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.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Okay, a bit of a rant here. So much for the niceties of that last post.

I fucking hate scooters of all incarnations. It's a nice fantasy of Europe that people in the States have and scooters are part of that. Like it's romantic or something. But scooters suck ass. They're fucking awful. They're extremely loud. And they seem to give off far more exhaust than a car.

I have a neighbor who has one. He's got a really old one that looks like an old moped and not so much like a scooter. He takes it outside and revs it up all the time. And we always want to go chop his fucking head off and shove it up his ass. People race around on them in this area and they're fucking loud. It's like a lawnmower engine or something.

A plague on scooters!

This blog is not intended to comment on politics in the region. It's meant to be a cultural blog, to show the things about mankind that bring us together, not separate us. Like food, drink, music and vampires.


And as such, I'm not really going to be commenting on Kosovo or any of that stuff. If you want to read stuff like that, go read Balkan Baby and watch as a Westerner living in Zagreb gets embroiled in controversy over politics and his perhaps ignorant opinions. I don't hold the claim of not being ignorant. I am. Commenting on stuff I know little about seems folly.

But, in the same article that discusses Kosovo, it also discusses some Croatia related news. I suppose it's ultimately politics, but I'll let basic news items like this through if they merit any attention. No offense intended to any Balkan readers.

From Deutsche Welle:

During a visit to the Balkans, German Defense Minister Jung underlined his support for the supervised independence of the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo as well as Croatia's desire for EU and NATO membership.


Jung also supported Croatia's bid to join the European Union and NATO.

"Germany will continue to support Croatia's European perspective and efforts to join NATO," he said.

Croatia hopes to receive an invitation to join NATO next year and from the EU by the end of the decade.

Jung will travel to Macedonia and Albania on Thursday. Both countries are hoping to get an invitation to join NATO next year.

To read the article in full, go here:

Deutsche Welle

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

From Deutsche Welle:

The success of Balkan music in getting German and European clubbers onto the dance floor is proof that culture doesn't have to spread from west to east. DJs are giving a new sound to the eclectic music with old roots.

People enjoy Balkan music because they can dance to it, said DJ Robert Soko, who emigrated to Germany from what was then Yugoslavia before the Balkan Wars in the mid-1990s.

"People had sort of hit a dead-end as far as new music went," said Soko, whose show is called Balkan Beats. "Suddenly a new sound came along that was danceable. When you mix it well with modern sounds you get a result that works great in clubs.

"It has ethnic or traditional elements that are fused with more modern beats," Soko said, adding that the traditional components can include brass instruments, Oriental sounding semi-tones or Slavic-language texts.

To read the rest of the article, go to the Deutsche Welle website:

Deutsche Welle

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Yes, it's happened. I'm fed up with western news coverage, finally after all these years.

I've decided to not listen to or watch western news much anymore. Which is not to say that I will stop entirely. But I've always been someone who watches and listens and reads a lot of this stuff. BBC, CNN, Newsweek, Time Magazine, NPR etc etc. The only thing I will really continue with is probably Newsweek, as the European edition has a much more rounded approach than the American one. It shows more about life around the world rather than just covering America.

The thing that primarily really got on my nerves and made me snap is western coverage of China. It seems to me that there is an orchestrated attempt to discredit China. I think it's because the west fears China is going to be the next big power and feels that it must defend itself. I am hearing everywhere about products from China being bad. They'll kill your pets, those evil Chinese (the pet food scare)! They'll kill your children with that lead paint in those toys!

Now, I'm not saying these stories are false. But I am saying they are blown out of proportion to scare westerners. What the fuck? It reminds me of the 70s and 80s when America was afraid of Japan as the next big power. I'm literally hearing some sort of bad shit about China nearly every single day. Here's the news: "Another truck bomb kills 120 in Iraq. The most people killed at once in 2 years. And, more products recalled from China. This time, they're using lithium in baby food, which as you know will really fuck up your precious baby."

Well, fuck that. I'm not listening anymore. That's it. Obviously, being a news junkie of sorts, I will continue to stay in touch and read more. And don't post me some links to some fucking British news source. They're just as fucked as the Americans. And I fucking hate the Daily Show too. Not that it's news. But I still hate that smarmy, snide bullshit that passes as funny. What are they gonna do when Bush is gone? 90% of their show will be gone.

Maybe Al Jazeera will show a more rounded view of the world. Need to get satellite TV. Yes, that's it.

Dr. Who starts on September first on BBC here in Croatia. Maybe that will cheer me up. If not, there's always the second season of Rome on HBO here, also starting around the same time. And Monk, which is on too. Fiction better suits me at the moment.

That's the rant of the day, thank you very much.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Okay, so Darko Macan prompted me to get off of my ass and finally post something after a month. I'm preparing the photos from my Makarska trip in May, of which there are many. So, meanwhile, I'll post a simple one to hold you folks off. Not that it's necessarily anything exciting.

After discovering that there aren't really all that many good beers to drink here in Zagreb, I've been drinking a lot more wine. There are tons of really great wines here, from Croatia and also the surrounding countries. Particularly good wines that are very cheap can be found from Bosnia and Hercegovina and Macedonia, for instance. Now, I'm not knocking all of the beer here. But the range of choice is severely limited. Local stores in Gajnice have maybe 3 or 4 beers that I am willing to drink. I did not previously like Laško, but grew to like it a lot in Makarska, where they had fresh draft Laško. Tasty. I can get a decent bottle of that here. I don't drink Ožujsko much anymore since they switched to green bottles. Stupid motherfuckers. It ruins their beer, which is already not the best anyway. So, that's out. Karlovačko pretty much sucks as it always has. The original Budweiser is available here and is the best I can get in my neighborhood. I found a Prehrana store on Cvijetni Trg that carries Edelweiss, from Germany. If you're at Cvijetni Trg, it's the only Prehrana there. Pick one up. It's somewhere between Paulaner and Hoegaarden in flavor. I also found a local market that carries Nikšičko Pivo, from Montenegro. It's better than any of the Croatian beers I can get here. Sadly, I have not seen Velebitsko Pivo ANYWHERE in maybe 4 months. Fuck. That beer's from Croatia and is the best I've had from this entire region. Oh well.

So, onto wine then. There are tons of great whites and reds to be had here.

Our current favorite is called Samotok, from the Mostar region in Bosnia and Hercegovina. This is a very nice polusuho crno vino, "half dry black wine". Folks here call red wine black. Anyway, it's semi dry. It's only 12.5% alcohol but very nice. It's also 25 kuna at the shop. Which is around $4.50 or $4.75. Not bad. We're gonna buy a case. We drink it more than anything else.

The same producer, "Hercegovina Produkt", also produces a Žilavka and Blatina we like a lot. Žilavka is a white grape indigenous to the area around Mostar, Blatina a red grape also indigenous to the area. The Žilavka is nice. I can't really compare it yet until I've drank more, which I'm working on. But it's more in the family of a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio and nothing near a Riesling or Gewurztraminer. It's a clean grape without and sharp fruit or heavy acid. Nice. They have a higher graded one that is 80 kuna if I remember right, and the medium grade, which is around 24 kuna. The 24 kuna bottle is very good and that 80 kuna price will not get you a bottle that's much better. Blatina goes into Samotok, which is a blend. The one labeled Blatina is a drier version.

Most bottles we buy are "Kvalitetno", which is considered the second best quality wine. "Vrhunsko" is the highest grade and usually costs a lot more. "Stolno" is basic table wine. In basic practice, most of the wines are pretty decent and Kvalitetno is really very tasty stuff.

Another favorite of ours has been the Traminac from Iločki Podrumi (podrum is "basement"). The Traminac grape is the same as the Gewurztraminer grape, but the wine that I've seen here is generally not as strong as the huge 14 to 15% wines I've seen from Alsace. It's a really very nice wine here. I had not looked it up yet when I first tried it, but as soon as I smelled it, having not even tasted it yet, I said to Nara that this really reminded me of Gewurztraminer. I looked it up, and sure enough. The stuff from Alsace is absolutely the best on Earth in my opinion, but the ones I've tried from here are first rate and very nice. They're better than the ones I've had from Washington State, for instance. Aromatic, a touch sweet and no heavy acid like some wines. Nice! They have both Kvalitetno and Vrhunsko. The Vrhunsko is only 40 kuna and is a bit better, though the Kvalitetno is also quite tasty at under 30 kuna.

Malvazija is a very nice white from here. It's hugely aromatic, but it's main drawback for me thus far is some pretty heavy acid. Brings up heartburn. I get this from some wines, though. Still searching on that grape as I love the flavor and aroma, if not the heartburn. Second from the left in the picture.

Teran is on the left in the picture. It's a red grape. Seems like a good grape, but that wine was not very good and thus not recommended.

We've become friends with the local wine merchant, going to her shop once or twice a week. She recommended an Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon, called Kaiken, which we tried and loved. It was 60 kuna if I remember. This is great wine. Strong at 14.7% alcohol, but it doesn't taste sharp or anything. Very clean and drinkable. We love it.

And, the monster of the region is Dingač, a strong red wine made from the Plavac Mali grape. Plavac Mali is related to the grape Zinfandel, made popular in California. The grape Zinfandel has been found to originate on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia and was seemingly brought back to Rome during the time of the empire, then spread out. It eventually found it's way to Austria, then to the States, where it found a nice home in California.

Anyway, Dingač is the most expensive of local wines. It's the wine I've bought as a gift for people, having given away 4 or 5 bottles but still not having tried it. I finally bought one today, for 165 kuna ($31), but have yet to try it. It generally ranges from 125 kuna to 250 kuna in price. That's currently $23 to $47. So, I don't usually buy this wine. I can find very tasty wines at much, much lower prices, so I usually do that.

This is wine growing land, especially on the coast. And there's a long and rich history with the grape going back centuries. Grapes were brought back from Dalmatia to Rome. And the wine here ranks up with the best of what I've had from California, France, Italy or any other grape growing region.

Which is great.

Plavac Mali on WikiPedia