Sunday, October 31, 2004

War? What War?

Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) has made the first major blunder of his presidential campaign. After the meeting with Miodrag Vlahović (Miodrag Vlahovic), Montenegrian foreign minister, he said that "Croatia and Montenegro never made war on each other".

Mesić's statement is, of course, motivated with the desire to cultivate the best possible relationships with Croatia's tiny neighbour and thus help both countries get over their troubled past. This noble purpose, however, doesn't make it compatible with historical truth. Those who inhabit the southernmost area of Croatia know too well the difference between what Dubrovnik and its surrounding looked like in Summer of 1991 and Summer of 1992. They also know what kind of events created such transformation and which people enthusiastically participated in it.

Mesić in his statement contradicted himself. In 2000 he visited Montenegro and asked for public apology over the events in 1991-92.

The statement itself is also contradictory. In strictly legal terms, Mesić is right because Croatia nor Montenegro never declared war on each other.

But in the same statement Mesić says that "Croatia and Serbia also never made war on each except the last one, started by Milošević (Milosevic)". That war too was never formally declared by either side.

This opportunity was immediately taken by embattled HDZ presidential candidate Jadranka Kosor. She criticised President for ignoring historical truth.

Mesić's camp reacted by flat denial. Danijela Barišić (Danijela Barisic), head of Information Department of President's Office, signed communiqué claiming that Mesić had really said that "Croatia never made war with Montenegro or Serbia until the last war, started with Milošević".

[ADMINISTRATIVE] New Addition to Blogroll

Funny and Interesting Observations added to blogroll.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Animal House

Yesterday's clash between Saša (Sasa) and Antonija wasn't the only occasion that led one of the Axis girls to cry. Ana didn't take lightly Zdravko's "coldness" when they were in the same bed together during early Saturday's lockdown. This was an opportunity for Antonija and Ana to bond again and reform their Axis and channel their frustrations against the men in the House.

Today, however, the focus of attention is going to be shifted towards new "housemates" – a puppy and a kitten. A puppy was brought by Druga Prilika, animal welfare organisation, while the kitten was adopted by Big Brother Croatia crew after straying into House premises. The puppy was selected by Daria Knez. Jan Štedul (Jan Stedul), daily summaries' producer, claims that Big Brother Croatia is the first Big Brother to actually serve as an animal shelter.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: The Long Wait

Most of the viewers saw something wrong with yesterday's weekly show. First Daria Knez made a mistake while announcing nominations to the housemates – Alen and Marina were left out of roll call. Then they (and audience) didn't receive the verdict on the weekly task.

This could have been an honest mistake, but it could have also been a clever tactic to make housemates as tense as possible during Saturday. On Friday there was relatively little anxiety and therefore less emotional ammunition to be spent during obligatory post-nomination party.

So, housemates were more nervous on Saturday than on Friday and this reflected in major row between Saša (Sasa) and Antonija.

The news about successful task came later in the day together with beer. Whether some ratings-raising material could result from tonight's party remains to be seen (and eventually censored).

In the meantime, things don't look good for Vlatka. On-line polls indicate 92 % votes for her and only 8 % for Željko (Zeljko). Some articles explain large number of nomination with too much tactics – she apparently studied the behaviour of contestants on television and tried to mimic them. Even her nominations tell about calculating mind – she nominated Zdravko and Marina hoping that they would be get at least some nomination votes they have received two weeks ago. Most of housemates and viewers apparently saw through her act.

In the Zone

Goran Ivanišević (Goran Ivanisevic), legendary tennis player and arguably the best known Croatian alive - at least until Severina Vučković (Severina Vuckovic) took that tile away – received sharp criticism from Slobodna Dalmacija. The reason is his decision to sell his luxurious home in Meje, elite part of Split. Not so long ago that house was reason for Split authorities to re-zone that part of town and thus allow Ivanišević to build the house in a way he wanted.

But now Ivanišević is selling the house and Split authorities are finding themselves in an embarrassing situation. They re-zoned Meje in order to express their gratitude and admiration to a living legend. But instead of the legend, the fruits of this noble gesture are going to be enjoyed by an ordinary mortal.

Of course, Split authorities could have saved themselves from this fiasco by taking a simple, albeit not very popular way, that every citizen should be treated equally.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Just Another Nomination

Results of tonight's nominations were hardly surprise. Most outside observers and pollsters were right about Vlatka being the most likely nominee. However, Željko's (Zeljko's) nomination was less expected, although it made sense – those who nominated him were spared of more difficult choices.

This, of course, isn't result that could have pleased T-Com, Croatia's phone company. One vote made the difference between two-way and six-way race. It could be argued that the amount of money made on the phone-voting was slashed by two thirds.

The most amusing moments of the evening came before the actual show. Neno Pavinčić (Neno Pavincic), one of the hosts, was surprised to find that fans and the audience take autographs from contestants' relatives and friends while ignoring them. He did it with a straight face.

Even more indicative moment came when Daria Knez called audience to give applause for Big Brother's chief psychologist Tanja Pureta. Her appeal was followed by brief but very telling silence.

As for the nomination votes, what most people expected happened – Saša (Sasa) got the first one during whole contest. The only one not nominated tonight was Valentina, whom some expected to be actually nominated tonight.

Marina was delighted for not being nominated.

Big Brotherhood and Unity

TV3, Slovenian TV station is going to start its own reality show modelled after Big Brother, yet with a twist that would delight all those with fond memories of Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. The idea is to have 12 young people – 6 males, 6 females – each from one of the republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia).

The show already had its first version in Macedonia. It started in April and became a huge success.

It would be quite interesting to see "Brotherhood and Unity" – semi-official motto of SFRY – resurrected in the isolated space under 21 cameras and 40 microphones.

Big Brother Croatia Update: First Death Threats

Egle Brožić (Egle Brozic) was first contestant to leave Big Brother Croatia house, and also the first one to experience some of the less pleasant consequences of her instant fame. Short while ago she found a note stuck to the door of her wood-cellar. The note said that she and her apartment would be torched unless she gives cell phone numbers of Saša (Sasa) and Zdravko.

In the meantime, Saša (Sasa) has began to discard his image of benevolent patriarchal leader and instead use tricks more suitable for politician fighting for votes. Yesterday's daily summary caught Saša delivering a detailed story about the trouble he had with ethnic Serb officers and soldiers while serving in former Yugoslav army. Perhaps this was attempt of self-encouragement or appeal for the more nationalist voters. If it is the latter, it won't have much of an effect. Most of the voters are teenagers and young people who don't have a clue even about more recent Croatian history.

According to the statements from Confessions Room, it seems that Marina would have less to worry about during this round of nomination. Saša, Ana and Sanja – all three who nominated her the last time – expressed their regret and complete change of heart towards her.

Last night, while the cameras followed events in Big Brother Hosue live (or with 2-minute delay) Antonija confessed even more previous connection with the RTL Televizija. She said that she knew Vlatka Pačarić (Vlatka Pacaric), singer performing Big Brother song and also said that she had worked as a hostess during RTL Televizija opening ceremony few months ago. This confession might cost Antonija dearly if public sympathies shift against her and she begins to be perceived as RTL Televizija insider or, even worse, agent provocateur in the House.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Little Kiss That Wasn't

Kiss between Alen and Marina was big enough news for, site that usually doesn't try too hard to report anything related to Big Brother.

But that appraisal wasn't shared by editors of tonight's daily summary aired on RTL Televizija. Whoever gathered in front of TV set to witness that historic event was treated with less spectacular forms of interaction between Alen and Marina, like discussion about their Catholic beliefs and practices at the table with other housemates.

RTL Televizija's censorship was, on the other hand, justified by the events from the karaoke party that made kiss irrelevant in comparison. In order to fuel her willingness to sing, Marina has apparently took perhaps one or two sips too many and that was enough for her and Zdravko to start playing with each other on the floor. Alen, who witnessed this development in disbelief, didn't take it lightly despite himself being involved in much more explicit sort of action with Antonija. This led to another hissy fit and row with Marina, predictably followed by sentimental reconciliation on the next day.

Another interesting development that didn't get into TV show, but was mentioned on the site, is alcohol-fuelled moment of honesty between two complete opposites of Big Brother House – Sanja and Marina. While discussing what kind of men they like, they admitted that they like each other. Sanja even went that far to call Marina "her Barbie girl".

All those developments, however, must be viewed in the context on tomorrow's nominations. Večernji list (Vecernji list) predicts that Saša (Sasa) is most likely to get nomination votes for the first time, while Valentina might easily be among the nominees.

Croatian in Abu Ghraib

Croatian and US authorities have confirmed that Croatian truck driver Damir Mikulić (Damir Mikulic) is under US military custody. Unconfirmed reports tell about him being detained at notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

To say that this isn't going to sit well among Croatian public is understatement. Those who were silent after the death of Dalibor Burazović (Dalibor Burazovic) are going to scream bloody murder. Otherwise decent and reasonable media pundits are going to succumb to hysteria over "evil Americans abusing our countryman".

On second thought and based on what media reported, Mikulić probably has himself to blame for this mess. Trying to make photos in the middle of war zone without any press credentials isn't the smartest thing to do. Mikulić should be lucky to fall in the hands of media-wary Americans, rather than some other characters who might practice simpler, quicker and more traditional ways of handling suspected spies on the battlefield.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Saša (Sasa) On the Defence

Saša (Sasa) has apparently realised that he is in trouble. Yesterday's daily show has shown Saša and three other men discussing their future in Big Brother House and realising that they are faced with formidable axis of women determined to vote them out. Their only remedy to such plan is nominating one of the women as a bloc.

In the meantime, some of the women have admitted that their nominations are getting less motivated by personal likes and dislikes and more by pure politics. In other way, those who are going to be nominated are those who are most likely to win rather than those who annoy them.

Official RTL site, which yesterday had an embarrassing 20 minutes loss of livefeed, apparently decided to let the best scoops for T-Com, Croatian ISP and one of show's main sponsors. Most of those scoops are related to whirlwind (non)romance between Alen and Marina. Last night, following alcohol consumption during karaoke party, Marina has put some whipped cream on her lips and dared Alen to kiss her. He did that and expressed utter delight afterwards. But his bliss over the third French kiss in House was short-lived. In the morning two Istrians had major row in which Alen accused Marina of spending too much time with Zdravko, while Marina accused Alen of being overbearing, possessive and immature and expressed doubts that their relationship could be as good outside as inside House.

Those developments are likely to continue for more than seven days, according to the panel gathered by Jutarnji list. Zagreb daily gathered 10 of housemates' friends and relatives and asked them who is going to be nominated. Vlatka received 7 votes, Zdravko 4, Željko 2, Antonija 2, Alen, Saša (Sasa) and Marina 1.

UPDATE: According to official website, the famous kiss occurred yesterday before the karaoke party. Whether this had anything to do with livefeed loss or not is going to become favourite subject of Big Brother Croatia conspiracy theorists.

Severina Keeps Clout

Severina Vučković (Severina Vuckovic) reacted to the sex tape brouhaha just like most celebrities do – by shielding herself with sycophants from media and entertainment establishment and by hiring top Croatian lawyers who promised to get "tens and hundreds of millions of dollars from lawsuits".

Some took those claims seriously. There was speculation about Slovenian state television having to increase viewing subscription (tax) in order to pay for the damages after airing few clips from the aforementioned video.

However, at least one of those lawsuits, against Belgrade daily Kurir, never materialised. There isn't any word about lawsuit against Slovenian media either.

But there are those media houses that are much easier pickings. One of them is, news site that broke the story. Office of Zagreb attorney Anto Nobilo has filed a lawsuit against, demanding 75000 HRK (10000 €) for copyright violations and 125000 HRK (cca 17000 €) for privacy violations.

Although the amount is relatively small, Severina nevertheless managed to show her clout. While ordinary mortals forced to rely on Croatian judiciary have to wait years before such cases reach courtroom, Commerce Court in Zagreb reacted with incredible speed and scheduled first hearing for tomorrow at 10:00. says that they would hire sexologist as an expert witness in order to establish whether Severina's activities in front of camera – something their attorneys claim to be "the work of art" - represent "new standards of pornography industry" or not.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Authorities Move In

Acting on the complaint by Ljubica Matijević-Vrsaljko (Ljubica Matijevic-Vrsaljko), Children's Ombudsman of Croatia, Croatian Electronic Media Council has demanded recordings of all Big Brother shows in order to verify claims of problematic content.

It is unlikely that the Council will issue some harsh disciplinary decisions like fines or cancelling the broadcasting license for RTL Televizija. If the objectionable content is indeed found, public censure is more likely. RTL Televizija might react to that by rescheduling the daily shows after 22:00 hours or by more self-censorship.

Croatians in Iraq Trouble

Luck ran out for another Croatian truck driver in Iraq. Mercifully, there is still hope for this story to have a happy end. Damir Mikulić (Damir Mikulic) has been arrested by US forces under suspicion of espionage. He was caught while shooting American military bases with digital camera. He is currently in US military custody, although nobody knows where.

According to media reports, Mikulić wanted to make some extra cash by selling photos to newspapers. Others say that he wanted to start career of freelance journalist. Some claim that he got into trouble while trying to talk himself out of trouble by falsely claiming to be professional soldier.

In any case, this isn't going to be good news for Croatian Foreign Ministry whose officials were heavily criticised for not doing enough to find about fate of Dalibor Burazović (Dalibor Burazovic), truck driver killed in Mosul few days ago. Apparently, Mikulić was arrested two weeks ago and Croatian Foreign Ministry only yesterday found out about the whole case.

In the meantime, reports about disappearance of Jakov Krpan, another Croatian truck driver, have been proven wrong. Krpan contacted his family from Baghdad and explained that he can't return home before Americans "who are the bosses down there" allow him.

Sanader Goes For Gold

Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) just stated that Sanader's government had decided to call presidential elections for January 2nd 2005.

That date is the first and the only practical opportunity for two-round elections to be held on Sundays during constitutional time window. This means that Sanader apparently decided to win or at least increase vote of his candidate Jadranka Kosor. With Sunday elections it is less likely that Croatian business community would rally around Mesić in order to have only one working day lost. It is also more likely for Croatian expatriates – loyal HDZ electorate, more nationalist and right wing that population in Croatia proper – would cast their votes either for Kosor or for small army of far right candidates and thus deny Mesić of first round win.

However, January 2nd isn't without certain risks. If the elections to goes to second round on January 16th there is possibility of results being contested and the whole process of repeating elections could drag past constitutional time window.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: The Gloves Are Off

In the past all former Big Brother housemates have accepted their departure with nothing except the best possible words for those who remained in Dubrava.

This is apparently going to change with the departure of Filip Voloder. He was the first to break the custom of speaking only nice things about his former housemates. In his interviews Filip endorsed Saša (Sasa) and Sanja and his favourites, but he also directly pointed finger of blame towards Antonija, Ana and Valentina as "conspirators". He did have understanding for Alen nominating him because, according to Filip, Alen "felt jealous over Marina".

Of all evicted housemates, Filip is most likely to benefit from the phenomenon noticed with Ozren and Krešo (Kreso) – housemates who were despised while within the House suddenly become well-liked and sometimes even worshipped while being outside House. Filip's very eloquence, which doomed him in public eyes during his presence in House, could turn into very powerful weapon in the latter stages of the game.

In the meantime, Zdravko was also publicly badmouthed. Martina Vuzem, 20-year old economy student and Zdravko's former girlfriend, called Zdravko "immature" and " zero" when compared with her present boyfriend.

But some statements are more positive. Željko (Zeljko) enjoyed public support from his sister and one of his female colleagues – they vehemently denied Internet speculations about his sexual orientation.

First Croatian To Get Killed in Iraq

Dalibor Burazović (Dalibor Burazovic) is first Croatian fatality in the Iraq War. He was driver in a truck convoy ambushed by Iraqi insurgents near Mosul. All other trucks and their drivers managed to get to the Turkish borders except Burazović. His fate was the subject of intense media speculation, rumours and misinformation.

It is too early to speculate how his death would impact Croatian public opinion and their views on Iraq War and terrorism. My early guess is that, apart from sympathies for his family, it won't change much. The blame for Burazović's killing is going to be put on Bush and Americans.

It is estimated that between 40 and 60 Croatian citizens are driving trucks in Iraq.

RIP Zdenko Runjić (Zdenko Runjic) (1942 – 2004)

In good old days all music in former Yugoslavia was officially divided into three categories: Serious (Classical) Music, Folk Music and Entertainment Music. The latter included all forms of non-traditional music, ranging from Perry Como to Sex Pistols. However, there used to be one king of Entertainment Music and his name was Zdenko Runjić (Zdenko Runjic).

Runjić began his career as a composer of Entertainment Music in early 1960s. Soon it became apparent that his songs are dominating over Entertainment Music festivals and many famous Croatian pop, rock and folk artists owe their careers to his works.

Runjić was best known for his hegemony over Split Entertainment Music Festival – one of the greatest pop culture events in former Yugoslavia. That very hegemony brought him many enemies and in 1993, following the election of new City of Split administration, led to two new Entertainment Music festivals – one endorsed and one ignored by Runjić. Despite everything, Runjić continued to be one of the most popular and most respected names of Croatian entertainment industry.

Runjić died today in Krapinske Toplice spa where he was recuperating from the heart-attack and stroke he had in September.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Dirty Duo Triumphs

At this stage it doesn't look that either Zdravko and Marina - last week's nominees - could win the Grand Prize. But they won't leave the House empty-handed and without some title to brag about. On yesterday's small paintball tournament they managed to channel their frustrations over being outcast into martial spirit. In a way worthy of Aldrich's Dirty Dozen, they proved themselves superior to other "regular" housemates and deserved their victory.

In the meantime, at least one of on-line polls show that public dislike housemates can't be as clearly defined as public sympathies. While Saša (Sasa) enjoys overwhelming support, it is still difficult to spot the most disliked housemate. The most disliked housemates is Vlatka with some 22 % of the potential votes. She is followed by Valentina, Marina, Zdravko, Sanja and Antonija – each having between 10-16 % votes. Others are in single digits. Interestingly enough, Saša has more votes (2.9 %) than Ana and Željko (Zeljko).

Big Brother Croatia Update: Unpaid Debts

Krešo Jengić (Kreso Jengic) is the first Big Brother Croatia contestant to be arrested following his participation in the show. According to Jutarnji list, one of the more popular ex-housemates was brought to one of Zagreb police stations for questioning about apparent credit card fraud. It turned out that Krešo had some 25,000 HRK (cca. 3300 €) of unpaid debts made via his Diners Club card. Lawyers representing Diners Club filed criminal complaint. In his statement to Jutarnji list Krešo denied that the affair was serious and claimed that he had forgot to pay because of "too many media obligations".

In the meantime, Večernji list (Vecernji list) reports that Saša Tkalčević (Sasa Tkalcevic), the most popular housemate and most likely winner, went into House with the clear aim to earn 1 million HRK and thus pay his own huge debts. According to the article, there are two law offices representing two groups of debtors with total of 215,000 HRK of outstanding debts. Most of the debts were made because of Saša's inability to pay the rent for the use of premises for his various businesses. Saša's wife Nataša Tkalčević (Natasa Tkalcevic) confirms the dire financial situation but also expresses confidence that her husband would ultimately pay all debts "like he had before".

60 Years of… Something Better Than Before

On the night of October 26th 1944 units of 20th and 26th Division of Peoples' Liberation Army of Yugoslavia have entered Split.

This wasn't the end of World War II in this town – German explosive boats penetrated Split harbour in an unsuccessful attempt to sink British cruiser in Split harbour on February 12th 1945 – but it was nevertheless one of the most important events in this town's history – it marked the end of one era and start of another.

For the next 46 years this event was celebrated as "liberation". From 1990 onwards that event was officially ignored or described as "occupation" and "tragedy" by those who took arrival of democracy as an excellent opportunity to settle some score with those who were on the winning side of WW2.

However, with proper historical context, word "liberation" might not be the best way to describe what October 26th 1944 meant for Split, but it is much more appropriate than "occupation". Many of the liberators were home boys – Dalmatian Croats, who had filled the ranks of Tito's Partisan army with enthusiasm unmatched by any other ethnic and regional group of former Yugoslavia. Few months later city of Split would become provisional capital of Federal State of Croatia, the entity that would ultimately become today's Republic of Croatia. Finally, on October 26th 1944 Split was taken from the forces that wanted, if their ideology and practice was to be believed, to transform most of its citizens into sub-human slaves and have Split – the second largest city of Croatia – as part of another country.

This year, for the first time since Croatia became independent, City of Split has sent its officials to mark 60th anniversary of that event on the ceremony held in local theatre.

Perhaps this is one of the signs that World War II is finally coming to an end in Croatia.

First Impressions of Sims 2

While Croatian public, Big Brother fans included, is disgusted and outraged with the idea of entire Big Brother town being built for the purpose of decades-long show, I'm testing the concept in the form of Sims 2. Probably the most popular simulation game ever has been raised to a new level. I still haven't picked up all the neat tricks nor did I have really intriguing plot developments in my first game so far (apart from few heated verbal exchanges, two marriages and one baby being born). There are some technical problems I still haven't solved, but the general impression is mostly positive. Those who liked the original Sims are going to like this one too.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Saša (Sasa) Becomes Target

Three parachutists that landed in Big Brother House are not likely to be prosecuted for their stunt. The worst trouble they might expect is the disciplinary hearing in front of Croatian aviation authorities.

Apparently, shortly after incident, one of those parachutists was roughed up by security.

In today's daily summary RTL Televizija officially announced that the parachutists hadn't been in any way connected with the show.

Tonight's daily summary also suggests some interesting political developments within House.

Saša (Sasa) was correctly identified Saša as the most popular contestant and most likely winner by Antonija-Ana axis. Therefore, Antonija and Ana know that they would have to sacrifice one of their two minor allies – Valentina and Sanja – in the final four. That dilemma would create unnecessary tension and conflict that could wreck any long-term nomination strategy. Therefore, Antonija-Ana axis has decided to move against Saša (Sasa).

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Brief Moment of Internet Glory

Should I say that I don't believe my eyes? This film to appear No. 1 on this list?

Don't interpret my disbelief as some kind of criticism. It is simply difficult to imagine relatively unknown piece of former Yugoslav cinema (although a cult film in this part of world) to beat, at least temporarily, such formidable competition..

Žužul in Hospital (Zuzul in Hospital)

Miomir Žužul (Miomir Zuzul), Croatian foreign minister, has been hospitalised for abdominal pains. All his appointments for the next days are cancelled. He is diagnosed with gastric ulcer.

Žužul is currently one of the least popular members of Sanader's cabinet. He used to be chief lobbyist for Bechtel. Because of that and his presence at Republican National Convention he is widely perecieved as the most pro-American member of Croatian ruling elite. His support for Sharon during visit to Israel didn't help his standing among Croatian people either.

However, regardless of his unpopularity among Croatian people, his eventual absence might hurt Sanader in difficult months ahead. Žužul is one of Sanader's few remaining allies within HDZ. Despite his pro-Americanism, in internal matters of Croatia he is one of the more moderate voices within HDZ.

Another Sanader's ally, Jadranka Kosor, is most likely going to be destroyed at the next presidential elections.

Absence of Žužul and demoting of Kosor is going to leave Sanader flanked by Tudjmanist hardliners who had supported his moderate policies for tactical reasons.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Airborne Assault!

Big Brother Croatia had first successful breech of security. Today at 14:10 CET two parachutists have landed in the yard with flowers. The stunt was apparently made for someone's marriage anniversary.

Housemates have seen parachutists earlier and gathered in Confessions Room in order to evade any contact.

Parachutists were apprehended by security and later sent to police for questioning.


One of the parachutists, Nebojša Ilić (Nebojsa Ilic), gave statement to RTL Televizija. He claims that the duo aimed to land on nearby stadium. After realising that they would miss, they decided to land within House.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Axis of Evil

Last night's weekly show had one very disturbing detail. The show gives warning about contents inappropriate for younger viewers. Yet their producers chose only children to greet housemates during evictions.

Tanja Pureta has apparently realised that she is less popular than the least popular housemate. Her appearance in the weekly show was limited and her style (hair and costume) was deliberately less glamourous than in previous installments. Her "expert" opinions were brief and broad enough to meaningless. Speculations about evictions, future nominations and relationships between housemates were left to former housemates like Ozren, Krešo (Kreso) and Egle.

Friday was emotionally very intense day for Filip. His very last day in the House was opportunity for one last major verbal clash, this time with Valentina.

After leaving House, he remained mostly positive during first interview in studio. He said that, if given a chance, he would never go to House again.

In Papaya Cocktail Club, however, his demeanour changed. That was unfriendly territory for Flip – popular nightspot, frequented by Zagreb youth who view Ozren and Krešo as their heroes and can't stand rich daddy's son with heavy Dalmatian accent. In a brief segment aired on RTL Televizija this evening, Filip in company of his parents, reacted to such hostility by saying few rather undiplomatic words about Antonija whom he considers his nemesis. There was some talk about "clan" – Antonija, Sanja and Ana. He claims that he got nominated and eventually evicted for standing in their way.

Filip's assessment of the situation is apparently shared by many Croatian bloggers. The winner of the show is all but certain and almost nobody doubts that Saša (Sasa) is going to pick 1 million HRK. The only issue is in identity of three other finalists. Everyone thinks that Antonija and Ana have created powerful alliance that would allow them to cruise to finals. The last spot is going to be matter of contention between Sanja and Valentina.

Which of those two are going to win favour of Antonija-Ana axis is everyone's guess. Some claim that Valentina has the edge because of her Southern temperament, while tonight's daily summary suggests Antonija and Sanja bringing their relationship to a new level.

Yale Professor Loses Party Leadership

Dr. Ivo Banac, professor at Yale, was one of the most respected historians and experts for all things related to former Yugoslavia. He gained additional respect as political commentator and columnist for Feral Tribune.

His star began to fade when he, against advice of many, decided to take active part in politics, first by becoming chairman of small centre-left party LS, than by becoming minister for housing and environmental issues in Račan's (Racan's) coalition government. He remained there only for few months, being forced to abandon that post after HDZ victory in November 2003 elections.

Banac didn't leave much impression as a minister and his chairmanship of LS – small and insignificant party with 1 % support in all relevant opinion polls (their representatives gained seats in Sabor by appearing on SDP ticket) – was even worse. Already small party was affected by a feud between Banac and party secretary, General Karlo Gorinšek (Karlo Gorinsek).

On today's party convention, Banac's story came to an end. With 231 votes to 89 he was defeated by Zlatko Benašić (Zlatko Benasic), leader of LS chapter in Osijek, and thus had to relinquish party leadership.

Benašić has announced that he would continue with the process of fusing LS with Libra and HNS – two other centre parties of Croatia – and creation of new and more powerful party that would represent alternative to SDP and HDZ.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Filip Is Out

So, it is Filip who got the most nomination votes. First estimates – hinted at the beginning of weekly shows - were showing the candidate with 55 %.

Večernji list (Vecernji list) has published interview with Filip's father Ante Voloder. The old man actually endorsed his son's eviction, claiming that coming home to the job and family would be best for his son. I couldn't agree more.


The numbers are in. Filip got 55 %, Marina got 26 %, Zdravko got 19 %. I'm a little bit miffed over Marina ending on 2nd instead on 3rd place, but at least in this round, my favourite candidate survived.

When it comes to endorsements, it is Draxblog 1, Večernji list 0.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Pressure On Filip

Public sentiment and public expectations overwhelmingly point towards Filip as the Big Brother candidate who would be celebrity guest at tonight's Big Brother Hysteria Party in Zagreb's Papaya Cocktail Bar.

One of few dissenting voices is Arsen Oremović (Arsen Oremovic), columnist for Večernji list (Vecernji list). Oremović admits that Filip is most likely to go, but he would prefer Zdravko and Marina to be evicted. Two of them "mind their own business" while "scheming Filip" would continue to stir things up in House and make the show "less boring".

Panel of 11 candidates' friends, siblings and parents have disagreed with Oremović. Filip got 8 votes, Marina 2 and Zdravko 1. Marina got votes from Zdravko's brother and Filip's mother – they don't want to see dynamic duo of Filip and Zdravko split.

It seems that the pressure found the way even to Filip in the isolation of Big Brother House. He spent last night with very little sleep, apparently aware that his chances to stay are very slim.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Tanja Pureta Crosses The Line?

Filip Voloder is arguably the most disliked contestant of Big Brother Croatia, but there is at least one Big Brother personality who is liked even less, at least among certain sections of Croatian population.

In case of Croatian psychologists, that title goes to Tanja Pureta, chief of the team that selected the candidates and gives "expert" commentaries to RTL Televizija and other media.

This dislike has, according to Slobodna Dalmacija, has resulted in the letter signed by Dr. Zlatko Milišić (Zlatko Milisic), professor of pedagogy and sociology at Zadar University and her colleague Mirela Tolić (Mirela Tolic). They sent that letter to Croatian Chamber of Psychologists, demanding that that body investigates Tanja Pureta's activities in Big Brother House and eventually think about disciplinary measures, including revoking her license.

Gordana Biljan-Flander, member of Chamber's Administrative Board, confirms the letter but refuses to comment on the matter in public. She nevertheless says that she, "as an expert", would never take part in Big Brother for "ethical, moral and professional reasons".

Snježana Biga-Friganović (Snjezana Biga-Friganovic), chairman of the Chamber and member of Sabor (SDP), is more explicit in her criticisms of Pureta's work. She doesn't mind Pureta being involved in the project, but she feels troubled with Pureta publicly commenting candidates and their intimate relationships, namely those between Ozren and his girlfriend Viktorija.

Most members of Chamber interviewed for the article claim that it is unlikely that Pureta might get anything more than "harsh censure" on any disciplinary hearing.

The article was also the first occasion for Kristijan Gržetić (Kristijan Grzetic), Big Brother Croatia spokesman, to officially deny that Pureta and her team in any way manipulate with the housemates.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: When Ignorance Isn't Bliss

There is first time for everything. That includes Big Brother Croatia housemates failing their weekly task.

The dance marathon proved to be too difficult for one simple reason – today's 20-somethings, generation brainwashed by MTV and its Croatian equivalents, has big difficulty in connecting certain styles of music with certain periods. Yesterday's daily summary showed Antonija desperately trying to decide to which period certain song belongs. During all that mess Ana left the dance square in clear violation of weekly task.

Today's daily summary, however, pointed at least some blame towards Big Brother team. The first song was "Abba" single from 1981, and all housemates believed that the bloc of songs would be related to 1970s. They realised their mistake only after Billy Idol's song.

In the meantime, it seems that the situation for Marina – both within and outside House - slightly improved in last few days. In Confessions Room Ana and Sanja expressed their regret over nominating Marina. New on-line polls show increased percentage of eviction votes for Filip (around 70 %, and even slight rise of eviction votes for Zdravko (around 20 %), which left Marina on third place, thus least likely to be evicted.

However, some rumours are talking about Filip Voloder's rich parents trying to rescue their beloved son's pride by spending millions of kunas on phone votes for other candidates, namely Marina.

I'm little bit sceptical towards those conspiracy theories, at least until next evening. Any hint of votes being rigged is going to hurt RTL Televizija. With so much polls and so big numbers pointing towards his eviction, Filip is all but certain to be evicted.

Big Brother Croatia Update: What You Don't Know…

It was inevitable that the highlights of Marina's and Filip's discussion about Paganini would be repeated on the pages of Slobodna Dalmacija.

And it was also inevitable that the at least one of the journalists criticising Filip and Marina would show the same level of ignorance.

In today's Slobodna Dalmacija Sandro Pogutz speculated that Filip asked stupid question about Paganini in a clumsy attempt to mimic Zlatko, "famous contestant of Big Brother Germany who won the show after showing complete lack of knowledge about Shakespeare".

Pogutz is, of course, wrong. Zlatko Trpkovski became famous, but he didn't win the show. He got evicted after couple of weeks and became instantly famous. The actual winner of the show, quiet East German carpenter John – German equivalent of Saša (Sasa) – was instantly forgotten by media.

That doesn't justify Pogutz. Unlike Filip Voloder and Marina Bajlo, he, as a journalist, had the professional duty to present correct information to his readers.

Eastern Front Reopens

The most important news in Croatian media today had little to with presidential campaign, at least directly. It was the most unpleasant incident which reopened old wounds and reminded Croatians of some apparently unresolved issues of recent and troubled past.

Last evening in Vukovar, ethnically mixed city on Croatian eastern border, a site of great destruction and many atrocities during 1991-95 war, group of three ethnic Serb youths came to the building used by HSP, Croatian far right nationalist party. They began provoking HSP members, than got into fistfight and finally threw a hand grenade. Thankfully, nobody was seriously injured and the police quickly apprehended the perpetrators.

The incident will have some impact on the elections, though. Many Croatian hardliners see Sanader as too "soft" towards ethnic Serb minority and it is likely that some would punish him by voting for a variety of fringe right-wing candidates in the upcoming contest.

An Inconvenient Constitution

Upcoming presidential elections continue to be source of excitement and unpredictability despite their ultimate outcome being more or less certain. After Sanader chose to put his trusted ally Jadranka Kosor into the losing battle with Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic), another great mystery is the exact date of the election.

Croatian Constitution leaves relatively short timeframe for the elections to be held. Due to Christmas holiday season, the earliest practical date is December 21st, which just happens to be Tuesday. If that date sticks, Sanader's government is going to treat it as temporary holiday ("non-working day" in Croatian legal vocabulary).

All that didn't sit well within Croatian business community. Since December 21st is the day when many Croatians do their Christmas shopping, they already calculated immense loss of revenue due to one extra day of holidays. If the elections by any chance go to the second round, the loss is going to be doubled.

Needless to say, in present circumstances it quite certain that the Croatian business leaders, regardless of their political persuasions, would prefer only one lost day or, in other words, Mesić comfortably winning in the first round. It is very likely that at least some of them would express that preference by campaign donations and other forms of support of Mesić – for the sole purpose of having all that unpleasant formality over in the shortest amount of time as possible.

Sanader's government is becoming aware of such sentiments and Sanader, personally and through his proxies, floated some alternatives.

One of the more spectacular and more talked about is the rapid change of Constitution. The precedent for that already exists. In 2001, at the eve of the elections for House of Counties (where HDZ had majority, elected in 1997), upper chamber of Sabor, ruling non-HDZ coalition has decided to circumvent elections by simply removing House of Counties from Constitution.

Sanader tries to repeat the manoeuvre and lure votes by offering to put Bosniacs and Slovenians in Constitution preamble and thus win support by ethnic minority representatives. Unlike Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) three years ago, Sanader lacks necessary two-thirds majority in Sabor. Račan, who is now in the opposition, is very reluctant to bring those votes, at least not without some major horse-trading that could make him look good.

In the meantime, first polls show that Kosor would have many roads to travel before becoming serious contender. According to the latest polls, Mesić enjoys support of 54 % voters while Kosor can expect three times less – 18 %. And, despite pro-Kosor feminist rhetoric, Kosor enjoys bigger support among male than female voters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Glued to Gotovina

Officially, Croatian government is moving heaven and earth in order to find General Ante Gotovina, have him arrested and extradited to ICTY. Unofficially, Sanader and his men would prefer someone else to tackle that task and thus spare the government from the wrath of all those whom they have not so long ago convinced of Gotovina's heroic status.

However, even the rhetorical distancing from Gotovina is too much for some of renegade general's most ardent supporters. They expressed their feelings this night in city of Zadar by gluing General Gotovina's posters to every window of every shop in Zadar's main street.

This morning the citizens of Zadar were entertained by the sight of hundreds of shop clerks using knives, nails, water and all kinds of tools in order to scrape Gotovina's face from the windows. They had to do it before starting their regular business. This surreal sight in many ways symbolises what Gotovina means for Croatia at this moment.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Dangerous Liaisons

Croatian media continue to deliver new information about Big Brother Croatia housemates in slow but steady stream. All those revelations are showing an interesting and intriguing pattern – the show that was supposed to be a ticket for quick fame to nobodies and average citizens is promoting the people who were in one way or another, connected to top echelons of Croatian jet set and entertainment industry.

A good example is Saša (Sasa), simple, soft-spoken blue collar biker from Bjelovar who is, according to certain on-line polls, favourite of some 75 % Croatian fans (Ana is on second place with 9,9%, others are in single digits, with Sanja being the last with 0,4 %). Even that embodiment of Croatian Joe Average can boast of having Important Friends – during his high school days he used to hang out with Mirjana Hrga, top anchorwoman of Nova TV.

It is also revealed that Sanja Kvastek is an accomplished poet who used to perform in read her works in prestigious Močvara (Mocvara) club in Zagreb . One of her poems was good enough to enter prestigious anthology of former Yugoslav poetry.

Probably the sauciest revelation is related to Antonija, whose former boyfriend is currently dating Vlatka Pačarić (Vlatka Pacaric), aspiring pop singer who just happened to be picked to perform Big Brother Croatia theme song.

Liaisons between contestants and RTL Televizija staff aren't something new or shocking – Filip is good friend of TV show hostess Paola Poljak who even endorsed him as her favourite during one of weekly shows. However, those liaisons are going to give some material to conspiracy theorists and bring some questions about real criteria used for picking candidates.

The only candidate whose entry to Big Brother house resembles "rags to riches" story is Željko (Zeljko). He is the only one to have truly difficult childhood – his mother died shortly after birth and father had to earn his living as guest worker in Germany; because of that Željko and her sister were raised by their grandmother. Željko later supported himself and his theology studies through variety of odd jobs. He is currently employed as security guard in one Zagreb bank.

Because of such biographical details that could invoke audience's sympathies Željko in the long term seems to be the most dangerous Saša's rival.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Lost in Translation

Almost nothing of substance is happening in the House in the past 24 hours. Little glimpses from livefeeds and daily summary on RTL Televizija don't indicate any major activity or dramatic changes. Only change is gradual and inevitable gathering of nomination votes for Vlatka among women's sections of House. Marina was another to openly hint at that during her session in Confessions Room. Housemates are engrossed in their weekly task of dance marathon. Their presumed lack of musical knowledge and inability to connect certain song with certain era is the cause of major concern.

However, mistakes did happen, but they were made by RTL Televizija team. The Age of Aquarius has found its place in the musical montage that was supposed to represent 1970s. Housemates danced to the tune dressed in 1970s outfits. But the song originally appeared in Hair, Broadway musical staged in late 1960s. The version used in the montage has been from soundtrack for 1979 movie adaptation.

The lack of excitement has spread outside the House. Very few news related to Big Brother appeared in Croatian media. The sauciest bit is still unconfirmed story (posted on one of fan sites) about Krešo Jengić (Kreso Jengic) being involved in minor traffic accident on Sunday. There weren't any injuries, but one vehicle was hit by Krešo's car. Vehicle's driver chased Krešo only to find him relieving himself in the fiedld, blissfully unaware that he was involved in incident. Krešo apologised and claimed that he was still "too tired from the show", according to this apocryphal story.

Artificial Excitement

Almost all Croatian media and commentators have reacted to Kosor's presidential candidacy by forecasting "tough fight" between her and President Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic). Most claim that HDZ has tight party machine on the terrain, "most reliable electorate" and that the immense media and financial resources gathered during Tudjman's reign could affect the vote more than current polls indicate.

Many "liberal" and "centrist" commentators try to sound "delighted" with the prospect of Croatia having first woman as president.

Some argue that Sanader couldn't have picked Kosor without at least something to make him confident – either some good news from Brussels or some major dirt on Mesić (Mesic).

Some of those speculations might be sound, but they are mostly result of wishful thinking. Most of Croatian media establishment wants to have something to write about during the next presidential el ections. A major, unpredictable and dramatic showdown between two strong candidates is more desirable for newspaper and television than Kosor quietly going to the gallows.

The latest issue of Nacional, on the other hand, reports that Andrija Hebrang, the main contender for HDZ candidacy and the champion of party's rank and file, didn't take Sanader's decision very lightly. After some 20 minutes of hissy fit he decided to be an obedient soldier of the Party and support Kosor.

But it is very unlikely that HDZ hardcore voters in the field would share Hebrang's new-found enthusiasm.

Emperor's New Clothes

Croatian soccer fans continue with inventive ways to coerce, bully, intimidate and humiliate the clubs and players they are supposed to adore.

Radio 101 reports that group of Dinamo Zagreb fans invaded Maksimir stadium during the Dinamo training. Apparently displeased with the club's performance, they forced players to undress. They claimed that the players were "unworthy of Dinamo colours" and that their clothes would be returned when they "deserve it".

By the time police arrived to investigate, the fans left leaving players in underwear.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Votes That (Don't) Count

Jutarnji list reports that Kristijan Gržetić (Kristijan Grzetic), Big Brother Croatia spokesman, has officially admitted its phone vote numbers mix-up. All phone votes cast on Friday and Saturday are going to be voided, although they can still bring various prizes to voters.

In the House the most important development is the new weekly task, taken from Big Brother competitions in other countries. A square is drawn in the House, housemates are given costumes belonging to various eras and whenever a music plays, they must pick the correct era and dance in the circle. This task should favour Marina who, judging by the segments shown in today's daily summary, displays formidable dancing talent.

Reshuffling of alliances is continuing. Two replacements are most likely to suffer different fates. Željko (Zeljko) is so far at least tolerated by veterans and is getting close to Valentina. Vlatka, on the other hand, is most likely 7 or 14 days, depending on the way Big Brother interprets the rules, away from nomination. After Valentina, Antonija was next to express her dislike of new woman in House.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Another Bajlo Makes It

Marina Bajlo isn't the only Bajlo to get attention from national television.

Few weeks ago an official report about state of Croatian armed forces has created huge brouhaha among Croatian military and political circles. In its essence the report told about sorry state of Croatian defence infrastructure (for example, only around 30 % of aircraft are operational, average age of tank is 35 years etc.) and claims that Croatian armed forces in its present state can't properly defend the country.

HRT, Croatian state-run television has recently aired segment about the report and claimed that great deal of data used in report can be found on this site maintained by Ivan Bajlo, one of Croatia's best known military gamers and author of many mods for war-related PC games.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Men With A Plan

Not that long ago Saša Jadrijević-Tomas (Sasa Jadrijevic-Tomas), Slobodna Dalmacija repoter, wrote about Big Brother as degradation of human dignity and hinted that Egle was in his mind the only true winner of the show. In today's Slobodna Dalmacija he reveals himself as a true Big Brother fan with partisan agenda. His article about nominations can't hide the gloating over his anti-favourites being nominated and most likely to be evicted.

In the meantime, anti-Marina factions of Big Brother fans were served well by RTL Televizija editorial policy. In last night's daily summary the network used opportunity to air one of Marina's few verbal gaffes – she apparently mistook Paganini for "Gypsy name". Needless to say, Marina was immediately being called all sorts of names. Needless to say, 99 % of Croatians, when asked what or who Paganini was and offered 1 million HRK for the right answer, would say things that would make Zlatko Trpkovski – star of Big Brother Germany immortalised for his words about Shakespeare – sound like literary scholar.

Tonight's daily summary – another testament that RTL Televizija adopted editorial policies of pre-1989 Eastern Europe - offers some glimpses into new realignments in House. Filip was engaged in the nasty row with Antonija, forcing Marina to abandon her long-time ally and take Antonija's side. The row itself wasn't aired, but Filip's attempts to apologise were.

Other housemates are sizing up two new replacements. So far, the most blunt in her assessment was Valentina, saying that she didn't "connect" with Vlatka.

Alone in the room, two nominated boys – Filip and Zdravko – provided dramatic closure for tonight's segment by discussing their nominations. Zdravko said that he, if allowed to stay for extra week, would put in motion the plan he had devised for weeks.

Sanader Sticks Out Kosor's Neck

Sanader decided to play it safe. Instead of Andrija Hebrang, whose candidacy was widely expected during the weekend, HDZ candidate on upcoming presidential elections is going to be Jadranka Kosor, deputy prime minister in charge of Ministry of Family, Veterans and Inter-Generational Solidarity. HDZ Presidency made the announcement short while ago.

Sanader stated that "they were convinced that Kosor would win and they would do anything to make it happen".

At this stage of the game, there are very few reasons for Sanader to be that optimistic. Pushing Mesić (Mesic) into the second round of election is going to be immense success for Kosor. Actually, finishing on the second place and beating Miroslav "Ćiro" Blažević (Miroslav "Ciro" Blazevic) is going to be success for Kosor.

Presidential Campaign To Officially Start

According to HRT, Sanader's cabinet is going to call next presidential elections for December 21st.

The campaign has already started without various characters, with more or less seriousness, announcing their candidacy. The latest one is Ivić Pašalić (Ivic Pasalic), once all-too-powerful interior policy advisor of Franjo Tudjman. He is going to run for the post of his late boss at the ticket of his party Hrvatski Blok (HB).

In the meantime, Croatia has got its first presidential campaign blog called Predsjednik Autsajder. The candidate, for some unfathomable reason, forgot to put his name on the blog.

Big Brother Croatia – Eviction Vote Tampering?

The most important and possibly the most disturbing development in Big Brother Croatia is a mistake that mismatched phone vote numbers for Filip and Zdravko on RTL Televizija web site. The information is very unreliable because it comes from RTL Televizija's very own Internet forums.

It could have been an honest mistake, and judging by the series of RTL Televizija have made in previous few weeks, it wouldn't have been the first.

But conspiracy theorists are going to have a field day with this one. If significant section of anti-Filip electorate cast their votes to Zdravko by mistake, that could make the eviction voting more competitive – at the expense of Marina, of course.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Things They Do For Love

Split women are renowned for their beauty and high opinion about themselves. The latter is probably going to be increased thanks to the story about Keith van der Spuy, 40-year old South African real estate developer and head of South African Water Polo Federation.

Originally on vacation, he prolonged his stay in Split for more than a month in order to find the mysterious dark-haired woman that had captured his heart.

It all began on August 22ndm on a ferryboat that carried van der Spuy from island of Brač to Split. He spotted dark-haired woman reading a book by Ayn Rand. Since van der Spuy is Rand's fan he saw in that woman his perfect soulmate. Unfortunately, van der Spuy's ideal woman was in the presence of a man, presumably a boyfriend. After few threatening looks, van Spuy decided not to interfere.

Once in Split, van der Spuy saw Dark-Haired Woman in Caffe Bar Tribu. She smiled at him and disappeared in the crowd. After that van Spuy spent more than a month desperately trying to see her again in all of Split's bars and discotheques.

Finally, in absolute despair, he contacted Slobodna Dalmacija and issued public appeal for help. "She may be married, she may have children, and if this is the case, I don't want to create any problems for her", he said, "If she tells me to go away, I'll do it. But I just want to see her again." He also claims that, if needed, he would stay in Split for another five years.

All those with information related to mysterious woman may contact him at this cell phone number ++385 98 1837 665.

Many actually did call that number – mostly single Split women describing herself as prettier than Dark-Haired Woman and trying to set a date.


This is going to be one of those "I can't believe I'm doing this" posts.

Only months, if not weeks, from now I'm probably going to view this as the most embarrassing collection of paragraphs ever recorded in my blog.

But I feel obliged to write them, because few weeks ago I hinted that I'm going to endorse one of Big Brother Croatia as my favourite. And, since I believe that words written in this blog are worthless without at least some connection to real word, I am forced to, grudgingly and not without great deal of soul searching, announce that…

…my personal favourite among all Big Brother candidates is Marina Bajlo.

The reasons that led me to believe that Marina Bajlo's victory in Big Brother Croatia would the best thing for this country are many. I'm not going to torture the readers with long and detailed argument. But if I have to make a capsule version of my case for Marina Bajlo, I would state that she represents the antithesis of Croatian Dream.

The unfortunate fact that Marina Bajlo was nominated for the second time in a row forces me to come out of Marina Bajlo fan closet and try my best in persuading those few souls who read this blog to at least consider doing something practical and meaningful to prolong the presence of Marina Bajlo in Big Brother House.

The simplest way (and most profitable to RTL Televizija, of course) is to cast your phone vote (or votes, to be more precise) for one of two other candidates –the one who is more likely to get more votes than Marina and be evicted on Friday.

To be frank, if it were up to me, none of three candidates should have been nominated. If I had any saying in the matter, two other candidates should have been nominated – one for hypocritical lifestyle and annoying manners, another for strictly humanitarian reasons.

However, I also understand that housemates may have completely different perspective than me and that their reasoning behind nominations, considering the specific circumstances, is more justified.

And, if I had to choose between those three nominated candidates, I would have easily picked one for the eviction. And, since Marina Bajlo is ruled out from that equation, that leaves only Zdravko Lamot and Filip Voloder.

Of all candidates Filip Voloder was the only one that left impression of being well-read, well-informed and able to engage in meaningful discussion about whole variety of difficult topics. Filip Voloder was the only one brave enough to explicitly and consistently express cosmopolitan and broad-minded worldview which is not exactly the most popular among citizens of his home town. As a child of family with background associated with traditional values of Croatia, he relentlessly attacked Catholic Church and advocated total abolition of draft in Croatia and transformation of Croatian armed forces in all-volunteer service, using well-grounded arguments in doing so. When confronted with Krešo's (Kreso's) words that could have been interpreted blue-collar homophobia he quickly intervened with his criticism, forcing Krešo to clarify his point and thus preventing him from becoming Croatian bigots icon. Needless to say, those words were censored by RTL Televizija in order not to offend Croatian establishment and those sections of young audience which is not exactly at the same wavelength with Limousine Leftism that RTL Televizija is trying itself to associate with.

However, willingness to express unpopular and possibly dangerous views (which he, thanks to financial status of his family, can afford) is any easy thing. Willingness to stand behind your words and handle difficult situations – a true test of character – is another. Filip Voloder failed that test most miserably, in ways and situations too numerous to mention. The straw that broke the camel's back was his shameful treatment of Alen in which he displayed the very traits he had so eloquently (albeit not that publicly) criticised in Ozren and Krešo (Kreso).

Zdravko Lamot, his best House friend and co-nominee, was perhaps a little bit arrogant, sexist or prone to violence, but at least all those traits were consistent to the character and the way he tried to portray himself to the public and other housemates.

Unlike Zdravko and unlike Marina, Filip Voloder came forward with something that everyone suspected from the Day 1 – that his financial resources exceeded the Grand Prize and that his participation in the show was motivated by the desire for social or business promotion. It is very likely that of all 12 original candidates Filip Voloder needs Grand Prize the least. Therefore, it is morally right to cast votes for Filip Voloder and finish his participation in the show as soon as possible.

Some may call this endorsement (or, to be more precise, anti-endorsement) pathetic (and in many ways they may be right), and some may call it desperate. But I believe that I'm doing this on principle. And if the certain on-line polls are correct, I am far from being alone in this - around 59 % fans of Big Brother Croatia support my view.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: First Replacements

Today's show didn't have much surprises. Krešo (Kreso) and Ozren were brought as celebrity guests. Tanja Pureta continued to play celebrity psychologist. Daria Knez continued with "Look ma, I finished Drama Arts Academy in Zagreb, I'm an actress" routine.

The most important news is the arrival of two replacements. It is very difficult, if not impossible to get any impression.

Željko Madjarić (Zeljko Madjaric) is described as 29-years old man from Virovitica who spent six years in Zagreb. He wears tattoo, goatee, goes to fitness clubs and looks like one of the Baldwin brothers.

Vlatka Kraljić (Vlatka Kraljic) is 24-year old woman from Zagreb. It is obvious that she was brought to fill regional quotas. Of all girls in the House none was from Croatian capital – Antonija, who was born in Zagreb, speaks with too heavy Dalmatian accent to be accepted by Zagreb chauvinists. Vlatka seems to be the only housemates with university degree - in her case, hotel management. She lives with her parents.


Željko is originally from Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is studying theology at Zagreb University and is avid non-smoker for the last seven years. He considers Bible to be his most valuable possession.

He resembles at least one Baldwin brother, and more than just looks. Like Stephen Baldwin, born-again Christian who defected from his Democratic family in order to attend Republican National Convention, this one is going to clash with the likes of Sanja, Antonija and (possibly) Saša (Sasa) on social issues. His background and worldview are going to make him close to Valentina.

Vlatka – it is too early to make an impression about her, but the buzz on Internet forums points towards her as wannabe Marina.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Defeat of Beautiful People

So, the nominations are over. Filip received 4 votes, Zdravko and Marina 3. At least one of the original Beautiful People crew is going to be evicted, barring any extraordinary developments in next 7 days.

Marina is most likely to be evicted due to intense dislike she gained among teenyboppers. The only thing that can save her is the regional rivalry between North (Zagreb) and South (Split) that could get eviction votes for Filip.

Worrying Signs

Italian deputy prime minister Gianfranco Fini has recently gave interview to Slobodna Dalmacija describing Istria, Rijeka (Fiume) and Dalmatia as "ancient Italian lands". Although Fini said that he doesn't advocate any silly ideas like border changes, this was enough to create outrage among many Croatians.

Because of the interview and because of the slogan calling for handover of Trieste (Trst) and payment of WW2 reparations, police is guarding Italian consulate in Split.

In the meantime, Rijeka has seen flyers calling all Croatians to boycott Slovenian merchandise.

The latter development has some disturbing similarities with the similar call made by Serbian president Slobodan Milošević (Slobodan Milosevic) in late 1980s when Serbia and Slovenia used to be the part of the same federation.

Michael Manske should be commended for closing the comments on this post.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Gender Wars

It is very difficult to spot new trends in the House due to a generally uplifting "family" atmosphere, but it seems that the next major conflict and housemates' grouping is going to be on gender rather than on lifestyle/ideology lines. In an attempt to make things livelier, boys and girls in the House were plotting and, at times, conducting series of practical jokes. At least some of those pranks has apparently crossed the line.

It is unlikely that the housemates, if left with any other alternative, would gladly take tonight's nomination process. But the slowly brewing gender war could have quite unexpected consequences.

However, even with nominations settled (and last night at least some of the housemates were coming forwards with their previous picks) it is next to impossible to predict who is going to be actually evicted on next Friday or would have been any evictions at all.

Alen is slowly transforming into loose cannon of the House. He is becoming visibly uncomfortable with present situation. He is too alienated from the rest of male crowd, which fuels his insecurity with series of practical jokes. His relationship with Marina is also only reflection of his own insecurity which, fuelled by possibility of him or Marina being evicted next Friday, only leads to more rash and impulsive actions. His very public display of affection towards Antonija – in Marina's presence – is another reflection of such insecurity. Other Alpha Males in the pack probably spotted this vulnerability and, in an attempt to secure their position before arrival of Ozren's and Krešo's (Kreso's) replacements, are in most likelihood trying to manipulate Alen into voluntary departure.

Severina the Nobel Candidate

Severina Vučković (Severina Vuckovic), the most famous Croatian woman in the world, is again trying to enter history books with something other than 11 Minutes That Shook The World. This time it is the concept of advertising which should, if accepted, get her the next Nobel Prize for Economics.

In an attempt to promote her new album Severgreen, she approached HRT with an offer to allow airing of her promotional concert in Gavella Theatre in Zagreb. She also asked unspecified, but, according to Jutarnji list, "substantial" amount of money for the broadcast rights.

Aleksandar Kostadinov, editor of HRT Entertainment Programme, was probably amused with the idea that state-run television should pay rights to air someone else's advertisement. He refused the offer and later stated that "HRT could have aired two sold-out concerts by Croatian top performers for the same amount of money". He also said that such scheme would be inappropriate because Severina had sold rights for her Hrvatica videoclip to rival Nova TV.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Hebrang Runs?

Večernji list (Vecernji list) reports that, according to "well-informed sources", HDZ decided to announce Andrija Hebrang as its presidential candidate on Monday. Same sources speculate about Miroslav "Ćiro" Blažević's (Miroslav "Ciro" Blazevic's) presidential run as nothing more than a "ruse" designed to steal as many votes from Mesić in the first round and thus secure second round.

This scheme might backfire terribly. It is quite conceivable that Hebrang, despite all HDZ voters who might be impressed with his staunch hard-line Tudjmanism, might end on 3rd place.

It wouldn't be the first time that such miscalculation occurrs. In 2000 it took three weeks for Mate Granić (Mate Granic), ultra-popular foreign minister and HDZ best hope, to plummet from 1st to 3rd place in the opinion polls. With Hebrang, arguably the least popular of all prominent HDZ politicians, this scenario is even more likely.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Police State

According to Croatian media reports, Ozren has practically disappeared following his departure from Big Brother House. For at least 48 hours he and his girlfriend Viktorija Antolović (Viktorija Antolovic) were unreachable, not only to Croatian media, but even to RTL Televizija. Even his father Zvonko Petrić (Zvonko Petric) doesn't know anything about Ozren's whereabouts.

Unlike Ozren, Krešo (Kreso) still is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame and gives as much insight into the inner workings of Big Brother as possible. He says that he was "shocked" to find such hostility towards Ozren among fans on Saturday's soccer game. He also claims that he didn't have a clue about what Big Brother House would be like – he thought that he could watch movies and television.

He thinks of Saša (Sasa) as favourite, but also think that Ana could go far. He also claims that there Ana felt "attracted" to Ozren, thus sparking the disaster that would culminate on Saturday.

Krešo's appraisal of Ana-Ozren relation is shared by "Big Brother", 23-year old chief handler of Big Brother House, interviewed for the latest issue of Globus magazine. "Big Brother", or Assistant No. 1 as he calls himself, claims that he used to work as journalist, lifeguard and policeman. He says that he was present during police interrogations and that his experience helps him handle candidates in Confessions Room.

Assistant No. 1, who is, just like most of his colleagues, "visibly exhausted", favours Filip among all candidates. "He seems most intelligent, most well-read and able to engage in meaningful conversations on the greatest variety of difficult topics".

He also dislikes "maniacal smoking". Big Brother has decided to purchase only the most expensive of tobacco brands in order to reduce this annoying habit among housemates.

Big Brother also prepares (un)pleasant surprise for housemates. RTL Televizija is going offer tape of Bulgaria-Croatia soccer game on TV and four packs of beer in exchange for 500 HRK from House budget. "Expect to see conflict between male and female half of the House".

But all problems in Big Brother House aren't connected only to the interior. Assistant No. 1 claims that many people from the outside desperately try to breech security and sneak into House. Each day there at least 30 such attempts. Two men trying to "shower with Marina" came closest to reaching that aim.

Another Debate Shmebate

Again I managed to watch only the parts of the last Bush-Kerry debate. Again, I'm not particularly impressed by either candidate. Again, I don't think any of them made a spectacular knockout blow. Bush had more of substance, while Kerry had more style and I agree with all those who say that he "looked more presidential". When all is said and done, Kerry scored something between "draw" and "minor win".

Kerry may claim victory in debates as a whole (I still believe that he narrowly lost 2nd), but that victory is far from the decisive blow his enthusiastic supporters are trying to portray. In the grand scheme of things debates probably didn't amount much, apart from erasing Bush's inexplicably huge post-convention lead and making 2004 race as exciting as the election four years ago.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Down With Fascist and Inhuman Show!

Croatian weekly Nacional has conducted a survey among top Croatian intellectuals and celebrities in order to find what they think about Big Brother. The article was titled "Croatian Intellectuals Disgusted With Big Brother".

These are the highlights of the articles:

Djermano "Ćićo" Senjanović (Djermano "Cico" Senjanovic), humorist working for Slobodna Dalmacija, calls candidates "idiots" who "are manipulated into self-humiliation by RTL Televizija".

Matija Babić (Matija Babic), editor of, claims that none of the candidates is "interesting". He calls the show "junk", but admits that this "junk is something we share with the rest of the world".

Goran Tribuson, a novelist, claims that the candidates are "so bland that they make taxi drivers sound like ancient philosophers". He sees them as "victims" and claims that they are going to be forgotten after the end of show.

Iva Majoli, tennis player and winner of 1997 Roland Garros, is the only one to say nice things about Big Brother, but only because, according to her own admission, she saw only two shows. She is not sure whether some of the content might be harmful for children or not.

Don Ivan Grubišić (Ivan Grubisic), theologian and one of the most respected voices within Catholic Church in Croatia, doesn't like candidates' "poor vocabulary", too many swearwords, alcohol and tobacco consumption. He also claims that Big Brother is reflection of Croatian society as a whole, especially the young people to whom it sends the message of immorality.

Milanka Opačič, member of Sabor (SDP), thinks that the show, just like Story Supernova Music Talents, sends a wrong message to Croatian youth – that the wealth and fame could be achieved without hard work and decency.

Željka Udovičić (Zeljka Udovicic), drama theorist, thinks that the show is "poorly conceived" and that tasks like keeping the fire for seven days reduce the housemates to the level of "primitive cave people".

Denis Latin, host of Latinica show on state-run HRT, explains popularity of the show with decades of Communism and people's desire to be controlled and manipulated. The only good thing from this show is breaking of certain social taboos.

Damr Kajin, member of Sabor (IDS) claims that the show offers nothing but a glimpse of dominant worldview among Croatian 20-somethings. He is against the ban because it could only bring undeserved publicity to profit-hungry RTL Televizija.

Mile Kekin, member of Hladno pivo punk band, doesn't like the show, although he doesn't think that it could do much to lower already abysmal morality in Croatia. He admits that the show could serve Croatian scriptwriters and dramatists well – it could teach them how real 20-somethings in Croatia talk.

Ana Karlović (Ana Karlovic), psychologist who just happens to look as attractive as her colleague Tanja Pureta, is afraid for the well-being of children who are exposed to inappropriate content. She thinks that the evictions are "inhuman".

Vili Matula, actor best known for his left-wing activism, sees Big Brother as "disease that should be endured". He is disgusted with the way ultra-materialistic and Machiavelian competition promotes Fascism.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Happy Time

Last 48 hours in Big Brother House were uneventful, at least compared with previous weeks. But it doesn't seem that the housemates are complaining. Jutarnji list in its daily summary admitted that the housemates saw Ozren's departure as a relief and marked the occasion with spontaneous celebration.

Everyone in the House at this time seems happy. RTL Televizija issued new task – making statues – which showed Ana as the House's best sculptor. Saša (Sasa), Antonija and Marina are also doing relatively well. Filip and Sanja seem most disheartened with the task and spend most of the time discussing previous events.

Sanja also used opportunity to share the memories of an unpleasant event when she and one of her friends almost became victims of sexual predator while hitchhiking. After that experience Sanja always carries mace or screwdriver in order to defend herself.

This story didn't do much to lower the high spirits in the House. However, high spirits in the House usually mean low ratings for RTL Televizija. This happy time is going to end on Friday. Spirits are going to be lowered by another set of nominations and after that housemates are going to meet Ozren's and Krešo's (Kreso's) replacements and finally face the end of their little utopia.

Paola Erwache reports that Paola Poljak, Croatian supermodel and RTL Televizija host, claims that she is in romantic relationship with Ivica Kostelić (Ivica Kostelic). alpine skier and one of Croatia's top athletes. Paola Poljak admitted that when confronted by reporters of Arena weekly. She claims that their affair is clandestine and that Ivica Kostelić's widely publicised relationship with American alpine skier Caroline Lalive is only "a façade".

Paola Poljak claims that she felt attracted to Kostelić because he was "well-read, well-informed and able to talk about any topic".

Kostelić clan quickly reacted by issuing official denial via Ozren Müller, chief spokesman of Croatian Ski representation. According to Kostelić, him and Paola Poljak are "just friends".

Paola Poljak's story is either publicity stunt, major case of misunderstanding or nothing serious. It is very unlikely that Kostelić would leave Caroline Lalive for the sake of Paola Poljak. At least if set of certain criteria promoted by Ivica Kostelić's role models is taken into account.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Best Laid Plans and Weak Bladders

In this evening's daily summary RTL Televizija has decided to give slightly extended version of Saturday's Revolution. It seems that Ozren, fuelled by alcohol, revealed his strategy during the heated exchange with other housemates. Most housemates blamed him for talking Krešo into leaving. Ozren admitted that and said that it had been his plan all along; he had considered Krešo to be his biggest obstacle in the race for 1 million HRK. He also said that, with Krešo gone, he could have expected victory because he was "from Zagreb" and that he had his relatives arranging "30 phone lines" to automatically send votes.

Next day, Valentina, when asked about the incident in Confessions room, said that such story was "childish". And she was right, because Ozren hadn't taken into account shear number of phone votes needed to sway eviction one way or another. If that number was 100,000 (which is rather conservative estimate) Ozren had to pay around 366,000 HRK. Two of three more rounds of nominations would have exceeded the amount of Grand Prize.

Apart from 30 phones lines story, which was probably an attempt to psyche other housemates up, Ozren's tactics was relatively sound. He expected to fare well in the contest with the less "colourful" candidate, and that explains why he nominated Marina, hoping to sway eviction vote with the help of anti-Marina teenyboppers.

Tonight's daily summary was beset by "technical problems", most likely a product of frantic editing and last-minute decisions to keep the most inflammatory material out.

Before the daily summary RTL Televizija showed a report about Krešo's first day outside House. It was revealed that Krešo's father Ferdinand had expected Krešo to win and that now blames Ozren from being "bad influence" for his son. Krešo himself believes that "Alen and Marina are made for each other and that they would continue with their relationship outside House". Krešo said that he was surprised with the way everyone had ganged up against Ozren. He expects Saša (Sasa), his favourite, to win.

In the meantime, Marina Bajlo, clearly upset with nominations (and probably aware that her own vote could have made all the difference), has decided to reconsider her strategy and put Plan B into motion. He decided to discard Blonde Seductress image and adjust to newly discovered feminism among female section of House. She replaced contact lenses with spectacles, began wearing jeans and, finally, publicly expressed her opinion about Ozren in front of other housemates by using the word "slimeball".

With Ozren gone, housemates were kept busy by re-adjusting their weekly budget and by new task of making statues of past and present housemates.

But even without Ozren, ratings-raising incidents continued to occur in Dubrava. This time Antonija and Alen proved that carrying a hysterically laughing woman on someone's back can have rather amusing, spectacular and embarrassing consequences. "This is what the nation will remember me for", said Antonija after leaving shower and changing into new clothes.

RIP Christopher Reeve (1952 - 2004)

He was the Big Man, by his stature, by his acting talent but, most of all, by the strength of his character.

Big Brother Croatia Update: A Night Not To Remember

Ozren might be unhappy about many things, but not about the way RTL Televizija covered dramatic events prior to his departure. This evening's daily summary – which was supposed to show highlights of the previous day and evening – concentrated almost exclusively on Krešo (Kreso) and his spectacular run towards freedom. Showing the flight and housemates' immediate reactions wasn't enough – those scenes were edited into long segment about Krešo's first moments outside and his triumphant arrival at stadium.

All that left only 5-10 minutes to cover last night's drama. And in doing so, RTL editors treated Ozren the same way Romanian state television used to treat Ceausescu before 1989 Revolution.

Basically, the only events worthy of RTL interests were Ozren's disgust at Zdravko's boasting about his sex life; some kind of not too heated and incomprehensible argument between quiet Krešo and agigated duo of Filip and Zdravko; Ozren deciding to quit and finally Alen being devastated at the sight of his friend packing his things.

Those who rely exclusively on television are going to get completely different picture about Big Brother House than those who follow developments on Internet.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Presidential Race Gets More Interesting

In this year's race for Croatian presidency the issue is not who is going to be the next President. The real issue is who is willing to have his or his party's political prestige evaporated after being pummeled by Stjepan Mesić (Stjepan Mesic) at the polls.

According to the PULS polls made for state-run HRT, most Croatians (57 %) believe that no candidate at this time can beat Mesić.

One of those who disagree with that notion is Miroslav "Ćiro" Blažević (Miroslav "Ciro" Blazevic), legendary soccer manager who, among other things, led Croatian national team to bronze medal at 1998 World Cup. "Ćiro" is one of the more colourful personalities of Croatian public life who used to be one of the fanatical supporters of Tudjman during late President's reign. Because of that he became the focal point of all those Croatians who can't stand Mesić and view anything that occurred in Croatia after 2000 as national treason.

He recently announced that he would run for president and also spoke against Croatian entry into EU – one of the first more-or-less "mainstream" politicians/public personalities to do so.
Most Croatian pundits believe that "Ćiro" may make this race more interesting, but the outcome is still very predictable. Again, HRT poll suggests the same. In a matchup between Mesić and "Ćiro", current President can expect 72% to Blažević's 12 % (18 % are undecided).

Big Brother Croatia Update: Croatian Dream Ends for Ozren

Thanks to Hollywood and other manifestations of American cultural imperialism, most people have some basic ideas what American Dream is all about. Few people have ideas what European Dream is all about.

But those who live in this part of the world are more familiar with the phenomenon which should, for the lack of better words, call "Croatian Dream".
(Note: This phenomenon can be applied to all republics of former Yugoslavia except Slovenia, although Michael Manske of Glory of Carniola seems to disagree.)

Croatian Dream is the state in which the path to wealth, fame and luxury can be made without lifting a finger and during which it is actually preferable to be as arrogant, obnoxious and irresponsible as humanely possible to his/her fellow man. Those who try to pursue the opposite path – work hard and try to be nice to people around them – are subject of ridicule and loathing.

In Big Brother House certain characters, each in his or her own way, showed preferences for one of those paths. And Tanja Pureta and her team of psychologists was quite aware which of two principles is more popular among the audiences that fill the coffers of RTL Televizija and its sponsors.

On Friday evening it looked like Croatian Dream was about to triumph in Big Brother House.

Then in the afternoon all began to collapse. Weeks and days of careful manipulation backfired. RTL Televizija, apparently without back-up plan, stuck with the idea to stage soccer cheering event in the House, including obligatory beer.

Administering alcohol to housemates was always risky proposition in Big Brother House. Under normal circumstance they might have reacted by doing "crazy" and "cool" stuff. After Friday's and Saturday's emotional rollercoaster this was plain madness.

What Big Brother got instead was series of increasingly unpleasant incidents and verbal exchanges that came close to escalating into major fistfight. That was followed by first major rebellion and female section of House forgetting their past differences and petty politics in order to create united front against Ozren and demand his immediate departure.

Saša (Sasa) probably made worst possible miscalculation by trying to defend Ozren or merely act as neutral go-between. What he got instead is barrage of criticism and public promise of nomination by some of his greatest admirers and friends. Saša, who until last night had his final in his tight grip, broke down, apparently aware that he would have to worry about Friday's vote.

This morning, Ozren (and his handlers, if they exist) finally saw writing on the wall and announced his departure. His Croatian Dream ended. Like Krešo (Kreso), he would most likely get 3000 HRK (400 €)for his three-week stay.

Girls, delighted with their apparent triumph, demanded that RTL Televizija bring them two replacements in the form of two men who would be "real and ****s like those currently present in the House".

Pureta would probably grant them their wish by sending two males. But it is very likely that new men are going to make Ozren look tolerable in comparison.

More Powerful Europe

Today the most important event in this part of the world has little to do with anything I had blogged about yesterday. However, it could affect many of those developments in a spectacular fashion.

Thirteen years ago Ernestinovo power station in Croatia was destroyed due to military activities and one year later same thing happened with Mostar in neighbouring Bosnia-Herzegovina power station. Because of this power lines between Continental and Southeast Europe have been cut and remained so for all these years, preventing power trade between various European countries and forcing their individual power grids to rely on themselves. In case of Croatia this created annoying power cuts, recorded on this very blog.

This morning, after months and years of preparation, delicate operation of re-connecting Continental and Southeast Europe has begun. So far connection was established between Hungary and Romania, Hungary and Serbia-Montenegro and Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Link Romania and Ukraine and link between Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro is going to be established by 13:00 CET.

Croatian power officials are so far very optimistic but they don't exclude possibility of occasional power cuts in next few weeks.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Balkan Ties

Tonight was the good night for fans of Balkans soccer. Four nations have met in two World Cup qualifying matches that pitted one Balkan nation against each other.

In Zagreb Croatia has squandered 2-0 first half lead to end with 2-2 tie with Bulgaria.

In Sarajevo, Bosnia and Serbia-Montenegro played goalless game in a match that had potential of resurrecting long-suppressed tensions between ethnic groups within Bosnia itself.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Krešo (Kreso) Is Officially Out

Krešo Jengić (Kreso Jengic) is first one of Big Brother housemates to leave the compound by his own free will. Večernji list (Vecernji list) reports that Kristijan Gržetić (Kristijan Grzetic), official spokesman of Big Brother Croatia, confirmed Krešo's departure from House.

Krešo has apparently decided to leave the House in order to attend this evening's World Cup qualifying match between Croatia and Bulgaria. RTL Televizija decided to grant him his wish by arranging a lift to stadium.

Gržetić says that the name of Krešo's replacement would be announced on Friday.

RTL Televizija is going to air special show this evening.


Krešo gave brief statement to RTL Televizija. He said that he felt "confined" and like "incarcerated criminal". He claims that, if not today, he would have rushed through the gate out of House on next Friday during the eviction.

Tanja Pureta apparently put the brave the face on the proceedings. With an eternal smile on her face, she dropped few phrases about Krešo's "impulsiveness".

Among the housemates, most telling was the first reaction by Ozren. He said "Does this mean that there wouldn't be any eviction vote this week?" Apparently, someone's grand scheme has collapsed.

And, which is even more important, Krešo proved to be the man of his word. He always claimed that he would flip and leave the House. But unlike Ozren, he meant it. This incident is going to hurt Ozren very badly whenever next nomination or eviction poll comes.

Of all housemates, only the ever-resourceful Saša (Sasa) tried to stop Krešo, albeit unsuccessfully.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Slow News and Rapid Developments

Crew of, Croatia's most celebrated news site, responsible for the breaking of L'Affair Severina and many other stories, apparently didn't think much of last night's nominations. They bothered to publish the news with 15 hours delay (Egle's eviction took around 3 hours). continued practice of making their official forecasts. According to them, Ozren is the most likely to be evicted from House.

In the meantime, RTL Televizija servers are again down to increased traffic. Apparently, Krešo (Kreso) got too much inspiration from Dinamo Zagreb anthem being played at the loudspeakers. He simply climbed over the garden fence. What would happen next is anyone's guess. Livestream is lacking sound and it is unclear whether RTL Televizija would strike Krešo with mandatory eviction because of this, so far the most blatant, breech of Big Brother House rules.

On the other hand, this might be another clever move by Tanja Pureta and her team of manipulators. If Krešo is allowed to stay in the House, he might easily draw eviction votes from rabid Hajduk Split previously directed towards Ozren. RTL Televizija is unlikely to sacrifice Ozren - their ratings-increasing drama queen.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Ozren With Egle's Numbers?

If the earliest (and very unrepresentative) polls are to be believed, Marina might survive this round of eviction. One has Ozren's eviction up by 15 points, while the other (and slightly more reliable) has Ozren with 71 %, Marina with 24 % and Krešo (Kreso) with 5 %. If this poll is to believed, Ozren can expect the same percentage Egle got during her eviction.

The second fits the expected pattern. The real showdown is going to be between Ozren and Marina. Krešo (Kreso), whose nomination was broadly seen as some houseguests' tactics to secure Ozren getting out is Ralph Nader in this race.

Bush Wins… Down Under

It probably won't amount much in US election and American (and world) media would probably ignore this story, but Bush campaign is probably going to see John Howard's surprisingly big victory on Australian parliamentary elections as encouraging development.

It shows that at least one Western democratic leader can put entire country in what most people believe to be Vietnam-like quagmire and still expect the country to comfortably elect him for another term.

Debate Shmebate

I watched parts of 2nd presidential elections debate between Bush and Kerry. Based on what I have seen, I would say that Bush scored what military games enthusiasts refer as "minor victory". Just like Kerry's victory in 1st debate, this one was far from knockout blow and it was based more on style than substance. This is hardly surprising because townhall format favoured Dubya who managed to present himself as Man Of The People vs. Boring University Lecturer.

Most of the media and pundits are calling the debate a draw. Needless to say, the spin machinery is in full swing. Republicans are be delighted to find that their candidate performed significantly better than in the 1st debate and thus proved that he could stand his ground against Kerry. Democrats are happy because major knockout blow which, according to them, could have erased Kerry's gains from the 1st debate, didn't occur.

I, however, gained interesting impression that this debate (or election in general) might actually be decided by women voters who, for some strange reason, recently developed preference for Bush.

Big Brother Croatia Update: Uphill Struggle For Marina

Second nomination was probably the most dramatic and so far the most surprising of all developments in Big Brother Croatia. While Ozren's nomination wasn't much of a surprise – he received 8 out of 10 possible votes, but Marina getting equal number with Krešo (Kreso) was.

Beautiful People (Filip, Zdravko and Valentina) have voted on party lines, obviously thinking that Ozren-Krešo combination is the surest way to get Ozren out because of Krešo's popularity. Marina has only herself to blame for her nomination because she picked Sanja instead of Krešo. I suppose that was some political consideration in her choice – she didn't vote to alienate too much of the public by picking ultra-popular Krešo.

This puts Marina in precarious position, because in such phone-in contests teenyboppers tend to prefer lovable rogues/clowns like Ozren over the on women of Marina's type. And teenyboppers tend to make most of votes.

The only thing that can rescue Marina is public dislike of Ozren. During last nomination he received around 21 % of the votes. This might not look much, but this was against non-rival like Egle and before the incidents that made him unpopular both inside and outside Big Brother House.

Unlike Marina, RTL Televizija can be delighted with tonight's outcome. Prospect of Ozren – the most annoying housemate - staying in the House guarantees new dramatic outbursts, new conflicts, new scheming, new fights – all the things that tend to raise ratings.

Conspiracy theorists are going to have plenty of material in Viktorija's peculiar absence from tonight's show, suggestive Big Brother questions that led to Ozren's hissy fit, candidates being told to wait 2 minutes in Confessions Room during nomination and Ozren conveniently casting the decisive vote.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Live Blogging: Ozren Keeps Himself In The House

By casting the very last vote, Ozren has saved himself. He has 8 votes, Krešo has 3 and Marina has 3.

In other words, he can count on teenybopper anti-Marina vote to save him.

Saša (Sasa) and Valentina are the only candidates not to receive any votes at this stage.

Big Brother Croatia Live Blogging: Second Nomination So Far

6 candidates have cast their votes, 5 to go. So far Beautiful People (Zdravko, Filip, Valentina) voted on the party line and nominated Ozren. Marina nominated Ozren and Sanja. Antonija nominated Ozren and Alen. Saša (Sasa) dropped the bombshell by nominating Marina and Alen, purely on ideological ground ("They are too posh for my taste").

Ozren's nomination is all but clinched, but we might get Alen instead of Krešo (Kreso) as an alternative.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Dark Horse

Big Brother Croatia housemates have got themselves a pet in the form of female pony named Susy. This gift almost brought Filip, former horse owner, to tears.

In the meantime, while housemates prepare to conduct their weekly task, Jutarnji list has made a snap poll among the 11-member panel made out of housemates' friends, siblings, parents and other relatives. The idea is to see which candidate is most likely to be nominated. News aren't good for Ozren and Filip who received 6 votes each. Next one to worry is Valentina who received 3 votes. Zdravko and Antonija have 2 votes each. Ana, Saša (Sasa) and Marina received 1 vote, while Krešo (Kreso), Sanja and Alen received none.

Those results, more or less, follow the pattern that could be found in most of Croatian on-line polls, but they tend to reflect what public sees through the layers of RTL Televizija censorship rather than what really goes on in the House and what housemates really feel about each other.

In last 24 hours some developments occurred that could make at least one nominee look less certain.

First development is a discussion held between Zdravko, Filip and Marina, caught "live" (with 30 seconds delay) for Exploziv magazine on RTL Televizija. Trio was discussing their respective lifestyles and Marina tried to justify her taste in clothes, make-up and fine living by the hard work in her family's café. The topic quickly switched to weekly task of performing a stage play and than Marina started contemplating the aftermath of eventual failure to perform weekly task. The consequences would be catastrophic – serious reduction of House budget that would force at least some housemates to make difficult choice between food and cigarettes. Consensus was that the smokers wouldn't take this lightly. Unsaid but the obvious conclusion was that the nervousness and other expressions of nicotine withdrawal might could have serious consequences for someone's nomination chances and public sympathies.

Marina, of course, didn't have to put any elaborate plan of sabotage in the motion. She only stated the obvious and some developments seen in this evening's daily summary and brought from livestreams only made her point.

This evening, RTL Televizija showed image of Ozren and Krešo doing nothing and contemplating their own nomination chances, at times almost admitting that they want to have at least one of them nominated on Friday.

Other housemates began to express their concern for Krešo who, in the last few days, showed sign of depression and homesickness while being less and less enthusiastic for his court jester routine that had made him so popular in and outside the House.

This evening's daily summary ended with very unpleasant exchange between Ozren and Alen that brought possibility of first major brawl in Big Brother House.

Reports from Croatian Internet forums indicate that one of the last play rehearsals, during which Ozren and Krešo did nothing, forced Ana to start yelling at them and tell them that both are going to be nominated. Even Saša, who used to take their side, had to agree with Ana's point.
While Ozren's nomination looks like a done deal, Krešo's is at this point more likely than Filip's. Only a day ago such prospect looked impossible.