Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quote of the Week

What's 'God'? Well, you know, when you want something really bad and you close your eyes and you wish for it? God's the guy that ignores you.
James McCord (Steve Buscemi), The Island

Books I've read in 2008 - November

Storm Thief by Chris Wooding
SO watcha sayin’ [sic] by Martin Kellerman
Fup by Jim Dodge
The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears
Sult by Knut Hamsun
The Ballad of Typhoid Mary by JF Federspiel
Songs of Tuvalu by Gerd Koch
Se oss by Amal Aden (pseud.)
Saknad by Karin Alvtegen
Amphigorey Again by Edward Gorey
Jamilia by Chingiz Aïtmatov
The Tokaido Road by Lucia St Clair Robson

Findabair, I'm going to 'Cross one of these books to you.

Can you guess which one (it's not Fup ;-)?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Egypt 2008: Giza: the Pyramids, part one

OK, now it's time to get back to Egypt, photo collection complete or not. CH is in France this weekend so she hasn't had time to do anything more with her pictures. Oy vey. Who knew it'd be this difficult. :-) I guess I'll just have to post some more pictures later. Oh noes ... :-)

October 11th, still. :-)

From Memphis we drove off to meet our fellow countrymen, who had been taken out in another minibus and met us basically by the side of the road somewhere. :-D I don't remember who switched cars, us or them. Not very interesting anyway, because ... next stop, the Pyramids!! :-o

Everywhere we went we didn't have to wait in line to get tickets, because our guides always went to get them for us. This seemed to go quicker than standing in line on one's own, I guess they have a fast track for people guiding groups. I got that impression, anyway. Here we are getting our tickets - left to right CH, Hatem handing out the tickets, Inger-Lise (back turned), Sissel, Berit.

The Cheops pyramid in the background. Woo-hoo. :-)

A view of Cairo with tourists in the foreground. 'Hurry up, woman, can't you see there's a line??'

The first thing we did was drive past the pyramids and up to a lookout point which would give us a view of the whole area and where, as Hatem said, we could take nice pictures. :-) I of course had to take pictures through the car window as we drove. :-)
Cheops, left, and Khefren.

Mykerinos with three so-called 'Queen Pyramids' to the right. These were graves of queens/female consorts, obviously. There is a rectangular hole in the side of the Mykerinos pyramid; this happened during an earthquake which caused part of it to cave in.

Khefren ... v. obviously through the window of a moving car. :-D

Giza is on the very outskirts of Cairo. A view out towards the desert surrounding the city. Note the camels. :-)

On the lookout point there was quite a crowd, despite it being off season. Not sure I want to know what it's like at the peak of the tourist season ...

Hatem posed for a picture with the crowds in the background. :-)

An excellent view indeed. From left to right, Cheops, Khefren, Mykerinos, the Queen Pyramids. From this angle it looks as if Khefren is the largest; as I said, this is a trick of the terrain, Khefren's father king Cheops' grave is the biggest of the three, but Khefren's is built on higher ground. Imagine that; I bet his face was red when he discovered how it looked from the other side. ;-)

Me. Woo-hoo, pyramids!!! :-D

There was a kind of temporary bazaar set up along the side of the lookout area ... we didn't venture over to it since we didn't have a lot of time and we didn't want to be mobbed by crazed salesmen. They weren't very pushy, or didn't seem very pushy to us ... but again, we did have Hatem with us to discourage them. V. convenient. :-)

Desperate for a last few pictures as we drove off ... !

From the lookout point we drove back down to the foot of the pyramids. We were hoping to be able to get into one of them. CH hoped especially for Cheops since she got into Khefren the last time she was in Egypt. Did our wishes come true?? Stay tuned for the next Egypt post ... !! ;-)

To see more pictures from the pyramids, go here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giveaway #1: the winner is ...

Paz!! :-D Yay! Congratulations! I picked the winner on Wednesday, but didn't get round to announcing it then, because I spent the time translating that article instead, and then yesterday I was out pretty much all night. So … better late than never. :-) Raffle King got to make the choice, it picked Paz, and here's the proof:


So now, Paz, I need a shipping address I can use to send the prize to you. You can message it to me via LiveJournal, how about that? That way neither of us needs to post an email address anywhere. No immediate hurry to send the address, since my friend Dag Erling has decided to take part in the giveaway … he thinks the prize should be a 'real' CD, and he's volunteered to provide it, if I can get it signed by all four band members. o_O So … let's do that. :-) I hope you'll be patient. But please send the address whenever it's convenient. :-)

I did not break the mp3 player – at least not yet – it has now reset itself on its own accord, and when it did it turned out that I have managed to transfer one – 1 – album to it. I've also managed to transfer a whole audiobook to it which I had no intention of doing and have no idea how I did … so clearly I do need some kind of help. But it's still functioning, so yay. :-)

Have a great weekend, everyone!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Amazon, we can see you ...

They're doing it again.

I guess I shouldn't be using the word unbelievable, but still. What are they thinking? They must be losing revenue on this. Certainly I'd think more than twice before I'd order anything from them … which I haven't done now for at least a year. Not entirely unconnected. Is it possible that the 'Church' of $cientology is actually this powerful? No, seriously, that is not possible. So even though infiltration is a pretty messed up word to use, I am actually almost leaning in that direction. Although perhaps this theory makes more sense. Oh, and read this blogpost and check out the answers this guy got from Amazon … way to go on customer service. Certainly doesn't tempt me to put my time and effort into writing reviews on their site.

I'm mentioning this because I think the Co$ is a dangerous organization that preys on vulnerable people for profit. I could go on, but I won't … if you don't know a lot about $cientology, then please educate yourself – this is a great place to start. It has lots of information and lots of links. Keep an open mind, and the facts will speak for themselves. We should all be grateful that the Co$ is doing so much more badly than it claims.

Somebody some day will say 'this is illegal.' By then be sure the orgs* say what is legal or not.
L Ron Hubbard, creator of $cientology

If you are a customer at Amazon or you are considering becoming one, please also consider the information linked to above. Do you think it sounds right? Do you want to support a company that does business in this way? All I ask is that you think about it.

When it comes to buying books online, Amazon is not the only or even the best place to go. I've got a couple of other recommendations that you may want to look into, if you're looking for online bookstores. For both new and used books, but mainly the latter, try ABEbooks. This site lets you search the inventories of literally thousands of booksellers all over the world. It's the best place to find that out of print title you're looking for … and you can usually choose from a great variety both in price range and conditions. For new books, check out The Book Depository. Their selection isn't as enormous as Amazon's, but it's still very good … and here's the clincher, they ship worldwide free of charge. :-o So seriously, whatever you're considering buying at Amazon, check The Book Depository first. Your bank account may thank you. I've bought books from them a number of times and I've always been satisfied with the experience. And now is definitely a good time to let Amazon know that rules and regulations are there for a purpose, regardless of what some overzealous clamheads may think. They are defrauding their customers by giving a false impression of items for sale.

Spread the word, if you can.

In other news, I may already have broken my mp3 player – I tried figuring it out last night, and I did things, and I don’t quite know what happened but everything seized up and now it's just completely dead. Waah!! :-( trilltrall may have his work cut out for him on Saturday. But on a more cheerful note, I got zero junk mail yesterday. Yes! :-)

And I’ve gotten more than 300 ‘thumbs up’ on my comment on this article on Tuesday. Like, omg lolz!!

*$cientology organizations

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Speaking of royalty, look at this!

I recently posted a picture of king Harald that I took myself - today I've got a picture of queen Sonja which I did not take but which is almost even cooler. Lookee:

This was published today in the online edition of Østlendingen, a local paper in the East Valley (maybe in the paper edition too, I don't know). The article is here. In Norwegian, sorry. But hey, I can translate:

Last night Mille Nørstenget, Hilde Fridtun Øyen and Storm Øyen were honored by both the Queen and the Tourist Association for their efforts at Bjørnhollia in Rondane.

-The managers put in an extraordinary effort. They're quite fantastic, said queen Sonja about her encounters with Bjørnhollia some years ago.

The Queen presented the merit badge of the Norwegian Tourist Association Oslo & Hinterland to Storm Øyen, Hilde Fridtun Øyen and Mille Nørstenget for their efforts at Bjørnhollia in Gamle Logen in Oslo last night.

-It's good to be appreciated, and it's quite special to have queen Sonja present [the badge], said Mille, Hilde and Storm.

For three generations the Øyen family were hosts at the popular mountain resort. Yesterday the last generation was rewarded with merit badges and diplomas. Chairman Knut Støren of the Tourist Association's Oslo branch also praised the three.

-Mille, Hilde and Storm have in every respect been excellent representatives for the Association and its managers, and not least have put in a sterling effort, said Støren.

Yesterday's presentation came as something of a surprise to the recipients, as it's been ten years since they served their last at Bjørnhollia, but the merit badge is not presented every year. It was last presented in 1984. The merit badge was presented for the first time in 1938, and no more than about 40 people have been awarded one.

Her Majesty queen Sonja was a guest at Bjørnhollia [on several occasions, one of them in 1985]. She arrived slightly out of season.

-But she was like most people, said Storm.

-I have very good memories from Bjørnhollia. Twice I've walked through Rondane and seen nothing until I came to Bjørnhollia. When I got there I bought postcards, said the Queen, smiling.

-Hiking lets you recharge your batteries, use your body and senses and get into shape, and nature is a treasure chest, she said.

Bjørnhollia was purchased by the Tourist Association in 1941. Hanna and Johannes Øyen were the first managers. Jenny and Hans Øyen took over from them in 1959. In 1972 Storm Øyen became manager. Starting in 1985 he and his wife Hilde Fridtun Øyen held the fort together.

-I consider the merit badge as honoring Storm's parents and grandparents as well. I myself didn't spend more than 20 years at Bjørnhollia, said Hilde.

Mille Nørstenget, Storm's sister, was the cook at Bjørnhollia for 42 years and was also essential to other areas of work there. Siblings Mille and Storm grew up with the tourist resort.

The last managers from the Øyen family felt that in the end they had to choose between the farm they run and their managerial work.

-It was exhausting. The role of manager demanded your attention morning, noon and night, and something constantly needed doing in whichever place you weren't, said Storm.

If there's one thing the Øyens miss, it's the wonderful staff and the friendly guests.

-There were lots of nice people we'd meet, and the socializing with other managers was also very nice, said Storm.

Although they quit as managers, they still have plenty of contact with mountain hikers and with Bjørnhollia. They have a shieling at Bjørnhollia which they use every summer.

-Plenty of people stop by to see us, said Hilde.

So this is so cool, because these are my relatives. :-) Mille and Storm are my mother's cousins. You may remember that I blogged about Bjørnhollia back in August. If not, you can take a look at the post again, here. And I wrote about my family's history in the area here. So ... this was nice. I knew they were getting the badge, but I don't think I heard that the queen would be presenting it. Nice. :-)

The picture shows, literally left to right, Mille shaking the queen's hand, Hilde, Storm, the queen, three non-random people who are totally unknown to me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mail call, and how!

Happy day ... !! :-D

I love getting stuff in the mail. Even just a postcard is enough to make my day sometimes. :-) So this afternoon I've been quite, as the British say, chuffed. :-)

First of all, my mp3 player arrived! Yay! I don't know if anyone remembers it ... in fact I hardly remember it myself since it's been so long since I ordered it. It's been what, two and a half weeks. I ordered it from, a Norwegian online electronics store, which trilltrall recommended to me. He knows about this stuff. :-) They had the player and the earplugs in stock, but not the charger ... it was supposed to arrive the next day, so I figured OK, that's not a problem. But it's taken all this time to arrive. I can't fault these people on service, though - every single day since I placed my order I've been getting an email telling me that it's been delayed by one day. :-D So on Sunday when I got another one I just expected it to be about yet another delay. But no, it was to say that my order had shipped. Yay. I got the text message from the postal service yesterday, but I was out with Anne Ida then (movie review coming up, sooner or later) and when I got back home it was too late to pick it up, the post office and everything else was closed. Alas! This afternoon of course I stopped by there on my way home from work and got my package.

The contents:

The player. It's so tiny! And it weighs hardly anything. It's so cute, I'm charmed. Only problem is I don't know how to use it. I've never had an mp3 player before, I have pretty much no clue how to operate one. But I'm not worried, trilltrall will teach me. He's a gadget freak and I'm sure he'll be only too happy to figure this out too. ;-) I texted him tonight to say that it had finally arrived and he replied, Uuuu tech, let me at it! :-D

The next thing I got was a total surprise. In other words, even better! :-) It was a postcard, no doubt self-designed, from fellow blogger A. over at The Corporate Cog. And look, it has a turtle on it!! A., did you make this specially for me?? :-o In any case, I love it, it's wonderful! Thank you so much, you totally made my day with this card. Up on the wall it goes!! :-)

Detail. It's so cute, I love it. :-)

The last thing was something I had in fact ordered but then proceeded to almost forget about. I was thrilled that it finally arrived though. It's a sticker (although I did order two to be on the safe side) letting whoever it may concern know that I don't want junk mail in my mailbox. No unaddressed mail. I've been planning to get one of these pretty much since I moved in here, but it's taken me forever to actually get around to doing something about it. (I am slow etc.) But it seriously had to be done. I get so much junk mail ... !! Five or six items a day is not out of the ordinary. While I was in Egypt I got a stack of it almost two inches high. Worthless crap that I hate. I so want to not have to deal with it anymore ... it just clutters the place up and I have to carry it back outside and throw it out. And it's one of the things that in terms of the environment is just the worst ... because it's damaging and it serves absolutely no purpose. >:-( Although it's disgraceful that it's taken me this long to do something about it, better late than never.

My mailbox with the sticker in place. Now it'll be so interesting to see if I really do get less junk mail. It worked the last time I tried it, at my old apartment, so here's hoping. Death to junk mail!!!

Fellow Norwegians, do you need one of these?? You can get them here.

Raphael Climbing And Falling II

OK, so, I did get the pictures yesterday, but CH has taken it to a whole other level and just made up slide shows of literally everything – it is extremely impressive (and makes me a little embarrassed since I haven't managed anything even remotely like that – except with my videos which I did put on a DVD with a fancy menu and everything) but it does mean that I can't do anything with the pictures. Or if I can, then I'm not computer savvy enough to figure out how. Which would not be surprising. So I'm still basically where I was yesterday. Oy vey. Now maybe I'll be sorry for calling her high maintenance … she asked me to tell you, btw, that she is not at all high maintenance and I am just making things up. So … again, I must refer you to the disclaimer.

And now, more turtle pictures! :-D As you will possibly already have guessed from the title of the post. These pictures are from July this year, I had my secret cousin and her daughters over to meet the turtles. So they were all walking around loose and Raphael, freaking a little because of all these unknown two-legs suddenly invading his space, wandered off out of the room. I didn't really wonder about what he was doing, but then I heard some noise … went to check and found him climbing. Which didn't really surprise me. But the how and why of it was a little unusual.

I got this far …

I’m gonna get all the way up there …


Monday, November 24, 2008

Raphael Climbing And Falling I

In case anyone's wondering why I still haven't posted more about Egypt, there is a perfectly natural explanation. Really. The thing is that I still haven't gotten CH's photos from her, I've still only got the ones I took myself. Which is no big deal, I mean, I have plenty. ;-) But for obvious reasons, she has a lot of pictures of me, whereas I have lots of pictures of her … and, call me crazy, if I'm going to be posting pictures of us here I would like to be in them myself too occasionally. :-) And I also know that she has some really great shots that I would love to post … one especially from the pyramids which is what's coming up next on my list. (I'm doing the trip chronologically, as you may have noticed. :-) So I've been putting off the Egypt posts till I get her pictures and can really go crazy. They’re in the mail now so they should arrive … today. :-o I can’t hardly wait!!

So there are lots and lots more Egypt posts coming up, very soon. In the meantime, here are some funny turtle pictures to tide you over.

I wanna climb up here …

Damnit, this again!!

OK, now I’m not interested.

These pictures were taken in the summer of 2006.

Don't forget the giveaway! Last day tomorrow or thereabouts ... :-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quote of the Week

We better put up with [this world], such as it is, for I never saw much hurry on parish priests in getting to the next one, nor on parsons or rabbis, for the matter of that; and as they are all supposed to be the experts on the next world, we can take it that they have heard something very unpleasant about it which makes them prefer to stick it out in this one for as long as they can.
Brendan Behan, Borstal Boy

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cool picture taken by me ...

... will be today's entry. Findabair and I talked about this picture over on her LJ - she's never seen it, so here it is. Pretty cool or what? :-) The sad part is that I was nowhere near as close as it looks, I just got lucky with the zoom on my camera. The other guy is some politician ... he was head of the Alna district council (or whatever I should call it in English, I don't know) at the time. This was taken at Tveten farm at Tveita in Oslo on May 17th, 2006. Yay. :-)

Just FYI, for those who don't know it, I am a v. staunch royalist and I will fight the republic till my last breath if it comes to that, etc. I love our royal family and I think we're very lucky to have them. :-)

(Confused? Click here ...)

Don't forget the giveaway! :-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

SERBIA 2007: Marija Serifovic - Molitva

I have zero energy to come up with anything clever to write today ... so I won't. I'll just post a video and hope for better things to come. :-)

Paz and I got to talking about the ESC yesterday ... and that reminded me of how much I love the ESC. I listened to old ESC songs for hours last night. ;-) Diva, Nocturne, J'aime la vie, Fångad av en stormvind, Making Your Mind Up, Parlez-vous francais?, A-Ba-Ni-Bi, Ein bisschen Frieden, Insieme: 1992 ... Unite, unite, Europe!! Indeed. So true, so true. Although it must not be inferred from this that I support Norwegian membership in the EU, as that could not be further from the truth.

Anyway. I love the ESC. Which - dreadful thought - some of you reading this may be entirely unfamiliar with. :-( Well, what I'm talking about is the Eurovision Song Contest, the biggest show on earth. Which I love :-) and which I will tell you all about some other time. Seriously, I will tell you more than you could ever want to know about it. >:-) This year I plan to follow the whole thing from way before start to finish ... I won't settle for the regular previews, I will make my own previews by following the national finals and discovering the songs for myself as they are selected. Yay, youtube. ;-) I will of course post about it all here. Maybe that way, next May won't see me posting 100+ entries like I did this year. ;-) Some of you may want to - or be forced to - take the opportunity to try to learn to appreciate the ESC (Findabair, I'm looking at you ;-).

Anyway. This is one of my favorite entries ever. It's the winner from 2007, when Finland hosted the show. I had it pegged as the winner as of the semis (just ask KAS or trilltrall ;-) and although everyone else at the party mocked my faith in it, I was vindicated in the end. Any bullshit you may have heard about this being final proof of the evils of bloc voting and a sad day for the ESC, etc, forget it. This song winning was the best thing that could possibly have happened to the contest. Seriously. Every year there are soo many 'standard' girls sent to perform, tall slim blondes with gorgeous long hair and big boobs who can dance well but can't sing which doesn't matter anyway cause they're just there to look pretty in their skimpy dresses and all their songs sound the same anyway. Most of these songs are quicktempo upbeat songs so that the choreography can have sexy young people shakin' it. You see it again and again. Look at Portugal's entry in Helsinki, that's the perfect example. And then Serbia - Serbia! - send this chubby little bull dyke in a bowl haircut and glasses, she wears a man's suit and sings a sad ballad - in Serbian! - and they win the whole fucking thing. I thought it was absolutely fantastic.

The song also proves that it really is the song that counts - the vast majority in the audience did not understand the lyrics, but the melody is so beautiful and Marija performed it with such feeling that it touched us anyway. So go hide in a barn, Eirikur Hauksson ... nobody likes a sore loser, and least of all one who's deserved to lose. The right song won in 2007. :-) And this is it - Molitva, by Vladimir Graic and Sasha Milosevic Mare, performed by Marija Serifovic competing for Serbia. :-)

Molitva means 'prayer'. Lyrics with translation here.

Don't forget the giveaway! :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bootleg + embarrassing anecdote

Not embarrassing for me, though, so that's OK. ;-)

I remembered I have another Katzenjammer-related video to post – a probably pretty unique bootleg, I can't imagine there are that many other videos from this concert floating around the intarwebs. This is a short video I filmed during a concert that Katzenjammer's Marianne Sveen held with her then band (the name of which I can't remember) in September 2005 at Musikkflekken in Sandvika outside of Oslo. Obviously filmed with my old camera, so it's only one minute long … but it does show off her beautiful voice. She always was a wonderful singer, even as a tiny little girl. Everyone in 'our circle' back then still remembers her belting out the ESC winner and massive hit La det swinge – a perfect rendition from a very small girl. :-) So nobody who knew her as a child is at all surprised that she is a professional musician now. Enjoy the song … but first, an embarrassing story.

When Marianne was a little girl she had a speech impediment and couldn't pronounce the letter r. Norwegians: she said j instead. English speakers: imagine that she pronounced it w. As in, cawwots when she meant to say carrots. There was a little boy in the gang, Enok, he's one year older than her, he also had a speech impediment and couldn't pronounce his rs either, but he said l instead. Ie, callots. That’s the setup, here’s the story.

One day my mother, let's call her K., looked out our kitchen window and saw Marianne and Enok standing in the road outside our gate arguing violently. She couldn't hear what they were saying but they were obviously pretty upset with each other. They were, I don't know, probably 4 and 5 years old. Eventually they opened our gate and marched down the path to our front door … the doorbell rang and my mother, rather nervously, went to open. They stood angrily on the doorstep and when they saw her Marianne said the following: K., Enok says that it's called a ladio, but it's called a wadio, isn't it??! :-D

What the hell do you say to that?? My mother worked with children (she is a librarian) and she figured she would handle this pedagogically and try to teach them something. So she said, Actually, sweetie, you’re both wrong! It's called a radio! Rrrrrradio!! Can you say that? Come on! Rrrrrradio!!

With a big friendly smile, of course. But no luck. Apparently they both looked at her like … omfg she has GONE INSANE!!1! Then they edged away and ran off. :-D

Now you can enjoy the pretty music.

Don't forget the giveaway!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eva Isaksen: De gales hus

English title: House of Fools, which is a very strange choice IMO, because what the title actually means is 'The House of the Mad' … and certainly being mad does not necessarily make one a fool. Many mad people are quite the opposite. So … sheesh.

This is another movie that I saw weeks and weeks ago but because I am so slow etc. I wasn't sure about seeing it, but when I let Anne Ida decide, this was what we ended up with. It's based on a novel by Karin Fossum, the acclaimed crime fiction writer (although this is a mainstream story, not a thriller) which Anne Ida absolutely loves. She's read it several times apparently and it's one of her favorite books ever. I've never read it, but someone thinks I should. ;-) She really wanted to see the movie version and I had no objections.

Brief plot summary ('brief' on this blog, yeah, right): Aina, our heroine, has had some kind of unspecified breakdown, has attempted suicide through jumping through a plate glass window while in a very confused mental state and has therefore been sent to an institution for the mentally ill. She denies her problems, admitting only that she's 'had kind of a hard time lately' but claims she can deal with it on her own. She certainly doesn't belong in the nuthouse. Initially she feels no connection with the other patients, perceives them as crazy in relation to herself and sees no similarities. Her therapy mostly consists of her repeatedly telling her therapist that he can just let her go home, because she's fine now. In group therapy she's freaked out by her fellow inmates. But over time as she gets to know them and their back stories, she realizes that … crazy is as crazy does.

Seen it before? Yeah, probably. This is a good movie but not a great one … it tells a story that does draw you in, but it's not very original. The setting is convincing and the characters are plausible, the acting is pretty good for a Norwegian movie and there are some really good performances. I would single out Fridtjov Såheim and Rolf Kristian Larsen … the latter especially gives a wonderful performance here, and considering this is only his third movie (he is so far best known for his brilliant portrayal of Jarle Klepp in Mannen som elsket Yngve) I was really impressed with him. Rolf Lassgård appears as the inevitable Swede in the form of Aina's well-meaning but demon-ridden therapist – he does a good job as always, but be prepared to concentrate really hard to catch all his lines through his less than stellar diction. The director should have been a little stricter with him on that score.

Overall this was a good movie – both sweet and sad, and also thought-provoking IMO … as Aina learns her life lessons the audience gets something to think about too. But it wasn't very original – it deals with issues that have been dealt with in many many movies over the years. And of course, when it comes to Norwegian movies about people learning to cope with depression, there’s nothing to beat The Art of Negative Thinking. :-)

Worth seeing, but probably won't change your life. ;-) Anne Ida was disappointed with some of the characters, as apparently they were more out there/in your face in the book, and seemed to have been dampened down for the movie, but as I have never read the book I can't really say. We were both happy that we'd seen it. :-)

Don't forget the giveaway! :-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A word that is not a word

This is the word that I've been mentioning that Katzenjammer (one of my new favorite bands ;-) have used - have coined - to describe their own music. Don't say I didn't warn you.

In Norwegian: skranglevisefolkpoprockbluegrasspåsirkus-medcowboyogindianermusikk.

My attempted translation:
rickety rattle folk pop rock bluegrass at the circus with cowboys and Indians-music.

KAS or someone, please try coming up with a better translation ... seriously. :-)

Katzenjammer again, + giveaway #1!

I forgot to look for the article, or interview rather, where they use that word they've made up to describe their own music. Dagnabbit! I'll dig it up tonight. And I'll try to translate it too, but, well, I make no promises. :-)

Like I said yesterday, taking pictures during the concert wasn't allowed. I hang my head in shame. But I couldn't stop myself. I also couldn't stop myself from filming parts of the show. >:-) In for a penny, in for a pound, right? My defense will have to be that there was a number of people doing the same thing and nobody did anything to stop them. OK, us. So I figured it wasn’t that big a deal. In this digital age etc …

I don't have a lot more to say today, I just want to share these videos. The last post was after all about a band and their music – I don't think still images alone are anywhere near enough to convey impressions about that. Also, it has to do with my giveaway … but here are the videos first of all.

To the Sea

Wading in Deeper

A Bar in Amsterdam

The end of the concert. A good time was had by all. :-)

Any thoughts?? :-) Like? Don't like? I know this is music that not everybody likes – some people seem to find it just annoying and not much more, too messy, too much of everything. But that's the Katzenjammer sound and I guess … well, don't like it, don't listen to it. :-) Which leads me neatly on to the giveaway … which I hope someone will be interested in!! ;-) I guess all I need is one person … but, of course, the more the merrier. :-)

Back story/chronicle of my thoughts which probably won't interest anyone: a couple of months ago I wrote my 300th blog post, and when I did I thought maybe I should have some kind of contest or giveaway to celebrate. I've noticed people doing things like that on their blogs and I think it's great. Pay it forward, etc. But it felt like so much hassle just then. And I wasn't sure I had enough people stopping by to make it that much fun, anyway. ;-) So I didn't. (Mainly because of the hassle. ;-) I had zero clever ideas in my head just then and it seemed really stressful to have to come up with one. Hey, it was the weekend … ) I thought I'd do it for my 500th. But then I did get some ideas, and 'till 500' seemed a really long time to wait … so then I thought I'd do it for the 400th. But then I forgot to look out for that and then it had been and gone. (I think it was the Memphis one.) So then I said to myself, To hell with it, I'll just have it whenever I feel like it. Ie, whenever I manage to come up with an idea worthy of my … um … cleverness ;-) ... and I have the time & energy and basically whenever I want. :-)

So consider this my first ever giveaway on this blog. (Hopefully not the last.) It's not a contest – I thought about making it one but no, that'd be too much work. ;-) So there's nothing you have to do to join the draw except leave a comment here to the effect that you do want to join. And obviously there must be some way for me to contact you … and you have to be prepared to give me a shipping address. I'll leave it open for a week or so and then draw a random winner from among whoever entered. The prize will be – not a huge surprise – a copy of Katzenjammer's CD Le Pop. (Since I’m not rich it will have to be a CD-R copy, but I will make it as fancy as I can. :-) The package will probably also include some other items and I cannot promise that chocolate will not be involved.

This is open to anyone & everyone regardless of country of residence, I'll ship anywhere. :-)

If you like the music, why not join the draw. :-) Leave a comment and let's see how far we get.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Katzenjammer Live at Rockefeller

Does anyone remember my less than super fun Saturday last weekend? I almost hope not. ;-) But I'm happy to report that I had a much better time this Saturday. Yay. :-) This time nothing went wrong (even though the neighborhood I was in was evacuated earlier in the day because of a fire in a restaurant kitchen, but it was all over and done with by the time we got there). A good time was had by all.

OK, so, what did I do? I went to a concert … a concert by a band which I can pretty much guarantee that almost no one reading this post has ever heard about. They're kind of local … so far … and even around here they aren't that big. Yet. ;-) They’ve played in various places around the country though, and they've gotten fantastic reviews for their concerts. I had never seen them live before (well, except on youtube and on TV, which doesn't count) so when I heard they were playing at Rockefeller, one of the most important live music stages in Oslo, I really wanted to go … partly because I've been hearing so many good things about them, and partly because one of the band members is a childhood friend of mine. I've seen her perform live before but not with this band. So, yeah, I really wanted to go. I had been planning to invite KAS and trilltrall over for dinner that night but instead of calling with that invitation I called to ask if they wanted to go to the concert. They had never heard of the band before, but after checking them out on youtube and downloading some songs thought it sounded like a great show. So I bought three tickets.

OK, so it isn’t strictly true that nothing went wrong … Read on ...

But first, about the band. They're a four-piece band, all women, and they're called Katzenjammer. Their music is, umm … kind of indescribable. They have a word for it, I don't remember what that is now (it's very long and perhaps not entirely translatable) but I'll do my best to share it with you in my next post. :-) They are a rather unusual band though. First off they play a lot of instruments … drums, guitar, piano, banjo, ukulele, trumpet, cello, balalaika … and also some things that aren’t really instruments, like cookie tins and miniature glockenspiel. But what's so cool is that they all take turns playing almost all of the instruments, so that between songs they run around on stage switching places and putting away some instruments and picking up new ones. :-) So they're fun to watch, and quite impressive. They also all sing. They play their own original music – they write some of their own material and they work with a regular songwriter on the rest of it. Their songs are melodious and have interesting lyrics … pretty much everything is just really good about this band. :-) They recently released their first CD, Le Pop – this was about two months ago and they've gotten mostly rave reviews. Not all, but mostly.

You can check out their website here (choose Norwegian or English on the front page) or you can visit them on MySpace here. Some of their songs (they sing in English) are available from iTunes, but maybe just from the Norwegian store, I don't know. I'm proud to say I know pretty much nothing about iTunes. ;-) Anyway …

I was going to go with KAS and trilltrall, but unfortunately, on – I want to say Thursday – KAS got sick. I don't know with what, nobody knows, it's something weird that she's had once before, quite recently, and even after running tests from here to eternity the doctors can't figure out what it is. Or why it went away the first time or why it's come back now. >:-( But in any case she couldn’t go. For 'she', read 'they'. trilltrall is a worrier. (I am too in this case, I hate that they can't say what it is … !!) KAS wanted me to find someone else to use the tickets. They weren't that expensive, I paid 155 crowns for each of them (I got a discount, full price would have been 200 – ooh) but still, it'd be a shame to just not use them. And it wouldn't be much fun to go alone. Fortunately I was able to convince some other friends of mine, the perfectly normal Dag Erling and his lovely wife K, that it would be a great idea for them to go with me, even though they also had never heard of the band. :-) Thanks for coming with me, guys – I had a great time. :-) And Dag Erling, I can't wait to see you in your polkadot dress at the next concert … ;-)

Anyway! :-) We had a great time, the concert was fantastic, I'm really sorry I've never gotten around to go see them live before. They were really great. Their music is beautiful, which I already knew - it doesn't sound like katzenjammer!! ;-) - they are very good at both playing and singing and they had lots of stage presence and lots of, as loath as I am to use the word, energy. They were obviously soo extremely happy to be there and it really showed. :-) The opening act I'd never heard of, and it's been no loss – they were OK as far as it went but IMO nothing special. It was pretty obvious that Katzenjammer were the ones the crowd was there to see. They have some very devoted fans considering they haven't been around that long. And on Saturday I think they got a couple more. ;-) It was great to see Marianne, my old friend, again – I hadn't seen her since forever – and her parents too, it was like a mini reunion. Her father had had a few beers and he was so happy to see me that he had to hug me twice. :-D Marianne was overwhelmed by the response – and they all said before they went off stage that this was their biggest and best concert ever – the following won't mean much to non-Norwegians, but get this, they sold out at Rockefeller. IMO, for a relatively unknown band with one very recent album behind them, that's pretty impressive on a Saturday night. The doors opened at 9pm and at 9:30 all the tickets were gone (they can admit 1350 people). Marianne's brother told me that he'd heard that people on the street outside were offering 750 crowns for a ticket. :-o So K and Dag Erling, you see what a sacrifice I made for you … !!

Well … as I said, a good time was had by all. :-) I'm so glad I went. Now here for your viewing pleasure are some pictures that I took (although it was not allowed, shame on me) and please come back tomorrow for something even better slash worse, namely videos that I filmed during the concert and my first ever giveaway on this blog! :-D Yay, &c.

The stage before the show.

The opening band, Lady Moscow. Meh.

Setting up for Katzenjammer.

Their banner went up …

… the instruments came out and … wheeee!!! :-D

Lots of energy and excitement both on stage and in the audience.

A guest performer came onstage for a couple of the songs, she played violin. V. pretty music.

One banjo good, two banjos better.

Various antics were observed onstage …

My childhood friend Marianne with the smiling bass balalaika. Aw.

Four happy young ladies at the end of their concert …

… their fantastic concert! :-D They so deserved to be pleased with themselves, they all gave wonderful performances, the band as a whole was fantastic and the audience had a great time. :-)

To see a few more pictures (several very blurry!!) go here. And of course, if you ever get the chance to see these girls perform live, don't miss it!! :-)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quote of the Week

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
Seneca the Younger

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Egypt 2008: Memphis

October 11th.

After leaving Sakkara we immediately drove towards our next destination, the museum at Memphis. Memphis is now on the outskirts of Cairo, but was originally founded (around 3100 BC) as a city in its own right, to be the capital of the first district of Lower Egypt. It later became the capital of the Old Kingdom, and was also the capital city during periods of the New Kingdom. It was always an important administrative center for ancient Egypt. There are important temple ruins in Memphis but we didn’t have time to see these.

The general area that we drove through was quite shabby, with semi-rundown houses and a lot of trash everywhere. This was a general problem in Cairo, though. Of every city and town that we visited, the capital was the one with the biggest litter problem. Not ideal ... but then again, everywhere else we went to was vastly smaller too. So it is perhaps understandable. But still not very charming.

Driving to Memphis.

A colorful doorway, I don’t know what kind of place it led to, but it was right next to the entrance to the museum area. I liked it, had to take a picture. :-)

Hatem explaining the mythology surrounding life and death in ancient Egypt.

There are a number of stone artifacts on display ...

... but unfortunately, our time here was quite limited ...

... so we didn’t have time to look very closely at a lot of them.

These guys are everywhere in their white uniforms: the Tourism and Antiquities Police. :-) Their job has a double focus – to protect the heritage sites and to protect the tourists. The latter are essential to the Egyptian economy and it is of course the former that they – we – primarily come to see.

The most important item to see in Memphis is the limestone statue of king Ramses II.

It is enormous ... ! Even with its legs missing it measures over 12 meters ...

... and although it has suffered some serious damage, the non-damaged sections are very well preserved.

King Ramses ruled Egypt for over 60 years, ca 1279-1213 BC. The statue was carved for the great temple of the god Ptah which once stood in Memphis. There were two identical ones, but the other one is entirely lost.

Me at the king’s right hand. :-)

There are various other pieces on display in the same building ...

... but although they are interesting, they weren’t very impressive next to the likeness of the greatest of all pharaohs.

Second on the list of things to see in Memphis: the Alabaster Sphinx.

CH seated by the Sphinx, for scale. It weighs 70 tons. :-o Its exact provenance is unclear, but it was carved in the 18th dynasty (sometime between 1700 and 1400 BC), in honor of a pharaoh (unsurprisingly). But whether this was Amenhotep I, II or III, Tutmosis I or even queen Hatshepsut cannot be determined, since there is no inscription on the statue.

Lots to see, and less time to see it in ...

To see more pictures from Memphis, go here.