This is the blog for Matt Hollingsworth. I'm from Ojai, California. I've worked in comics for 22 years as a color artist.

This blog will largely be used to show my daily life as I live in Samobor, Croatia and as I travel around the region. Lots and lots of photos! Leave me a comment, will you?

All content on this blog is copyright 2013 Matthew Dale Hollingsworth and cannot be copied or used for any purpose without my consent.

Monday, December 25, 2006

On Christmas Eve, one of our local hangouts, Smart Caffe, got a permit to stay open until 6AM. So, naturally, everyone went there to party and madness ensued. Not everyone is pictured. Čiro and his lovely wife Selma hosted with the help of many folks chipping in to grab beers for everyone. Thanks to everyone for a good time. Nina was ready to keep going, but around 4:15AM or so, Esad and I were toast and headed home. My girlfriend, Nara, is visiting family at home in another town, so sadly she wasn't there.

Domagoj after a nose kiss from Esad.

Selma puts lipstick on Esad.


Esad and Nina. Nina and Selma are sisters.

Selma and Esad.

Yes, that is sweat in Esad's armpit.


Juraja and Tea.



When midnight struck and it was Christmas, everyone freaked out and started dancing on the chairs.

Esad Claus.

Me and Nina.

Tomislav's girlfriend, who's name I forgot, puts even more lipstick on Esad. Esad was going around kissing everyone, leaving lipmarks on their necks, faces, heads etc.

Tomislav, Bruce, Niko, Esad and crowd.

More Esad and Selma.

Nina, Esad and Selma getting down.

Nina and me again.

Nina and Tomislav with girl who's name I forgot. Ack!

Just a couple more pics:

My girlfriend Nara. Blurry, but that's her! We were at Boban, an Italian restaurant here in the Centar.

Me and Dragana, Nara's roomie, at their apartment.

About a week ago, I took my camera with me into the centar of Zagreb. Mostly, I snapped pics right in Trg Bana Jelačića, the main square. During Christmas time, the square gets filled up with wooden booths selling various things and also a stage for musical performances and such. And, of course, the usual Christmas lights.

Sretan božić i nova godina means Happy Christmas and new year. People also say "sve najbolje", which means "all the best."

Trg Bana Jelačića.

Musical performers in the square.

During the summer, I attended a concert in this square which was packed. Teens were jumping into this fountain, flailing about.

One of the side roads near the square..

Grič, up the west hill from the centar.

Blurry, but that's the cathedral as viewed from Grič.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ah, so the world spins and things change.

Further developments on the residence permit for Croatia from today:

I contacted Croaticum, the school that is approved for residence permits if enrolled. We traded e-mails yesterday and they told me to come in at 11:30 today to talk to someone. So, Esad and I take the train then a taxi to get there on time and the person is not there. We wait for a full hour and she's still not there. They had told us that she'd be back at noon, so we waited around. Then, around 12:30 we see everyone packing up to leave for lunch and ask what's up. They don't know where she is and can't call her for whatever reason. We ask if she'll be around later and they don't know. They basically cannot give us any information at all. Totally fucking worthless motherfuckers, a complete waste of time. So, we leave and are fucking pissed off. We have encountered this kind of bullshit incompetence at every turn with all the dealings I've been having with schools and government. Cocksuckers.

The other day, I received a letter from the police asking me to report in at the main station. So, having talked to the police 3 times now, I just expect more bullshit. There's always some fucking stupid reason to ask me for some new paperwork or some other bullshit. So, expected that. We waited in line for maybe 45 minutes or so. When we got in, turns out this lady was great. She's the very person that denied my permit for residency when I applied from the States and had called me in to clarify what was going on as I am now here on a tourist visa and am at a different address than the one from my permit application.

Okay, whatever. But she's nice. And she knows everything about what's going on within the system instead of being some fucking machine that does no more than required. I ask her about the school situation, then ask her about what if I started a company here. And, she told me that basically that's the way to go. She said if I register a company here, I can get a one year business visa. Then that can be renewed with no limit each year. And, after 5 years, if I know the language well, have the company and am a good citizen, I can apply for citizenship.

Now, I had been talking to a local friend here in Gajnice about this very thing. But, the law firm he's at basically told me that I had only the smallest chance of success and it would not likely work. They have a lot of Chinese moving here and he told me they were tightening up the rules because of this. I told this woman that and she laughed, like "that's bullshit". She told me it was easy as long as I have 20,000 kuna (about $3,500) to put into a business bank account on hold until the company is approved (which is the regulation posted on the government website). Then I can use that money to pay employees, withdraw funds or whatever. And not only that, but she called a lawyer friend of hers and sent me over there to get this started. I don't wanna hear any comments about corruption here or anything. If this is what works, then it's what works.

So, she got me started with this. And we chose a company name. My nickname in Gajnice is Žujo. So, the company name should be Žujo Stripovi. The local beer I drink all the time has it's nickname of Žuja, so my name is based on that, and stripovi means comics. She's gonna get the ball rolling, then she goes on vacation until January 10th. We hope to wrap this up before February 1st. But then it sounds like I'll still have to leave and go to the States for 3 months. But, we will close out my application I put in from the States and this will be a new one that I can do from here. If all goes as planned, I will then have a one year permit. I'll leave February 13th, then return mid May and be able to stay for a year and then renew this for another year and so on.

So, there you have it. That's the latest. Long, tiring day.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Going to Texas!

Here's the latest on my wacky life of travel and adventure.

As it stands now, I will be leaving Croatia on February 13th. If I miraculously line up paperwork to stay for a longer time, then I won't leave at all. But it's my assumption that even if I do line up my paperwork, that it won't happen before that date, which is the time I have to leave. With a tourist visa, I can only stay in the country for 90 days in a six month period. So, I'll have to leave, possibly for 3 months, then return later. I will keep my apartment here and plan on returning, definitely. I am moving forward on 3 different strategies to stay in the country for an extended one year permit that is renewable for another year. But I am prepared for very slow bureaucracy, and with X-Mas here right now, I know nothing will move forward until January. So, I contacted some friends to see what my options were in the States.

I do not want to return to LA. But I have some very close friends in Portland and Texas. A few friends stepped up and offered me a place to stay, so thanks to them all. But, ultimately, I chose the San Antonio, Texas option. A very close friend lives there. For those who know her, it's Eva Moon. We were roomies before, we get along and my cats like her dogs. And she has a huge house with an available room for me. So, I will get to catch up with her and her Corgis, check out the local area which I am totally unfamiliar with and have a bit more traveling fun. I'll be totally sad if I have to leave Croatia, but this will make it much easier to deal with the sadness. She's a very good friend and I already know what it's like to live with her.

So, yay!

I still aim to try to stay here, but if not, then I already have a soft landing lined up.

Don't mess with Texas.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

So, it's technically my birthday now, turning 38, born December 17th, 1968. Perhaps a good time to reflect on where I am, what I am doing, how I feel about it and all that. You know, rambling, directionless but fun. Long winded and detailed. Skim if you must.

I've been here just about one month now in Zagreb after moving from LA. And, I have not one single regret. Not one.

My transition has been much easier than a normal move overseas, though, largely because of Esad Ribić. He's helped me immensely. He got my apartment for me. He is someone I continue to rely on when I need to be able to communicate with official government types and that kind of thing. I know some Croatian, but not really enough to deal with some of the stuff I've had to deal with here. Government language is all jargon and hard to understand. Some other language stuff is a process of partial understanding, which leads to understanding context, and then you can kind of get it even if you don't understand every word.

And, while I already knew this, I now understand much more when I hear the fact that people really curse a lot when they speak. They mix cursing in a creative and more disturbing way that I find entertaining.

I've now settled into a routine here of sorts and have a life here that I like. I've adjusted a bit more towards Esad's schedule. I stay up much later than I did in the States. In the States, I was usually in bed between 11PM and 1AM. These days, it's more like between 1AM and 4AM depending on the night, then I awaken 10AM or later. I work later too, though. I've slowed down my go go go attitude a bit. Urgency recedes. I am not technically eating as well as in California. In SoCal I ate tons of fish, tons of salmon and trout and red snapper, tons of veggies. Here, I am eating much more meat. In SoCal I'd have red meat sometimes. But almost never pork. The pork here is amazing. It's often tender and juicy like veal. They also do have tons of veal here and it's good. Don't look at me like that. I am trying local shit, okay? I'll settle back into my hippy ways over time in my own way.

We had some peka yesterday, which is cooked in wood or coal. Fucking tasty. We had to tell them our order 2 hours ahead of time, then show up for food. They take an iron pan or somesuch, and put your food into it. They seal it, and put it directly IN the fire. Not over it, right into the embers. And they cook it slow and for a long period. In ours, we had veal, chicken and potatoes. That's it. Simple. But the potatoes and meat cook in this closed system soaking up the juices. No flavor evaporates, it all cooks back into the meat and potatoes. Fucking excellent. The chicken was actually better and soaked up the juices. The potatoes were amazing. And we dipped bread into the juices as well.

Today we went to a restaurant called Stari Fijaker. "Stari" means old, in a masculine singular word. Fijaker is a sort of old style horsecart of a specific style. I sounds kind of like "starry fucker". Sorta. So, I call it "Old Fucker".

Place rocks. I had a nice soup with pork and mushrooms in a spicy broth as a starter. We had on the table as an early starter, something made from "vrhnje i sir sa paprikom", "cream and cheese with paprika". Also tasty. And a basket of like 8 types of breads to dip in it. For my main, I had a dish with minced pork cooked with "kiselo zelje", which is sauer kraut or "sour cabbage". The meat was wrapped into the cabbage and cooked in a red sauce with sauer kraut. Salty potatoes served with it. Traditional food. It rocks.

It's colder here, obviously. That's been easy to deal with except for today. We went into the centar and I was not prepared. I thought we were just going for coffee locally, so didn't layer properly, then found myself being pulled to the centar area and waiting outside for buses and trams, freezing my ass off and having them lecture me about a better jacket. Ack! They're right. Lived in Jersey for 5 years, so know better, but it's been so long that I am not really fully ready for the layer thing. I'll get there. Not so rough. Been around 0 celsius, 32 fahrenheit. Hopefully get some snow soon.

The stores here are decent. There are 3 options where I live, Diona, DM and Konzum. Konzum is kind of the mainstream place. They have some nice stuff too, but it's fairly simple and limited. They have more basic mainstream products. The produce section is a bit strange. It's not the best produce. There are small produce markets and shops that are much better here. But if it's night, this place is open until 9PM. Anyway, you have to weigh your own produce, then type in a number for the PLU and print out your own sticker and put it on the bag. Had to use this place last time I was here, so went from memory, but fuck if I could figure it out on my own. I had to spy on the people in line in front of me and figure it out. There are tons of keys with like V1, V2, P1, P2, PLU, etc etc. And over the veggies, there are placards with their PLU and their name in Croatian. Fine, okay. I can figure that out usually. I know foods in Croatian pretty well. But, the yellow onions I could not figure out. Those kinda golder orangey onions. There was no yellow listed. There was "crvni luk", which is red onion, which is what it ended up being. But I had to ask some lady in Croatian. I saw what we call red onions there already and saw no option for what the yellow ones were. So asked her in Croatian what type of onion it was and she told me. Easy pleasey. Then, you have to hit V1 and it prints. Yeah. Whatever.

Most of the juices here add sugar, which I don't like. There are some very tasty and 100% juice juices, though, from Germany. Called Rauch, by brand.

DM is a bit more of a health conscious store which also specializes in bathroom stuff and such, but also some basics of healthy food. They have the Rauch juices. I also accidentally bought some beet juice there. Fuck that shit. I love beets, but don't wanna drink beet juice, no thanks. Might be good for cooking, though. They have gnarley German pates there. And great muesli for breakfast.

Diona is a better store than Konzum but also limited. They have much more good cheese and just better shit.

I have a girlfriend here already too. She's cool. I won't say much about her yet, but she's a nice girl and I like her obviously.

Little boys of age 10 to 14 or so are in the fucking park near here nearly all the time lighting off firecrackers. Motherfuckers should be in school in the middle of the day, not annoying me with explosions. Don't remember this in the summer. Maybe New Years fireworks are on sale now. They drop them into these metal trashcans in the park to amplify sound. Not always, but sometimes. Ack!

About two weeks ago, I heard a peculiar sound outside my apartment, so opened the window to look. Driving down the street was a water truck. There were hoses hanging out the back sides and guys walking along with the truck, which went slowly, and hosing the streets down. The hoses were aimed in the gutter and cleaning up the autumn gunk, leaves and such, as they went. It reminded me of my Dad doing this in our driveway when I was a kid.

The people continue to grow on me. I get along with them better than most places I've lived in my life. They are honest, brutal and passionate. Games still happen. They are people afterall. And, the neighborhood I live in is small, so it's like life in a small town. Eventually you know everyone and start to hear more and more rumors. We are all human. I've seen a lot of jealousy between certain people. Way it always it.

Had a group of people over to my place twice this week late at night, to drink from midnight until 4AM or so. They were loud, so hope my neighbor ain't pissed. I can't ever hear my neighbors through the ceiling or walls, which is amazing to me. I honestly have NEVER heard my neighbor upstairs walking or anything. So, I hope they can't hear me too much at these times. I have nobody on the other side of a wall other than directly above me, though. So, that's good.

One neighbor saw my kitties. She loved them. A few days later, I saw my friend Danijela, and she told me my neighbor wanted her cat to mate with mine because she wanted some kitties like mine.

So, naturally, I acted ignorant and asked if she meant that the girl wanted to mate with me. Hahaha. Laughs shared.

Danijela loves the cats. She calls them "miško", I think, which is "kitty". The cats are also used to Esad. But not everyone. The younger one, Said (7 years old) is always afraid for a while after people come over. He's sensitive to noise people make. I always have to give him lots of love afterward to make him feel better. Hukwe, the older one (10), adjusts with no trouble and loves everyone. He's more like me, he loves adventure. Said is a sweety, though.

In the neighborhood I am in, they have something called "šatra". This is the Croatian language kind of backwards. Fucking great. As if learning it forwards isn't tough enough, they now fuck with me with šatra. So, "kavu, molim" (coffee, please) becomes "faku limo". V is sorta pronounced like an F. Sorta. Sometimes. Esad taught me "pipu mi šimpu", which is "suck my cock". So, next time to we went to the main place where they always use šatra, I said that to the guy who fucks with me and he started laughing really hard. My guess is that specifically, I am the first American in history to say that there. Or even maybe the first to learn šatra. Reason being, it's a neighborhood language that is bullshit and may not be understood by even most people in that very neighborhood. If you've lived in a small town you know what I mean. Same shit as in Ojai, where I am from.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

About a week ago, I took the camera out and took a walk around my neighborhood here in Zagreb. The neighborhood is called Gajnice. It's a very quiet area and is not as heavily populated as the center area.

The park very near my apartment.

Zagreb Dinamo is the local football team.

Smart Cafe, one of our hangouts.

Čiro, the owner of Smart Cafe.

You must know Esad by now.

An old abandoned police station in Gajnice.

This is a Chinese restaurant that we go to all the time.

We came here one night when it was stormy and very windy outside.
The wind got into the attic and built some pressure up.
And when we were standing there, the ceiling caved in on us,
with those tiles hitting me in the head.

My friend Danijela, with Niko in the background.
I often call her Paula as she drinks Paulaner.
She calls me Žujo, after the beer I drink, Ožujsko.

We're at Rafaelo here. The guy behind Esad's ear is named Boris, but looks like Jesus, so I call him Isus Yeltsin.