Friday, December 31, 2010

Books I've read in 2010 - December

Kurt quo vadis by Erlend Loe – AUDIO
Sort messe by John Dickson Carr
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris – AUDIO
Fasandreperne by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Birds of Heaven by Ben Okri (Phoenix Paperback)
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie – AUDIO
Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
I den stille natt by Mari Jungstedt
Francis Meyers lidenskap by Henrik H Langeland – AUDIO
Sofies valg by William Styron
Født sånn eller blitt sånn? by Harald Eia and Ole-Martin Ihle
De dødes tjern by Bernhard Borge – AUDIO
Fakta om Finland by Erlend Loe
Kurt kurér by Erlend Loe – AUDIO
Kurtby by Erlend Loe – AUDIO
To byer by Qui Xiaolong
Kurt koker hodet by Erlend Loe - AUDIO

Better in the Dark by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

I'll be updating this post this weekend with some numbers. :-)

And of course, happy new year to all my blog readers! I hope you will all have a good New Year's Eve and, more importantly, a wonderful new year in 2011. :-)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm in the top fifty!!

So yay!! This will mean nothing to you, but I'm really psyched, so here it is. I just realized today that I'm now one of the top fifty Postcrossers in Norway. How cool is that. :-D Over at Postcrossing the site keeps track of the top fifty ranking for each country, and if you're that high on the list, you get two little thingies on your profile. Look at mine, here. There's one for the number of postcards you've sent out (that have been registered as received by their recipients) - I'm 48th on that - and one for the distance your postcards have travelled, I'm 49th on that. Whee!! I'm so happy that something like this makes me so happy. :-)

This is the card that got me into the top fifty. I made it myself. :-)

FYI: There are currently 692 registered Postcrossers here in Norway. Just for, I don't know, scale. :-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hope springs eternal

But sometimes it may come from an unlikely source.

Does anyone remember my most recent rant - this post about escalators, the stupid idiots who can't use them and the explanatory signs of my girlhood which are now merely a lovely dream. (A post which, in case you didn't notice, prompted an anonymous commenter to deduce that I seem to be 'frustrated'. No shit, Sherlock.)

But yes, hope springs eternal!! I would never have expected this cheering sight to come from Sandvika Storsenter, but 'tis true as the poets say - even the most disgustingly sprawling megamalls* have their redeeming features. This so brought on my Christmas spirit when I spotted it the morning of the 24th. Warmth and fuzziness.

*A megamall by Norwegian standards, obviously.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Presents!!

Yes, Christmas is a time for tricks and japes of all kinds ... and for presents too. Of course I got lots of great stuff. More than I need ... !! but then again I don't really need anything, so what are you gonna do. :-) Here's some of the stuff I got.

Chocolate! Of course, chocolate. Some from Vienna, some sent from Sweden, and some home made. :-)

Turtle stuff ... !! Whee ... ! :-D Of course I gotta get me some turtle stuff. See the drawing and the necklace? Those came in the package with the crocheted turtle and the beads in the bowl there, from my BookCrossing friend Panzeranzi in Gothenburg (we do a Christmas list kind of thing on the Scandinavian forum every year) ... on the back of the drawing it says by Vera aged 8. Aww ... ! :-) The beads are perhaps the fanciest things in this picture - scroll down ...

They're lampwork glass beads and look, they have turtles on them ... ! :-D

Handmade stuff! Check out the quilted pouch, isn't it adorable?? No prizes for guessing who made it for me. ;-) Anne Ida, my mother's really interested in that pattern, she wants to try making one for her turtle collector best friend (although she says she will never be able to do the zipper as well as you've managed here!).

Hello Kitty stuff!! Yay!! Supposedly from KAS and trilltrall, but I'm not entirely convinced that the latter's input was heard in the selection of these items ... ? ;-) (Hey James, don't you just love these?? ;-)

Elephants! A piece of artwork and a carved figurine, let's say it's stone. ;-) It came from Russia, so ooh. :-)

Jewellery. See the turtle on the little seashell? I didn't spot it at first. :-) The Egyptian cartouche supposedly has my name on it.

Calendars!! See the bottom one, from the Angels of Assisi animal shelter? I got that from my friend Vickie in Virginia, and I was so happy to get it, because when I read on the package that it contained a card and a calendar, this was exactly what I hoped the latter would be. It's all her own photos, she's really good at photographing animals.

Postcards!! This year I got postcards from four different people - or actually six, because two of the presents were from couples. :-D Last year I got two gifts with postcards in them, so awareness is definitely growing. In other news, yes, my parents did go to Egypt last month. However did you guess??

Postcards from Belgrade ... !! Of course from Calyx and N. They've just come back from spending four months there (it's N.'s home town). This was exactly what I wanted ... I've been to Belgrade, but that was before I became a Postcrosser, so I didn't buy any postcards. Been kicking myself ever since. :-D Problem solved now, so thanks, guys! :-)

To everyone who doesn't see their gift here, I'm sorry, but I just couldn't post it all! :-) I really appreciate everything I got, it was all great and I really want to say thank you so much. :-)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quote of the Week

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
H. L. Mencken

Saturday, December 25, 2010

On this day ...

... a savior was born.

He revealed eternal Truth, bringing joy to millions.

He astonished the world with his command over Nature.

He changed history forever.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Love Actually'

I love this movie, it's one of my all-time favorites. It's so funny and moving and charming and sweet, I totally love it ... and that is seriously not just because both Colin Firth and Hugh Grant are in it. It really is a very good movie. Of course it's a Christmas movie too, and it's really getting to be one of my must-haves for Christmas. Just finished watching it on TV ... with about two dozen ten-minute commercial breaks, or at least that's how it felt. Next year I'll bring my copy of the DVD along instead. >:-)



Fullscreen here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How goddamn difficult is it ...

... to use a fucking escalator??!

When I was a little girl there were signs in shopping malls and train stations explaining how to use these incredibly simple devices.* These days you never see signs like that. Why the hell not?? It is SO painfully obvious that they are desperately needed. Bring back the written instructions, people are fucking idiots and NEED INSTRUCTIONS.

The group that suck hardest at using escalators is immigrants. Ie, people who are obviously immigrants, so, not from the first world. I don't know where these people come from, primitive backwards places with no escalators perhaps, because they clearly find them extremely difficult to use properly. You people need to connect with practical reality. To borrow a phrase from the one and only Eric Cartman, I hate you guys.

The second suckiest group is teenagers. Can be of any ethnicity. This should come as no surprise, because teenagers are retards. You also dress like idiots. I hate you even more.

The third group now appears to be growing and slowly reaching out to enfold EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CITY. What the fuck is wrong with people?? How can it be difficult to just use an escalator like a normal civilized considerate human being with the tiniest shred of intelligence?!

I don't understand how this can be difficult for people, but it very clearly is. They actually need help to carry out this extremely simple task. They need someone to make this clear for them.

STAND TO YOUR RIGHT.
WALK TO YOUR LEFT.

THERE I FIXED IT.

Oh, if only!!! Merry fucking Christmas.

*By 'incredibly simple' I mean simple to use, not to construct and maintain. No offense intended to any escalator repair technician who may be reading this. You guys do a great job.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The longest night ...

... of the year is tonight. Today is the day when the darkness lies heaviest over Norway. (Well, I should say southern Norway. Up north they won't have noticed any difference, since they haven't seen the sun now for weeks and weeks anyway. I feel for you. :-) It actually really felt that way today ... it felt like the sun would never rise this morning ... like the light was just dragging its metaphorical feet and would never arrive. And by the time I left work at a little past 3:30 it was already almost dark. It's not very cheering.

But what is cheering is the knowledge that today was the very worst. From here on out it can only get better. :-) Every day now it will get a little lighter. Just a few minutes to start with, but every little counts. The sun turns tonight at 22 minutes to midnight, the winter solstice, and starts making its way closer to us again. The universe is an amazing place.

Another thing that's amazing is the thought of all the emotions and mental energy that has been spent on this event through the centuries. A thousand years ago my ancestors would have celebrated this day with a sacrifice, called blót ... a Yule sacrifice, to bring back the sun and light a hope in the long darkness.

A remnant of this pagan celebration is still alive in the Scandinavian word for Christmas, jul. In the high middle ages the church tried to force us to let go of this ancient word - having successfully foisted their wrongly dated festival upon us in place of our own celebration - they wanted us to call it Kristmesse instead. But they never succeeded, and jól has remained through the many centuries. Whatever we celebrate on December 24th - the spring birth of a man who never existed, our families, Isaac Newton, a few days' vacation or the mountains of good food - it's a welcome light in the darkness of winter. Joy of the season to all. :-)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quote about Keanu

"Keanu Reeves"? Now there's a name you'll never see on a marquee.
Unnamed Hollywood studio exec, ca 1988.

Just goes to show that having the job doesn't mean you have the eye. Or something. Sheesh, I can't wait till it's Christmas break.

On an unrelated note: Can someone do me a favor and watch this? It's just something totally innocent about fair trade, I promise. I have OCD, just very minor ...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

NORWAY 2005 - In My Dreams

I bet you've all been longing for another Eurovision post ... ?? ;-) Well, no time like the present. Last ESC post of the year - one of my favorite songs from any year of the contest ever. And I'm so happy to say that I do have a favorite that is Norwegian. This is the song that we sent to Ukraine after Warrior Princess Xena Ruslana won with her crazy 'English' and catchy beats. We had high hopes for it, but alas, the monsters were too powerful. We only came 9th. Still, it was a lot of fun, and who doesn't enjoy seeing grown men dancing around in skin tight silver lamé pants and black lipstick.

I really dig this song. It's so catchy and the guys had so much fun playing it. I love it. :-)

This is Wig Wam performing basically their own composition - music & lyrics by Trond Holter, who plays guitar in the band - In My Dreams. I'm sure they all had some input into the creation of this classic. ;-) They competed for Norway in the Palats Sportu in Kyiv on Saturday, May 21st, 2005.


Fullscreen here.

Lyrics here.

Ooh, and congratulations to my friend Gunnar who won Norway's most coveted blog award tonight!! He so deserves it and I'm so happy for him. I knew he would win. :-) It couldn't have happened to a better blog. :-)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Turtle cuteness

Freshwater turtles do a lot of cute things, but the perhaps cutest thing of all is when they yawn. They are beyond adorable when they yawn. :-) It's a dream of mine to get a picture of one of my little guys yawning - maybe one day I will achieve this, but it's far from easy. They never do it when I have the camera ready. At least, almost never. Hah! It's not quite what I wanted - it's not a still image - but at least it's a yawn, on camera. Look how cute he is. Aw.



Fullscreen here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Quote of the Week

This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That's democracy for you.
C. Montgomery Burns, The Simpsons

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Simpsons' ATCs

It's been a while since I've posted any ATC pictures here, so it's about time. Like it or not. ;-)

I made these for a swap over on Swap-bot - no surprises there - the subject as you see was The Simpsons, but pretty much free theme beyond that. We each had to make two ATCs, and the only requirement was that we had to pick two different characters, not the same one for both ATCs. So, pretty simple. I knew from the start which ones I'd choose ...

... first, of course, my all-time favorite Simpson, Lisa Marie!!

... and second, another favorite of mine, Charles Montgomery Burns.
Excellent ... !! ;-)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My calendar wall, November-December 2010

Check out the sunset through the bit of window that's visible there ... and it was only a quarter past three. This is not my favorite time of year. :-(
November
December

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Trollbyen'

That's the title of a play which is on right now at one of the most important theaters here in Oslo, Oslo Nye Teater. It's based on the eponymous novel by Karsten Alnæs, and stars, among others, Agnes Kittelsen and Adil Khan. It takes place right here in Oslo, but about 100 years in the past. I went to see it tonight with Anne Ida and my mother. It was a very good production ... a good story, good performances, of course a fascinating setting, and not least, extremely impressive scenography. I recommend it. :-)

It was also extra interesting to Anne Ida and me, because a few months ago we visited this theater as part of the annual Culture Night series of events. Trollbyen was in rehearsals then and we got to go backstage and see lots of the different preparations that were going on all over this fascinating building. (Which is in the city center, so you can get there on any subway line. Get off at Parliament and walk downhill in the direction of the Palace. :-) We even got to see some of the actors rehearsing, and - this was maybe my favorite part - the workshop where they make wigs and masks. Now that was impressive. Unbelievable detail.

I of course made a video, which you can see below. All the talking is in Norwegian, alas for those of you who don't understand that, but there's a lot of stuff to see as well. Behind the scenes at an Oslo theater, rich in traditions and history. Enjoy. :-)



Widescreen here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A movie star on the subway

I talked to a movie star today. Or at least as close as we can get to a movie star in Norway ... there aren't really enough jobs available for someone to become a big star in movies alone, they rather make their names as actors, and work in theater, TV, movies, all kinds of things. But again, as close as we can get to a movie star, that's what this guy is.

I was waiting for the subway at Risløkka station this afternoon when he came up to me and asked me what I have to say was a really stupid public transport-related question. He wanted to know, when the board said the next train would be line 5 to Storo, did that mean you couldn't get to the city center on that train? Yes, that was his question. He wanted to know ... did it circle around downtown, or something. What? I said no, when it says Storo it means that it goes through the city center to Storo, when it says Parliament it only goes to Parliament station. So, still to the center of the city, just not through it and further westwards on the other side. Oh, thank you so much.

OK, here's the thing: Every subway train in Oslo goes through the city center. Depending on direction, of course, but if you've got the wrong direction then it will usually just turn around at the final station and go back. And if the realtime board says that in eight minutes there will be a train at your platform for Parliament station, then you can be pretty sure that you've got the right direction. So ... every subway train goes through the city center. Who doesn't know that?? Where did he think he was, London, New York? Seriously, this is Oslo. There really aren't a lot of places for those trains to go. If you're in the Grorud valley, and the train goes to Storo ... where the hell do you think it's going to go? o_O

The annoying thing about this - yes, I'm getting to the annoying thing now! ;-) - is that I don't remember the guy's name. It's been eluding me all day since I talked to him. I know that face so well - every Norwegian reading this knows that face - but I can't bring the name to mind. Someone tell me ... he's a hugely famous actor, he's that guy who is in every Norwegian movie ever made whose name is Bjørn, but is not Bjørn Sundquist and not Bjørn Skagestad.* Someone help, who is he?

While you're thinking, here's another movie star on the subway whose name I have no difficulty bringing to mind.

* I don't mean by this that Bjørn Skagestad is in every Norwegian movie ever made. That's Sundquist and the other guy. :-) But he's also really famous and his name is Bjørn, so I wanted to narrow it down for you. :-)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Terror in Sweden

So, the Scandinavian peninsula has seen its first act of terrorism. A young Iraqi - second generation immigrant, the kind of person the Swedish media mendaciously would refer to as a Swede, but who clearly was not Swedish and could never have hoped to be - tried to blow up ... what? A shopping mall? A subway station? We'll never know, because like so many of his brethren in Jihad, he was a stupid incompetent klutz and only blew himself up in the car. Pathetic idiot.

Anyway, this is of course scary and confusing and so on, and people ask themselves why did this happen, how could it have happened? It is perhaps especially confusing that the terrorist was such a person - as I said, a second generation immigrant, and a stellar example of how a number of Muslims can never become 'one of us', no matter how long they live among us. This is the truly frightening thing about this - that although many Muslims are relatively normal people, we can never tell which are the demented nutcases. So, any Muslims reading this: If we - the natives - are skeptical of you as a group, you have to look among yourselves to find the cause.

I personally am pretty sure I know why these things happen - why acts of terrorism, incompetent or not, in the western world are so often carried out by those who do not come from crazy theocracies with no education and abject poverty for the majority, but rather by supposedly normal people who have been born and raised among us and, many theorize, must surely have accepted our values and mores. Those who believe this - the multiculturalists, as they are often referred to - are wrong, as we see. Their beliefs do not match up with observed reality - just look at the background of the London bombers. Muslim terrorists in western Europe do emphatically not come swooping in from strange countries. They are already here. And they do not accept our values and they do not understand and appreciate our cultures ... instead they want to strike out at us and wound us. Why?

In my perspective, the answer to that question can be easily summed up into two words: Cognitive dissonance. Homegrown Muslim terrorism is a coping mechanism for cognitive dissonance. (A fact which only makes these people even more pathetic.) I'll explain.

I don't really accept the term or the concept of 'brainwashing', which is a shame, because if I did, it would be really useful here. A lot of young, supposedly European Muslims - if such a creature can be said to exist - are raised to believe, and come to believe, that Islam is an infinitely superior system. Not only religion, because that, of course, is the most dangerous thing about Islam - that it is not just a religion, but an entire system that determines everything in a society. And Muslim children and youth in Europe are taught that Islam is superior to everything else, that Islam is the best system and the best religion, that Islam makes everything better, that Islamic countries are the best in every way, and so on. This, however, is wrong. Islam isn't best, it isn't superior. In fact, Islam is an inferior system in every possible way. Islam produces nothing of value. Islamic societies are retarded on every level - economically, socially, technologically, culturally, educationally, politically, you name it. Some Islamic countries are rich, yes ... because they randomly happen to have rich natural resources. First among these is of course Saudi Arabia - one of the most worthless shitholes on the entire planet, which has enormous wealth, but wouldn't even have been able to get their oil out of the ground if it hadn't been for western technology and expertise. And has not been able, I might add, to use their wealth to create better living conditions for the Saudi nation as a whole, or to create anything of value to the world whatsoever. This is because Saudi Arabia, the homeland of Islam, has an inferior culture that has produced an inferior society.

This is true all over the Muslim world. Islam is no good. It creates no progress, it generates no knowledge, it builds no valuable societies. It generates only backwardness and strife. All Islamic societies are inferior to any society you'd care to name in western Europe. The proof is in the pudding, as the British say - Muslims flock here to build new lives, to get educations and jobs. You don't see us going there, do you? Nope. We Europeans almost only move to Muslim countries when our expertise is needed there badly enough for it to be paid for through the nose. My country, Norway, is a much better country and society than, to name but two, Pakistan and Somalia. That's a fact. How do I know this for a fact? Because there are lots of Pakistanis and Somalians here, and more keep coming, while migration in the opposite directions is as good as non-existent. So Pakistanis and Somalians agree with me - my country is better than theirs.

Disclaimer: I cannot, of course, actually prove that Islam really is the reason why Muslim societies are so retarded. But since Islam is pretty much the only thing all these countries have in common, and since Islam so obviously acts as a retardant of any kind of progress, I am convinced that it is in fact Islam that is the culprit.

But back to the point. Islam is touted as the best thing since sliced bread, and this is obviously false. Painfully obviously to these selfsame young European Muslims - they see it with their own eyes every day. Western civilization is the pinnacle of human achievement. Jews win Nobel Prizes, not Muslims. Europeans and Americans write great literature, invent technological breakthroughs, make important scientific discoveries, drive the world forward. Muslims don't do any of these things. The Islamic world is the millstone around humanity's proverbial neck. Living in an Islamic country, this may be difficult to realize, or at least very easy to close one's eyes to. But living in Europe or in the US, it is a fact impossible to avoid. It's reality.

This reality - and the clash between that reality and the ridiculous assumption of Islam's natural superiority that many young Muslims are raised with - create a cognitive dissonance that for some is impossible to live with. They cope with it by taking their own lives and taking with them - or at least attempting to take with them - innocent Europeans whose only fault is being true citizens of a great civilization ... and innocent Muslims too, who in any large European city are likely to be present at a terrorist action. Acceptable collateral damage?

I really wish there was some way to detect this cognitive dissonance in people before it becomes too much for them and they snap. I wish there was some way to root out the virus of religion that so blinds people to reality that they can't live with the world the way it actually is. I wish I could express just how loathsome and despicable that god virus really is. And I wish there was an easy fix to these problems.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's a small world

Yes, it is indeed a very small world. Certainly Norway is a very small country, metaphorically speaking.

The following is a true story.

My mother, the retired librarian, is a homework helper - ie she goes someplace, I think it's at the school, one afternoon every week and helps children who need extra academic assistance with their homework assignments and other schoolwork they need help with. This is something people do as volunteers, and the program is available to all school children from first through fourth grade. So, she works there Wednesday afternoons with some other retirees. This happened on Wednesday this week.

Or at least I think it was this week - come to think of it, it may have been last week, and then they talked again this week. But that's totally beside the point anyway. :-)

She overheard a couple of the other helpers talking about a book that one of them had been reading, but was having a hard time getting into ... she was saying that she would probably give up on it, she had started reading another book and couldn't really see herself returning to this first one. It just wasn't worth her time. My mother got involved in the conversation, because by some strange coincidence, my father is apparently now reading this very same book, and like this woman he is not enjoying it and has been talking about giving up on it and starting something else. Or at least he had been - this was four days ago, or maybe eleven days, so he's probably thrown in the towel by now. :-) Anyway.

The woman with the book said that she would probably give up on it, but it wouldn't be a total loss, because she could give it to her daughter so it could be used for BookCrossing. My mother was a little surprised to hear this, and she said Oh, is your daughter a BookCrosser too? So's mine! So they started talking about that, and how it was such a coincidence. The other woman said that she would have to tell S. - ie her daughter - about this. My mother said Your daughter's name is S. - that's an incredible coincidence - my daughter Leisha has a friend who's a BookCrosser, and her name is S.!* Of course the other woman says that at her daughter's birthday party just a few weeks ago, she talked to a young woman called Leisha who was a BookCrosser - and my mother says that this really is pretty incredible, but her daughter did go to her friend's birthday party a few weeks ago. Was it at restaurant such and such in Vika?

Of course it was - so my mother has been a homework helper for months and months now alongside this woman who now turns out to be my friend Travelina's mother! And I spent like half an hour talking to someone who volunteers with my mother, but neither one of us had any idea about the connection. I love it when stuff like this happens. :-D

It's a very small world. :-)

*Obviously I have a number of friends who are BookCrossers, but only one with this particular rather old-fashioned and unusual name. :-)

Friday, December 10, 2010

'I'm so happy to be here'

So sayeth the great Denzel Washington. He's happy to be here in Oslo. So's Anne Hathaway, presumably. They told some Norwegian reporters they were, at least. Incredibly irrelevant information, since they would say they were happy about it no matter what they were feeling. It's like asking an athlete who just won an Olympic medal Are you happy about winning? Who the fuck cares what the guy says, we already know the answer! On a day like today, this is what our media is reduced to. Argh.

Anyway ... that's a minor annoyance, my major beef here is that I don't understand what these people are even doing here. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Denzel Washington or Anne Hathaway as such. (I especially have nothing against Denzel Washington. Mmm ... Denzel Washington ...) I just don't understand what they're doing here, now? They are going to be the hosts of the Nobel Concert tomorrow. Why? WTF do they have to do with anything? With Alfred Nobel, with the Peace Prize, with Norway, with Oslo, with the laureate, with ANYTHING related to any of this? The answer is nothing. So what are they doing here? It's so weird. It's just a practice that I don't understand on almost any level. They are celebrities. That's why they're here. They have no other qualification or relevance whatsoever. If I was one of them I would be embarrassed to be here. Almost as much as their president was last year. >:-)

But of course they are major Hollywood celebrities and as such can be expected to live in a bubble of adulation and undeserved respect through which reality can penetrate only with difficulty.

I just think it's completely stupid and rather disgusting to bring in these totally irrelevant celebrities to present this thing, as if they have something to do with it. Same thing with the performers at the concert. Barry Manilow? Herbie Hancock? Robyn? I'm sure it ups ratings. But it's still stupid and pathetic, it makes the concert irrelevant to the Prize, and it means a series of wasted opportunities. The Prize is Norwegian, awarded by Norwegians. Why isn't it presented by Norwegians, just because they wouldn't be as famous as Tom Cruise or Oprah Winfrey? This year the winner is Chinese - so why not have the concert be a presentation of Chinese music and dance? Last year the winner was American, they could have had Manilow and Hancock then. Why create this mishmash of performers from various irrelevant places and ignore the potential connection they could have created to the winner's home and history?

Sorry, I just had to say it. This has been annoying me for years, it had to come out sometime. :-) Of course this post ought to be about this year's winner, Liu Xiaobo ... who cannot say that he is happy to be here, since he is not here, but in a prison in China that at least Norwegian reporters are forbidden from even photographing. Of course this isn't the first time the winner has been prevented from coming to Oslo to accept the Prize. Perhaps most memorably, Aung San Suu Kyi was not able to leave Burma 19 years ago ... but her two teenage sons came to Oslo and accepted the Prize on their mother's behalf. It was actually quite moving. However, this year there is no one here who can represent the winner. No one has been allowed to come. I find this very interesting.

Liu Xiaobo's problems stem from his speaking out against the Chinese regime, which in his opinion is oppressive and dictatorial. His government call him a liar for it and imprison him. Now we award him the Peace Prize, and they are enraged ... again saying that he is a liar and a criminal. So of course he is not permitted to travel here for the ceremony, and neither is anyone else whom we could have accepted as his representative ... his wife, a relative, a close colleague, someone. In doing so they are following - let's call it an interesting tradition. This is only the second time this has happened in the Prize's more than century-long history. The only other Nobel laureate who has ever been denied the right to send a representative to Oslo is Carl von Ossietzky, who was likewise imprisoned by the regime under which he lived, the Third Reich.

Way to associate yourselves with all the right people, Beijing.

Congratulations to Liu Xiaobo, and fingers crossed for his future and for the future of the Chinese people.

I was going to write about the Data Retention Directive today too, but now I'm just too sleepy and the little guys need to eat. It'll have to keep till tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Imagine no religion

30 years ago today.



I wonder what kind of clothes he would have worn if he had been alive now? :-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I made her day!!

I love Postcrossing ... !! :-)

Here is a great example of why. I got this address on Wednesday last week ... Sarah lives in Massachusetts and IMO has a really good profile. She makes it easy to pick a card for her, and she makes it fun to do so, too. I always try my best to pick a card the recipient will love - that's a big part of the fun of it for me - but sometimes it really isn't easy. If you're on Postcrossing, please make sure your profile is filled out and gives a good impression of you and your interests! It makes it SO much easier to find the perfect postcard for you! :-)

Anyway ... I thought of probably about a dozen cards that I could send to Sarah. :-) But looking at her favorites wall, I found this card ... and then I just immediately knew which one to pick. This one:
Johnny Depp photographed in 1990 by Herb Ritts. It took me forever to find it (I have soo many postcards now ... don't start ...) but I knew I had it somewhere and I did finally find it. It arrived today - she just registered it half an hour ago, and she immediately added it to her favorites. In the email I got letting me know that it had arrived, she says she loves it and I made her day. Now that is why Postcrossing is so awesome!! Sarah, if you read this, you made my day with your message. :-)

The card's already been favorited three times in just this short while. Whee! :-D

Monday, December 6, 2010

Keanuquote

I used to have nightmares that they would put 'He played Ted'
on my tombstone.

Keanu Reeves

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mona Achache: Le hérisson

I was supposed to go to the Christmas market at the Folk Museum yesterday, but I didn't - it was just too cold, 15 below, I just couldn't force myself out in it knowing that I would be spending hours outside in that temperature. Brr. Anne Ida agreed, so we decided it'd be better to do something indoors instead and went to the movies. :-)

Good choice, because instead of freezing our noses off at the Museum, we got to see an absolutely wonderful movie. One that was even better than I'd hoped. :-) I've read the book this movie is based on - you can see my video review of it here; it's in Norwegian, I'm afraid - and I absolutely love it. So of course the movie was a potential disappointment ... especially as it's a very literary and cerebral novel, and it's a little hard to picture how it could make the transition to the screen with much ease. But it has!! Very impressively, Achache is a debuting director, and she also wrote the screenplay, based on the wonderful novel by Muriel Barbery. To be honest I can hardly believe that she hasn't made anything but two short films before this.

What I had read about the movie previously had made me think that it was only based on the book and would be likely to stray rather far from it. But that's not the case at all. We were both very pleasantly surprised (Anne Ida has read the book too and she loves it as well :-) by how faithful to the original story the movie is. The main alteration is that while one of the main characters in the novel keeps a diary, in the movie she is obsessed with filming everything around her. An obvious and necessary change. In other respects they have managed to preserve so much of the novel, I was very impressed. The tone, the wonderful characters, the fascinating microcosm of the setting, the humor ... pretty much everything. I loved it. :-)

In fact they have almost stayed too true to the book, because I had a small hope that they had changed the almost unbearably sad ending ... but no.

A low-key, slow-paced movie with fantastic characters SO beautifully portrayed. Hardly any action but still packed with impressions. One of the best movies I've seen all year. :-)

The book is available in English under the title The Elegance of the Hedgehog; in Norwegian it's called Pinnsvinets eleganse.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My new hero

An annoying article, or whatever I should call it, in Dagbladet ... on the occasion of the happy fact that the lineup for the 2011 Melodi Grand Prix is now complete. MGP is the national Eurovision selection contest here in Norway. This journalist has seized the opportunity to slam the contest, of course. Sad ... but also fantastic, because one of the comments on the article is so great. My translation of an abridged version:

'MGP returns as Norwegian pop music's most bizarre recycling station.' And Dagbladet returns as uncritical butcher*. We have to accept reality. The Norwegian music industry is minute, we're hardly producing any major artists in this country. The Norwegian charts reflect throughout the entire year the fact that it is foreign performers who dominate the music market in Norway. The period when MGP takes place is among the few times during the year when Norwegian artists and songwriters do well in the charts.
MGP is a unique opportunity for performers to show themselves off - if only they have good enough songs. Or yes - I can think of one reason why someone would be afraid to sign up: Because media outlets like Dagbladet will tear both them and the song to shreds because it is an MGP entry. They would be called out of date and past their prime. In the same way that Dagbladet contributes to torpedoing the careers of aspiring performers by calling it a job centre effort and a recycling station.
How about letting the songs and the public response determine whether MGP is viable?

Kristian Nicolai Stakset-Gundersen, your name may be over the top, but you rock. :-)

*In Norwegian we use the term butchery for any severe criticism of anything, music, movies, political decisions, anything. I know, tasteful, isn't it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A great musician

What is a great musician? One of my favorites of the breed, the extremely unique Ingrid Bjørnov, has a wonderful definition of this. In her opinion, a great musician is a person who knows how to play the accordion, but who refrains from doing so.

I'm not sure I agree with her, because according to this definition she herself is not a great musician. ;-)

Another instrument that gets a bad rep is the banjo. Deliverance really didn't do those things any favors. But sometimes they pop up and do a pretty good turn. The reason I bring this up is that I went to see Øystein Sunde's show at Dizzie tonight with my parents. Now there's ... if not a great musician, then certainly a great performer. :-) He had a banjo in his show, but he didn't play it himself. ;-) It was a really good show, very funny, I laughed till my face hurt. The only thing was that it looked like he wasn't going to play Kjekt å ha, which would have sucked, cause I love that song. But of course he did play it, as the last encore. :-)

Anyway. It was a good show, I'm glad I got the chance to see it. There were some interesting experiences. I'm not very adventuresome musically, so this may be just me, but it's the first time I've heard Beethoven's fifth symphony played on banjo.

In closing, the reason why we went to see the show: Happy birthday to my father!! :-)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I want one ... !!

Emys orbicularis, the European pond turtle. Cuteness!! I want one ... !



From this year's trip to the Nordic Ark, obviously. :-) Widescreen here.