Friday, August 31, 2012

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back in Poznan baby!

Yep, that's right, I'm officially back in town. Yeah, yeah, I know, physically, I've been back for over a month (just ask my students), but psychologically, I just got back an hour ago. Huh? Well, long story short, my brain works in such a way that I don't feel like I'm really here until I'm connected to the outside world, and that means being wired up to the world wide web, and ladies and gentlemen, it happened about half an hour ago. That's right, a month and a week after moving in, that lovely utility company INEA finally seems to have gotten there act together and I'm now surfing the net!

Just in time too, as it's time to announce our next pub quiz/trivia night extravaganza. Thursday November 20th, this time at Coxy's Bar and Grill, the festivities will be getting under way around 9pm, as the saying goes, be there, or be square!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

There are no goodbyes...

The summer solstice has passed which means a couple of things. One, the days will once again begin to shorten bit by bit and two, I must be packing my bags. The life of a nomadic English teacher; find a new place, teach eight months, pack and clean, travel for a few months and start again in the fall. I celebrated my unofficial going away party yesterday with a music festival featuring Morcheeba and The Manic Street Preachers which finally gave me a chance to explore the Malta area a little and in the end I wound up having a good time.

The signs were ominous. Repeated text messages warning of intense security and lack of beer. Plus the normal confusion of figuring anything out in Poland, if you haven't done it or been there, the only way to figure anything out is to follow the crowd. Upon finding the entrance things don't look good as it seems to be true, there are more security personnel than fans. However, there does seem to be a Lech tent, there must be beer, stupid British friends. Entry also proved less stressful than a flight check in as we weren't carrying any food or beverages. Even the task of finding my friends visiting from Krakow was easy, but then things take a turn for the worse. It's about 5pm and they are entering their third hour without beer. The beer tent turns out to be exclusively for VIP's (most of whom seemed to be no different than you or me, save for the expensive camera around their necks alongside the plastic ID card, passes into Nirvana). Making matters worse, the clearing in the woods where the site of the festival took place, quite beautiful in it's pristine state I'm sure, was dotted with the churches of the capitalist faith. Red Bull tents, coffee stands, Coke, telepizza and of all things a Malboro booth! Caffeine and nicotine, but no alcohol.

It's a slippery slope this country seems to be taking. I understand the need to create a safe atmosphere, one where families can enjoy a music festival alongside fans of all backgrounds. However, by creating this mecca of corporate culture, the organizers also help in moving society in the wrong direction, ie. towards America and away from Europe. My British friends were in shock. An outdoor summer music festival, beerless. Fear of a few drunks is no reason to not have a beer garden at a festival. Thanks to the no re-entry policy at the gate, by the time the Street Preachers finished it was getting on 11pm and my friends were in hour 9 without beer, not to mention I was entering my 6th.

The show was a blast even without beer I must admit. Sofa featured one die hard fan up front thrashing around and Anna Dabrowska had a few catchy tunes plus what appeared to be a unique ability to dance while her shirt stayed still. I might piss a few bleeding hearts off by what I have to say about what happened next but...c'mon. Before the next act, a man came out, said a few things of which I only caught a few words. Then he said "...Allegro!" and for the first time, after two hours of music, most of the crowd rose to their feet and cheered. He had the people crying Hallelujah to their corporate god, it was truly revolting. Turns out that he was a pretty famous guy, Jerzy Owsiak who started some charity for kids. Between him and another announcer, Allegro was chanted more than 10 times in a few minutes, with the twin spires to this deity rising on both sides of the stage.

Part of the Process - Morcheeba

Morcheeba was just that, Morcheeba. They played their classics and got me grooving before the closing act, the ones my British friends had come to see. The Manic Street Preachers have been around for a good decade and over that time have amassed quite a festival following. So when they struck the first chord, much of the crowd roared their approval and began to bounce around. Their set was good fun with a few highlights such as If You Tolerate This (one of the songs I knew before the show). Here's a little you tube from yesterday to get you in the mood:

Thanks to a miscalculation on my part, we didn't wind up breaking the beer drought until about midnight. 10 hours without beer, filled with Red Bull and Coke. Thanks for the concert Allegro, but really, a security fence could be built to contain the frenzied fans, even with beer in their system.

See you next year Poznań! Anyone interested in writing articles for this site, be they your experience as a Pole here or abroad or a foreigner trying to make their way here, please get in touch with me either via the message board to the right or at

PS. A plea for help! If anyone hears or knows of a flat/apartment that will be available October 1st, please let me know, once again by message board or email. Relatively close to the centre, around 50m and 1000zł. Thanks in advance!

If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next - Manic Street Preachers

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pub Night 3

So, Pub Quiz 3 went down last night and I'm sure you're all dying to have the questions and answers at your finger tips, so here they are:
The first inter-round was Geoff's math round,

Maths Round

This is a conversation between a shopkeeper and a customer. Explain how it makes sense.

Customer: How much will one cost?

Shopkeeper: 25 pence

Customer: How much will fifteen cost?

Shopkeeper: 50 pence

Customer: OK then, I’ll take one hundred and sixteen, please.

Shopkeeper: Thank you. That will be 75 pence.

You have to think of the numbers separately. The shop is one that sells numbers to put in front of your house. Each number costs 25 pence.

In a mathematical context what is the importance of this following sentence (think in circles):

How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy chapters involving quantum mechanics.

Here you have to think of circles. As in the mathematical constant pi. Each word has the number of letters corresponding the the sequence of pi. How=3, I=1, want=4.....3.14159265358979323846264....

A hammer and a nail cost $31. If the hammer costs $30 more than the nail, what is the cost of each?

Easier than the rest, $30.50 and $0.50

This is a combination of maths and British trivia.

Take the age of Prince Charles and multiply it by the number of corgis (a breed of dog) that the Queen owns. Add this total to the number of years Queen Elizabeth the Second has been queen. Finally, subtract from this total the number of kings and queens the UK has had since William the Conqueror.11111

What is you final number?

That damn Geoff still hasn't given me the answer, I'll look it up later.

In a men’s singles five set match what is the minimum number of shots a player must make to win the match?

As above, I'll figure it out when I have time.

Round 1- Where am I?

1. I was completed in 1937 and connect San Francisco with Marin County. It costs $5.00 to cross me, a total distance of 2,737 metres.

The Golden Gate Bridge

2. I'm standing in a country in Asia. I am cut off from the world by some of the highest mountains in the world, in fact the highest unclimbed peak in the world is within my borders. 98% of my population practice a highly sexual form of Buddhism which may help explain why they are usually ranked amongst the happiest people in the world. I'm bordered to the south, east and west by India and to the north by China. My capital city is called Thimphu.


3. I'm standing on a group of islands about 1,000 km west of Ecuador. My most famous visitor came in 1835 aboard a ship called the Beagle and he was very interested in the animal life that had evolved on my islands

The Galapagos Islands

4. Staying in South America, now in Peru. I am a UNESCO World Heritage Sited about 80 km northwest of Cuzco. I have become the most familiar symbol of the Incan Empire and was built in about 1450 but abandoned during the Spanish invasion and not discovered by the west until the late 19th century.

Machu Pichu

5. I am standing about 300 metres underground in the place voted by readers of Rzeczpospolita newspaper in 2007 as the number one wonder of Poland, chosen from over 400 national monuments that were listed by Internet users as candidates. Where am I?

Wieliczka Salt Mine

6. Finally, a Canadian one for you... I'm standing on the border between the USA and Canada, between Ontario and New York State and I'm getting really wet because of all the water falling on me. Where am I?

Niagara Falls

Round 2-
Britain’s friends and former colonies (answers in bold)

1. India has the most of what type of typical town building in the world?

a. Bank

b. Post office

c. Town hall

d. Museum

2. What common farm animal is used for racing in Trinidad and Tobago? Goat

3. In South Africa the @ symbol used in email addresses has a nickname. This nickname describes the symbol as the tail of what animal? Monkey

4. Cleopatra was not Egyptian she was in fact ...? Greek

5. Which of these quite normal situations are in fact illegal in Denver, Colorado?

a. Borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbour

b. Lending your car to your neighbour

c. Lending your vacuum cleaner to your neighbour

d. Inviting your neighbours round for drinks after 10pm

6. Australia has not always had that name. It was once named a ‘new’ version of what European country? New Holland

Movie Lines:

1. 'You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off' - Michael Caine in The Italian Job.

2. 'I honestly think you ought to calm down, take a stress pill and think things over' - HAL 9000 computer to Dave Bowman (in 2001 again) after locking him out of the Discovery spacecraft.

3. 'We'll make him an offer he can't refuse' - Marlon Brando as the Godfather.

4. 'You're going to need a bigger boat' - Chief Brodie in Jaws.

5. 'Mother's not feeling very well at the moment' - Norman Bates in Psycho...

6. 'You gotta ask yourself one question - 'Do I feel lucky...' Well, do ya punk...' - Clint Eastwood as Harry Callaghan in Dirty Harry.

7. 'I'll be back' - Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator.

8. 'Here's Johnny...' - Jack Nicholson taking off the Johnny Carson Show in The Shining.

9. 'Always look on the bright side of life' - Eric Idle and the song from the soundtrack of The Life of Brian.

10. 'OK... what did the Romans ever do for us?' - John Cleese for the Judean Liberation Front, also in The Life of Brian.

11. 'That's not a knife... That's a knife!' - Paul Hogan as Crocodile Dundee in the film of the same name.

12. 'You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?' - Robert De Niro as Travis, in Taxi Driver.

13. 'Show me the money... Show me the money!' - Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire, in the film of the same name.

14. 'You're one groovy baby... baby' - Austin Powers. International Man of Mystery.

Round 3 - Music

1. Money - Pink Floyd
Money - Pink Floyd

2. Give Peace a Chance - John Lennon
Give Peace a Chance - John Lennon & the Plastic Ono Band

3. Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash

4. Redemption Song - Bob Marley
Redemption song - Bob Marley

5. Dancing Queen - ABBA
dancing queen - abba

6. Love Will Tear us Apart - Joy Division
Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980 - Joy Division

Round 4 - Numbers of the world (answers in bold)

1. How many species of spider does Australia have? (to within 100) 1500

2. The shortest war in history was between Zanzibar and England. How long did this war last before Zanzibar surrenderedt? 38 minutes

3. How many American citizens are currently in prison? 2.1 million

4. How many steps does the Eiffel tower have? 1792

5. The average pencil can draw a line that is how long in miles before it runs out? The nearest answer gets a point 35 miles

6. Sylvester Stallone received a tiny sum for his appearance in the first rocky film. How much was it?

a. $13,000

b. $23,000

c. $33,000

d. $43,000

Famous Lasts Words:

Below you will find the reported last words of famous people from history. Match one of the names below to their famous last words.

Ludwig van Beethoven, Julius Caesar, Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin, Bing Crosby, James Dean, Thomas Edison, Ulysses S. Grant, Jesus of Nazareth, John Lennon, Pablo Picasso, Marco Polo, Theodore Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw, Mother Teresa, Oscar Wilde

  1. That was a great game of golf, fellers. __________________________
  2. That guy's got to stop... He'll see us. ___________________________
  3. Applaud, my friends, the comedy is finished._____________________
  4. Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough! _____________
  5. My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.___________________________
  6. Et tu, Brute._______________________
  7. Drink to me!________________________
  8. Water.______________________
  9. I am not the least afraid to die.___________________________
  10. Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you._________________________
  11. Please put out the light.__________________________
  12. I'm shot, I'm shot.________________________
  13. It's very beautiful over there.________________________
  14. Dying is easy, comedy is hard._____________________________
  15. I'm bored with it all.____________________________
  16. Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.________________________
  17. I have not told half of what I saw.____________________________

Applaud, my friends, the comedy is finished.
Ludwig van Beethoven

Et tu, Brute.
Julius Caesar

I'm bored with it all.
Winston Churchill

That was a great game of golf, fellers.
Bing Crosby

I am not the least afraid to die.
Charles Darwin

That guy's got to stop... He'll see us.
James Dean

It's very beautiful over there.
Thomas Edison

Ulysses S. Grant

Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.
Jesus of Nazareth

Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough!
Karl Marx

I'm shot, I'm shot.
John Lennon

Drink to me!
Pablo Picasso

I have not told half of what I saw.
Marco Polo

Please put out the light.
Theodore Roosevelt

Dying is easy, comedy is hard.
George Bernard Shaw

Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you.
Mother Teresa

My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.
Oscar Wilde

Round 5 - Sports

1. Which 4 different cities have hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice?

Los Angeles, London, Paris and Athens.

2. On a darts board, what number is directly opposite the number 1? You have from 2 to 20.

Number 19

3. Who is the most successful club in the history of English football?

Liverpool of course!!!!

4. In which sport is it a bad thing to have love?

Tennis. It seems to have been adapted from the phrase 'to play for love (of the game)' (that is, to play for nothing). Although the theory is often heard that it represents the French word l'oeuf an 'egg' (from the resemblance between an egg and a nought) this seems unlikely.

5. Which sport do you have to pot your ball into pockets?


6. In which country is the worlds largest stadium (1 point) and how many people does it hold (1 point given for answers within 5,000).

The Rŭngrado May Day Stadium, in Pyongyang, North Korea holds 150,000 people.

Round 6 - Famous Lasts

This being the last round of questions, the final 6 will be about famous lasts, some easy, some hard…

  1. We all know who the first man on the moon was, right? But can you tell me who was the last man to be on the moon?.... Ha, too hard, I know. It was Eugene Cernan who said goodbye to our lone satellite with the words, “As we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.” Now, all you have to tell me is what year this happened in.
    December 1972
  2. What was the last state to join the United States of America?
  3. What was the name of the last Beatles album? For a bonus what was the last song on the 2nd side?
    Let it Be - Get Back
  4. When was the last day of the Soviet Union? When did the USSR cease to exist?
    December 31, 1991
  5. According to Revelations 6:2-8 which was the last of the four horses of the apocalypse?
  6. Good question for… what is the phobia that means the fear of being last?
    1. telesphobia
    2. bufonophobia ( the fear of toads)
    3. cacaphobia ( the fear of ugliness)
    4. atychiphobia (fear of failure

      And that's all folks. By the way the final results were as follows:
      1. No Name Team - 39
      2. Raisins - 36.5
      3. Go Peanuts - 33.5
      4. WHOT - 33
      5. Isfahan - 31
      6. Ibiza Dram - 27.5
      7. The Killers - 22.5
      8. Milky Way - DNF

      Thank everyone who came out and we hope to see you all again next year! I'll try to get more links up in the next few days to make it more interesting, so why don't you take a look at the message board and leave a comment!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Trivia Magic

No, you're not dreaming. It's true. I know, you can't really believe it, but trust us, it's back for one more run before summer! This time though, it's gonna be held in a new location: Klubokawiarnia Meskal. Or, just Meskal, it seems a little easier for a stupid Canadian like myself. If you don't know exactly where it is, I'll help you out, it's about 20 metres away from your favourite club, Alcatraz! Just kidding, but really, it's almost next door. Hope to see you all out again, we'll try to keep it exciting by throwing in a few twists, you never know what your gonna get unless your there, Monday, June 9th at 9pm!

Don't forget this is trivia #3, and three is the magic number, hit play below:
Three is a Magic Number - School House Rock

Sunday, May 25, 2008

...Eurovision, uuuuuuh

It's May and I'm in Europe. That can mean only one thing... that's right, it's Eurovision! For a non-European, the first time you watch it, the Eurovision song contest can seem like some kind of strange dream, or perhaps nightmare, depending how serious you take things. It is, for lack of a better term, the ultimate cheesefest; for some a cause for a yearly Eurovision party, others a source of shame. To me, it's something to look on at in wonder, especially when you notice the voting patterns. That's when the real fun starts, you can usually predict which country will vote for which.

Having grown from it's original intent 46 years ago to showcase the ability of European broadcasters to simultaneously broadcast throughout the continent to it's present incarnation showcasing talent (?!) from 25 European countries, I'm sure it's changed immensely over the years having seen Franco buying a title in an effort to improve Spain's image and European Union growth to 27 countries. This year's event is being held in Serbia as the host country is always the home of the previous year's winner. From the almost unbearable interplay between the two hosts speaking in English and French to many of the acts, it is truly laughable. However, there are always a few bright moments. For instance the vignettes introducing the countries that are played between acts which usually prove more entertaining than the acts themselves, or even the odd song that catches ones fancy.

Some random thoughts as the contest rolls out in front of me.

So far I've seen Romania, the UK, Albania, Germany and Armenia, but I've seen nothing even approaching interesting. Bosnia and Herzegovina are trying to change that with some kind of song and dance, which was the best of the first 6...only 19 to go. Not to sound political during Eurovision, but why is act seven Israel? Why are they are part of this and European football? Finland, the winner two years ago with another heavy metal entry, won't win it this year without costumes more original than fur shoulder pads, oooh an explosion. I like the old man opening the Croatian entry, but I think the football team has a better chance in the European Cup later this summer. Afraid to say that Poland has missed the boat on what seems to be the new trend in having your nation's entry sing in your native tongue as they've thrown out a plastic entry singing in English I think, ouch! Iceland with some typical Eurotrash, This is my Life, too happy, too pink, and once again, in English, but I can see why they were voted the happiest country in the world recently. Are those smiles painted on? A return to singing in your own language with Turkey's entry, from what I can tell, the title of the song translates to crazy, it's crazy-something, but unfortunately not crazy-good, not a bad ending though. The backstage reporters seem to be in an alternate reality competition where they're trying to be the most annoying people on the show. At act lucky 13, Portugal, which mercifully tell me we're at the halfway point, with some kind of ballad about fishermen not returning from the sea, if only the song was lost with them, but the fans do seem impressed. The 2000 winners Latvia are going for a pirate theme, flags on cleavage and an upbeat rhythm with The Wolves of the Sea, campy, just as it's meant to be, I think. Will there ever be another ABBA? Well, not this year's entry from Sweden, with a pretty standard song called Hero. Am I the only one who finds the singer a little creepy looking? I was hoping for Lionel Richie as Denmark's song is titled All Night Long, like the Richie classic, but it's actually a Billy Joel-like upbeat melody, could be catchy if I let it get in my head... celebrate good times c'mon...all night long! My favourites from last year, Georgia... not this year my friends. Ukraine always seems to be one of the favourites, hmmm, well, she's sexy enough, sings, moves, giving an average song a chance to win. Five-time winners France singing in English? What's the world coming to? I can't tell if they're making fun of themselves or the show or what, but that long-haired bearded guy might have sung my favourite song so far. Could that really be Azerbaijan, dressed in angel wings, a male falsetto, and a slight metal edge, interesting at least. The last five, Greece with a (not) Shakira-like performance from a girl born in New York. Hard to tell again if Spain is taking the piss, at least they must be poking fun at Spanish music, the hairdo gives it away. Hometown favourite Serbia with a moving ballad, but there's too many others to compete against this year. Russia might be ready to take over the world again, but another English ballad isn't what this contest needed, but wait, there's a guy figure skating! Finally, Norway ended it on a good note, with a nice feet tapping ditty.

From what I recall, we've now got about 15 hours to wait while the voting and the announcement of the results. So, who did you think won? In our place, we've got our money on France, Denmark, Azerbaijan and Norway. Well, not really money, as the winner is rarely the best performance of the night. The voting patterns of nations has received quite a bit of criticism, as countries tend to vote for those that are geographically close to them, making central/eastern European countries with more neighbours more likely to win. For that reason, the betting favourites in my books are Latvia and Bosnia Herzegovina, and the Ukraine with an outside shot.

Greece takes the first 12 points! Crazy stuff. Macedonia get to vote, cool Skopje. Albania with 12. Kiev reports the Ukraine's, what a surprise, Russia. The voting could make one crazy with it's predictability. Guess that means Germany gives 12 to Poland...just kidding, Greece retakes the lead. Estonia should vote for Russia and do. Bosnia has to be Serbia because they gave Croatia 10 points. Correct again in my prediction. Albania... to Greece. The Spanish announcer (I'm watching on the Spanish TVE) is laughing out loud. Belgium, a western European country is impossible to predict. Wow, 43 countries are gonna vote, this is gonna be awhile. San Marino is actually voting! At least Italy's not in it for them to vote for. Greece with 12, wow, they're winning. What was their song again? Oh my God, they just showed the top three again, Greece was that Shakira? Bulgaria just gave Germany their first 12 points. Serbia only gave 10 to Russia, oh yeah, Bosnia Herzegovina with 12. Israel votes for Russia, surprise! Cyprus with 12 for Greece. Moldovan guy offering an apple and 12 to Romania. Those happy Icelanders give 12 to Denmark. My Spanish commentator got excited about the 10 from Portugal, almost their only points. Denmark with another 12 from a northern near neighbour. 12 for Azerbaijan from Hungary. Andorra votes too of course. That means Spain and France get some points! 12 for Spain. The Poles gives 12 to Armenia. Slovenia votes for all their former compatriots scattered around Yugoslavia. Armenia have put the Russians solidly out front. The Turks vote for Azerbaijan, but their not gonna be the winners tonight. Sweden wins 12 from Malta. Wow, there really are a lot of Poles in Ireland, getting 10 points, they've got a total of 14 points from 30 countries now. Azerbaijan's first time voting, Turkey of course. The idiot announcer thought the 12 would be for Armenia, um, they don't like each other even if they are neighbours, war and all. Croatia for Bosnia Herzegovina. Sweden for Norway. Belarus for Russia. Lithuania for Russia, none for Poland. What's up with that? Former domination and all. Only 3 countries left to vote. Russia has mathematically won. Georgia's vote is irrelevant. Interesting they gave 8 to Russia. They might go to war soon, but there's enough rebels using rubles in the mountains with mobile phones. Denmark ends with 12 for Iceland, making the voting pattern near perfect and Russia the Eurovision champs in case anyone still cares...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bison on the Horizon

Poland is famous for a couple different bisons. One of the rites of passage for most visitors to Poland is the drinking kind, the second are the living kind, and now there seems to be a third one to add to the list, the city-dwelling, plastic kind.

For myself, I remember my introduction to the drinking variety quite early on in my Polish experience. Żubrowka is a brand of vodka with a distinctive flavour, colour and aroma. Every bottle has a blade of bison grass, thus it's name plus it's yellowish colour. On it's own, the vodka doesn't seem to be anything special, but the simple addition of apple juice (sok jabłkowy) turns the spirit into something more, a magical taste that for some reason has a cinnamon taste to it. The creation goes by a couple of different names to my knowledge, with the most common appellation being tatanka, but I've also heard jabłecznik or szarlotka, the latter also having the double meaning of apple pie or a homosexual!

Of course the name Żubrówka comes from the Polish word for bison, żubr, and these magnificent beasts can be found in Białowieża Primaeval Forest. The European buffalo, or wisent, actually went extinct in the wild in the first part of the 20th century, but thanks to a few being left in zoos they were successfully reintroduced into the wild from an original breeding stock of only 12 individuals. I haven't been to the park yet myself, but it's something I definitely need to do someday, to see the bisons and maybe throw something into Belarus as it's right next door!

Now the third variety of bison has been spotted in Poznań, and I'm not talking about the other drinking kind, the beer Żubr, I'm talking about the big plastic kind. Seemingly appearing out of nowhere, big plastic bison have been scattered around the city. I've spotted them in the fountain park near Most Teatralny and in Plac Ratajskiego. If you spot any more please help others by commenting below or on the bulletin board to the right. While not dangerous on their own, when combined with alcohol, the situation creates an uncontrollable urge to try to jump on the beasts and ride them. Injuries have resulted, so please approach with due caution!