A Czech talk-show host sets a new record: a non-stop 40 hour talk-show. Czech photographer Václav Šilha snaps an alligator in big trouble and chefs prepare to compete in the art of making dumplings. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.

Richard Langer
Talk show host Richard Langer last week set a new record in the longest talk show in the Czech Republic going for 40 hours in one stretch with only seven minute breaks in-between guests. The show started on Thursday midnight and finished on Saturday in the course of which time Richard spoke to 90 guests. Only five members of the audience managed to stay awake until the end of the show – a personal record for them as well. Richard says that while he had to fight sleep several times the worst crisis came in the 31st hour and the only thing that kept him going was the fact that his guests were interesting and lively personalities who cracked jokes and kept the show fast-paced. One woman who came on the show even cooked a meal of 40 schnitzels and potato salad – to hand round. Apart from liters of black tea and mineral water the talk show host kept up his strength with three glasses of wine and three shots of brandy.

While parts Prague’s Old Town have gas lamps to create the right atmosphere others will gradually start looking more futuristic as the old street lights get new LED light-bulbs. The city has commissioned a new design that looks slightly out of this world. Futuristic shapes should also appear out in the country as power plants replace the old fashioned electricity poles with something that will blend in better with the environment. Architects are now producing various shapes – such as an electricity pole in the shape of a blade of grass – and the best of them will soon be seen dotting the Czech countryside.

Czech politicians work to improve the country’s image in more ways than one and one of them is helping to maintaining the high quality of Czech dumplings. The process of creating light, fluffy dumplings that melt in your mouth is an art and judging by the quality of some eateries a fast-disappearing art. Many buy ready-made dumplings as do many young women who don’t consider cooking an essential skill in life. In an effort to revive the art of dumpling-making Prague’s Intercontinental Hotel now hosts an annual dumpling-making contest dubbed the dumpling Oscars. The event is held under the auspices of former foreign minister, Senator Karel Schwarzenberg with another former foreign minister, Senator Jiří Dienstbier on the jury. Senator Dienstbier says it is scandalous how many pubs nowadays serve ready-made dumplings. “A cook who has to buy dumplings should not be allowed in the kitchen,” he says. One of the organizers of the event, Jiřina Dienstbierová says it is only right and proper that every Czech woman should know how to cook dumplings – and if she can’t then her husband should. Well, at least she is mindful of gender equality. For my part I would be happy enough knowing that restaurants made their dumplings from scratch.

Important as dumplings are, we have more important things to worry about and one is the country’s national debt now at 1.1 trillion crowns. For those who are losing sleep over it the Finance Ministry has opened a special account at the central bank where individuals and companies can send financial donations. For the present time the bank account is empty – and may long remain so – judging by the fact that when commercial TV Nova conducted a survey asking people if they’d be willing to contribute many thought it was all just a joke.

When it comes to Christmas sales Santa Claus wins every time – cheery, big fat Santa looks out from every store window and sells goods like magic but there’s something going for the Czech Christmas tradition this year. With Santas in the States demanding swine flu vaccinations it looks like the Czech health authorities will have one less headache this year – little baby Jesus who brings Czech children their presents but disappears without ever being seen is unlikely to need a shot.