Jul 13, 2007

Stay safe on Saturday the 14th

Just a friendly reminder that Saturday the 14th always follows Friday the 13th. Be cautious, don't turn on your computer, and, above all, take care of your friends.

Jul 12, 2007

Burnapest launches...

Saturday the 14th has officially branched out. Check out Burnapest for daily (sort of) culture and news from Budapest. Check out the history and zeitgeist of Central Europe's greatest city, and find out how life imitates art in this rapidly changing region.

Jul 3, 2007

Night at the Museum

Fortunately, Budapest's version was much more successful than the Ben Stiller film of the same name. In the film, the great Ricky Gervais played the castrato role of Dr. McPhee, but in the Budapest night at the museum, tourists and locals alike only had to pay 1200 forints (around six bucks) for access into over 50 museums, libraries and other venues.

DJs, dance troupes, Latin cuisine, and lots and lots of people. So many people, in fact, that wait times were up to an hour to get into the better exhibits -- namely an Incan artifact exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts and a Ghengis Khan exhibit at the National Museum.
On a night like this, I found it best to see as many of the smaller exhibits as you can. Namely those you would usually put at the end of your list. For example, and no offense, the Postamuzeum (museum of postage and communication) where a rare stamp collection was displayed or perhaps the Zwack Unicum museum where you could learn everything that goes into making the most offensive alcoholic beverage in Europe.

Jun 28, 2007

Chaotic weather weekend

The clouds over Buda turned charcoal Friday night and in a matter of moments both sides of the Danube were soaked and scorched. Licks of lightning split trees left and right and most of Hungary felt the drenching.

Fortunately, nobody died, unlike last August 20 when revelers filled the streets of Budapest to celebrate St. Stephen's day -- the Hungarian national holiday. A similar summer storm broke in the middle of the festivities. The winds were so strong that a stack of glassware atop the Marriott Hotel blew into a panicky crowd below... Ouch!

The latest thunderstorms have led to brisk breezes and cooler weather, though, and it was pretty cool to see those clouds come in. It was kind of like Ghostbusters when the Keymaster found the gatekeeper.

Jun 22, 2007

Cannes on the cheap -- the pros and Cannes

It is possible, with a little elbow grease and some Mary Poppins style packing, to attend the Cannes film festival like a star without maxing out credit cards or taking out a second mortgage. There are a few tricks worth revealing, from camping to rush ticket line waiting, that will keep your total budget below $50 a day without sacrificing the glamor of the celebrity-filled festival.

Parc Bellevue Campsite is wonderful. If you bring a tent, then you've got a secure spot with a swimming pool, showers and bathrooms for under $20 a day -- don't forget your own toilet paper. There are also nice mobile units available for around $60 a night. They have beds and other necessities as well as private patios for a little chill out space.

Be warned! The Web site promises that La Croisette is only a "few minutes" away. Perhaps, if you're testing one of the Monaco Gran Prix cars in the middle of the night you can get there in four minutes. Otherwise, plebes must take the bus, which is only about a half an hour, but totally inconvenient. Taxis run you about 25 euros, depending on the night -- Ouch!

This is pretty cheesy, but it works. Stand outside the entrance into the Palais (the center of the festival) and hold a sign in French or English that you need tickets into, for example, the premier of "Ocean's 13." Somebody with credentials, and something better to do that night, will probably dump their invitation on someone who looks desperate enough. Otherwise, you'll need your own credentials, and unless you're in the film business that's not going to happen.

Cons -- Besides having to look desperate, you also have to look dapper. Men need to be in tuxedos and women just have to look pretty -- high heels instead of flip flops. If not, a polite yet firm Frenchman will tell you in so many words that you have no chance in hell of walking the red carpet. The French are sticklers for dressing up.

Solution -- Bring a tuxedo. Even a second-hand black suit will work. They actually have bow ties there for you to borrow (aren't they considerate). Women have it easy for once. A simple dress works.

There are hundreds of parties every day during the Festival de Cannes, so getting into a couple isn't too difficult. Along the Croisette, there are several beach parties throughout the day and night. If they're not busy, you just talk to the doormen for a while and pretend like you're going to buy tons of drinks, but do not, I repeat, do not buy a ton of drinks. They'll most likely let you in if it's slow.

The secret is to make sure the doorman remembers you. Kiss him on the cheek, shake his hand, do anything you think will cast a favorable impression on him -- pull your pants down if you want. If he remembers you, he might just let you in when the party is actually happening later on. You can also hang out in the hotel lobbies and whenever you see a lesser-known celebrity heading into a party, just follow nonchalantly behind. You might be mistaken as one of the entourage and be let in.

Cons -- Some who wait to get into parties can spend hours outside looking in, so be aggressive and if it doesn't work, move on. Life is too short to wait in long lines. Also, one drink can cost between 15 and 30 euros in the club, so have a bottle of wine somewhere else or go sober. There's enough to do and you never know who will offer you a little Dom Perignon.

Au Revoir Cannes

May 28, 2007

"Sicko" to make Americans sick

The Cannes jury chose a Romanian film, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" from director Cristian Mungiu as the top film of the festival this year. It's sure to be released in the United States thanks to the Palm D'Or, but who knows if anyone will jump to see it.

On the other hand, several American films premiering at the Festival de Cannes are sure to be blockbusters, with "Oceans 13" the obvious choice for American moviegoers -- Al Pacino adding to a cast already favored among girls and women alike. Thankfully, 13- to 35-year-old males have "Transformers" and "The Simpsons" to look out for.

Now to the indie-art house films that are sure to bring tears and a profound worldview to American audiences...


First off, there's "Sicko," the project Michael Moore began just after "Fahrenheit 9/11." The film explores America's failing HMO system, and in typical Moore fashion, it follows lovable, patriotic Midwesterners through the process of denied health insurance claims.

Over the last several years, Moore's team documented tragic stories of death, sickness and financial ruin all thanks to the callous M.D. administrators running the country's multi-trillion dollar health insurance industry. In contrast, the second half of the film explores the universal health care systems of countries such as England, France and Canada. The real kicker comes when he escorts a group of 9/11 volunteers, invalid with respiratory problems and without insurance, past the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and into Cuba where smiling doctors provide care and medication for mere pennies.

Of course, Moore paints far to rosy a picture of these health care systems to cement his argument. The British will be the first to tell you that their experiences and Moore's conjecture don't exactly line up. Also, the Cuban doctors were way too nice -- it was almost as if the minister of health was looking over their shoulders.

Despite the criticism, which Moore has seen a fair share of on previous films, the movie has a good shot at winning over American moviegoers in both red and blue states. I mean, who doesn't have a HMO horror story that they're at least connected to on a secondary level. There's always the single mother who lost her job in retail after the chemotherapy left her wasted and frail. And, don't forget the independent carpenter who lost his fingers and his livelihood as well.

Oh, and Hillary Clinton, you might want to start the P.R. machine now. This film brings back some ugly memories -- and you thought Moore was a democrat.


So, I unfortunately didn't get to see the next few films, the screenings can be pretty exclusive, but you can't help but pay attention to the buzz, so keep an eye out.

"No Country For Old Men," by Joel and Ethan Coen is a deconstructed crime drama that follows a man who happens upon a stash of heroin, $2 million and a bunch of dead thugs. A homicidal maniac follows him through the desert in search of his goods with plenty of violence and some typical Coen brothers dialogue.


For any former skate rat, this beautifully filmed feature by Gus Van Sant is a must see. It's about a skateboarder who kills, of course, a security guard. The movie is supposed to tap into the psyche of a generation without any real identity, but we'll see about that when it comes out. Everybody keeps talking about the cinematography.


In keeping with rebellious cinema, keep an eye out for "Persepolis," a French-Iranian animated film from Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. The feature follows a girl who grows up in Tehran and dreams of becoming a revolutionary. Sent to Austria for safety, the girl soon learns what repression is all about.

May 27, 2007

Get out while the gettin's good!

While the Cannes film festival ends today, we thought it might be a good idea to beat the rush and be on our way to Budapest, and while we weren't able to see all the best movies premiering there, Gus Van Sant's "Paranoid Park" and the Coen brothers' "No Country for Old Men" got the best reviews, we did manage to catch a couple premiers and reviews will come within the next days.

Our last night ended with a bang. Michelle exited the V.I.P. Room with none other than Quentin Tarantino, who was hosting the party for the European debut of "Death Proof." We met Tarantino earlier at the party and had no idea that Michelle would be blinded by the flash of papparazi outside the club. Other celebs include the three Rs -- Rosario Dawson, Robert Rodriguez and Rose McGowan.
Here's McGowan with the coolest bouncer ever, thanks Allen!

Communication is tough while on the road, so further postings are pending... Till next time.

May 21, 2007

They show movies here too...

The Festival de Cannes carries on, but who knows how long we will. Saturday was when everybody decided to show up, so the parties got a lot more exclusive and, for true film afficianados, it became time to get down to business.

First of all, we learned that Gerard Butler is slightly perturbed because the film "Watchmen" is still in the gutter due to creative differences with producers and the great Alan Moore. Butler really wants to work on the project but for the time being he's promoting "Nim's Island."

Just on the side, "Ender's Game" is in production.

I had an interview today with the director and writer of the soon to be released "Opal." Dina Ciraulo is a San Francisco film maker with a lot of promise. Hopefully, you'll read more about her soon in a Bay Area publication ala Brent Begin.

Also, we went to St. Tropez this morning for a little break. It was fantastic.

By the way, here's a shameless picture of Jessica Simpson. Nice tan...

We are still going out of course...

And this was a complete surprise, U2 played "Where the Streets Have no Names" and "Vertigo."
Au revoir, and don't worry, there's an editorial coming soon.

May 18, 2007

Opening a Cannes of worms

Bonjour, and happy Friday everyone. The Festival de Cannes is turning out to be everything it's cracked up to be and Michelle and I have so many stories to tell. From a Puccini recital to a sunrise on the yacht of Saudi royalty, the first two nights of the festival have been all about parties and celebrity sightings.

Wednesday was opening night and a black tie gala at the Palais attracted everyone from stars to film students. Unfortunately, we weren't invited, but it was a different story at the V.I.P. Room afterward where Moby entertained a chic jet-set crowd. Michelle had a chat with Gerard Butler, otherwise known as King Leonidas of "300," and he turned out to be more than congenial.

Thursday, Michelle's help for the San Francisco Film Society at the Cinecitta press conference landed us an invitation to their gala dinner. It began with a goose bump-inspiring recital of Puccini's La Boheme and Madama Butterfly. The singers, Tiziana Ducati and Giorgio Berrugi, as well as pianist Francesca Tosi filled the Hilton lobby with a few tear-jerking arias.

Afterward, we followed Maria de Medeiros, of "Pulp Fiction" fame into the bowels of the Carlton hotel for a Nikki Beach extravaganza with a live house vocalist and just few bottles of Dom Perignon.

Back at the aforementioned V.I.P. Room, Pamela Anderson was kissing on some bearded dude while Kid Rock showed off one of his hats.

Then we met three Saudi princes who invited us back to their yacht. While it wasn't as impressive as the Afghan prince's ocean liner anchored in the harbor, it did boast two Picassos and a few Chagalls. We spent most of our time with feet in spa. I'll let the pictures explain.

So now it's Friday night and I've got to go. We miss everybody and I heard San Francisco is beautiful right now. Au Revoir!!!

Cannes you come up with a pun?

So, there are so many puns already out there for Cannes -- Cannes you dig it, etc. I'm turning it over to you, fair readers. Please help name the next blog entry using the word Cannes (pronounced can, with a softish a). The winner receives praise and, perhaps, international acclaim.

Just put your entry into the comments section, and let those creative juices flow!

May 11, 2007

Closing night at the San Francisco Int'l Film Festival

The San Francisco International Film Festival came to a close last night with a screening of "La Vie en Rose," a movie about the life of Edith Piaf. The movie was an emotional portrait of the French singer and the audience at the Castro Theater was treated to an interview after the film with Director Olivier Dahan.

While Dahan struggled to speak about the movie in front of such a large crowd, it was nice of him to give it a shot. He was considerably warmer at the party afterward at Mezzanine where a host of film industry types cruised the club in search of late-night companionship with not-so-film-industry types.

Couldn't make it to the after party at Tosca, I've gotta pack.

By the way, Mexican film "The Violin" stole the show this year, winning the $10,000 SKYY Prize and garnering the most audience votes.

Thanks, San Francisco Film Society for all your hard work. On to Cannes...

May 9, 2007

Ever heard of Similac?

A vegan couple has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering their six-week old son by means of malnourishment -- damnnnnnnn.

The Atlanta pair fed the boy, Crown Shakur, a diet of merely apple juice and soy milk (I told you that stuff will kill). On top of murder and cruelty to children, the jury found Jade Sanders, 27, and Lamont Thomas, 31, guilty of an enhancement -- coming up with the worst name ever. If the kid didn't die of starvation, he would of died of shame once he hit the second grade.

Unfortunately for vegans, living on succotash and chickpeas doesn't qualify as a religion. So, while Christian Scientists can get away with letting their kids die due to the good grace of God, animal lovers have less of a chance of getting away with letting their pale skeletal children waste away.

May 5, 2007

Hot jalepeno briefs!!!

So, it's time for us to all get together and celebrate the independance of Mexico -- from France. Unfortunately, some folks forgot that there was a difference between France and Mexico. Anyway, there are enchiladas, and bean dip, and guacamole, and other fun stuff here. Come on over!

Oh yeah, that's right. You're too late.

Tonight, the San Francisco Film Festival is hitting its mid point and there's a great screening of the movie "Delirous," and of course there's a party at Suite 181 for the "Centerpiece." More to come...

May 4, 2007

Behind Saturday the 14th

So, whenever you think you have an original name for your blog, you should always look before you leap. Saturday the 14th is not only the day after Friday the 13th, when, in my experience, everything seems to go wrong, it is also the name of a hilarious cult film starring none other than Jeffrey Tambor of Arrested Development.
Strangely enough, the name of the movie's screenwriter is Jeff Begun -- maybe a past incarnation of myself. Anyway, much props to Mr. Begun. Hopefully there's still an original idea out there, so I can begin/begun this fair blog with a decent title.

I'm your trash bitch Coachella!

Coachella organizers promoted a “green” festival this year with incentive plans and other trendy ideas. Pick up bottles and get free water. Carpool and be entered into a VIP for life contest. There were solar panels, bicycle powered phone chargers, bio-fueled barbeques and more. Incredible, just like Burning Man!

Here’s the pitch for the water bottle recycling program:

“New for 2007...Recycle your empties. Bring us 10 empty water bottles you find laying around the polo field and redeem them for 1 new free bottle of water. Please help keep the polo field clean, Recycle and stay hydrated all at the same time.”

Well, good for you Golden Voice. Not only did you cut down on your energy bills, but you managed to turn me – and many others – into your own little MOOP bitches.

The actual execution of the bottle-recycling gimmick turned out to be nothing more than that, a novel way to get paying festival goers to clean up after the slobs who still haven’t learned to walk the extra ten feet to drop trash in a box.

Next time can you give us some equipment so we don’t have to bend over and strain our backs. I think the Park Patrol Trash Picker with a nice nylon bag would suffice.

After collecting 30 bottles outside the festival gates in 105-degree weather, I was told by security that I couldn’t bring them into the festival where eager Coachella employees were waiting to exchange them for three chilled Crystal Geysers. Security risk I guess... Attention Homeland Security! San Francisco man attempts to bring empty bottles into desert festival.

Luckily, there were recycle bins at the gate so I did succeed in slowing global warming. Once inside the festival, I began collecting again and, before you know it, I had 10 bottles within minutes. Unfortunately, when I dumped them at a water vendor next to the main stage, a friendly man told me there was no way in hell he would depart with one of those ice-soaked goodies.

It took me a while to figure out there was only one place to redeem the empty bottles, and after further lining my hands with gook and grime, I took my barter booty and waited in line – for a while. I got my water.

50 empty bottles = 1 free water, thanks.

Oh, and where the hell was I supposed to enter into the carpoolchella raffle? Nevermind, I just missed Tokyo Police Club.

Excuse me sir, is this where I recycle my bottles?

May 1, 2007

Coachella winners, and some losers...

Call me old fashioned, but I think the tango-pop-hip-hop sounds of Gotan Project stole the stage at the Coachella Valley music festival over the weekend.

Competing against a rocking LCD Soundsystem set and a dull repeat performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it’s no wonder less than 3,000 people were there to see them. Among those who did, however, there were looks of astonishment as well as knowing smiles as the Argentine-Parisian group kept a steady, thumping beat. Nobody seemed to notice they went over their set time until they pulled the plug on their violinist.

For those who haven’t heard these songs already, check out “Diferente” and “Mi Confesion” on the band’s Myspace page. By the way, who knew you could dance the tango on grass? Well my wife Michelle and I succeeded. Que Bueno.

But don’t let that glowing review take anything away from Bjork’s innovative Friday performance. Unlike RHCP, her albums just get better all the time, and her 16-song set on Friday surpassed the memorable 2002 performance.

The little imp walked onstage in what looked like a sultan’s headdress made of jellybeans. She began with the entertainingly smug “Earth Intruders” and continued with a dizzy mix of electro-ballads. As the set moved forward, a gang of fans in front, all female and all under 5 feet 5 inches tall, wept and danced and pushed past anyone taller than themselves. It was incredible to see.

The ReacTable was an interesting attraction as well, but since the Website boasts that even a child can master the musical interface tool, maybe we shouldn’t be too impressed.

As far as Sunday goes, I opted for the pool, but according to correspondents Wade Jones (of Vomica fame) and Nicole Skillern, Rage Against the Machine had at least 50,000 people eating revolution pills from their hands.

Apparently, when all those sweaty fans left the gates with fists flung in the air, police assumed a stance of humble acquiescence. Probably the best decision Indio’s finest has ever made.

I don't want to forget all the others who brought their A-game: Interpol, Brazilian Girls, Ozomatli -- was that the mayor of Indio? the Decemberists, Sonic Youth, Manu Chao, a surprising Tiesto, and all the others who were forgotten or missed.

Better luck next time to Air who seemed to think folks would wait around for their set. Just because it works for Madonna doesn't mean it'll work for you. And Felix da Housecat, what was that about? The last time I heard a full version of "Tainted Love," in its complete original state without remix, I was in an Irish pub in San Francisco and some jock spilled beer on me.

Biggest disappointment: Kings of Leon. They were just flat. Till next year...