Saturday, February 28, 2009

Books I've read in 2009 - February

The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith
Spiral by Koji Suzuki
Skuggor från det förflutna by Nora Roberts - AUDIO
Heng ham ikke vent til jeg kommer by Per Egil Hegge
Fisken by Erlend Loe - AUDIO
How to Be a Villain by Neil Zawacki
Tulpanfeber by Deborah Moggach
Prime Time by Liza Marklund - AUDIO
The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
Den røde vargen by Liza Marklund - AUDIO
Hvis en reisende en vinternatt by Italo Calvino
Affluenza by de Graaf/Wann/Naylor
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

10 printed books, 2,474 pages.
4 audiobooks, 42h 47m.

Best fiction: Difficult to choose, but I think I have to say Tulpanfeber. Very moving, beautifully written and very well translated, a fascinating look into the past, convincingly described.
Best nonfiction: Heng ham ikke ... - a great read on issues that are close to my heart; proper language & grammar.
Best audio: Maybe the Nora Roberts book?? Just because it was quite a pleasant surprise - I got this book from a BookCrossing friend and had low expectations, as I had assumed that this author wouldn't be up to much. But I liked the book much better than I thought I would. A lesson not to trust my unfounded expectations. ;-)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Clint Eastwood: Changeling

I saw this movie, let's see ... on Friday two weeks ago, in the basement at Klingenberg. Me and Anéa. She'd read a lot about the movie beforehand and I'd read hardly anything ... all I really knew was that it's by Eastwood, and that's enough for me. :-) Anéa had heard a lot of both good and bad about it, so she was curious to see for herself. We were both quite impressed and enjoyed the movie a lot.

IMDb listing here.

Basic story: This based-on-a-true-story movie is set in Los Angeles in the 1920s. Our heroine is Christine Collins, a single mother who feels she works a little bit too much, but what can she do. One day she has to take an extra shift on short notice, and she leaves her ten-year-old son Walter home alone. This normally wouldn't be a problem. But something happens on that day. When she gets back home, the boy is gone without a trace. The police aren't falling over themselves to help, but a popular radio preacher takes an interest in the case. Months go by and the case becomes very high-profile ... and one day the police announce that the child has been recovered. Collins is ecstatic at the news. But on being reunited with the boy, her joy is soon quenched ... because this is not her child. :-o

The boy, however, insists that he is the lost Walter Collins, and the police eagerly support his story. (To the LAPD of the time, this was a rare opportunity to show off some success and to show the general public that they really knew what they were doing.) The case is closed as far as they're concerned. But Collins refuses to let it die a quiet death in police archives, because she knows that the boy she has been given is not her son. Walter is still out there somewhere, and she can't give up. However, the LAPD is a powerful enemy, and they are not about to let one woman ruin their rare moment in the sun. They have ways to shut you up. Fortunately, Collins also has some friends on her side.

Does the truth eventually come to light? Is the boy Walter Collins, or isn't he? And if he's not, what happened to the real Walter? Go see this movie and find out, it's wonderful. :-) A great historical drama, full of emotion, but not overblown. Another great piece of work from Eastwood. Some very good performances, especially by Angelina Jolie who really impressed both Anéa and me in this movie. The recreation of 1920s California is very well done and very convincing. I love period movies and this was an excellent one. Almost everything really came together. Also a very good script (by J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5 fame) that holds the audience's interest throughout without ever getting what you might call fast-paced ... a very convincing depiction of the period, in many ways. :-)


There's really only one tiny little detail that's wrong with this movie ... and that's the use of the term serial killer in a scene from the 1930s. Um, what?? That term was not coined until the 1970s, when the concept of the serial killer - as opposed to the mass murderer - was developed by profilers at the FBI. Specifically by Mr Robert Ressler. It may be just me, although I certainly don't hope so, but this seemed like too obvious an anachronism to slip by in such a big production, I was quite surprised by it.


All in all a very good movie that I heartily recommend. Moving and sad, and a wonderful portrayal of a piece of American history. Clint Eastwood rocks. :-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'm an immoral woman.

I know, hardly a surprise. ;-)

Your morality is 0% in line with that of the bible.

Damn you heathen! Your book learnin' has done warped your mind. You shall not be invited next time I sacrifice a goat.

Do You Have Biblical Morals?
Take More Quizzes

I took this fun quiz that fellow blogger Gunnar, of unfiltered perception fame, posted on his blog today. He has no morals either!! What a world we live in. If you take the test, post your results in the comments, I'd love to see just how morally warped my readers are. ;-)

The site,, has this to say about the quiz:

If you did poorly on this quiz (and I hope you did), it is because our morality does NOT come from the bible. If the bible were the source of morality, then there would be no basis to reject portions of it. Simply put, this book of Bronze Age myths reflects the superstitions of cruel and ignorant people that lived in a cruel and ignorant time, and has no place in an enlightened society.

So true!! I'd like to add some thoughts of my own - that it is in fact possible to disprove with logic the claim of many fundie xians that morality comes from the bible and without a faith in the word of god, one has no morality. This claim is incorrect - morality comes from a force within ourselves, our consciences, and the fundies prove this themselves through their own actions. After all, nobody actually believes that people should be put to death for eating shellfish. And yet there are those who will tell you that people should be, perhaps not killed, but at least ostracized and shunned, for having gay sex. (That only applies to men, of course. Women don't matter ... unless they're hot, in which case it's generally OK. >:-) Why follow the one precept and not the other? Why disregard the word of god, why pick and choose from among his rules & regulations?? Because morality does not come from the bible or from any other book. It comes from within us ... us as individuals, and us as a species. It's sad to think how many people genuinely don't have enough faith in themselves to grasp that, and have instead replaced that with faith in an imaginary friend.

Take the quiz, I hope you're immoral too!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sverre Fehn, 1924-2009

The greatest Norwegian architect ... perhaps ever ... died yesterday. The family released the news this morning. He had a unique architectural vision - with so many of his buildings you can tell that they're his, at a glance. He had such an illustrious career ... he participated in so many amazing things, not just in Norway but around the world. You can read more about him on Wikipedia (Norwegian entry with lots of links here, English entry here) and on the Modern European Architecture Museum's website here.

These are some pictures I've taken myself of my favorite Fehn building, the Aukrust Center in Alvdal, my mother's hometown. It's very typical of his work, both in style and in materials.

It's a loss that he's gone now. But he made his mark ... in a way that will be not just remembered, but also experienced, by future generations.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Keanuart by me

These are two posters I made for my living room wall at home a couple of years ago. Too many Keanupics, not enough to use them for ... !! :-D But I thought this was a pretty creative solution. The film strips are frame stickers I bought at Panduro and attached to plain white paper. Partly to break up the image as a whole and partly to cover edges between clippings.

I was really happy with these when I made them ... whenever I make stuff it normally tends to turn out pretty different from what I envision before starting the project. Not that it turns out badly, necessarily ... it may sometimes even be better than I hope for ... it's just that I generally have a hard time creating things that look like I want them to look. o_O If that makes sense. But these came out just as I'd pictured them in my mind. :-)

The frames are the regular cheap kind from IKEA. I wish they still made them in black. :-( Click the pictures to see bigger versions!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

NORWAY 2009: Alexander Rybak - Fairytale

What can I say?? :-D We chose our entry last night and it was, as we say round these parts, en total utklassing. :-D It was a good show, as we expected, but it was the tallying of the votes that was truly memorable. And how. Our winner, Alexander Rybak, won by more than 600,000 votes. Unprecedented. More than one million votes were tallied in all and about 740,000 of those went to Rybak. One million votes is actually pretty damn impressive for a country whose total population is less than five million ... ;-)

So! Alexander Rybak, aged 22 1/2, will compete for Norway in Moscow in May. We are the nation that has come last in the ESC the most times ... and dash it all, we have deserved it. But we have also won twice, so it isn't all ignominy. Far from it, indeed. And this year I think our chances are very good of doing well again. The bookmakers have us high on their list now that we've been sensible enough to pick this song ;-), the buzz online is very positive, and, well, I have a good feeling. A real good feeling. :-)

I personally like this song a lot, and I think the international audience will too. It combines Western and Eastern in a great way ... it has some very Norwegian elements as well as an Eastern European flavor. The singer is young and handsome and charming, which of course never hurts. :-) He has a great stage presence and despite being young seems very professional on stage ... but enthusiastic at the same time, you can tell he loves performing. The dancers, from the contemporary folk dance troupe Frikar, are a memorable element that I think will stick in people's minds. Great choreography. The song is catchy, easy to remember with a good melodic beat. All in all I have to say that the one thing I don't like about this song is that it's in English and not in Norwegian. :-)

But on the other hand, maybe Alexander should sing in Russian in Moscow?? :-D This is our secret weapon - he is originally Belarusian and speaks fluent Russian. o_O Imagine the PR tour we can put on with this guy. :-D Boy, am I looking forward to May ... !! :-D

I also love the fact that the singer has also written and composed the song - he will actually really be competing, and not just be thought to be competing. ;-) So. This is Alexander Rybak performing his own composition, Fairytale - he will be competing for Norway in Moscow on May 14th, and - I have no doubt - on May 16th as well. I can't hardly wait ... !! :-D

Quote of the Week

Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all of which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, even if religion vanished; but religious superstition dismounts all these and erects an absolute monarchy in the minds of men.
Francis Bacon

Saturday, February 21, 2009

ESC 2009: Norway, final

Here we go ... !!! :-D

The big night is finally here. I'm all atwitter - how exciting!! :-D Seriously, this is exciting ... because this time we have the chance of picking a song that has a genuine chance of actually really getting somewhere on the really big night. A number of ESC fans internationally think that Fairytale would have major chances in Moscow. Of course that's a risky guess considering only about half the entries have been chosen. But, well, it's worth considering. ;-) There's no way we can pick any other song than Fairytale tonight. No way. We'd be idiots to send anything else. But Butterflies is a dangerous contestant too, just because of the singer ... there's a lot of Idol fans out there who are no doubt eagerly awaiting their chance to vote for Tone Damli Aaberge. The good news though is that those will probably mainly be girls, and Alexander Rybak is no doubt just the man to charm them. ;-) Boy, whatever. :-)

I'm watching at home this time too - Anne Ida and Anéa are here, we've cooked a delicious Greek dinner and now we're waiting to digest enough of it to manage Anéa's chocolate cake with ice cream. ;-) But of course the main thing is the show ... !! :-D

Tonight's competing entries:
Two of a Kind, performed by Espen Hana
Second Seconds, Ovi Martin
Te stein, Publiners
Find My Girl, Alexander Stenerud
Tricky, Velvet Inc.
Fairytale, Alexander Rybak
Det vart en storm, Thomas Brøndbo
Butterflies, Tone Damli Aaberge

The performances are basically the same as they've been all along. Some small costume changes here and there, that's all.

We are so full of jokes tonight ... ! :-D This show really is a fount of inspiration for the aspiring home comedian. The songs, the performers, the costumes ... the presenters ... the hairdos, the green room chats ... oh, there's no end to it. An example of our witticisms: Anne Ida doesn't like Seven Seconds much - she says that it's the kind of song that ends up as the third song during the end credits of a movie, when it can be assumed that the audience has mostly left the theater. lolz! :-D

It's weird how many other singers and bands seem to echo in this contest this year. We've got - in order of appearance - Roy Orbison, Vamp, a-ha, Spice Girls and D.D.E. Huh.

The final is divided into two parts - four of the eight songs will get through to the so-called 'golden final'. It sounds better in Norwegian ('gullfinalen'). Which four will that be? My guess is Fairytale, Butterflies, Find My Girl ... aand ... either Te stein or Tricky. Although since it's such a mystery to me that Seven Seconds has gotten this far, it may surprise me again and get through to the last round. o_O But I hope not.

I've voted ten times for Fairytale, Anéa once and Anne Ida four times ... so if this doesn't work out, don't blame us. :-)

OK, these are the gold finalists: Find My Girl, Butterflies, Fairytale - yes!! - and Te stein. OK, so, I could not possibly be happier! My choices exactly! Now to vote again ... ! :-D

I've voted six or seven times, or maybe eight, I've lost count. My duty's done. Good luck, Alexander ... !!

The votes are being read ... ! The juries are first, the juries from the four cities that hosted the quarter- and semifinal; each jury has 20,000 points to distribute between the four entries (in portions of 2, 4, 6 and 8). The Kongsvinger jury has Fairytale as #1. So does the Bodø jury ... and Grenland ... and Ålesund. Wahey!! :-D And then for the 'popular vote' - the audience votes cast via SMS, email or phone calls. For this purpose the country is divided into five districts ... northern Norway first. OMFG ... Fairytale has totally crushed everyone. It's ahead by almost 50,000 now. We have a winner already, I think! :-D Now the West Country - where Tone Damli Aaberge comes from ... but Fairytale has gotten more than six times as many votes as Butterflies! OMG, we have a winner. Absolutely no possible question about it. o_O

OK, this is completely unprecedented. Central Norway has given Butterflies, as their #2 - about 16,000 votes, and Fairytale more than 100,000 ... !!! This is ... I have no words. Fantastic. This rocks. I'm loving it. :-) The South Country has 18,000+ votes for Butterflies and 132,000+ for Fairytale .... !!! This is unbelievable. Now the East Country, that's where my votes went. 49,658 for Butterflies as #2 ... and 378,934 for Fairytale!!! OMFG!!!

You can see an overview of all votes cast here.

The winning entry is Fairytale, written and composed by Alexander Rybak. It's won by more than 600,000. Unprecedented. I have no words ... except ...


Happy birthday to HM King Harald V!

His Majesty King Harald V of Norway was born 72 years ago today. He has been our king, increasingly beloved by a nation to whom his father embodied a royal ideal, for 18 years.

On this day in 1937 the weather was much the same as it is today. :-) Today is deeply overcast and the snow is coming down quite densely across an already snow-covered city and countryside; 72 years ago there was also a whole lot of snow, it was overcast, and snowing just a little. The birth of then-Crown Prince Olav and his Crown Princess Märtha's third child was awaited with eagerness and trepidation across the country. It seemed likely that this would be the couple's last child; their two daughters were already almost seven and just turned five, respectively. And if this were to be the last birth (as indeed it was), then it must, it absolutely must be a boy this time. At that time, women could not inherit the Norwegian throne (although of course some arrangement must be made if there should be no male heir), and our new monarchy, still young, could easily find itself in trouble if it should fail to live up to this most basic of traditions. I can't imagine how the Crown Princess must have felt. Of course, in 1937 a woman had no way of finding out the sex of the child she carried. No doubt she looked forward to becoming a mother again. But what an immense weight of pressure must have been on her from all quarters. This really is a Crown Princess' only true duty - the production of an heir. How she must have dreaded the prospect of failure as the expected day drew nearer and the entire nation waited to hear the desired news.

However, the entire time that this went on - there was some debate, of course, as to the future of the monarchy in the event of a third daughter in the royal family - there were always two people who were completely confident of the outcome. Their two little Highnesses, Ragnhild and Astrid. :-) They always had perfect faith in the tendency of things to go well. ;-) No doubt ever entered their minds - they were going to get a little brother soon, so there. What were all the grownups fussing so much over??

As their mother went into labor in the early hours of the 21st, the two little princesses were sent out to play in the vast drifts of snow that covered the estates of Skaugum Farm. It wasn't quite a perfect day for such activities - snow, crisp cold air, but alas, no sun - but of course the girls must be kept out of the way. :-) The court held its collective breath - oh, how would it go?? But the princesses never worried. Every so often they would shake the snow off their boots and go inside to beg a little treat and to ask their nanny, Is our brother here yet? And every time that lady had to answer, anxiously, No, darlings, not yet. Until finally, after hours of this, she could answer her two charges with delight, Yes, your brother's here now!! :-)

In response to which the little Highnesses of course asked, Can he come and play in the snow with us?? So they were disappointed again - No, I'm afraid not quite yet. :-D

The new baby was given the name Harald at his baptism in the Palace Chapel on March 31st, 1937. (A choice laden with symbolism; this was the name of the first ever king of Norway, more than a thousand years earlier. :-) The boy carried to the font that day was the first prince to have been born in Norway for 567 years. At his blessing in the Cathedral of Nidaros on June 23rd, 1991, he became the first king of Norway to have been born on Norwegian soil for more than six hundred years. Way to go. :-)

Happy birthday. :-)

I have of course put up the flag on my balcony ... and the flagpole on the commons is flying its flag too. Of course. :-) I had to take a picture, I think it's a fun shot. :-)

Translation of the Aftenposten front page above:

The Evening Mail - Extra
Crown Princess Märtha was delivered today at 12:45pm of a healthy son.
Mother and child are well.
An official bulletin from Skaugum [the heir's residence]:
Crown Princess Märtha has today at 12:45pm been delivered of a son.
Later, the following bulletin: HRH the Crown Princess gave birth today, February 21st at 12:45pm, to a healthy son. The birth progressed normally. Both the Crown Princess and the little Prince are entirely well.
Skaugum, February 21st, 1937. Anton Sunde - Hans L.C. Huitfeldt
An official bulletin [from the Palace]:
A meeting of the Cabinet will be held tomorrow at 9:30am on the occasion of the Prince's birth.
The King himself informed the Prime Minister over the phone of the joyous event.
It is 567 years since a prince was last born in Norway.
The news became known in Oslo only slowly due to the large number of weekend excursions taking place, but presently flags began to go up on public buildings and private homes. The Evening Mail soon experienced a storm of calls on its phone lines. The news was everywhere received with the greatest joy.

Friday, February 20, 2009


This month's effort to show off Oslo a bit. :-) These pictures show the Cinematheque in Queen Street downtown. Or rather, the Movie House (Filmens Hus - ie literally the House of Film, but I think I prefer my freer translation :-) as it's more correctly called ... the Cinematheque is only part of what it houses. There's also the Norwegian Movie Museum (free entry for membership card holders), a great store, a library, and the offices of various movie-related organizations, as well as the movie magazine Rush Print and several film festivals.

If you get the chance, stop by, why don't you. :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Religion In A Secular Society 101

OK, so, I am sick & tired of this whole ridiculous hijab debate. But I still can't let it go. So today's post will be on that topic too. Just a few thoughts ... some things that I feel ought to be explained to a lot of people on the other side of the fence. Some things that IMO it's incredible that no one has already explained, loud and clear. A lot of the people in this debate - mostly Muslims - are using a number of arguments that have nothing to do with the issue. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, discrimination against minorities - those are not relevant points. But for some reason there is a major misunderstanding among a lot of immigrants ... or, OK, to be honest, among a lot of Muslims. There is something very vital about our society - the society that, in the majority of cases, these people have chosen to live in - that these people seem to entirely fail to understand. I guess that's partly our fault, because we haven't forced that understanding on them, as we IMO ought to do. There can be no discussion of the fact that immigration policies in this country so far have failed to a large extent, and IMO that has a lot to do with the fact that authorities here make too few demands of and too many excuses for immigrants. But I digress.

There was a letter to the editor in this morning's Aftenposten ... or at least I think it was this morning, it may have been yesterday, there were so many newspapers lying around the lunchroom today that I hardly know which issues I read :-) ... that illustrated this fact very well. It was written by a woman who is a Muslim, wears the hijab, and works in some job where she deals with a lot of people daily ... and who of course didn't experience this negatively at all. Oh no, no one ever reacts negatively to her hijab. This may be true of course, although unverifiable, but it's irrelevant other than as an example of the casuistry so commonly applied when these people make their 'arguments' in this debate. This person was in a profession with no uniform regulations - not irrelevant, IMO. She made the argument that of course the hijab must be permitted everywhere, because it's ... I'm quoting from memory here ... it behooves a civilized nation to take into consideration its citizens' religious needs.

This is where my point comes in - this is the point where the Muslim understanding of Norwegian society seems to break down. Which is really extremely sad, because this is an absolutely integral and essential part of that society. Namely, the following: That your average Norwegian does not recognize religious needs as legitimate.

You, a random citizen, may have religious beliefs. But that is not the business of the state. You may feel that you need to do things or have things or wear things as a result of your religious beliefs. But again, this is not the business of the state. These are your private affairs, and you yourself must be responsible for them. Your religious faith entitles you to nothing.

This is what these people seem to be unable to understand ... and it's what I see as the most dangerous thing about this debate. It's really an issue that ought not to be seriously discussed at all. Someone ought to have put their foot down and said, You people, get this through your heads ... metaphysical arguments have no place in our public discourse. We cannot accept this form of argument. We really cannot accept it. These are people who in all seriousness state that they have no choice but to give up their attempts to achieve their dreams because they must wear a certain garment or the invisible man in the sky will get mad at them. And this will be the state's fault. That is what they're saying. It is an entirely unacceptable argument and it's a huge mistake that this has not been made clear long ago.

Do you live in Norway? Then you live in the most secularized society in Europe. We laugh at your God, and we drop ice cubes down the vest of Faith. We don't get where you're coming from, and we don't care. You want to express your religious identity on my tax money?? No. STFU ... and take that thing off your head if you want the general public to think you mean that line about wanting to be integrated. Like it or not.

Some articles (all in Norwegian though): here, here and here. And a fantastic new blog - at least the two posts so far are fantastic - this guy says it exactly the way it needs to be said. In Norwegian. :-)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cute & funny

I've been at work for twelve hours today, so I don't have the energy to write anything profound and/or clever today. :-) I was thinking I'd post a movie review today, but ... not gonna happen. So I'll just share a funny video from Youtube and then say goodnight. :-)

I'm not sure how I came across this thing - just surfing, I guess. It's basically somebody's turtle trying desperately to catch the attention of its fellow pet, the family cat. I think it's adorable and hilarious ... the turtle is so cute. And this video really shows the difference between the mammalian and the reptilian brain - the turtle is focused 100% on the cat, whereas the cat has made the discovery that there is a twolegs present as well ... and, not unaturally, it finds this much more interesting. :-)

This video is a couple of years old ... a few months ago the owner posted another video of the two animals together. It's not as funny, but it's still cute. :-) I love the way the turtle streeetches to reach the cat's face ... :-D

Enjoy. :-)

Cohen, even though this isn't one of my turtles, I hope you'll like it. ;-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Spørsmål til Bushra Ishaq ...

... da jeg synes hun virker svært godt kvalifisert til å svare på det.

Hvor dum går det egentlig an å bli?

Jeg bare lurer.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Things Only Idiots Believe, Part Eight.

Time travel as a plot device can work in fiction if handled correctly.

Are you HG Wells? Then ... no. Seriously. Just ... no.

The Lake House is still a very charming movie though, even if it doesn't really make sense. ;-)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

EEE error error EEE

Something weird has happened ... I posted the Quote of the Week a few hours ago, it went fine ... but then I noticed a typo, so I edited it to fix it. When I got back to the blog all the text there was gone. o_O The entire sidebar is still there and nothing wrong with it, but the posts have gone invisible. Weirdness ... !! I went to the Blogger help forum to see if there were any tips - unsurprisingly, I wasn't the only one with the problem, and equally unsurprisingly, nothing much seemed to be offered by way of assistance. >:-(

There were some tips, though, so I've tried all those ... logging in & out I'd already tried, and it didn't work. I've cleared my cookies. I've checked to make sure that the colors are contrasting. I've refreshed the browser, I've tried in another browser window. Still invisible. What's so weird is that everything is still there, I can get to it from the archives. It's just not visible. My other blogs are fine. What's up?? I'd like to fix it, but how?

Now I'm trying to add another post; someone seemed to indicate that this might help. We'll see. If it doesn't, and you can't see anything either (it may be just me) then I do know how to make it visible - add www to the address (you know where! :-), hit enter, and then everything shows up. At least for me it does. This is so weird.

If anyone else is having the same problem, I'd love to hear about it.

edited to add that now it's OK again. o_O So if you are having the same problem, try adding another post and see what happens then. Weirdness ...

Quote of the Week

There are many things we don't know, and many things we would wish to know. But every time our understanding, through the aid of science, has received a small push forwards, a pale anxiety moves through the congregation. They fear that God may be made ill of it, that he may die, that Christianity may dissolve, Christianity which is meant to protect us from knowledge. One fears that a ray of light may penetrate the darkness which one buries oneself in so that one does not have to see.
To put it in other words: One fears losing one's father, fears growing up, fears having to take up the struggle of life in all seriousness and on one's own account and risk. And one fears dying. Therefore the Father will live for eternity, he will assist when things go wrong, or when danger arises, and after death one will come to him and be with him. An exemplary compromise between the bitter experience and the desperate wish.
Arnulf Øverland, Christianity - the Tenth Plague, 1933.

My translation.
The entire speech can be read in Norwegian here, and in English here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

ESC 2009: Norway, semifinal

We be watching ... !! I'm at home for this broadcast too, Anne Ida and KAS and trilltrall are here, we've made a delicious whale stroganoff :-D and stuffed ourselves silly, and now we're watching the show. A good time being had by all.

This year we're trying out the 'duel' system in our ESC selection in this country ... ie the eight competing songs (two each from the two quarter-finals, and two jokers, ie songs that didn't really make it through from their quarter-final, but are getting a second chance anyway). It's a little confusing- even to Per Sundnes, the host, LOL! - but basically the songs will compete against each other in pairs, viewers will vote during the performances and one song from each pair will get through to the next round. Then the process will be repeated, so we're left with two songs that will compete in the final round next Saturday. Whew. Keep those votes coming ... !

Duel #1 - KeSera vs Espen Hana (my reviews here). No question who will get through here ... not the kids, that's for sure. Aand ... yup, Two of a Kind is the winner. Well, of this round, obviously. No surprise there.

Duel #2 - Janni Santillan vs Surferosa (my reviews here and here). I'm sure this round will go to Surferosa. Hard for a young singer just starting out to compete against an established band with a pretty big fanbase. I definitely prefer that song too - not because I like it so much, but because Like You Did (Yesterday) is just so slow and just ... not an entry we ought to send. So let's see ... and yes, it's Surferosa.

Duel #3 - Sunny vs Publiners (my reviews here and here). Go Sunny ... !! I like her song so much, I so want her to win this round. She's hardly the best singer out there, and her outfit kind of sucks (she's wearing the same weird combo as in the quarter-final) but the song is soo catchy. :-) A great beat and great energy. Those Publiners are potentially dangerous though ... it's the kind of song that Norwegian audiences like. And they've got fire on stage, ooh. :-) I do like that the song is in Norwegian ... and it's a perfectly good song, it just doesn't have that little something that it would need to be remembered. Well, I've voted for Carrie five times, and KAS twice, so let's hope. The winner is ... Publiners. Oh noes ... !! :-( Boo! :-(

Duel #4 - Foxy vs Jane Helen (my reviews here). I don't really care about either of these. Do It Again is an uptempo dance song performed by two pretty blondes with good energy on stage ... an OK song but probably too bland to be noticed much. Shuffled is too strange to have any real chance in Moscow, but it would be cool to be the first nation to send a punk rock song to the ESC. :-) This could go either way. The winner is ... Jane Helen. Sure, whatever.

Second round ... !!

Duel #1 - Espen Hana vs Surferosa. That guy is starting to annoy me. That dancing ... ! Stop it, you're a grown man! o_O I'm pretty sure that Surferosa will be the ones to walk away from this one. Is that good or bad - well, they'll appeal to the younger viewers, so that's good. Not at all sure about their song though. Oh well, we'll see ...

Duel # - Publiners vs Jane Helen. I really don't care either way about these, to be honest. But my money is on Publiners.

OK, the last two finalists:
Espen Hana - oh, surprise. I'm happy though, I prefer this song. Just ... enough with the dancing already, please.
Publiners - no surprise. :-)

IMO this goes to prove that in this country, it's the older generation that watches this show on a Saturday night ... mostly, anyway. ;-)

One week and we'll have our entry for Moscow. And it'll be called Fairytale ... !

More ESC news

Updates and artwork. :-)

Let's see. A couple of countries have picked their performer - although not necessarily the song, that comes later in some countries. A band called will perform the Czech entry. Never heard of them, but the word 'gypsy' always gives me a bad vibe. But hey, I can keep an open mind on these things. *cough* Not sure when their song will be announced, but watch this space. ;-)

A much much bigger deal is that Patricia Kaas will perform for France. :-o Now that is a biggie. She was announced as a singer first, but because I've been so slow to blog about it, the song has been chosen too now - it's by Anse Lazio and Fred Blondin, and it's called Et s'il fallait le faire. I'll review it later, I haven't listened to it yet. But at least we can be sure that it'll be a quality performance. :-)

Hungary originally chose their entry on February 4th - their second attempt this year after the first choice had to be withdrawn - but now this song too has been withdrawn and they will have to find a new song for a third time. o_O No info yet on when, though.

Belgium will be choosing their entry on March 10th. Supposedly they will be represented by a 'rock'n'roll legend'. I'll withhold judgment till the 10th, I think ...

Greece will be represented by Sakis Rouvas (how original! :-). His song will be chosen on February 18th.

Poland will choose their entry tonight, as will Lithuania, Armenia, Moldova and Iceland. Here in Norway we will be having our semifinal and the Swedes will be having their second quarter-final. Things be happenin' ... !!

And on January 30th - this actually is really interesting IMO - the artwork for Moscow 2009 was announced. That's it below. I like it. Spring colors and a fun design that makes me think of flowers and birds. We'll like Russia more if we start associating it with flowers and pretty birds, I guess ... ? ;-)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sunset over Oslo, and some ... umm ... art?

This afternoon, as I was going downtown after work to meet Anéa, I watched the sun set over the city as I waited for the subway at Risløkka station. It's not a picturesque area, but the sunset made for a lovely view anyway.

We went to the movies (Changeling by Clint Eastwood, review coming up) and afterwards walked to the subway station together. As we were standing by one of the entrances, chatting, I happened to turn around and noticed ... I'm not actually sure what it was I noticed. Fruit. On a tree. A lot of various fruits had been attached to one of the trees by the entrance ... I couldn't tell how ... and it must have been recent, since all the fruits were perfectly fresh, and it's quite cold out tonight, almost freezing. Very strange. I was glad I had my camera with me. :-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

'On 12 February, a Son, Charles'

I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection.

The greatest mind that has so far graced our species came into the world on February 12th, 1809, in Shrewsbury, England.

Charles Robert Darwin, 1809-1882.

What we owe to him cannot be overestimated.

Google's celebrating too, lookee! :-)

Best Darwin resource on the net? Try this.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Discrimination It Ain't

I watched RedaksjonEN last night - it's a live broadcast political debate program which I don't often watch because ... it's so annoying. People hit each other over the head with their various arguments and the guy who's supposed to be running things just sits there like an idiot and watches it. But I watched it yesterday - started watching and actually wanted to hear the arguments for once. The topic was the proposed alterations to the Norwegian police uniform so that Muslim women can wear hijabs with it. On which issue my opinion is, unsurprisingly, fuck that shit.

What's wrong with our government? First they screw up so royally with the revision of paragraph 185 (which has now been withdrawn, so yay) and now this, which I guarantee that the Norwegian people is equally opposed to. Not that that's a good indication as to the right course of action, but if this is supposed to be a democracy, then the right course of action isn't really the number one priority. There's an election coming up this fall - a parliamentary election. Labor would do better to remember that and not let their coalition partners - first the Center Party on paragraph 185, now the Socialist Left on this stupid hijab thing - push them around like this and make them look ridiculous. First the Department of Justice announces that the hijab will be permitted as part of the uniform, then the government discovers that Parliament and the people - and the cops, for Pete's sake!! - are against this, and then the information is pulled off the Department website and now we suddenly need more discussion. This vacillating is making the government look so ridiculous that I really cannot comprehend how they can possibly let it happen in an election year.

As for the Socialist Left, unsurprisingly one of their semi-bigwigs has been at the forefront of the usual gang of idiots ... ie the group that favors the milder uniform restrictions. Yes, Akhtar Chaudry proves yet again why I have so little respect for him as a politician and why he will never really be a force to be reckoned with in national politics. Actually, 'respect' ... I have to say that my feelings are so far from respect, I almost rather feel disgust for his attempts to enforce newspeak and stop us all from using the word 'hijab'. Seriously. He doesn't want us to call it 'hijab', he wants people to say 'kerchief'. Fuck that shit. It isn't a kerchief, a kerchief is something completely different. It's a hijab, Chaudry, we all know what it is. STFU.

On RedaksjonEN last night there was a pretty young thing who is the head of the Muslim Students Assocation at the U of Oslo campus. They've picked a woman as leader, quel surprise. (Oh, I am such a cold-hearted cynic!!) She made such idiotic arguments that I couldn't help but think to myself, Here's my blogpost for tomorrow. >:-) And now Kari Vogt, who's an authority in the field of history of religion in this country (but still a tremendous idiot IMO) says that she 'doesn't understand why we can't just try'. Stupid cow. Here's why:

It's a slippery slope. I know, I hate that argument too, but it's actually true in this case. If we allow the hijab, then we must also allow the turban and the kippah. And then what's next? Crucifixes and crosses, stars of David? How do you define a religious symbol and who decides on that definition? It's either nothing or it's everything. The nothing approach has worked fine so far. If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

The whole debate is just completely screwed up IMO. The arguments people are using are so off target it's ridiculous. They're doing it in Britain and in Sweden, so that makes it harder to argue against it in Norway? WTF? Let's try another version of that argument: It's legal to slap your kids around in Britain, so that makes it harder to argue in favor of the strict child abuse laws we have in this country? No, fuck that shit!! The fact that others are screwing up should really only inspire us to do better here.

It's 'discriminatory' to not allow the hijab. This was one of the arguments the students ass. president used. That is such BS, I can't understand how people have the gall to use it. I hate it when I hear immigrants using that argument. They whine about being discriminated against, and then they go right ahead and prove that they don't even understand what discrimination is. The Norwegian police force does not discriminate in its uniform regulations. It does exactly the opposite. One set of rules applies to everybody, absolutely everybody, every last person on the force. The same rules apply to everybody. That is not discrimination. That is the very opposite of discrimination. Being treated the same as everyone else doesn't make you a 'second-class citizen'. Gag me with a spoon.

And in any case, all this whining about the hijab being banned on the force has no truth to it anyway. The hijab isn't banned. No headgear and no clothes whatsoever are banned on the force. The uniform regulations aren't about anything not being permitted. They are about something being mandatory. Can you spot the difference? Allah hasn't told anyone to wear the hijab, even though some people think so. Choosing to wear it is just that - a choice. By making that choice, you also choose to not become a police officer. WTF is so difficult to understand about that??

If you can't show yourself out of doors without having your hair 'decently' covered, can you manhandle a strange man? Be alone and unchaperoned in a room with a strange man, talking about literally anything, perhaps something entirely indecent? Ooh, sinful ... !! Smite away, Allah ... !! If anyone's discriminating against anyone here, it's rather these Muslim women who are doing it to themselves by refusing to accept the rules that apply to literally everyone else. Get over yourselves, girls. If you can so happily break the rules against working, against going to school, against associating with men you're not related to, against protecting unbelievers and all the other stupid rules in that outdated pile of claptrap you call a holy book, you can break this rule too. That god of yours obviously isn't paying attention anyway.

Not to even mention the fact that the whole hijab thing these days is ridiculous anyway, in itself. Don't they wear it to show their modesty and not make spectacles of themselves? Umm ... so what's with the wearing of the hijab/tight jeans combo that I see all over town? And all the fancy hijabs you can get ... it isn't longer ago than tonight that I saw some woman with a hijab made out of some eyecatching silvery sparkly material. Hard to miss. Doesn't this completely defeat the purpose of the hijab, thus making the wearer a hypocrite and rendering the whole exercise pointless? Hm.

Back to the point: The Norwegian police force is intended to be wholly neutral, its officers to represent the state and only the state. They may not display any signs of religious affiliation or any other loyalties. That is such a good thing. If someone appreciates our police force enough to want to join it, why do they want to change this wonderful quality?? Those who are already on the force do not want this change in the regulations (the Muslim officers included). They think it would impact negatively on police officers nationwide. Who would know this better than they??

Fuck that shit. If you want to express your religious beliefs, you can do that on your own time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Saul Dibb: The Duchess

I saw this movie with Findabair on Saturday; it was a free preview screening at Klingenberg. The movie opens in this country on February 13th; ie, this Friday. IMDb listing here.

One thing I really don't get is how Keira Knightley has established herself as so eminently suitable for period films set in the 18th century. The Pirates movies (don't think anyone's really sure exactly when those are set, but still >:-), Pride & Prejudice, and now this ... and other periods too, both earlier (King Arthur) and later (Doctor Zhivago). It's a symptom of Hollywood's deep-seated inability to see anything but our own time and its standards as truly valid. Keira Knightley looks like she has TB ... and sure, in our time, that's considered beautiful. But in pretty much every other time period she would just have looked like she had TB. So, say, Elizabeth Bennet being a celebrated beauty is impossible to believe when she is played by Knightley. I don't get it. And the main problem with The Duchess is exactly the same. She is a good actress, as far as that goes, but she looks so wrong for this part. (IMO, her talent curve peaked with Bend It Like Beckham. Kind of sad actually.) Hayley Atwell, who plays the title character's main rival, is by 18th-century standards clearly by far the most beautiful. Yet we're supposed to buy Knightley as being considered her superior. Be prepared to work at that a bit. ;-)

But apart from that this is a really good movie for its genre. Some great performances, I'd say by Ralph Fiennes especially as the title character's husband, William Cavendish, the fifth Duke of Devonshire. He is quite an obnoxious character, I loved the way Fiennes played him. The movie relates the life of Cavendish's wife Lady Georgiana Spencer from shortly before her marriage and for a decade or so afterwards. She was a celebrated aristocrat and set the tone in society in many ways; she was a fashion queen and she was also quite active politically. She was also the target of a lot of criticism, but the movie doesn't touch much on that. It's a straightforward retelling, not a lot of frills ... just this woman's apparently quite eventful and quite sad life. The story made both Findabair and me rather happy that society has moved forward a bit since the Duchess lived. There's a bit of insight into the political scene of the time, but mostly it's about her private life ... her failure to produce the son her husband requires of her, her sadness at his infidelities and her inappropriate romance with the up-and-coming Whig star Charles Fox. Which of course ends badly, but what do you expect.

This movie is based on a book by Amanda Foreman, a historical biography that became a bestseller. Which in itself makes it interesting ... and after seeing the movie, I definitely want to read the book. And/or others about Duchess Georgiana; the movie quite piqued my interest. Seeing it really made me want to know more about this historical person ... and that means, I'd say, that the movie definitely accomplished something. :-)

If you like period movies and historical biopics, then I definitely recommend this movie. (Otherwise not, no.) The costumes are fantastic, the makeup, the hair ... all the details like that. Absolutely fantastic. The period has been recreated beautifully; the interiors are especially wonderful. There aren't that many exterior scenes, actually. But it's all very beautiful. The story is ... gripping on the surface, perhaps not something you'll remember for very long, but rather moving then & there. A good movie although not a great one. Costume freaks should definitely see it (yes, Anéa, I'm looking at you ;-). Certainly, at the price we paid, it was unmissable. ;-)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Keanupic and no excuse


OK, I've been at work for twelve hours today, it took me almost an hour to get home, and I have no energy to do anything but eat some fruit and watch a movie I've seen ten times already. So today's post will just be a pretty picture and not much more. Rose, I hope you'll like this, even though it'll probably be Tuesday for you by the time you see it. I'm sending a virtual hug your way. {{{Rose & family}}} :-)

This picture was taken on Oscar night 2006. That's Sandra Bullock in the background to the right, they went together. Their movie The Lake House was scheduled for release about three months later so they had to do some promoting ... Keanu had agreed to present one of the awards, that's the type of thing he never does voluntarily, only when he has a project to plug. ;-)

I like this picture a lot ... not sure I can tell you why. It's the look on his face, the way he looks at the photographer. I'd love to know what he was thinking just then. :-)

I hope you all have had a good Monday. More fun than mine. :-)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

UNITED KINGDOM 2009: Jade Ewen - My Time

Jade Ewen will perform for the UK in Moscow. The entry was chosen on January 31st in the final of the talent show Eurovision - Your Country Needs You! on BBC One.

Ah, the eternal second. Although, if truth be told, they haven't come anywhere near to deserving that title for years and years now. Unfortunately. The British have gotten themselves stuck in a vicious circle when it comes to the ESC - it's gotten a bad rep in the UK as being ridiculous and not worth the bother for serious performers (thanks for that, Terry Wogan) and so the real talent steer clear of it. So they send shitty songs and do very badly and that enhances the contest's negative reputation. And around and around we go. This year they're trying to change that, though - the preternaturally talented gnome king of the musical world has tried his hand at writing an ESC entry and the British people (or TV audience, whichever; I suspect the two may be largely interchangeable these days ;-) have picked a singer for him. So where will they end up this year??

The UK, being one of the Big Four, is assured a place in the final, so we will of course see this song there. Will it do well? I think, depending of course on the competition, which still is not quite clear, that it might. Apart from her unfortunate appearance in the lip area, Jade is a pretty girl ... and maybe the balloon lips will work in her favor as they may help her stick in viewers' memories. ;-) She has a very good voice. The BBC are clearly not afraid to dress her up in spectacular gowns. The song has sincerity, which will be in its favor if she can communicate it in her performance. The lyrics are sadly predictable, but as most of the audience won't understand English anyway, it will hardly matter. ;-) I like this song, but I am a huge Lloyd Webber fan, so that's not surprising. This isn't his best effort though, the song isn't a standout like some of his other work. But it's certainly quality craftsmanship, although not overly original. Trying to put my personal opinion aside ;-) I think that this is the best entry the UK has sent for years, and it has the potential to do quite well. It's not the winner though, that would surprise me very much. But it can do well, but that depends on the competition as well. This year though I do honestly wish the UK the best of luck. :-)

So, this is Jade Ewen performing My Time, written & composed by Diane Warren and Andrew Lloyd Webber who will be competing for the United Kingdom.

You can find the lyrics here.

Quote of the Week

To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
Isaac Asimov

Saturday, February 7, 2009

ESC 2009: Norway, third quarter-final

Third round, starting now. I'm at home, Anne Ida's here and we've just finished dissing Wenche Myhre over a delicious dinner ... so we're ready to, ahem, 'rock'. *cough*

Song #1: Mats Lie Skåre: Left Right, performed by Sichelle. Umm ... she's been singing in Norwegian up till now, but this song is in English ... and I'll just say it like this, she should have stuck to Norwegian. Awful dress. It looks like something thrown together at the last minute just so she'd have something to wear (and then stuck together with electrical tape). Bad color too - hot pink. Oh noes. As for the song ... I can't really get a handle on the song. It's sort of ... choppy, if that makes sense. A choppy rhythm. I can't really catch the rhythm of this song. It doesn't sound quite finished. I don't like it, I don't think it will get anywhere. She does put her heart into it - there just isn't a lot here to put any heart into.

Song #2: The Rebelettes: Soul Train, performed by the Rebelettes. OK, serious improvement. This is a much better song. The problem is that it doesn't have a lot of originality. I'm sure we've all heard this umpteen times before. I'm also not sure that it's the kind of thing that goes down well in this contest ... but then again, genre-wise the ESC has been blown wide open in recent years, so who knows. :-) These girls are more professional than Sichelle and their song is a better product, so they should do better. But it's anything but original, so I'm not sure if people will really remember it. And they look totally wrong. The band's outfits don't match, and the singer's outfit is like ... WTF? The song is called Soul Train and she's wearing something that wouldn't look out of place in a lawyer's office. Seriously bad wardrobe decision. But that can be fixed. Her voice is good. Professional performance. Anne Ida says she wouldn't mind seeing these girls again in the semi. Maybe we will. :-)

Song #3: Simone Larsen and Simen Eriksrud: Seven Seconds, performed by Ovi. This guy's been in the ESC before ... in 2007 I think. In our national contest, obviously. :-) I really like the song he had then. Here's hoping this will be as good ... but it's not, really. Alas. This song is a mainstream pop song, totally standard, nothing special about it either way. Perfectly acceptable and quickly forgotten. Pretty stupid lyrics, but I expect nothing else from Simone Larsen. We wouldn't disgrace ourselves in Moscow with this song, but no one would remember it either. Not a problem though since there's no way this song will be going to Moscow. ;-)

Song #4: Jane Helen: Shuffled, performed by Jane Helen. Alright! This'll wake you up. :-) Anne Ida thinks that this band is named after an 80s brand of hair care products ... ? She may be on to something, although I can't really put my finger on it. Anyone? This is a fun entry - rock'n'roll! :-D - a real band with, I guess, real talent. Kind of harmless wannabe punk music. Their performance is eye-catching - pyrotechnics and all - and I like their style, it's really different in this setting, and I like that. Not sure about the song though - it's too staccato, there isn't anything of the melodious about it, and I'm not sure if there is any hook here that people will remember. But it would be fun to send this song just for the hell of it ... fishnet stockings included. :-D

Song #5: Hanne Sørvaag and Harry Sommerdahl: Do It Again, performed by Foxy. Two blonde teen girls performing a pop song - not too original this entry either. But these girls are more professional than you'd expect of a 17- and an 18-year-old. It's a good performance with a lot of energy ... and I like the intro there with the screens and the silhouettes, that's something people may remember. A little different. They sing well and the performance is good, but the song is a little too standard ... and although the chorus is catchy, the verses aren't, so much. I don't think I will remember this song for long. It's perfectly alright but nothing really special.

Song #6: Solgunn Ivana and Hans Petter Aaserud: Carrie, performed by Solgunn Ivana calling herself Sunny. When I just saw the hat this singer was wearing, I was about to say that she had a nice outfit. But then I saw the rest of it, and discovered that no, it is an awful outfit!! WTF have they been thinking?! Hooker boots, hotpants, a ... I hardly know what to call it, a frilly bustier? And a 1930s style hat with a bow and a veil. WTF? But! A bad costume can be fixed, and this is a really cool song. Very catchy, a great melody, and an energetic performance. She doesn't sing it very well, that's true ... but again, that's something that can potentially be fixed. She may be nervous, and she can practice. So far, totally my favorite. I'm gonna vote for this. Good song, me like!!

Song #7: Alexander Rybak: Fairytale, performed by Alexander Rybak. They always save the best for last!! The last song in the last quarter-final, and this is definitely the best song. Hands down. Harding fiddle, three guys dancing something halling-like in the background ... a very catchy song, good melody, good lyrics, a professional performance by a charming & good-looking young man ... he plays the fiddle himself and dances a little ... he wrote the song himself. He sings much better than 'Sunny'. Great stage presence. Original, unusual melody. This is a really good song and it ought to be the obvious winner. I hope this will be the Norwegian entry this year. No doubt in my mind. The one thing I don't like about it is that it's in English. But I guess you can't have everything. :-( This song will definitely get my vote tonight. :-)

I voted five times for Fairytale (or maybe six, I kind of lost track) and, because of the semifinal, three times for Carrie (although I really don't understand the title of that song). My duty is done. Now let's see.

Sunny - Carrie
Jane Helen - Shuffled

Alexander Rybak - Fairytale
Ovi - Seven Seconds

OK, pretty obvious results mostly, but Ovi got through?? With that bland ballad?? Color me surprised. I would have expected the Foxy girls or the Rebelettes - I was sure that this song didn't stand a chance. And I didn't want it to, especially since the song he competed with last time was better, which shouldn't matter but kind of does anyway. It's a pretty good song while I'm listening to it, but so forgettable. Why did people vote for this?? Oh well, it doesn't matter anyway, because Fairytale will win the whole thing. I bet. ;-)

Will update with Youtube links etc.

Friday, February 6, 2009

And now for something completely different.


Am I bubbling over with energy - no. Definitely not. So today's post will not be long and it will not be insightful *cough* and it will not deal with anything vaguely important. Just a very funny video for those who feel like watching one.

This is a clip from a Norwegian comedy show, but don't worry, it's in English. I mean, those of you who read this and don't understand Norwegian. Don't worry. It's in English because it's about the Danish language and how it's so incomprehensible, and ... oh, I don't have the energy to explain it all. I spent all my chattiness today on some nice customers that I do like a lot and on an 'anonymous' commenter here on the blog who is the reason why I've switched on that moderating thing again temporarily. Basically, written Norwegian and written Danish are almost the same thing. Long story. But when we open our mouths and start talking it's a different story. Danes sound to Norwegian ears as if they have their mouths full of something ... we like to say that Danish isn't really a language, it's a throat disease. This skit makes fun of that. But this is also a real problem, in that Danish is in fact beginning to collapse in on itself and is becoming increasingly incomprehensible even to native speakers. It's a real problem ... but fortunately it's not my problem. :-) Here's the video, enjoy! Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Picture of the month - January 2009

Today's post: the result of a brilliant idea I had either very late last night or very early this morning. The chain of events is blurred in my mind. Doesn't matter anyway. Here's my big idea. I take a lot of pictures. Because ... playing around with cameras is fun. :-) This past month, since I've been on Flickr, I've become even more interested in it. Starting now, every month I will post my one favorite photo out of every picture I've taken in the previous month. I'm not saying these will be my best pictures. A lot of them probably will, but that's not the point. The point is that they'll be the ones I like the best. For whatever reason. I may not even be able to tell you why I like them exactly. That's the case with my selection for January. I can't really tell you why, but I'm just so happy with this shot. :-)

I took it as we were standing in line to get into Rockefeller for the Katzenjammer concert on January 23rd. Rockefeller Music Club ... and we were almost first in line, so we were standing almost underneath the marquee. There was a wind blowing and the city lights in the sky. :-)

Click to enlarge, why don't you. :-)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rant warning: People are idiots

OK, so, expect no enjoyment from today's post. I'm going to rant about how people are idiots and how it sucks when they show up and annoy me at work. So read on at your own risk. >:-(

At around noon today one of the biggest idiots I know walked in the door at work. That in itself is enough to annoy me since this guy is such a compulsive chatterbox that whenever I see him I know I'm at serious risk of wasting 20-30-40 minutes on basically nothing when I have so many other things to do. And small talk isn't just small talk ... sometimes it's interesting and entertaining, and sometimes it's BORING and completely inane. Guess which category this guy belongs to ...

We have a long back story with this person, he used to be the buyer for a big customer of ours. Well, he still has the same job, but the company he works for has been bought out and their production unit shipped out of the country so they don't buy much anymore. Good ... !! because that means we don't have to see this guy twice a week, or more, like we did before. He comes by very rarely these days. But today was one of these dreaded occasions. He wanted to speak to O., a coworker whose job title I'm really not sure of in English. I'll have to look into that. But he basically keeps the whole operation running smoothly ... or tries to, at least. It's a big job. Murphy's law and all that. Before Christmas the idiot I'm ranting about bought some stuff on the side, not for the company, and there was some mixup with the order so that he paid for something he didn't get and was supposed to get it later but still hasn't gotten it after three months or whatever. Gasp! So he came in complaining, and with a bunch of printouts in his hand, saying that O. is completely hopeless, never emails him back, blah blah ... and he said a bunch of totally unfair things like how O. has a fancy title now but that's no good when he never does anything, he never does what he's supposed to, etc. This got me totally annoyed because I know for a fact how much O. works and let me tell you, he works extremely hard. He is so dedicated to his job and he does so much - but no, he isn't perfect and he doesn't do everything in the whole world - he's only human, people make mistakes, sheesh. But saying he does nothing is a total lie and I won't let people say things like that. So I said actually, he works very hard, but he has a lot on his plate. Can I help [boot you out the door]? He started yapping about this order of his and how he had to talk to O. ... where was he, why wasn't he there, was he at lunch or something? YES, he was, just like he's ALWAYS at lunch around noon, and this fucking idiot always shows up at lunchtime!!! He never gets it through his thick skull that he needs to show up at some other time if he wants to be sure that people won't be at lunch!! Growl ... !!

So after talking this over for a little while I decide that I will just have to pull O. out of lunch to get him to take care of this now (it's a simple problem to solve and would have been solved long ago if only this guy wasn't such an idiot) so we can just get it over with. So he comes down and they talk for a while and straighten the problem out. I'm not involved in this, they walk around a bit and I'm at my not-quite-desk making some phone calls. Then they come back, having figured the problem out - and just FYI, when people leave the store they have to walk by me. And now the idiot felt like, apparently, he should include me in the conversation. Maybe he thinks that I enjoy talking to him? Can anyone really be that stupid?? Anyway. He starts to tell what he apparently thinks is a funny joke. He asks have we heard that the White House has a new name now? OK, so, I know things about this guy that mean that I know what kind of joke this is going to be. I try to ignore it. But this is a tactic that does not work with this guy. So he goes on to deliver the punchline. Which is, guess what. 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'. o_O

Now, O. isn't much of a reader, so he doesn't get this reference and he says so. I for my part am just about blowing a fuse. I mean, WTF?? What is wrong with people?? Now the idiot wants to explain his piece of shit joke so he says - and get this, he's ignorant too - he starts saying that years ago, this author wrote some books about Uncle Tom's cabin and Tom Sawyer and so on. WTF?? I really feel like I'm about to explode ... and say something really seriously rude ... so I just snap out, Now that's just completely wrong! Mr Idiot Man wants to know what I mean. I say that Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin and Mark Twain wrote the books about Tom Sawyer and they have nothing to do with each other. The idiot says Oh, is that so ... or something meaningless like that. At this point O. managed to steer the conversation onto something completely different and they went outside to look at something to do with the entrance area. And after that he left and I didn't see him again. Today ... >:-( Anyway.

WTF is wrong with people?? Why do ignorant shitheads like this ... I don't know, have the right to vote?? I don't want to give the wrong impression, I do know how to treat a customer, I'm good at customer service ... seriously, I really am ... but I'm not under any obligation to listen to any & every shitty line that some pathetic bigot feels like spewing at me. And - aside from the fact that Obama is the new American president who won the election by taking the high road and deserves some respect just for that - I will not sit down and listen to any black or brown or yellow or whatever person being called a Negro slave (or a monkey, which this guy has also referred to black people as, on more than one occasion) and just listen and not speak up. And especially when it's coming from someone who is an avowed racist and literally a Nazi!! I'm totally serious, this guy actively tried to start a Nazi political party here in Norway back in the 80s. I'm not joking. He couldn't drum up enough interest in the project so it never got off the ground. >:-) But that's beside the point. I am not sitting there listening to some Nazi shithead tell me racist jokes and just taking it. I was so fucking mad today ... !!! Good thing O. got him out of there when he did, because seriously ... !

And just so you won't think it's all me: I was telling our secretary about this later, we were standing by the coffee machine talking when our boss walked by on his way to the men's room. As he passed us he said, Having a meeting? :-) I replied that we weren't, that I just needed to blow off some steam about a customer. Hearing this, he said, Oh yeah? Is it [company name]? LOL! You betcha! :-)

Oh, and also: when I explained the joke to O. later he was totally shocked and said he supported me 100%. We both agree that if we never see that guy again, it'll be one billion years too soon. Oy vey.

So ... low point of my day, no question. Of my week, I hope. After work I went downtown to the BookCrossing meetup, had a lovely time there with Findabair and sota48 ... and then to the Cinematheque to see Billy Wilder's The Front Page. So overall it was a pretty good day. But I seriously don't know what's wrong with people. :-(

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Herman so hungry ... !!!

If that twolegs doesn't give me some food soon, I'll ... I'll have to ... I'll eat my feeding tub!!!


Monday, February 2, 2009

My calendar wall, February 2009

New month, new pictures. Look at that adorable dog. :-) There's still something missing from the wall though - my Keanucalendar - I am so slow ... ! I didn't get around to ordering it in time for it to arrive before the new month started. It'll be here for the March picture, I promise ...

... but in the meantime, just the fact that I don't have a Keanucalendar doesn't mean that I don't have a Keanupic to share. Of course. ;-)

Happy Monday!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Resolutions 2009: January review

So - one month gone by, and how have I done with my vaunted New Year's resolutions? You may recall that I had quite a few of them. ;-) Not to toot my own horn, or anything, but I'd say that I've done pretty well so far. Here, I'll show you. :-)

I was supposed to send out a letter or a card at least once a week. Done! Admittedly, I haven't really sent any letters as such. Not what I would call letters. Just postcards and double cards. But it's better than nothing. Certainly a vast improvement on my efforts in 2008. :-) Pretty soon a real letter will be going out ... ! and James, it'll have your name on it!

Look at the gorgeous cards I've been sending ... I bought them at Tronsmo and I plan to send out every single one this year. :-)

The box:

I was supposed to do something creative. Make something, or whatever. I haven't made anything, but I have written something ... and had fun with it along with my writers' group. I am head of the group, apparently :-) and I made it our assignment for the January meeting to write one or more nanotale. It was fun, it really was ... I will definitely be writing more of these ... and I even started a separate blog for them. It's here if you want to take a look.

I was going to do something new, try something I'd never done before. I did that. :-) I kind of did one thing and a half, because the first thing was a matter of definition. :-) I went to a performance of Die Fledermaus at the still relatively new Opera House here in Oslo - it was the first time I'd seen a real performance there, but I'm not sure it counts, because I have been to the old Opera House, several times. So this wasn't really new, as such. :-) I went with my friend CH and her parents; they got tickets cheap for all of us since the bank they work for (her father's retired though) are one of the Opera's biggest sponsors. It was fun, although to be honest I had a hard time following the plot. If it hadn't been for those little subtitle thingys they've got on the front of the seats, I would have been totally lost. :-D But it was fun. :-)

This is CH and me on the 'top floor' of the ... what ... the top mezzanine? Or whatever they call it. We went out there in the intermission to see if we could figure out the plot by putting all our heads together. :-D

It's a pretty big place. A fantastic stage.

So, although this was kind of a new thing, I couldn't really let it count as my new experience for January. I had to figure out something else. :-) Something completely different - making marshmallows from scratch!! :-D I got this idea because I just totally randomly came across a recipe on a blog somewhere. I don't remember where now. I was just surfing around and came across it. You can get the recipe for yourself, here. I suggested to Anne Ida that we try to make some and she was game - thank you for being a sport! :-) We couldn't find all the ingredients, so we had to be a bit inventive, and as we were going along we made some mistakes in measuring and what have you ... but the results came out fantastically well. Seriously. Texture, color and taste - professional level. I kid you not. We were really impressed with ourselves. :-) The interesting thing here is that I don't actually like marshmallows. :-D But it was fun to try! And we figure that come December we can make up a much bigger batch and give our friends boxes of homemade marshmallows. :-D So some of you should consider yourselves warned ... ;-)

We took lots of pictures while we were messing about with the sugar and pots and pans ... Anne Ida made this great collage out of some of them. I stole it from her blog, shame on me. Click to enlarge it if you want to see every glorious detail. :-D I can really recommend trying this, it was lots of fun and the results were wonderful. :-)

OK, next ... I was supposed to try one new dinner recipe per month. I did that yesterday. ;-) Hey, it was still January. I made the deadline. :-) KAS and I made - at my suggestion! - a chicken jambalaya with lots of vegetables last night. It turned out absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself. I'll definitely be making this again ... and that's exactly my plan, to teach myself or to develop more recipes that I can make for dinner and that I really will make for dinner. I feel like I need more variation in my cooking, such as it is. This was a good start. This is a great recipe to cook up a huge batch of and freeze in portions. That makes it even better IMO. :-)

Various ingredients ... who says I never eat vegetables voluntarily??

Serve with rice. :-)

What next ... I was going to wild release one BookCrossing book every week. And I totally have! Five books so far this year. Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, Fay Weldon, etc ... at the Opera House, Oslo Central Station, the Holberg statue downtown, Tveita mall, etc ... I've been such a good BookCrosser this month! :-D

I was going to read at least one book from the list of 1001 Book You Must Read Before You Die ... I have read one, The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan. It was OK, nothing special IMO. Just not my type of book. I could appreciate technically that it was a good book, well written and so on, but it just didn't touch me. Quality literature, but it didn't do it for me.

I've been quite diligently updating my LiveJournal; well, compared to last year, anyway. I've been adding updates once a week; contents of varying meaningfulness ... but at least I'm making an effort. :-)

I was going to blog about Oslo, show off the city ... I've definitely done that, twice over in fact. I've posted about the Stock Exchange that I visited in September and also a bunch of pictures of Youngstorget square downtown. I've got a couple more posts already lined up for February ... I've been out taking pictures a couple of times and I have some good ones ready to post. :-)

The one thing I haven't done is to mail off a book to some foreign country. :-( I've been totally forgetting about it till it was too late ... for this month, anyway. I'll try to send two this month, to make up for it.

All in all I have to say I think I've done good ... !! :-D Fingers crossed for February ... ! :-)