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

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

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

Monday, December 24, 2007

Well well. The freezing rain of this morning has now shifted to snow! So, it's snowing!

Will it stay? Will we have a white Christmas? Time will tell.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ah, back home in Zagreb. And it's Christmas time! Double happy yay!

Just went for a bit of a stroll. The neighborhood is packed with shoppers. Presumably, people stocking up on food, shopping for gifts and whatnot.

Konzum, our local mega chain supermarket, just opened a gigantic store nearby and I decided to walk over there for a look. Thought I might buy a few things. But, no way. Forget that. It was PACKED. People were lined up to pay in lines that would obviously take a half hour or more to get to the front of and I was not in the mood for that. So, I just wandered around and took a look. It's nice to have in the area because they really have a lot of stuff. Electronics, TVs, kitchenware, notebooks and papers, all sorts of food and a HUGE wine section. But, I will still go to the little local shops for most stuff. I wouldn't want this mega store to drive the little fish shop and wine shop and others out of business. I like talking to those folks and having a connection to the shop keepers.

I tried also to find a Christmas tree stand with no luck. It's not that they don't have stands here, but they're different. They're just an iron stand to hold the tree up. Nothing to hold water to extend the tree's life. I asked around at a few places and nobody even knew what I was talking about. They'd just point me to that iron stand. So, I guess iron stand it it. We're going to get our tree tomorrow.

I think we'll also do our food shopping. I proposed to Nara that we do some cooking on Christmas day. Maybe we'll make some soup or something. Don't know yet. We'll see what the market has. I'd like some squash soup, but don't know if they're still available. Sunday, we're going to our landlord's house with some wine. We'll pay the rent, but also hang out. I brought back a very nice Zinfandel to share and also bought a Dingač to bring, which is an excellent wine. One of the parent grapes of Plavac Mali, the grape that makes Dingač, is in fact Zinfandel. Zinfandel is originally from Croatia, as proven by DNA testing in the late 90s. If you think it's originally from Italy and is Primitivo, you're partially correct. It IS Primitivo, but Primitivo is ALSO originally from Croatia. In Croatia, it is called Crljenak Kaštelanski, which sadly seems to not be used to make wine anymore and is exceedingly rare. I've never seen wine made with it. Plavac Mali, on the other hand is used to make a lot of wine. It'll be interesting to compare the two.

Monday, Christmas Eve, we'll exchange some of our gifts, then go to a party at Smart Caffe, one of our local haunts. That should be a rager. Christmas day, we'll probably just have lazy times. Maybe we'll watch some movies, cook, sleep a lot and take it easy. Should be nice.

Na hrvatskom: Sretan Božić. Na engleskom: Merry Christmas to everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So, I've been in Los Angeles for two weeks now. I sit here at LAX using a hotspot to connect and kill time while I wait for my flight home to Zagreb.

It's been a bittersweet visit.

It's been great to see my friends and family. My hosts Dave and Dominika were especially great and Dave and I had many a drinking night.

My basic routine was to awaken quit early, seek out breakfast, then get to it. I spent most of my time sorting through my possessions, throwing stuff away, donating stuff, selling some stuff and packing up the belongings I decided to take with me to Zagreb. It was a lot of work. My hands look and feel like the hands of a laborer; tough, sore and blistered a bit. This from endless opening of boxes, lots of lifting and all manner of nonsense. I also spent a huge amount of time driving around LA, which meant I also spent a large amount of time stuck in traffic. Yesterday was the worst.

I spent three and a half hours stuck in traffic. My printout from the sea freight company said to deliver my stuff between 8AM and 6PM, to Compton. My storage unit was in Van Nuys. I had the van all packed and ready to go, but I had to wait for the Salvation Army, who picked up lots of donated furniture and whatnot. By the time they finished up, it was 3PM. I left for Compton around 3:15, heading north on the 101.

Naturally, it being LA and all, the 101 was fucked. Bumper to bumper sometime after passing Sunset. Like really horrible. We weren't moving at all. I got off the freeway and drove surface streets to the 110, South. Again, heavy traffic. All told, it took 2 hours to get to Compton. I arrived around 5:15PM. And, the freight place was closed. This despite my printout telling me to come between 8 and 6. Motherfuckers! So, the aggravation of being stuck in traffic was all for nothing. The drive back to Dave and Dominika's apartment in West Hollywood took an hour and a half.

So, let me just take this opportunity to say again that I fucking hate LA. With a passion. The land itself can be nice in areas. But the people here are largely fucked. It draws the worst people here from all over the world. Sure, I have friends here. And they're obviously the exception. But I couldn't live here again. No way in hell. The list of what's wrong with LA is massively long and the list of what's good about it is very short. At least by my estimation.

I enjoyed some nice food here at least. But I've come to realize that being in LA makes me angry. The city itself makes me angry. And it's like this fairly persistent anger the whole time I'm here. I hate it.

So, I am glad to be going home to Zagreb. Sure, I can't get some of the things I can here in LA. But I'd take it over LA any day. I miss my friends in Zagreb. I miss being relaxed. I miss my cats. Most of all I miss my girlfriend. She rocks. Home soon enough.

Friday, November 30, 2007

So, I'm in Los Angeles for two weeks to go through my storage unit. I'll be selling stuff, donating stuff, throwing stuff away and sending some small amount back to Croatia via sea freight. Only been here for a couple of days and I already remember the loathing. I've always had a love/hate thing with LA. I love driving through the canyons and beautiful parts, of which there are many. But I hate traffic and having to drive vast distances to do anything. And people drive like assholes here.

I love all the multicultural stuff here, food selection and whatnot. But I really dislike most of the people here. My friends are the exception, of course. But SO many people move here from somewhere else to try to break into some sort of media job. And those are usually the worst kind of self centered people who I hate. Fuck those people.

Unless your my friends, of course. In which case I love you.

I miss Zagreb already. Much better than LA.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My apologies to everyone who's reading and the lack of posts. I'm heading to Southern California next Wednesday to pack up my stuff and ship it back here to Croatia. And drink some beer, naturally. And I'm taking tomorrow off for Thanksgiving to make a feast for some friends. Which means, of course, that I am slammed with work. I won't likely be able to update the blog until the middle of December.

Meanwhile, enjoy yourselves. I'll have a beer for you at Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

While in Dublin, we had tremendous luck. It was pretty sunny and not too cold. No rain at all. The locals told us that they had more than 40 days in a row of rain during the summer. Holy fuck. Must have been during that storm season that was flooding the UK.

Trinity College in Dublin.

Declan hamming it up in Dublin.

Butt ugly building, though with a lot of character.

The streets of Dublin.

One of the main attractions which I enjoyed was a pub called the Porterhouse. It's a brewpub and has a really great interior. They make 9 of their own beers and also sell a ton of others.

Declan and Nara in the Porterhouse.

The Porterhouse.

They had 3 stouts and porters, 3 ales and 3 lagers. Of course, upon arriving there, I decided I'd try all of them in that one day. We had walked a lot and our feet were tired anyway, so we camped out a bit. We had a couple of pints, then went across the street for some Persian food. I had a tasty kebab. I tried to joke around with the cashier, but he was a humorless man. So we just ate then wandered around a bit before returning to the Porterhouse.

The Porterhouse.

The Porterhouse.

Me at the Porterhouse.

The Porterhouse from the exterior.

The Porterhouse is very near the River Liffey, so we walked on the river for a bit and checked out some nearby neighborhoods. It's a city filled with a lot of nice walking areas. But there were also the required riverside drunks hanging out on the Millenium Bridge. Sadly, we had to return to the Porterhouse so we couldn't join them. Instead, we snapped a few quick picks with the aid of Declan.

Nara and me near the River Liffey in Dublin.

Nara and me near the River Liffey in Dublin.

The River Liffey in Dublin.

Nara and Declan in Dublin.

We then returned to the Porterhouse and hung out for the remainder of the evening. Nara's friend Zdravka showed up, then later her friend Jelena also showed up. Declan immediately fell in love with the lovely Zdravka, but it's a tragedy since she's already involved and pregnant. So, naturally, he then fell in love with one waitress after the other. Some additional pictures taken by Declan will be included in a later blog entry.

I ended up trying all of the nine beers, then settled in on the oyster stout as my favorite. They use actual oysters in the production of this stout. It doesn't taste like oyster, curiously, but it's very tasty stuff. I liked all of their beers except two. One was a XXXX stout that was way, way too hoppy for a stout and one was their Temple Brau, which was just an unappealing lager. The rest were top notch and very nice beers. Declan even took a sip of each one as I got it even though he doesn't like beer. He's a cider man.

We stayed there until fairly late, then returned to the house that we were staying at, to go to sleep.

Ah, lovely!

Porterhouse Temple Bar
Google Map to Porterhouse Temple Bar

Friday, October 19, 2007

So, Nara and I recently did a bit of traveling for one week. Not a long vacation, but enough to recharge the batteries a bit.

I'd been invited to the Birmingham International Comics Show as a guest. And though we were broke when we booked our tickets, we did our best to try to find an extra touch of traveling to squeeze onto the trip that we'd be able to afford. So in swoops Ryan Air. The cheapest way for us to get to the show was to fly to Luton, north of London, on Wizzair. We could then take a train to Birmingham or take a bus. Instead, we took Ryan Air to Dublin for cheap, 15 pounds each. Nice. And, my buddy Declan Shalvey was nice enough to set us up with a place to sleep for free. So, we added that wing of the trip with cheap tickets and no hotel charge. Nice!

The view from the terrace of the room we stayed in in Dublin.

The view from the terrace of the room we stayed in in Dublin.

So, we had 2 days and 3 nights in Dublin. We wandered around a lot and drank a lot of beer. We hung out with a bunch of crazy Irish folks and a few crazy Croats, with me, the totally normal American. Yeah. That's right. That's what I wrote.

Walking around in Dublin.

Walking around in Dublin.

Two of Nara's friends from Zagreb also live there now, so we met up with them. Her friend Zdravka met up with us for a few drinks and her friend Jelena hung out a bit more, which was great. She showed us around Dublin quite a lot.

Jelena and Nara in Dublin.

Walking around in Dublin.

There's some beautiful architecture in Dublin. Where it's new, they've made an effort to have it stylistically fit in with the other architecture. It's pretty nice. There's also some very nice green space.

St. Stephen's Green in Dublin.

St. Stephen's Green in Dublin.

Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square Park in Dublin.

Merrion Square Park in Dublin.

Me and Nara in Merrion Square Park in Dublin.

Nara on the throne in Merrion Square Park.

Nara on the throne in Merrion Square Park.

Me on the throne in Merrion Square Park.

Declan in Merrion Square Park.

Mostly a photo blog for this first entry. More to come soon.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I will be leaving Tuesday to head first to Dublin, for beers and a visit to Mecca (Guinness), as every good beer drinker must make that trip if they are physically able to. Afterwards, I will head to Birmingham to attend the Birmingham International Comics Show. The show is Saturday and Sunday the 13th and 14th.

I will be doing a two part color demo live onstage, one part each day.

It's a great show. And this year they have great guests just as they did last year. They even have Mike Mignola and Kevin Nowlan attending.

So, come join us. And buy me a pint, willya?

Birmingham International Comics Show

Friday, October 05, 2007

Seems that NATO and EU authorities now fear that violence may break out in Kosovo. They've asked Croatia to make sure that the borders of neighboring EU countries are secure in the case of some mass exodus of refugees fleeing any fighting in Kosovo. I don't think there would be many refugees fleeing here to Croatia, but I think the EU and NATO also want those borders secure. And Croatia borders Italy, Slovenia and Hungary. All EU countries.

Some scary buildup is happening in Kosovo.

If my family's reading this, don't worry, okay? I'm not near Kosovo.

Fears of violence in tug-of-war over Kosovo.

U.S. asks Croatia to take any Kosovo refugees: paper.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A look at recent activity in Gajnice.

Twice a year, people take larger junk or garbage and leave it in a supposedly designated area for collection by trash trucks. Trucks eventually come around with a crane arm and pick this crap up and take it away. The lame part, however, is that they don't actually do a good job of cleaning up the mess. So, these designated areas usually have crap left afterwards that is never cleaned up. This particular one in these photos is right next to a house. I wouldn't wanna live there.

Gypsies usually show up first. A group shows up and leaves the women behind to guard the garbage when they go get a vehicle. Sometimes they come back with a large van and cart the crap away. Sometimes it's a Yugo.

And to contrast this, the local supermarket in Zagreb, called Konzum, recently sponsored a new playground in the park here in Gajnice. They actually sponsored a few around the area, but this is the only one in Gajnice. It was being built for a month or so. During the construction, they had to post a security guard to watch the site at night. Esad tells me it's the law that they have to do this. I guess people would steal the construction materials.

The playground was very well received, though. The place is usually swamped with children during the day and evening and with teens drinking beer or hanging out at night. It's a big hit. Not the best pictures, sorry. But there it is.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My buddy Talaja hamming it up at Pivnica Medvedgrad.