Sunday, January 31, 2010

Books I've read in 2010 - January

QuixotiQ by Ali al Saeed
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Kunzelmann & Kunzelmann by Carl-Johan Vallgren – AUDIO
Perfect Happiness by Rachel Billington
Trankebar by Yngvar Ustvedt
Bartleby by Herman Melville (a Penguin 60)
Rør himlen by Susan Madison
Men ikke hvis det gjelder din datter by Jan Guillou – AUDIO
Twitterature by Aciman/Rensin
Den lille prinsen by Antoine de Saint-Exupery – AUDIO
Making Money by Terry Pratchett
Dead Ends by Michael Reynolds
Skygge by Karin Alvtegen – AUDIO
Tennyson's Gift by Lynne Truss
Svik by Karin Alvtegen – AUDIO

10 printed books, 2,639 pages.
5 audiobooks, 52h 20m.

Favorite fiction:
Making Money. Hey, it's Pterry, what can I say. He's my hero. :-)

Favorite nonfiction:
Not much to choose from here. I guess Trankebar, even though it was far from as well written as I had expected it to be. But the subject matter - Danish-Norwegian colonial history in India - was very interesting.

Favorite audio:
Hard to choose here. But I guess I have to go with Svik, even though the Vallgren book was fantastic too. Svik had an absolutely fascinating plot, and it was SO well read (by the actress Andrine Sæther - the perfect reader for this book). This really stood out because just before it I had read another audiobook by the same author, but with a different reader, who did a pretty crappy job.

And finally, although I don't normally do this, I have to mention my least favorite read too - QuixotiQ, by a total idiot with no talent. DO NOT READ.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

ESC 2010: Norway, semi-final

I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality.
H.A. Overstreet

Live from Sarpsborg, and the big question on everyone's mind is ... Who's going to go through to the final??

There'll be four duels, the winners of the first two will square off against each other, and the winners of these last duels will get through to the final. So who will get through? Hm, let's see.

Duel #1 - Skanksters vs Bjørn Johan Muri. My money's on Muri for this one. Should be obvious.
Duel #2 - Gaute Ormåsen vs Heine Totland. Idol-Gaute, hands down. And he deserves it, too. It's a pretty good song and he's also the only one singing in Norwegian.

Then when these winners compete against each other, I'm betting on Ormåsen to win the place in the final. He was in Idol, that unfortunately always has to count for something. But then again, so was Muri, so who knows? ;-)

Duel #3 - Johnny Hide vs Mira Craig. Craig, obviously. Just because she's Mira Craig ... alas, because the song and the weird performance don't really deserve it. But Hide definitely doesn't deserve it - him as a singer, not the song, unfortunately - so it's the lesser of two evils.
Duel 3# - Karoline Garfjell vs Venke Knutson. Hmm ... I'm thinking Knutson. It's the better entry, and it's also more mainstream, so she'll be getting more votes ... and that's not even considering the fact that she is, well, Venke Knutson. :-)

When the winners here compete, then I'm worried it'll be Craig. Again, just because of who she is. She has a huge built-in fanbase ... unfortunately, in this connection. Either her or Knutson. But probably her. >:-(


Duel #1, check. #2, check. :-) #3, check. #4, check. Gosh, I'm clever.

OK, second round.
Duel #1 - Bjørn Johan Muri vs Gaute Ormåsen.
Duel #2 - Mira Craig vs Venke Knutson.
Results? Ormåsen and Craig. I would rather have Knutson, but my hopes aren't high.


Duel #1: Bjørn Johan Muri! WTF?? OK ... I guess a lot of teenyboppers have been voting tonight ... and I also guess that not a lot of people think it's a plus to sing in Norwegian. Huh. Surprised now ...
Duel #2: Venke Knutson - wahey!! OK, I'm not so clever after all. :-D But I am so happy about that because Mira Craig isn't in the final! Yay! Take your stupid giant dress and go home. :-D

OK, pretty happy with this. And Venke Knutson is really happy ... ! :-D

See you next Saturday ... !!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

New Year's Resolutions ...

Better late than never?

Remember at the beginning of January last year, I posted about my new year's resolutions? I've been meaning to post an update on that ... but of course have been procrastinating wildly ... but now I will get it done, like it or lump it. :-)

So, I had a bunch of things I was going to do ... and I was going to blog about whether or not I actually did it. The latter only worked for the first month, and then I kind of let it slide ... because I am slow with these things. I hang my head in shame. :-( I'm going to be less ambitious about it this year. ;-)

I didn't write all the letters I was planning to write, but there was an improvement from 2008. So ... acceptable? And so far this year I've been doing much better than in 2009. I want to get lots of mail this year ... more on that another time, but I'm still sticking with this resolution and plan to mend my ways slowly but surely. :-)

I was going to be more creative in 2009 ... total FAIL on that one, I'm sorry to say. I was soo not crafty AT ALL in 2009. I ... let's see ... I made a necklace for my friend Sol, as a present for her 30th birthday this summer. That was pretty much it. Disgraceful. Seriously, that is a disgrace. If you knew how much crafty stuff I have lying around here ... !! But in 2010 I really am going to be more creative. I am!! And so far I'm succeeding brilliantly (although to be fair, improving over last year is incredibly easy on this score ;-) - again, more on that some other time. With pics and everything. Yay. :-)

I did go on vacay to an interesting place, and it was - as you know :-) - Carcassonne, France. This year I will go to Hammerfest in the north of Norway, and, here's hoping, to Ireland. Fingers crossed. :-)

New things and new food - I did do that most months. I kind of lost track of it towards the end of the year, but I did do it most months. :-) I have another food-related resolution this year - I'm going to eat at least one fish dinner every week, and also one vegetarian dinner every week. Yes, you read that correctly! Vegetarian!! :-o It's good for my body, probably, possibly, and it's good for the planet, although of course not to any extent that will matter. Anyway. The problem is that I can only cook one dish that doesn't involve dead animals. (Mmmm, dead animals ...) So far I've been able to stick to my rules, but I have to give major kudos to Anne Ida for that, because without her culinary creativity I would probably just have been eating my vegetable stew/ratatouille type thing once a week all month - or, worst case scenario, all year. :-D Thanks for cooking dinner with me!! :-)

BookCrossing - I was going to read at least 20 nonfiction books, I ended up reading 40. :-) Now let's see if I can repeat that this year. I was going to read at least one of the 1001 books every month, so that would have been 12, but I actually ended up on 20 (or 22, depending on how you count). I did register a book almost every day of the year, apart from when I was away on vacation, and I almost succeeded in my goal of wild releasing at least one book every week. Almost, but not quite. Dagnabbit! As we say in Norwegian: Nesten skyter ingen mann av hesten. >:-( I forgot it the very last week of the year. Damn that stupid swine flu!! I released two books the next week to make up for it, but alas, it is not the same. :-( I will keep wild releasing this year and will be sure to not forget a single week.

Sending books to foreign countries FAIL. This year I'm going to read one book every month from a country that I've never read a book from before. Got that? o_O January's country was Bahrain. And the book was so spectacularly bad ... !!! Seriously, it was like the worst book ever. :-D Review coming up on Youtube.

Am I forgetting something? Probably, but this'll do. :-) I hope I will do better this year. :-)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's hard work being a skeptic

If you don't believe me, take a look at this. So ... much ... STUPID ... !!! o_O But extreme kudos to the blogger for taking it on. I mean, seriously. Wow.

And for those of you who read Norwegian, here's another one (scroll down to the comments posted in the last few days). Kudos again, and I second the offer of sending some very very tiny spoons.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Warsaw 2009: reptiles at the Zoo again

Some photos from my visit to the reptile house in Warsaw Zoo. Not all of them are that good ... please remember that these were all taken through glass. :-) You can see a video from my visit here ... for those of you who may have missed that. :-)

A map turtle in the first enclosure ... this held a number of freshwater turtles of similar size, various sliders and maps and so on, and this one was staying out of the crowd a bit. :-) Soo pretty, I want one ... !!

A gila monster.

A green basilisk. This shot I am soo happy with. Again, remember that this was taken through glass ... and with a compact camera on almost full zoom. Really good shot if I do say so myself. :-)

A yellow anaconda.

Are you lookin' at me?? A Cuban crocodile.

Nile crocodiles ... juveniles, obviously. This facility isn't equipped to house fully grown individuals of this species.

An Amazon milk frog. These critters are so pretty, but they always look so sad. :-) At least that's how they look to me. I wonder what it is that makes me 'read' them that way.

Yellow poison dart frogs.

This toad had buried itself comfortably in the moist substrate.

Another lizzie shot that I'm really happy with. :-)

A radiated tortoise chomping on its dinner.

This Asian river turtle was huge ... the picture doesn't show its size properly, but it was quite impressive.

Hello there ... !! :-D

More photos here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Anton the adorable

So, does everyone remember Anne Ida's little turtle Anton that I, ahem, procured for her a couple months back? I posted some pictures back then, to show you what a cutie he is. :-) Now here's Anton again, doing lots of totally adorable turtle things like begging for food and eating scallops and sniffing at laundry. :-) Enjoy. :-)

Anne Ida posted a fun shot of him on her blog recently - peeping out of the window! :-D - and here's another one.

Speaking of them pulling their heads into their bodies and so on ... :-)

Monday, January 25, 2010

'Henry's Crime'

I want to see this movie ... !! And I also want to see Niagara Falls one day, come to think of it.

I love Youtube. :-)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What do you do ...

... if you have to manage without something you can't manage without?

I'm reading a book now which is partly set in 1970s Stockholm (Skygge by Karin Alvtegen). The main character in that part of the book is a left wing intellectual, an author, and he's sometimes thinking that it's inappropriate that they have a housekeeper. You know, a servant. Which was becoming increasingly more frowned upon in the circles that he's moving in, in that period in Sweden. And it's also disturbing to him because he has a working class background himself, even though he's wealthy now, so he sort of sees his parents in this woman who's working for his family, and he's uneasy thinking that someone who 'is' his parents, in some ways, is his servant. But what are you gonna do, because, is his conclusion, 'they can't manage without her'. That is so messed up. What a thought that is. OK, they can't manage without her. So what if they woke up one day and she was gone? Would they all fall over dead? Would they starve in the kitchen? Would their house fill up with trash and dirt and they would have no idea what to do? Obviously not. It would be more of a hassle for them, but obviously they would manage.

Especially since this guy's wife doesn't work and mostly sits around the house reading, but that's another story.

So, following on from this, another thought. I've been watching this documentary series, Vår ære og vår makt, that's been showing on NRK this month. It's been interesting, at least relatively so ... it's a four-part series that tries to answer the question of how Norway, this tiny nation, could become such a superpower in shipping through so many years. I'm not sure I see how this really ought to have taken four hours to find out - I mean, the answer should be obvious to anyone with half a brain and a basic knowledge of modern Norwegian history. But there was a lot of interesting footage and a number of interesting interviews, so I'm not complaining. Here's my point:

In this episode - like at least one of the previous episodes - ancient shipping magnate Fred. Olsen was interviewed. You know, Monty Burns from The Simpsons? In this clip he was asked about the environmental impact of shipping. Because as you may know, these huge ocean-going freighters are the worst polluters there are. Seriously. Forget about passenger jets, no contest. It's the freight ships that are the real baddies. So Olsen was asked about how this form of transport can be made more environmentally friendly. And when he answered, he started with saying Well, we have to use oil. Then he went on to explain how energy use could be cut down in various ways. But what an interesting way to open.

We have to use oil. That's the only feasible way we can power these ships, we have to use oil. That's the kind of thing that sets my mind ticking. I so wonder how much Olsen has thought about this issue. Because - OK, oil is the only way in which the necessary amount of energy can be produced to drive these enourmous ships. So that's what we have to do. But the fact of the matter ... an even more basic fact than We have to use oil ... is that at one point, and I think that point may be closer than almost anyone on this planet is aware of, there will simply be no more oil to use. So it won't matter that we need it. It won't matter that it's our only option. There just won't be any. o_O

Olsen is old - past 80 - so he won't be around to see this. But I'm still young, I'm only 33. Statistically speaking, I have almost five decades still to live. It's going to be really interesting.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

ESC 2010: Norway, third quarter-final

Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.
Robert Fripp

Broadcasting from the heart of Grenland, sheesh ...

Entry #1: Mira Craig - I'll Take You High, performed by Craig herself. When she competed in 2008, we came fifth, so she has some ESC credentials to show for herself. But that song was way better than this one. A much stronger composition. This song is much more standard and it has no real hook ... I'll be forgetting this as soon as I've heard it. Her dress isn't becoming and the whole performance is just screwed up ... Craig called it, what, 'artistic' herself, but personally I just see it as a way of saying that this song isn't strong enough on its own merit, so the performance has to be ridiculously showy to make up for it. Nah. I don't want to hear this again in the semi - or in the final, even worse - and if I/we do, then it'll be only because of Craig's established fan base. Nowhere near her last ESC effort. No way we can send this. >:-(

Entry #2: Olaf Øwre and Fred Endresen - Barracks on the Hill, performed by Endresen. Wahey!! Now we're talking!! Here's a song I'd be happy to see one more time, and I'm sure we will see it. Very catchy song, great chorus, the singer has a nice voice and there's lots of energy in the performance. The choreography isn't much to write home about, but that can be changed. A quality entry - ESC quality, anyway. ;-)

Entry #3: Robin Nordahl, Frode Andersen and Gerard James Borg - Million Dollar Baby, performed by Belinda Braza. Who is supposedly a total perfectionist and a professional dancer ... but I have to say that these qualities are not apparent from this performance. o_O She also has a very weak voice ... if you're out of breath halfway through the first verse, I'm sorry to say that you're probably not ESC material. Borg is an extreme ESC heavyweight - he's written more than 30 entries! - but this song won't be one of his triumphs. A standard poppy dance tune presented in an only semi-professional-looking performance. Sorry, thanks, but no thanks.

Entry #4: Hanne Sørvaag and Fredrik Kempe - My Heart Is Yours, performed by Didrik Solli-Tangen. The pre-show favorite. I like Kempe, he cowrote my favorite non-participating ESC entry ever. (Cara mia, which came second in the Swedish national final in 2007.) He also won the Swedish final last year with La voix, which has an amazing chorus, at least. :-) He is a trained opera singer, and wow, that really shows in this song. This is a total musical, this song could have come straight from Les Mis. :-D I love it!! Awesome song. The problem is the singer. His voice isn't good enough for this song. If Michael Ball had performed this - or, what a sweet fantasy, Michael Crawford!! - it would have blown any audience's socks off. Fantastic song, but the singer sadly doesn't live up to the song. But I'm sure it'll do really well. Probably going straight to the final. :-)

Entry #5: Håkon Njøten, Mathias Tellez and Axel Vindenes - European Girl, performed by those selfsame fellows under the name The Diamond. Yawn. A song that's supposed to be catchy but it mainly just annoying, a singer with a voice that isn't very good and, again, is out of breath long before the song is over. Cheesy bridge. Nope, sorry, you guys are outta here. Good riddance.

Entry #6: Aggie Peterson - Tokyo Night, performed by Karoline Garfjell. Electronica in the ESC, there's another first. And it's not half bad either. Not usually my type of music, but I've definitely heard much worse than this. Her voice isn't the best, but far from the worst we've heard tonight. The performance is again a bit below professional standard IMO, but that's nothing than can't be fixed. I don't have very high hopes for it, but I can totally accept seeing this again. And the performance actually reminds me of the way Molitva was performed in the Serbian national final in 2007 ... and we all know how that ended. Although of course that's never going to happen with this song - seriously, never in a million years. But it can be worth bearing in mind, in general terms. :-)

Entry #7: Ben Adams, Mark Read, Christian Ingebrigtsen and David Eriksen - Don't Want to Lose You Again, performed by Adams, Read and Ingebrigtsen in their capacity as A1. Who cares what this song is like? These guys are going straight through to the final anyone, just because they're A1. And it won't be entirely undeserved, because the song's a pretty good pop song, and the guys have the big advantage of being total pros. So they're guaranteed to not mess things up. But IMO it doesn't matter how good the song is or anything whatsoever - I don't want A1 representing Norway. They're a British band. The reason they're allowed to compete is that two of the four songwriters are Norwegian ... each entry must be at least 50% Norwegian, so to speak. I don't want them to represent us, even though they'd score a lot of points from just being A1 ... and certainly not when we're hosting. So even though there's nothing wrong with this song or with the performance, I still say BOO to A1 and go, go, go! to Keep of Kalessin. ;-)

Watching at Anne Ida's house tonight ... we're not overly impressed.

Mira Craig - I'll Take You High
Karoline Garfjell - Tokyo Night

A1 - Don't Want to Lose You Again
Didrik Solli-Tangen - My Heart Is Yours

So, no big surprises, we guessed all of these ... except for Tokyo Night. Too bad for Endresen. I would have picked his song instead of Peterson's. Which would have been more deserved, IMO. But that's how it goes, you never know.

Solli-Tangen is singing better this second time around ... significantly better. So the problems with his voice were in large part down to nerves. But I'm not sure that solves anything, because if this entry wins and we send it to Telenor Arena, how much more nervous won't he be with an audience of 300 million?? Oy vey. Anyway, mostly the best of a bad lot was selected tonight. Could have been much worse. ;-)

Friday, January 22, 2010

This ... is a toad!!!

Sorry, had a little League of Gentlemen moment there. Anyway. Check out this video. Is that weird or what? :-D I don't know enough about frogs and toads to say whether it's enjoying the touching or whether it's squirming in fear. But let's hope for the former and just all say Awww ... !! :-)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nobody likes a quitter

So, Dagbladet's first female editor in chief surprisingly quit her job today, effective immediately. The staff were shocked by the news, apparently. She has held the position since 2006, she was brought in to bring the paper's plummeting circulation figures to a halt and ideally, of course, to reverse them ... she has failed abysmally at this, in fact, under her control the numbers have dropped even lower, despite all the supposedly clever moves she has thought up to change the situation. Oh, watch my careface.

In one way this is an acceptable way to act, I mean, if you can't do the job you've been hired to do, I guess you can call it the right thing to do to just step down and let someone else take over. (Although I gotta wonder, in this case, who 'someone else' is supposed to be. But that's not my problem, fortunately.) At the same time it does seem like the coward's way out. Especially since the solution to the problems they're having is so obvious ... !

Namely, stop printing crap!!! Before Aasheim took over, Dagbladet was a pretty shitty paper. Now, after 3+ years of her management, it's total shit. And the solution is as plain as the nose on her face. How has she missed it? She's supposed to be so smart, but she seems pretty dumb to me. And it's also rather offensive in a way, because they're obviously totally ignoring their readers ... and also newspaper readers in general in this country. Because, OK, most newspapers are more or less struggling in this country today. Just like in the rest of the Western world. It's the internet, the media saturation, you know the drill. But some papers are doing well, and which papers are they? Well, guess what, it's the ones that are focusing on real issues, important issues, and who are going in depth on the matters that they cover. Dagbladet's own readers are even telling them this flat out. Admittedly my information, or whatever, is based on their online edition ... I hardly ever read the paper edition, I don't want to pay money for that rag of theirs. But it's so interesting that on every quality in-depth article they run on real issues, they get comments from the readers saying This is great!, More of this!, This is what I want to read!, etc, etc. Yet they continue to spend so much time & space on self-help, celebrity gossip, consumer affairs (blech), and various other non-issues that don't actually matter to anyone at all. And then they whine and complain about their shitty circulation figures and pretend they have no idea why this is happening. Gag me with a spoon.

Good riddance, Aasheim!! You won't be missed. Now let's see if the next editor can make the paper even worse. I'm not taking that bet. ;-)

On a total tangent, I so like Shahzad Rana. He is so smart and cool and just overall such a great guy. What this country needs is more immigrants like him. :-)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

ALBANIA 2010: Juliana Pasha - Nuk mundem pa ty

Ooh, Albania ... !! :-D

As usual, the Albanians are the very first to choose their entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. Their Festivali i Këngës is held in January and the Albanian song is chosen then. As usual, it will probably not be the finest offering of the evening come May. ;-)

This song is performed by someone called Juliana Pasha. Obviously. But doesn't that sound like just one person? I think it is just one person. I think it's the blonde. But there are two women performing the song. o_O Sheesh, those Albanians ... !

Anyway. This is a pretty standard song, a traditional ESC ditty that may score some points, but it may just as well be overlooked. Depends on how original the rest of the lineup is. ;-) It's pretty catchy ... but of course I don't understand one word of the lyrics, and most of the rest of the audience won't either. So maybe that won't be that much of a plus. :-) Also, last year, they changed the performance from the national final to the international semi, and they turned it into total fucked up weirdness and didn't get anywhere with it. So I'm withholding judgment till I see the finished product. :-)

A perfectly acceptable entry, a standard but catchy little ditty. This is Juliana Pasha performing Nuk mundem pa ty by Ardit Gjebrea and Pirro Çako. They will be competing for Albania on either Tuesday, May 25th or Thursday, May 27th. Probably not on Saturday, May 29th. ;-)

Lyrics here. No translation yet, but I'm sure that'll be added by and by. :-)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Best caller ever ...

... on The Atheist Experience. He just does all the work. :-D

You can see a gadzillion more videos from this local TV show broadcast in Austin, Texas here. Ain't the internet grand? :-)

Speaking of AE - which I discovered through Margo; big thanks for that - I read their blog, but I always hesitate to go there, because I have such problems opening the page, literally every time. Does anyone else have that problem? Every single time I open that blog it makes the browser window freeze, sometimes the entire computer freezes, it has to load itself twice ... all kinds of weird crap, and it happens with the AE blog every single time I go there. I don't think it's anything to do with my computer, because the same thing happens whatever computer I use. I've tried it from a number of places. It's really annoying. I know I can never go there if I'm in a hurry and I just want to check, because it's going to take like five minutes for the thing to load properly and something else is guaranteed to freeze in the meantime. If anyone else has this problem, I'd be interested in hearing about it. Any ideas about why this keeps happening? Or if there's anything I can do to make it work better from my end.

If anyone wants to try loading the page on their computer, the link's in the sidebar, or click here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Great article

Which actually tries to be objective and look at the facts and not just join in the bashing cause it's what everyone does. I was happy to see this. Thanks to Dan Mecca. :-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pretty Raphael

It seems like I haven't posted any turtle pictures since forever ... so now's the time to remedy that. :-) These are some shots I took of Raphael today. Aw, he's so pretty. My mother thinks he's a hideous monster ... I don't understand what the world must look like through her eyes. :-) His lovely coloring, and the intricate patterns on his skin ... and his gorgeous bright green eyes, come on, he's pretty! :-) A beautiful animal. Just look for yourselves. :-)

That's my arm he's leaning against, btw. :-)

I managed to catch him blinking his eyes. OK, he's not so cute right here, but it's fun seeing it. It's so weird when these turtles blink ... it's like the eye partly disappears into the skull. My first RES was bigger than Raphael and when he blinked, you could actually hear it. This kind of soft wet squishy sound. :-)

And another weird thing is that they can pull their heads into their bodies. :-) No matter how many times I see that it always weirds me out ever so slightly. And in this shot he's only retracted his head partway, too. I put my finger on his nose and pushed his head all the way in, but by the time I took my hand away and got the camera ready he'd stretched his neck out a bit again, so this was the best I could manage. :-)

My dream, though, is to one day manage to take a picture of one of them yawning. They are beyond cute when they yawn. The little guys especially, but Raphael too. I just love seeing that. Especially when they yawn under water. :-D But try catching it with the camera ... !! It's an almost hopeless task, but one day, one day ... :-)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

ESC 2010: Norway, second quarter-final

Music is the universal language of mankind.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Outre-Mer

Ooh, live from Bodø ... !! :-D

Entry #1: Alexander Kronlund, Laila Samuelsen and Lukas Hilbert - Jealous Cause I Love You, performed by Venke Knutson. Not bad - not bad at all. I don't like the costumes, but they can be changed, and her voice is kind of weak ... but it's sweet, and the song is catchy. It gets boring after a while, but it's catchy. I predict this as a radio hit in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... ;-) It's a sweet & cute song - with classic ESC lyrics ... !! I'm sorry that I choke you ... where obviously what is meant isn't choke, but suffocate. :-D We use the same word for both in Norwegian, and the Swedes do too. Classic ... !! :-D Anyway. This song won't be noticed much in May, so I hope it doesn't get very far. But, well, it's sweet, and Knutson's popular, so I won't be surprised at all to see this in the semi.

Entry #2: Arne Hovda - Life Is Here Today, performed by Skanksters. I know, what a name ... but they're a ska band, supposed to be good at what they do, and the song's catchy. Again, radio hit potential. A kind of fun performance. I wouldn't want this to represent us, though, it's too weird to get far. And it's not a genre that Norway's known for, at all. So ... good song, good performance, but nah. The Monroes did it better ...

Entry #3: Tommy La Verdi and Peter Ställmark - Be Good to Me, performed by Tomine Harket. Morten Harket's daughter, looking like Lindsay Lohan tonight. She's done a lot of different things in the entertainment industry, she's only 16 but very experienced already ... but she's surfing on her famous father's coattails, her voice is pretty weak and she's really nothing special. And I can sum up this song in one word: BORING. Yawn. She should go back to dubbing the Disney channel. Next!

Entry #4: Mariann Thomassen and Lars Erik Westby - Don't Stop, performed by Hanne Haugsand. One of the girls from Charmed ... so Haugsand has actually been in the final before. But I'm afraid that'd only have been a plus if she had been able to sing. o_O What's wrong with her voice? Doesn't sound good ... and doesn't look good either. Thomassen has done the costumes, apparently. Sheesh. I don't like the performance and the song is 100% standard material. If this song were to be performed in Telenor Arena on May 29th, all of Europe would have forgotten it before it was even over. So it's a good thing that there's no chance whatsoever of it being performed there. >:-) Better than the previous entry, but that's not really saying anything.

Entry #5: Rolf Løvland - The Touch, performed by Maria Arredondo. Eek!! I am seriously afraid of this entry. Because I SO don't want us to win this year. Once is great, twice in a row is a curse. ;-) And this guy is a two-time winner of the ESC - our Johnny Logan, as I said. Plus he's won with two totally different songs ... and getting Arredondo to perform his song is a big plus, she's talented, experienced and beautiful, and very popular. She also has a good voice and she can really sing. The song's very good - a straight ballad, but very well done, a good performance, a good song all around. Out of tonight's songs, so far, this is definitely the song I will be voting for. Or will I?? Since I don't want us to win, I'm not at all sure I want Løvland in the final. ;-) But I don't think this song is a winner. I mean, internationally. It'd do well, the Easterners would like it ... but it doesn't have whatever little thing it is that it would need to win. So maybe by my own logic this is exactly the song we should send?? :-D It'll be going through to the final, anyway, whatever. :-)

Entry #6: Arne Hovda (yes, again), Hans Petter Aaserud and Heine Totland - The Best of Me Is You, performed by Heine Totland. Meh ... nah. This won't be getting through. Robbie Williams wannabe ... a cheesy performance ... shudder. Europe's going to laugh at us if we send this. Yuck. I know I don't want us to win, but I also don't want us to make total fools of ourselves. So, obviously, we can't send this song. Nah.

Entry #7: Alexander Stenerud - Give It To Me, performed by Stenerud himself. I always applaud those who perform their own songs, even if just for that ;-) and Stenerud's two previous entries have been really cool. This one is ... really cool as well. Unsurprisingly, since it sounds a lot like the other two songs. ;-) But nothing's wrong with that, he's found his style and he's sticking to it. A good performance, nice costumes, a catchy song, a pretty good voice. I'll be voting for this song. I like Stenerud. :-) This'll be the other song that goes directly to the final. :-)

Again with the only semi-entertaining intermission entertainment. Well, I've seen it worse. Actually, this time it was kind of funny. :-)

I'm watching the show tonight with KAS, trilltrall and Anne Ida ... we've sent three votes for Stenerud and two for Løvland. :-) So, fingers crossed that the worst entries will be left behind in the dust ... Two songs to the semi and two directly to the final.

Venke Knutson - Jealous Cause I Love You
Heine Totland - The Best of Me Is You

Alexander Stenerud - Give It To Me
Maria Arredondo - The Touch

OK, so, results as expected except that Totland got through with his piece of shit. We are surprised. >:-( Oh well, it'll get beaten out in Sarpsborg.

Happy with the finalists, semi-happy with the semifinalists ... :-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

South Park rules

I mean, obviously. Who could possibly disagree? o_O I've been on a real South Park kick recently ... fortunately there's a lot of old episodes on TV here, feeding my habit. :-) This video shows some ... highlights ... or whatever you want to call it.

Mmm, stem cells ...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

NORWAY 1985: Bobbysocks - La det swinge

Oslo 2010 FTW ... !! :-D

Because we are once again, for the third time, hosting the Eurovision Song Contest this year, I plan to focus on only Norwegian entries in my monthly ESC posts in 2010. We've sent some gems, a lot of mediocre songs, and quite a lot of crap. So prepare to be ... not sure of the verb, actually. Prepare to be entertained, I hope. :-)

Norway has competed in the ESC for a really long time. In fact, our national contest, Melodi Grand Prix, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. So yeah, it's perfect timing that we're hosting it now. :-) We've had our ups and downs ... perhaps more of the latter than of the former, if truth be told. No one has scored zero points more often than us, although to be fair the last time that happened was in 1997. We've also come last more than anyone else, ten whole times ... ! but on the other hand we have won three times, which is more than a lot of other countries can boast of. So it's kind of schizo. :-) And this last time we won, in Moscow last year, holy crap!! Highest score ever, first time anyone got more than 300 points (and, not to brag or anything, but 387 is quite a lot more than just 'more than 300' ;-) and more twelves than anyone's ever got too. Aw, our little hobbit, he just crushed the competition. But I digress.

For many years we wandered in the wilderness. But we didn't mind so much ... we just sent songs we liked and enjoyed the thrill of competing and of being out in the great wide world. It was hard to imagine we would ever win. So when two young ladies in pink sequins actually managed to not only win, but to win in Sweden ... ! Sheesh, we went wild. Seriously, we went off the rails. :-D Hanne Krogh and Elisabeth Andreassen (who was called Andreasson then, I know :-) became incredibly popular for this astonishing feat that they'd somehow managed to pull off with their very energetic performance. The song became an instant classic and I'm pretty sure any Norwegian older than ... let's say 28? can sing the chorus of this song at the drop of a hat. If not the whole thing. :-) And of course we were all puffed up with pride and rather obnoxious when we could welcome Europe to the Grieg Hall in Bergen in 1986. :-)

This is Bobbysocks performing La det swinge, written and composed by Rolf Løvland. He's like our Johnny Logan ... except he's not a drunk (sorry, Paz! I'm not insinuating anything, I promise ;-) ... I'll get to that by and by. Løvland competed for Norway in the Scandinavium in Gothenburg on May 4th, 1985, and he won. :-)

Lyrics with translation here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What an absurd place this world is

Isn't this world a crazy fucked up place?

We have it too good in this country. Seriously, we have it far too fucking good. I don't understand that people aren't ashamed of themselves. >:-(

Context: Our state-owned broadcasting channel, NRK, are making some changes to their schedule these days, changing their news profile a bit and what have you. One of the changes they've made is that they've moved some piece of shit kiddie TV show, In the Night Garden, to a different slot. It used to be on at 5:30pm, now it's 10:30am instead. Or something like that. I don't know exactly, because I don't care. But a lot of people do care. Apparently a bunch of parents are like addicted to this show because it has such a soothing & calming effect on their toddlers before bedtime, that they're up in arms now because it's in a different slot. Someone started a Facebook campaign to bring it back to the original slot, and it has something like 21,000 members now. And get this, the goddamn Progress Party are going to bring it up in Parliament!! I'm not kidding!! There's something called the 'question hour' where any issue can be brought to the floor. And some fucking dipshit idiot from the Progress Party is actually going to bring up In the Night Garden and how it's just so awful that NRK isn't listening to its viewing audience and reinstating it in its original slot. Won't somebody think of the children ... !!!

OK, so, leaving aside the fact that this show is available on DVD and also can be recorded from TV because it's still on ... leaving aside the fact that 18-month-old babies shouldn't even be watching TV AFAIK, since TV just makes them passive and research shows that watching TV is not in any way beneficial to toddlers, and is in fact more likely to be harmful because it gives the brain all the wrong stimuli ... leaving aside the fact that if you need a TV show to calm your child down, you're probably not doing the parenting thing right - what's wrong with a book?? Yes, even leaving aside the fact that this totally gives the lie to Progress Party policy of preferring lesser state involvement - now they're complaining, they actually have the fucking gall to complain, that the Secretary of the Department of Culture isn't intervening to force NRK to reinstate the show (despite the fact that this would be against the Broadcasting Act, yes, the law & order party are encouraging Anniken Huitfeldt to break the law!!) ... even leaving that aside, WHAT THE FUCK is wrong with this country that something like this is being discussed in Parliament?? That we have politicans who can even consider, even conceive of the thought of bringing this up for discussion in Parliament? Yes, I love Norway, but sometimes I just want to punch someone in the face.

We have it too good here. And if we were more aware of that fact, maybe we wouldn't be worrying over some stupid TV show that's supposedly no longer available to babysit our kids so we have to do it ourselves, boo-hoo!, maybe we wouldn't waste our time on shit like this but instead discussing, oh, I don't know ... how we can help the Haitians??

We really don't know how good we have it. :-(

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How we manage

Paz asked me yesterday, or was it the day before, how we manage these temperatures ... ie, how we Norwegians manage the cold for such extended periods of time. It's been quite cold in Ireland too recently, all over Europe in fact - as presumably most of my readers will know :-) - and what would be normal in Norway appears to be rather shocking to the Irish. And indeed to the English - I heard something of the same from James too, a long email that I got yesterday, where he among other things lamented the hysterical reactions of his countrymen to perfectly normal things like snow and ice and cold. :-)

He said - I paraphrase - that he'd be willing to bet that the Norwegian media weren't in collective hysterics because of just some snow. :-D Well, he's right. The weather's in the news here, but a lot of the stories are about foreign parts, and most of the other stories are happy news stories like children ice skating on the Stavanger fjord and what not. Then there are weird records like how at one point last week the entire country was covered in snow. o_O That apparently has barely happened in recorded memory. Coolness. Anyway.

There are also some stories about how Norwegian Rail are seriously struggling at the moment, with nothing but delays, delays, delays everywhere - because their trains are having a lot of problems in this cold. There's an article in Dagbladet online where the headline is a quote from a passenger who apparently said to the reporter, May Norwegian Rail burn in hell. :-D But if people would only stop to think a bit they would realize that this kind of trouble is bound to occur. Because it has been seriously dangerously cold here these past couple of weeks. I have a customer at work who's responsible for purchases at the company formerly known as a subdivision of Norwegian Rail ... they do most of the mechanical maintenance on NR trains. I talked to this guy last week and he had had a text message that morning from one of the locomotive drivers, he was just crossing the Dovre mountains, and he just wanted to let the guys in the workshop know what the temperature was there. Guess how cold it was. Minus 51 degrees centigrade. Now that's cold!! Especially considering that at the speed the train was moving, the effective temperature was probably closer to 71 than 51. Brrr ...

In case anyone's curious, the coldest I've ever experienced personally is -38 C.

Anyway, back to the original question. How do we manage. Well, it's hardly surprising - and it was brought home by a funny report on national news here showing English people falling on their asses in the snow, what fun! :-D - we dress for the weather. James told me about lots of people being unable to get to work, children being unable to get to school ... now that's just crazy talk to a Norwegian. The concept of snow days doesn't exist here. If there's lots of snow, it just makes school all the better, because then you can play in the snow at recess. :-) Not being able to get to school because of snow ... nah. That doesn't fly here. Because we have the equipment. We all have the warm winter clothes and the heavy boots, and every town and district has the snow plows standing by and the men to drive them. Sure, we're having some trouble too ... like the trains not running on time, or sometimes not running at all. But if the train's not running, there's a bus scheduled instead. You'll get where you're going ... it just may take longer. And if you're cold, you're probably wearing the wrong coat. (You may have spilt something on it and had to take it to the cleaner's ... ;-)

That's how we manage. That's why Europe's in chaos over something that we don't really break stride for. Because our country is a hellhole all winter every winter, and not just during freak cold spells. Aw. I love Norway. :-)

Ooh, and lest I forget ... ! Major congratulations to my dear dear friend Calyx and her husband N., who finally after literally days of suffering (mostly metaphorical on N.'s part) had their little baby girl today. Double aww!! Congratulations, you guys, so much. :-) Now there's three of you. :-)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Keanu gets money

I'm guessing that none of my readers have ever heard the name Karen Sala ... but if you were Keanufans you would know who she is. She is a crazy Canadian woman who wanted enormous sums of money because Keanu was supposedly the father of her four children. Or at least one of them, but she couldn't be quite sure which, but probably all of them. :-D She wanted him to pay child support for them ... they are all 20 years old or older. :-D She told lots of crazy stories like how they'd been a couple in secret since forever, they'd known each other since they were grade schoolers and he'd promised to marry her, and her friends had seen them together lots of times and I don't know what all. Her friends didn't really remember this, for some reason. :-D Keanu said he'd never heard of her, never met her, and certainly hadn't gotten even one child with her, much less four. She didn't give up though, she was really tenacious.

Many of his fans have been quite worried and felt bad for him ... I've mostly been entertained. This woman is some serious crazy. Her kids must be so embarrassed. :-D This has been going on for months and months, it's been so funny following this case. :-)

Now, what you'd think would happen here would be that Keanu would demand a paternity test. But he didn't have to - she asked for one! :-D The test came back saying that there is no relation whatsoever between him and any of these 'children'. Now the court that was treating Sala's lawsuit against him has come back with its verdict. She's full of shit and now she has to pay him $15,000.

Bwahahahaha!!! :-D

Well, you know what they say about people who are their own lawyers ... >:-)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My reading year 2009

Hard to believe it's been a whole year since I wrote this same post for 2008. o_O Weirdness. If you want to compare, you can see the stats for my previous reading year here. :-)

Books read
Fiction: 94
Nonfiction: 40
Audiobooks: 54
Total: 188

Also four that I started in 2008 and finished in 2009. Haven't counted these.

This is up 23 books from 2008. An increase that can be attributed entirely to the mp3 player, because I read fewer printed books than last year. I love my mp3 player ... !! :-) And I've read so many wonderful books on audio, too. Yay. :-)

I said last year that I was going to count the number of pages as well as the number of books in 2009. I did keep count and as far as I can tell the number of pages read in 2009 ended up at 36,389. Since I was aiming for a minimum of 24,000 (ie 2,000 per month) I'm kind of impressed with myself. :-)

I read 20 books from the original list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Also 2, or was it 3, from the revised list, as well as 2 rereads from the original list.

Some of the best books I read in 2009, in no particular order:
Cloud Atlas by Dave Mitchell
no tears for queers by Johan Hilton
Det tredje tegnet by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir
Frp-koden by Magnus E Marsdal
En såkalt drittjobb by Lotta Elstad
Doppler by Erlend Loe
Pinnsvinets eleganse by Muriel Barbery
Evelina by Francis Burney
Dette visste vi ikke noe om! by Peter Longerich
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Some new authors - ie new to me - that I will definitely be reading again:
Johan Theorin
Måns Kallentoft
Helena von Zweigbergk
Åsa Schwarz
Arto Paasilinna
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Siân Rees

Yes, I do like Swedish thrillers ... ! :-)

Some literary disappointments:
Sirkelens ende by Tom Egeland
Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter
Maria Q by Cecilie Løveid
The Broken Crown by Michelle West
Sementhagen by Ian McEwan
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

For lists with links in them, where available, click here.

One new book-related thing I started doing this year has been my book reviews on video. You can see all of them on my Youtube channel. I'll be doing more of those this year. :-)

My prediction from last year did come true. But that was an obvious one. I don't know what I can predict for this year. o_O But I do wish all of my readers a very happy new reading year in 2010!! :-)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Quote of the Week

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
Anne Frank

Friday, January 8, 2010

ESC 2010: Norway, first quarter-final

I was going to post about Elvis today, since this would have been his 75th birthday if he had still been alive (but as a customer and I agreed today, he will live forever!!) but of course I can't do that, because tonight's the night when it's all starting ... !!! :-D The first quarter-final in the Norwegian selections for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest is being held in Ørland in South Trøndelag. I know, there's never anything really good in the first quarter-final, but even so, I'M SO EXCITED ... !! :-D

Read on for my not very profound thoughts ... ! I'll update the entries with links to various Youtube videos, when they're posted (which shouldn't take long ;-).

Entry #1: Kim Bergseth, Laila Samuelsen and Gaute Ormåsen - Synk eller svøm, performed by Idol-Gaute Ormåsen. Not my favorite singer, and in fact not much of a singer at all - a so-so voice, about what you'd expect from a traditionally good-looking guy who didn't win Idol. >:-) The song is also pretty so-so. Kind of catchy but nothing special ... I may remember the chorus for a while, but it's not a winner. Sry. But I really respect him for singing in Norwegian, he's the only one in this quarter-final who's doing that. Maybe in the whole lineup this year, in fact, I'm not sure. Serious kudos. He may well get through, just because of who he is and because the song isn't that bad, but it's not a winner.

Entry #2: Jarl Aanestad, Simon Walker and Lene Alexandra Øien - Prima Donna, performed by Lene Alexandra. This is her second time in the contest. The other song was better ... not saying it was good, but at least it was fun. I'm not buying this at all. The performance is lacking in energy and enthusiasm, I don't like her dress, the song is a totally standard eurotrash ditty. But the time for this kind of song has pretty much passed though, they're not doing well these days. I don't think Sweden could have won with Take Me To Your Heaven in 2009, for instance. Again, this may get through to the semi just because of who she is, but it doesn't deserve to - there's no point in us sending it, because come May it would crash and burn. Stupid song, I hope we've heard the last of it.

Entry #3: Julian Berntzen - Rewind Love, performed by Johnny Hide (the singer from Number Seven Deli, FYI). Sheesh, it opens with a violin! We're going to be hearing SO many violins in May ... !! :-D But this song, hmm ... I kind of like it. By far the best so far. An old-fashioned and ... I hesitate to say creative, but certainly an original entry in this connection. Not catchy, but sweet. People may remember this one ... it's not a winner, but it may do OK. Of course it may be too weird and completely bomb. ;-) But it's sweet and sincere and may go down well in the East. But that last note, OMG ... !! Ouch!! o_O I think he shot himself in the foot right there ...

Entry #4: Simone Larsen, Simen Eriksrud and Bjørn Johan Muri - Yes Man, performed by Bjørn Johan Muri. Another guy who didn't win Idol. And I have to say that I can't stand Larsen, anything to do with her and I automatically take a negative view, because when she was in D'Sound all their lyrics were in English even though her English pronounciation SUCKS ASS ... or at least did back then. Yes, I am that immature. Anyway. This song really isn't bad at all. Catchy, a somewhat original melody, might stand out enough to be remembered. The best so far. The lyrics are pretty stupid, but who cares, it's the ESC! It's all about stupid lyrics. His performance is kind of embarrassing - he's barely twenty and supposedly some kind of teen, or is it tween, idol, and he acts that way too. Sheesh. But that can be fixed, I guess, maybe. This song will be in the semi, though, no question.

Entry #5: Thomas Eriksen and Elisabeth Carew - Rocketfuel, performed by Elisabeth Carew. Yes, the title of the song really is spelled wrong. >:-( And of course the lyrics are dumb. But her dress is pretty cool, so that's a plus. ;-) The performance is kind of fun - very ESC - but she's out of breath before the song is over, so I'm not impressed. May get through, it's not at all the worst, but it's not very special, so it probably won't. And that's not a bad thing.

Entry #6: Mats Lie Skåre and Merete La Verdi - Make My Day, performed by Maria Haukaas Storeng. Now here at least is a singer who can really sing!! Hands down the best voice of the night, absolutely no contest. She is competing for the second time - she won our national contest in 2007 and came fifth in Belgrade, quite impressively. That song was better though ... more memorable ... but this one is pretty good too. A happy love song. :-) A really nice chorus. I would be extremely surprised if this doesn't get to the semi and beyond. I don't like her costume much, but that's really the only thing I have to say against this entry. It could have been boring, but her performance was so good that it's anything but. :-)

Entry #7: Arnt 'Obsidian' Grønbech, Torbjørn Schei, Vegar Larsen and Robin Isaksen - The Dragontower, performed by the composers & writers in their capacity as Keep of Kalessin. A heavy metal, or should I say black metal band. Yes, seriously. They've been at it for almost 15 years and they shocked their black-clad fans when they announced their plans to compete in the ESC. :-D But why the hell not?? All genres should be represented. I'm almost rooting for them just for that. ;-) But since this is absolutely not my kind of music - they say it's melodious, but it's mostly noise really - and they, like the Eriksen/Carew combo, can't spell, I will reserve my vote tonight for Haukaas Storeng. :-) But this is a pretty good entry. Far from the worst of the evening, in fact one of the better. May well get to the semi, or even the final, but I doubt it's a winner on May 29th. I wouldn't be ashamed to see this in Telenor Arena, though. ;-)

The presenters are OK - I'm not much of a Per Sundnes fan, but I can deal. I can't remember the woman's name but there you go. Marte something? Nothing against her though, she's doing a good job.

Kind of boring intermission 'entertainments' - just celebrities talking about their ESC memories. I care about this why?

I've voted twice for Make My Day, so let's see the results. Two songs will go directly to our national final from this round, and two will go to the semi.

Bjørn Johan Muri - Yes Man
Gaute Ormåsen - Synk eller svøm

Maria Haukaas Storeng - You Make My Day
Keep of Kalessin - The Dragontower

LOL! The metal guys are totally excited. :-D Results pretty much as expected and nothing to worry about. OK, when I say 'worry' here, I mean that I hope we won't send a total piece of shit to ... Oslo, you know. I mean, we're so used to getting zero points, it's not a big deal, but now that we're hosting it ourselves, it'd be nice to get at least some points from someone. So fingers crossed, guys, that we'll manage to pick something halfway decent. ;-)

James, I hope you're reading this and that you'll check out Keep of Kalessin's entry. It's an ESC song that you might actually like ... !! :-o

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I support free speech

And I couldn't agree more with Per Edgar Kokkvold. Print the Mohammed cartoons, print them again and again, anywhere and everywhere. Hence:

Also, here's another cartoon, from today's edition of Dagbladet. I really like this one. No, it doesn't show Mohammed; it's supposed to be an imam who is trying to crush the spirit of enlightenment - he's removed the lightbulb. But there will always be those who strive to see - someone approaches carrying a candle. The fact that the guy's headgear looks like a bomb with a fuse about to be lit, why, that must be a complete coinkydink. >;-)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I am a multi-millionaire!!!

You don't believe me, you doubting Thomases you!! But I've got the proof right here!!

Big thanks to mrbaggins1 for elevating me to this glorious status!! Yay me! :-D

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

James Cameron: Avatar

So, I saw Avatar on Saturday. Anne Ida and I went to see it in 3D at Ringen. It was a really weird experience. It's very rare to see a movie that is at the same time both really really good and completely awful.

Not, I guess, that I should have expected otherwise. But still.

I hardly even know what to say about this movie. The effects are amazing, astonishing, beyond fantastic. In 3D it was like we were practically there. I will even admit to cringing a couple of times when tiny floating objects seemed to be coming a little too close to my face. ;-) But the effects are also all there is to it. I mean, literally. The script is toilet paper. The story is ... well, it's Dances with Wolves, pretty much. (And that sucked ass too.) The story in this movie is 100% predictable. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but I was almost bored watching this science fiction spectacular. It's easy to tell why Cameron's gone so overboard with the effects on this one ... it's because without the effects, his audiences would all have gone to sleep. I could have written the screenplay for this movie myself. Watch one scene and you know exactly how the next is going to play out. You know right from the start what's going to happen, how it's going to end, who will live and who will die, etc. Without the effects, this movie's nothing. And it got me to thinking.

What's the point of making a movie like this? Obviously there's only one point, to show off technology. So it makes me wonder. Is mainstream Hollywood really so intellectually bankrupt that this is the best they can do? Are they this insecure, do they really have nothing to say to the world? If they've got nothing to say, I've almost got to wonder why they're even trying to communicate. (Don't say it, I know it. Money. Sheesh.)

Something interesting about this movie is that while the effects are spectacular, and the smurfs, I mean the Na'vi, look utterly real, it all left me completely cold. It didn't touch me emotionally at all. And I am very easily touched by movies. Seriously. I mean, I've seen The Sound of Music something like 25 times, and I don't even like that super kitschy scene with Maria and the Captain in the garden, but it still has me in tears every time. I am a seriously weepy moviegoer. Cartoons too, it doesn't have to be real people. But Avatar failed in every way to touch my emotions. I just looked at the pretty scenery, but I didn't for a second care about any of the characters or about the plot. (Which I had already guessed in its entirety anyway.) Has anyone seen The 10th Kingdom? That's one of my favorites. :-) The effects used on that show are like drawings by a toddler compared to the Mona Lisa when you think of it in comparison with Avatar. But even so, The 10th Kingdom is miles above in so many ways. I think that's so interesting.

So, my conclusion is: Beautiful to look at, but fundamentally one big yawn. Will never pay money to watch this movie ever again.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Keanu Mondays ...

... of course must continue in 2010. But of course!!

This is from Madrid when The Day the Earth Stood Still opened there. Nice tie. :-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Media bias, or WTF?

OK, I'm sorry, this may be offensive to some, but I've just got to say this. It's more of a question, really, I'm not really saying anything either way. But I'd love to hear some other thoughts on this. It's just kind of stumping me right now. So my question is, is this the media pushing some agenda, or is it just a reflection of reality and these are the cases they have to report?

Kurt Westergaard - a modern-day hero - is attacked by a guy with an axe. Perp is a Muslim. OK, goes without saying in this case. (But can anyone imagine a Christian, here in Scandinavia I mean, doing anything remotely like this in a similar situation?)

The little girl who was kidnapped by her father in Malmö. The father is a Muslim.

The 18-year-old who was attacked and killed in whatever that town's called ... OK, unknown perp at the moment, except that they do have a guy in custody, they just haven't released any info on him yet ... but the victim and her family are Muslims. And there are a lot of Muslims in the Gothenburg area, so, well. You know what I'm thinking.

The three girls who had their throats slit by their own father on New Year's Eve. The father is a Muslim.

The family at Tøyen where the mother died before the ambulance guys could get to her because they were afraid to go in, so they waited for the police who then got into a fistfight, apparently, with some of the family members. Muslim family.

And then there's the shitheads who were released from Gitmo and went straight to Yemen to set up training camp for more terrorists. Gah.

Please note: All of these things - except the last - are terrible tragedies and I'm not trying to make light of them in any way.

When I say 'Muslim' in the above, I'm obviously talking people whose religious affiliations I don't know (except in the Westergaard case) so what I mean is 'cultural Muslim' ... to the extent that such a thing exists.

Now, a lot of Muslims will say that we can't judge the many by the actions of a few, which of course is true. Then they'll say that these cases aren't representative, but just freak aberrations and not at all reflective of normal Muslims. But my question is ... I guess, how many times does something have to happen before it becomes representative?

I mean, I already talked about the Westergaard case, but what about that family who fought with the police? How fucked up is that? I have never in my life heard about anything like that happening with ethnic Norwegians. And don't say that it's because the police are racists - sure, they may be, but you know what, they have their reasons.

Are crazy things like these happening with all kinds of people, and the media are just cherrypicking the stories that are most unflattering to our, ahem, 'new countrymen', or WTF? o_O

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Quote of the Week

Remember, Jesus would rather constantly shame gays than let orphans have a family.
Steven Colbert

FYI: I'm moving this series of blog posts to Saturdays this year ... for reasons that are probably obvious if you think about it a little. :-)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Some Christmas presents

Happy new year, everyone. I hope you had a good time last night with friends or family. :-)

It's almost a little too late for it now, but I wanted to show off some of all the great Christmas presents I got ... last year. :-) Absolutely not meaning to diss anyone whose present isn't in any of these shots, but I kind of grouped it by category to make it easier, so not everything fit in. :-)

You'll see that my friends and relatives know me quite well ... ;-)

Turtle things ... :-)

Handmade things ...

Calendars ... check out the Egypt one, CH had that made specially for me with photos from our trip. :-D

Chocolate, of course ... ;-)

Postcards! :-D

And of course some books. :-)

Am I lucky or what. :-)