Model Petra Němcová presents a million-dollar golf ball at the Czech Republic’s biggest golf tournament; an earthy cartoonist illustrates short stories by Jan Neruda; Markéta Irglová and her younger sister record a track for a compilation from their hometown; both the “heparin killer” and the country’s best known prisoner inspire new movies; and a “duck” festival attracts enthusiasts from around Europe.
Petr Urban is hugely popular in the Czech Republic for often crude cartoons that tend to revolve around beer and sex. A year ago a few eyebrows were raised when the cartoonist was commissioned to illustrate a new version of Jaroslav Hašek’s classic book The Good Soldier Švejk and His Fortunes in the World War. Now, Urban is taking on another great Czech author: he is doing the illustrations for a new edition of Jan Neruda’s Tales of the Little Quarter, a collection of short stories published in 1878. The cartoonist told Lidové noviny that he had been helped by Neruda’s great attention to detail, adding that he used pictures of the Malá Strana of the 19th century to recreate the writer’s milieu as faithfully as possible.
The first ever Czech woman to win an Oscar, Markéta Irglová, has kept a rather low profile in the Czech Republic since she and her now ex-boyfriend Glen Hansard took the statuette for best song last year for Falling Slowly. Recently, however, she released a track on an album of songs from her hometown of Valašské Meziříčí; the CD is called Valmez 09 after the town’s common abbreviation. The composition is not a solo effort, though: Markéta and her younger sister Zuzana, who is 19 and also a great singer, recorded under the name New Partner, no doubt after a cover version she and Hansard have often performed together.
There’s gold in them there hory. Or at least there’s enough gold in Zlaté hory – the Gold/Golden Mountains – in the north of the country to make it the venue for an annual gold panning competition. Around 200 prospectors took part in this year’s contest, the 16th, which was won by Ján Hrabovský from Slovakia. The trophy he took home last weekend is named the Mayor’s Golden Pan. That said, neither he nor the other competitors actually found that much gold – between them their tally was 20 grams.
Vesmírenka is a word rarely used in Czech. In fact, a Google search turned up only four examples. That is because the concept of a vesmírenka – which means ticket to space – is so new. The Czech News Agency used it recently in a report about the fact that a Prague company has sold four tickets for sub-orbital flights some time in the future on a planned Virgin Galactic spacecraft. The firm, called Typ Agency, says the tickets have been bought by people based in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but refuses to break the figures down. Whoever the buyers are, they must have relatively deep pockets: one vesmírenka costs CZK 3.6 million (USD 200,000).