ljubljana tonight, there is a World Aids Day concert in Kongresni trg.